Creating learning opportunities is an inspiring part of being an L&D leader. But while you’re busy developing learning journeys for others, it’s easy to forget about yourself.
The future is full of many new opportunities. And you’ll need the right skills to benefit from them. We share 5 compelling reasons why your own professional development should be a top priority.
Reading time: 8 minutes
It’s an exciting time to be an L&D professional. Your role is more important than ever.
Did you know the demand for people with your expertise increased 94% in July-September 2021? And more organisations, especially since the pandemic, recognise the value of workplace learning. Enough to increase the budget for it. With nearly 50% more companies spending more on upskilling employees in 2022.
And it’s likely that your leadership responsibilities are growing. You may now be in charge of implementing new learning solutions for hybrid, remote, cross-functional, or cross-border teams.
So far, so good. But there’s one thing missing, your own professional development. Making time for the essential skills needed in 2023 (and beyond) will help you and your organisation succeed. Especially in times of uncertainty and unexpected change.
Read on to discover 5 persuasive reasons why you should prioritise your own professional development.
Reason #1: Influence senior management and contribute to organisational strategy
Your L&D expertise is popular for a good reason. You’ve earned it. In recent years, L&D leaders have proven how critical their skills are in times of change and uncertainty.
During the pandemic, L&D was influential in helping organisations transition to hybrid and remote working. Many had to quickly implement new training solutions for globally dispersed, cross-functional teams.
Senior management experienced first-hand how essential it is to have a highly skilled workforce. One that can quickly adapt to change. And the key to creating such a workforce? Your L&D skills. In fact, 53% of L&D specialists report they now have a seat within executive teams. A big increase from 24% in 2020.
So, now that you have senior management’s attention, what’s next? Make sure you expand on your L&D expertise. Start by sharpening your business, planning and stakeholder engagement skills. It’s essential that you demonstrate how learning programmes are linked to business impact based on your organisation’s strategic priorities. This will help you remain central and relevant to senior management.
Reason #2: Develop and implement strategic L&D plans that drive business growth
With your newly sharpened business skills, you’ll be ready to tackle the most common L&D challenge. Measuring and communicating the impact of learning.
Although workplace training has become more strategic, the way organisations measure success has not. The most popular form of measurement is still qualitative feedback. And less than 20% of organisations say they have the analytics capability to effectively measure learning. Yet 60% of L&D professionals feel increased pressure from senior leaders to measure learning impact.
So, what can you do? Focus on developing strategic L&D initiatives that close skills gaps and boost business performance. Challenging, yes. But not impossible.
Start by improving your analytical skills. And don’t forget to keep up with the latest methodologies in training evaluation and measurement. This way, you can effectively monitor learning progress. And make any necessary changes to ensure training programmes deliver strong business value.
Successfully proving ROI to stakeholders will help you gain buy-in and commitment for future learning initiatives. Plus, increase your ability to support teams with relevant, targeted skills development.
Reason #3: Easily connect and collaborate with cross-functional, cross-border teams
How do you develop effective learning strategies for cross-functional, cross-border teams? Some of whom you will never meet. What skills do they need to support well-being and also drive productivity and business performance?
To get the answers to these critical questions, you’ll have to spread your wings. Spend more time learning about various functions and departments to understand their specific needs.
To be more effective, L&D can no longer exist as a separate department. It needs to play a more cross-functional role. This means working closely with different business functions, such as HR, senior business leaders, department heads and more. But this opportunity comes with a few challenges.
How good are your stakeholder engagement and intercultural skills? Do they need an upgrade? As Dr. Amy Edmondson advises in her book, learn how to excel at “teaming.” This is where “people come together quickly (and often temporarily) to solve new, urgent or unusual problems.”
If this doesn’t sound like you just now, wait a moment. Through your growing L&D responsibilities and these ever-changing times, “teaming” is a skill you’ll definitely need. Seamlessly collaborating with many different departments. Exchanging ideas and knowledge, all to create successful learning solutions, will help you excel in your role.
Reason #4: Lead during times of uncertainty and change
If it wasn’t obvious before, it should be very clear by now. Your L&D skills are critical to your organisation’s success (and will continue to be in the future). You not only help it remain agile, but also competitive in times of frequent change.
Remember when many employees had to adapt to new ways of working during the pandemic? Well, it was L&D professionals that showed the way forward. And today is no different. You are still expected to lead. Whether it’s developing new types of training for globally dispersed, remote teams or supporting senior leaders through change management processes.
Now is an excellent time to reflect on how you can further enhance your leadership skills. Increasingly, you will be expected not only to demonstrate leadership but also support managers to lead during times of uncertainty.
But leadership development has changed. Especially with the rise of hybrid and remote working, more employees expect greater autonomy. As your employees are key to your organisation’s success, taking good care of them makes good business sense. The traditional authoritarian, top-down style is evolving into a “servant leadership” approach, where employees come first.
Companies that adopt a more service-oriented leadership style are more attractive to today’s jobseekers. And, in the end, better prepared for unexpected change.
Reason #5: Influence your organisation’s culture of learning by being a role model
Before we go, here’s a quick pop quiz: What is one of the best ways to keep top talent (and attract new ones)? Offer them better learning opportunities. Over 60% of employees say they would not leave their organisation if they could learn more skills. Creating a learning culture is a good way to have a highly skilled workforce and keep employees engaged enough to stay.
So, how can you play a central role in building a learning culture in your organisation? Become a credible role model and demonstrate the skills, attitudes and behaviours that result in a learning culture.
Role models have a powerful impact, especially for organisations that need to inspire behaviour change. As an L&D leader, you can be a strong visible example of the benefits of continuous learning. When employees see that you not only promote training initiatives but are also an active learner, they will more likely follow your example.
Plus, when advocating for training initiatives to senior leaders, it helps if you can speak from experience. Managers are more likely to be influenced if you share your own learning journey. It could influence business stakeholders to continue to invest in learning. Especially when they see how well it is paying off.
Just like you, busy employees and their managers struggle to find time and motivation for learning. Start by reviewing and developing your EQ skills. Review your time and stress management skills as well to help you find time for L&D even though your role is expanding.
Now is a good time to start
Are you ready to begin? Which skill will you prioritise first? Does anyone in your organisation need convincing? Share these 5 persuasive arguments with them. They will quickly understand how essential it is that you keep on learning. And all the benefits it will bring to your organisation.
With over 80 years’ experience of working in over 100 countries in 6 continents, we have unrivalled experience of professional development for organisations. Find out how our 4-step process, training and coaching can grow your and your team’s skills and prepare you for the opportunities of 2023 and beyond.
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