Jane Hart sees modern day learning and development (L&D) professionals as agents of change, who are not “order takers” but “trusted advisers”. Therefore the challenge is to become a trusted adviser. Trust is not gained by being an expert, but by doing something of value for others. People trust those who help make useful connections, or initiate change for the better.
How many L&D departments show trust to the colleagues they support?
- If you trust your colleagues to manage their learning, you don’t need a learning management system.
- If you trust your colleagues to get things done, you don’t need a tracking system.
- If you trust your colleagues to learn, you don’t have as much pre-programmed training because they will find what’s best.
- If you trust your colleagues to be self-directed learners they would have a say in the L&D budget.
Removing barriers to knowledge-sharing should be the focus of the L&D professional, not delivering content. It is time to stop being takers of orders and become better diagnosticians. Solving problems will help L&D be seen as a valued part of the enterprise. L&D professionals therefore have to master their own field as well as the business they support.
In addition, they have to understand that few outside L&D think what they do is important. L&D can learn a lot from marketing. For example, marketing and education have certain similarities – gaining attention; getting your message across; and changing behaviour. Much of our learning is through conversations with others. Without conversations there are no social transactions. Without conversations, there are no relationships.
As with marketing, learning professionals should learn with and from the people they serve, by engaging in conversations. Learning-oriented marketing is the way forward for a world where markets are conversations. Marketing-oriented learning is how L&D can remain relevant to their organizations when work is learning and learning is the work.
Work used to be fairly straight forward. L&D professionals had a job, knew what to do, and were paid to do it. Then the Web appeared. Everybody got connected to almost everyone else. All these connections made work more complex. A lot of work was automated. Some of it was outsourced. Today, making sense of this complexity, and developing ways to keep up, is how L&D can help the organization.