Creating a Learning and Development Strategy: Ask the Right Questions

Creating a Learning and Development Strategy: Ask the Right Questions


Shannon Tipton


Part of the learning leader's role is to create a learning and development strategy that supports the success of the people and the organization. But your L&D team can't work in a bubble. When you're first getting into the swing of updating your L&D strategy, it may be a challenge to get used to regularly rechecking it to ensure alignment with your evolving business needs.

Here are three immediate actions you can take to start moving the needle on creating a learning and development strategy.

Understand the corporate strategy

Do you know what the business requires to be successful in both people and outputs? Do you know the strategic objectives for each major department in the organization? You can't connect learning to the business until you know which path the organization is on.

Begin by asking better questions. The sales department may have a strategic objective of increasing qualified leads by 10%. Your job is to get tactical. What are the developmental benchmarks that will cascade into this project's success? Knowing this, you can begin to develop learning to meet the business need.

Build relationships with stakeholders

First, learn the language of the stakeholders. Too often, meeting with stakeholders becomes a battle of vocabulary. As L&D professionals, we talk about learning objectives, training needs assessments and Kirkpatrick evaluation levels. For the stakeholder, these terms create more disconnect than understanding. To have relatable discussions, concentrate on conversations built around actionable, observable outcomes and functioning tactics.

Here's another simple—yet effective—tactic to consider: meet with stakeholders when nothing is on fire. Often, L&D teams only meet with stakeholders when something is going badly or in anticipation of a problem. Have human conversations over coffee or lunch to find out more about their needs.

Get out of your office!

Creating a learning and development strategy means getting out of your office and experiencing the day-to-day operations of the people and the business. Here are some ways to reconnect:

  • Host focus groups. For example, gather employees who are tenured between six months and one year and ask them about the new hire process. What do they wish they had learned then that would make their lives easier today?
  • Work observation. What does the workplace look like today? What tasks need refinement? Get a pulse check on employee satisfaction. What tasks are obsolete? Are there best practices that can be scaled? Watch and learn.
  • Learner personas. Conduct panel interviews to define and understand each major learning group.
  • Take a ride-along with sales. Learn methods and tactics important to their success.

When you ensure everyone in the learning function is aware of the true business need and outcomes, L&D leadership will have the foundation of an actionable learning and development strategy.

Check out a live Absorb LMS demo today to discover how to get started creating a learning and development strategy.

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