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ATD Blog

Leader of the L&D Pack

Wednesday, June 21, 2023
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Create a nurturing environment and impactful work for your team

As a manager of an L&D team, you have many choices concerning your talent and potential staffing decisions. Do you hire data analysts or borrow the talent you need from your IT department? How do you ensure everyone on your team gets the developmental opportunities they crave? How do you work with your recruiter to ensure they know what you seek in a new instructional designer or other hire? In "A-List L&D Team, Assemble," Laurel Schulert guides readers on how to make decisions such as these.

Define Your Team

Many of your choices will be aided by first understanding where your team is now and what you’d like to see in your team. Schulert recommends starting with a SWOT analysis, determining your team’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats as they stand. This is an exercise that should involve the current L&D team members. “We use an online whiteboard tool to document and share ideas with each other, and we annotate posts by adding emoji-style icons and comments; the team discusses the ideas that collect the most icons,” explains Schulert.

Now that your L&D team understands the current state, they can consider what it wants to be known for. Does it want to be known for its innovation? Its work aligning to business goals? From there, the team can create its mission and vision statements. How does the L&D team fit into the organization more broadly? What unique qualities and identity does it bring to the company?

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The Right Team Members

Based on what your team wants to be known for and how it fits in the organization, you can determine what roles should be on your team. If you want to be known for a team that affects business, you may want to hire for or develop business acumen. Or, you may have found you need additional virtual and remote training skills.

So, how can you hire the right talent? Here are some of Schulert’s tips:

  • Pay careful attention to how you write the job description. Does that description convey your corporate culture? Does it accurately relay what responsibilities the job will entail?
  • Develop a positive relationship with your recruiter. You may work with a recruiter. If you are, ensure that person understands your needs and wants so they can best serve you and your team. Can the recruiter explain to candidates with clarity the skills and behaviors needed to succeed on your team?
  • Recognize that the interview process is a two-way street. Share your passion so candidates want to be on your team. Help them determine whether they and your current team would be good together.
  • Consider including one or more of your current team members in the interviewing process. This allows for different perspectives and candidates to meet potential colleagues.

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Stellar Team Performance

How does the L&D team contribute to organizational goals? How do individuals contribute to team or organizational goals?

As the manager of the learning function, you should be familiar with what your team members want to do and their current strengths and areas for growth. Do they enjoy technology and learning how to use new tools? Do they aspire to a leadership role?

Individuals should have the autonomy to draft their own goals, even as those goals should align with their role and the overall expectations you and leaders have for the team. Help team members quantify their goals if there are not necessarily clear thresholds to attaining them. There may be incremental steps, for example, that could be used for the 25 percent, 50 percent, and so forth milestones. This includes listening to a podcast for the 25 percent marker, then writing about what they’ve learned and sharing it with their team for the 50 percent milestone, and so forth.

The growth will help your team meet organizational needs, but individual goals and growth can also help you retrain your talent. That is especially true of L&D professionals as they often are, by nature, lifelong learners.

Schulert imparts, “As team leader, you have a direct impact on others’ lives and careers. Be intentional about enacting effective, inspired change, in tandem with creating the type of environment you’ve always wanted to work in.”

About the Author

Patty Gaul is a senior writer/editor for the Association for Talent Development (ATD).

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