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Capabilities of aspirational L&D teams with Michelle Ockers

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Episode summary

Michelle Ockers is an organisational learning strategist and modern workplace learning practitioner. She helps organisations build high-impact L&D functions by developing and implementing their learning strategy, mindset and skills – and helping L&D professionals become business partners that create value. In this episode, we reflect on what are some of the critical skills for L&D teams, being mindful of our blindspots, how L&D experts are ‘impact explorers’, and some key insights from her podcast, Learning Uncut. 

About Michelle Ockers

Michelle spent close to three decades in learning and development. After 16 years in the Royal Australian Air Force, she brought her training and project management experience into the corporate sector. In 2018, she started her popular podcast, Learning Uncut, helping L&D professionals share real stories about their work. The podcast became a global go-to source for examples of leading edge industry practice, matching her vision for the industry’s potential – and how we can achieve that together. She then made Learning Uncut into a network to offer L&D leaders everywhere the opportunity to thrive, with the support of leading experts.


Key takeaways:

  • There are some critical skills needed for L&D teams to be relevant. Michelle highlights some ‘human skills’’ like leadership, critical thinking and communication, as key skills to develop within your L&D team. We can’t master every skill ourselves, but if we ensure some of the most critical skills across our team are covered, we are able to watch out for any blindspots.   
  • Performance consulting is a must-have skill in particular. A successful L&D team is able to demonstrate business impact, not just learning impact. Michelle best describes this skill from the Learning and Performance Institute definition: “it’s about partnering with customers and clients, to analyse performance gaps, recommend appropriate interventions and measure the outcomes.” 
  • Consider some mindset shifts for your L&D team. If we do a good job with our learning programs, we don’t need to be there the whole time. L&D teams are very supportive, but they need to know when to let go. Review how we can partner and equip with the rest of the organisation – and how we can effectively support learning. 

Segmented time stamps:

  • (02:45) What are the key capabilities that L&D professionals need to demonstrate?
  • (07:46) What we mean by ‘soft skills’ - Rethinking these as ‘Human skills’     
  • (12:21) On speculative learning
  • (13:18) What is ‘performance consulting’?
  • (19:11) Not being tied to one learning technology
  • (20:52) Some key mindset shifts for L&D professionals 
  • (25:39) Michelle’s Gap finder tool
  • (28:25) The art of role modelling

Links from the podcast: