Discover the Skills L&D Pros Need to Succeed


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Apr 29, 2023

Discover the Skills L&D Pros Need to Succeed

Whether new or tenured with advanced degrees or ones from the school of hard

Whether new or tenured with advanced degrees or ones from the school of hard knocks, learning and development professionals must advance their consulting skills. Our industry is unique in that most practicing professionals come into their roles "by accident" and perhaps haven't worked with leaders on big picture training strategies and their organizational results.

Being an instructional designer, trainer, or education director is often a second or third career for many L&D professionals. This is surely true for me. Prior to serving in various training roles, I was a marketing manager and (after completing my PhD) a professor of educational research and sociology. In the worlds of marketing and academic research, data and analytics are engrained in the everyday work experience. When I stepped into my first L&D role, I was surprised that the learning department wasn't regularly incorporating key performance indicators (KPIs) and business metrics in its overall training strategy. The reason for this wasn't due to a limited understanding of KPIs or business metrics. The reason was a department-wide lack of confidence consulting with executive leaders to identify what exact business metrics their training initiatives could or should influence.

It takes courage to ask your supervisor, "Why is this training needed now?" and "What does success look like?" But strategic consulting is the primary skill L&D professionals need in today's economic climate. Strategic consulting involves connecting the dots between learning initiatives, KPIs, and business results. It is the ability to demonstrate how time and money invested in any learning solution has positively influenced the bottom line.

Three important habits will increase your consulting skills. Work on these habits consistently and in stepwise fashion.

To advocate for good learning today while preparing to be a successful contributor or leader of the future requires strategic consulting skills. The ability to consult leaders and peers how to incorporate new technologies, positively influence the business bottom line while upholding high-quality learning standards is a skill that will stand the test of time regardless of what role you play in the L&D industry.

Academic turned entrepreneur, Alaina Szlachta is the founder of By Design Development Solutions, a boutique learning design firm specializing in data-driven curriculum writing and measuring the results of training by building measurement strategies into the flow of learning. Szlachta has played nearly every role in the knowledge industry during the past 15 years, including professor of higher education, corporate trainer, director of training, instructional designer, researcher, and former competitive public speaker. She has proudly served industry experts in higher education, diversity and inclusion, finance, victim services, real estate, healthcare, and SaaS.

Connect with Alaina on LinkedIn or via her website at