Preparing Leaders to Support Post-Training is Treating Symptoms and Ignoring the Disease

I came a cross this article from 2016 as it was shared recently in my network, One Minute, One Question: How Well Does L&D Prepare Leaders to Support Staff Post-Training?

I had a few questions initially about this piece such as who were the 159 survey respondents? And how come two questions appear to ask the same thing; “we do a poor job” and “we don’t prepare” (our leaders). I mean, isn’t “we don’t prepare leaders” doing a poor job in this context? Also, it is focused only on new hires, leaving out training on new skills or systems of current employees. How’s that going?

I know this sounds quite nit-picky negative but alas these aren’t the parts that really bother me. The fact we don’t prepare our leaders is not telling the whole story. For example – What if you’re not preparing your leaders because you don’t need to? I would then select “we don’t prepare our leaders” and that would wrongly appear to be a strike against me/ my organization but it isn’t if my leaders are so in tune with and supportive of L&D that they don’t need any special prep. Maybe they respect L&D and see the work as equals. Maybe L&D work is intertwined with the every day work of employees and “learning” isn’t bolted on but baked in to the work.

Heh. Wouldn’t that be nice?

However the impetus of this article speaks to L&D today because the reality is most leaders I’ve encountered don’t care, don’t get it, and/or can’t be bothered. If L&D is worried about leader’s preparation for post-training then they are far too focused on treating the symptom and not this disease of apathy. If L&D were seen as critically important they would not even be having this survey. Is Marketing, Research, or IT asking for support? Hell no. Business leaders are fully invested because the work is intertwined, the work is the business. The simple reason L&D fails where other groups succeed internally is – Those others are a part of the work, not apart from it.

L&D has much to do to make it’s relevance obvious and stop the never ending beg for attention with each initiative. My suggestion is, get outside your bubble. Stop thinking training first and focus more on how, where, and who is doing the work. Get closer to the business. As my friend and colleague James Tyer of Togetherwise asked during our recent LT17uk session – “how many people are you talking with each week?”. When you’re in the know, you’re in, and the necessary training that arises along the way will be greeted more favorably.

L&D needs to get out and start learning, start providing performance support (social being the best here), mentoring, and coaching first, resources not courses, consulting not delivering. Until they do, they’ll continue to be begging leaders to play a role.


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