Why Have an L&D Department?

Maybe the question ought to be ‘Why not have an L&D department?’ To me, it’s a no-brainer. How many times do companies say that people are their biggest asset? Are they lying, or exaggerating?

Look, until they have robots doing all our jobs, and we don’t need to work at all, people really are a company’s greatest asset and forging ahead with developing required skills is the L&D department.

So, helping people to do their jobs more efficiently is core, which makes the whole organisation more efficient. Sing your successes from the rooftops. Ensure you remain cost effective by establishing what success looks like before delivering any learning and then measuring and evaluating your learning activities. Show what would be the case if you hadn’t acted.

These days, staying up to date with technology and embracing it is key; sometimes we have to recognise that the tail does indeed wag the dog – we may prefer for our learning to be done in a quiet location on a large screen, but if they insist on doing it on their mobiles whilst on the tube, make sure your training is mobile.

But staying up to date is not always true for the latest flavour of the month – is gamification really the answer? It has been described as a “solution looking for a problem.” (Peter Casebow, CEO at GoodPractice). What will next month’s flavour be and will you pander to it? Of course, you want to engage your learners, but if you’re not careful, you can end up doing the exact opposite. Call me old-fashioned, but if I wanted to play a game, I’d play Chess or Scrabble; I like my training to be simply that, and not a merry dance around the houses! However, that said, a good L&D department will undertake a thorough training needs analysis and a target population analysis – be specific about what needs to be done, why and how, and if gamification rocks your audience’s boat, who am I to say otherwise? One thing I know for sure, there is always more than one way to skin an elk.

A good L&D department is worth its weight in gold. Never, in the field of human training, has it been more true that to cut the budget of L&D departments, when times are hard, as is often done, is the most myopic thing to do. If people really are a company’s greatest asset, developing them so they can increase the business’s competitive advantage and value is an L&D department’s raison d’être and you can’t ask for a finer one.