In my experience Learning professionals are passionate about helping people to learn new skills and through doing so enable them to better fulfil their potential as human beings. And that’s great... because ultimately, it’s that sort of stuff that creates a better world.
In this blog I will highlight the role Change Management can play in bringing more power to the arm of the learning professional, and in positioning learning and development as being central to the success of strategic change initiatives. I also want to highlight the pivotal role learning has in developing change management capability.
- Why Change Management gives you power in effective Learning
- Learning and Development is pivotal to change success
- The role of Learning in the development of effective Change Management
Why Change Management Gives you Power in Effective Learning
As someone said to me recently if learning doesn’t result in changes in behaviour, then what’s the point? People might learn, but the world doesn’t change. I subscribe to that view. If we see learning as enabling people to do things they couldn’t do before, I see change management as creating the context for that learning to be effective and upping the chances of making a difference.
If we run training courses – however good they are – for people who don’t understand why the capability the training course is intended to develop is important, and if that capability isn’t something they personally value in some way, then how effective will that training be? Will people engage? Will they learn? Will they even turn up?
Similarly, if we train people and then release them into an environment which doesn’t reinforce demonstration of the capabilities they’ve acquired through training, how likely are they to practice, further develop and continue to demonstrate the capability the training was aimed at?
I well remember many years ago being asked to deliver training to a group of BBC journalists, it soon became apparent that nobody had done the work with them to help them understand the point of being there. Something they made quite plain to me! Needless to say, the training was pretty much a waste of time.
Change management creates the context for training to be successful. The context for it to deliver greater value by bringing together influencers – both senior leaders and direct managers in a coordinated way to create a context within which learning and the capability which results is both embraced and reinforced... and in that sense bringing more power to the elbow of the learning professional. In short, effective change management hugely ups the chances that learning will make the difference we desire of it.
Learning and Development is Pivotal to Change Success
My second point – is about relevance, and the value afforded to learning. In my view learning is both vital and undervalued. But I think change management can help vastly increase the value associated with learning, especially when it comes to strategic change – the change that really matters to an organisation and its leaders – change management can ensure learning is positioned clearly on the critical path to success.
Maybe there’s a new system being introduced? Training is needed on the functionality of that system in isolation it’s just training, but if that training is seen as being on the critical path to delivering a system enabled transformation in performance that the organisation has banked its future on – Training and the learning it achieves will likely be seen in a whole new light. Change management can create the vital link between learning and strategic outcomes and as has the potential to help elevate learning up the strategic agenda.
The Role of Learning in the Development of Effective Change Management
So now I want to go one step further – the role that learning has in the development of effective change management. Change management takes off through multiple roles developing complimentary capabilities – we need change management practitioners to plan and orchestrate, senior leadership to sponsor, people managers to lead their teams, and project teams to design and deliver change with people in mind. None of these capabilities can be developed without learning.
So, in summary there’s a win-win here to be had from forging a strong link between change management and learning professionals. Change management can create the context for greater impact and recognition from learning while at the same time learning is indispensable not only to the success of change management, but also the development of change management within an organisation.
If that sounds a bit circular, it’s because it is, and not only does change management development require learning and development, it also requires change management – but that’s a topic probably best left to another time.
If the above has struck a chord, and you would like to explore further a great next step is to take the 3-day Prosci Change Management practitioner course. Even though you may have no intentions of becoming a practitioner yourself, it will give you plenty of ideas for how a structured approach to Change Management can complement Learning, and lead to results that are more than the sum of the parts.
If you would like to learn more about how to ensure the successful implementation of change and how learning and development fits into that process, join me on a free 30 minute webinar (28th October, 10am BST), where we'll discuss how learning is the "jam" in the change management sandwich. I'll be getting into the crux of how learning is critical to the success of change management and how change management is critical for creating the context for learning to succeed. At the end of the day, organisations do not change, people do.