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A Guy Finds a Career, then Digs Deeper to Master Competencies

Thursday, January 5, 2012   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Jesus Diaz
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I entered the L&D profession through the side door of project management as the Training Director of a multi-million dollar federally-funded workforce skills training program.  The manufacturing sector in Maryland was hit hard in the 1990s.  A common phenomenon across the US, Maryland-based firms realized they needed to invest in their plant & equipment, as well as their employees, to remain competitive in the new economy as Asian countries attracted more and more production activity.

I had a broad array of internal and external stakeholders to manage, funding guidelines to master, Subject Matter Expert trainers to hire, equipment and text books to purchase, as well as the recruitment and enrollment strategies to develop.  We were rockin' and rollin', I was golden.

Then our first round of certification exams came. Reality hit.  Our learners didn't do so well.  I was late to the game on knowledge transfer, but I arrived, and interestingly enough that's when the job got really interesting.  There was actually a lot more to the proper management of a workplace learning program than simply spreadsheets, procurement processes, hiring SMEs.

We engaged a Master Trainer to begin an observation / coaching process for the trainers to improve their knowledge transfer skills, among other tactics, and we instituted an extensive assessment and evaluation system to REALLY understand who our learners were. It was a lot of work, disassembling a training program and rebuilding based on the new inputs we were getting and our outcomes improved dramatically.

I came into L&D knowing that effective Project Managers practice knowledge, skills and abilities germane to their roles, but did not expect that success in the new role, Training Management, would similarly depend on a set of discreet knowledge, skills and abilities. 

Good for us that our colleagues at ATD National are focused on the competencies that make workplace learning professionals successful. Tony Bingham, ATD CEO, introduced the competency model by explaining that "‰Û_a defined set of competencies is a hallmark of a true profession, and the practice of creating and supporting a competency model is a key role of a professional association."

The competency model is based on 10 critical Areas of Expertise (AOEs):

1)      Designing learning

2)      Delivering learning

3)      Managing the learning function

4)      Coaching

5)      Facilitating organizational change

6)      Improving human performance

7)      Measuring and evaluating

8)      Career planning and talent management

9)      Managing organizational knowledge

10)    Social learning

The competency model material released by ATD indicates that L&D professionals each have mastery in one particular area or another; it is rare for an L&D professional to master all 10 competencies. One might be comfortable with their skills and abilities in the "delivering learning," "managing the learning function," and "facilitating organizational change" areas, and plans to get experience in the areas of "social learning" and "measuring and evaluation."

Our plan at ATD NY Metro for 2012 is to program professional development sessions around these 10 competencies over the next 12months. If you have an interest or particular experience in any one competency area that you want to share, please let myself, Margaret Clarkson or Pei-Cen Lin know ‰ÛÒ we just might work with the volunteer leadership team to coordinate a chapter-wide or SIG meeting around it.

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