Mind the Gap – How Can L&D Address Our Skill Gaps?

In the last #chat2lrn, we discussed gaps between what we Learning and Development (L&D) professionals see as skills that we need to do our jobs better and our own self-assessed proficiency level in those same skills. Based on the Learning & Performance Institute (LPI) Capability Map 6 month report, common gaps include being able to work closely with the rest of the business, being confident about analyzing data, and understanding talent and change management. [Request your free copy of the report executive summary by emailing info@thelpi.org]

MindTheGapWhile identifying these gaps is an important first step, simplified by the LPI Capability Map*, addressing them by improving those skills has been a challenge. In ways, L&D are like the cobbler’s children. But does that need to be the case?

As L&D professionals, we’re skilled at addressing skill gaps in others. We’re also adept at doing more with less and finding creative solutions to meet our customers’ needs. Is it that we avoid doing the same for ourselves or we just don’t have the time? If we don’t make time, are we at risk of marginalizing ourselves?

One issue may be that the problem itself hasn’t been well identified. We should apply the skills we have in analyzing knowledge and skill gaps in others to ourselves. Take business acumen, for example, as one of the skill gaps we may have. There are many aspects of business that we may not understand well, but which would have the greatest impact on our organizations or clients if L&D were to improve our understanding? Or what aspect would make the most impact on our personal career, and drive our professional growth? Prioritizing our skill gaps is a crucial next step.

Once we’ve identified and prioritized our skill gaps, what do we do? We are all busy and we all have limited time and budget to spend on professional development – but if we don’t grow, our alternatives are not so great. So how can we fit learning & development for ourselves into our plans? Also, the approach to meeting the needs of experienced workers–including ourselves–can be a challenge. As an individual becomes more skilled in his or her primary job, formal learning methods become less useful and informal methods work better to bridge skill gaps.

Illustration of the value of formal and informal learning methods with experience (Courtesy Clark Quinn)

Illustration of the value of formal and informal learning methods with experience (Courtesy Clark Quinn)

A few things we could do to move forward include:

  • Protect some time in the day/week/month/year to spend learning something new
  • Get support from management to spend time/budget learning new skills – how can we get this support?
  • Talk to colleagues – ask who knows someone in that line of work
  • Look to our existing social connections – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, professional organizations, etc. Reach out to our Personal Learning Networks (PLNs)
  • Join a new professional community related to a skill gap
  • Find a mentor in that line of work – how would we find one for ourselves? What characteristics make a good mentor?
  • What ideas do you have?

Join us Thurs., Aug 8th at 8:00 am PDT / 11:00 am EDT / 4:00 pm BST to share your ideas and practical approaches to bridging our skills gaps.

* register and complete your self assessment with the LPI Capability Map here: http://lpi.lexonis.com/

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One thought on “Mind the Gap – How Can L&D Address Our Skill Gaps?

  1. Pingback: What’s inspiring you right now? | chat2lrn

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