Conference Keynote – staying ahead in learning & development

Conference Keynote – staying ahead in learning & development

theGrogroup is delighted to be headline sponsors and delivering a conference keynote at Connect London, the one day networking event being organised by Richard Chase events for specialists involved in people development.


The range and quality of attendees is impressive with firms in retail such as Krispy Kreme, Marks & Spencer’s, Banks and specialist manufacturing, through to the ICAEW and a range of legal firms. They all have one desire in common that they wish to learn form the conference keynote:


How do we stay ahead in learning and development?


It’s tough enough for businesses to know how to keep one step ahead, as Kate Hennig learned from a futurologist this week. Digital disruption is happening right now and with the rise of the ‘gig economy’ the nature and the place of work is set to be disrupted too. It is a tough call in a VUCA World (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity) for a business to stay one step ahead.


What do you do?


That makes it a very challenging place to be if you are in L&D or Talent Management and expected not only to keep up with the pace of change but also to be seen to be driving it.


Here are three tips, which form the basis of our keynote presentation at this week’s conference keynote:


1              Be seen to support the strategy


If you get told about initiatives when the board has made a decision “because there are people implications…” then you need to get yourself farther up the food chain. First step – be clear about what the strategy is and you make a decision about the impact on people. This means getting to speak with a few of the board and get their views. Not just your boss (likely to be the HR Director if on the board) but also the COO and the FD. Get a range of thoughts about where the business is focused and consider – what useful insight can I offer them about doing what they want our business to do?


This means – talk to your colleagues at events like this – and to businesses OUTSIDE your own sector. Look for people who have done what the firm is planning and see what the pitfalls have been and how you can personally bring ideas to the table that might be of use. Pass these up and also ensure you talk about this stuff when opportunity presents when you are with the board.


2              Know the impact of L&D


What if we train them and they leave?

But What if we don’t and they stay?

Goes the old maxim.


But you must surely be much more sophisticated than that? Yet we’re not. There is no magic pill, nothing that will really deliver a terrific ROI, with certainty. Many make the mistake of confusing Outputs and Outcomes with Impact, so let’s be clear about what you need to measure:


When faced with a training need “They don’t do appraisals very well…”, “The performance conversations are poor..”, “The senior management team don’t work as team…”


Its critical that you absolutely sit on your stakeholders, interrogate them until they break under your pressure – “What does good look like? How can you measure success?”


Too many times we give up under the onslaught of “Oh, its hard to know… Better than now… Not like XYZ…”


Outputs are:

Developing a programme

Bringing in subject matter experts

Creation of online resources


Outcomes are:

We have run 6 cohorts through the programme

They scored 7.6/10



Is where the business notices…

What difference has it made to the business?


Its important at this stage to ensure that when you start on this that you focus on the business rather than the people

They may ‘feel more confident’, say that “they understand the new system…”

The key is – so what? Has it made any difference to the way your firm operates?


If you cannot demonstrate the change then you could have gone to the board and suggested NOT running the programme and wasting the cash.


So, when you next review your budgets and look at L&D – consider whether you could actually define the value of the programmes that you run in terms of business impact?



3              Personal impact and influence


Personal impact comes down to 3 things that combine together to create ‘Gravitas’, ‘Credibility’ and ‘Presence’. Intangible yet important.


Focus: This is a combination of your self talk and your personal strategy. What do you want from an interaction? Do you feel confident and in control?

Verbal Language: This is all about making sure you use language that will influence your audience.

Body language: The easy part – ensure your physical stature reflects the authority with which you speak. If you look confident your audience is more likely to find you credible.


We focus on how to influence others with our verbal language in Negotiation and influencing programmes but for the most part it is critical that you can win over hearts and minds with any argument. All too often we hear people focused on half of the messages they need to engage their audience and win them over.


So be mindful the breadth of arguments you need and ensure that you are engaging with the right people at every level within your business.


To ensure you get the right advantage and stay ahead with your people development, give Paul Richmond a call and chat through your challenge.