Investing in employees is here to stay. According to Association for Talent Development (ATD) research, organizations have spent $1273 per employee in 2016 alone. This definitely suggests that companies consider investments in employee learning as a big part of the growth strategy. There is a consistent rise in demand to build skills and capabilities for employees. The urgent need for this is a result of the extremely competent, complex competitive business landscape. Employees need to be up skilled at every level today, from entry to leadership.
At every level of the organization, the consumer is connected to the company by the way of various social media platforms. From what an entry level employee says about the culture of the organization to how the top leadership behaves in the outside world, directly impacts the organization. This creates an indispensible need for organizations to have employees who are at the top of their game both in their job and in their interpersonal skills. Over the past 21 years I have seen many changes in the training needs in companies. In the early days most of my training engagements were with the sales teams. I have engaged with clients from various industries like banking, telecom, IT, finance, manufacturing, etc for sales trainings.
This trend has been changing in the past few years. Today organizations want create a pool of internal leaders, as a result I have seen a higher demand for leadership workshops being delivered to employees at an entry or junior executive level. At the same time organizations want to invest in their senior leadership and make sure they receive the desired guidance and coaching for optimum output. Looking ahead, I foresee two major trends in the Learning and Development space, namely Executive Coaching and eLearning. These two trends would become the pillars of the training industry in years to come.
First, let’s discuss Executive Coaching. Increasingly organizations are looking to create a sustainable succession pipeline, and executive coaching is an ideal way to achieve this. Executive coaching refers to hiring a coach for an employee who may be in a leadership position or is identified to occupy a leadership role. The goal of executive coaching is for the employee to have personal guide to help him/her develop key skills and a mindset which will help in surviving the leadership challenges. During this engagement an employee gets insight on their personal strengths, opportunities and areas of improvement. At the same time the employee also gets guidance on how they can leverage these strengths to reach a best possible outcome. I believe the two main pillars for this are the Mindfulness and the Resourcefulness of the Leader. We have created the Redwood Leader Matrix to summarize this concept.
Mindfulness is the inner calm and strength of a person. A person high on mindfulness would be extremely self-aware and think about the future possibilities. Resourcefulness, as the word suggests refers to being able to make optimum utilization of resources to achieve the goals. Agile Visionary is a leader who is high on both, mindfulness and resourcefulness. Such leaders are deep thinkers, are self-aware; at the same time know how to make the best use of available resources. They align the organizational goal with the people activities. So when people in leadership roles opt for a coaching program, they generally would want to move to the Agile Visionary box. Over the past few years, I have been coaching CXOs, COOs and others in leadership roles and I have noticed that coaching is an extremely powerful and personal mode of developmental training. As a tool, coaching is so powerful, that people in leadership roles are keen to personally invest their time and money to find the right coach for themselves. From what I can see, coaching will be a key part of the future Learning & Development handbook. Now let’s discuss eLearning. Owing to the rapid technological advancement, people can now access everything, from news to movies at the click of a button; then why should learning opportunities be any different? In the past decade eLearning in itself has evolved by leaps and bounds. From simple code of conduct trainings in organizations to the advent of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), eLearning has transformed into a discipline of its own. eLearning has given people an option to invest in their own development.
With the likes of Coursera, Udemy and eDx, the ball has now shifted into the hands of the general public. This means that they can choose the skill that they want to upgrade and not have to wait for the organization to make it available to them. This empowerment in the digital age will become the cornerstone in L&D workspace. This is also a huge opportunity for corporate organizations to proactively invest in employee engagement via training. Leading organizations like TATA, BCG, Philips, Infosys and Barclays have already tied up with these MOOC platforms to enable employees’ access to these courses. Platforms like Coursera and Udemy don’t just provide learning material; they also provide this from credible sources.
These platforms have partnered with reputed universities, where professors can deliver lectures which are made available to a large audience. Due to the ease of operation and wide variety of courses to choose from, I believe that eLearning would become an integral part of the Learning and Development mainframe in the years to come. Technology is advancing rapidly in all walks of life. Artificial Intelligence has today travelled to our phones with Siri and Google Assistant. And soon enough it will make headway into the training world.
Virtual bots have already been integrated into a few LMS portals, guiding people on which courses to choose and how to approach them. So the important question then is, will your next training be conducted by a Robot? Maybe not just yet, but Trainer Bots may be a possibility in a not so distant future! At the center of all of it though, will be the content. Irrespective of the medium through which it is delivered, the hero of any training delivery is the content. The one thing that stands tall through all the changing trends will be the customization. Trainers and organizations both need to be extremely careful about the connection with the audience. The content should be relevant, on point, easily understandable and highly customized. Carefully designed matter is what makes the training effective and useful for the participants.
As the times change so does the technology with it. As a training professional I believe one needs to keep evolving and getting in touch with newer technologies every few months. But it’s important to not lose the sight of what is important and what is to be conveyed. In the words of Socrates “The Secret of Change is to focus all of your energy not on the fighting the old but on building the new” This is a mantra that any training professional in the current environment should abide by. Fellow trainers let’s look forward to creating lasting impact with the audience.
About the Authors
Prakash Rohera is a highly accomplished and a renowned International Trainer and Speaker. He holds to his credit 29 years of rich experience which includes 11 years of extensive work experience with HCL Limited, Citibank NA, and Bank of America and 18 years into Corporate Training. He has paved his way as one of the top training professionals by supporting his trainings with Recent Global Examples and Practical takeaways. What began with a desire to train, led to the establishment of “The Redwood Edge – Corporate Training Consultancy” in 1997.
He has gained tremendous respect and appreciation through his various workshops on Leadership, Motivation, Selling, Team Building, etc.
Prakash holds a Bachelors of Science degree from Hindu College Delhi University, following which he went on to pursue his MBA in Marketing, from the esteemed Symbiosis Institute of Business Management (SIBM).
Ashwini Bangera works as Manager L&D with The Redwood Edge. She is a post graduate in HR and has worked with companies like Abbott India Ltd and Tech Mahindra Business Services in the past. Training and Business Partnering are her forte and when she is not working Ashwini likes to cuddle up with a mythological novel and a strong cup of tea.