Each September, The Institute for Performance and Learning celebrates Performance and Learning Month. This was started by the former Canadian Society for Learning and Development as a time to acknowledge and promote the important work of training departments and individual facilitators. By the second year, they decided to also acknowledge “learning champions” – people who weren’t directly part of a training department, but who still supported and drove learning within various facets of their organization. The Institute for Performance and Learning has a long-running history of involvement in the Learn @ Work Week activities that have evolved into this month long celebration.
This is a special time for trainers to advertise some of the valuable work they do. I remember one of the first years we promoted Learn @ Work Week. A client of ours showcased their training accomplishments for their employees. They set up tables in the conference room to display their various leadership, health & safety, compliance and apprenticeship training initiatives, along with several specialized sessions jointly being offered in conjunction with both the local university and community college. For many staff it was the first time they became aware of the amount of training available in their own organization. It was a brag session that was more than overdue.
For years training departments were considered an unnecessary expense, and often were first to be cut by accountants when the economy took a downturn. Today, growing companies have come to recognize the importance of workplace performance and learning, and the role that learning and development can play in preparing staff with the necessary skills for the future of an organization.
Never has this been more prevalent than during COVID. Remember how quickly organizations had to switch to virtual workplaces in order to protect their staff? In the past 2 years we have seen training departments – often short-handed – re-write, re-design, and learn new technology to deliver important information virtually… all in record time. They developed innovative materials to assist individuals, managers and top-level leaders understand how to lead remote work teams – helping their employees be collaborative, productive and engaged in a totally new setting. Now, as everyone has become more comfortable with operating remotely in a virtual environment, facilitators are again re-visiting much of their material, and improving the quality and content by learning how to use all the new tools available.
COVID turned our whole industry upside down, and the changes and challenges continue. New topics are now required for leadership – resilience, agility, emotional intelligence, critical thinking and handling continuous change. Companies are looking for work-life balance strategies, mental health initiatives, diversity training and coaching. People skills (soft skills) are more in demand than ever as companies try to stem the flow of resignations. Trainers are evaluating new platforms for delivery, designing more e-learning and micro-learning modules, delving into neuroscience and Artificial Intelligence… the list goes on. Finally, many have a seat at the C-suite and have developed strong business acumen to assist in providing input to leadership.
It is time to celebrate the work of this group. If you are part of a learning and development department, please take the time to share all you have accomplished, and what you have planned for the future. Take the time to show how learning has had a positive impact on key business measures in your organization – including job performance and productivity – and how you have created opportunities for people to grow in their jobs and life. Your work is critical to the health of individuals, the organization you work in, and the Canadian economy.
If you are in a leadership role, please support new training initiatives and acknowledge the value learning and development professionals make to your workplace – during Performance and Learning Month, and all year.
If you are a manager or other staff: when you next interact with one of the members of your learning and development team, please thank them for all they contribute to you and your success.
These are exciting times in the performance and development field and there is much to celebrate!
Dale Wilcox is president of WATMEC Limited. A Learning Strategist, she holds a CTDP from the former CSTD, and a Human Performance Improvement certificate from the former ASTD. For over 25 years she has been an award winner with WILEY and is certified to deliver and debrief all their assessments. Previously Dale was a Board member and inaugural chair of CSTD. She has over 45 years of Board member experience in both for profit and non-profits organizations. An entrepreneur at heart, this is her 4th business venture.