Today I joined the Australian Public Service’s Learning and Development (L&D) Community of Practice (COP) to run a two-hour workshop. My thanks to the community facilitator, Diane Hickman, for inviting me to facilitate a session.
I ran a professional development session for the group called ‘The L&D Profession: How to thrive in the modern workplace.’ I presented on this topic at Learning Technologies UK conference in London in February 2019, and more recently at the Australian Workplace Learning Conference (AWLC). To make this more interactive session I used a variant of my material from AWLC combined with approaches I use in 1:1 professional development mentoring.
The session was broken into three components, as per the diagram above.
Demands and Challenges of the Modern Workplace on Learning Professionals
In the first section we looked at the demands and challenges of the modern workplace on learning professionals. In addition to commentary in articles and reports my observations in this section are drawn from my work in 2018 leading the refresh of the Learning and Performance Institute’s Capability Map. Over 50 leading international learning professionals participated in the update of this competency framework for learning professionals. The involvement of so many contributors reflects the breadth of competencies now required by modern learning teams – hence the need to engage people with specialised expertise to describe each of the 25 competencies in the capability map.
Based on the modern workplace trends listed in the slide below, the work of learning professionals needs to be:
* Relevant – to look and feel contemporary, and to be clearly aligned with business needs
* Impactful – to impact performance
* Agile – to be responsive to shifts in the organisation and it’s environment, and to meet the needs of the business and workers as quickly as possible to a need being identified
* People-Centred – to be based on deep understanding and empathy for the people for whom solutions are being provided, to provide an engaging experience
These demands lead to a range of typical challenges for learning professionals, as per the list below. In breakout groups participants discussed which of these challenges they faced and the impact this had upon them. Those raised in the group debrief were:
* Engaging business – expectation that ‘training’ will be provided and challenge of opening performance consulting conversations with stakeholders where underlying issues and alternative solutions are explored
* IT infrastructure – a higher than usual challenge given internet access restrictions limitations in the government environment
* Shortfall in self-directed learning skills – the example given was that people tend to ask others physically close to them for help and don’t look further for answers. Note: this may reflect challenges in accessing people and resources outside of a worker’s immediate vicinity rather than limited self-directed learning skills.
To meet these challenges L&D teams around the world are adopting new ways of working, introducing new tasks and new role specialisms. If you are interested in exploring these (and more!) you can join my free webinar on the L&D Profession as per final paragraph of this post.
Modern L&D Mindset and Skillset
I shall post separately on mindset at another time – it’s a topic that warrants elaboration.
In regard to skillset we used the LPI L&D Capability Map (image below) to explore the range of competencies required by a modern learning team. The map consists of 25 competencies grouped into five categories.
Learning professionals can complete a free self-assessment against these competencies, launched from the LPI website. For individuals the challenge is to build awareness across all of these competencies, with deeper expertise in a small number, or a category from the capability map. For teams, there is a need to determine the right mix of competencies required across the team, and where to access / how to develop any that are not in place. If you are a learning leader interested in exploring the capability required across your team you can book in a complimentary 30-minute Capability Discovery session with me.
Exploring the Professional Development Needs of Participants
We didn’t have time during the session for everyone to complete a full self-assessment. Instead, participants read a high-level description of the 25 competencies and identified the competencies they most wanted to develop in order to thrive in the coming 12-18 months. We polled their responses on sli.do to identify the most common development choices – as per the image below.
We set up ‘stations’ for the four top development priorities selected by the group:
* Data Analytics (49%)
* Manage Technology for Learning (33%)
* L&D Strategy (22%)
* Design and Develop Solutions (22%)
Each station had a facilitator whose role was to engage the group to identify approaches and activities that could be used to develop the competency allocated to their station. This activity was run in two rounds, with participants moving between stations to a new competency at the end of the first round. Prior to this activity I gave an overview of a range of sources of learning – from experience, people and investigation. This is a framework I’ve adopted from Arun Pradhan’s Learn2Learn app and use to expand people’s thinking about professional development activities.
Next Steps for the COP
While the activity drew upon the experience and ideas of participants, this is just a starting point. I encouraged participants to become ‘internet detectives’ and get online to find people, groups, resources and courses relevant to the competencies they wanted to develop. I understand that additional contributions to the list of development ideas will be gathered in an internal online COP space. I’ll also be sharing a range of ideas that I’ve curated against the nominated competencies.
Interested to Learn More on this Topic? Check out my Upcoming Webinar
This daily dispatch has barely scratched the surface of the body of work on capability building for learning professionals which is a core part of my work. Keep an eye on future dispatches as I share more about different aspects of this work.
If this topic interests you please check out my webinar on ‘The L&D Profession’ – information and registration at this link.