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Learning and Development Professionals Have a Lot to Offer

16th March 2017 | Eileen Arney

Eileen Arney discusses what Learning and Development professionals have to offer an organization

Learning for Organizational Development (9780749477448)All change implies learning and individuals and organisations who manage change well do so by learning quickly and efficiently. Training can have a role to play in this, and is an important part of the armoury of learning and development professionals. More important though is the ability to learn continuously, and this usually means learning from reflection on practice. It is an important part therefore of the role of leaning and development professionals to help others to learn. This accounts for the continuing popularity of coaching and mentoring, both methods of helping others to draw learning from their experiences and to create new insights and understanding which are peculiar to their own context. Learning and development professionals will often be trained coaches and the ability to coach and mentor others, to create strategies for coaching and mentoring and to buy in coaches where needed are all important skills for them.

Because learning is at the heart of change, learning and development professionals should be closely involved in the development of designing and implementing strategies for change. They can take on a role in this which encompasses more than learning and development; they can also contribute to thinking about the design of the organisation and the way it can develop to deliver the desired change. Their understanding of this thinking about the organisation’s future will enable them to identify the competencies leaders will need to support change, including cultural change, and in turn to support them in developing these competencies.

To achieve this learning and development professionals need a good grounding in organisation development and in the continuing debates about the ways in which organisations involve their people in leaning and change initiatives. They also need well developed strategic thinking skills so that their work aligns with the organisation’s wider people management strategies and the ability to evaluate the impact of learning and development interventions. On top of all this they need the ability to scan the external environment so that they can contribute to thinking about how to respond to changing market conditions and to government initiatives on training and development, including new funding arrangements.

When you add to all these skills in coaching mentoring and facilitation, it is very obvious that learning and development professionals have a great deal to offer their organisation. The great challenge for them is to develop the skills to make this contribution.  To achieve this learning and development professionals need to be determined to pursue continuous learning themselves and to achieve the quality and breadth of experience in the workplace which will enable them to contribute in a way that meets the needs of the business and is recognised as doing so.

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