L&D Should Support People Like a Sports Team – All Day, Every Day

The future of work for humans will be in performing non-routine tasks where individual learnability will be critical as people need to continuously learn to keep up and grow.

If people in the workforce will be focusing on non-routine tasks, this changes how organizations will support people.  

Learning, as a part of working, is a priority.

What if organizations supported employees the same way sports teams support players – all day, every day?

Imagine you’re a professional athlete and your full-time job is playing a sport. The team wants you to perform your best so you can help the team win as many games as possible. You grow as an athlete in many ways including at practice, during a game, working with your teammates and coaches, exercising with friends, etc.

What if you:

  • Only participated in activities that helped you improve while you are at the stadium with your team?
  • Could not access resources outside of your team in order to learn and improve?
  • Could only exercise at the team gym with the team trainer?

Do you think:

  • The team would succeed?
  • People would be attracted to play for this team?
  • Team members would refer their friends to join the team?

There is no work/life learning balance

What you learn when you’re at work can help you outside of work and vice versa. The key is to continue learning so whatever you’re learning benefits you wherever you are.

If L&D will be working more in the gray space, how might L&D support employees like a sports team?

Personal Trainer – An Opportunity for Learning & Development? 

What if L&D evolved to be more like a coach (personal trainer) for a sports team? As a personal trainer, your role is to get the athletes in peak physical and mental conditioning in order to play the game as best that they can. Being fit where an athlete is strong, fast and flexible in not the goal.

The goal is to transfer these physical and mental attributes to the game to help an athlete be the best that they can be during the game. This involves working in the gym, on the track, at home, playing the game, etc., as part of getting better. The trainer understands the goals and priorities of the team and works with other coaches in supporting the team.

To support this, the personal trainer needs to understand the goals and priorities of the team and works with other coaches in supporting the team.

L&D Will Focus More on the Individual View of Learning 

If you’re in L&D and not a full-time facilitator or instructor, you probably spend most of your time with managers and SME’s, not individuals who need the skills you’re helping to build.

As we shift to more focus more on individual learning, we will see more L&D people working with individuals and teams rather than SMEs and managers. L&D will continue to be connected with managers and senior leaders but will play a bigger role in the lives of employees.

Coaches Throughout Organization?

What if there was an organizational coach assigned to groups of employees throughout the organization? This person would support the group in their learning and performance journey.

This goes beyond typical learning support to engage and help people optimize their performance. For example- are you getting enough sleep, exercise, connecting with others, etc?

How might you pay for something like this?

  • Transition some of the existing L&D team or managers?
  • Reduced recruiting costs by attracting more people to your organization?
  • More productivity – better company results?

What Do You Think?

  • Should there be more focus on individual learning?
  • Will there be “personal trainers” in the workplace?
  • What opportunities are you seeing?



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