Author: Mr. Girish Batra, Founder – Glocal Projects
Member: L&D Global, Bengaluru Chapter

Learning & Development has become an important part of an Organisation and an Individual. I have two contrasting work experiences in my repertoire. The first in an MNC Fortune 500 company for whom L&D was a global core competence and the HR Head’s KRA was to enhance the Skills and Emotional Intelligence of the team. I attended workshops on NLP (it was wow), Innovation, Breakthroughs, Leadership, etc.

In the second tenure in an SME, I was responsible for introducing L&D in the company albeit in a smaller fashion for 2 reasons. 1) It was a financial investment  2) The returns were not immediately visible and quantifiable.

I went deeper into understanding the value L&D/training provides to an orgn and what I discovered was shocking. So many researches (especially in the US who as a ~40% share of the World L&D spend of close to $350bn) have pointed out the ineffectiveness of L&D especially in changing human behaviour for the long term. It is called Honeymoon effect covered by Mr. Daniel Goleman where an immediate improvement after a training fades almost entirely in 3-6 months for almost 90% of the participants. Still, the L&D spend continues. In fact, corporates benchmark each other and try to beat their competitor on L&D spent as a percentage to turnover. The herd mentality I believe.

When a corporation sees a downturn the first thing which gets a haircut is L&D budgets isn’t it? So, Training is a good to do activity vs a must do activity like say sales promotion or trade incentives. Most of the time participants are nominated by their seniors for attending a training and have no clue/self-motivation to undertake it. It has become more of a tick mark activity for HR Managers’ KRA with little to nil effort being spent on measuring return on investment.

Some quotes by participants after attending Behavioural training:
– ‘The trainer was quite humorous but, the food was not up to the mark’
– ‘The training wasn’t entertaining enough’
– ‘The speaker was good but I don’t think the improvement was for me’
– ‘I was busy taking urgent calls so couldn’t get the gist of the training. Sorry’.

Another feedback given by L&D professionals is that the senior most executive(s) usually skips such training sessions. Her/his mindset usually is:
– ‘I know everything’
– ‘I have spent 12 years in the company, 20 years in the industry what will ‘they’ teach me?’
– ‘I’m ok in fact I’m great that’s why I’m the leader, isn’t it? What more can add value to me or my greatness?

And the truth is normally hard. The senior most person(s) is the one who need the maximum behavioural feedback and need to be trained and retrained to ensure that their success has not gone to their head which will surely lead to downfall both theirs and the organisation’s/department’s.

HOW TO RESET L&D?

The suggestions below are radical to say the least. But I think it is the most practical way forward for L&D.

Step 1 – Stop Behavioural training immediately

Step 2 – The entire HR/L&D department focus shifts to mapping each individual on the 19 Emotional Intelligence Competencies (EIC) as elaborated by Daniel Goleman in his multiple books.

These Competences fall under 4 domains

– SELF AWARENESS
– SELF MANAGEMENT
– SOCIAL AWARENESS
– RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT

Do regular 360’ feedbacks and Self-Assessment for managers to match her/his Public perception with her/his Self-perception and let him look at the GAP, digest the same. Till the two are not close no amount of Behavioural intervention will help. For e.g., I as a leader believe I’m a good listener but I consistently receive poor scores on Listening from my team members. I discount them as personal grudges against me. So, whatever interventions are done, I will not imbibe it because I believe from the bottom of my heart that I’m a good listener.

Step 3 – Check Culture. Improve if Learning Culture is poor

The above is important to check whether the Organisation Culture is ready for learning & if not why should we invest in trainings. Training will not be able to change things which themselves do not want to change.

How can the environment improve?

Well if the leader(s) themselves acknowledge in public that they are human & so prone to mistakes, ego games & accept their fallacy and would be humble enough to accept the general perception and feedback and are committed to continuous improvement THINGS WILL SURELY CHANGE. I bet.

The goal is for allmanagement to have a EIC self-assessment and 360’ feedback close to each other which will give Strengths and Improvement areas.

Step 4 – What to do next?

Do the following checks: 
– Is the concerned individual accepting her/his improvement areas?
– Is the concerned individual serious about improvement?
– Does s/he consider changing tough, as old habits die hard and, it was these habits only which got him/her in this senior position so, why change?
– Does he want improvement very badly i.e. is s/he disgusted with the status quo?
       –  Change will happen only when DISGUST >>>> RESISTANCE TO CHANGE

Lastly, it is important for a one on one to make it clear that Leadership is learnable. The process may not be easy. It takes time and most of all commitment.

Step 5 FINAL STEP (The L&D Buffet)

Once our bakra (coo~ bakra 😊) is ready for halal, in fact he is craving for his old habits, which are inhibiting him/her, to die and new ones to emerge, then you present him the L&D Buffet.

What is the L&D Buffet?

We’ll come to it before that a stark reality. My son wants to learn photography. He has to pay Rs8000 for a 2-day/week classes for 8 weeks. He wants to learn Taekwondo. He has to pay Rs 2500/month. There are various levels. He may take ~5yrs to became a brown belt. So, mastering any skill doesn’t come cheap. You can learn from experts but it is your effort, money, and commitment which will take you further in any field.

But then what about Leadership Skill/EI Skills? That is paid by my company. Why company? Is it because Company only benefits? No. The average life of a manager is <5 yrs. so how will only company benefit from my Skill improvement? It is wrong notion and needs to be corrected immediately.

The HR Head /L&D role metamorphizes into that of an Orgn Doctor to whom team members come with their challenges and s/he diagnoses the problem with more information in utmost integrity on the table by the subject. No need to instigate/push a person into changing. He will surely face a Jhatka in life where he will see his GAP immediately and will feel the need to change.

So, here’s the L& D Buffet. The HR/L&D team will give you a range of Buffet options with a timeline of improvement based on the students (Ceo~student 😊) effort and interest.

It consists of the following items displayed on the table for the participant to pick & choose whatever s/he wants & as much quantity s/he wants: 
 – TRAINING
– Personal COACHING
– BOOKS on the chosen area of work
 – YouTube videos on the chosen area of work
– Questionnaires ( For self & team)
 – Exercises/Games Communities (a la Alcoholics anonymous we will have Poor empathy Anonymous) etc.

But the individual will pay for what he takes from the buffet and the training/interventions would be in third-party professional L&D organisations. The orgn may consider giving the person time off for her/his self-improvement goal(s).

No more one size fits all training/L& D interventions. Every person is unique and has her/his own improvement requirement and responsibility. S/he chooses her/his L&D path and training requirements. The L&D team only supports and reviews who is at what path of learning and with what progress.

The organisation may consider giving a few scholarships to its meritorious students (VP~ student 😊)

Billions of dollars will be saved in the process and the ~10% (I’m sure the figure will go up once the ownership shifts to the individual from the organisation) who are the beneficiary and are giving the return on investment will only get
the investment. This is called targeted L&D with assured ROI.

HOWZATT!!

What if a person invests Nil in his Training/L&D?

Once L&D is self-initiated the ownership rests with the individual and s/he will be rated on Performance, Potential and Self-Development (How better the individual is on EIC parameters vs previous review period.) for consideration of increments/promotion/success in a role by his senior(s). So, the real individual and commitment is in front of the senior and unless Performance & Potential are extremely high the growth and success in the orgn will be impaired if investment is Nil in self L&D.

Lastly, what happens to our huge trainings halls? Let’s put Table Tennis /pool tables in them. Fun will surely give us a more cohesive team who is already self-invested in L&D.

Disclaimer – I am not against the L&D profession. In fact, I am an avid L&D follower and do not miss any opportunity to learn from the L&D fraternity. Still I believe it is an investment and every company/person making an investment has a right to ask for a return, that is where the crux lies which is kind of showing the mirror which is shouting RESET RESET RESET.

Author: Mr. Girish Batra, Founder – Glocal Projects
Member: L&D Global, Bengaluru Chapter