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CPLP: A More Holistic Approach to TD

Wednesday, February 20, 2019
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I’ve spent most of my career building training programs for technology companies. Things move at a rapid pace in the tech industry. Decisions are quick, changes are swift, and learning is constant. In these settings, it’s nearly a given that the organization needs more training than the training staff is equipped to design and deliver! Working in an environment of constant change has helped me to prioritize efficiency in everything from needs analysis to program evaluation.

But as a learning and development professional, I have repeatedly seen two inefficiencies in the way businesses engage their training staff. The first inefficiency occurs whenever trainers are engaged too late in the change process. It so often seems that by the time business leaders get around to requesting a training, decisions have already been made, a course of action determined, and changes put into motion. Whenever this happens, businesses lose out on the considerable expertise of their training staff—in addition to trainers’ deep awareness of the day-to-day realities of the organization.

The second inefficiency occurs whenever training is viewed as the silver-bullet solution to all performance issues. It seems that in too many cases, leaders assume training is all that is needed to affect organizational change. If we just train our staff on the new expectations, the new strategy, the new organization chart, everything else will fall into place! Whenever this happens, businesses lose sight of the root cause of a performance issue, thus perpetuating the issue’s existence. These inefficiencies are, in fact, highly related.

I sought to address these two archetypes by studying for and passing the Association for Talent Development’s Certified Professional in Learning and Performance Exam. How can learning and development professionals have a seat at the table when changes are considered? And how can training practitioners coach their business partners to an understanding of all the levers involved in performance improvement?

The CPLP was the right program to help me answer these two questions, which are likely familiar to many L&D professionals. With its emphasis on 10 different areas of expertise and six foundational competencies, the CPLP helped me to raise my skill set beyond the familiar skills of facilitation and instructional design.

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That is not to say that engaging training and creative instructional design are in some way unimportant. Rather, the CPLP helped me to see how training and instructional design fit within a larger system of talent development. If L&D practitioners want a seat at the table, they need a deep understanding of what can be solved through great content and facilitation, just as they need expertise in what can be solved through performance improvement, change management, and global thinking. Studying for the CPLP allowed me to build my skills in each of these areas.

As I studied frameworks and thinkers, I started to think of my work as less about methodologies to be applied (slides, e-learning, microlearning, and so on), and more about a learning mindset to be shared throughout the organization. As I memorized flashcards on performance improvement models and reviewed frameworks on global awareness, I became more confident in my ability to take a holistic view of a business, its objectives, and its challenges. I felt more capable of suggesting a comprehensive performance improvement strategy—one that is certainly inclusive of training and instructional design but also inclusive of coaching, technology deployment, and knowledge management.

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With this new consultative mindset, I hope that my L&D team will be involved earlier, more frequently, and more intentionally. I hope we will be able to effectively advise on what is needed beyond e-learning courses and workshops. By doing so, I know that we will come to be seen not just as a training staff, but as partners in talent development and business improvement.

Learn more about becoming a CPLP.

About the Author

Ryan Panzer is a curriculum architect for Zendesk, a software company focused on improving the customer experience. He works in Madison, Wisconsin, focusing on developing instructional content and coaching programs for Zendesk’s Customer Advocacy organization. Ryan is a member of the ATD-Madison Area Chapter Board of Directors. A die-hard football fan, you can find him at nearly every Wisconsin Badger football game. He passed the CPLP in November 2018.

3 Comments
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Great article Ryan! You hit the nail on the head with the two largest inefficiencies that regular occur between stakeholders and L&D staff.
Thanks, Josh!
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Great write-up about your experience. Thanks for sharing!
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