The corporate training industry is up for a major transformation as an increasing number of enterprises are challenging the status quo of the learning methods. Post COVID19, we have a new world of work and a new normal. Millions of people are working full-time outside their physical workplace, social distancing norms have been enforced and new kinds of employment such as gig-workers, part-timers, interns and more are in vogue. Human ambitions of continuous learning and growing continue to remain as relevant as they were ever before. In this backdrop, we have to find new ways of developing employees, creating opportunities for them to take on roles that require new skills and, in the process, generating value for the business. What could they be?
What has changed?
All of us are leading extremely busy schedules every single day. Most of us have no time to attend to important things which are not urgent. Learning and development is naturally a casualty! This is important, but never urgent leaving aside a few rare instances. Organisations have training calendars and the HR departments have their performance goals aligned with training hours. Hence, in practice, it’s more for compliance and less for actual development.
We need a system that works to develop the capabilities of the employees and at the same time, appeals to the employees as well as finds the space in one’s schedule. How do we achieve this?
Need clear goals
Everyone has to understand that development is critical and can happen in ways other than attending training sessions. Senior leaders, in particular, must have complete alignment on these two aspects. They need to drive this thinking down the line in the organisation. Employees will start appreciating the fact that learning is a continuous process and need not happen in training programmes alone. They will also understand that the organisation will facilitate learning while the actual development process has to be undertaken by the employee herself or himself.
Secondly, the HR team has to work out the competencies and behaviours needed for every role in the organisation. One of the common problems we encounter is that the list of competencies and behaviours are not reviewed and revised periodically. Once the list is ready, it must be published openly in the organisation and integrated with the talent management process. People must know where they stand; the feedback from the manager must be clear and the development goals must be clear to the individual concerned.
Most organisations do not have a system of identifying clear development goals for each member in the team and hence, there is no drive from within to create space and time for learning and development. We have to cross this bridge first.
Execution is the key
There is enough content available in the world-wide-web to improve knowledge and build perspectives. Many companies have invested time and effort to build training content, especially for their own employees. There are enough public programmes, webinars and seminars – some of them free of cost and some against a fee; companies often send their employees to such programmes. There are specialised journals and newsletters one can subscribe to; there are opportunities of being a member of the industry associations and other third-party forums to gain knowledge and perspectives.
Some people view these as interventions that call for taking time off the usual work and attending these with dedication and focus. They say, employees are busy navigating the volatile and uncertain work environment; do not have the time for such programmes; moreover, they argue that the returns of investment on these are hazy. Hence, these methods are not finding favours with the managers.
The ideal way is to facilitate gaining knowledge, building perspectives and drawing insights amidst the flow of work. Dealing with a demanding client, negotiating a large contract, resolving conflicts, disciplining an errant high-performer, being tough on your top client to collect your legitimate dues and many such challenges are opportunities for people to learn and grow. Can our learning system be intelligent enough to suggest relevant case studies, recommend names of people within the organisation who have dealt with these and are available for a quick chat? Can our system reach out to people to capture their learning on tough projects? Can we gamify the process so that the participants find it simple and enriching like Google or YouTube?
We have to make our learning systems intelligent and adaptive!