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Where In The World Has L&D Gone?

How do you answer a question like that? I was recently asked my opinion on the state of learning and development globally. Not just a small question… and how do you answer it, in truth?

The reason most people leave their jobs, other than problems with their immediate manager, is lack of progression and development. Salary is always in the mix, but I am seeing a shift into a greater decider that is a need not only for job satisfaction but deep personal fulfilment from work.

Personally, I believe it is what we are here for. Work is a fabulous conduit for fulfilling our life purpose. It isn’t the only one, but it’s a big one for many who are fortunate enough to serve humanity in this way. So how does L&D play a part?

Companies claim to be people-centric. Read any job description and you will see it in the opening lines. ‘We will take great care of you. You matter to our success’, is the general flavour.

Is this really true in practice? There is an old regime in L&D that is so focused on plugging knowledge gaps that any idea of an integrated development plan doesn’t actually exist. If it does, it sits in the drawer until PDP review time to see if we got anywhere close to what we wanted to achieve. Or trainings are rolled out en masse in the hope that something was relevant to everyone.

So what has to change?

No-one truly does anything without a clear sense of ‘What’s in it for me?’ (WIIFM). Even the most altruistic of people gain something from their altruism.

It’s vital to discover where L&D can work into this deep personal gauge of meaning.

Instead of plugging task-based knowledge gaps, organisations need a fully developed L&D framework that:

  • Defines and supports behaviours that are solid reflections of its values

  • Provides a new set of conversation skills, preferably a coaching approach

  • Offers mentoring to guide succession

  • Allows super-skills to be harnessed and used

  • Creates a community of practice

  • Trains in soft skills like emotional intelligence and influencing

  • Coordinates the HR offering with the L&D offering

  • Measures managers on their people leadership

  • Helps people define their personal goals

  • Links personal and professional goals

Introducing WIIFM

One of the most successful things I have done is to create a half-day workshop in which staff work on their private goals and set development objectives to ensure these aspirations will be met - before they write their PDP. We do a values alignment, explore needs and motivations, and describe what it takes to flourish.

Most people do not know how to set their own development goals. Offer them a ‘life-coaching’ approach to this and they uncover why they work and what it needs to provide for them.

This is the crucial ‘engagement’ link between the person and the organisation.

Don’t be afraid to let personal goals sit on the table with the deliverables. If you are a manager, they might not want to share their primary reasons for these objectives with you, but what ends up on the PDP form will be relevant to both sides. And it is the start of not only an emotionally intelligent (EQ) workplace, but one that supports spiritual intelligence (SQ) as well.

Looking at the rest of the world, Australia and South Africa have lead the field in EQ and SQ in L&D for about 15 years. The U.K. has some catching up to do….

Indira Kennedy is director of her own London-based leadership consultancy, helping organisations to create conscious leaders and high-performance workplaces through the use of specialised emotional and spiritual intelligence tools. Contact Indira here or at, or phone 07946 319 516.

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