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Be the learner you want to see in the world

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Recent LinkedIn research shows demand for L&D professionals is up, but that the time L&D specialists spend on learning themselves is low. Jackie Clifford reflects on this, asking ‘if we can’t find the time to learn and develop how can we expect that from others?’

10th May 2022
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According to LinkedIn’s 2022 Workplace Learning report, demand for L&D specialists increased by 94% between the periods of July–September 2021 and April–June 2021.

As the world continues to be ever-changing and we are faced with global instability in so many arenas, it is even more important that our organisations are fit for purpose and ready to adapt to circumstances as they arise. I wonder if this is why L&D is starting to be recognised as critical to ongoing and sustainable success. 

How can we, as L&D professionals, incorporate learning into our own day?

The LinkedIn report highlights a number of key points:

  • “…take a step back and recognize that learning is rapidly becoming a critical part of many peoples’ daily work, including the daily work of L&D pros themselves”
  • “Compared with other active learners on LinkedIn, L&D learners spent 23% less time learning in 2021”
  • “Compared to their HR colleagues, L&D learners spent 35% less time learning in 2021”

What’s going on here? As L&D professionals, we must role model good learning practises ourselves – if we can’t find the time to learn and develop how can we expect that from others?

Gandhi famously said "Be the change you wish to see in the world”. Taking inspiration from this, I believe that we should be the learners that we wish to see in our organisations.

Learning for learning professionals

Reflecting on my own CPD, I’ve just started reading ‘Learning Science’ by Clark N. Quinn, which is challenging my own learning design thinking. Additionally, my involvement in a book club run by Michelle Parry-Slater to explore each chapter of her 2021 book, ‘The Learning and Development Handbook’ made me examine and question all aspects of my work. 

How can we, as L&D professionals, incorporate learning into our own day? How can we be pacesetters for our colleagues in other areas of the organisation – keeping the learning going on a daily basis?

Here are some ideas that you might like to try, adapt or use for inspiration:

If you have two minutes

  • Ask yourself a couple of reflective questions such as ‘what did I do differently today?’ ‘How well has my day gone today?’ ‘What contributed to this success / challenge?’
  • Head to TrainingZone’s homepage and click on one headline that jumps out to you. Read the full article or simply skim the key points
  • Go to your email inbox and open one of the newsletters you find there. Pick one point which feels pertinent to you

If you have five minutes

  • Access one of the so-called Translators listed on Clark N. Quinn’s website and pick something that feels relevant to what you are currently working on 
  • Read through an article and make notes of the key points in a journal or learning log
  • Explore some of your reflective questions in more depth and make some notes in a journal or learning log

If you have 30 minutes

  • Watch a replay of a webinar that you attended to remind yourself of the key points. Make some notes about actions that you will take as a result of your learning
  • Review your activity over the past two-four weeks and really consider what you have learned and how you might apply it
  • Set up a call with an L&D colleague to talk about one specific idea that you both find interesting

If you have one hour or more

  • Set up a meeting of your personal learning network (if you don’t have one, get one!) to discuss a range of current L&D topics and how they might impact on your work
  • Attend a workshop or webinar with a view to acting on what you hear
  • Listen to one or two podcast episodes (I love the MindTools L&D Podcast and would love for you to share your favourites in the comments to this article). Once you’ve listened, make a note of your learning and add some actions that you will take as a result

Taking time to digest and question

Once you have exposed yourself to some content, it’s important to digest it and question its reliability and validity. You can then go on to consider its relevance to your own setting and work. 

To help you decide on reliability and validity, here are some questions from a Forbes Article that summarises the ‘Baloney Detection Kit’, which you might find useful as you reflect on what you are exposing yourself to:

  1. How reliable is the source of the claim?
  2. Does the source make similar claims?
  3. Have the claims been verified by somebody else?
  4. Does this fit with the way the world works?
  5. Has anyone tried to disprove the claim?
  6. Where does the preponderance of evidence point?
  7. Is the claimant playing by the rules of science?
  8. Is the claimant providing positive evidence?
  9. Does the new theory account for as many phenomena as the old theory?
  10. Are personal beliefs driving the claim?

Questions to help apply learning to your own work

In addition, to help you consider relevance to your own setting and your work, here are some questions to pose:

  1. How does what I have learned link to what I see happening in my organisation?
  2. How does what I have learned challenge my own thinking?
  3. How does what I have learned relate to my daily L&D practice?
  4. What can I take from my learning which could help improve my practice and the results we achieve?
  5. What specifically can I implement which could make a difference? And what will my measures of success be?
  6. What will I do and how will I do it? 
  7. What barriers might I face to taking action and how will I overcome them?
  8. What else…?

Get learning

Hopefully this article has given you some food for thought about how to offer the best possible L&D opportunities to your organisation through your own continuous improvement.

With learning and development moving up the business agenda, it is critical now more than ever for L&D folk to be the learners they desire to see in their business.

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