Article (September-2016)


Training is like making a horse fly

Haresh Chaturvedi

Designation : -   Vice President - HR

Organization : -  Reliance Industries Limited, Dahej, Gujarat


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Whenever I am invited to any of the training forums, I ensure to share the story titled 'Horse may fly'. The story is set in the times when King's verdict was never questioned. In one such instance, a King ordered life sentence to a man. Having just a few days at hand, the accused went up to a wise man, asking if there was a way out. Well-fed with the wise suggestions, the accused went up to the King and put forth a proposal. 

"I have a skill which you shall kill with me, a skill to make a horse fly", he said. 

King, amused and curious, asked his council to look into it. The accused convinced them that it shall take atleast a year's training to make the horse fly, like the wise man had suggested him to say. 

The wise man had said, "Put forward this proposal. If accepted, either the horse will die, or the king will. Possibly, you could die as well. In any case, it would mean another year's extension to you"

Recently, I received a Whatsapp message that read:

Company's CFO asks the CHRO - "We invest so much money and energy into training our staff. And then they leave. What's the point?"To which, the CHRO replied, "Imagine we didn't put in our resources into training our employees to become better individuals, and they decide to stay. What would you we then?"

For retention and engagement, we have two levers that are very useful: training and promotions. While promotion is a widely used method to retain talent, training has sadly been neglected for quiet sometime. Basically, if the objective of training is clear, its effectiveness in general will increase. From here we should move to objective of training and the first is Information, than comes Knowledge and finally it is Skill. Every individual for growth passes from three aspects which leads to Contribution value (we all contribute to the organization) and by more and more involvement on these three aspect an individual improves "Contribution Value".

Thereafter person wants to develop ability to do something better, higher and or something of different in nature. Here again L&D plays vital role by help individual to widen the horizon so that an individual has insight and foresight. 

Finally, as a professional, one has to think NOW life after 58 or 60 years of age. One has to spend almost some year as of working after superannuation. If we are not preparing for that period no, our life after superannuation either will have long years of misery or short period of life (early death). To avoid such situation learning today require to have "Leisure Value". One has to create or develop hobbies, involve in some of the social services etc. during today's leisure time.

Recently, I happened across a Harvard Business Review study from last July. The article, "Why Top Young Managers Are in a Nonstop Job Hunt" by Monika Hamori, Jie Cao and BurakKoyuncu, described a study based on analysis of international databases of over 1,200 young high achievers, and concluded that many of the best and the brightest are not receiving the career development training they desire. The article stated:

     "Dissatisfaction with some employee-development efforts appears to fuel many early exits. We asked young managers what their employers do to help them grow in their jobs and what they'd like their employers to do, and found some large gaps. Workers reported that companies generally satisfy their needs for on-the-job development and that they value these opportunities, which include high-visibility positions and significant increases in responsibility. But they're not getting much in the way of formal development, such as training, mentoring and coaching - things they also value highly."

With a few experiences from my professional life in the field of HR, I have come to understand of one reason why training employees has been so neglected: We tend to focus most on 'right here, right now': In the era of startups, most businesses are way too engaged, taking one day at a time, less interested in long-term activities, which do not come with guaranteed payback.  
For success of a business, it is vital that every activity leads to a contribution to the company's growth. And more often than not, everyone responsible for driving growth, fails to acknowledge or appreciate something that doesn't reap in immediate, tangible benefit. It has been said several times how the team is the most reliable asset an organization has. And training the team at regular intervals can benefit the company in the long run. Here is why training employees makes a lot of business sense: 

1)    People care if you take a genuine interest in their future: Emphasis here on "genuine." Training designs should be something a manager takes a real personal interest in - not an HR-driven mandate. 

2)    Genuine concern builds loyalty which builds productivity: The equation here is simple: Genuine knowledge investment build loyalty, loyal employees are more engaged and Engaged employees are more productive.

3)    Good talented people naturally want to advance, and appreciate meaningful support in the process. As mentioned in the above mentioned HBR study, capable ambitious young employees want training, mentoring and coaching. They want to challenge themselves and gain skills. They want to become more versatile and valuable to an organization. Unavailability of support may result in enterprising employees going elsewhere. 

While we talk of the 'need' of training, it is also vital to notice the pattern of many people shifting to training as a profession. The role of training has been evolving rapidly. The new role is highly demanding, where it is expected from the trainer to be professionally as well as systematically well-grounded. This new role expects the trainer to play characters of: 

Adhyapak - The person who gives information. 

Upadhayay - The person who knowledge. 

Acharya - The person who gives skills. 

Pandit - The person who provides insights. 

Drishta - The person who provides calculated foresight. 

Guru - The person who gives wisdom. 

The trainer must know the connections between work processes and learning processes: 

He/She has to differentiate between:

  •     What to learn? (work process)
  •     How to learn? (learning process)

Lastly, a trainer should be able to have belief in what he/she preaches. Gone are the days of boring 5Cs and 4Ps. Today's talent wants real-time knowledge, decision-making ability and creative inputs; and not a flying horse.