What do people really want out of Learning and Development (L&D) at work? Results. That boils down to whether they're improving and developing in their career. Whether they're staying longer in their role, are happier at work, and feel that they're growing at their company. This helps companies retain and attract talent, and upskill to prepare for the Future of Work.
Most L&D solutions only focus on one aspect of the problem: learning. Learning management systems — and now learning experience platforms — have created huge amounts of content to address as many learning needs as possible. But in the end, learning is just one part of L&D, so they’re not having the impact that they could.
A learning culture is defined by more than just learning itself — candid feedback, a safe environment and accountability are just as important. If your learning isn't guided by feedback about where you need to improve, or you're not held accountable by your manager to apply what you've learnt, then that learning just isn't going to have much of an effect.
So we want to turn the idea around. What companies and learners really care about in L&D isn't learning — it's development.
You can't effectively improve the development of your people by offering them more learning content. A learning budget certainly helps with empowering your people, but it won't directly impact your people's development. So — how do you improve their development?
Start by listening
We start by listening to what people want to get out of the process. We find out what their goal — big or small — is. We don't want to overwhelm you with loads of content, or complex psychometric tests. Rather, we want to first understand your challenges at work and in your career, and then empower you with the tools to develop.
That could be as simple as nailing a presentation next Friday. Or it could be as complex as becoming CEO one day 👀. We all have these goals at work and in life, and by starting with them, we keep the focus on the results of what somebody is learning.
Reinventing the Personal Development Plan
We believe the Personal Development Plan (PDP) is the key to people’s development. Lots of companies don't get as much out of them as they could. Many people already fill them out, but unfortunately they often become an irrelevance or are under-exploited. Done well, they're good for both the employee and the company, but they often fail due to a lack of dynamism, little personalisation, and no connection to learning.
Think about it yourself. What do you need to learn this week? And what would you like to achieve long-term? I'm sure you have answers, but are they written down in your PDP? And even if they are, it's not a living document — it's something that you check in with infrequently. (When did you last check yours?) PDPs can easily become out-of-date, forgotten and irrelevant. But we believe they have a huge potential.
Don't just think about what you want to learn but how you want to learn it. We recommend instituting heutagogy, an approach where self-managed learning includes conscientious reflection of what and how we develop as individuals. The journey is just as important as the destination.
Starting with development, rather than learning
By reinventing the PDP, we're approaching L&D from the direction of development, rather than learning. We’re creating a platform which sits in between a traditional learning system, and a tool to manage performance.
Rather than people having to awkwardly fit their work problems into learning solutions, we'll find out what their problems are first and fit the solution to those. By approaching L&D from a new perspective, we’ve got a chance to re-think the solution, and help businesses meet some of their biggest development challenges head-on.