Why Work in Learning & Development (L&D)?
Recently I have noticed a number of colleagues and friends moving jobs. Some have stayed in the same sector that they were in, but others have changed career direction completely. The grass is always greener on the other side as the saying goes, but it has got me thinking about why it is that I choose to work in Learning & Development (L&D). I thought that if I shared some of my own personal reasons then it may help other people who either may be thinking of coming into this sector or who may be thinking about if they want to stay. In case any of you may be wondering – no, I’m not about to change direction, I’m very happy doing what I do and wish to keep on doing it!
We are doing good things. Surely this has to be a top motivator for anybody working in L&D? We are essentially helping people to achieve certain goals, objectives they may have or it maybe just as simple as helping them get through the day. We make it easier to learn new skills, accomplish tasks, take on new knowledge and collaborate with others. As a result of this companies and organisations where these people work also benefit and often, their customers as well. L&D is at the top of a pyramid of “good stuff”!
It’s mostly enjoyable. I hesitate at saying it’s always enjoyable as there are sometimes moments that aren’t (as is the case in most careers I suspect), but for 99.99% of the time I enjoy doing what I do and have fun along the way as well. I take pleasure at seeing a well-built training course being delivered, or hearing positive feedback from learners about how something has helped them. The flip side of this though is that I feel pained when courses are given with little or no thought to good structure, what is being taught and how it is being received.
It can be challenging. What is the point in going to work every day knowing the answers to everything and how to achieve it? Without challenges, you don’t improve yourself and L&D has certainly posed a few to me over the years. The main sources of the challenges I have faced over the last 26 years or so are either people or technology. But what about the consequences and risk of failure? Well, my experience has been that with good teamwork and supportive leaders you rarely fail and if you do, then you always learn something invaluable that you can take away with you for the future and good things normally come out of it. If you have a zero risk attitude, then I don’t think L&D is quite the right place for you.
You get to work with like-minded people. Yes, OK, I know that would be the case with most professions. If you are a Doctor then you get to work with other Doctors and Nurses etc who have the same reasons for doing what they do. But, if you are honest with yourself and chose L&D as a career because you genuinely want to, then you will find yourself quickly surrounded by other people who have the same opinions and values.
It’s constantly evolving and changing. When I started, things like Learning Management Systems, SCORM packs and eLearning were not commonplace. The internet was in its infancy. We used overhead projectors and VHS tapes etc. etc. Yes, I know that at times it feels like L&D can be lagging behind other areas of the business, but we are moving with the times like so many other professions.
On reflection there are a number of other more minor reasons that I personally have for working in L&D, but these are my top 5.