5 Essential Skills To Become A Learning And Development Pro

What Are The 5 Essential Skills To Become A Learning And Development Pro

As they say, change is the only constant. With changing times, companies need to focus more upon developing their core strength - their employees; the real harbingers of progress and growth. So, if employees are such an important asset, what position do Learning and Development professionals, the ones who develop these employees, hold? How can they remain relevant and, more importantly, competent, when faced with an avalanche of constant change?

Today, the use of technology-based learning has proliferated across all areas of an organization, and there is increasing pressure on Learning and Develpoment (L&D) professionals to prove that their initiatives are helping bring about the right change. If learning professionals are to rise to the challenges and steer their L&D programs in the right direction, they are bound to need some special skills;  skills that do not just provide paybacks only in incumbent situations, but also help now, and in the future.

Here’s taking a look at 5 such learning technology skills that L&D professionals require to gain to remain relevant today, as in the future:

1. Tech- Savviness

The ever-changing world of work requires tech-savviness to be a must-have skill rather than a good-to-have. And while this is an expectation across all functions and levels of an organization, it's the L&D professionals that require that extra edge because they need to know 'where' and 'how' exactly to put the technology to the best of use, so that employee development becomes the focal point.

Organizations are increasingly looking for more modern approaches to learning and training that support the needs of an increasingly digital workforce. The expectation on the L&D function is therefore high, and L&D professionals need to ensure that they are as agile as the organizations they operate in. They have to come up with ideas, learning programs, and skill development interventions that are practical and feasible and cater to the demands of the digital learner.

Today’s learners who are accustomed to having information readily available at their fingertips, demand learning tools that are easy to find when they need them and deliver relevant, applicable knowledge without wasting their time. L&D professionals need to be technology-savvy in that sense to align to their needs.

2. Ability To See Long-Term, While Fulfilling Short-Term Goals

Oftentimes, L&D professionals tend to focus only on current goals and end up designing learning programs as a one-off intervention. There is no denying that the short term requirements of the organization need focus. But L&D professionals also need to consider the long-term goals with a strategy that will influence the company’s success in a constantly changing future. It is important to consider whether a particular investment is just for fulfilling current needs or has the ability to satisfy long-term L&D requirements of the company.

Adapting to various methods of future-proofing like mobile learning or mLearning, gamification, collaborative learning, etc. is as essential as having the core LMS features like eLearning, SCORM-compliance, and blended learning.

Learning courses now need to come with multi-platform capability, and maximum adaptability to new formats that can make content accessible from almost any device, as any location, and at any time. Also, the mainstream use of social media has paved the way for highly effective collaborative learning and peer learner networks that help develop business knowledge in real-time. L&D professionals need to take this into account too.

3. Ability To Look Beyond The (Traditional) LMS

Earlier, a Learning Management System was a tool that was used for the delivery and management of online learning (eLearning) and Instructor-Led Training (ILT) and Virtual Training alone. Then came Social Media that swept the entire learning and training landscape, giving birth to social, collaborative, and informal learning. The change wave continued and about came mobile learning.

Today, mLearning has become as ubiquitous as traditional learning. However, the absence of internet network connectivity in remote areas or in countries with disappointingly slow connections has given rise to the provision of offline learning, where training/learning can happen with or without the internet. So, it's important that L&D professionals, when brainstorming LMS-related decisions, don't work with a narrow focus of a traditional learning platform but take such things into consideration too.

And it's not just mLearning as a capability or as an add-on feature to an LMS that needs attention. In today's times, a Learning Management System can no longer work in silos. All systems - from HRMS, CMS, PMS, TMS, ERP etc. need to work alongside and along with an LMS to help organizations in reaping the benefits in the best way possible.

And it is an L&D professional who needs to have the vision for such kind of decisions that benefit the organization in more ways than one.

4. Data-Driven Approach

Two of the most beneficial features of an LMS are its ability to generate reports, and analytics. The valuable data gives L&D professionals the power to continually improve their online training strategy and personalize online training initiatives. However, what good does the information from the report do if no one acts upon it? It is up to L&D professionals to decipher the reports, and translate them into action-oriented plans for effective decision-making.

5. Learner-First Mindset

The focus of all L&D programs has to be learners (quite obviously!). With learners, today, in the driver's seat, with complete knowledge of 'how' they want just as well as 'what' they want, the L&D can no longer pass on any kind of training to the learners, hoping for it to be lapped up. The only way to reach out to them is to offer a learning tool that's engaging, always-on, and provides just-in-time performance support as and when needed. L&D professionals need to put their learners first in all kinds of strategies, because that is vital to the success of all learning projects.

Learning technologies are now providing seminal platforms to aid employee development like never before and the L&D community must become the catalyst of such a change. Tomorrow’s L&D professionals will play the role of a facilitator, a social mentor, and a curator of knowledge and learning resources all rolled into one. And it is about time that they adopt such skills right away!

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