Making the Case for a Robust Learning and Development Strategy

Learning and Development (“L&D”) is traditionally associated with training. Typically, the L&D team receives a request to create training to solve for an issue that the organization is experiencing. The team then creates and delivers training that targets the issue. The organization determines the success of the training based on the number of people who attend the training and the industry standard “smile sheet.”

Today’s L&D function has moved beyond serving simply in a training capacity. Every organization should have a strategically focused L&D function that is highly collaborative and innovative. They should act as problem-solvers, working hand-in-hand with other functional leaders throughout the organization to ensure teams and the organization as a whole achieve their key performance indicators (KPIs). L&D teams who foster close alignment, cross-functional collaboration, and strategic leadership can readily adapt to the fast pace of today’s environment, keeping ahead of foreseeable change, and pivoting with agility to unforeseeable disruptions.

Next-Level Learning and Development Strategy

A recent study by the Association for Talent Development indicates that 83% of organizations are experiencing a significant skills gap in their workplace. Seventy-one percent of respondents say that the organization’s L&D department bears responsibility for addressing the problem.

Contributing to the evolution of the L&D function is the ever-shortening shelf-life of knowledge in today’s workplace. Factors such as globalization and emerging technologies make it more important than ever for organizations and their employees to stay nimble and be able to upskill and reskill as the demands of the job change. The L&D team is responsible for architecting programs that enable this fluid response to change.

The following table explores the evolution of L&D’s role from training fulfillment to strategic partner that is critical to the advancement of the organization.

Traditional Training Approach
Forward-Thinking Strategic Approach
Provide training upon request
  • Serve as the organization’s learning and development thought leader for all matters related to talent development
  • Drive organizational learning strategies
  • Align efforts with strategic priorities
Respond on an as-needed basis to reported training needs within the organization
  • Develop innovative approaches to learning, leveraging modalities or methodologies appropriate to each context
  • Maintain a deep understanding of adult learning principles, methodologies, and processes
  • Keep current on evolving job functions, including instructional design, human-centered design, and accessible and inclusive design
Create a one-size-fits-all training class/program to solve a problem without context
  • Partner with teams and employees throughout the organization to understand their problem in context
  • Assess business requirements and analyze talent development needs
  • Based on contextual analysis, recommend custom learning solutions
Track training attendance and/or participation
  • Implement measurement strategies to demonstrate, improve, and reinforce the impact of customized learning solutions
Work within the L&D team
  • Engage and lead project teams in executing proposed learning solutions
  • Collaborate cross-functionally within the organization and with clients and contractors, to architect complex learning deliverables
  • Manage consulting relationships in support of the L&D function

Turning Your Organization’s Learning and Development Strategy into Operational Reality

As the previous table demonstrates, the responsibilities of L&D teams have fundamentally shifted and expanded over the years. The L&D function has become much more strategic, and there’s much greater leadership opportunity for those involved. Today’s L&D team plays a critical role in achieving cross-organizational goals and can demonstrate initiative by leading projects that advance the overall mission of the organization.

Translating organizational strategy into operational reality has effectively become the role of today’s L&D function. With this evolution, the skills required to succeed as a member of the L&D team have changed. Essential strategic skills for today’s L&D team include:

  • Breaking down strategic priorities into key deliverables; identifying accountabilities; and aligning communication, people, processes, resources, and systems to ensure effective implementation and delivery of required results
  • Connecting the talent and expertise of individuals with potential beneficiaries, collaborators, and partners to improve cross-departmental collaboration
  • Seeing and cultivating the leader in everyone, not just senior staff
  • Demonstrating accountability
  • Fostering an inclusive environment and business practices to model a forward-thinking organizational culture

As an example, Chevron’s talent strategy embraces the concept of keeping organizational end-goals in mind. At the heart of their L&D efforts is always the question, “What are we trying to achieve?” The idea is that there is no training for training’s sake, but rather advancement toward achieving organizational goals. The company’s talent development team recently formed a new Future of Work Strategies group. This group essentially fulfills a research and development function, but one that focuses exclusively on evolving the company’s talent practices.

When empowered with the right tools and authority, an organization’s L&D team can be the linchpin to its success. They are familiar with employees throughout the organization, they understand the organization’s goals, and they know the gaps that need to be filled to achieve those goals. Their key role is to architect and implement scalable tactics and strategies to upskill and reskill employees to close the skills gaps that otherwise prevent an organization from fully achieving its goals.

Does Your Organization Need Help Bolstering Its Learning and Development Strategy?

To be successful in an increasingly competitive workforce, companies should invest in their L&D programs. But change isn’t always easy and knowing where to start can be confounding.

GSX helps organizations develop innovative talent management and human capital strategies using multiple forms of credentialing and learning solutions. We work with your organization to build resiliency in your workforce through improved hiring tools, smart analytics, and a holistic plan that addresses today’s and tomorrow’s concerns. If your organization is struggling to adapt to change in the workplace, Global Skills X-Change can help!

Media Contact

Kevin Edwards, (703) 653-0596, media@skillsdmo.com



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