Reset & Refocus Your L&D Strategy In 5 Steps | Live Workshop

Gary Stringer
July 13, 2023
July 25, 2023

We should be reviewing our L&D strategy periodically, fact!

Assessing where we are now, working out which problems need solving and understanding how we drive impact.

If we do nothing, we might continue doing things that don’t work; damaging L&D’s internal brand and ability to drive impact or convince stakeholders they should be invested.

And even if we’re driving impact, failing to stop and reflect limits our understanding of what works and why, so we can do more of it.

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Step 1: Take stock of where you are now

This is our most important step because it’s the foundation for everything else!

First of all, we need to re-establish the problems that need solving:

  • Are your stakeholder challenges still the same?
  • Is what you do still helpful to them?
  • Have their/the business goals shifted?

It’s a bit like Space Invaders: If the target moves and we keep shooting in the same spot, we’ll miss!

How To Take Stock of where you are now in L&D
Taking stock of current L&D is the foundation for driving impact.

“Problem discovery is a very common problem for lots of sales and marketing teams as well. And ultimately, this just comes down to asking the right questions and listening to people rather than just trying to talk over them sometimes and telling them what you think that they need.” – Alfie Gardner.

How you ask questions influences how well you can understand the current perception of L&D too!

There’s an L&D brand in every company, intentional or not, and it’ll influence how effectively we can drive behaviour change and help people reach their goals.

👍 If there’s a positive perception, ask why and if L&D is known for the right things.

👎 If it’s negative, try to understand why and how you can turn it around.

Action: Go on a listening tour!

Schedule 15 minute calls with people in each department, those who are close to the people and problems, not just the C-Suite.

This is a low-friction way to diagnose their current problems, goals, where they need help, and generally steer the relationship in the direction of L&D being the problem solver.

L&D teams should go on a listening tour
Speak to people and understand how and where L&D can help solve problems!

A very simple three-question structure for these check-ins would be:

  • Where are you now?
  • What are your priorities for [time period]?
  • How do you see us working together?

Schedule regular catch-ups off the back of this and use the same format to say: is this all still true or has it changed?

Step 2: Understand current skills gaps

Now we know which problems we’re solving, it’s far easier to understand which skills we need. But we don’t know if we have the skills needed unless we measure them!

In HowNow we do that by building a skills profile for every person in the team, through a mix of self and peer review based on a proficiency scale from 1 to 5.

For example, let’s say our problem discovery with the marketing team reveals that they’ve got five product launches this quarter (priority) and typically they don’t get enough media coverage when they do these (problem).

We can measure the PR skills for each team member. If nobody is above a level three, we can deliver relevant learning to improve their proficiency – which gives a clear indication of whether L&D has driven impact, as we can compare launch reach to past campaigns.

Action: Use AI to help you benchmark skills by role.

“If you’re a solo L&D team, you’ve got a very small team, or you are kind of being dragged across different elements of the business at one time, you just simply don’t have the capacity to implement skills mapping.

“But if you are really hoping to introduce, almost a baby’s first skills framework within your business, then AI is a really easy way to do this… ask it to create a simple core skills framework, and then a benchmark for that role.” – Alfie Gardner

But ensure that you are giving AI all the context around the role, size of company, the industry – provide the level of detail that allows you to get something relevant and useful.

Why the quality of AI prompts matters for L&D
To use AI effectively, L&D teams need to give as much context as possible.

Step 3: Review tech, tools and processes

What got us here might not get us there, especially if the goals or skills needed have shifted – so we have to ask ourselves whether our tools and processes are still fit for purpose.

57% of employees said they were frustrated by legacy tech so don’t make the assumption that this isn’t affecting you either.

Ask yourself two very simple questions:

  1. Does this help or matter?
  2. And to who?

If you can’t answer those, it’s an indication that the tech is no longer fully fit for purpose or the best bet for solving problems.

One reason legacy tech fails to connect with people is that they want to learn in the flow of work, but they’re constantly having to leave tools to find what they need. Typically because those tools don’t speak with each other or integrate!

And “…amid the race to stay connected across tools, workers switch between 10 apps 25 times per day—fragmenting communication and reducing efficiency.” – Asana’s Anatomy of Work Index 2021.

Action: Map out your tech stack

“Miro and Whimsical are useful tools for identifying what the connections are between different apps and tools that you currently use within your business. And to see if there’s a way that you can streamline that searching, discovery or surfacing problem that people might have.” – Alfie Gardner.

How L&D can map out their current tech stack
Understand your learning ecosystem better by mapping out your tech stack.

Step 4: Bake impact into everything

Throughout each of these steps, we’ve done some degree of problem discovery, and that means we have a far stronger idea of what success looks like, on a business, department or individual level.

And that essentially allows us to work backwards.

We need to achieve A.

To do that we know people will need skill B or information C.

So, how does the content we create, the strategy we build or experiences we roll out progress back through that to reach the established outcome?

This is baking in impact and gives you not only a stronger understanding of what success looks like, but a strong business case if you do reach it.

It also gives you a clear North Star and a progress-focussed way to push back against yourself and others: will this help us get to where we want to be?

And when you do reach that success, how do you build a compelling story around it? We baked in the impact and we know what success looks like from a number’s perspective…

But what about from a human angle? What did it mean for the individual – that’s the narrative people can get behind.

This is why Alfie shared the Jobs Stories Framework…

Action: Use the Jobs Stories approach

Go back to your original coffee chat.

Use the information you gathered and boil it down into a job story that helps you focus your effort, and also gives you the building blocks for your impact narrative.

How to use the Jobs To Be Done framework

This is a simple way to determine problems you can solve for people.Use your SDR as an example: “When I’m on a call with a prospect, I want to be able to negotiate more confidently, so that I can close more deals.”

These job stories are common for product marketers and product managers, who are there to bring solutions to complex problems.

“Once you get to that point of impact, don’t just get straight back on the hamster wheel. Consider how we tell the best story about that success!

“We knew what success would look like. We have the numbers, but then how do we go and find that human perspective and say, you know, this person not only improved their number of deals closed, but actually, they feel more confident and more like a subject matter expert.” – Gary Stringer.

Step 5: Find your influencers and advocates

It’s 100% more difficult for L&D teams to do everything we’ve spoken about before without buy-in and help from the rest of the business.

  • No brand or message is built and spread without advocates.
  • L&D teams can’t create or curate all the content, but we can collectively.
  • It’s hard to reach our goals without strong relationships that help us define problems effectively or a willingness of people to try, fail and build new skills.

The bottom line is that people feel more connected and invested when they’re involved, and the earlier we get them involved, the better that sense of investment is!

Action: Listen in every sense of the word

Listen in every sense of the word and find influencers for L&D

“If, for example, you work at a business where you can see everyone’s calendar, be nosy and see who’s hosting a training session with the rest of their team… or an education session with our customer support team. You’ll often notice repeat people who are involved in that process.

“Those people are often very inspirational. The rest of the business loves to learn from them, or they’re really good coaches – they have really good communication skills and they’re able to share information with people when they naturally absorb it.” – Alfie Gardner.

Free Guide! Death of the LMS: A step-by-step guide to skills-first L&D

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