L&D Skills Mapper
The skills needed in an L&D department have changed. Is your organisation ready?
L&D teams have endured a lot in the past few years. From the pandemic and The Great Resignation, all the way through to the skills gap crisis and industry 4.0. But despite all this change, many organisations haven’t changed their approach to learning and development. And the harsh truth is, our old approaches to learning just don’t cut it any more.
And if that’s your team. That’s okay, we’re here to help. This guide has been created to help you identify the skills in your team, provide resources to help your team upskill and take your learning to new heights.
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The five key focus points of modern L&D teams.
Modern L&D teams all have one thing in common: instead of focusing on churning out learning content, they focus on being a strategic partner to the rest of the business. That means mapping the business objectives to learners skills and wants. Ultimately, it means they are always focussing on these five areas:
L&D have a history of being order takers for the rest of the business. And it’s time to stop that. Focus on how your team can act as competent and proactive business partners and achieve business-oriented outcomes.
One learning intervention will not change behaviours. Modern L&D teams plan and map the overall learning experience, against the needs of the organisation, for maximum acquisition, retention and application.
L&D spend a lot of money on tech. But forward-thinking teams know that the journey doesn’t end on launch-day. Your team should have at least one person who is dedicated to keeping the platform alive.
Efficiency of resource
Most L&D practitioners will tell you that they’re time poor. So being efficient with resources is key to modern L&D. Make sure your team are agile, and know how to curate content as well as create it.
Data in learning has often focused on smile sheets and learning hours. But that’s changing. Make sure your team are utilising data to identify learning resource needs as well as the team members required to make that possible.
Mapping skills against your ambitions
Here at Jam Pan, we talk to learning leaders day in, day out. And we know that those five focus points are no surprise to you. But we also realise that bringing these ambitions to life can be a stumbling block.
What skills does your team need to achieve these focus points? What roles should you have in your team? Do you have to have all these skills in house? And with more questions than answers, many learning leaders just choose the easy route: doing things in the way they’ve always done it.
But it’s time for that to stop. It’s time to pair up the skills you need in your team to your ultimate learning ambitions. And the next few sections will help you do just that.
Stage 1: Business servicing
Servicing the business and its people is at the heart of everything we do in L&D. And to create learning that really works, we have to work with the wider organisation to understand their objectives. But that doesn’t mean we need to be order takers.
As an L&D professional, you are the expert. You are the one with the skills and knowledge to guide the learning journey in a way that will truly have an impact. That means creating learning with purpose. Choosing delivery methods that best suit the audience and their needs. It means pushing our learning design skills to the max.
To service the business in this way, you need to have a diverse range of skills in your team. From project management (you’ve got to meet those deadlines after all) through to practical skills such as content development, instructional and graphic design, and much more.
To truly have a forward-thinking team you need people that are real learning lovers in your midsts. These people stay on top of the latest trends, and are always willing to try something new to improve the learning experience.
Content developers the wizards behind building your elearning. These are the people who make sure your courses are engaging and innovative – so they should always be on top of the latest industry trends.
Instructional designers know the nitty-gritty of what works (and what doesn’t!) and why. They understand learning theory and how to apply it across a multitude of learning interventions to create learning that really works.
Project mangers with learning experience are a rare find, but are so valuable in driving your L&D team forward. It’s these people that make the magic happen, they supervise every stage of the project and make sure it really makes an impact.
On demand webinar
Check out our webinar on the L&D skills of the future to learn more about the changing learning landscape.
Get your instructional designers thinking differently with our top tips.
Latest trends and resources
Stage 2: Learning experience
One learning intervention will not change your learners’ behaviours. Your learners need to practice, apply, try, test and sometimes even fail, to truly retain new knowledge and skills. And that’s why modern L&D teams consider the entire learning experience.
This is a more human-centred approach to learning design that incorporates a range of disciplines, including instructional design, user experience design and marketing, to just name a few.
And the truth is, a focus on the learning experience is what modern learners expect. They expect their learning journeys to emulate their other online experiences, such as shopping and streaming services. So, if you aren’t already, it’s time to prioritise the learning experience.
Focusing on the entire experience means you need to include a wide range of media types, instead of focusing on the typical L&D formats, such as eLearning and webinars. So, you need experts in your team that understand the multitude of media you can leverage in your learning experience.
L&D professionals write content day in, day out. But when focusing on the learning experience – we need to write for impact, to market our offering and to grab our learners attention. If you want to take your learning to new heights, it’s time to look to your friends in marketing for advice.
Our people now expect the learning experience to reflect the rest of the web. So it’s time to prioritise user experience design. Make sure your team are always keeping this front-of-mind to ensure every experience you create meets your learners increasingly high demands.
The truth is, you do not need to create every learning experience from scratch. There is so much content available online that curating content is often much more productive than creating it. It’s paramount that your L&D team has the skillset to effectively curate content.
On demand webinar
Catch up on this webinar hosted by Learning Transformation Strategist, Lori Niles-Hofmann, about learning experience designers.
Adobe XD blog
Encourage your team to explore UX of digital media, blogs such as Adobe XD are a great start!
Upskill your team with our ‘Becoming a learning content curator’ course (it’s completely free!)
Stage 3: Platform maximisation
Learning experience platforms (LXPs) form the hub of most modern organisation’s learning cultures. And the chances are you spent a lot of money on procuring yours. And that’s without considering the time and energy you ploughed into the platform launch.
But then what happened? If you’re like most learning functions, you left the platform to run itself. You cram it full with fantastic learning content, and assume your learners will go and find the resources they want. Right?
Well this is one of the most common mistakes we see in modern L&D teams. It is absolutely imperative that you have people in your team dedicated to keeping your LXP up to date, working correctly, and acting as community managers to encourage real learner engagement.
All learning experience platforms are slightly different. They all have their own nuances and processes that might take some getting used to. It’s really important that you have access to at least one person that knows your platform inside out, to help you make the most engaging learning experience possible.
Community managers are the people that will truly keep the party alive on your LXP. It’s these people that will spark conversation, listen to user feedback and action necessary changes on the platform. These people need to be great communicators and be ready to be the learners champion.
Marketing are great at grabbing attention and getting their audience to take action. And isn’t that exactly what we want our learners to do? So it’s time to integrate marketing tactics into our learning teams. Think about things like design, copywriting, engagement strategies and launch campaigns.
Your learning platform partner
Utilise onboarding and upskilling opportunities from your LXP provider. Make sure you’re getting the most from the platform.
Adopt a marketing mindset
Learn more about being a community manager
Interested in learning what it’s like to be a community manager? Check out our blog post!
The Little Black Book of Marketing and L&D
Check out the Little Black Book of Marketing and L&D from Bianca Baumann.
Stage 4: Resources efficiency
The working world is changing rapidly. In the past two years we’ve seen some of the biggest workplace transformations – and these changes don’t seem to be slowing down just yet. And although times of change sparks innovation and growth for many, it poses a new problem for L&D. We now need to keep up with this speed of change.
This means we don’t have weeks and months to create learning interventions. Instead, we need to be able to quickly create and curate content and get it to our learners ASAP. This means your team needs to not only be equipped with the skills we mentioned in the platform maximisation section. They also need to understand the business goals and objectives, and be seen as a true partner to the rest of the organisation.
Learning business partners are the bridge between the learners needs and the business objectives. They need to be able to translate the business needs into learning experiences that the learners actually want to engage with – and get buy in from all stakeholders throughout.
Instead of jumping into to developing a new programme or procuring a new platform, you must complete a needs analysis first. Having someone in your team that can delve into the nitty-gritty to identify needs in detail will take your learning to new heights.
The L&D industry can be a bit of an echo-chamber. New ‘trends’ seem to continue, year after year. You need people in your team that can identify new innovations that will truly help your organisation grow, rather than falling into the trap of new trends and buzzwords.
Encourage your team to network and connect with learning peers from outside your organisation.
Ensure that at least one person in your team is equipped at identifying learning needs (this CIPD factsheet might come in handy!)
Upskill your team on stakeholder management, this LinkedIn Learning course is a great start point!
Action mapping template
Action Mapping by Cathy Moore may be an oldie when it comes to drilling down whether learning is needed, but it sure is a goody!
Stage 5: Data utilisation
Having data utilisation as an L&D focus point takes using data to the next level. Instead of being data-informed, or data-led, your team should be data-driven. It’s the people that sit behind your data utilisation efforts that should guide and inform everything your L&D team does.
Modern L&D functions need data analysts to focus on gaining a better understanding about trends in your learning initiatives. Using business data, combined with learning data to truly understand what works and what doesn’t for your audience. Analysts collaborate closely with the Learning Business Partners to identify current and future resources needs – and the team members required to make it possible.
Analysts aren’t just comfortable with data – they absolutely love it. They take data from a range of sources and piece it together to create a narrative about learning at your organisation. Pairing this information with your business goals, they can suggest recommended next steps for your learning team.
Take your learning team to new heights by having a dedicated solutions expert in your team. Instead of opting for their preferred (or perhaps the most convenient) learning delivery method, your solutions expert will assess your learning landscape and choose a learning solution that will best help you achieve your goals.
In order to be a truly efficient learning team, you need people who think outside the box. People who innovate and push the boundaries. Professionals that always think of new, different ways of doing things – those who truly put the learner front and centre, every time.
Critical thinking activities
Develop the critical thinking skills in your team. This critical thinking mindset activity from Hyper Island is a great start.
Encourage a growth mindset
Encourage a growth mindset in your team, give your people permission to think differently.
Utilise external systems
Put in place systems and habits to gather information relating to trends so you can find future solutions.
But that’s a lot of skills for one team, isn’t it?
Throughout this guide we’ve listed 14 different skills all modern L&D teams should have. And that might feel a little overwhelming. And the truth is, we’ve only just scratched the service. But you do not need to have individuals with all these skills within your core team. Instead integrate these skills within your team by utilising the external talent marketplace.
The external talent marketplace allows you to bring experts into your team on a short-term basis. Whether it’s a freelancer or an agency, external talent can bring some of these expert skills into your organisation without the over-heads of full time employment. What’s more, combining external talent with your core team is also a great upskilling opportunity for your full-time employees. They can learn on-the-job from external talent and overtime develop the skillsets to apply these expertise themselves.
So, what’s the perfect mix of internal and external talent?
The truth is there’s no perfect blend. There’s no hidden formula for success. The important thing is ensuring you have these forward-thinking skills within your team.
So, if you’re ready to integrate external talent with your internal team to take your learning to new heights, then we’re ready to help. We can provide you with expertise in all areas of learning design and development, in a quick, flexible and efficient way. Or, we can help you upskill your internal team with new skills – such as content curation or content development – in order for you to become a highly effective learning team.
Our mission has always been to provide learning leaders with a better way to access the best talent in the industry. And if you need our help in achieving just that, get in touch, we’re ready to help you today.
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