How impactful L&D can help tackle uncertainty

Successful businesses solve problems. We know that because we’ve been told it again and again, to the point where it’s embedded in our thinking like a mantra. But what happens when those businesses and the teams within them are trying to solve the wrong problems? What if they’ve been asking themselves the wrong questions to begin with?

What if they’ve been fixating on certainties in a world where there aren’t any?

Uncertainty is universal and unavoidable

The fact is, we live with constant uncertainty and we always have – it just took a global pandemic to really open our eyes to it. It showed us that change can happen overnight, and that the only way to futureproof your business is to always be ready for anything and everything. Ultimately, to cope with uncertainty, you have to give in to it, and understand that it’s an essential component of a much bigger superpower: discovery. And discovery is what really makes us thrive.

Yet, even in the new post-COVID world, there are still businesses everywhere working towards perceived “certainties” with blinkers on. Sticking blindly to outmoded methodologies in a landscape that we know can shift with the wind – because we’ve seen it happen. Essentially building castles on the sand, creating problems for themselves further down the road.

In an uncertain world, it’s fundamental to the success of any organization to have everyone aligned and working towards the same goals. Even if it means unlearning mountains of assumed answers and bogus solutions, and accepting the reality – that we don’t have all the answers, and that we can’t always be sure about what’s on the horizon.

L&D leaders can steer the ship

Instead, we should be looking at how to be best equipped for a world where uncertainty reigns. To focus on shaping a workforce armed with the skills they need to adapt to any situation. As such, the role of L&D has never been more crucial in terms of futureproofing the organization and shaping teams that are multi-skilled and multifaceted enough to adapt to whatever environmental changes take place. Teams with the tools they need to be able to pivot, to handle new scenarios, and not just to weather storms, but to thrive in them. To see opportunities in the maelstrom.

In our recent eBook – L&D and the power of change – we outlined practical exercises you can do, with one in particular focusing on understanding your organization’s “jobs-to-be-done”. Because understanding the exact purpose of your company is fundamental to success, and often not as easy as it sounds. Numerous companies manage to be lots of things all at once without a cohesive vision of precisely where their priorities lie. Finding that clarity, and aligning everyone on the same path, with L&D fully involved at a strategic level, is the way forward.

It’s time to back your workforce

Ultimately, that means taking small bets on the people you already have. Trusting them and investing in them as part of your future success. Building skills and ways of working, teaching incoming graduates leadership lessons, knowing that they’re the future of a business. All too often the role of L&D is seen to be providing training for the sake of it, burying teams under a mountain of unnecessary courses. But by making the shared learning strategic and customized, it starts to drive the business. And uncertainty starts to present itself as opportunity.

Moving forward with increased significance, L&D leaders can adopt a holistic approach to workplace learning, one where performance underpins culture. Where everyone, regardless of their perceived place on the ladder, obsesses about the customer and understands how best to serve them.

A team that feels invested in. A team that doesn’t wait to be told to solve a problem but is empowered and trusted to act quickly and decisively. They can see the bigger picture, they’re aligned, resilient and able to adapt. And, most importantly, they know what the problems are that need to be solved.

Want to learn more?   

Watch “Manage change and drive value with a new approach to L&D” – a panel discussion on the shifting nature of work, the growing cost of talent, and supporting organizational change. Held in partnership with HRD Connect and featuring David Boni, Product Director at Emergn and Adam Hickman, Vice President of Learning, Org Development and Cast Members at Walt Disney.