Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Aligning L&D with Business

The traditional focus for L&D has been training-centric. It is slowly moving towards being learning-centric. But it is important to not stop there and continue to make it business-centric.

In trying to align itself with the business, at times, L&D tends to feel isolated. There can be many reasons for the same. Sometimes, it may be the mindset more than the structure that prevents us from making the shift. As L&D, if we consider our role as tactical rather than strategic, then we get caught up in the details of 'what training to build' and don't feel the need to see the bigger picture of 'what will help the business perform better'. When L&D thinks about performance as the main objective, the alignment with the business is not forced; it is natural. The view becomes more long term rather than short term.

I hear people and businesses talking about performance consulting as L&D merging into OD (Organizational Development) initiatives. If such is the transition, L&D needs a broader range of skills including wearing several hats including business, marketing, HR, and OD. It is also important that when L&D wears these hats, it also uses the right vocabulary. If L&D cannot talk business with folks who understand that language, partnership becomes tricky. Sometimes, vocabulary does really get in the way.

Before L&D makes an attempt to demonstrate their value to the business, we need to evaluate where our time, effort and resources have been invested. Perhaps, reviewing all the work that we are currently engaged in and identifying the degree of alignment with the business is a good place to start.

It is important that we re-prioritize, re-align and re-focus on questions like:
  • What is the challenge that the business is facing or is likely to face in the near future?
  • What can L&D do to meet the challenge? 
  • Can training/improving performance address the challenge partially/completely? If yes, what skills are important to address the challenge?
  • How can L&D create opportunities for gaining those skills - both the underlying knowledge and the overarching experiences - to meet the challenge?
  • How can L&D communicate more effectively with all its stakeholders including employees, managers and leaders?
  • How can L&D articulate its impact on the business and communicate how a challenge was met successfully? 
  • How can L&D run like a business and build its value and credibility?