Don’t treat L&D as a one-size-fits-all approach: Robert Walters' Indy Lacchar
Indy Lachhar has a wealth of experience within learning, talent and organizational development, having gained experience across multiples industries including investment banking, engineering and professional services.
She joined the Robert Walters Group in 2016 as Head of People for Resource Solutions based out of the London Headquarters. In 2017, Indy was appointed Group Talent Development Director for the wider Robert Walters Group and is responsible for the design and execution of bespoke talent and organizational development interventions that help to unlock the potential of people and teams. She then relocated to Singapore in 2019 to continue in her existing global role which includes an increased investment in talent development across APAC. As an accredited Executive Coach, Indy also works with Robert Walters’ senior leaders to support their individual leadership development needs.
Here are the excerpts of the interview with Indy.
What kind of impact will the fourth industrial revolution have on the workforce and the skilling scenario?
With the advent of the fourth industrial revolution, many jobs in the workforce can expect to be disrupted. Talent development, lifelong learning and career re-invention will be critical to the future workforce. A 2017 study released by McKinsey Global Institute estimated that as many as 375 million workers globally (14 percent of the global workforce) will likely need to transition to new occupational categories and learn new skills, in the event of rapid automation adoption. There will be an increased focus on interpersonal skills, teamwork and leadership. Bringing human skills and emotional intelligence into the workplace will become even more important. People can expect to shift towards the type of skills technology cannot offer such as creativity, collaboration and complex problem-solving tasks. However, new technology also comes with positive change. Whilst traditional jobs may disappear, the fourth industrial revolution is also expected to create a new wave of jobs, many of which did not exist earlier. People will need to quickly learn new skills to stay relevant with the fast-changing nature of technology.
How can organizations upskill their workforce and make them future-ready?
Each organization faces unique challenges, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Some ways in which organizations can consider to upskill their workforce include:
Organizations can start by encouraging their people to own and drive their own learning and development. Empowering people to have pro-active development conversations with their line managers and building coaching skills amongst managers to be able to better support their people will ensure a continuous learning environment.
Whilst traditional jobs may disappear, the fourth industrial revolution is also expected to create a new wave of jobs, many of which did not exist earlier. People will need to quickly learn new skills to stay relevant with the fast-changing nature of technology
Consider micro-learning - giving people small bursts of knowledge about very specific skills. This allows organizations to target top areas of concern in their workforce, without investing too many resources or having critical staff take too much time away from their duties.
Invest in retraining people when new technologies are being brought into the organization to meet the company’s new skill gap.
Move towards a more blended learning experience such as encouraging people to get more involved in supporting strategic projects, peer to peer coaching and mentoring.
Technological changes may make some of the career paths in your organization dry up, but it should also open up new ones. Foster, support and be transparent about new career paths to create the best opportunities for the business and your people.
What is the most critical thing that the L&D function needs to do to enable organizations to reinvent for tomorrow? What's new in learning and why should businesses embrace them?
Stop putting people through mass training workshops. Consider the 70/20/10 approach to development where 70% of learning happens on the job, 20% from people around you and 10% in a formal environment. When selecting the 10%, ensure it is focused and aligned to the interests of people as well as the direction of the organization.
Partner with the business to firstly understand the business and how to translate this into a development offering. Understand what the critical development needs are, for today as well as in the future. L&D need to act as internal consultants and design learning experiences that are suited to the internal culture.
Create learning opportunities that are tailored to the business’s needs.
The CEO of one of the largest L&D providers in the US says, "The biggest mistake I see that keeps an organization's learning and development efforts from reaching their full potential is a lack of planning and commitment from the C-suite." What's your take on this?
We believe that an organization’s culture and direction is very much influenced by its leadership. It is imperative that leaders adopt an open mind and believe in the value of investing in the development of their people to ensure that the company continues to stay relevant. Ensuring that learning and development efforts are included in the organization’s future trajectory will also help accelerate the business’ growth.
At Robert Walters, our senior leadership team is fully committed to the investment of our people and takes a unique approach by focusing on day-to-day learning and development (e.g technical and systems skills) as well as talent development which focuses on building the leadership capability across existing and upcoming leaders and their teams. The talent development offering is supported by a global team based out of London and Singapore and includes a bespoke and tailored approach to ensure both individual and organizational needs are met. This can include 1:1 immersive development experiences, leadership team development that focusses on where the team is now and what they want to achieve, 1:1 coaching programs as well as highly sophisticated leadership programs that focus on tailored career development to support existing leadership capabilities as well as accelerate their professional growth.
There is widespread concern among recruiters that the soft skills gap is widening with the technologically savvy but soft-skill-poor Gen Z employees entering the workforce. In fact, one of the top areas that talent developers expect to focus on through 2019 is identifying, assessing, and addressing skills gaps, according to a study. Your take?
The good news is that the soft skills gap between an organization’s existing workforce and the influx of Gen Z employees can be bridged with a pro-active approach to learning and development, ensuring that the specific needs are identified, and any development opportunities are tailored towards these needs. Like hard skills, soft skills such as interpersonal communication and teamwork can be teachable with a systematic approach. Many organizations have adopted soft skills coaching with course providers like NTUC Learning Hub or the British Council Singapore, to better identify and address the skills gap. Soft skills development does not always need to be outsourced to external organizations. Ensuring that priority skills are identified in a timely manner, internal L&D teams can provide a blended approach to upskilling their people – there will be plenty of people internally who role model an outstanding approach to skills such as communication or collaboration. L&D teams can also provide curated content such as TED Talks, articles and co-ordinate internal lunch-and-learn workshops to share learning.
Organizations that show employees that they are truly valued results in increased engagement, increased capability of its people and retention of critical talent as well as cultivating loyalty in the organization too
How can technology and analytics be leveraged for L&D to power reinvention and make an organization-wide impact?
The impact of L&D is often non-quantifiable. By incorporating technology and analytics, organizations can now use data to demonstrate results. For example, they would be able to show how L&D may have made an impact on the company’s ROI or influenced employee satisfaction. The data collected, such as on learners, about employees’ job performance, and about activity and success (or failure) in eLearning and in application of skills, can be used when reaching an organization’s decisions and empower them to confidently introduce new approaches. With data providing constant feedback, organizations will have more reasons to continuously make relevant changes for the company’s growth and improvement.
What is your advice for Chief Human Resource Officers (CHROs) and people managers who face challenges to skill and re-skill their employees including cost and other bottlenecks?
CHROs and people managers should view the cost to skill and re-skill their employees as a long-term investment for the company. The value that comes with investing in your people is priceless. The act of encouraging employees to learn new skills and upgrade themselves in this era of technology transformation shows that the organization has the best interests of its people at heart. Organizations that show employees that they are truly valued results in increased engagement, increased capability of its people and retention of critical talent as well as cultivating loyalty in the organization too. Showing that you care about developing your people can only have a positive impact on the business overall. Start small. Build momentum in one part of the business or one team, understand their needs, partner with them and showcase the impact that L&D can have. Make the approach tailored – respond to the individual and don’t treat L&D as a one-size-fits-all approach.