Essential Skills For Future Learning Practitioners

Essential Skills For Future Learning Practitioners
Summary: Have your organizational leaders asked if your training is effective? How do you measure success? Why should the business invest in your training? These are challenging questions to answer, but there are areas for you to focus on to make learning align with your business leaders' expectations.

What Skills Are Essential For Future Learning Practitioners?

Have your organizational leaders asked if your training is effective? How do you measure success? Why should the business invest in your training? These can be challenging questions to answer but before you get overwhelmed, there are areas for you to focus to make learning acceptable and, more importantly, to align with business expectations. Let’s take a look at each one:

Business Literacy

First, become literate about your business organization. Leaders don’t expect you to be a business expert, but they do expect you to have an understanding of how the organization operates.

Learning practitioners often assume that all levels of management address similar business concerns. While there’s only one overall business strategy, operational concerns differ depending on the respective responsibility. The key is to respect unique operational concerns and develop awareness for specific business needs.

For example, managers expect employees to possess the relevant skills to ensure operational objectives are met, and to achieve immediate results. Alternatively, top-level leaders focus more on longer-term, strategic objectives.

Financial Literacy

Next, develop respect for financial concepts. Your leaders speak in financial terms to evaluate overall performance. Again, you only need to be financially literate, not an expert.

Practitioners try to evaluate learning effectiveness using methodologies like training return on investment and return on expectations. Rather than applying methodologies leaders don’t recognize, appeal to how they evaluate an operational initiative. Your learning initiative is just one of the many choices they have, so be sure to demonstrate how well it resolves business concerns and improves financial results.

At my strategic performance consulting firm, CentralKnowledge, we worked with a pharmaceutical client to help develop an internal eLearning business plan for them. By collaborating with both the learning team and the finance team, the teams saw each other's needs clearly, and then worked together towards a common goal. We helped set up financing requirements and operational budgets, to acquire and support the eLearning technologies.

Retain Talent

Next, retain talent. Employees are central to an organization's competitive edge and, therefore, retention is essential. Today, leaders are making greater investments to develop and further leverage employee abilities. Because of this, employee performance and development are at the top of management’s “to do” list – and that’s where training comes in.

Find out what employees and leaders expect, to decipher the operational needs. This positions the learning team as a valued partner to appropriately assess internal business and cost requirements, gain employee and stakeholder support, and quickly identify skill gaps to unleash employee potential.

Embrace Innovation

It may seem obvious, but you must set the stage for innovation. Training is responsible for fostering an environment to stimulate creativity. Be innovative yourself when developing and deploying learning initiatives, utilizing available technology, social media tools, and any other innovative learning approaches.

Think Strategically; Act Operationally

Finally, think strategically. To make decisions alongside your leaders, you must possess a holistic view of the organization’s purpose. You can have a greater impact by understanding the relationship and interactions between strategy and operations. But then it's your responsibility to ensure your learning efforts help employees to improve operational outcomes that align with strategic expectations.

It’s no surprise your leaders expect internal “partners” to contribute to achieving clearly defined business objectives. Learning is no exception. Develop your business and strategic skill set, and speak in terms your leaders understand, to show the value learning delivers for the organization.

If you enjoyed this article and want to learn more about how you can do the same for your company, please contact us. We'd enjoy hearing from you. We're always seeking topics that shake the status quo.

For more, please visit my recent LinkedIn Learning ( eLearning courses "Gaining Internal Buy-in For eLearning", "Increasing Engagement with Elearning Programs", "Fundamentals of Corporate Learning" and "Train-the-Trainer" courses designed for both recent and seasoned trainers.

When it comes to what leaders expect, don’t always believe what you hear. Recognize how leaders perceive the role of training within the organization and what they expect. They know training is essential, but it’s up to you to prove them right. This is your time to shine. #alwaysbelearning