At our third L&D Collective London meet-up, close to 30 L&D professionals came together to share insights, build relationships, and learn from one another. Meeting in-person is so invaluable for a community like ours, and it was heart-warming to see how much the London hub has grown since the last meet-up.
Our members formed new connections, mentors met their mentees, and old friends were reunited. Here, we share why attendees love The L&D Collective and provide insights from our shared conversations.
Our L&D Collective members spent the afternoon amongst their peers sharing best practices, challenges, and advice. It wasn’t just an occasion to network, but an opportunity to learn and gain insights that prompted people to take action and apply new techniques in their organisation. But don’t just take our word for it! Here’s some feedback we had from some of the L&D Collective members who joined us.
“It was fantastic to talk to other L&D professionals and hear about different approaches and focus of people development across organisations. I was inspired by the people I spoke to and would love to learn more from them, so this is one of my actions.”
“Networking events can be stressful, but this lunch was the opposite - relaxed, enjoyable, inviting to connect, share, and have fun. The venue, the pace of the event, the guests, the food - everything came together into a valuable and enjoyable experience.”
“Just wanted to say thank you for such a wonderful event today. It was such a pleasure to meet so many great L&D professionals in one place and hear how so many of our problems are the same!”
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Now let’s dig into the golden nuggets we uncovered in our conversations at the meet-up.
The topic of aligning the L&D function with the business was a popular conversation amongst members. We talked about some of the challenges that arise when L&D teams are simply asked to deliver training requests without an understanding of how the training will contribute to business objectives and employee performance.
We noted that a performance-led L&D approach—understanding problems that need solving in departments and getting L&D involved to move the needle on employee KPIs—is key to aligning L&D with the business. But we also talked about the fact that for some L&D teams, it can be difficult to be exposed to opportunities to question training requests and uncover what stakeholders actually want to achieve rather than simply taking orders for training.
One member had some great advice: “the key is to seek out just one stakeholder that will welcome you doing some deeper analysis and digging into the data a bit more to identify the problem.”
One of the other main takeaways from the meet-up was about managing stakeholders when making the pivot to performance. “A performance-orientated L&D approach makes complete sense, but it requires sensitive navigation with stakeholders,” says one member. “It’s important not to tell them you’re doing something completely different or taking away what they value.”
We noted that it’s worth clarifying with stakeholders at the outset that as an L&D leader, you’re not probing and asking questions to be difficult—you’re simply trying to find out what the stakeholder wants to achieve. With a performance-led L&D approach, the outcome at the end will be what the stakeholder wanted, but the path to that output may look different to the solution the stakeholder first presented.
We agreed that measuring success and proving the impact of our programmes is the single most difficult aspect of L&D. As one member said, “Our happy sheets are always positive and it shows people are engaged. But how do we know that what people are learning through our training programmes is changing the work for the better?”
We discussed the importance of recognising the actual problems that employees and departments are trying to address and how this can impact your return on investments while also showing how you’re making a meaningful difference.
Some examples of common problems we talked about included talented people leaving the organisation and new first-line managers not having the skills needed to support their teams. We noted that understanding these problems in more detail is critical to proving the impact of our L&D programmes.
The meet-up was a good opportunity for members to learn more about the way L&D teams are structured within other organisations. We found that it was quite common for L&D teams to be small in number, but to service hundreds if not thousands of employees. Unsurprisingly, many members said there were simply not enough hours in the day to deliver everything they wanted to.
We also discussed the pros and cons of working in larger L&D teams versus one-person L&D teams. Teams of one said they enjoyed the fact that they are able to shape the L&D strategy more so than they would if they were part of a larger team. On the other hand, rolling solo means they can’t do everything themselves. Similarly, those who were in larger L&D teams said they would like to have more involvement in shaping the strategy.
We discussed the challenge in standardising group L&D programmes, particularly for global L&D teams that are responsible for programmes that need to be implemented in different businesses reflecting the particular contexts and demands of local teams and groups of learners.
For example, how can you standardise an onboarding programme for all the businesses when each business has a different process, culture, and way of doing things? We noted that it’s about standardising the programmes at the group level to make it as easy as possible for the L&D team to manage, while still giving the businesses an opportunity to localise and customise the training for their teams.