OEB preview: Is your lack of self-development making your role redundant?

Written by Jo Cook on 28 November 2017

It’s a privilege to be speaking again at Online Educa in Berlin this year. It’s a huge conference with a lot going on. One of the biggest impacts of last year though was actually nothing to do with the conference.

Only days after leaving the historical and beautiful city a lorry got driven into the Christmas market I’d visited. In the terrorist attack 12 people lost their lives and over 50 were injured.

This was significant in so many ways, including highlighting how terrorism is changing and taking us unawares. The world is going to have to cope with it and adapt and this is an underlying theme in our professional world too.

Our professional world is changing and we need to understand those changes and be able to work with them. We are at different points in our personal and professional journeys and will have different strengths we can draw upon and roles within our team and organisation.

L&D professionals need to consult with business experts and stakeholders over the nature of the challenges that they are facing to provide the appropriate solutions.

TJ researched the future of L&D and published L&D 2020: A Guide for the Next Decade in 2010. This long view report predicted what we are dealing with today and what is still in our future.

Report author Martyn Sloman stated that “like it or not we must all become economists. Learning and development is no longer a ‘trainer-centric activity’; it is no longer centred on what happened in the training room and on the skills required to make this an enjoyable and effective experience for the learner. It is about developing, through sustained activity that takes place in a variety of contexts.”

The economic focus that Sloman highlights is important for our business awareness. More and more L&D professionals need to consult with business experts and stakeholders over the nature of the challenges that they are facing to provide the appropriate solutions.

The nature of using coaching skills to support senior managers with the complex issues that they face today is paramount. Sloman talks of “a variety of contexts” in which learning needs to take place, precisely because work happens in those different contexts.


To bring us completely up to date, the Towards Maturity focus report 'Unlocking the Potential of Leaders and Managers' launched just this month, highlights that “72% [of the “top deck” achieving organisations] agree L&D role is shifting from learning delivery to supporting continuous learning”.

In Sloman’s research report he stated: “Probably the most important of the emerging trends identified in the TJ L&D 2020 project is ‘There will be a shift in balance of the L&D professional’s skillset towards greater business understanding, change management, organisation development and use of new technologies.’”

Ensuring that the L&D interventions we spend our resources on hits the spot is of vital importance. In the Learning Transfer Research 2017 research report [http://unbouncepages.com/learning-transfer-research-report/] it was found that “less than 40% of learning is sustained into long term job performance improvement”. This isn’t surprising if we aren’t understanding the needs of the business.

If we aren’t consulting on those needs, we aren’t using our coaching skills with managers to understand the context of work, and those managers also aren’t getting time for their self-development, L&D either have a lot of work to do, or need to get out of the way.


About the author

Jo Cook is the deputy editor of Training Journal. Contact her on Twitter @LightbulbJo or email jo.cook@trainingjournal.com

Read more about the session TJ will be delivering at the OEB conference here

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