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  • Writer's picture Abigail Rakower

Boosting L&D: Becoming a Proactive Business Partner

The Evolving Role of L&D: From Order-Takers to Business Partners

Boosting L&D: Becoming a Proactive Business Partner

Traditionally, Learning and Development (L&D) has been seen as an "order-taker"—reactive problem solvers who step in when training needs arise. Reflecting on my career, I realize that I, too, was once that order-taker.

Having worked in the tech industry alongside product owners, UX/UI designers, and other non-HR functions exemplified three crucial skill that, in my opinion, L&D practitioners can greatly benefit from:

  1. Business Acumen: To provide relevant training solutions, L&D must deeply understand the business.

  2. Client-Centric Approach: L&D serves internal clients (employees) and should stay closely connected with line managers and key decision-makers.

  3. Data-Driven Decision Making: Analyzing data and identifying trends is critical to offering relevant solutions. Understand your organization's main communication channels and the costs associated with traditional training methods.

As the workplace evolves rapidly, especially with the emergence of AI and other technologies, L&D must transition from a reactive function to a proactive, strategic business partner.

This means not only delivering training but also driving innovation and demonstrating return on investment (ROI).

The L&D Business Partner Mindset

To thrive in the modern, highly competitive workplace, L&D professionals must consider these aspects:

  • Understand the Business: Know your company's goals, challenges, and market dynamics. This knowledge allows you to create training programs that are directly relevant and beneficial to the business.

  • Build Relationships: Engage with your HR peers to get a clear picture of your company’s demographic and profiles. Regularly communicate with line leaders and other departments to identify growth opportunities and align training with business needs.

  • Be curious and open-minded: Stay updated with the latest trends in learning technologies and methodologies. A curious and innovative mindset is essential.

  • Demonstrate Value: Use data to show how training programs contribute to business success through clear objectives and measurable outcomes.

Practical Steps for New and Aspiring L&D Professionals

  1. Start working on your Business Acumen. Actively learn about your company’s goals, challenges, and market environment. Engage with business leaders, participate in strategy meetings, and keep abreast of industry trends.

  2. Congrats! You have clients! Truly understand your employees, work closely with your HR colleagues in order to design impactful initiatives that attend to their needs. Build strong relationships with line managers and departments. Understand their specific needs through communication and collaborative planning.

  3. Implement Modern Learning Solutions. Explore microlearning, AI-driven personalized learning platforms, and continuous upskilling opportunities. Tailor your training methods to meet the evolving needs and preferences of your workforce.

  4. Data is Key. Analyze workforce data to identify trends and training needs. Use metrics to track and report the effectiveness of your programs, showing clear evidence of ROI.

  5. Commit to your own Continuous Learning. Dedicate time to update your skills and knowledge. Join professional networks and communities to gain insights and support from peers.


As L&D professionals, our role is to enable career development for everyone in the organization. However, we must also keep up with the rapid changes in our field to provide real value.

By adopting a proactive, client-centric approach and leveraging data-driven insights, L&D can anticipate training needs and design impactful learning experiences.

Embrace the role of a strategic business partner—one that not only responds to training needs but identifies them ahead of time, driving business success through innovative and relevant learning solutions.


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