LMS, L&D Team, learning and development

Simple Ways to Make the Most of a Small L&D Department

by Simon Cooper

What comes to mind when you think of a corporate L&D department? A sizable team of instructional designers and training experts? While some L&D departments fit this description, not all do. Many organizations have very small learning and development departments. Some of these departments are composed of just one individual. 

If your L&D department is small, it can still have a big impact on employee training and your entire organization. Keep reading to find tips for making the most of a small L&D department.



Ways to Help Your Small L&D Department Get More Done in Less Time 

Here are a few ways you can help your small learning and development team be as effective as a large team: 

1) Train L&D leaders - L&D leaders have a tough job. They are in charge of ensuring dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of employees, volunteers, members, etc. stay trained and compliant. Yet they also need training to do their jobs. 

L&D leaders should not only be properly onboarded, but they should also be trained continuously. By investing in their professional development, you are investing in your entire workforce. 

Learning and development professionals must have access to training centered on leadership, instructional design, and whatever subjects they must create training around. They should also have access to responsive Subject Matter Experts they can reach out to with questions as they create training courses and programs. 

Ensure your L&D employees are never giving (i.e., creating training) from an empty cup and you will see better results. 

2) Appreciate your L&D leaders - It is essential that your small L&D team feels appreciated. Without appreciation, team members can easily get burned out. Burnout can lead to under-performance. 

Your company cannot afford for a small or one-person L&D team to lose productivity, so see that team members get the recognition they deserve. Help them get recognized for their efforts by making them more visible. Start by talking to your workforce about the L&D department and all it does to make training possible. You can do this via email or social media. 

Also, raise your L&D department’s visibility by publicly giving teammates credit for their work and bringing them with you to meetings with organizational leaders. “Not only will this help them build relationships beyond your team, but it will also assist in their professional development, since they’ll be exposed to a wider range of issues and be able to observe discussions and decision-making processes that they otherwise might be out of the loop on,” an article by Quickbase explained.1 

3) Don’t overwork L&D employees - It can be easy for small L&D departments to get overworked, even if that’s not the employer’s intention. As an organizational leader, you can help L&D employees set boundaries around work and avoid burnout by: 

  • Encouraging them to not answer emails past a certain hour or on weekends
  • Giving them people to delegate tasks to when they need help with a project 
  • Giving them permission to let their supervisor know when they are feeling stretched thin

It’s not always easy to let someone in a supervisory position know when you are feeling overworked. Make this easier for your L&D team by anonymously surveying each team member. If one person reports feeling overburdened, take that as a signal that the entire team could be feeling the same. 

If you have a one-person L&D team and cannot survey anonymously, be sure to let them know their honest feedback is appreciated. 

By making every effort to protect your L&D team members’ time and energy, you will help to retain them and keep them on their A game. This means better training for your entire workforce. 

4) Supplement the L&D team with support people - Small L&D teams have a lot on their shoulders. By supplementing the team, you will relieve a lot of pressure on individual team members and increase their contacts within the organization. 

“Whether it’s an experienced SME who you simply assumed had no interest in getting creative or a relatively junior level staff member who you simply assumed didn’t have the skill set to make a valuable contribution, you may be surprised by some people that could turn into very powerful allies (for the L&D team),” stated the article Getting a Lot Done with a Small L&D Team.2  

Subject Matter Experts often make excellent supplements to a small L&D team. More than likely, you have a lot of SMEs at your organization, even if you don’t know who they are yet. Identify SMEs by paying attention to who is really good at what. Also, take a second look at all employees’ educational backgrounds. 

When you find an SME, ask if they would be interested in contributing to the L&D team. These individuals may even make perfect candidates for an L&D role.  

5) Give your L&D team the right tech - Creating, deploying, tracking, and reporting on training for an entire organization is a big job. The right technology can make it many times easier. Examples of the right technology include learning management systems, webinar platforms, and project management tools.

Learning management systems can give your L&D team, no matter the size, everything it needs to carry out its job. LMS features like LMS reporting, certifications, and learning catalog and course management make creating and managing training simpler. 

  • Reporting and analytics - With LMS reporting, L&D leaders can email or export reports in Excel, PDF, and many other formats. They can also communicate facts to executives easily with direct reports. LMS reports help them easily pull data on user activity and performance. Every L&D department should have access to this essential LMS feature. 
  • Certifications - Helping employees get and remain compliant is an essential aspect of the role of some L&D departments. But managing certifications for a lot of employees can be exhausting and can also monopolize learning and development workers’ time. LMS certifications features will free up your L&D team’s time by enabling them to track certificate completion directly in the LMS. 
  • eLearning catalog - One of the reasons why L&D leaders become overworked and burned out is because they create too much content without getting breaks to recharge creatively. Thankfully, many LMSs offer an online learning catalog where courses and content can be purchased. Buying online learning content tends to be cheaper than creating content in-house and will free up your L&D team’s time. This means they can become more productive in other areas that generate income for the organization. 

Additional LMS features like social learning, content support, learning paths, mobile learning, and more make an L&D leader’s job much easier, as well. 

Looking for a cost-effective LMS that will give your L&D department everything it needs to create, deliver, track, and report on the training your workforce needs? Request a free LMS demo of TOPYX. 

6) Leverage a collaborative learning model - The smaller your L&D team is, the greater the need to leverage a learning model that is collaborative. A collaborative learning model encourages employees to share knowledge with their peers. Collaborative learning is expansive and turns learners into teachers. It can take some of the pressure off a small L&D department. 

​​”By shifting to the collaborative learning model, anyone in an organization can make a request or create a learning need,” explained an article by eLearning Industry.3 “This allows everyone to contribute to the learning process. Not only does this make employees feel more engaged and focused, but it also reduces the amount of work that L&D teams need to do to create training programs.”

An LMS promotes collaborative learning with features like web conferencing, real-time chat, and learner forums. Conveniently, all collaborative learning features, including email, can be accessed within TOPYX LMS. 

TOPYX is the Best LMS for Your L&D Team

Whether your L&D team is small, medium, or large, TOPYX LMS has all the features it needs to thrive. From collaborative learning tools to LMS reporting, TOPYX puts essential features in the hands of your learning and development professionals. With TOPYX LMS, L&D team members can do their job better, faster. 

Get a free LMS demo of TOPYX to learn more. 


1) Quickbase. https://www.quickbase.com/blog/how-to-raise-your-teams-visibility

2) Train Like a Champion Blog. https://trainlikeachampion.blog/getting-a-lot-done-with-a-small-ld-team-aka-inspiration-from-the-twilight-series/

3) eLearning Industry. https://elearningindustry.com/6-top-ways-to-successfully-run-a-one-person-ld-department-with-collaborative-learning





Simon Cooper

Simon Cooper

CEO at TOPYX | Unlimited Users. Unlimited Growth.