The role of the Modern Learning Advisor in today’s workplace

This is an extract from Modern Workplace Learning 2019

The work of the modern Learning & Development function is no longer just about designing, delivering and managing training experiences, but about enabling and supporting continuous improvement, learning and development. To do this, therefore, requires a different type of learning professional from the standard roles found in the workplace, i.e. instructors, facilitators and instructional designers.

The role of the Modern Learning Advisor is about empowering self-reliant and self-sufficient modern professionals who make the most of and learn from all kinds of experiences and opportunities to self-improve and self-develop.

The work of the Modern Learning Advisor falls into 3 stages:

  1. Prepare and Promote
  2. Enable
  3. Support

Stage 1: Prepare and Promote

Preparing the organisation for a modern approach to workplace learning. This involves helping managers and employees acquire a new organisational learning mindset, i.e. one that recognises that

  • learning takes place in many different ways for, at and through work, and that
  • the role of the L&D function is not just about designing and delivering learning experiences for people to take – but helping individuals to organise and manage their own self-improvement and self-development.

This stage involves explaining the rationale for this approach (for both the organisation and employees), as well as the principles of modern professional learning, and the new practices involved (for both individuals, their managers and L&D).

Stage 2: Enable

This stage involves two aspects,

  • Helping managers to understand how they can operationalise this new approach to workplace learning in their teams, what it means to them, and how the Modern Learning Advisor can help and support them.
  • Helping individuals acquire or hone their modern professional learning skills so that they can get the most out of (and learn from) their daily job as well as from the Web, as well as to organise and manage their own self-development in a more structured way (particularly if their manager is supporting them). It means helping them understand how to learn in new ways, develop new learning skills, as well as select the tools and services that will bring them value.

This stage will involve working with managers and individuals in very different ways, offering a personal and bespoke service that fits the needs and preferences of the manager and his/her team – rather than adopting the traditional, one-size-fits-all top-down approach.

Stage 3: Support

Some people in the organisation may well already be effective self-directed modern professional learners, whilst others will need continued help to become so.  In this stage, the Modern Learning Advisor takes on an advisorial and consultancy role:

  • Promoting sharing of learning, new knowledge and skills in work teams, as well as coordinating events to showcase new talent across the organisation.
  • Providing bespoke advice and support to managers or employees, as and when required, in the form of a Learning Concierge or Help Desk service.

The Skills of a Modern Learning Advisor

The Modern Learning Advisor will therefore need to be someone who can “walk the talk” and demonstrate what it means to be a modern professional learner.  He/she

  • will have established a habit of continuous learning, and makes a point of learning something new every day
  • makes the most of (and learns from) everyday work experiences – through problem-solving, interactions with their own manager, and their own team
  • manages their own self-improvement and self-development
  • has grown their own professional network
  • continuously keeps up to date with their industry or profession

The attributes of a Modern Learning Advisor

The Modern Learning Advisor will therefore be:

  • a Specialist, Expert and Master of modern professional learning – demonstrating modern learning attitudes and practices.
  • a Guide and Helper to individuals – empowering and supporting them to self-improve and self-development in many different ways.
  • a Partner and Consultant to managers – helping them to adopt a continuous learning mindset as well as how to build an effective social team.

Whilst some L&D professionals are already taking on the role of a Modern Learning Advisor  – especially in smaller organisations – for other (larger) organisations this will require a big change in terms of their work.

If you would like to join the #mla channel on the (Slack-powered) MWL Community to meet others who who like to discuss the new role of the Modern Learning Advisor, you can do this by purchasing access to the Modern Workplace Learning 2019 online resource.

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Jane Hart

Jane Hart helps organisations and learning professionals modernise their approaches to workplace learning - through public workshops and bespoke consultancy. She is the Editor of the Modern Workplace Learning Magazine, and is the author of a number of books including Modern Workplace Learning 2018 as well as the resource for individuals How to become a Modern Professional Learner. Jane was the 2018 recipient of the ATD Distinguished Contribution to Talent Development award. You can contact Jane at Jane.Hart@C4LPT.co.uk.