In this episode, I share four ways for L&D to get a seat at the table:
Don't forget to sign up for the Useful Stuff newsletter (usefulstuff.email). Issue #2 is going to be all about how to determine what people need and how to determine business goals.
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Hello friends and welcome to the block the building learning and organizational culture podcast. I'm your host Heidi Kirby. And on today's episode, we're talking about four ways for l&d to get a seat at the table. You've probably heard it, you've seen it on social media, l&d folks departments claiming that we don't get a seat at the table, we're not as valued as we could be. We're not as respected as we could be. When decisions are being made in the business, we're not part of that. And it can be really frustrating. But I want to give just four things that might seem like common sense. But in my experience in my research, and my education, and, you know, working in government or working in healthcare working in corporate, I've seen this over and over again. And so I've just really tried to figure out some ways that we can look at what we do and make sure that we're adding the most value to the business. And so the first thing is pretty simple. And it's to stop complaining that we don't have a seat at the table. Now, I give advice to aspiring and new ideas all the time. And I tell them to be really mindful and really careful about how they're portraying things on social media. Because I see a lot of this someone complains, why won't someone get give me a chance? Why won't someone take a chance on me? Why won't these hiring managers see my potential? They complain about hiring managers, they complain about recruiters. They complain about the recruiting process. And people like me who are hiring managers see that and go, ooh, it's not a good look. In the same way. People who are in l&d I see them complain about l&d never gets a seat at the table were never valued. But those same people are not adding any value that I can see to the conversation. They're not trying to make the field better. They're not showing what they're working on, or the research that they're doing or, or the things that they're contributing, that would help lnd to get a seat at the table. So instead of just complaining and saying, you know, yelling into the echo chamber, that is Twitter, or LinkedIn or wherever, we don't have a seat at the table, we need to stop complaining. And we need to start doing things to get a seat at the table. Which leads me to the second way for l&d to get a seat at the table. We need to focus more on discovering the problem than selling the solution. So whether it is elearning, micro learning, infographics, instructor led training, I've seen so many solutions and deliverables just being automatically pushed when the business brings us a problem. I've seen this in every different place that I've worked, where the knee jerk reaction is to say, Oh, you're having an issue, let's do a training, oh, you have, you know, a skills gap. Let's do a job aid. And there's not the time taken to really do a root cause analysis or needs analysis to figure out what's the actual problem. And to that end, the solution cannot always be elearning. It cannot always be microlearning. It cannot always be in person training, right? To create habits and to create behavior change and to create mindset change. A 30 minute elearning is not going to do the trick, we really have to take a step back and look at what is the problem? And how does that relate to the business? And how by solving that problem? Can we then also impact the business in a positive way? It's something that my lnd bestie Matt Smith and I are working on in our latest issue of useful stuff, which I'll link in the show notes. Issue two of the useful stuff newsletter is going to be talking all about how to figure out what people need and how to align that with the business goals. So if you're not subscribed to the useful stuff newsletter, definitely get subscribed because we're gonna go way more in depth about how to discover the problem. Way number three for lnd. To get a seat at the table is to broaden the metrics that we use to determine success. How do you typically determine the success of a learning initiative or a learning experience or learning program? I think sometimes l&d In my experience anyway, tends to look at a couple of things that are native to only the l&d team completions in the LMS. And some kind of satisfaction reaction data. Now, I'm not saying that these are bad things to collect. I'm they're metrics that we should absolutely be collecting in l&d. But what I'm saying is that we need to broaden the different types of metrics that we're collecting. Because throughout our organizations, amongst our clients, they're collecting data in numerous ways, whether that be in the form of helpdesk tickets, or job task analysis, or the things that hiring managers are looking for, or performance review ratings, or what have you, there are so many different metrics that we can borrow, to determine the success of our programs to determine if the learning solutions that we're creating are having an impact in other areas of the business, if they're having an impact on behavior, and habits and performance. And if we only look at what the LMS is producing, we're kind of limiting what's possible. And I think the other thing to remember is that it doesn't have to be a quantitative metric, right? One of the projects I'm currently working on is meant to impact the workload of my fellow employees. And if done correctly, the learning program that I'm creating will lessen their workload, we don't have a real metric for that, we're going to be asking them, if they spend less time with customers, that's going to be the metric. It's not a hard and fast number. But if they're reporting back to their manager regularly, that yes, they're spending less time on average than before with customers, then we would consider that a success. So it doesn't always have to be tied to a specific number. And it doesn't always have to have to do with the LMS. Alright, and the fourth and final way for l&d to get a seat at the table is to start working with instead of against the other areas of business. What do I mean by this? Again, from my experience, we in l&d want to do everything ourselves. Think about how we talk about people in l&d managers, instructional designers, elearning developers, we, we'd say, Oh, we wear so many hats. And we do so many different things. And we're a mix of, of consultant and UX designer and graphic designer and curriculum developer, and, you know, all these different things and all these different responsibilities. And, you know, studies have been done that have shown that our scope of practice has widened over time, and that we do more things. But do we really need to do more things? Or are there people within our organizations who are willing and able to help us? Do we have people in marketing? Who can help us with design work? Do we have people in, you know, different areas who can help us with writing or videography, or selling what we're doing communicating what we're doing to our in other internal employees? Do we have senior leaders throughout our organization who will help us sell our solutions to the rest of the company or who will help by, you know, leading by example, for leadership development programs or change initiatives? If we work with those people, we can really do a couple of things, we can lessen our own workload, because now we're sharing it with other departments and other areas of business. But we can also learn a lot about our business as a whole. And we can become the l&d experts at our organization. And this is true because it's happening for me, in my current role right now, I've just taken a lot of time to break down silos and to meet with other people who I work with, you know, I'll be in a meeting with someone or I'll hear someone's name and I'll just ping them and I'll say, hey, let's spend 30 minutes to out there, I want to find out about what you do and tell you about what I do. And every meeting that I've had like that, we've come away from it by finding a way that we can help each other. And so now, you know, I've got people from the product team saying, hey, we'll help you sell the LMS and the different programs that you're working on within the product itself. And I've got people from the marketing team saying, hey, when you release a new course, we'll go ahead and promote it on our community. And I've got all these wonderful people, the design team is helping us theme, our customer education portal. And I've just got all these amazing, brilliant, talented people who are way better at what they do than I could ever be, who are offering help. And in return, I'm being asked for my expertise. And they're saying, Oh, hey, we want to onboard our new teams. But we don't really have a good method for making sure that all of our managers are consistently onboarding. Can you give us some ideas, since you're an l&d expert, and it becomes a two way street, it becomes communication and you make friends too. And so when we really start putting the onus of everything on ourselves and say, That's ours, we have to do that we're l&d. You should not be doing this, you should not be doing this. And we open our arms and work with other people and take the time to collaborate. We can really start to become the experts at what we do. And people start to trust us and they want to work with us. So to kind of wrap things up. I think that a lot of times in l&d. We spend so much time on design and development, that we forget that what we're meant to do is help performance and help solve problems and help fill gaps within our organization. This is true if you work in l&d for sales lnd for customers, customer education l&d under HR. Worse, we're filling gaps, whether that's performance gaps in soft skills, or whether that's technical skills. If we can't help the performance, and we don't know how to solve the problem, and we can't measure the success of what we're doing other than a smile sheet, and we're not willing to take time away from our development cycle to work with other people throughout our organization. We're never going to get that seat at the table. So work on discovering the problem. Work on adopting metrics from the other areas of business and work with all the other people in your organization to make really amazing things. Thanks again for joining me on the blog. If you enjoyed this episode, please share it with friends and review us on your favorite podcast platform. I hope you'll tune in again soon.