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  • Harri Candy

How to lessen the pressure on Learning and Development Teams

In learning and development (L&D) we're always being asked to do more with less, and now as the financial impact of COVID becomes apparent and budgets are slashed less has become even less and more is even more. The question now is how we tackle this. We need to make sure we continue to support the business, offer quality training materials and prevent L&D burnout.

Here are three strategies you can adopt to help you master this balancing act.

1. Focus your energy

If you don't already have a process in place to decide training priorities, you need one. No doubt every person who asks you to develop training for them will believe their project is critical but you only have so much resource. Work sensitively with your stakeholders and ask questions to determine if training is actually the best solution to the issue they're facing. If you need guidance on how to do this, check out this article.

Then, once you've whittled down the request to only those that need a training solutions, you need to determine a hierarchy of importance. Try asking the killer question "what will happen if we do nothing?". If there is no consequence (positive or negative) to inaction then the project isn't that important. If the answer is an increase to financial, operational or legal risk then the likelihood is that you will need to prioritise this work.

This process should help you to separate out the truly vital projects from the supplementary ones. And it's these vital projects that you should focus on.

Top tip: Never tell the stakeholder or project lead that their project isn't important enough for your time, that is sure to get some backs up. Instead explain how you are going to help them achieve their goals in a different way (see strategies 2 and 3).

2. Curate don't create

For all those projects that don't make the vital list, you still need to offer some support or the project leads will feel their needs are being neglected. This is where curation can be helpful.

Think about the wealth of information already out there in the business or on the internet, is any of it fit for your purpose? Are their existing user guides, videos, tutorials, articles or white papers for example that you could direct people to? If you have an off-the-shelf content library you might even have ready built training modules there that could be used.

Just like a standard training project you would agree the aims and objectives with the stakeholder, explore the challenge that the training is going to address and then you would match curated resources against these factors. You could collate all these resources on one easy to access page on the intranet or your LMS.

Top tip: Always check with the business that the resources you've found align with the company messages, policies and procedures.

3. Partner with experts

If there aren't any readily available resources to curate, partner with experts in the business to create some. With a little guidance and support your subject matter experts could produce basic content for you. After all it makes sense to ask the recruitment team to create a quick "top tips" guide on how to interview, or ask the HR team to make a tutorial on how to submit holiday requests.

Remember, these people are experts in their field, not experts in learning design so they will need some support. However, if you put the work in to upskill them, you will feel the benefit in the long run. If you don't have the time to upskill them yourself, why not sign them up for a "Level up" course.

Top tip: Work with a small group of SMEs to start with so you can be confident they are producing good quality content.

These strategies will help you to increase your training provision with high quality resources whilst protecting your training development and delivery teams from drowning in an ever growing sea of requests.

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