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Five Things Learning Professionals Want

Hint: It’s the same five things every other worker wants.

No one would argue that competitive compensation, good health insurance, opportunities for development, a sense of purpose, and a work-life balance are instrumental in keeping great employees and bringing in the best. While learning organizations may not be able to control all of those factors, we certainly have influence over many. Let’s look at five.

Workers want opportunities for development. Learning organizations are notoriously poor at providing their own audiences role-based training. How do you develop an instructional designer? Keep having them write and hope it improves over time? What is the pipeline for growth for a client engagement manager/program manager? More projects?

Putting “senior” in front of one’s title isn’t meaningful enough. Consider ways to help your employees grow in capability by shadowing and learning from experts. Consider external growth opportunities such as conferences and classes. Consider creating multi-disciplinary teams that are responsible for coming up with a learning solution—so it becomes both a developmental opportunity and something that meets a business need.

Workers want purpose, clarity, and measurable goals. Learning organizations can connect learning interventions to those goals and demonstrate results with strong analytics tied to the how participation in those interventions are linked to outcomes. There is an “aha” moment when learning professionals actually see that their intervention had a positive impact on the business. Teach your professionals to identify an evaluation strategy at the onset of a project and encourage follow-through. When things are moving fast, the first thing that tends to go is evaluation!

Workers desire a work-life balance. Learning organizations can tee up content in a way that works for the modern learner to help create that balance. Consider incorporating a full or partial work-from-home policy. Consider job sharing. Also, advocate for your learning team. They are working hard to please the business, and partners will continue to get content quicker and at better quality. Arm your learning professionals with language and options on how to push back or reframe the conversation.

Workers want autonomy and flexibility. Learning organizations can personalize experiences by offering multiple ways to achieve the same outcomes. What does personalization mean for learning professionals? It could be finding ways for them to contribute outside of a “traditional” path to leadership. It could be moving that individual from the learning team to the business. How better to create an advocate of learning and training than to have someone who was on the “inside” now be one of your clients?

Workers want opportunities to be innovative or creative. Learning organizations can encourage, develop, and deploy experiential, apprentice-type, or hackathon programs that are based on Design Thinking principles. Allow your team to put themselves in the learners’ shoes and ideate ways to solve the business problem at hand. Maybe the budget is tight, but sometimes, an innovative solution isn’t always expensive. Bottom line—don’t skimp on design. You’ll get a better end product.

Learning organizations can capitalize on the tenets of a great employee experience and positively affect employee engagement and retention. Focusing on what all employees, including learning professionals, desire can help you increase engagement and impact business outcomes.

About the Authors

Britney Cole
Britney is a learning leader with experience in organization development, human performance, and corporate learning and has worked remotely, managing virtual teams for more than a decade. Britney lives in Minnesota with her husband and three small children (ages 5, 7 and 8) where she keeps warm with plenty of blankets and cozy hats. She likes to talk, so you might see her at learning conferences as a speaker. Britney has provided consulting for clients in the financial services, pharmaceutical, steel, chemical, media, technology, retail, manufacturing, and aerospace industries. She forms lasting partnerships with her clients helping them with learning design and architecture, content development, leadership and professional development, performance consulting, technology implementation, and change management. Most recently, she is helping pioneer new experiential learning methods and defining learning 3.0 taxonomy.

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