Training is a flexible word used in organizations in multiple contexts with differing interpretations as may be suitable to different Managers or Line Managers. Generally, training is perceived to be a capability building exercise to improve the performance of low level to mid-level employees in any organization. Such initiatives are channelized mostly through in-house training programs to provide the participants an opportunity to develop company specific, unified work process learning. In current times, for senior mid to top level staff members, the term Training has been accorded a much wider meaning and have been re-christened as education, Learning & Development, talent improvement and many new sectorial specific terms are being introduced internationally.
Given the above scenario, it is imperative to consider few critical parameters while conceiving, designing and implementing organization wide people development initiatives:
- enhancement of personal knowledge, self-worth and skills
- exposure to wide variety of practices in different industry/ regions
- a combined content incidental to / or an extension of any of the above two parameters
- whether employees' learning desire stems from personal choices/ inquisitive mode/ seeking new ideas
- is the management ready to experiment with new behaviors
- how to measure and follow-up to make sure that ideas/ learning is sustained and people are prepared for future job opportunities
- creation of key organizational capabilities which meet the expectations and the standards of performance
- creating optimally organized work force to deliver value - meaningful work - inspiring excellence
Addressing developmental initiatives is a fairly complex task, which requires thoughtful and structured interventions to develop self and organizational pride amongst the employees. The HR Department has to implement an integrated model for people development. Learning modules have to flow from one to another and each participant must cherish the experience and not be a part of an event. With transparent sharing of training needs by the organization, the sessions have to bring real work into the content resulting into individual or team action learning opportunities.
Who delivers such programs? Are managements unaware of their developmental needs? Do they require an external expert to guide them and deliver these programs? Any management worth its name is undoubtedly aware of its developmental needs and the way to address them. In absence of internal expertise, (it would be there but unrecognized on grounds of acceptability and effectiveness) an external, specific help can always be taken.
A question which is more perplexing is the approach the external agency adopts in addressing the real issues. In recent times, there has been upsurge of multiple agencies and other professionals offering such services through guaranteed value adding interventions. It is an undesired situation which many a time leaves the HR professionals doubting their own capabilities to address developmental issues. These consultants suggest multiple, phase wise activities (rather events) before actually delivering the training or learning. Mostly, the intervention is to bind the managements with exclusivity over a long drawn period. In the process, companies miss to prioritize the areas where they need to improve soonest. Secondly, in such cases training becomes 'a parade of stars' where individuals present are dynamic and energizing but the overall program does not deliverthe desired impact. Are such initiatives more sustainable? Training analytics with a 360 degree feedback may not happen - and if it has to happen then the solutions provided are unviable, spread over a much longer duration which may miss the time bound business opportunities.
With humble regards to all highly experienced and talented trainers, it is expected that they impart knowledge/ skills/ behavior training experienced by them as a matured, astute practicing professional. The former professionals turning into briefcase businessmen do not deliver what they are factually capable of!! Neither do they get satisfaction which they enjoyed as a practitioner nor do they achieve self-actualization. Unfortunately they get into trap of beating around the bush with training market capitalization as their main goal. It is expected that they deliver what they experienced and practiced as a committed and accountable professional meaningfully extend it through prescribing relevant, simple and practicable solutions. Aligning recommendations complimenting organizational culture, ethos, values and participants' business orientation will not only earn them the respect that they deserve but also restore the lost dignity of training as a noble profession.
L&D initiatives should be integrating people into a cohesive organization with shared identity. It must ensure shaping and evolving of leaders who carry the culture and build other organizational capabilities, thereby creating a pipeline of talent. Organizations will prefer external experts who are grounded, realistic and come out with practicable solutions which wouldstrongly align with the organization culture.