Area of Expertise (AOE) – Managing the Learning Function

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This Area of Expertise (AOE) is about providing leadership in developing human capital to fulfill an organizations strategy. This skill set incorporates:

  • Strategy
  • Planning
  • Organizing
  • Monitoring
  • Adjusting activities associated with the administration of workplace learning and performance

You will find about 9% of the CPLP questions involve this AOE.

Something that is important for any training professional to recognize is that training is not always the solution to an employee performance issue. Training managers should always conduct a needs analysis to attempt to save their company time and money. The best way to do this is from the top down, rather than focusing on individuals. Your role is to know the elements of a needs assessment. This includes gap analysis, priority identification, causes, solutions, and opportunities.

The foundation for successfully developing and delivering adult training is adult learning theories. This includes the program and materials design, delivery methods, and audience needs. To meet the needs of your audience, you need to base your materials on theories of learning and instruction and environmental factors that affect the learner.

It is important that you know what training can and cannot accomplish. Your client’s goals will help you decide if you can even provide a solution. Make sure you pay attention to constraints, target populations, objectives, and the political implications of the needs analysis. You must be able to communicate what you can and cannot offer based on the limitations of training.

As you develop learning objectives, they must describe precisely what your learners will be able to do as a result of the training experience.

The two building blocks for this skill set are objectives and content outlines. These divide instructional units into lessons. These lessons often include practice exercises, lab sessions, and tests.

For you to provide value-driven training and learning solutions, it is critical that you understand different technologies and their uses. Managing learning requires that you develop a diverse network that allows you to understand availability, use, and functionality of these technologies. You should also understand technology’s advantages and disadvantages.

You also need to understand:

  • Understand your organization’s strategy as it relates to technology to support learning
  • The selection process, in which you choose one or more technologies based on achieving desired learning outcomes
  • Designing or developing content
  • Effective implementation of new technology
  • Types and characteristics of organization-wide knowledge management systems
  • Requirements gathering

Organizations can preserve knowledge and promote organizational learning by employing information storage and retrieval systems. These systems support knowledge acquisition, information distribution, information interpretation, and organizational memory.

If you are in the training management role, these learning information systems benefit you. You can use these systems to generate rosters, certificates, and registration reports. You can also store templates and information to build training curricula. Learners can use these systems in classroom training, for eLearning, access to reference documents, and job aids.

If you don’t have access to in-house training resources, training vendors become a key resource. To take advantage of them, you must be able to evaluate a vendor’s products and services based on your organizations’ learning goals and objectives. This requires an understanding of the products and services available from a variety of marketplace vendors.

Your ability to evaluate outsourcing options for the development of a training program is essential. This skill includes establishing decision criteria for outsourcing, determining the budget, developing the contracts and supporting documents, identifying the different billing models, and how to monitor and evaluate the program. This includes:

  • Printed material
  • Training vendors
  • eLearning
  • off-the-shelf, customized, or in-house development capabilities (including the strengths, weaknesses, and processes)

Your training plans should closely relate to your organization’s corporate strategy. You should build them into a training policy that demonstrates the value of learning to your organization. You must build measurements into your programs to demonstrate ROI. You must also develop and institute a means to communicate value to justify and fund programs.

This includes such things as:

  • Administration staff
  • Curriculum, including topics, outlines, objectives, courseware, media, and delivery methods
  • Facilities, including equipment and resources
  • Instructors
  • Subject Matter Experts (SME’s)
  • Role of the Training Manager

As a training manager, you must also work with management at an organizational decision-making level to define the training department’s role within the corporate strategic plan. That process involves major business units, such as Information Technology (IT), HR, Finance and Accounting, Sales & Marketing, and Operations.

Your training budget is directly tied to your company’s mission and values. The amount you have available depends on the needs of the company, the ability of the training department to meet organization needs, and your organization’s ability to get employees to participate in training programs.

The skills needed for this portion of the role include:

  • Strategic plan development
  • Understanding of the Training Manager role
  • Business insight
  • Budget management
  • Knowledge of accounting terminology

An effective Learning professional needs to not only be a dynamic leader that can inspire a team, but also an effective manager of team resources. You must be able to influence other employees and leaders. This is required if you plan to bring about the change necessary to keep an organization competitive and successful.

Project-planning tools and processes provide the techniques that allow you to lead a design team to develop projects. You must have project management skills if you plan to ensure successful project completion. These skills include: planning, organizing, and managing time, budgets, and resources.

During the project planning stages, you are responsible for gathering information needed to produce the work breakdown structure and activity estimates. You are responsible for project staffing, resource leveling, and the schedule. During the project, you are responsible for gathering status information from each team member or project leaders and prepare the necessary status reports.

For this, you need knowledge of:

  • Software tools
  • Planning worksheets
  • Time management
  • Project goals
  • Project lifecycles
  • Project roles
  • Project management issues (timelines, milestones, managing resources, and contingency planning)

Exceptional communication is a must. This includes both oral and written. You must know how to use active listening techniques properly. If you understand what people say and the emotions behind that , you can employ verbal techniques such as open-ended questions, to determine the best course of action. Another communication skill that is vital is the ability to speak before both large and small audiences.

Your work will also require that you be aware of how your organizations HR systems integrate with the training function. The most important function of the HR group is to hire the right people. As such, your organization should have written descriptions for each position in your organization. Before you fill a vacancy or create a new position, you should have a written job description in place before you begin the interview process.

You might be called upon to train your hiring managers on how to interview candidates. Because of this, you should be aware that laws and legal decisions affect the hiring procedure.

You also need a basic understanding of the business environment, ways or organization allocates resources, and its strategic strengths and weaknesses. Your ability to describe learning initiatives in the appropriate business terms will make great strides in positioning the training group as a strategic business partner.

You should be able to discuss:

  • The state of the business
  • It’s culture and value system
  • Environment
  • Organizational structure

Understanding external systems, factors, and relationships, will help you develop and deliver effective training.

You must be aware that you must secure written permission from copyright owners if you use their materials in your training. You are not required to know specific laws and regulations, but you should know how laws affect how you design, deliver, and measure training performance. These laws and regulations strengthen the overall business environment.

These rules and regulations include:

  • Employment law and regulatory requirements
  • Civil rights
  • Workplace safety
  • Securities and financial reporting
  • Information technology compliance
  • Union regulations
  • Intellectual property (copyright and fair use)
  • Corporate policy and procedures
  • Ethical standards

Lastly, you must keep up with technology improvements and new products. You must also evaluate new technologies in relation to your organizations learning goals and changes within the industry. You also need to understand the effects of new technology.

This means you must come up with strategies to remain current, ways to evaluate new technologies as needed, graphic design elements, software capabilities, hardware requirements, instructor guides, delivery platforms, and ancillary materials.

If you want to share any of your knowledge or experience with this AOE, please feel free to add a comment below.

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One Response to “Area of Expertise (AOE) – Managing the Learning Function”

  1. ASTD Competency Model « ASTD – Central Florida Chapter Blog Says:

    […] Managing the learning function […]

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