DIY Learning & Development

What do you do when you can’t get the support you need from HR to develop your people?

by Ken Kesslin

If you have a supportive HR and/or Talent Development department in your organization, be thankful—in my experience they are quite rare. Of course, there are wonderful individuals and departments out there, but most often, they are an overworked, understaffed group of well-meaning people, who don’t have a clue about the real needs of the business. And worst case scenario? You have an HR department that is highly bureaucratic, and deliberately stands in the way of anything innovative, useful or effective.

Then there’s you.

You’re a leader who knows what your staff needs to develop and grow, but you’re not a learning and development expert. You don’t know how to create and deliver the most effective learning programs. That’s not your expertise, nor should it be.

So what can you do? Actionable Conversations offer a great solution—they provide the framework and technology you need to run an effective learning and development initiative within your own team.

Actionable Conversations are hour-long, bite-sized learning modules that engage your team in conversations that end with commitments to make small behavior changes over the next 30 days. Those changes are tracked, and you receive regular reports on how everyone is progressing. In addition to data on your team’s progress, you get customized coaching tips for how to further increase your team’s development.

It’s a low cost, high impact solution that leaders can implement on their own—without waiting for a large budget approval from HR, or having to coordinate costly off-site training sessions. Each Conversation is grounded in the context of your team—their projects, challenges, strengths, and weaknesses—so learning can be applied immediately.

You lead the conversations, with the aid of professionally designed facilitation guides that you can read as a script. Your preparation time for each conversation is about 20 minutes. This gives you tremendous flexibility in scheduling, as there’s no need to coordinate with anyone outside of your team. You can also ask team members to lead the discussions—the facilitation guides provide step-by-step instructions—to develop their leadership skills and strengthen the relationships they have with their peers.

Here are some of the ways Actionable Conversations helps you build an effective Learning & Development program for your own team:

1. Custom content for your team. You select the learning modules you need to develop your team. And you have the support of a development consultant if you need it. Actionable also offers Storylines—progressions of modules you can run to address a specific pain point for your team.

2. New behavior formation. At the close of every conversation, each team member commits to try a new behavior for the next 30 days. You continually have the development of new, more effective behaviors for every member of your team. The commitments are designed to be manageable in the hustle of day-to-day operations, yet powerful enough to elicit measurable results.

3. Direct accountability. Since you lead the conversations and get reports on progress, there’s direct and instant accountability. Participants are also asked to select an “accountability buddy”—a peer who they will discuss their goals and progress with, to help them stay on track.

4. Inter-generational and cross-functional learning. The learning conversations generate interest across generations and functions, providing the basis for engaging discussions on important topics. The conversations also increase trust and motivation among team members, which allows them to collaborate more effectively.

5. ROI data. You receive regular reports that demonstrate the ROI of your efforts. See how team members are tracking toward their goals, intervene early when engagement starts to slump, and easily identify and reward top performers. You can share that data with anyone in your organization to show the value of your DIY effort (great for getting buy-in from even the most challenging HR departments).

6. Low cost and scheduling flexibility. You can make the purchase of learning modules with your corporate credit card, when you need to, and start whenever you’d like. The modules are designed to take just one hour per month—so even the busiest teams can benefit.

7. Save time. By having a regular team learning and development session, you save time that would otherwise be spent doing 1:1 development (or time spent resolving difficulties that arise because you haven’t been paying attention to the development of your team). Each participant will also “close the loop” on their commitment at the end of the month, reflecting on what they’ve learned and what they want to sustain.

8. Additional benefits. Actionable Conversations can help build your team’s leadership skills, build the collaborative relationships required to effectively manage change, increase the degree of trust between team members, and much more. It’s like a Continuous Improvement Process for professional development... and it’s all in your control.

Due to the simplicity and power of the platform, your time commitment as leader is less than 90 minutes per monthly module – and that includes the delivery of the hour-long conversation.

Oh, and you also get the support and experience of a senior leadership development consultant to work with to ensure that you get the most from the program.

Sounds awesome, right? What more could you ask for? Well, let me know if there’s anything I’ve missed. Or just give a call to discuss how this program can support your team’s development and performance.