Learning & Development – Are you in it for the Long-haul?
In one of his many inspirational talks, my General Management Professor at school once said, “You either engage in L&D to fix the nuts and bolts in skill-sets as the business grows, or you use L&D as a foundation to ensure that the machine needs no fixing at all!” The two modes embody management paradigms of the past and the present, respectively. Or such should be the case, one would imagine, for today’s businesses to succeed. Yet, ever so often, L&D programs are viewed as a one-off cumbrance as opposed to an ongoing process for employee learning and skill development.
Most management influencers would argue that L&D programs be viewed in light of the Kaizen philosophy of continuous improvement. In saying that, they would not be off the mark. Corporate surveys have unearthed enough evidence to suggest that one of the reasons of “sticky and overstaffed” middle management flab is due to lack of a sustained training initiative, from employee-career inception. This not only results in loss of self esteem of employees but also translates to drastic shrinkage of workplace productivity. A curious case in point is that of the old-timers who transition and work alongside the inexperienced yet nimble ones of today. This is a serious challenge for organizations and, in its most baneful avatar, can turn into a completely chaotic situation involving massive ego clashes. It is thus imperative for organizations, not just to engage the young ones early, with sustained L&D programs, but to also rope in folk from the old school of thought, who were bereft of such L&D privileges.
For a young company that is fast on the ascendancy, it is easy to overlook L&D in the race for numbers. To avoid plugging undesirable holes at regular intervals, companies must follow a three pronged strategy. First, initiate the employees into generic L&D programs that help break the ice between them and the top brass. Second, transition to the on-the-job-training phase of the program, which is often more intense and serves as a barometer for the employee’s grasp and aptitude. Finally, identify the employees with leadership potential and fast-track them on to management based programs, to hone their decision making and soft skills.
Given the various options of disseminating effective L&D programs today, organizations must deploy them earnestly. They provide qualitative yet sure-shot ROI’s in the long run.