The Learning and Development Evolution In Times of Pandemic

The Learning and Development Evolution In Times of Pandemic

There is no aspect of our life that has not been affected by the pandemic that hit the world in 2020. The way we meet people, work, shop, deliver, consume, travel etc. everything has been impacted like never before. The list includes every small aspect of our lives, and we have evolved ourselves to survive the wave of the fatal virus by following a set of different norms. Businesses are taking all it takes to make sure that they meet the client expectations, there are somethings easier to deliver than the other. We are experiencing a forced change management, the more agile we are the more we succeed in doing things the way they need to be done given the current circumstances.

Whatever we aim to achieve during these tough times it is of paramount importance to understand the change in the mindset of people we are dealing with. Given that people are mostly working from home, the mindset is that of finishing what has been assigned to them and log off – just meeting the expectations, nothing less and nothing more. Since all of us are actively involved in managing the households also, we do not have the time to invest in a lot of additional things that we used to do earlier like building our competencies by attending training sessions and coaching sessions. So, as a CEO of a company, or a leader who has people reporting to him/her, my big question would be “How to train my people for development?”

People have very quickly moved to the digital platforms for training their employees and we have seen an increase in the number of online trainings that are happening. The impact of these trainings is yet to be assessed as it is a thing of long-term results. The online trainings may be extremely handy for skill-based trainings as people have been used to learning skills on digital platforms like videos, video conferences etc. But what happens to the trainings that I want for people who are working towards building competencies, getting trained for succession to critical roles etc.

All the leaders who are looking to develop their people during this pandemic and otherwise also should look at implicit training as an option. What does implicit training mean? It is training and developing people by showing them what to do at every possible opportunity at work. In other words, it is leading by example. If I want a certain person to be able to take informed decision, I will train them by making them part of my decision making and taking him/her through the process. I want the person to adopt, without explicitly saying that it is for training purposes. We might as well have been doing this for many years but now is the time to really put a plan to train people implicitly and use it as a critical tool. As we learn to use this tool more efficiently, we will realize that it becomes a part of the culture and helps the organization to evolve and mature, we will find more people ready for critical roles as compared to earlier times. Let us compare two scenarios where the concerned person has been asked to develop his/her competency of having crucial conversation with his/her team. Imagine a Zoom training session where the person is attending a session with 10 other people going through the literature of having crucial discussion with you team:

  • Approaching a crucial conversation – Start with yourself
  • Notice when safety is at risk
  • Make it safe to share
  • Master your stories – dealing with strong emotions
  • Speak honestly without offending
  • Explore others’ paths
  • Turning crucial conversations into actions

Then the session would lead into situations and role plays for people to actually enact, but all of it in a controlled and no risk environment.

Now, we have the concerned person being invited by his Manager to participate in a crucial conversation that needs to be done with his/her team member. Though the Manager is planning to have the conversation, he/she asks the concerned person for details, takes advice and inputs and also discusses how they need to manage the conversation even before it actually occurs. Everything that people do in this situation is real and has real results and impact.

In the above two situations, there is a clear cut edge as the second methodology has as far as developing the person is concerned. When the person will come out of the meeting he/she would have had immense learning. In the online training scenario, the person might lose focus and there is very little the trainer can do here.

People typically tend to lose the focus when there is constant interaction using a computer and, in their minds, want to rush to finish the session and get back to work as there are a series of things this person might wish to accomplish. The ability of the trainer might be of less use in online training as the medium does not allow much scope for creating personal bond and belonging between the trainer and the trainee.

Implicit training, if strategically planned and executed with the help of organization’s Learning & Development department or Consultant, can be set to achieve unparalleled results and quick turn arounds. It is not something that has not existed before, but it is something that might not have been planned as a part of Organization & People Development.

This is the time to change the way we train, this is the time to change the way we learn and grow, this is the time to invest in development while we are still doing our regular jobs.

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