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3 Traits That Will Make You A Learning & Development Rock Star In 2020… START NOW!

A friend asked me to visualize the learning organization in 3 years and what their Learning & Development (L&D) department should do to get ready.  As I thought about the answer, I realized there are 3 traits that will make you and your department a Rock Star in 2020.

Be Customer-Focused/Learner-Focused

The learning department will be 100% customer-focused and the “customers” are the employees (not the departments).

  • Each person will get exactly (and only) what they need and want.  There will no longer be role-based “learning plans”.  There will only be a personalized learning plan – 1-size-fits-one.
  • End users will own their learning and hold themselves accountable – the learning organization will exist to make this possible.
  • Learning will not tell customers what to do – the customer will tell Learning what they need.  All pull, no push.
  • To support this customer-focused approach, the learning organization will have an agile, customer-focused mindset – rather than creating content that may be quickly obsolete. L&D will be highly responsive and can pivot quickly. (More on “Agility” shortly.)

This customer-focused approach can only exist when L&D can provide customers with the organization’s expectations for their role in terms of, “how do I do the job?”  The expectations are the tasks they must perform, the behaviors that make the tasks executable, and the required levels of proficiency.  That’s a competency model.

Be Curious

 The Learning organization will get curious and start to explore the industry of the company they are in and the audience they serve – not because they have a course to create, but rather to be intimately familiar with customer (learner) needs, maybe even before the customer knows the need exists. 

This will facilitate responsiveness and customer-focus… all in the context of what L&D knows their customers need to be able to do (the competency model).  Competency models help L&D know how to serve their customers.  They will become aware of what materials exist or need to be created for competency-based learning.  They can pivot quickly to meet changing needs.

Embrace Diversity

The Learning organization will provide materials that reflect true customer needs: ~70% will be activity-based, there will be support for the ~20% collaborative, and ~10% will be formal.

  • Learning will identify activities and experiences, along with tools, templates, checklists, and the like to support learning on the job; in fact, when a new need is identified, an L&D Rock Star will first ask, “What activity could this person perform to learn this skill?”
  • Learning will provide technology that supports identification of task-based mentors; everyone in the organization is likely to be both a mentor and a mentee on a regular basis – it will simply become a part of the organizational culture.
  • Learning may still create content, but more will be microlearning – short content that can be easily consumed in bite size pieces.  The course as we know it today may still exist, but be used sparsely, mostly for large complex topics or for those who are new to the industry/field/equipment.

Part of embracing diversity is recognizing that you don’t have to own everything your audience needs.  As an L&D Rock Star, you can become Master Of The Universe.  L&D Rock Stars will think of themselves as brokers – curating the best content and resources (tools, templates, job aids, ideas for activities), internally and externally.  When a need arises because of a change in the environment, (see “Agility” above) the Learning team will be so responsive that they can provide some resources within days to meet the new need.  Maybe it’s as simple as a link to a YouTube video, industry article, and blog post.

So if you want to be a Learning & Development Rock Star in 2020, start now.

  • Identify what people need to be able to do (provide a competency model)
  • Let them identify and own what they can and can’t do
  • Let them be accountable for closing their own gaps, achieving aspirational goals, and preparing for the next step in their career
  • Use that information, and deep awareness of their competency models, to provide competency-based learning with flexible options that reflect the way people learn (70-20-10) and make sure it’s easily consumable (microlearning)
  • Make it fast and easy by providing one click access to everything they need, recognizing that you can better serve the audience by becoming the Master Of The Universe, linking to options throughout the learning ecosystem, rather than creating it all
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