The learning landscape is becoming more complex as technological innovation provides more and more opportunities to deliver learning experiences in new ways.
For L&D teams to continue to have impact, this changing landscape requires a shift in approach. Do traditional L&D skill sets, the technical skills of content design and delivery, help teams meet those changing demands of the business? Probably not.
So what are the emerging skills needed by L&D teams to successfully harness new technologies and meet business needs? We outline three skills that will become increasingly important in the coming months and years.
1 Consultancy skills
The most effective L&D teams are those that are aligned with the business. That means working closely with stakeholders to really understand the business challenges that need solving. As well as identifying the problems, L&D needs to be really good at identifying the most effective solutions. A critically important part of being an effective internal consultant is the insights you bring. That means you need to have a good understanding of new technologies and their application, as well as which suppliers exist in the market that can deliver the right solution. You’ll need a good network to call on to stay on top of trends and new technologies and be a good communicator in order to use what you know to influence your stakeholders.
2 Deep understanding of learning
The L&D team is the expert voice on learning within the organisation. And as more and more research into learning is generated from neuroscience and the cognitive sciences, so learning teams can build a much deeper understanding of how humans learn. This new knowledge and understanding will help deliver more effective solutions based on how your employees learn. Added to this, L&D teams now have more data at their fingertips than ever before. This provides a much richer understanding of what learning initiatives work and why. Feeding this back to the business will help organisations develop a greater understanding of how employees prefer to learn.
3 Marketing and communication skills
Understanding business requirements and having deep insight into the best way to solve them through learning interventions is all well and good, but not if no-one else in the business knows this and understands the value you bring. It is particularly important that your stakeholders and the executive team are on board with what know. Insights from data and evidence of success will boost your credibility in the eyes of your stakeholders. Stories of personal, team and departmental success will engage the business with what you offer. It is worth remembering that successful brands excel at engaging their customers around what the brand is good at. As work and jobs evolve, employees are becoming increasingly interested in how to shape a successful career. This is just one example of where L&D teams can build a strong brand through effective marketing and communication.
For L&D teams, the myriad ways of delivering learning interventions and the technology solutions on offer require a skill set that is more focused on business and market analysis and sense-making. That means understanding the market and connecting business challenges with the right solutions and being able to effectively engage the business around those solutions. This is a shift away from traditional technical skills, which will be a challenge for many learning teams. However, there is a pay-off and that is that these news skills start to shift the team into a more strategic role within the organisation.