How L&D can tackle modern-day challenges

Written by Stephanie Morgan on 14 December 2017

Every year seems to bring a new trend or technology, challenging the way we work and creating new opportunities and, indeed, threats. There is a pressure to stay on top of our game, delivering outstanding, engaging learning solutions that keep our people motivated and the best they can be.

And things continue to change. It seems like every L&D professional I speak to feels that as soon as they master one new element, a new technology or ‘way to do things’ appears.

But when we delve deeper into things, we often see that the same challenges we faced ten years ago are still present – the change is in the way we view and approach them. So how can we take these ‘modern-day challenges’ and apply the key L&D skills of today to stay ahead of the curve?

Identifying learner needs > Business alignment

We’ve all heard it – aligning learning strategy to business objectives. And there’s no doubt that we’re all trying to do this, but it’s not always easy.

In L&D we’re really good at identifying the needs of our learners. The difference is we now have to identify the learning needs of the business and look further into the future than we have before. This will require a change of mindset for many L&D professionals.

However, those great skills of identifying learners’ requirements are still vital and will allow you to identify any gaps and work to align the business and its people.

Top skills required: Strategic thinking and performance consulting

How to overcome the challenge: A great place to start is to use your strategic thinking and influencing skills at a stakeholder level. This will allow you to identify what the business needs. When you know this, use your performance consulting skills to consider your learners and use this knowledge to bridge any gaps.

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Securing attendance > Securing engagement

The focus for the past few years has been learner engagement and cultures. We’ve been trying really hard to engage our people and create a buzz and excitement in our solutions, but this can be a full-time job in itself.

We’re moving from a ‘tell’ to ‘ask’ culture and learners now have the power to control their own learning, so how do we overcome this? Think back to when you were tackling that attendance problem. How did you get those ‘bums on seats’? What processes did you use to understand the challenges and overcome them? These methods will be useful here too, despite the challenge being different.

Top skills required: Marketing and communications and stakeholder engagement

How to overcome the challenge: It’s time to become a learning business partner to achieve this. Engaging stakeholders and understanding your people inside out will give you the knowledge you need to overcome the engagement challenge.

Start by asking questions – not just about learning needs, but what makes people tick. What do they want to see, and how would they like to see it?

Embracing elearning > Embracing technology

It may only seem like yesterday that elearning was the new buzzword, but it is now as much a part of our lives as our smartphones. However, when it first came to our attention, or when we first started implementing it, we faced a lot of challenges.

Today, technology and all things digital continue to evolve at speed – as does the attitude learners have towards it. One of the key challenges here is not only adopting the mindset yourself, but helping your stakeholders and learners understand the benefits and embrace the technology in the workplace.

Top skills required: Digital mindset, virtual classroom/webinar delivery and facilitating social learning

How to overcome the challenge: Start small. If there’s not a real digital mindset for learning in your organisation at the moment, jumping straight into VR will be a step too far. Start encouraging virtual classroom and webinar attendance, highlight the benefits and rewards of online social learning, using platforms like Yammer or LinkedIn.

And keep your eye on the horizon. Try to think of every possible way to deliver information – what will be the benefit of that delivery format, will people use it, do they have the technology to access it? These questions are a great place to start thinking about the introduction of new technologies.

There are many more ways that L&D can develop their key skills to face modern-day challenges and looking to the future is one way to achieve this. We recently explored this topic in much more detail in our recent white paper, Overcoming the modern challenges for L&D. Take a look to identify more challenges and what L&D can do to prepare themselves for a fast-moving business landscape.


About the author

Stephanie Morgan is director of learning solutions at Bray Leino Learning


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