Why L&D professionals need to take a little time

If you’re reading this, it’s likely you work in the field of Learning and Development. It’s also likely that right now you are massively overworked. That’s a common theme among everyone I talk to in our field, whatever sector they work in and wherever they are in the world.

And this pressure to do more – often with fewer resources – has an impact on our work.

I’m not talking about the most obvious impact: that when under pressure there is less room for high-quality work and for creative experimentation. That’s life. We can’t be prima donnas, bemoaning the impossibility of doing our best in such difficult circumstances. Everyone else is working hard right now, too. We just have to pitch in.

No, the impact I’m talking about is more profound.

Charles Jennings talks about the four key ways in which adults learn: through experience, practice, conversation and reflection. Put simply, when you’re working flat out, you have little time to discuss what you’re doing, and even less time to reflect on it. And that means that you’re not learning. It’s a familiar experience. You’re so focused on work, you feel you haven’t even time to draw breath, much less think about how you might do it all a bit better.

The result of all this is a learning and development profession that cannot find the time to either learn or develop. That can’t be good for anyone. It especially can’t be good when conditions are changing fast and we need to keep abreast of new developments.

The seventh of Steven Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is taking time to sharpen the saw – setting aside time to reflect, renew and revitalise. It’s a habit that not only makes us more effective at work, it keeps us happy, and sane. And we can’t do it without time. Time to learn what’s new in the world outside our daily grind, and time to reflect on our own recent activity.

There are plenty of resources out there – blogs, conferences, your colleagues, this magazine – that can inform you and provide stimulus for our own process of reflection. So please, wherever you are, and whatever you’re doing, promise yourself that this week you’ll give yourself the one thing that will allow you to make the most of it all: time.

This is the editor’s introduction to the October 2012 edition of Inside Learning Technologies Magazine. Click to read the whole issue online.

One response to “Why L&D professionals need to take a little time

  1. I mentioned this in #chat2lrn on Twitter last week; if L&D can’t role model development (including reflection), what hope have we of expecting our organisations to do it?

    Simply put, 1 hour of your 40 hour week is 2.5% of your employers’ time. Is it reasonable to ask for that as time to reflect on your practice?

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