The L&D Blog

Feeling good about change in your workplace

Hopefully you got to read our blog last month on self-managed learning – why you should create a learning plan? Taking ownership and being in control of your learning is key to getting what you want out of your career and life.

Taking this a step further, we thought essential to look at how being in control of your learning can really help you embrace the stormy seas of change in your workplace too. Through creating your learning plans you can use these and your learning to make you more resilient in times of change.

First acknowledge and be prepared for the change

  • What learning do you need for the short to medium term? Where is your company likely to be in 12-18 months and how do you fit into this new world? What skills have you been delaying upgrading or might you need in the not so distant future?
  • Take the time to identify your development needs now and book that training (before potential budgets may be cut).
  • How do you want to develop your learning in the longer term? Where do you want to be in 5 years? There may be new roles to apply for? Potential for contract work? Now may be the time to diversify and pursue some new skillsets.

Continue reading “Feeling good about change in your workplace”

Reducing L&D overwhelm and simplify your workplace

Reducing the overwhelm

Recent studies by Deloitte* on human capital trends have highlighted that over two-thirds of organisations identified issues with the “overwhelmed employee”.

More technology and too much access to employees being the key drivers. So what does this mean for the L&D department? Let’s first think about the overwhelm the L&D team may be experiencing. How can we help our employees if we are just as overwhelmed?

The results aren’t surprising to us and from an L&D perspective, the digital revolution is forcing learning and development to change at a rapid speed. L&D departments are tasked with keeping up with new learning technologies.  Pressured to introduce more blended learning. Governing self-directed learning and managing learning plans. Creating learning cultures whilst trying to engage more with the business. Add in how to maximise the Apprenticeship Levy pot and the L&D mind surely must be full to brim if not overflowing.

It’s enough to leave you wide-eyed and not knowing what to start first. So how we can model good practice to take control of your overwhelm in advance of helping your employees?

Looking after yourself personally

The challenges for L&D aren’t going away. Those companies who don’t update their learning approaches will lose their competitive edge. What can you do personally to reduce the overwhelm?

  • Prioritise and review – obvious we know but when you are in the thick of it, reminders to do this and take this time is essential. Make a list of priorities based on what is important. Not sure what is? Then speak to the business and get their input. Then focus, really focus, on that.  Review regularly to keep on track. 
  • Reach out and connect – make sure you have people who will support you or let you blow off professional steam appropriately. Friends, colleagues, family.
  • Create a PLN (personal learning network) – build up a community of peers who can support you and share their challenges and successes. If you don’t have connections with L&D peers then reach out.  We have our own LinkedIn Group for L&D discussions.  There are groups such as L&D Connect, L&D CoWork, forums on TrainingZone & Training Journal as well as professional membership organisations like the CIPD (who run Leaders in Learning) and LPI and the yearly industry events.   
  • Stay healthy – make time for some physical activity each day. Eat a healthier diet and if you can, enjoy some good sleep. I’m a dad of a 5 and 3-year-old so I know how challenging this is.  But its important to keep on top of looking after yourself.

Simplify your workplace

Josh Bersin, founder of Bersin by Deloitte, a leading provider of research in HR, talent and learning, and his team looked at the data about overwhelmed employees. They discovered the need to simplify your workplace.

According to Josh, “the key is to work really hard to declutter work. Stop sending so many emails. Reduce the number of things we ask people to do. Simplify the technologies we have. You can’t just layer more stuff onto people.”

Make changes in your organisation

  • Review rules and processes – are there steps or processes that waste more time than they save? Is the L&D department the central hub for employees booking training and learning activity? Does it need to be?
  • Step back more often – spend time planning and reviewing to ensure you are able to provide the business with regular updates on progress.
  • Spend time with the business – a recent report by Towards Maturity stats that those L&D professionals who communicate successes to managers are twice as likely to influence culture.
  • Reduce meeting times – ok, we’ve just told you to spend more time with the business, so it doesn’t need to be a time-consuming activity unless it needs to be. Make sure there is an agenda, everyone comes prepared and stays on topic and to time.
  • D.O.A – Delegate, automate or outsource – What tasks can you automate? What tasks do you do that could be delegated to people within your business or outsource? Sourcing and booking of training? Training administration? Outsourcing these types of activities to a managed learning services provider could release you from the stress of these tasks, reducing your overwhelm and allowing you to be more strategic.

Be free.

If you would like to have a chat more about anything in this article please do get in touch.  Whether it’s simply to have a sounding board, introductions to learning networks, or perhaps looking to find out more about outsourcing to a managed learning service – we love talking about this stuff.



Self managed learning – Why you should create a learning plan?

Self-managed learning (aka self-directed learning) is a phrase that is being used more and more within the field of L&D. You may have heard your L&D department talking about it.

So what is self-managed learning and what does this mean for you?

It’s everywhere. It’s when you read a book, watch a video, ask someone how to do something, it’s when you learn from your mistakes. With so much opportunity online and the constant introduction of new technologies, you are learning all the time.

Because of this L&D departments are evolving to be more responsible for the governance of learning rather than the management of learning, resulting in a shift change whereby employees and individuals are becoming more responsible for their learning.

Continue reading “Self managed learning – Why you should create a learning plan?”

L&D Global Sentiment Survey 2017 – the key messages

A recognised commentator and organiser in the fields of workplace learning and learning technologies, Donald Taylor is passionately committed to helping develop the learning and development profession.

For the past 4 years Donald Taylor has surveyed L&D professionals globally to develop a richer perspective on trends within L&D and his latest survey has one golden question we all want to know:

‘What do you think will be hot in L&D this year?’

Continue reading “L&D Global Sentiment Survey 2017 – the key messages”

Managed learning services: The importance of fabulous customer service

Managed learning services are ideal solutions for when L&D want to focus on strategic governance of learning, improve learning efficiency and lower the overall costs of learning for their employees.

But what’s the most important thing to consider when choosing a managed learning services partner or indeed any outsourced service partner?

We think it just simply has to be the people.

Your people, their people and most importantly their approach to delivering great customer service to create the best of working relationships to help and develop your people.

Continue reading “Managed learning services: The importance of fabulous customer service”

Pre-paid training credits

Optimus Training Credits

Working with a managed learning services partner can bring substantial financial benefits; lowering the overall cost of your learning, reducing external training cost and maximising the value of your training budgets.

But we all know that budgets are only safe once they’ve been spent but how can you be certain they won’t be cut?

Thankfully there is a solution to help protect your training budget through purchasing Optimus training credits.

With our training credits you can safeguard your budget, ensuring that your plans for your employee’s learning and development can be implemented as planned.

Continue reading “Pre-paid training credits”

CIPD Leaders in Learning Feb 2017: Time for L&D to take action


CIPD Leaders in Learning is a free to attend network for L&D leaders and I am lucky enough to attend their events, learning from and networking from L&D peers and thought leaders.

At the most recent meeting on the last day of February the agenda was focused on two areas; L&D as a brand, and Data driven learning improvement: The 2016 Towards Maturity Benchmark

The L&D Brand

Continue reading “CIPD Leaders in Learning Feb 2017: Time for L&D to take action”

Learning Technologies 2017 Day 1 review

Optimus Learning Services had the pleasure of attending both days at Learning Technologies this year. Here’s a quick round-up from Managing Director Blake Henegan from Day 1. Day 2 is covered by Les Heath.

Mind was blown. Sensory overload. Lively debate. The future of learning has arrived.

AI and Jill the chatbot
Away from the main exhibition, I had the pleasure of listening to Donald Clark, one of the experts in Artificial Intelligence (AI). A very informative seminar, with a balanced view of what AI can do compared to us humans and what it lacks. What was very clear was how much AI is all around us, and perhaps we don’t even realise.

It’s already impacted on learning and is going to continue to do so. Donald recalled a great story of when a US Tech professor built a chatbot to be his teaching assistant to a class studying AI. He named it Jill Watson and was that good the students nominated ‘Jill’ for the tutor of the year!

VR and embracing technology
I had the pleasure after hours of attending the Learn Patch bar camp with my fellow peers. Time spent discussing ways of engaging employees, pushing back when being asked for ‘training’ and a very level headed discussion around the pros and cons of VR with Immerse Learning.

So how can L&D use technology?
The use of learning technology will only grow, the key challenge is to know when and how to use it. Remember, consider your organisation’s culture and how it embraces (or doesn’t) technology. If it struggles to embrace new technology then perhaps this is the first thing to be fixed, before introducing any new tool.

For our review of Learning Technologies Day 2 read more.

Learning Technologies 2017 Day 2 review

Wow, this year was the best so far.

The exhibition was enormous with what appeared to be more exhibitors than ever. This year I attended with a mission; to find out what is new in Learning Management. Alongside this I chose 3 seminars that best related to our clients’ challenges:

  • How to prove ROI and gain organisational support for L&D
  • How L&D becomes a trusted business partner
  • The science of motivation: Why workplace motivation is so hard and how to overcome resistance.

Learning technologies seminar takeaways

Return on Investment: It’s not rocket science!

The first seminar, delivered by Steve Finch, Head of Business Development for CDSM Interactive Solutions Ltd, we were given thought provoking insight into measuring and maximising ROI, covering topics such as Kirkpatrick and Blooms Taxonomy.

The most important thing is to know what the purpose of the learning is and how it is expected to impact the business and develop the evaluation model from there.

We are not just TRAINING

Paul Matthews, Managing Director, People Alchemy Ltd led the 2nd seminar, posing the question – How as L&D practitioners do we become trusted business partners?

I think that this can most easily be expressed as ‘We are not just TRAINING’. Challenge the business when they approach you for training. Put on a new hat, become a performance consultant and clearly identify the ‘issue’ to be resolved. Focus on performance and that training might not always be the answer. There may be a need for a process, system or environmental change to resolve the issue.

For L&D practitioners it’s all about demonstrating your value. By giving good advice early on the business will see us for what we really are, a business-critical resource.

Motivation, it’s not about the money

Lastly, from David Meade, Saba, the message was clear: Motivation; It’s not about the money!

In companies where staff are most highly motivated it is because they are engaged in the business, they are involved, appreciate and treated as individuals. How has this been achieved? Enable employees to, at speed, access people and information they need to do their jobs – and to acknowledge their contribution with a heartfelt ‘Thanks, we couldn’t do it without you.’

LMS or LEP’s?

For my second objective of the day I was keen to see what’s new in the world of LMS systems. The first thing I came across was that the emphasis is not on ‘Management’ so much. Management implies control. In the past L&D were the owners of learning and controlled the application of learning. Now, people can learn in so many ways much of which is not managed; YouTube, Google, Yammer and a myriad of other platforms.

All the stands I visited on the day still included an element of learning management but were clearly adopting a new approach as ‘Learning Engagement Platforms’ (LEP’s: You saw it here first folks!)

It’s all about providing the access to, capturing and sharing of information. Systems that allow you to be key contributors to you companies learning.

The impact on L&D

Making sure I had time to consider the information I was absorbing, I considered the impact of these learning technologies. They are supporting learners in a way that L&D have always wanted – easy access and reinforcing learning for example – and making it easy for people to learn.

Embrace these technologies and learning and development will begin moving away from managing training to the valuable governance of learning.

For our review of Learning Technologies Day 1 read more.


Hello Optimus Learning Services

New name, same committed and thriving managed learning services team.

We’ve been working across all aspects of L&D since 2009 so we thought it’s about time we changed our name to show exactly how much we love learning and show off what we know!

It may seem like a small difference but our change to Optimus Learning Services is significant and fully reflects the wide range of L&D support and expertise we are providing to our clients.

Whether you’ve worked with us for years, or you’re taking a look around to find the right managed learning services partner for you, you’ll soon find we do business through excellent relationships and delivering exceptional service.

People work with people they like, trust and who deliver – which is why we’re chuffed that all of our clients stay with us for the long term.

We’re on a mission

To help the world of L&D showcase what they can do, Continue reading “Hello Optimus Learning Services”