How to Structure L&D Teams for Organizational Success?

Harrison Mitchel
Jun 16, 2023
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How to Structure L&D Teams for Organizational Success?

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At the heart of every successful organization lies a strong L&D team. These dedicated professionals drive employee learning, performance, and engagement. A study by Forbes found that companies with a strong learning culture enjoy employee engagement and retention rates around 30-50% higher than those that don't. This proves that by investing in L&D, organizations foster a culture of continuous improvement and ensure their workforce remains adaptable, innovative, and equipped with the skills needed to achieve business objectives. 

Structuring L&D teams for effective employee learning is a critical step in this process. A well-organized and strategic L&D team plays a pivotal role in driving the success of learning initiatives within an organization. A survey of learning and development officers by McKinsey found that over 60% of companies plan to increase learning and development spending, and 66% plan to increase formal learning hours per employee. This highlights the growing recognition of the value of L&D initiatives in driving organizational success. 

Understanding the Role of L&D Teams in an Organization

Types of Learning and Development Team Structure 

Learning and development team structure for effective employee training requires an organizational structure that best aligns with your business strategy. There are three common organizational structures to consider: centralized, decentralized, and federated. Let's explore each structure in detail:

Types of Learning and Development Team Structure 
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Centralized Structure

In a centralized structure, there is a single learning leader, often known as a chief learning officer, who possesses comprehensive knowledge of all departments within the company. This leader coordinates and creates meaningful and relevant learning activities and programs for the entire organization.

Pros

  • Ensures alignment of training materials with the company's strategic objectives
  • Benefits smaller firms without the resources for a diverse learning organization
  • Benefits larger organizations with standardized job skills across broad worker populations

Cons

  • May result in isolation if other parts of the company perceive L&D as unsuccessful
  • Departments may disconnect and create ad hoc learning programs, bypassing the centralized function

Decentralized Structure

In contrast to a centralized structure, a decentralized structure embraces individual learning organizations that align with specific business divisions without central coordination.

Pros

  • Offers flexibility and variety to cater to different department needs
  • Allows for quick responsiveness and adaptability to specific business areas
  • Facilitates closer collaboration with subject matter experts (SMEs) for knowledge acquisition

Cons

  • Inefficient cross-departmental cooperation due to limited mobility
  • Challenges in implementing corporate-level procedures and systems due to nonstandard training techniques
  • Potential waste of resources if each department develops its own training programs

Federated Structure

The federated structure combines elements of both centralized and decentralized models. It leverages decentralized business unit assistance while utilizing shared services and central leadership. L&D planning and decision-making are led by a central function, ensuring standard procedures, tools, and governance with a comprehensive understanding of the company.

Pros

  • Effective and efficient structure when implemented within a well-defined governance framework
  • Balances the benefits of centralized and decentralized structures
  • Leverages shared services for improved coordination and resource utilization

Cons

  • Requires experienced leaders who can effectively manage both centralization and decentralization

Factors to Consider While Creating a Perfect L&D Team Structure

The learning and development of organizational structure in businesses requires careful consideration of several key factors. By assessing organizational needs, defining team composition, fostering collaboration and communication, leveraging technology and tools, and balancing internal and external expertise, businesses can create a solid foundation for effective employee learning and development.

Regardless of whether you already have an established L&D team or are just beginning, ensure that you possess these essential elements, and feel free to incorporate your unique approach.

Factors to Consider While Creating a Perfect L&D Team Structure
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1. Significant Internal and External Factors

It is crucial to have a clear comprehension of your organizational objectives. When a company gives the go-ahead to create a learning and development team, they typically have a specific objective in mind. Failing to comprehend how your L&D team is expected to contribute towards those objectives can lead to doubts about the team's necessity.

When it comes to your team's personnel, here are some questions to consider:

  • Who will be part of your team?
  • Will you allocate staff members from other organizational departments to assist your team in laying the foundation?
  • Does it make sense to utilize freelancers as you develop the skills of your department?
  • What specific skill sets will you need initially?
  • Will your team primarily focus on e-learning programs, requiring strong instructional design and microlearning skills? Or will your team be responsible for delivering in-person courses, necessitating more facilitators?
  • Do you require a data specialist to collect and convey the impact of learning?

In addition to personnel considerations, evaluate the resources you may already have before establishing a learning and development team.

  • Are there existing repositories of knowledge and information in place, even if they are not formalized?
  • Look for job aids, documents, websites, or any other practical resources that can be utilized for training staff
  • Some resources may come from external sources, such as materials and training programs that vendors can obtain

Regarding job aids, you can explore some of the top training and development tools that enhance learning experiences.

2. Alignment of Learning and Development Team

Learning development teams typically have the responsibility of providing training across various departments. While having excellent content in learning programs is important, these efforts may only yield desired results with the support and engagement of executives and employees. If you have faced challenges in getting learners to participate in the past, you may need to look into the crucial aspect of alignment.

Alignment refers to the situation where all parties involved, from top-level executives to entry-level employees, comprehend the purpose and significance of your L&D strategy. By capturing their hearts and minds well before implementing a new training initiative, everyone is on the same page and gains insight into the ultimate objective. 

The most effective learning and development teams understand that for training, talent management, and ongoing education to make a difference truly, they must be closely connected to the company's overall strategic goals. Furthermore, these goals and strategies should be aligned at a personal, departmental, and organizational level. The L&D team's responsibility goes beyond determining the where, when, and how of learning; they must also map out the who and why.

3. Maximize The Impact of Your Learning and Development Team  

Whether you have a dedicated learning and development (L&D) department or if team members are being drawn from different parts of your organization, creating space for various players is crucial. A broader range of experiences increases the likelihood of impactful L&D initiatives. 

If you are uncertain about structuring your L&D team, prioritize these four key roles:

  1. The Curators: Utilize existing training content by engaging with curators within your team. These individuals possess the source knowledge and deliver readily available learning materials. This approach accelerates the development process and clarifies what additional content is needed.
  2. The Creators: After the curators have compiled existing materials, creators step in to fill any remaining gaps. If you do not currently have creators‚ÄĒsuch as graphic designers, scriptwriters, subject matter experts (SMEs), or animators‚ÄĒas part of your organization, consider collaborating with vendors who can develop custom learning experiences to enhance your strategy.
  3. The UX Pros: Good user experience (UX) involves anticipating how learners interact with your L&D content. If you have conducted thorough research, you should already have insights into potential pain points and effective and ineffective approaches. The UX professionals leverage this research to support new L&D efforts and ensure that content is streamlined and easily accessible.
  4. The Influencers: To generate significant impact with your L&D initiative, rely on the influencers within your team. These individuals are respected and followed by their colleagues. Whether it is a welcome email from top-level executives or enthusiastic endorsements, influencers assist capture the hearts and minds of learners, boosting motivation and fostering user buy-in. While it may not be an official job title, every successful organization has team members who act as influencers, contributing to the execution of initiatives and maintaining high morale.

Regardless of your approach to building your L&D team, having these four key members ensures you benefit from their experience, insights, and energy, leading to more dynamic training programs.

4. Practical Knowledge of Your Team Members

Practical experience is crucial. While buy-in and alignment are important, it is equally essential for a learning and development (L&D) department to have firsthand exposure to the same learning opportunities that every employee encounters (or lacks). Learning cannot be solely dictated from the top and then disregarded. 

Whether the learning initiatives originate from HR, an L&D department, or a dedicated talent management team, those responsible for developing and delivering training solutions should personally witness successes and failures. This approach ensures that learning initiatives consistently align with the organization's ultimate goals.

If you need help determining where to begin your assessment, focus on the sales department. Sales training is a significant indicator of an organization's overall training methods because it is typically the most sophisticated and valuable learning opportunity. If sales training is falling short, likely, the rest of your training programs are also affected. Engaging and effective sales training is a promising sign for a robust learning organization and can often be leveraged to extract valuable content and delivery methods for other departments.

5. Clear Objectives and ROI Measurements

Measuring the return on investment (ROI) of training can be challenging, especially if clear objectives have yet to be established from the outset. A competent learning and development (L&D) team recognizes that ROI may vary in growth and development because each organization has distinct goals. 

For instance, quantifying intangible aspects like teamwork or communication skills can be difficult. This is why it is crucial to have well-defined objectives communicated to the entire team right from the start. If the aim is for learners to experience growth, they should be informed about how to measure that growth. It could be through knowledge checks, certification paths, or leaderboards. Regardless of the measurement methods employed, they should enable the L&D team to establish a correlation between content, training, and learner behavior.

Setting clear objectives and implementing effective measurement practices also directly impact learner motivation. By collaboratively outlining training goals and determining how to recognize when learners achieve specific milestones along the way, you actively contribute to cultivating an educated and well-trained workforce.

Developing L&D Team Capabilities

Developing L&D Team Capabilities

To drive sustainable growth, it is crucial to invest in the capabilities of your L&D team. Developing the capabilities of your L&D team is paramount to ensuring their effectiveness in driving employee learning and development. As the landscape of workplace learning evolves, L&D professionals must stay abreast of emerging trends, technologies, and best practices.

In this section, we will explore key strategies and considerations for developing the capabilities of your L&D team.

  • Identifying Skill Sets and Competencies: Recognize the essential skills for L&D professionals, including instructional design, facilitation, and evaluation.¬†
  • Training and Upskilling L&D Team Members: Offer relevant learning opportunities and certifications to foster continuous professional development. Empower your L&D team with the resources they need to excel in their roles and drive organizational growth.

Conclusion

You are taking a significant step toward unlocking your organization's full potential by strategically structuring your L&D teams and partnering with trusted corporate training providers. As a globally managed, instructor-led corporate training platform, Edstellar offers a comprehensive suite of corporate training programs designed to upskill your employees and drive business growth. Invest in your L&D team, design impactful learning programs, and develop a culture of continuous learning to ensure sustainable success in today's dynamic business landscape. 

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Harrison Mitchel

Harrison Mitchel is a Learning & Development expert with 12 years of experience in the field. His expertise lies in employee's technical skill development and training programs. Harrison has a proven track record of designing and implementing learning initiatives that enhance employee skills and drive organizational performance. His writings provide valuable insights into the world of Learning & Development, offering readers practical advice on how to foster a learning culture and develop effective training programs. His deep understanding of Learning & Development dynamics makes him a trusted voice in the field.

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