Get in Touch

Collaboration: The Key to Effective L&D Consulting Relationships

Brainstorm bonanza. Innovation jam. A high-five in action. A celebration of collective brilliance.

Whatever fun way you choose to describe it, collaboration is the heart and soul of effective teamwork and creativity. Learning and development (L&D) professionals exist in a world of consulting. Whether working for external clients or serving internal business units, we serve as consultants to key business stakeholders because of our knowledge and expertise in learning strategy.

So, what makes these consulting relationships effective? Dare I say that collaboration is the biggest key to achieving the strongest and most valuable consulting connections. Let’s see how.


Why Collaboration?

Collaboration is the process of individuals or groups working together, combining their unique skills, ideas and resources to achieve a common goal. It transcends individual efforts, fostering a collective synergy that often leads to innovative solutions and enhanced outcomes by tapping into diverse perspectives and expertise.

While we may be the experts in learning theory and strategy, we are almost never the experts in the subject matter at hand. We rely heavily on the knowledge of stakeholders and subject matter experts (SMEs) to drive our insights forward.

And if we’re relying so heavily on their capabilities, why not collaborate right from the beginning and include them in the design process? Why not pull them in and not only show them how we think through the strategy, but have them think through it with us?

When you can encourage and promote collaboration at the outset of a project, you can take your consulting relationships to the next level and transform them into true partnerships — which benefits everyone involved.


Better Communication for Better Alignment

Collaborative training design sessions are an opportunity to build the learning strategy together with your stakeholders. Discussions in these sessions naturally gravitate toward goals and objectives — and even if it doesn’t happen naturally, you’ll be there as the learning expert to guide the discussions in that direction.

What better way to set a clear path forward than to craft the purpose and targets for your project together? These collaborative efforts necessitate open communication. With shared understanding of your goals and alignment right from the beginning, the focus can be solely focused on creating the best product possible, rather than constantly trying to ensure you are speaking the same language as your stakeholders.

When you can encourage and promote collaboration at the outset of a project, you can take your consulting relationships to the next level.

Everyone Has a Voice

Collaborative approaches emphasize the importance of inclusion and the need for creating a space where everyone’s strengths and insights are acknowledged and utilized. Your stakeholders are likely super invested in their respective projects and providing them with the opportunity for active participation in key parts of the project creation helps them feel as they are being heard.

Online collaboration tools and whiteboards like Miro, Mural or Lucid Chart are great ways to let everyone get hands on, as well.


Trust and Mutual Respect

Probably the biggest benefit to establishing consulting relationships based on collaboration is simply how much it enhances the quality of those relationships. Open communication and giving everyone a voice that we’ve already discussed establish a valuable transparency that fosters a genuine sense of trust.

Effective collaboration sessions acknowledge and leverage each person’s unique skills. This does more than just enhance the quality of work—it builds a foundation of respect for the distinctive contributions each person brings to the table.

As L&D professionals navigating any kind of consulting relationship, the key to forging robust and valuable connections lies in embracing collaboration. By working together to synergize skills, ideas and resources, stakeholders become an integral part of the training design and delivery process. This not only amplifies the quality of work but cultivates a true partnership where everyone willingly distributes and mutually bears the risks, responsibilities, resources and rewards associated with the work at hand.

Bringing together your learning prowess and your stakeholders’s expertise in a truly collaborative spirit not only helps you create something really awesome together but also helps everyone appreciate the collective effort and partnership to get there.


Originally posted to Training Industry on January 5th, 2024

You May Also Like

These Stories on Industry Insights