We interviewed Deb Keirl, Head of Learning and Development here at EC Outsourcing, to find out what makes a strong and efficient L&D team, and why this is imperative to a business and its workforce.
What is the fundamental role of the L&D Team?
The role of the L&D team is to create, deliver and manage the end-to-end learning process across the business. As well as ensuring staff are equipped with the training and skills they need to perform in their roles, the L&D team also manage the continuous development of staff, creating solutions to ensure ongoing training and improvement for every person. Their efforts help to improve overall staff performance and facilitate business progression to achieve organisational goals.
What Skills are needed to make a good L&D Team?
The fundamental skill needed is the ability to work with others. Team work is a must in this field, and failure to be able to integrate into a team based environment can result in major problems. A volatile environment can often present in this line of work, so it’s important for the team to have each other’s backs no matter what.
Under the umbrella of team work comes people management skills, communication skills, an understanding of how individuals consume and interpret learning styles, and the ability to identify trends and behaviours.
I’d say the ability to articulate to a large audience is also very important. This is particularly true when delivering training to a group whose abilities and experience vary vastly from one another. Everyone learns at different paces depending on background and previous experience, so it’s vital to be able to adapt your training style to accommodate these factors.
It’s also important to be able to think on your feet and make quick decisions. You should always have a back-up plan too – if Plan A doesn’t work, do you have Plans B and C in place?
What are the most important assets an L&D Manager must possess?
A good L&D Manager should firstly have a thorough understanding of the business and its goals and objectives, to design a robust and relevant programme to enable the business to achieve these. As well as this, they need to fully understand how the businesses product or service works, right from concept to execution to aftersale. Without a thorough understanding of this, adequate training cannot be delivered.
They should also have a strong sense of leadership to be able to drive the strategy forward and shape the direction of learning and growth. This means being able to embrace change as, quite often, strategy can change during delivery.
An L&D Manager must always be mindful of new trends in their area of business, and have an awareness of how these trends are shaping consumer behaviours and their tendencies/patterns to consume your product or service. These can then be fed into the strategy and reflected in the training programme.
Often, the practical side of training will be delivered by other members of the team, but as a manager, you should be prepared to roll up your sleeves and get stuck in when needed. Not only will this help contribute to team morale, but it ensures your training delivery skills remain relevant and up to date.
What must you always keep in mind when executing your L&D Strategy?
A common area of struggle is perhaps the ability to identify how each part of the programme fits together. There are so many components to a strong, robust L&D plan, and the inability to forecast potential drawbacks can cause businesses to take a tumble.
Quite often you could have a great idea, but failure to execute the idea or not having a back-up plan for things such as failed technology, disengagement or failure to plan the idea out fully can result in time wasted and money lost.
A great idea needs great planning, otherwise that’s all it will ever be – an idea (and an expensive one at that.)
What would you say are the areas businesses tend to struggle with when rolling out their Learning and Development plan?
Getting other departments on side. This is particularly true in a contact centre environment in terms of schedule clashes for instance. Staff being away from their desks may result in targets being compromised or a drop in service levels.
Another area is perhaps being able to maintain staff engagement. The ability to create an awareness in a difficult and volatile environment with the skills to consistently create and maintain engagement and participation is a difficult task, and potentially an area of struggle among some businesses.
EC Outsourcing is the UK’s leading sales partner and acquisition specialist in the Utility, Telecommunications, Gaming and Financial industries. EC provides both outbound and inbound contact centre services to a selection of the UK’s largest brands and is now recognised as one of the UK’s leading outbound contact centres within its industry.