In a blog post this week, I wrote about how I’m concerned that in the L&D space, there are L&D consultants who are creating unintentional anxiety about L&D performance because of new understanding and insights into workplace learning. There are many models and theories for us to be aware of as modern workplace practitioners, and we face one of the most challenging times in the evolution of the skill set of an L&Der.
There are many practitioners who would seek to get their support from external vendors of L&D, and quite rightly so. As well as seeking out professional development of skills in relation to performance consultancy, vendors can also be supportive of how this happens as part of the package of delivery that we’re traditionally used to.
For a start, let’s be clear – performance consultancy isn’t the same as developing blended learning solutions. If you think you’re in need of development in this area, you should check out the LPI’s Performance Consultancy Masterclass. As an L&D vendor, these are the types of things I’m looking for when I buy a solution from you:
Resources and Content
Curated resources and content are of huge value when it comes to supporting performance. Remember, when people are trying to remember how to do something, they don’t want to go through formal learning to get to the solution – they just want the solution. That’s performance support right there. They’re looking for some kind of job aid, tip sheet or short reading piece (digital or otherwise) that helps them do what they need.
As an L&D vendor, I’m going to be expecting you provide a useful set of resources and content that are supportive to the learning solution I’m buying from you. How you curate those resources, and where you source that content from is not what I’m interested in. What I am interested in is having access to these resources and content.
And whatever you do, don’t charge me extra for this. I don’t want an additional piece of the delivery solution to include the resources and content as an optional extra. Make it a fundamental part of the solution you’re offering me. If it’s an extra, I’m quite likely to just let it slide and pay no attention to it.
After the formal learning solution has been delivered, what delivery support are you providing once the ‘job’ is done? And I don’t mean ‘you can always pick up the phone or email me when you want’ type of response or attitude. But when I have a need to revisit the content at a later date so that I can deliver further formal learning, how are you supporting that to happen? And I also don’t mean ‘here’s a copy of the slides and facilitation guides’. Yes, they’re helpful, but they’re not helpful in taking the content, adapting it, evolving it, amending it, and then delivering an updated version.
Challenge My Assumptions and Thinking for Delivery
I may assume that I need a formal learning solution because that’s what I’ve always delivered. Challenge me on that thinking and the assumptions made with it. If I want to develop the coaching skills and capability of my managers, is a formal learning solution the best option? What else could I and should I be doing to truly enable this development to happen?
If I want everyone in the company to understand something related to compliance, mandatory or statutory, is e-learning the best option for that delivery to happen? How else could I make that same content available to everyone and still be confident that I’m meeting the outcomes I’m looking for?
Develop My Thinking for Outcome Based Solutions
Challenge my outcomes when I tell you about them. Force me to articulate what my stated outcome is, and when I do that, really clarify what I’m looking for from you. If I state I’m looking for Negotiation Skills training, and the outcome is that I want higher sales, how does one relate to the other? What else is being provided to the people you want higher sales from that will enable them to do this? Is there anything missing from the available solutions that is vital for the sales people to be successful?
Outcome based solutions will support me as an L&Der in being able to provide much more meaningful solutions to the business I’m working for. If I can deliver solutions that have relevancy and improve performance, then I’m more likely to keep you on as a vendor.
Use Evidence Based Thinking in Your Approach
It’s important to let me know about solutions where there is a research and evidence base to support them. And I don’t mean ‘your research’. I mean research that is validated in some way and evidence that is based on meaningful comparisons. It’s easy to say ‘my company did this research’ – what’s far more meaningful is to show how that research was conducted across a meaningful representation and the evidence and data informs about behaviours and insight that we can do something with.
If you don’t have your own research, steal shamelessly from someone else, and make sure you credit them with what’s rightfully theirs. I’m perfectly happy to hear about research and evidence and will have far more confidence in you as a supplier if you’re open and transparent about where your thinking and insights have been taken from. If you’re not the expert, but are knowledgeable, that’s good enough for me.
Where Possible, Co-create the Solution With Me
I love being part of the solution design. Involve me. Make me work for the solution I’m paying you to develop for me. Make me work to make it work in the business/organisation I’m with. Yes, I’m delegating the responsibility for this to you, that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be involved with it.
Co-creation helps both of us. It means I get more skilled at whatever that solution is, and you can build a solution which is more relevant to my needs. It also helps us better get into each other’s thinking and enables a much more collaborative partnership.
Hopefully this helps provide some thinking on how L&D vendors can better support L&D practitioners and leaders with their solutions. Please do let me know in the comments what you think and what else you’d like to add.
About the author:
Sukh Pabial is an occupational psychologist by profession and am passionate about all things learning and development, creating holistic learning solutions and using positive psychology in the workforce.
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