What I’ve learnt heading up a Europe-wide L&D function

This year has been an interesting one for me. I took on the opportunity to head up a Europe-wide L&D function as an interim. Here’s what I learnt:

An interim role is different to a permanent one in the sense that I felt I was ‘care-taking’ and looking after the function. As my position was initially for 3 months, then extended for another 3, and finally extended by another 3, it meant I was not in a position to make long-term strategic plans. So, I was mindful to continue the direction that had been set, and to keep the balls in the air. This does bring its own challenges however, as sometimes decisions are key.

Launching an LMS…

My time began being dropped into a launch of an LMS. We were also still all working remotely. So, my first few weeks were spent learning the system, making adjustments so it worked, creating and delivering training and launching. This was an intense time to say the least. Also, as there was a full programme or training courses calendared for the ear, I had to make sure I understood what they were, and that they were all in the system correctly. I held a meeting with every supplier so I could understand their offering (much of the training was still being delivered online at this point) and spent time communicating with the business, ‘advertising’ the training offer for the year.

Compliance training and custom content design…

There were some other projects on my to-do’ list too, one or them being compliance training. It was clear to me the current arrangements and plans were not ‘in line’ with the strategic direction now provided by having an LMS which was positioned as a ‘one stop shop’. I had to work hard to influence key stakeholders that a change of approach would be best. We had an LMS so it made sense to use it, rather than multiple external systems where we had little or no control over content. This also meant we had the opportunity to create our own digital content, something the organisation had not done before. As there was no capacity in the team for this, I sought out an external contractor to support content creation and persuaded my line manager to purchase an Articulate Storyline licence.

Training design for different languages…

After a while I began seeing what the challenges were with a ‘European-wide’ workforce – despite the organisations insistence that English was the main language spoken, it was clear that this was a desire and not a reality. It was interesting for me to think about the training design process through a lens of non-native speakers. It’s a really good way for you to assess content and its simplicity. Removing jargon, non-essential words and phrases, going at a much slower pace, and full active listening were essential components of live workshops. For written/digital content clarity was key.

I had the fun experience of getting some of our newly created custom e-learning courses translated. I found a great online supplier, Smartcat, that uses machine translation. It’s a really cool tool – you can download a .xlif file from Articulate Storyline – drag it into Smartcat, and you get an instant translation (which you can then get a translator to check). You then upload this file back into Articulate and voila! It keeps all the formatting, so the new module in a different language is ready to go. I set up a system where I did the Smartcat translation, got it checked by a translator (available through the platform) and then a final check by a native speaking employee.

Performance Management…

My last major project (once l’d recruited and trained up my permanent replacement) was to support the roll-out of the new Performance Management system (Workday Performance). Something I have done may times before, but the first time l’d been involved with a system that was linked to pay with a full calibration round. I built the training guides myself using RISE in Storyline, and designed and led workshops and supported the HRBP’S with communications.

All of this whilst working out new processes and ways of working to suit the new LMS.

I drew a lot on my experience of building L&D functions from the ground-up. It has been a busy time, and my permanent replacement still has much to do, but that’s what makes it interesting right?

I’m now back at my Talentstorm desk, excited to get back to taking my Modern Learner Programme out to a wider audience – as we are going digital with it.

If you’re interested in transforming a learning culture and how the Modern Learner Programme can help, drop me an email at rachel@talentstorm.co.uk

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