I’ve not had a Q&A post for a while, and in a fascinating conversation recently on Twitter, David Goddin and I started a mini-debate on what L&Ders actually develop. I raised the question that I don’t believe we are actually developing skills, and we are only developing behaviours. My belief in this comes from how L&Ders tend to name their sessions – Feedback Skills, Presentations Skills, Assertiveness Skills. But I don’t believe I’m training skills at all. A skill is something that can be crafted and can be honed and refined. The manual labour trades, the many engineering fields, computing fields, medical fields, health and safety – these are all skills based. Learning how to talk to someone is not.
What ensued was a very intriguing conversation about whether L&Ders are developing skills or not. Is it a skill to be able to run for example? Or is that a learned behaviour? Does it become a skill when you have mastered the behaviour?
L&Ders are mainly focused on developing behaviours needed to make you more effective in the workplace. There are wider questions here about what is L&D for and how do we achieve our goals, but I think this question is intriguing enough to allow to grow some. It won’t make any difference to the delivery of courses, sessions and workshops, but I do think it sorts the serious L&Ders from the have-a-go consultants.
I think it is important for this reason. Semantics is important. People interpret meaning from how you describe something. As a way of marketing my course on Presentation Training, does it make more likely you will attend the training if it is called Effective Presentation Skills, or Effective Presentation Training?
So the Q&A for this week is – are L&Ders truly developing skills or are we fooling ourselves into believing this myth?