Published in Spring 2023

This year hasn’t been a walk in the park. With rounds of tech giants’ layoffs, relentless inflation, continuing supply chain disruptions and a potential looming recession, organizations are feeling the burn. Executives and decision-makers alike are reacting by trimming spending, scaling down project investments and cutting budgets. As we are well aware, learning and development (L&D) budgets are usually the first to be cut. In times of economic uncertainty, how can we continue to prove our value?

Below are some tips on how we can take advantage of a variety of technologies and tools to drive impact.

Leverage ChatGPT

The popular chatbot ChatGPT is everywhere and the world is already abounding with use cases for this recent development. Chatbots and other virtual assistants can indeed help automate some of our work processes, generate ideas, write content, create examples and analyze data.

For example, to automate workflow, ChatGPT can conduct post-training surveys, collect and convert data and analyze the results. If you are planning to write scenario-based learning content, ChatGPT can be used to brainstorm different scenarios and you can refine it to suit your specific context.

Do keep in mind that while chatbots can be used for many tasks, they are not a substitute for human judgment and expertise. Consider it a powerful tool that can aid your work, and the final decision should always be yours.

Curate Rather Than Create

Creating training material from scratch is not always feasible. Luckily, there are an increasing number of quality resources available, both free and subscription-based. Curate content by adding comments, context and examples to the material. If you work with subject matter experts (SME), collaborate with them. Rather than writing content for an online course, ask your SME to examine the material and add insights and perspectives that are relevant to your organization.

For example, if you work in the energy sector and are sharing a blog post about leadership communication styles, you might want to comment on what type of communication styles are needed for leaders to talk about the shift to clean energy and how staff is impacted.

Emphasis on Performance Support

To connect learning to application, performance support is key. To demonstrate that L&D is more than classroom facilitators and course providers, place more emphasis on performance support and create ways to complement training. To quote Guy Wallace, a performance improvement consultant: “There is a need for people in the training field to take a more performance-focused orientation and become performance improvement technologists.”

To get started, consider the array of tools that your organization might already have in place or approaches that you can quickly adopt, including searchable knowledge-based platforms, mobile apps that are designed for task-specific guides and references and collaboration tools that allow team members to collaborate or to coach others and share best practices.

Data-informed Decision-making

Data is everywhere, but much of it remains unutilized. Use data you have and can collect to help inform decisions. For example, data analytics can shed light on what type of learning and performance support interventions to focus on. It can also help us review which resources need to be revamped. Keep in mind that while data is an important tool, it should be used in conjunction with other factors such as the business context and employee feedback.

While the road ahead might be slightly bumpy, L&D can show resilience, maintain visibility and demonstrate that we continue to be a critical and strategic partner in the organization.