People, without the shadow of a doubt are the most important and formidable force and resource that a nation can have. Today, most developed and developing countries are positioned with this unprecedented opportunity of being gifted with a highly educated, motivated and globally competitive workforce. The challenges of the dynamic world of today requires educational establishments and organizations to design and implement their structures, processes, and systems that will be people centric allow them to flourish – and that would spur a change and growth in the competitive markets. Therefore, constant learning and development of people is imperative, and the primary goal of organizations should be to provide the opportunities and expertise to their employees to develop concrete skills and plans for navigating the challenges of the workplace, with people problem and problem people.
Learning and Development initiatives are changing as we have moved along in time. From being strictly instructive, to being tailored to the needs of an individual and crafted accordingly, L&D has come a long way. There needs to be a big “AHA!” moment for facilitators as well as recipients, and that would come only with innovative tools.
All emergent organizations fathom these dynamics of the changing workplace, and want to motivate and reward every individual associated with the organization to perform at the highest level by linking their intent, dedication and performance, to measurable parameters of rewards and benefits, and there is a reformist approach towards it, there is an incessant addressing of skill-enhancement of one and all. There are some broad areas of focus one needs to keep in mind in this context.
- Stop offering boring courses: Whenever the management thinks about skill enhancement, out- come brochures of factory-line of courses being offered. These are driven by PowerPoint and done-to-death activities. Customization is the name of the game today.
- Focus on timely topics: Instead of having a short term vision of achieving training targets, there should be holistic foresight to meet skills needs in the long run
- Embrace flexible, blended learning: Throw out the manuals that scream “my way or the highway”. There isn’t a faster way to lose an employees’ attention than a program that is not catered to needs of the individual!
- Collaborative and experiential learning: Think out of the box; think about how you can TALK, CONVERSE, CONFER, maybe WATCH FILMS, ROLE PLAY, ARGUE- and based on that-unlearn, learn, agree, disagree and develop new avenues of enhancement.
- The need for inspiration: Injecting a sense of passion for what they do and what they teach is something that many voiced as a call to action that must happen in the near-term in order to make learning exciting again.
There is a stirring tale about employee engagement and development that comes from Mirage Resorts, recently listed as one of Fortune Magazine’s 10 most admired firms in North America. Why? Probably because the founder, Steve Wynn’s, own personality reflects on all his employees. Steve is eternally optimistic and wants his people to be the same. Wynn’s strategy is to keep everybody in a win-win situation. If anyone is not in a win situation, the Wynn team is there to fix it. And this win situation could be for people from within, or guests. As he tells his people, “If you see a hotel guest with a tiniest frown, don’t ask a supervisor, and don’t escalate to the manager; take ownership of it and take care of the situation. Erase the charge; send the dinner back, extra bottle of champagne, whatever it takes. And I believe it applies to all businesses. People are key. Your employees will deliver higher when you value them higher than your paying customer”. In addition, Wynn honors employees with elaborate parties to honor them. He personally supervised middle level learning and development needs, schedule for training and end of it all, honored a Vietnamese woman as ‘Employee of The Year’ and called George and Barbara Bush to congratulate the lady. It cost a lot of money, but as Wynn says “This is an investment: it will yield returns. For us, nothing- and I mean, nothing- is even close to being more important than my people. Even if they move on from Mirage, we hope the new places they go to, they would take their learnings and improve that place. They’ll keep doing us proud even then!”
Management at all places really needs to understand the business imperatives — what are the business issues, where are the talent gaps, how do we fill those gaps? It’s not about traditional training anymore. It’s getting the right people in the right roles with the right skills. We are entering a new era in quality management across industries and nations, where the focus is on development of an organizational culture based on shared values, competencies and professionalism, rather than a bureaucratic, top down approach which has been focused on quality control, monitoring and vested power in the top management. The modern world has moved on to focusing on innovation at the workplace, allowing ownership for individual growth, and creating as well as celebrating professional champions at the workplace making a difference. Appreciation and acknowledgement are key ingredients for exceptional performance by employees, and it has been found that an organizational culture which encourages and values commitment, leadership, sincerity, performance and innovation also promotes high levels of job security, thereby substantially reducing attrition. The purpose of every intervention should be to learn and apply in real life scenarios, not simply learn handouts and text. The facilitator’s endeavor should be to make the subject relevant, practical and lots of fun for all!
Mr Kanak Gupta
VP, Seth M.R Jaipuria Schools.