In honor of the Women’s World Cup goal-fest, here are 5 goals for L&D professionals…

USWNT

Yesterday as I watched the US women make it look so easy to score five goals in the World Cup finals, I wondered if other people in other professions could ever make it look so easy to achieve five goals.

Here are five goals that learning and development professionals might want to consider. They’re certainly not easy to accomplish, but the key here is to make achieving them look easy.

1. Solve a real problem. There’s a lot of talk in training circles about how learning and development professionals shouldn’t just be “order takers”, developing training just because someone thinks “more training” will solve a problem. In order to solve a real problem (as opposed to a perceived problem), L&D professionals will need to partner with those requesting training, asking the right questions and serving in a consultative role. Here are 7 questions (and a mad lib) that could be helpful in deciding whether there’s a problem that training will actually be able to solve.

2. Measure. I’ll be the first to admit that learning efforts can be incredibly difficult to measure. However, just because it’s hard to measure does not give L&D professionals an excuse to not measure. I’m currently in the midst of reading Integrated Talent Management Scorecards: Insights from World-Class Organizations on Demonstrating Value. It’s full of case studies, ideas on how to measure and ideas on how to isolate the effect of a training program on performance. Perhaps you have different ideas on how to measure, which is fine. The thing that’s not fine is to say that your organization should continue to fund your efforts even though the service you provide is intangible and not easily measured.

3. Develop yourself. My friend and new employee onboarding genius Michelle Baker often notes that L&D departments are like the cobbler’s children who have no shoes (meaning L&D folks often work to help others improve, but don’t invest many resources in their own development). Shelling out a few thousand bucks for conference registration and travel expenses can be nice (or it can be a big waste of money), but it doesn’t take a lot of money to develop yourself. Read a book (if you’re not sure where to start, here’s a list of 40). Or join in a tweet chat. If you’re developing your elearning skills, try the eLearning Heroes Weekly Challenge.

4. While you’re at it, take full advantage of your professional membership. If you’re one of tens of thousands of L&D professionals who are members of the Association for Talent Development, are you taking full advantage of your annual membership fee? In addition to the monthly subscription of TD magazine, did you know you also have access to download full-length ASTD Press publications, copies of Infoline (which is now called TD at Work), articles from the ATD library archives and research reports? Premium members of the eLearning Guild have similar benefits that you need to act on in order to claim, such as one free conference registration and access to dozens of recorded webinars.

5. Reflect, then put those reflections into action. We all have some good days and some bad days. It doesn’t always serve us well to put those things behind us. What makes the good days so good… and how do we replicate those things? What makes the bad days so bad… and how do we mitigate or avoid those things as we go forward? Perhaps you’re the type of person who wants to keep those thoughts to yourself. That’s fine. Keeping a private, professional journal can be an effective discipline for personal development. Perhaps you’re the type of person who prefers to “learn out loud” or simply share your experiences. Blogging or otherwise publishing your reflections can be a powerful way to crystalize your own thoughts as well as a way to integrate more social learning into your routine.

There you have it, in the spirit of the US women’s 5-2 victory over Japan (U-S-A! U-S-A!), I offer to you five goals that can be challenging, but L&D professionals should strive to make look easy. What would you add?

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