Programmes that have a longterm impact on business for senior leadership should be centralised to retain the consistency in learning
2013 is likely to be the year when managers will increasingly rely on cloud and mobile based technologies to train employees with more agility than ever
There should a clear focus on learning and development at each level, even at the level of the chief executive officer who should continually impart learning on values, mission and vision of the organisation.
The annual L&D plan must have a strategic perspective on the desired business impact from such activities. This also needs to be linked to organisational priorities and determine who will undergo what type of learning, how the measurement will take place and what will be taught by external and internal facilitators.
Learning management systems need to be centralised and yet be dynamic and flexible, based upon the nature of business and desired objective of L&D activities. In centralised LMS, there needs to be a linear relationship to either change in behaviour or tangible business results.
However, decentralisation should be allowed in training, based upon business imperatives and the level of competencies, which need to be built for the employees concerned. In essence what it means is that there has to be a broad framework that captures the organisational imperatives and yet the same needs to be flexible to integrate varied regional/business needs.
There has to be a blend between which programmes should be managed inhouse and which ones should be outsourced as both are contextual.
There are broadly three kinds of programmes – functional skills, leadership skills and general or soft skills. What it means is that the L&D department has to help organisations to build and sustain desired competencies. Sustenance means an ongoing demonstration of expertise, no matter how much time has passed since competency was first achieved.
So, one decision making criterion could be the core focus of the programme. Is it intended to focus on concept, contextualisation or skill building? Any programme which requires skills building gives better value for money if internal leaders / employees are involved in design, delivery and implementation of the same.
Some of the key points to secure organisational leadership confidence in annual L&D agenda could be:
a) Present business case and the gap impact on the business
b) Engage with leaders in design, delivery measurement process
c) To internally position this as a collaborative process as compared to something being lead/managed by HR or L&D department and make the entire L&D initiative a strategic process rather than the transactional running of programmes
d) Show some measurable behaviour change or business impact or both. This approach tends to engage them better as they see what is in it for them and what is in it for the business.
The programmes, which have long-term impact on business, for example, for senior leadership, it should be centralised as there needs to be a consistency in learning and related messages. It also mandates fluency of certain key behaviours. So if one were to apply a filter, then behavioural skills/attitude learning should be centralised as they have an impact on the cultural fabric of the organisation, while the functional/job related aspects should be decentralised.
The accountability for the success or failure of L&D programmes should lie on sponsoring managers of the participants and not on the HR or L&D department. HR or L&D are internal service providers who should be held accountable for the quality/ content of the facilitation and material or curriculum.
New Trends in L&D: In the last few years, as the world plunged into recession, companies have drastically reduced budgets on training and development. However, some prudent companies took the economic downslide as an opportunity and bucked the trend by engaging their workforce in developing new skills and knowledge, thereby enabling their employees to meet new challenges head-on. This has contributed positively to the overall bottom-line of the companies.
As the global economy is slowly coming back on track, it is bringing new challenges and opportunities for growth. To successfully ride the next wave of growth and development in a global context, organisations need to train their people with new skills and knowledge.
2013 may see some new breakthroughs in the training and development space around the world. This could be the year where clicker and laser pointers may be kept aside and training managers would rely more on mobile and cloud based technologies to train faster, smarter and with more agility than ever before.
There would be more usage of web-based solutions for keeping employees accountable for actually participating in training modules. This new focus on accountability is going to be a welcome development for employees. Also, as the trend of employees working remotely has increased manifold in recent years, there is going to be a greater initiation of cloud-based training modules to engage with employees in remote locations. Some pioneering companies have already released systems that allow L&D managers to download all their resources on to cloud-based platforms to enable remote users to sign on according to their convenience.
Another technology that will affect the way training is imparted would be mobile technology, as the modern workplace is not sedentary and managers spend much of their day on their feet than on their desks. The L&D managers would adapt to this increasing pervasive work style by enabling greater access of training resources from mobile platforms. This would allow managers and trainers to check user progress and engagement and even help in responding far more quickly to queries. “The next wave of training and coaching will happen by leveraging technology.”
Companies are increasingly demanding measurable outcomes from training interventions in terms of behavioural change and also healthy bottom-line growth.
Yogesh Sood is Chief Executive Coach, PCC (ICF) and Chairman and Managing Director Leadership Consulting Pvt Ltd