My career in learning and development began years before I knew I would be in the field. As a compliance director specializing in affordable housing regulations, part of my job was explaining regulations and teaching procedures to others. It was a minor part of my job but my favorite, nonetheless. When the organization I work for created a learning and development role, I went for it. I had organizational knowledge, I could teach, and most importantly, I had existing relationships with several of the organization’s leaders. I landed the role and became the organization’s first learning and development manager.
It wasn’t long before I found myself in areas well beyond teaching the nuts and bolts of policies and procedures. Diversity, onboarding, development planning, employee engagement … the list of areas to which I was new grew every day. A department of one, I had to upskill myself, and quickly, if I were going to succeed in the workplace and in my career.
I had already started participating in many workshops and events put on by the local ATD chapter. At one of these events, someone asked about forming a study group for the Certified Professional in Talent Development (CPTD, formerly the CPLP) certification. I was intrigued and looked up more information about it. The Talent Development Capability Model reflected many areas where I needed more knowledge, and I saw studying for the certification as a chance to gain it. Being new to the profession, I didn’t have the experience for CPTD, but I was close for the Associate Professional in Talent Development (APTD).
My APTD journey started around the same time as the COVID-19 pandemic. Everyone was fumbling to stay connected. There were no more in-person local chapter meetings, let alone an opportunity to join a study group. I had to apply my self-study skills and self-discipline, but this was a blessing. To truly learn the capabilities, I had to apply them in the workplace.
One of the organization’s biggest areas of need is ongoing training for our maintenance professionals. Unlike compliance, I have little knowledge and experience in this area. I needed to partner with a subject matter expert for content and, in many cases, facilitation. Our regional facilities manager became my new best friend.
Over the coming months, we worked together to create and implement a twelve-month curriculum for our maintenance team. I applied many of the concepts from the self-study APTD course regarding instructional design: assessing needs, developing effective instructional content, and building a relationship with the subject matter expert for quality content. I learned to ask the right questions about the material to translate it from technical text to presentations and job aids that were useful for staff at all levels. It wasn’t long before we saw a decrease in hiring out certain maintenance tasks to outside vendors. Our staff were completing jobs they hadn’t before while at the same time saving the organization money.
But instructional design wasn’t the only capability I was growing. As we rolled out the new curriculum for the maintenance team, we began to lay the groundwork to shift the organization’s culture from “training” to “learning.” Concepts I learned while studying the organization development and culture capability were coming to life. The impact of nurturing learning became clear: when staff are equipped with skills and knowledge, they are more engaged, and the organization becomes more efficient
Without real-life application, the capabilities are full of jargon and frameworks to memorize. The opportunity to apply capabilities from the Talent Development Capability Model on the job gave me the edge I needed to gain the certification. As my role evolves and the organization grows, I will continue to draw on the knowledge I gained from studying for the APTD exam and apply it in the real world.