A New Blueprint for Learning and Organizational Development in Corporates
In today's world of technological advances, it is becoming more and more imperative for organizations to develop a learning culture to reskill and upskill their workforce to prepare them for the work of tomorrow, else, they stand the danger of becoming irrelevant. Especially as an increasing number of workforce is young and ambitious and enters with different expectations, about how they would want to work, learn and consume information.
With India poised to become the third largest economy by 2035, L&OD Function (Learning and Organization Development Function) in an organization has assumed significance. The core role of the L&D function is to support and accelerate learning that endows an organization with the knowledge and skills necessary to execute its business strategy in an agile and responsive manner.
However, the biggest dilemma that organizations face today is – where does L&D rightfully belongs – business, HR, or a mix of that, or maybe – it's time to run L&D as a stand-alone function. While the majority prefers a business-HR collaborative structure, there is an undercurrent seeking L&OD as a stand-alone function with its growing character and specialization.
Addressing some of the key issues and trends surrounding L&OD, FICCI organized the 4th Edition of the FICCI-HR Conference on 25 May 2018, which explored the various facets of New Age Learning – methodologies, culture, ROI (return on investment) and driving human learnability in today's time.
Speaking at the conference, Ranjan Kumar Mohapatra, Director (HR), Indian Oil Corporation Limited
The influx of AI, Robotics, 3D printing, automation in the workplace is dramatically transforming the roles and skills inside organizations. To be able to maximize the potential value of these technologies, organizations must put humans into the loop. We can't just neglect that in this entire thing, that is, neglecting the humans. Reconstructing work, retaining people, rearranging the organization, the greatest opportunity is not just to redesign jobs or automate routine work, but to fundamentally rethink work architecture. Ranjan Kumar Mohapatra, Director (HR) Indian Oil Corporation Ltd.
stressed on the fact that L&OD can no longer be looked as a stand-alone concept. 'There was a time when we used to hate this word called – changing goalposts. But I think, these changing goalposts have become a new normal these days. And organizations which adapt themselves to this are more successful now,' said Mohapatra. 'The influx of AI, Robotics, 3D printing, automation in the work place is dramatically transforming the roles and skills inside organizations. To be able to maximize the potential value of these technologies, organizations must put humans into the loop.' 'We can't just neglect that in this entire thing, that is, neglecting the humans. Reconstructing work, retaining people, rearranging the organization, the greatest opportunity is not just to redesign jobs or automate routine work, but to fundamentally rethink work architecture.' He opines, 'I believe all these technological changes happening around us have to put the spotlight back on human resources, which all of you sitting here with HR professionals and will love to have it. The focus is back again on the HR and they play a key role in redesigning the organization and equipping them with the required essential skills and furthering their leadership characteristics.'
For Rajeev Bhadauria, Group Director (HR), Jindal Steel & Power
Ltd. the domain of L&OD lies within each and everyone in the organization. 'Learning and Development has attained gargantuan proportions. And the magnitude alone is not the issue -the issue is the methodology, the whole culture, the whole paradigm, the assumptions that we have grown up with. So, when we talk about learning, what kind of learning are we talking about? Whether it is the hours that we put in or the impact? Nobody's guess at all. It has to be in today's context impact and hours just don't count. Speed, efficiency and probity that is what counts.' He adds, 'Therefore, the domain of L&OD lies within each and everybody in the organization. You have to create that appetite, that kind of yearning for learning, in the sense, that you learn something the next moment you realize you have to unlearn it and relearn something else. That paradigm keeps on changing and it repeats.'
Role of L&OD in the Changing Corporate Environment
According to a study by KPMG and National HRD Network (NHRDN), Indian corporates need to step up on the L&OD front as it seeks to build a workforce with the right skills and knowledge to stay relevant in this fast-changing business environment. The study assessed the state of learning and development in 138 leading organizations in India across the sectors. About 81 per cent of organizations report that their learning strategies are aligned with their business strategies. However, measuring the impact on business outcomes is an untouched area, with only 18 per cent organizations measuring it.
'I feel what will be very significant in times to come is, one's learning will become shorter because with the advent of mobile phones and your devices the human attention span is getting shorter and shorter, 'says Sandeep Tyagi, Director HR – Samsung Electronics. 'So accordingly learning will also have to keep pace with it. Learning will be micro learning, bit-size learning. Smaller pieces of nuggets of learning, information, sharing, which people who are on the go can understand and share and imbibe. Gone are the days when you had whole-day training sessions and basically take in all the learnings within you,' he adds. other hand, believes that L&OD role is extremely important in the changing era of the corporate world as organizations should train their employees to adapt to any situation.
The domain of L&OD lies within each and everybody in the organization. You have to create that appetite, that kind of yearning for learning, in the sense, that you learn something the next moment you realize you have to unlearn it and relearn something else. That paradigm keeps on changing and it repeats. Rajeev Bhadauria, Group Director (HR) Jindal Steel & Power Ltd .”
From an organization's perspective, they should focus on creating an organization that can adapt to any change in the future. So, it's more about how the organization is training leaders not by giving them skills but creating a mindset so that they will be able to adapt to any change. Santosh Babu, Founder & Chairman OD Alternatives
professionals and not generalist HR leaders. Although nearly 65 per cent of those who propose L&OD to be with HR function, are generalist HR leaders. 33 per cent respondents yet chose the classical route of collaborated responsibility between business & HR.
Therefore, it's extremely important that the organization develops a culture of communication first. That it clearly demarcates where learning stands and its methods. 'The key to success as well as remain effective in leadership roles, across these verticals is to keep your talent which we spoke of, updated, informed and open to learning new ways of doing things. Again the same thing, I would repeat, to learn, to unlearn and to relearn. In other words, we also call it skilling, upskilling and reskilling. This needs to continue again and again and again,' says Mohapatra.
'Unless the leadership is able to identify the gaps, collate actions to be taken, revitalize the work force, it would be difficult for it to sustain. The organization needs to be proactive in creating a culture of mutual trust, a culture of learning and a culture of sustained growth in the face of any adversary – an organization which understands it faster is able to lead,' he adds.
Preetinder Chadha, Director, Global L&D, Metlife, believes that many still see L&D as mere a 'course provider' rather than seeing it as a 'strategic enabler'. 'L&D is still perceived as a course provider. But I believe that there is a clear opportunity that L&D can stand up today and become that strategic learning enabler than just a department. It's a function that will help people to understand why they should learn and how can they learn best,' Chadha explains.
However, Preetinder does feel that not all companies utilize L&OD to its full potential. 'Unfortunately, not many companies utilize L&D to its best potential and L&D still today is not there where it should be. There are very few companies who really, really understand it…so you have to be a learning organization and if companies don't learn with time, they will eventually die. For example, look at where Nokia was and where is it today or where Blackberry was and where is it today,' he reflects.
For CS Mahesh, Director, Anahat Organisation Development Consultancy Pvt. Ltd, developing culture means what learning looks like from the employee's perspective? What might they want to see in this culture that they find supportive. 'Learning is like joining the lines. Perhaps it is not so magnified. But every new learning experience is something that evokes both excitement and anxiety. That is very, very well understood. But if you want some learning to happen you can't just pick up the excitement of human nature. You have to pick up a bit of the anxiety of the human being also,' says Mahesh. 'Is the employee experiencing this culture as an invitation or stepping forward or is the employee experiencing this as a coercion. At the end of the day when you look at the balance the organization has some imperative. So, I am not saying that this will not be a coercive process,' he explains.
Measuring the impact
Numerous models to evaluate training effectiveness have made the rounds of HR textbooks. For companies, evaluation stages include learning, behaviour, and results, with very few measuring results in line
with the business strategy.
Moreover, today we see a highly evolved L&D landscape, with diverse learning channels like online, mobile, classrooms, gamified learning, and social learning. Each of these demands a different training-evaluation approach, that is, a blend of quantitative and qualitative metrics to measure training impact.
Most companies continue to carry out standard evaluations on the basis of testimonials, and line manager feedback. But none of these really assesses learning effectiveness in alignment with strategic functional and business goals. It is time HR professionals move beyond the obviously seen and delve deeper into the business impact of L&OD initiatives.
Ask Ashish Anand, Global Head HR, Religare Finvest and he would tell you that 'learning and development function should be able to serve some purpose'. 'My opinion is that there are two types of learnings. One that is called regulated learning. You have no choice because somebody else tells you to do it. Because there are regulatory requirements and if you don't do these regulatory requirements, you can't earn money,' explains Anand. He adds, 'Second is the non-regulated learning, which I say that with most people in this environment. If you look at the full training function, this is purely my experience, you can just bracket into 3 aspects: self, team and leadership. There is no third thing that you really need to give to people or they need at the end of the day.'
Babu too echoes similar sentiments as he points out, 'We need to have a different model for learning which is not prescriptive but would prepare the system to do.' 'Leadership is all about knowing what to do when you don't know what to do. Can I prepare people so that they will know what to do when they don't know what to do?
Then you are creating transformation which is not prescriptive. And, you all know, this model, I did not get this model from any of the leadership books or change management books,' he explains.
For a petrochemical company like Deepak Fertilisers & Petrochemical Corporation Limited, training was not just the only way to measure the impact. For Naresh Kumar Pinisetti, President – Human Resources breaks down the process to how much of employee engagement has happened. 'In the last four years we have been looking at the employee engagement levels? We decided on measures at the time of embarking upon this journey. And decided we have to measure this at the end of every year,' explains Pinisetti.
'To cut this long story short all these measures which have been done with the help of consultants like Mckinsey and the in-house HR team, we were trending at 13 per cent employee attrition rate in 2014 and last year we ended it with 6 per cent. The employee engagement level was 42 per cent when we started this initiative and we ended at 68. So, we could see every year we are improving upon retaining our employees, in terms of improving the employee engagement levels. The sales per head or sales person, sales executive has increased tremendously. The productivity levels in the plants have gone up. Our own EE (employee engagement), this is actually the measure of equipment efficiency, down time, and also the quality of the products we chose to be 68 per cent and we touched 90 per cent. So, these are some of the interventions we have made. But I would not attribute this entirely just to training,' he adds.
Ritu Bhati, Managing Director HR, Delivery Centre for Operations in India and Sri Lanka, Accenture, emphasizes on the fact mere learning is not sufficient. In fact, what you do with that learning is equally important. 'Research shows that after one hour of learning you lose about 10-20 per cent. After a week in a sense you have lost 90 per cent of learning unless you did something. If you didn't do anything with it, you have lost it. So, what is durable learning mean? Many of us in many spaces already do this, it is not rocket science which is to reiterate.'
With the workplace constantly being a place of disruptions and changes taking place, the case for a strong Learning & Development function has become increasingly clearer. L&OD can evolve into a businessand employee-enablement functions – the one comprising valuable and skilled resources who can help their business define the desired improvements in performance, create multi-dimensional solutions to drive these improvements and track and measure their impact and effectiveness.
'You can't get trained talking about doing some kind of a training which is irrelevant. Create some standards and measurable standards which you must maintain irrespective of situations. It should be a missionoriented training. It should be performing space rather than clocking the number of hours. The most interesting that I have always found is training should define the status quo,' says Sameer Sinha, Head HR, Groupe Renault (India).
'In a nutshell, what I want to say is that you need to create that environment that people feel they want to learn something. They want to go out and create that kind of curiosity in them,' he adds.
According to Mohit Gundecha, Co-Founder & CEO, Jombay, L&D has to 'shed the baggage of learning' if it has to go beyond to a situation.
Source: Learning Philosophies India, 2018 & Beyond – Rethinking L&D Fundamentals Survey 'From an organization's perspective, they should focus on creating an