The work structure of the Learning and Development (L&D) department must be a blend of the right people with correct data. The role of the concerned teams is shifting in tandem with the evolution of learning and development. To take on these increased duties, leaders must have the necessary skills and competencies.
To comprehend what should constitute modern L&D teams, you must first learn what employers seek in new workers. Additionally, you need to understand what the L&D function means to seasoned practitioners. While some L&D specialists want their employees to be familiar with the organisation and its environment, others want them to be driven by the desire and drive to learn.
In the L&D job market, it’s clear that most recruiters are looking for mental agility along with soft skills in the candidates, such as a bias for action and an innovative bend of mind. L&D professionals should be able to demonstrate their influence as well as contributions quantifiably.
Project management and analytics are the most sought-after hard skills. L&D professionals must be adept at both leading initiatives and reporting on their progress using data-driven analysis. In addition, many organisations choose to hire personnel with an HR background for their L&D department.
However, before they can create a learning culture, recruit professionals or apply cutting-edge teaching tools, L&D executives must examine their structure, methods and governance, as well as construct a stable yet adaptable framework for providing learning. In this post, we will go over the three primary alternatives for the L&D department at the work structural framework: centralised, decentralised and hybrid, each with its own set of benefits and drawbacks.
The learning backbone is primarily concerned with the location of learning personnel within the organisation. While the learning staff is present throughout a range of business divisions in a decentralised approach, the L&D department is centralised in HR or its freestanding location in the centralised method. A hybrid function, also known as a federated structure, is a combination of the two.
According to a McKinsey Academy research, 23% of the L&D functions are centralised, 46% are hybrid and 27% are decentralised, with 4% of respondents having no idea what their L&D organisation is. Each backbone has its own set of benefits and drawbacks.
The core learning team whose members report to single learning or HR executive provides tight coordination, which helps to avoid duplication of learning initiatives and delivers economies of scale. The role is responsible for the budget, resources, L&D talent, external relationships, vendor management and standards and guidelines for the entire company. However, there is a danger to centralised learning teams being less responsive to business unit needs.
Individual business units take ownership of learning initiatives, thanks to decentralised functions that tailor initiatives to their operations, needs and people. On the other hand, the learning function has limited oversight under this approach and learning programmes lack a clear link to the C-suite. As a result, programming may lack cohesion.
Hybrid functions are becoming the norm in larger businesses. A central team designs professional and leadership development programmes, establish and enforces standards, and oversees online learning platforms and tools in this approach. In contrast, business units are in charge of technical learning (and often deliver enterprise programmes).
This structure enables better links with business units while allowing for more significant economies of scale, particularly in systems. Hybrid models, on the other hand, can complicate communication and coordination by blurring distinctions and making it unclear who leads what initiative.
Four variables define the location of the learning function within an organisation:
In theory, the L&D function, regardless of its location, benefits the organisation. The structure and size of the broader organisation vis a vis the placements of adjacent activities determine whether the organisational structure is centralised, decentralised or hybrid.
The learning function’s responsibilities and outputs have ramifications for its organisational structure as well. According to executives, people managers and talent developers, soft skills such as leadership, communication and teamwork are more critical than role-specific abilities.
The organisational backbone of the learning function is influenced by the relative relevance of various learning goals. A strategy to develop role-specific technical skills would need to be more aligned with individual business units. In contrast, an approach to enhance leadership development would need to be more associated with corporate leadership — such as concentrated inside HR.
L&D departments must understand the learners’ business environment well enough to discern genuine challenges underlying a request to give successful learning. Indeed, learning and development professionals are frequently entrusted with challenging and altering business units’ ideas of skill development and learning delivery.
They must also comprehend the more technical parts of business units’ requirements to translate and deliver learning that effectively meets those requirements. The more specialised the background, the more alignment between the L&D department and the various business divisions is necessary, which may necessitate a hybrid or completely decentralised architecture.
As previously stated, centralised learning and development services can more readily avoid duplication of effort and benefit from economies of scale. A centralised structure is more cost-effective in an organisation with limited learning money relative to the number of people. Yet, it may be less responsive to changing demands in business divisions.
It’s worth noting that regardless of their backbone, businesses retain specific centralised capabilities such as learning-technology platforms and digital material. Most firms, for example, would prefer not to maintain multiple learning management system platforms.
After deciding on the learning organisation’s structure, the following step is to create an agile overlay to address the difficulties that come with it. A future blog article will address how to overcome the inherent flaws of each strategy but each organisation must first determine which backbone is the best fit for them.