Is Our Employee Development Process Relevant?

December 6, 2018

Is Our Employee Development Process Relevant?

The HR fraternity has been talking about effectiveness of training programs since long. However, in my opinion, the identification of training needs is a topic that hasn’t got its fair share of the spotlight.

When it comes to behavioural training programs, many organizations begin the “training” part of the L&D process after the performance appraisal is complete. This begins with extracting the needs of all employees in a single excel “dump” and then beginning the planning process thereafter. More the number of employees identified for a program, higher is the probability of a program being organized. At the root of this thought process, sits the desire to conform to the requirements of all possible audit processes.

Some organizations go a step further and create an L&D catalogue. This makes for a ready-reckoner to the business heads, and with all the pertinent information about the programs offered, makes it a little easy for them to simply “click” on the appropriate training “need” for their employees in the appraisal tool which is in use.

While it certainly sounds systematic to have a training catalogue in place, the very notion of employees being nominated by the business heads for certain “pre-approved” training programs as per an approved catalogue, is something that needs introspection and debate.

I’m reminded of one of the very first statements that I read in the book StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath, which goes – “At its fundamentally flawed core, every training program is designed to fail.”

That statement shook me from within. As a passionate L&D / Talent management professional, I was a little angry at first at such a provocative statement. But it wasn’t until I kept on reading that I realized the profound wisdom in this statement. And now, I’m a subscriber to this view as well.

Think about these things:
– When was the last time you were “sent” to a training program?
– What was your mindset while attending this program?
– What were you initial thoughts when you sat in the training/conference hall?
– Did you experience an initial sense of excitement/euphoria, only to have reality set in soon after the program ended?
– Did you have trouble clearly elucidating the key takeaways from the program?
– Did you have trouble reconciling with/convincing yourself that the program could be implemented in your workplace?

If the answer to any of these questions has a hint of agreement or skepticism, there’s a fairly good chance that the purpose of the program was defeated even before it was conducted. The logic is simple – if you were sent to attend a training program to build on a weakness, as opposed to building on a strength, you were naturally not intrinsically motivated to actually come back and do something about it.
I’m assuming that the other factors like trainer’s competence, context-setting, training hall infrastructure, program timings, location, company’s environment and culture are taken care of. A big assumption no less.

We need to change our approach towards programs such as personal effectiveness, negotiation skills and communication. Instead of following a traditional approach to such workshops, we need to see how they add value in the current context, and embrace them accordingly.
Again, organizations also need to broaden their horizon and see value in offering programs on positive parenting, defensive driving, financial literacy and the likes. These programs go a long way in contributing to a wellness culture at workplace.

Bringing it all together:

– Influencing people to be a part of program that focuses on certain competencies builds organization effectiveness, as against nominating people to attend programs because someone is following up
– It’s time to start developing a culture where contextual learning is prioritized over ‘good to have’ programs
– Let’s focus on employee strengths and where they can further excel, than promoting learning interventions as ways of good riddance of weaknesses. There’s more than enough research to prove that working on an area of strength delivers far more bang for the buck, than working on a weakness
– Organizations need to be pro observational and participative learning. Simulations, t-group, theater-based learning, are just a few approaches to look at employee development differently.

Unless L&D / HR professionals step up and collaborate with businesses to bring in impactful learning, we will only be looked at as support service who are there to organize festivals and birthday celebrations at workplace. There’s a LOT more that we have to offer. We just need to be willing to want to offer it in the first place!

About Author

Adeeth Joshii

Adeeth Joshii

HR Professional

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