Myths of Learning laid bare

During this time of COVID-19, it is sharply calling into question many workplace practices and beliefs.

Roles can’t be fulfilled from home? Except, everyone who can, is. It’s going to play havoc with leaders and managers who believe that if you’re not “present” you’re not “working”.

Roles that weren’t given to disabled people due to the above myth? No basis for that belief anyway, and in this crisis, highlighting that disabled people could always have been given those roles, that they could work from home, and they can be productive and contributory.

Working from home can’t be successful? Except, everyone who is able to, is showing just how successful it can be.

Flexible working requests that can’t be met? Why couldn’t they be met exactly? What was the genuine reason?

We have made decisions about a lot of working practice on nothing more than false narratives. More fool us.

And in the world of Learning, a lot of our practices and beliefs are having lights shone on them like never before.

In-person training / Instructor-led training is the best form of learning design and delivery. Uh-huh. Except, now we can’t deliver in this way, what is the next best form of learning?

Virtual training / webinars are inferior. Are they? Why is it that all these trainers and consultants whose business was primarily about them in-person, are now moving to virtual / webinar platforms?

Virtual learning platforms can’t deliver great learning experiences. Except, we’ve now got all those same trainers mentioned previously, who would confidently decry the utility or effectiveness of these platforms, suddenly all become advocates and experts in the tools. Where was that advocacy before COVID-19?

When you’re in person you can support individuals when they’re struggling with learning concepts. Because apparently facilitators/trainers are experts in reading body language and expert at responding to people’s needs. Maybe they are. This can be done digitally. Quite effectively, too. Fundamentally it’s about the design of the learning session. How are you designing the learning experience so you can support learning in that direct way?

Digital learning is too hard. Except YouTube remains one of the most production platforms in the world and people use it everyday for their regular problems. Is is that digital learning is too hard, or is it that people haven’t had the will to learn the skills they need?

Transforming in-person training to virtual training is easy. I remember when people made the same assumptions about how e-learning was going to revolutionise accessibility of learning. If your assumption is that you can deliver virtual training in similar ways to in-person training, you’re about to experience an incredibly sharp learning curve. You’ll probably write a blog post or two about it.

You can’t really make a business out of virtual learning. I would strongly encourage you to seek out both Jo Cook of Lightbulb Moment, and Catherine Nicholson of The Virtual Training Team. They have been leading on this long before COVID-19 concerns were a thing.

Virtual training is cheaper than in-person training. Listen, if you’re a client and you’re suggesting this, then go have a word with yourself. You are still gaining the full experience, qualification, intelligent, smart human being delivering your content. Don’t be a dick about paying less because it’s digitally led. Honour the consultant. Pay the right fee.

If learning isn’t being “delivered”, what’s the role of the L&Der? Interesting how conversations of performance support / performance consultancy have been going on for years, and now we’re questioning if delivering on learning needs analyses was the right approach. What about in-the-moment needs that can’t be met by learning design? When a manager needs to address a performance gap, what should they do? When the product manager needs to collaborate virtually, how can they be supported? When the sales leader needs to deliver a plan for the next 2 months virtually to their team, what do they need? How do we ensure staff are remaining compliant with mandatory care requirements when they are overworked and overstretched so much that they have zero time or energy to complete e-learning?

This is a good time for L&D to really examine its accepted practice and really try to understand how to support their respective businesses/clients in more acute and exploratory ways. Yes, a lot of in-person stuff has been ripped away. The fundamentals of what L&D can do and deliver remain true. Understand the business. Understand the tech landscape much better. There are experts in virtual learning we should be seeking out and enabling us to upskill. The more we hold fast onto the myths we’ve believed for years, the more we do a disservice to our profession, and keep ourselves in the past.

Don’t fight the Overwhelm

Some thoughts on how to deal with the current Overwhelm due to COVID-19 global pandemic.

First, don’t fight the Overwhelm.

This shit is overwhelming. It has been sudden and dramatic and most of us haven’t had to deal with anything of this scale in the last 30-40 years. Yes, we’ve had important and significant things happen in that time, but nothing quite so fundamentally life-altering.

Accept things for what they are. Unprecedented. There is no other word fitting for this period of our lives.

If you’re finding it hard to deal with stuff, that is very understandable. Most people haven’t had to have depths of resilience to draw from to be well at this time. We are being asked to do things we fundamentally struggle with. We’re not designed as people to be alone. Isolation is awful. It affects so much of our mental and physical wellbeing.

We have such strong understanding about work, life, family, friends, that when every aspect of that is disrupted, we are going to be overwhelmed. This is one of the most challenging times the vast majority of us will have to bear with. The world wars were completely different contexts. We can’t compare those to what this is.

You are not failing as a human being if you feel like you want to cry at this situation. You’re not a snowflake. You’re not weak. You don’t need to be strong. You don’t have to stay positive. You are human. Your reactions are human. Others deal with things in very different ways. Let them do their thing. You do your thing. You figure out what you need. What’s right for you. Let others do what they need in their way. There is no right or wrong about how you react. There is a right and wrong about following the advice we’re being given, and they are two very different things.

If you’re going to be affected financially by the state of things, get on the phone now to every service you use and find out what they can do to help you. If you’re going to struggle to make money, find out good and healthy ways to keep making money. Avoid desperate solutions as best as you can – gambling / prostitution / emergency loans through loan sharks are all examples of solutions that will cause you further problems. Talk to friends, family and anyone else you trust. Be open. Be frank. This isn’t the time to be proud. You matter. Your income is important. If you’re going to struggle, seek help. Please.

Limit your intake of the news. Maybe once a day check in to hear about what the daily update is. Hearing too much about all of this will only add to the Overwhelm. Just because you’re not hearing everything does not mean you’re missing out. Doesn’t mean you’re being dismissive of reality. Doesn’t mean you’re being ignorant or arrogant. It’s your mental health. Protect yourself.

Limit your social media. Cull like you’ve never culled before. Don’t like reading certain kinds of post? Delete. Don’t like what someone is saying? Unfollow. Feeling that someone is crossing the line with their posts? Block. You are what your social media feed is. If you want to feel more in control, do that by taking control of your social media feed.

Look after yourself. There are very good ways to do that, which you can do readily and easily. Go for a daily walk. You don’t have to go far, maybe a couple of times round the block. Maybe down to the park and back home again. Maybe just even sitting on your doorstep to get some fresh air.

If possible really plan and balance your meals over the week. That will help a lot with thinking about what food you have, what you want to shop for, and what combination of stuff you can make. If you’re living with others, plan together.

Talk to people every fucking day. Isolation doesn’t mean you can’t video call or phone call with others. Don’t just WhatsApp or use other messenger apps. Actually talk to someone. Hearing another person’s voice, seeing their face, matters so much.

Do things that make you feel good. Dance in your room. Play music. Read a book. Have sex. Watch your favourite movie. Start that hobby. Learn that recipe. Laugh at something everyday. Create some art. Write that thing. Clean that part. Get your sleep regime in order.

Accept it when things are too much. Cry. Shout. Rant. Talk to others. Accept others’ pain. Be mindful of the line between acceptance and destruction.

Create the best personal routine you’ve ever had.

Remember that this will pass. We don’t know how long before that happens, or if there will be a second hit later in the year. But it will pass. Patience and discipline are our greatest allies at this time.

Be well, my friends.

New Voices in L&D – Luke Bevan

There is something about the fresh eyes of those new to the workforce which is really infectious and enjoyable to listen to. Here, Luke Bevan shares his enthusiasm and thoughts on how to make an impact in the world of training. It’s really good to see his attitude for wanting to learn more about the tech capability and the deeper stuff in understanding about psychology and different L&D solutions.

I don’t edit or amend the pieces being written for me. I’m not an editor, and that’s not something that matters for the purposes of this series. Each piece is submitted in the author’s own writing style.

You can connect with Luke on LinkedIn.

Thoughts on 21st century learning

I love learning – a self-confessed nerd, a career in L&D seemed to give me a tingle of excitement and the passion to want to make a difference. I have been in a training delivery role now for a large organisation for just over 2 years and wow – I have certainly learnt a lot!

Nobody could have quite prepared me for the departure from how I had always experienced learning, from school through to university and now in the workplace. Initially going through training courses myself as a delegate it appeared to be a familiar set-up; a classroom, a projector and a teacher.

It was only when I transitioned to the other side of the desk that it occurred to me there has got to be better ways of doing this (particularly in a working environment where the majority of people are in that room against their will).  It’s the catch 22 situation – if an employee doesn’t learn the business won’t be able to operate effectively and if the business is not operating effectively there is a tendency to postpone development and learning in order to focus human resource.

 I want this to change.

I have been exposed to many different ways of thinking around how L&D looks and what it will undoubtedly look like in the future. I am willing and ready to embrace technology, learn about learner preference and psychology and contribute to a radical change in the perception of what an L&D team is and what they can offer. My role is currently ‘Trainer’ but I know this does not look the same as somebody in the same role just 5 years ago and will look completely different again in a further 5.

I am excited and ready to change our professional landscape, being open to change, piloting and sharing great new approaches to business learning that is a proven asset to that business. I think we are at a very exciting and malleable juncture and it feels great to be along for the ride!

New Voices in L&D – Helen Marshall

A key area for discussion in L&D is the disproportionate number of men occupying senior roles in L&D, and what we can do to correct for this and at the same time advocate for and speak out against sexism (mainly against women) and misogyny. Helen Marshall picks at this conversation in a really thoughtful way, and I appreciate her writing here to help us consider this topic further.

I don’t edit or amend the pieces being written for me. I’m not an editor, and that’s not something that matters for the purposes of this series. Each piece is submitted in the author’s own writing style.

You can connect with Helen on LinkedIn.

Being your own advocate as a woman in L&D

Since Donald H Taylor’s research was published in 2015 which highlighted the issues surrounding gender inequality in the learning sector, there’s been a movement picking up pace in the L&D world, a group called ‘Women in Learning’. Taylor’s main findings came from 2,635 members of the Learning and Skills Group, which was split 45% female and 55% male. Across this population, the split was roughly 2:1 female to male in support roles, 1:1 in mid-level roles and 1:2 in leadership roles. This research, although now several years old, rings true of the experience I have had, to greater and lesser degrees, since stepping into this industry full time in 2014.

As a result, there are a couple of things I wanted to pick up, albeit briefly, in this blog: 1) recognising the challenges faced by women in this industry, and 2) why being your own advocate is important.

Although I’ve been lucky enough to be surrounded by inspiring women and leaders since I joined the L&D world, there’s also been a noticeable lack of women in senior leadership roles in all the companies I’ve worked for (some more so than others), and the more senior you go the less diverse the population. This is not only echoed by Donald Taylor’s research, and the subsequent need for the rise of the Women in Learning movement off the back of it, but by my friend’s experiences in the industry as well. The issue doesn’t stop with senior leadership though, it stretches into discrepancies with salaries, progression opportunities, and inclusion in daily work-based activities. And if you’re a woman of colour, as some of my friends have pointed out, these issues are felt even more acutely.

Recognising and talking about this is one way to begin changing perception and tackling inequality – something I’m sure the Women in Learning movement will successfully achieve. Yet advocating for yourself, and for those around you is also essential.

I used to be wary of being seen as ‘singing my own praises’ and relied on other people (colleagues or clients) to flag with management when I’d done a good job – and when it came to sharing this with my team I was definitely not going to shout about my own achievements. This usually stemmed from one place: I didn’t want to sound arrogant (something women constantly battle with). Then I switched to working remotely – I had to make a conscious effort to connect with people in my company, to let people know what I was doing or achieving in my role (and beyond) and I suddenly realised: I am my best advocate. Looking back now I wish I’d been this proactive and vocal in all my previous roles (L&D or not). There were definitely times when I did great work that went relatively unnoticed as a result of not wanting to make a fuss.

Yet a step beyond this is being an advocate for other people, too. Supporting each other and providing a platform for others whenever possible. It’s also about opening people’s eyes to issues that may often be swept under the rug or ignored. For example, one of my friends works in a Graphic Design team where over 90% of her colleagues and all of the leadership is male (there’s 13 people on the team), but she hadn’t really seen an issue with that due to her own cultural upbringing. Unconscious bias definitely plays a part here too, but that’s a whole other blog post. In the meantime, here’s a great article.

To end on a bit of an anecdote. I was once part of producing a course for a client based in the Middle East who asked for all imagery of women to be removed from an eLearning course. I fundamentally disagreed and refused to do this, only to be told by senior leadership that I had to obey the will of the client (they were paying the bills after all…). It’s extremely difficult to be sensitive to different cultural requirements whilst advocating for equality in a world you’re so separate from. However, if you just blindly accept things like this aren’t you part of a bigger problem? I left that company, obviously.

In summary: advocate for yourself and others, and keep your eyes and ears open.

New Voices in L&D – Alok Dubey

As we start the last week in the series of New Voices in L&D, Alok Dubey takes us into the interesting new world of Learning Experience Design. I say new world, because to many this ‘title’ or ‘phrase’ isn’t common L&D language, and there is a difference in being a traditional learning designer and an instructional designer. Read on to hear Alok’s views.

I don’t edit or amend the pieces being written for me. I’m not an editor, and that’s not something that matters for the purposes of this series. Each piece is submitted in the author’s own writing style.

You can connect with Alok on LinkedIn.

Day in life of a Learning Experience Designer

The learning industry is rapidly changing. In my 8 yrs. of being in L&D, I have seen many shifts i.e. rise of eLearning, emergence of digital learning as a phrase, AI & VI, the death of the LMS, rise of LXP and emergence of Learning Experience Design discipline.

You may have been hearing lot about the new words being used to describe the field of practice that earlier was defined by the term-Instructional Design(ID) – Learning architect, Learning Engineer, and Learning Experience Designer( LXD).

These are not just fancy shiny titles, but a new discipline and a signal to change our approach to learning, keeping learner experience at the center of the learning design. There is still be a place for Instructional Design (ID), but these new roles mean something slightly different.

When I started my journey as Learning Experience Designer few months back, I had these obvious questions –

  • How is this different from an ID role?
  • Opportunities and challenges ahead?
  • What does the role entails?
  • How to set up for success?
  • Next steps?

Did bit of research to find out the answers, I am sharing my research and journey, it might be useful for fellow LXDs who are embarking on this journey.

Difference between the LXD and ID?

Before the difference, why this move? I wanted to move from the approach …”In this course, you will learn about xyz….” to a new approach that provides a learning journey for the users with  an affective context employing various learning modalities.

There are various definitions available for LXD, this one quite well resonated with me-

“Learning experience design is the process of creating learning experience that enable the learner to achieve the desired learning outcome in a human centered and goal-oriented way.” (learningexperiencedesign.com)

The focus of experience design is not on training , teaching or instructions; experience designer focuses on ‘learner’ and the how and why of people learn. It’s a multidisciplinary approach combining ID principles, pedagogy, neuroscience, design thinking, social science and principles of UI and UX.

Understanding and analyzing the available data, understanding the performance problem by connecting with the users, then working to create the experiences that will help address the issue and making sure you are not delivering your agenda ,keeping the users at the center of design, always.

Opportunities and challenges ahead?

I see there is huge opportunity for this discipline. Learning experience designer looks like a fancy and modern title however this very well focuses on the basic concept – ‘We all learn from our experiences’.

The challenge is – How do we create the experiences for the learners (oops) users so that they retain the knowledge as a consequence of that experience .

There is a strong debate, what should we call people we design learning for? Read more here and here.

In the era of rapid change, we need to transform the way we deliver the training and aim at enhancing the learner experience.

That’s where the LXD discipline comes into play .

Skill set:

This list might look overwhelming list, it’s a journey and one can hone the skills along the journey. I learnt many of them on the job.

The key skill is to deliver to the user’s needs, aligning content and technology in a manner that creates powerful and contextualized learning experience.

An LXD shall have deep understanding of-

  • Design skills
  • User Experience (User research, personas)
  • Understand – How we learn
  • Learning Technologies
  • Prototyping
  • Stakeholder management
  • Data Analytics

All this underpinned by a strong foundation of performance consultation approach as that sets the direction for success.

The Kit:

This is not an exhaustive list, some of them are free tools.

I was lucky enough to get into a structured capability development program facilitated by industry experts. It was a rewarding experience and had all elements of an effective learning design.

Besides Content and collaboration, we worked on the real business projects to apply the learnt skills and got mentoring and feedback from the colleagues and experts.

In particular, what has worked for me – Being curious with an attitude to experiment and fail, focus on the user needs and challenges they face, involving the users early in the process, and creating experiences that help them win at workplace using human design approach.

How has been your journey as an Learning Experience Designer? I look forward to learning from you.

New Voices in L&D – Richard Nichols

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - West Bromwich Albion vs FulhamThis piece from Richard Nichols is a fascinating piece on career transitions, learning new skills, and the quality of the learning we need beyond the education/instruction side of things.

I don’t edit or amend the pieces being written for me. I’m not an editor, and that’s not something that matters for the purposes of this series. Each piece is submitted in the author’s own writing style.

You can connect with Richard on LinkedIn.

From Expert to Learner

I had always been keen on sport. I played cricket to county level as a junior, and then fell in love with golf. I turned pro, got my PGA card and playing professionally in my early twenties. I wanted to be the best: the support and development as part of my golf training was the first time that I realised the value of coaching. When I gave up playing as a pro, I turned myself toward helping others, mainly working with up and coming youngsters that shared the dream I’d had.

 

I had a sense that there was a bigger agenda waiting for me somewhere, but I couldn’t yet see what it might be. So, I went to university, as a mature student, to study a management degree. What really hooked me was my love of innovation and start-ups, and I decided to carry on and study this as a MSc degree (I focused on rapid innovation and spin-offs, and I ended up being part of a team that won the UK and European student entrepreneur of the year competition).

 

When I finished my Masters, I managed to get myself into an marketing and PR agency as an intern and whilst there, I worked on some really interesting clients, Hugo Boss and Alex Thompson Racing (one of the world’s greatest solo sailors) on their mast walk campaign, this really excited me. My love of sports, and a growing awareness of the power of brands, led me into sports marketing. I joined up with a global leader in outdoor sports clothing, Helly Hansen, and spent a two years working with elite sailing teams and events such as the Volvo Ocean Race.

 

I saw at close hand the behaviours of people in charge of product development and innovation. It was here that I first noticed the importance of listening. Helly were really focused on listening, and really understanding, what the athlete’s needs were, which lead to fast prototyping and new designs made to meet their needs. For example, working with the Swedish ski team, Helly developed a ski jacket which had a smart heating technology that focused on applying heat to the blood vessels and nerves close to the skin in the neck, which then would be pumped around the body keeping you warmer. Working with the Volvo Ocean Race team to develop a jacket which could withstand the punishing Southern Ocean waters, Helly noticed the importance of developing a fabric that would also wick moisture when sweating (racing is hard physical work, you sweat even when there are icebergs about!).

 

I watched a lot of my friends start businesses, and quite a few had turned to me for advice and feedback on their new products or routes to markets. I really enjoyed working with them on their projects, their passion was infectious. I also got a lot out of helping them, and it was at this point my desire for doing something grew too big to ignore, and I decided that it was time to make people and skills development my professional focus. I decided to learn whatever I needed to learn to be equipped to help individuals and teams to flourish, particularly in my major area of supporting innovation and creativity.

 

This launched me into a whole new avenue of personal learning. My first step was to seek out some advice about where to start – the move into the people development side of business was totally new to me. Through talking with others, I came to see that developing my coaching and facilitation skills would be a strong place to start, and I was fortunate to find the Wise Goose coaching programme ran by the psychotherapist and coach trainer Helen Sieroda. Stepping into this was a deeper level of self-examination that I was expected, and I didn’t find it easy. But I can see, as I near the end of this training, why Helen’s work is so highly recommended. I’m finding myself asking a lot more questions than I used to, and listening in new ways to what people are saying and why they’re saying it!

 

My next step is to develop my basic skills in facilitation and OD, and I’m signed up for the introductory programmes offered by Roffey Park. It’s an almost vertical learning edge for me right now – and it’s giving me a powerful sense of what it’s like for all the clients when they step into new roles and new learning. I’ve given up being an expert is something, where I was a pro and a teacher, and moved into a field where I’m the beginner. It’s a remaking of my professional identity, and my personal identity too. It’s exciting, but also at times really quite scary.

 

I’ve been fortunate that GameShift, the consultancy I work with, has actively looked for ways for me to use my existing skills – the social media skills I learned at Helly, alongside my photography and film-making interests and my innovation and entrepreneurship experience. This has given me a foundation to join in some client work from the first days in the new role. I’ve been developing a movie channel to tell some stories of change and transformation of this. Some of these films are on our public platform as video blogs, and some have been used as ways of recording and retelling client experiences to reinforce their learning. I’ve worked in on a series of NGO clients so far, in the age and health care fields, and I’m now helping to plan a very large group process for a global engineering company. It’s amazing that work that looks so simple in the room involves so much preparation. I’m noticing that some really emergent and creative work that looks effortless in the room actually involves a lot of work behind the scenes for it to exist at all!

It has been a challenge, learning the new skills required to work effectively in a different industry – and I’m far from “trained”. I’m lucky to work alongside some really experienced people, and some of what I need to learn comes from shadowing and having a mentor. But I know I’ll need many different kinds of development experience before I’ll feel that I know this field. Perhaps that’s part of what is so exciting about it – there are so many angles to learn about to be ale to work skilfully with people on their development. I’m thrilled to be starting to step into client delivery work now, assisting on some projects. And I know that this is a profession with almost limitless learning along the way. I’m looking forward to the discoveries it brings.

 

 

New Voices in L&D – James Barass-Banks

The topic of ROI for L&D is a very common one to discuss. Previously, Eva Adams gave us her thoughts on how we can have those conversations in better and stronger ways. Here, James Barass-Banks offers his points of view. I think there are valid points here to think about, and they partner with Eva’s piece.

I don’t edit or amend the pieces being written for me. I’m not an editor, and that’s not something that matters for the purposes of this series. Each piece is submitted in the author’s own writing style.

You can connect with James on LinkedIn.

Ensuring L&D makes a meaningful impact

Demonstrating the impact of Learning & Development activities can be a struggle. Kirkpatrick evaluations rarely progress to stage 4 and statistics from LMSs and training courses can only offer so much insight. None of these however, fully demonstrate ROI or give stakeholders a compelling reason to care about L&D.  It’s a point of tension and is evidenced by the regularity with which conversations around impact and ROI come up.

However, there is hope in sight. As Ed Monk pointed out on the Good Practice podcast. L&D is evolving and the focus is less on demonstrating return and more on broader impacts such as facilitating change; developing soft skills, working across the company, helping culturally and using technology effectively. If you do all these things you should be able to measure real impact and I agree.

This blog aims to help you demonstrate and communicate the real impact you’re having in a more meaningful way. A way that will unlock more budget. A way which your organisation recognises as not only valuable but essential to its future.

Demonstrating your impact meaningfully

Below are three ways to increase the relevancy and impact of your reporting by making them more relevant and accessible to stakeholders. All of these techniques have value in their own right, but to gain the most out of them a blended approach is best.

  1. Derived Demand

The first way to demonstrate your impact meaningfully is through derived demand. Derived demand is a demand for a commodity, service, etc. which is a consequence of the demand for something else. For example, you buy a washing machine because you want clean clothes. Not because you’ve got a space in your kitchen which needs filling.

This is important as it puts your metrics into a format that your stakeholders understand and care about. Whether that’s translating it into revenue, cost savings or potential earnings. It makes your impact more accessible, more tangible and more relevant to them. Which ultimately, can open up more budget and more opportunities for L&D.

To do this effectively, you will be using correlational data. This means collecting data before and after a learning intervention so that you can make comparisons. This data will likely come from other departments analytics which presents a further challenge. But if you can demonstrate a clear link to strategic objectives you should be able to get buy in. More on this later.

Once that initial hard work of gaining access to the right data is done your reporting will be more meaningful and more effective.

Here are a few examples:

You work for a catering company of 1,000 and train 25 existing staff on food handling and food safety and all 25 pass. It’s great! What this means for the business is that you’ve increased operational capacity by 2.5%.

You deliver a workshop about conflict resolution to a customer service team of 10 at a big B2B company. You then see a 5% increase in the number of customers retained by that team. Those 5% buy £1m each year. Therefore, your training supported £1m of revenue. More than that, the cost of acquiring customers can be four times the lifetime value of a customer (use this tool to help you do the maths). Therefore the impact to the organisation could be up to £4m.

10 data administrators have been struggling to use Salesforce for the last 6 months and the number of cases they resolve a day currently sits at 5 per person. Your training educates them on more effective practice and shows them shortcuts. After training the same team is able to resolve 10 cases a day per person. Your impact results in improving the team’s efficiency by 100%, which means the company doesn’t need to hire an additional 10 people.  This brings a saving of £250,000 in salaries and a potential further saving of £37,500 – £75,000, assuming recruitment costs of  15% – 30%, adding up to  £325,000 in total

Getting hold of the data can be a challenge, however there are other meaningful ways to demonstrate your impact. Read on to find out more!

  1. Success stories

Another way to demonstrate your impact, and engage prospective learners, is to share success stories. It’s an opportunity to show how L&D has supported a particular individual to be more successful and encourages others to engage to achieve similar results.

To do this well you need both a relatable story and specifics around impact. Choose something relevant and create both a condensed version of 100 words with a few specifics, and a longer version telling the full story in around 800 words. Here is a great example.

You can create success stories by interviewing the individuals who are already talking positively about your impact. Those who are proactive in seeking you out for further development. Or anyone who you believe has benefited greatly as a result of your work.

Success stories are also a very good way to talk about the unseen impact of L&D. Owen Fergurson explains on the Good Practice Podcast how someone was unaware of all the learning they had done through stretch assignments. It was only when they reflected did they realise how much these had helped them grow.

A great example and a perfect story to tell other stakeholders.

3; Alignment to strategic goals.

The third way to demonstrate your impact on the business is the alignment to strategic goals. Proving that L&D is helping to further the strategic aims of the organisation helps to position you as forward thinking and relevant.

Strategic goals can be everything from entering new markets to revenue targets, from becoming a market leading brand to reducing overheads. In all of these there are ways for you to link your activities to the future development of the company. Doing so makes your reporting more meaningful as it ties it to an agreed value.

Take the example of educating staff before entering a new market.  Pull together all the stats from updated programmes people have attended, views of relevant resources and briefings you’ve organised. Along with positive post course surveys and feedback this will demonstrate clearly how many people you’ve helped with the transition. Which in turn will clearly show your impact towards a strategic objective.

Another example is building a market-leading brand.  How your staff talk about their job in social situations is key to delivering that objective. As this article from Forbes shows, employees are now looking for companies that care about them. Therefore if, with your actions, employees feel that the company cares for them and their needs you’re supporting that strategic goal. How? By creating ambassadors for the company.

With all these ways to demonstrate your impact the most important and overriding factor is to make your reporting as relevant as possible to your audience. This allows other stakeholders to better understand your impact and will further build your credibility.

Communicating your impact

Now that you know how to demonstrate your impact the next step is about how to communicate that impact.

As well as briefing senior management, this could be posters, internal networks, monthly meetings etc. If it gets your message of real impact in front of the audience in a meaningful way it’s a good thing!

I’d also recommend creating engaging visuals and infographics. These can be used to tell the story of your data in a simple and effective way whilst at the same time providing ample opportunity to demonstrate the value L&D is bringing to the organisation. This undoubtedly will help you to influence and demonstrate your value to stakeholders of all levels.

Here are a few of my favourite free infographic tools:

Infogram – If you’re dealing with lots of data it’s amazing and very simple!

Visme & Canva – both have good templates

Spark – focused on Adobe users so perfect for those on a Mac

It’s also worth considering, if possible and appropriate, adding your statistics to the report of other departments. As L&D is supporting them and helping to contribute to their success it provides an opportunity for someone else to show the value you’re bringing to them. It also allows the training and development of their staff to be added to their KPIs. This gives you a mandate to support them even further and make an even bigger impact.

In conclusion, seek to make your statistics more relevant to your audience and engage stakeholders at all levels to demonstrate the impact L&D is making in a meaningful way. You can do this through linking your impact back to financials or using a number of other methods.

Learn more about how L&D can leverage marketing techniques with a framework for Learning and Development here.