How L&D Teams Can Leverage Learning Consulting To Meet The Enhanced Expectations From The Business

How To Leverage Learning And Performance Consulting Partners
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Summary: L&D teams may not have all the skills or experience to efficiently address the rapidly changing demands of today's workplace. In this article, I outline how learning and performance consulting partners can support L&D teams to successfully meet the new mandate.

How To Leverage Learning Consulting

The heightened focus on remote work has also precipitated a huge change in how organizations view the mandate of their in-house training teams. A new work paradigm has meant that L&D teams pivot quickly to meet their new training mandates.

However, given the limited time available to bring about that switch and the fact that this is a brave new training world requiring significantly different skillsets in which to operate make that pivot even more challenging. In situations such as these, working with a strategic learning and performance consulting partner can help.

How Can Partnerships Help L&D Teams Meet Their Realigned Focus Areas?

Traditional focus areas for L&D teams have been to “train” employees based on regular schedules, compliance mandates, or as a result of a new intake into the workforce.

While that focus may still be valid, the changing workplace dynamic, especially given today’s pivot to remote work, is forcing businesses to reimagine the focus of L&D teams, including:

Engaging and training remote learners. The challenge here is in motivating virtual learners and creating a better “learner” experience that’s more broadly focused than delivering traditional “learning” experiences:

  • Motivating learners
  • Understanding learner needs and expectations
  • Providing correct feedback to learners
  • Integrating social and informal learning
  • Aligning L&D to organizational goals
  • Measuring the impact of training
  • Creating a culture of learning

These reoriented focus areas are extremely broad-based, and it is unlikely that in-house L&D teams would have the skills and experience to efficiently address them all.

As a result, leveraging strategic learning and performance consulting partnerships may be the most effective way to meet the enhanced expectations in today’s business environment.

How Can Learning and Performance Consulting Partners Add Value Beyond Just Content Development?

Strategic learning and performance consulting partners can help in-house training teams with more than just content development. The skills these partners bring to a relationship can also help training teams realign their focus to address their enhanced L&D mandate.

While traditional L&D outsourcing models leveraged external partnerships primarily for content development, a lot has changed over the past several years. These organizations now have a broader array of expertise, over and beyond content development, that they bring to the table in any strategic L&D engagement, including:

  • Implementation (from concept to design to deployment)
    In-house L&D teams typically “borrow” generalist expertise from various department sections within the organization to deliver end-to-end training, from vision to implementation. While it is a practical approach, having an organizational partner who specializes in each aspect delivers better and more coordinated results. External partners bring end-to-end, full-cycle L&D experiences and best practices to the table.
  • Evaluation—training effectiveness and impact (on learners as well as the business)
    Many under-staffed and under-funded in-house L&D teams are under pressure to focus on training development and delivery. With an external partner’s support, additional follow-through skills and practices can be leveraged to focus on evaluating the effectiveness of training, both on individual learners and the organization.
  • ROI determination
    Determining ROI [1] requires a broader skillset than purely L&D expertise. It also takes knowledge and insight into a number of factors, including industry standards, financial reporting and measurement standards, and competitor assessment, which a typical in-house L&D team might not possess. Working with external learning and performance consultants opens doors for in-house teams to access such experience and expertise.
  • Measures to sustain the learning connect [2] (reinforce, remediate, practice, challenges, and proficiency gain)
    Training isn’t over when it’s over. Unfortunately, in-house teams with limited resources aren’t able to always sustain post-training learning connections. External partners bring a wealth of experience and insight to measuring and sustaining the ongoing benefits of initial learning.

While in-house L&D teams typically have lots of expertise to address the requirements of their organization’s training needs, they lack the diversity and breadth of skills and experience available at learning and performance consulting companies. In today’s extremely competitive training landscape, especially when it comes to remote training and online learning, it pays to leverage cross-industry-wide global training and learning best practices.

What Are The Business Benefits Of Engaging With Learning And Performance Consulting Partners?

Most organizations have dramatically reduced their workforce, including downsizing L&D teams, as cost-cutting measures to meet competitive challenges. Given this reduction in an in-house training capacity, leveraging strategic learning and performance consulting partnerships offers several benefits:

  • External learning and performance consulting partners have built significant capabilities to address all of the challenges discussed above. It would take considerable time, effort, and investment to develop such skills in-house.
  • Through multiple successful engagements, and by aiding other clients in solving similar challenges, outsourced learning and performance consulting partners have developed and perfected L&D best practices. These include proven methodologies, value-adding frameworks, and diverse expertise. Businesses can now quickly leverage those assets as a competitive advantage.
  • Strategic, engagement-based, and result-oriented partnerships lend themselves to better cost control and greater transparency and accountability.
  • For you, the client, some challenges you grapple with are new, while others are yet to manifest themselves. Through diverse sets of similar engagements, strategic learning and performance consulting partners have previously addressed most of those challenges, and they now offer that expertise for you to leverage.
  • Learning from your own set of experiences, through trial and error, can be a costly, drawn-out process. Through their broad array of client experiences, outsourced learning and performance consulting partners can help jump-start that learning process by giving you the benefit of their own lessons learned and experiences gained.
  • Innovation typically comes from the outside and not from a closed-loop within an organization’s ecosystem. Partners will spur innovation and help you implement and adopt new approaches to your L&D programs.

In summary, there is a strong business case to be made for working with an outsourced learning and performance consulting partner, including cost reduction, flexibility to up/down-scale in-house teams, accessing new skills and talent, compressing new training development and deployment, accessing industry best practices, and leveraging innovative training solutions.

Most importantly, outsourcing learning and performance consulting partners can help organizations embrace a cultural transformation in their L&D programs. By leveraging the experience and expertise they offer, organizations can reinvent how they deliver training in a brand new virtual work and learning world.

Parting Thoughts

The new work paradigm has forced businesses to look beyond their own organizations to gain a competitive advantage, specifically in the L&D arena. External learning and performance consulting partners can deliver a significant part of that competitive edge.

In a previous article, we presented a business case for leveraging such external partnerships for learning content development. Here, we highlighted how businesses can leverage a broader external partner skillset.

When strategically leveraged, businesses can benefit from such partnerships to meet the expanded expectations of multiple facets of their business. These might include rapidly retraining, reskilling, and upskilling their workforces. External training partners can help businesses quickly pivot to address the new challenges in a virtual learning world.

I hope my article provides the required insights on how L&D teams can use the value that learning and performance consulting partners offer and benefit the organization in today’s business environment.

Meanwhile, if you have any specific queries, do contact me or leave a comment below.

References:

[1] Training Impact and ROI

[2] How to Build Employee Learning Habits and Drive Continuous Learning in the Workplace with Microlearning

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EI Design
EI Design is a leading Learning and Performance Support solutions provider that thrives on transforming learning—keeping it relevant, impactful, and continuous.

Originally published at www.eidesign.net.