Change management might seem like a vague term used by business schools or consulting firms to warn about the need to prepare for the unknown. Drivers of change can include a multitude of factors, including new competitors, the obsolescence of technology, recent government mandates, and even a pandemic.
Most people fear the unknown. Because change also means new processes, policies, procedures, and even new people entering the organization, how can companies prepare for what they might not even know is a potential threat? Can they even turn that threat into an opportunity? Can organizations enable their employees to not only tolerate but also thrive in an environment of constant, neverending change?
Here is where L&D comes to the rescue. Training is essential to the change management process, and learning leaders can position themselves uniquely as strategists and enablers that ultimately help the organization survive uncertainty. Let’s have a closer look at why.
1. L&D already delivers change on a daily basis
In a way, L&D’s job is to get employees to change. Talent developers are focused on getting employees to learn new information and acquire new skills. Essentially, L&D leaders work for change, to make improvements to the organization for improved outcomes and ROI.
L&D works with employees on addressing a particular vulnerability. As such, learning professionals have the empathy to help employees accept and incorporate changes, even if it’s just to learn a new data analytics skill or to understand new laws to ensure industry compliance. The ability to help people make small changes can help drive the big changes that usually result in wide scale change management programs.
Based on its experience, L&D is perfectly suited to guide people through the change journey.
2. L&D knows the skills gaps and can even predict change
Another reason why learning leaders are perfectly suited to help organizations support and administer change management is that L&D can anticipate change in the first place.
More than simply a team that executes on training requested by managers and business partners from throughout the organization, L&D holds a big-picture view of the skills—and lack thereof—held by employees.
With a robust training intake system in place, driven by analytics and relied upon by the organization’s managers, L&D holds a constantly evolving quantitative perspective of what employees know and what they don’t.
Through the data embedded in the training intake system, L&D can pick up on clues that might signal the need for larger change management in the future. For example, the training intake form can ask what impact the requested training will have on the employee, department, or even the entire organization.
Learning leaders will be able to sense whether there might be significant changes affecting the company moving forward. In fact, L&D can even help senior management anticipate—and even avert—a crisis.
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3. L&D promotes awareness, visibility, and engagement
L&D creates and supports a culture of learning. Rather than be seen as something punitive, or forced upon employees, active and respected L&D teams promote a “we’re all in this together” approach that people should understand their weaknesses and embrace change, no matter how small, via learning or acquiring new knowledge.
Talent developers add a layer of security for players, supporting individuals and teams who are in transition.
However, measuring levels of engagement is still a challenge for most L&D professionals. According to LinkedIn Learning’s 202 Workplace Learning Report, 24% of learning professionals do not measure engagement. This is not because they are lazy or do not see the importance. Instead, it’s because there are so many ways to measure engagement: hours spent learning, number of questions answered correctly on an assessment, positive changes in the employee’s performance, and the like.
Despite the various ways to measure engagement, the fact that L&D is aware of these different perspectives can support senior management when a transition is needed. Aside from simply forcing employees to accept a change, senior management, with assistance from L&D, can use benchmarks in the process to see what’s working and what’s not.
Leadership can lean on L&D to provide the measures of success for any successful change management rollout.
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