In my experience, being an L&D specialist can be rewarding as well as utterly frustrating.
It is great when you feel you have made a difference, delivered a learning program that brought added value to the participants and the business and it’s the greatest feeling of all when you get any kind of positive feedback on your work.
It’s not so fantastic when you are asked to come up with learning solutions to non-learning problems (such as ‘the employees are demotivated, enroll them in some training so they’ll be engaged again’) and you feel your hard work and results are not truly appreciated within the organization.
A good communication plan that is carefully built and followed through can help with a lot of the issues. Continual and consistent communication from the L&D team helps it become more visible and credible to everyone in the business.
Where to start
When designing a communication plan, one has to consider the stakeholders, the audiences and the desired outcomes. Much like with any other kind of plan.
It can be highly complex and detailed with how it connects to various recipients or it can act as a general outline. Either way, the key to success is undoubtedly to stick with whatever option suits. Of course, any communication plan will vary based on the specifics of the situation, the general guidelines within the company and a number of internal and external factors.
However, there are at least three common types of communication, so before deploying the strategy, some audience analysis is required in order to make sure that the right type of message reaches the intended crowd.
The internal L&D newsletter
If you think this sounds just a little bit old fashioned – it actually is. This also makes it a very familiar method of sending out news and offering insights into what the department is doing and why.
It can be extensive enough to offer space for explaining learning paths and pipelines as well as go into details for those who are interested in them.
Read more: Why each employee needs a learning path
It’s also a good place for team leaders (and team members, for that matter) to find out more about what is happening throughout the organization where learning is concerned.
Best-practices and success stories are always good to read and boost up confidence and engagement.
There is something soothingly non-invasive about a newsletter in today’s marketing-filled inboxes and if the writing is good, it can turn into a real treat.
The pre-launch e-mailing
Whenever there is a big learning project about to be deployed, it’s best to build expectancy. A lot of it.
Of course, this means the program will also have to deliver on what it promises but the bottom line is no manager, team leader or learning specialist enjoys spending a lot of time explaining to every person enrolled in a certain course what it is and why it’s worth it.
This should all be taken care of in advance.
My personal advice is that if you want, you can start the communication off with teasers just to spike interest, but eventually you should work up to the 5 W: Who, What, Where, When, and Why.
Otherwise, the endless explaining will still be there and even if people will be aware something is about to happen, they will be ignorant of all the important specifics and that is not efficient communication.
The important news of the (learning) moment
If newsletters can be extensive and comprise a number of subjects (some only adjacent to learning and development), it’s good to also have periodical small nuggets of communication, focused on the most recent news of what the learning function is up to, why that’s the case and what positive outcomes are expected of it.
It’s best to plan these messages in advance and send them at regular intervals – the point is to have everyone aware that the L&D department is a constant partner and they are always working on projects that are relevant and helpful to the individuals as well as the organization.
That’s why the “why is this important for me” has to really come through in this type of electronic missive. It’s like the mission of the department reiterated in all the specific projects it deploys.
The L&D platform
This is obviously not the fourth type of message but rather a modern-day agora where all can congregate to offer valuable insights into all things having to do with organizational learning and development.
With social media being as popular as it is, it would be a shame not to mimic some of its positive aspects in order to engage everyone from top management to employees going through the onboarding process.
The possibilities of what can be done with an L&D platform are limitless. Everything from serious presentations of the staff and the programs to whimsical quizzes, contests and forums can earn a spot.
The key is, once more, consistency. The department needs to look, sound and feel the same regardless of the communication channel or the audience.
As learning professionals, seeking to feel included and respected within the organization, we need to be able to talk about what we are doing and why it is important.
Educating our audiences about ourselves and our mission is as important as providing them with the right learning opportunities and tools for them to grow and achieve superior results.
The better we do this, the more we will find ourselves included in business decisions and the better we can work towards building a learning culture in our organizations.
Raluca Cristescu is a Faculty of Letters graduate with over ten years of experience in corporate training, focused mainly on soft skills for customer service and direct sales.