EMPLOYEE DEVELOPMENT BEYOND TRAINING

One of the most vital aspects of the HR Manager, or the Personnel Manager’s, function in a progressive organization is Employee Development. Therefore:
  • Identifying the training needs for all the employees as against the competency requirements for each of the jobs, and determining the gaps,
  • Developing, or identifying, available cost effective training modules,
  • The required priorities and cost benefits,
  • Scheduling training programme calendar, and
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of various programmes, become on-going key tasks for this function.
Needless to highlight that the organizational success cannot be achieved without competent and motivated people, and that the people capability need continuous upgradation in order to manage well in today’s highly competitive and change scenario. This article is not intended to be a manual for Training activity, but it is intended to focus on what can add value to this process – beyond the Training activity. The following checklist may be useful. Training is often given a routine lip service, or the process gets limited mostly to making the summary numbers (e.g. training man days etc.) look impressive, without giving due emphasis to each of the above mentioned components, which qualitatively makes all the difference to the end results, i.e. the organizational success. Maximising the results demand that the process does not get short-circuited, and that the pre requisite of the need-gap analysis is given due attention, just as much emphasis is given to the quality and level of the training activity itself. This requires capable and experienced HR Managers who know and understand the organizational needs, and are able to deal with other functional line managers equitably. Often, this responsibility is entrusted to new and inexperienced HR staff freshly out of college, who may be very capable in handling the administrative aspects of the training process and have fresh ideas, but are often not quite up to meeting other requirements equally competently. Support from experienced or seniors can overcome this possible weakness. Justifying the costs of training are also difficult, as the long term gain from employee development is generally obscure, and requires high degree of belief and commitment from the organization and its top management to consistently support this important activity. This requires HR to convince the top management through regular evaluation of the effectiveness of the training activity, and also review the key result areas that are vital to the organization’s success with them. It is my firm belief that employee participation in own development plan brings out the best motivation from the person, and should therefore be practiced by the organization. Self-development is normally always an individual priority, and when the organization’s efforts are to help in self identified areas, they are more than welcome, and the results are therefore, greater. Another important strategy is to ensure that after the training, some opportunity to use or practice the acquired skill or knowledge is available to the individual, as also periodic refreshers to strengthen or reinforce the development process. This may be achieved through participating in cross-functional teams, job rotation or special project assignments, and require careful planning by both the Line & HR Manager, as a part of extending the development process for the individual. It is well known that the people development is a great motivator, and therefore contributes significantly as a rewarding methodology. It therefore, becomes very important that this process is equitable and transparent, well balanced, and is also a well-accepted system considered to be fair and non-partisan. There is need for the system to be clearly documented and circulated, after being properly integrated with the appraisal system – to highlight and ensure the above. Any organizational change also depends heavily on Training activity – both for skills and for attitudinal or environmental management. These need a somewhat different methodology and strategy to the routine Training programmes, and require careful planning for getting desirable results. Change management has become generally very necessary for most organizations in this challenging era, and has to be built in into the training calendar. Another aspect of development that is usually not given its due consideration is the learning acquired from ‘day to day’ work experience, which forms the solid foundation on which the formal training programmes build on. Therefore, the organization’s work culture, processes and environment have a great deal of impact, as does the ability, behaviour and attitude of the colleagues and the managers, and even juniors, in shaping any individual’s capability. The Induction Programme for new comers, and also their regular interaction with experienced colleagues and managers are also essential steps. Attention on these issues brings forth ‘free development’ within any organization, and therefore, improves results automatically! To sum up, Training is not an end by itself, but requires an inherent organization culture, and continuous, careful and on-going planning and efforts, to make the results more effective – the objective of this article.