Article (November-2019)


Striking the right balance in traditional and contemporary approach

Rajan Sinha

Designation : -   CEO

Organization : -  Mantrana Consulting P. Ltd., Noida


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There has been a paradigm shift in learning and development in past few years due to technology intervention. What is your take on L&D of the future?

RS Let us first capture what trends are discernible that are already having an impact on L&D even at present and future L&D will have to respond more effectively to these.

1. Two thirds of workforce will be millennials (including Generation Z) by 2020, with more focus on WIIIFM. The word employee itself will become uncertain with more and more work shifting to gig domain.

2. Boundaries between work, commute, learning and family life are blurring.

3. Employee is the new customer. And she has to be delighted.

4. There is an expectation of everything to be monetized, or at least used as a tradeable coupon. So the learner wants 'learning units (or certificates)' that can be flaunted to the next employer.

5. Disruption is the new normal.

6. Visual communication and simulation will dominate learning.

7. Business's tolerance for woolly platitudes will progressively get replaced by expectation for hard data/results.

8. Just as virtual is replacing face-to-face interaction, soft skills will become more critical. The list is endless. So the L&D of the future will be as different from the present as Pakeezah movie was from Star Wars.

What are some current trends that you are optimistic about in the L&D function?

RS The most important is shift from instructor-led to learner-led learning. Learner chooses what, when and where does s/he learn - just like Netflix in entertainment. Since, mobile learning and micro-learning helps in this process. Next, just as Netflix tracks your preferences and suggests next entertainment accordingly, L&D tracks what a person enjoys and learns most through analytics and plans for next offering. Of course, L&D also has to keep organizational priorities also in mind. Some of the other important trends in L&D are gamification, increasing use of leaders as coaches, which is part of larger trend of focus on learning culture.

I am most optimistic of the last, that is equipping and encouraging leaders to coach their juniors. Of course, shift to learner-led training is the most revolutionary.

Do you consider L&D as one the key challenges for talent management leaders in fast changing skills scenario, if so, how it should be addressed?

RS Of course, for four reasons :

1. As per World Economic Forum, regardless of industry, 35% of all skills will have changed by 20%.

2. Faster attrition. Average tenure in a job is shrinking and therefore, even if you train the employee, there is less and less likelihood that the organization may be able to reap full advantage.

3. Organization needs and priorities have to be aligned with learners' own pace and preferences.

4. Greater number of skills will come from gig workers who are not your employees and may be working for other organizations too. Of course, organizations are devising protections like no-disclosure agreements, but there is no denying the fact that L&D has become more and more challenging. This challenge can only be addressed jointly by people, organizations and society/governments together. Governments and society have to change vocational and technical education content & structure double quick if exponential joblessness has to be arrested.

One stuy says 41% jobs will vanish in near to medium term. People change their mindset and must include receptiveness to continuous learning as their own responsibility. C Vijaya Kumar of HCL says, "It is not the most qualified of the species that will survive, or the most skilled. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change". Gone are the days of the belief that value of degree education will last a life time, not only in medicine and law, but all professions. Remember, half-life of knowledge today is 5 years.

Organizations will have to focus on building and reinforcing learning and coaching culture, besides deploying modern technologies for focused, flexible and customized learning.

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