Why L&D Managers Need To Transform From "Facilitators" To Business Enablers

Why L&D Managers Need To Transform From "Facilitators" To Business Enablers
Summary: L&D managers are somewhat thought of as a liability in corporate organizations, particularly because they are sometimes unable to provide quantifiable results. But what if it's not the L&D managers but their approach is the actual problem? This article investigates exactly that.

L&D Managers: Why They Need To Shift From "Facilitators" To Business Enablers

Being in the eLearning industry, I have a number of friends that are involved in L&D some way or the other. I had the chance to meet one of them, Manish, recently at an eLearning seminar. After pleasantries were exchanged, we began to talk shop. Manish had been working at a prestigious tech MNC as an L&D manager, and judging by what he told me, he wasn’t too satisfied with his job. I asked him why, as the last that I knew was that he was quite enthusiastic about L&D, and the pay at his company was quite substantial.

“I’ve been having some problems at work, Malay,” Manish told me.

“What kind of problems?” I ventured.

Manish paused for a moment, staring blankly at an empty chair, then replied: “I just don’t know whether I’m successful at my job or not.”

I thought about it for a second, and inquired, “Well, why do you think that?”.

Manish looked like he’d been waiting for this. “You see, it’s like this,” he began. “Recently, I rolled out a sales training program at my company. I did everything right. I started off with a detailed assessment of what is needed, developed a traditional training model, put together a learning solution with classroom sessions and hired the best sales trainers I could find to take those sessions, but…”

“But?” I asked.

“But,” Manish continued: “The sales did not increase at the end of the quarter. My bosses simply said that it was because my training program didn’t work, quantifying the whole program simply through the movement of the sales graph. Can you imagine how frustrating that is? And not just because of the fact that I toiled day and night to deliver the perfect program to no avail, but also because I wasn’t able to accomplish anything! I couldn’t get the results my bosses expected of me. I feel like a failure. Now, they are losing credibility in me, and I think in L&D as a whole. I don’t know what to do.” Manish sunk back into his chair as he finished.

I thought about what Manish told me. Actually, he wasn’t the first L&D manager to tell me something along similar lines. “I think I have a solution for you, Manish,” I told him, reassuringly.

“You do?” Manish asked brightening up.

“Yeah. You see, Manish, you are a bright, motivated professional. There’s nothing wrong with you, what’s wrong is your approach.” I told him resting a hand on his shoulder.

“Oh?” said Manish, raising an eyebrow.

“Yes. You fail to deliver the results your bosses expect of you, simply because your training program does only 10% of what is required,” I explained.

“How so?” Manish asked leaning in.

“Well, Manish, classroom training, even with the best trainers will provide you with just 10% of the expected results. You know why?”

“Why?” Manish inquired.

“Because the moment an employee walks out of the classroom after a session, he or she has already lost 30% of the information they were bombarded with in the session. And that too only if and when they have amazing retention. Otherwise, only half of all information is retained, and that too erodes away with time.”

“So, how do I make sure that 100% of what is taught is retained?” Manish quizzed.

“First off, you need to change your training model. From what I can gather, you need a blended learning model that combines both eLearning and classroom sessions.”

“Ok, and then?” Manish pressed further.

“Secondly, you need a performance model. Ever heard of the 70:20:10 model?” I inquired.

“Yes, I’ve heard of it, but can’t say that I’m too familiar with it,” he said scratching his head.

“The 70:20:10 model is a broader approach to learning and professional development. It recognizes the fact that training or formal learning is only one element of development or only 10% of it. The larger part of learning, the 70%, happens on the job through daily tasks assigned by the department head as well as eLearning modules are given to the employees to complete. You’ll need to outline a plan with the help of the department head for this one,” I explained.

“And the remaining 20%?” Manish queried.

“The remaining 20% is refreshing the knowledge provided every now and then through formal feedback as well as individual learning sessions for those struggling with learning a particular skill or performing a particular task,” I described.

Manish nodded, but I could see that he needed a more detailed explanation.

“Let me define the ‘how’ of it:

  1. Get the Sales Head into confidence, and come up with a joint plan.
  2. The plan needs to consist of daily tasks that he or she will assign to employees that reinforce a particular task or skill.
  3. Meanwhile, carry on with your regular classroom training sessions. But support it with a digital microlearning program. Stitch a lesson plan with an aim to provide the employees with microlearning nuggets in a defined frequency to keep the knowledge and its application ongoing.
  4. Plan a monthly or quarterly assessment with the Sales Head and team, which will be a combined assessment of the program and the performance gaps (if any). This will help build a learning and application culture.
  5. Then, as I described before, you’ll ask for formal feedback every now and then, and organize individual sessions for those employees which are having a hard time grasping a particular skill or performing a specific task. Sounds good?”

After I charted out the whole plan to him, Manish’s brow, which was furrowed with stress till now, began to relax.

“You’re a wise one, Malay. You know that!” Manish said shaking his head.

“Don’t thank me yet. I just outlined the plan based on a proved and tested methodology. The implementation is still up to you, and if done right, it would give you near 100% retention,” I informed.

“You let me worry about the implementation. I’m just glad you showed me that there is a way. Thanks for helping me out, Malay. You don’t know just how much you’ve helped me,” Manish said shaking my hand.

I patted Manish on the back and told him not to worry. “That’s what friends are for, right?”

Change is the only constant. With advancements in technology, there must be advancements in Learning and Development. L&D is a dynamic field, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach in this industry. L&D design thus should always be result-oriented and data-driven. It is high time that not only L&D managers but every person involved in the L&D field understood that and transformed themselves accordingly. You should know that you’re building the highway to the future. It is only then that we can hope to see our industry rise to the pinnacle of success.

Hope you all agree!