Learning and Development in HR – Enabling Meaning in Jobs

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Learning and development behavior of employees in organizations exists as part of the experience of meaningful jobs. Jobs are meaningful either because they were created, communicated and managed meaningfully or the incumbent finds the meaning in the role on their own.

Meaningful jobs by default motivate continuing development.

I think the practice of learning and development in Organisations continues to struggle to truly impact the performance and growth of employees as individuals and organizations overall. I believe it is difficult to overcome this challenge just by designing fantastic out of this world training programs as is the current practice. While I think these programs have their place, I don’t believe these programs, with their current focus and approach, can address the cultural context that enables the sustainable development of the talent and capabilities needed by the organizations.

One thing I believe L&D could pay a little more attention to is the understanding of how a job and the experience of the role create the need for continuous learning and development. Then, with this understanding, use the L&D practice to:

  1. Address the capabilities of the people creating jobs to create them with meaning
  2. Train employees in a way that guides and supports everyone to discover meaning, embrace the value and execute their job to a high professional standard whatever the role.

When this happens, all the fantastic learning solutions we already have will immediately become a lot more useful, relevant and in demand to match the appetite and needs of a performance and growth culture driven by meaningful jobs.

Until the learning and development practice makes enabling meaningful jobs a primary agenda, the impact of products will always remain on the edges of what is possible.

For L&D practice to achieve this, it’s principles, methods, and products need to be a lot more integrated with the HR practices of performance management, organizational design and talent management, at a minimum.

I should add before I close that the way to address this is by equipping internal L&D teams in a way that allows them to respond to this challenge. They are within the context and can contextualize the requesting, designing, configuration and alignment of resources and solutions on a daily, decision-to-decision basis. It will be difficult and almost unrealistic to expect vendors or partners or suppliers to be able to have an impact at this level working from outside the organization.


Having said this, I believe there is a need to explore more conscious, symbiotic collaborative ways of working with specialists outside the organization such that the way the commercial agreement is structured reflects the value of the relationship to both parties. The goal is to ensure the best effort targets the needs identified, and not merely the delivery of paid services or completion of agreed deliverables. However, this is for a different discussion.

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