Thinking

Internal Consulting Skills for L&D Professionals

26 April 2019 |

A recent hpc, IITD and TLS collaboration to deliver

Consulting Skills to L&D Professionals

“The new realities where organisations operate in highly dynamic external environments and have to be strategically flexible and agile, places significant responsibilities on the L&D function and L&D professionals.”

A strong opening statement to a piece of research conducted by Edinburgh Napier Business School on behalf of the Irish Institute of Training and Development (IITD). The research, which is aimed at informing some of the activities of the IITD, has shed light on the ever-changing context of the L&D professional. It examines the current challenges and future opportunities that need addressed to shift the power and position of this crucial organisational role.

As well as the changing world of L&D in organisations, the research explores the ‘hot issues’ for the L&D function and the key competencies required to enhance L&D effectiveness. Great emphasis was placed on the ‘alignment of L&D with business strategy and agility’ and how enhancing the skills of L&D professionals is vital in seeking to future proof this alignment.

As a result of some of the findings, the IITD and the Trainers’ Learning Skillnet collaborated with hpc to design and deliver a programme to address some of the developmental gaps in the world of L&D professionals. Its aim is to provide a platform from which to align new skills with strategic business needs.

Josh Blake of the Trainers’ Learning Skillnet, which provides funding for the programme explains,

“The IITD has responded to the needs of the L&D community with a powerful programme, designed in partnership with hpc: Internal Consulting Skills for L&D Professionals. We are halfway through our second programme and a third starts in October 2019.”

“The research that was commissioned emphasises the importance of aligning the L&D function with business strategy. To support this, there needs to be a greater focus on enhancing the agility of L&D professionals to influence corporate structure and people development. This will allow them to meet the changing needs of the business,” he adds.

Due to the ever-changing external environment and competitive landscape that organisations operate in today, the L&D function is expected to possess the dynamic capabilities to respond both strategically and quickly.

As Professor Thomas Garavan of Edinburgh Napier Business School further explains in the report,

“This suggests two important challenges for L&D professionals. First, they are increasingly expected to play a major role in helping organisations to be competitive in highly dynamic environments and to develop a workforce that can adapt quickly to change. Second, they are required to invest significant time and effort in their own development to ensure that they are one step ahead of the employees that they are required to develop.”

These important challenges have been recognised by the IITD and have contributed to hpc’s design and delivery of the Internal Consulting Skills Programme.

Josh Blake adds, “The programme is structured around the key competencies that L&D professionals need to enhance effectiveness. Their existing wealth of professional knowledge needs to be coupled with the skills that enable them to become strategic partners and agents of change. The programme equips them to better engage with and influence the mindsets of directors to better understand and invest in people development.”

As well as a need for greater engagement between L&D and the business, another ‘hot issue’ exists that requires greater emphasis on the development of the skills of L&D professionals. This is the main driver of the Internal Consulting Skills Programme facilitated by hpc’s Yvonne Farrell who comments:

“We talk about consulting skills encouraging stakeholders to think ‘outside the box’ but I believe that L&D consulting skills need to help stakeholders fundamentally understand ‘what’s inside the box?’.”

A wider interview with Yvonne Farrell and her insights into the changing world of L&D can be read here.

As one interviewee of the research study commented:

“I think that the most important aspect of our effectiveness over the next five years will be our ability to articulate how we will help the business and at the same time be concerned with the needs of employees. It’s important that L&D specialists understand their own development needs and are continuously focused on developing their strategic capabilities.”

The Internal Consulting Skills Programme offers the L&D community the support to further their personal developmental needs to drive and add value to the business. The third programme in October is now open for enrolment at the Trainers’ Learning Skillnet website.

View All Thinking