It’s all about the people

Image courtesy of
Image courtesy of

I like to think that our actions define us, but am more than aware that the relationships which are created, developed, nurtured and destroyed by those actions have more meaning that the activity itself. I was always keen to look at the outputs from the next part of the activity the session which I ran at the CIPD L&D show. Focused on relationships and people, I was asking the group to consider was how aspects of their work would change if they were to develop a more autonomous learning offer.

Their ideas:

  • Changing our SME’s (Subject Matter Expert)  understanding of learning and what is realistic
  • Engaging line managers to be more proactive in individuals’ learning
  • Understanding internal customer relationships
  • Collaboration with customers – internal/external
    (Can drive the need for change)
  • Defined outcome of what success looks like
  • Empowerment of individuals to take change responsibility and accountability
  • Mentoring
  • Job-shadowing
  • Coaching
  • Role model the value of learning at all levels – communicate out to the organisation

Helping our organisations, leaders and changing our SME’s understanding of learning and what is realistic strikes right at the heart of the challenge facing L&D at present. All the conversations we’ve had about alignment, business integration and seats at the table come to nought if we can’t demonstrate the relevance of L&D. There’s one big problem here though – L&D itself doesn’t understands what learning is and what is realistic. Decades of training have created an industry and function around instruction. We’ve re-badged elements of it as learning – unless you develop a whole system approach to redefining what you do, removing training elements, re-building what you make available, how can you hope to help other people understand?

I’m pleased that the group focused on defined outcome of what success looks like as opposed to inputs and outputs. Outcomes are the measures by which we should (and are in some cases) being evaluated. The focus on measuring inputs (what we deliver) and outputs (the number of times we deliver it) does nothing to support out relationship with the business. The business (for the most part) doesn’t care about satisfaction levels at ‘learning events’; they want to know that you’re supporting the business results.

It’s easier to say to empower…individuals to take change responsibility and accountability than it is to do. I can give you responsibility for your learning and walk away but that’s not how people need or want to learn. This was neatly put by Nick Shackleton-Jones this week on his blog. He says:

the principal mistake is to break (course) content into small chunks and assume that these now constitute resources

And he’s right; you need to give people a reason to want to pull the resources they need and just relabelling resources without explaining the context will confuse people. L&D needs to lead people down a route to be able to take responsibility. Not everyone will want to, not everyone will be able to. This is where we need to understand that one size will not fit all and we have to individualise what we do.

Am I right? Do we need to look at ourselves first to change our relationships with others? Let me know in the comments.

9 thoughts on “It’s all about the people

  1. Good article. Reminder that there are still instances of the old ways of ‘if we build it they will come’. Easier to offer more than is needed rather than better signposting to ‘just enough’, ‘I need it now’ and ‘I know where to find it’ (person or resouce). Design, context, relevance and timeliness critical.


    1. Individualised isn’t easily scalable and that makes our work harder.So people revert to the easy solution rather than establish what’s needed as you say in terms of design, context, relevance and timeliness.


  2. What others expect from us is driven by our attitude [to provision], so for them to change their expectations we have to change our attitude.

    Good points Andrew (and good session too).


  3. A very interesing post. As we’re sharing resources after our events, it’s certainly struck us that simply creating resources and waiting for people to access them aren’t enough. We’ve started the process of signposting people to things that may be of interest, as well as undertaking Randomised Coffee Trials to enable people to share their experiences. This Red Cross video is a really helpful explanation of it.

    Great blog!



  4. ‘Do we need to look at ourselves first to change our relationships with others? – I think we should and even make it a principle. Thanks for the article, read it with interest 🙂


Please comment...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.