The Secret L&D Manager: Encouraging a learning culture when budgets are tight

This week’s Secret L&D manager is Hungarian and is a Learning & Development Specialist for a global chemical company. In this post, he talks about the journey and the challenges of building and encouraging a learning culture in a large organization.

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You were the first L&D manager in the organization. What sort of training budget were you expecting to have to work with when you joined?

Before I came here, I was working in a huge worldwide corporation where learning and development had a lot of money working –  close to about €400,000 per year. Looking back, we were definitely spoiled, and I was expecting something similar when I came here. That was my expectation. When I arrived, I was given a  budget of €10,000 and most of this was already allocated to translation work!

I wanted to be able to build a learning culture (see this post for more information). One of the things I have been doing (and haven’t yet finished) is to build a large library of free learning. This does take time but there are a lot of free, good quality things on the internet. You just need to be able to invest the time to find and assess them. I used our skills and competency models as the basis to build this and then I just matched these skills and competencies with an index of releavnt e-learnings, learning nuggets, MOOCS, e-books and podcasts.

I have also created internal webinars. My first step was to establish subject matter expert groups within our company and then we started to create something like internal TED Talks. People could learn about and from the different groups and different fields within the company. For example we would have one subject expert talking about dealing with difficult customers. It was a 1 ½  hour session and it was advertised, and people could join via Zoom.

How did you raise awareness of these learning opportunities and events?

Here I used 2 types of advertising; one is definitely the usual and very boring e-mail communication. I’m not sure it was very helpful but people did join as a result of this kind of communication channel. The other was creating and printing leaflets and brochures and placing them around the corridors and also in the canteen. This was definitely more helpful and effective. I based them on a silly cartoon that was going around on Facebook a couple of years ago.

These initiatives have helped to prove the worth of learning. Now I’ve got the management to actually spend and dedicate a real budget for learning this year, although with the coronavirus crisis who knows what will happen? But I’m pretty sure that this time I will be able to spend more and I’ve very concrete ideas of what I want to do. So for example I want to still further develop these internal webinars and I also want to continue with e-learning creation and creating the content internally.

The other thing that I’ve been planning on doing for a long time is implementing virtual learning and actually this is also a very timely thing. As you know  I have been in talks with you regarding implementing this.  When you think of the flu symptoms and all the sickness that are going around the world right now I think one of the best tools, let’s call it a tool not a method, is to use e-learning and virtual learning. Virtual learning, and it is not to be confused with e-learning, is when you go for an interactive training session but you don’t have to go anywhere. You can do it from your home or you can do it from your office.  It fits our company and the situation.

 


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Who is the secret L&D manager?

The “secret L&D manager” is actually a group of L&D managers. They are real people who would prefer not to mention their name or company – but do want to write anonymously so they can openly and directly share their ideas and experience with their peers.

 


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