hpc’s Yvonne Farrell shares some of her Insights into the changing world of L&D
Yvonne is passionate about her work and contribution to developments and strategic drivers within the L&D sector. Her heart has always been in HR and L&D, leading major internal change programmes.
Prior to joining hpc Yvonne’s career spanned a variety of roles including Talent and Performance Manager, Leadership & Development Manager and Head of People and Organisational Capability. Now an associate of hpc, she brings fresh and strategic thinking to the design, development and delivery of corporate talent management strategies to clients in a wide range of industry sectors.
As well as working with individuals and larger L&D teams on bespoke hpc programmes, her most recent collaboration has been with the IITD on the design and delivery of a programme to develop the consulting skills of internal L&D practitioners. By partnering effectively with their business and acting as an internal consultant, they can truly align the outputs of their talent management strategy with the goals of the business.
So, we asked Yvonne her views on how L&D professionals can change the way they engage and align their thinking internally and the positive impact this can make on the business.
Why do L&D professionals need to change the way they engage with the business?
Gone are the days of annual training course ‘menus’, devised by L&D and used by the business to manage and often ‘correct’ poor performance. These corrective measures have been overtaken by an environment today where the role of L&D is to enable employees to develop their skills and encourage mindset change; so that they can embrace and respond to the changing ways of working as well as driving competitive advantage for their businesses. L&D should be an enabler of change in organisations.
Within uncertain and evolving times, it is essential that L&D is all about alignment and engagement. By being more proactively linked to stakeholders that drive the business strategy, L&D professionals can ensure that they are delivering the same business outcomes as the leaders in the business. Equally important is working with the employees to understand their needs and evolve new ways of learning, particularly in a world where L&D opportunities are an important aspect of recruitment and retention.
Why are consulting skills critical to the L&D Professional of the future?
There is no doubt in L&D’s ability as a profession; however, a shift in thinking and approach will increase its wider credibility. L&D professionals need to demonstrate a deep and cross-functional understanding of the business to confidently approach business leaders with bold solutions to challenging business problems. They need an ability to ask questions rather than being prescriptive or reactive and not linking the L&D intervention to the business strategy.
We talk about consulting skills encouraging stakeholders to think ‘outside the box’ but I believe that L&D consulting skills need to help stakeholders fundamentally understand ‘what is inside the box?’. Businesses often push for L&D to change ‘something’ but as L&D internal consultants, we should challenge the current status quo ‘inside the box’ so that stakeholders and L&D professionals work together to understand current realities and future change.
What skills are needed to be an effective L&D consulting professional?
Many skills need to come into play: self-awareness, emotional intelligence and self-belief. Building trusting relationships, openly communicating and networking across the business is key.
To align with the business there clearly has to be a healthy level of interaction, connection and conversation with business leaders and employees around needs and expectations. A strong consulting mindset will constantly grow new knowledge about the business to shape meaningful and relevant L&D interventions.
Having the credibility, confidence and courage to challenge the norm and champion new learning journeys will give L&D the power and purpose to become agents and facilitators of change, with the ability to capture, demonstrate and communicate their added value.
How will the L&D professional measure success?
Initially during the diagnostic stage, it is about the level of buy in and engagement you are getting from the stakeholder – are they open to challenge, questions about their strategy and how L&D can support them? Or are they pushing back, expecting a single ‘intervention’ and then blaming the L&D professional when it doesn’t work or if changes aren’t evident.
If support and collaboration exist to identify a problem, issue or development need and positive change can be experienced and measured, then success will follow in the value add that is evident across the business. It is in those scenarios that L&D will have a serious place at the decision-making table.