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L&D, make the business your business! 

 November 25, 2014

By  bem_admin

Like it or lump it – the L&D function is not always placed central to the business; it should be yet often is not. Rather than this becoming debilitating for any L&D professional, how can this be turned around so that the business would find it very difficult to operate without L&D.

L&D, make the business your business!

introduction

Like it or lump it – the L&D function is not always placed central to the business; it should be yet often is not. Rather than this becoming debilitating for any L&D professional, how can this be turned around so that the business would find it very difficult to operate without L&D.

– Understand the business that you and your function serve

-  Seek opportunity to add value to that business

– Make it easy for them to want more

Understand the business that your function serves

We cannot add value until we know what the business would consider to be value. Get to know the business: what it desires to be, what it feels to be appropriate actions to move the business forward, the environmental factors surrounding it, its positioning in the marketplace, the customer needs, the emerging trends surfacing locally and internationally. Learn the language of the business, behave in ways that appeal to the business, find ways to penetrate the minds of the decision makers. Read the key documents, sit with the leaders, network with the competitors, search industry data and journals, create an internal language aligned for the industry.

Get out of the L&D arena and into the business zone – only then can you return to the L&D arena with confidence that actions will serve.

Seek opportunity to add value to the business

Adding value implies a gap has been identified and hence an opportunity for value to be added through change. Be clear on what will close that gap: is it skills, knowledge, attitudes, behaviours, culture, leadership, communication or a myriad of others. Justify with clear reasons when you propose a value-adding activity and demonstrate evidence of why this will work, or could be worth an attempt. List the tangible outcomes and quantify (where possible) the value this will add. Keep this message short and sharp remembering most business drivers and decision makers are quick to see opportunity. Where possible, have additional resources for reference that have huge credibility in their eyes – spotlight their heroes, benchmarks and possible differentiators.

Be persevering in the face of adversity; accept most will be skeptical of your business acumen. Change takes time and if you commit to outcomes, commit to investing the time it will take. One day, some day, drawing attention to value, in real business terms, will most certainly have heads turning.

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Make it easy for them to want more

Build a partnership with the decision-makers. Contributing to solutions will make their job easier. Deliver options at carefully-chosen times. Have charts and resources ready and on-call; become a trusted adviser and be available at all times, regardless of when that may be. Create a databank of resources for them to turn to, apply when they need something new. Feed them relevant, reliable and timely input, demonstrating cause and effect against their desired development. Never take more time than they have and forever be in awe of what they know. Change habits and show how your door is never closed.

Then and only then will many consider the real worth of the L&D function. Then and only then will they entertain your question ‘What if we don’t train them and they stay’? Then and only then, will true credibility be the bridge between people development and business outcomes. So, what are you waiting for?

Debbie Nicol, Managing Director of Dubai-based ‘business en motion’, and creator and author of the ‘embers of the world’ series, is passionate about change. She works with both traditional and contemporary toolkits that move businesses and executive leaders ahead, whilst working on leader and organizational development, strategic change and corporate cultures.

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Debbie Nicol

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