Thursday, September 29, 2011


The need for Learning and Talent Development has been intensified in recent times due to organization growth, competition and demand for talent resources in all types of sectors. Various system, process and approaches viz using various learning techniques in form of Coaching, On Job Training, Internship, Bite sized learning are being adopted to improve Talent Along with the understanding of the need to hire, develop, and retain talented people,  organizations are aware that they must manage talent as a critical resource to achieve the best possible results and same is not possible without focusing on Learning.

We have tried to address Learning and Talent Development based on 5W1H concept.

This paper is an attempt to introduce new and focus approach used in organization.

Learning is self directed. It leads to modifying behavior, skills and knowledge. It also extends the idea of personal development (thereby organisational development) and often catalyzes beliefs, values, wisdom, compassion, emotional maturity, ethics, and integrity.
Talent Development is based on this fundamental principle and aims at fostering the learning needs of those identified with right potential. The same can be achieved through plethora of means such as coaching, training and sharing experiences. This further needs to be followed up with by continuous regular feedback and anecdotal observation of change to ensure learning effectiveness.

Effectiveness of learning and talent development practices
Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development survey report (Profile of respondent from various sector-agriculture, communication, telecom, food, professional, health, education etc base 724, global) - All organizations were asked which three learning and talent development practices they believe are the most effective. Activities showing an increase in perceived effectiveness since 2009 include: in-house development programmes (56% in 2010, compared with 48% in 2009), coaching by line managers (51% compared with 47%), and on-the-job training (30% compared with 27%). These are also the activities seen to be the most effective overall. Only external conferences, workshops and events, and coaching by external practitioners showed a decrease in perceived effectiveness compared with last year (respectively 9% compared with 16% and 16% compared with 18%).

WHAT (Introduction)

Learning means a relatively permanent change in cognition (understanding and thinking) that results from experience that directly influence behavior. Learning how or improving ability is not like learning that or acquiring information. Truths can be imparted, procedures can only be inculcated, and while inculcation is a gradual process, imparting is relatively sudden. It makes sense to ask at what moment someone became apprised of a truth, but not to ask at what moment someone acquired a skill (Ryle). Learning as a process - task-conscious or acquisition learning and learning-conscious or formalized learning.

In the five categories that Säljö identified we can see learning appearing as a process - there is a concern with what happens when the learning takes place. In this way, learning could be thought of as 'a process by which behavior changes as a result of experience' (Maples and Webster). One of the significant questions that arises is the extent to which people are conscious of what is going on. Are they aware that they are engaged in learning - and what significance does it have if they are? Such questions have appeared in various guises over the years - and have surfaced, for example, in debates around the rather confusing notion of 'informal learning'.

One particularly helpful way of approaching the area has been formulated by Alan Rogers (2003). Drawing especially on the work of those who study the learning of language (for example, Krashen 1982), Rogers sets out two contrasting approaches: task-conscious or acquisition learning and learning-conscious or formalized learning.

Task-conscious or acquisition learning. Acquisition learning is seen as going on all the time. It is 'concrete, immediate and confined to a specific activity; it is not concerned with general principles' (Rogers 2003: 18). Examples include much of the learning involved in parenting or with running a home. Some have referred to this kind of learning as unconscious or implicit. Rogers (2003: 21), however, suggests that it might be better to speak of it as having a consciousness of the task. In other words, whilst the learner may not be conscious of learning, they are usually aware of the specific task in hand.
Learning-conscious or formalized learning - Formalized learning arises from the process of facilitating learning. It is 'educative learning' rather than the accumulation of experience. To this extent there is a consciousness of learning - people are aware that the task they are engaged in entails learning. 'Learning itself is the task. What formalized learning does is to make learning more conscious in order to enhance it' (Rogers 2003: 27). It involves guided episodes of learning.
Talent Development refers to an organization's ability to align strategic training and career opportunities for employees. There is no shortage of definitions for this term, used by corporate leadership the world over. With a nod to other points of view, (DDI) defines talent management and development as a mission critical process that ensures organizations have the quantity and quality of people in place to meet their current and future business priorities.

The process covers all key aspects of an employee’s “life cycle:” selection, development, succession and performance management.
Key components of a highly effective talent management process include:

v  A clear understanding of the organization’s current and future business strategies.
v  Identification of the key gaps between the talent in place and the talent required to drive business success.
v  A sound talent management plan designed to close the talent gaps. It should also be integrated with strategic and business plans.
v  Accurate hiring and promotion decisions.
v  Connection of individual and team goals to corporate goals, and providing clear expectations and feedback to manage performance.
v  Development of talent to enhance performance in current positions as well as readiness for transition to the next level.
v  A focus not just on the talent strategy itself, but the elements required for successful execution.
v  Business impact and workforce effectiveness measurement during and after implementation.

It is imperative in competitive world to have a continuous learning and talent approach for both organization and human capital. By looking ahead to define requirements and initiate effective learning interventions in good time, organizations can stay ahead of change and manage turbulent times adeptly. This is not to say that organizations should stall training initiatives during rough weather. Instead cost effective measures such as coaching by line manager / supervisor / employer, E-learning and job-rotations can be used. For any Learning and Talent development organization and mentor have to invest money, time, energy and observed in positive result. Return on Investment in Talent Management (David Creelman) : Measures You Can Put to Work Right Now, states
2. There are good, proven, practical measures like “engagement” which offer valuable insights to investors, the CEO and the Board on whether human capital is in good shape.
3. Measuring a precise ROI of talent management initiatives is difficult in general, but specific quantitative studies can provide the information needed for decision making.
4. Semi-quantitative assessments (a mix of quantitative and qualitative information) is typically what managers want to give them confidance that an initiative is worthwhile.

Coming decade is going to be very crucial for learning and talent development. Organizations have to drive sustainable change based on focused learning and development aligned to organizational objectives for all employee at various levels in organization.

One of the tough process is HOW? The starting point for this is desired functional & behavioral skill-identification at different level by the organization. Further, a process of prioritization to identify the most urgent skill required is called for. This should be based on the effect on profitability, cost reduction, efficiency and effectiveness.
Every organization has its own learning and imparting style and use both - Cognitive and Behavioral Approach. 

Learner role to be Active,  Self Directed and Self Evaluating
Passive and Dependant
Instructor role to be Facilitator and presenter
Director and Monitor
Training content to be Task oriented
Subject oriented
Learning climate to be collaborative
Judgmental and competitive
Instructional activity to be group oriented and interactive
Directive and subject oriented

Current trend in Learning and Talent development practices declared most effective are the following: in-house development programs (56%) and coaching by line managers (51%) and E-learning by 62% (source 2010 survey report of CIPD). Organization therefore should plan and focus on incorporating all the above in their Training measures.
It’s also pivotal for any organization to integrate coaching, organizational development and performance management to drive organizational workforce effectiveness. Before this, we need to understand the leadership skills. The main gaps identified by employers in this include performance management (setting standards for performance and dealing with underperformance), collaboration, leading and managing change. Another important fact which we cannot miss is lack of business acumen and interpersonal skills.

The very next question that arises is when and where can such leadership skills, business acumen or interpersonal behavior be taught. The answer to that is a manifold level:
1-      Graduate level
2-      B-school or professional course
3-      Internship
4-      On the Job Training and
5-      Workforce Diversity

College / Graduate  is very crucial level followed by B-school or professional courses. Seniors member / Educationist can foster collaboration and build spirited teams. They should actively involve students and make them understand that mutual respect is what sustains extraordinary efforts; they can strive to create an atmosphere of trust and human dignity and strengthen students making each one feel capable and powerful.
During Internship, employers / supervisor needs to  passionately believe that they can make a difference. As they envision the future, creating an ideal and unique image of what the organization can become and should nurture internee for growth.
On the Job another aspect towards making employee learn leadership, business acumen and interpersonal skills can create standards of excellence and then set an example for them to follow. Because the prospect of complex change can overwhelm people and stifle action, they can help to set interim goals so that people can achieve small wins as they work toward and can achieve larger objectives.
And above all Workforce diversity to keep hope and determination alive, helps to recognize contributions that individuals / employee make. In every winning team, the members need to share in the rewards of their efforts and celebrate accomplishment.

New KASOCs (knowledge, attitude, skills, and other capabilities) can only be learnt by learner and only they can choose to apply their new KASOC to the work they do. However, a company-wide development process is normally managed by the Human resource vertical, or a development specialist. Also, the line manager’s input to the identification of learning needs and motivating their staff to learn and apply their knowledge is vital and crucial role and should be ongoing.

The way we have organization intervention, we can have learning intervention i.e. planned process of change in a person’s KASOC through various methods including coaching, mentoring, in-house or on-job training, thus transforming the employee for self and organizational development.

A learning ‘intervention’ where much of learning occurs directly through work, managers should aim to include these responsibilities within their normal repertoire of behaviors, rather than view them as separate learning activities. For that reason, they may be viewed as leadership practices that promote learning and talent development rather than learning practices that enhance specific knowledge and skills.
There are a number of ways people learn and let us understand the various and the most popular and effective means of learning based on Work-related or Action related learning techniques.
Coaching is in demand and as a coach you must have skill of counseling, consulting and persuading in your expertise. The trainer can have an important part to play in coaching programs and the working together of the trainer and coach has much to commend it. Coaching is more structured in nature, time-bound and focused on specific development and achieving specific goal issues identified during TNI (training need identification). Coaching revolves around specific development area / talent development.
Mentoring is an ongoing relationship between employee and manager and lasts for a longer period of time. Guidance by a senior qualified expert in term of passing knowledge and experience helps broadening the view and perspective of mentee and helps mentee for future roles. The differences between coaching and mentoring are usually that mentors have relatively long-term relationships with their junior colleagues and their focus is less on events than in the case of coaching.

Facilitator with no agenda
Specific agenda
Self selecting
Comes with the job
Source of influence
Perceived value
Personal returns
Affirmation (verification) / learning
Teamwork / performance
Life related
Task Related

Coach with the help of counseling help staff understands the root cause of long standing performance and issue at work. Counseling acts as an intervention to address psycho-social as well as performance issues.

 Training is a Learning experience in that it seeks a relatively permanent change in individual that will improve the ability to perform on the job. Training involves changing KSA – Knowledge, Skills or Attitude (Richard G Zalman (1991). Some organization may not have formal training programmes and in such organization employee learns working on actual job. On the job training (OJT) is a preferred method for many organizations from SMEs to large sized firms. The Training is delivered on a one-to-one basis at the trainee’s place of work at given time. OJT activity is specified, planned and structured.
OJT is the most popular effective structured approach to delivery and can be worked on four – 4Ps Step
  1. Prepare (prepare instruction plan) based on attention and motivation
  2. Present (Tell, show, demonstrate, explain) in cognitive form and symbolic coding
  3. Practice (let the learners do the job, provide feedback) i.e. symbolic rehearsal
  4. Pursue (check progress) i.e. and behavioral reproduction.

OJT should be focused both with formal and informal way and can be supplemented with classroom session too. Instruction can be given by coworker or supervisor at the job site on an informal basis followed by formal program with supervisor. Both should follow carefully developed sequence in learning events.

If knowledge is today’s best corporate asset then organizations must find a way to preserve, nurture, share and protect such capital. For development of the talent, organizations focus on knowledge management and on knowledge management system life cycle. Focusing on knowledge creation and capturing it, finally codifying it through system implementation by using various tools and portals which lead to help in knowledge transfer and sharing. Organization have to build knowledge repositories, supporting such knowledge varieties as customer knowledge product knowledge, service knowledge and the like will also help in creating new job i.e. Knowledge developer, knowledge facilitator to knowledge officer. This can be separate vertical in organization under learning and development field.

INTERNSHIP: the benefits to interns and to organizations
Organizations agree that internships can be used as a way to test potential new staff. Focused approach can ensure that internships are a good way to develop new talent in an industry. It can also help to develop management and leadership skills among the existing staff. Best of all, it is very cost-effective. Focus of the internship training to acquaint trainee with company and completion of projects by resource of organization to act as a mentor and guide them. It has been found very useful in building an appropriate image of organization in the mind of trainee. Human relation training to interns embraces broad area including leadership, communication, interpersonal relationship, moral and motivation. It shapes attitudes and develops talent to high morale and performance.
BITE SIZED LEARNING (both at graduation level and organization level)
Small chunks of formal training in form of morning or daily evening huddle or circle time for an hour or two and in varying formats in organization, perhaps can be linked with other techniques such as games, role plays, and simulation. This has proven to make learning events more interesting and shown great improvement in talent development.
·        The Learning and Talent Development 2010 survey of over 700 practitioners -found that the most effective learning and development practices currently are in-house development programs (56%) and coaching by line managers (51%). According to the annual survey, 82% of practitioners use coaching within their organizations, a large growth this year compared to 69% in 2009.
·        The survey found that e-learning is the practice that has increased the most in the past year, with six in ten (62%) organizations saying they use it more now than in 2009. In-house development programs are also used more by 58% of organizations, and coaching by line managers is used more by 56%. The survey found that attendance at external conferences, workshops and events has decreased the most, with a quarter (26%) of organizations are using it less.
·        The findings also reflect our position that practitioners should work more closely with line managers as they are better able to fine-tune learning and development to specific employee needs.

Learning and talent development growing rapidly and its talent who change the world and learning pave the way. How to transfer, manage and share learning is organization perspective and talent helps organization go global.

Anubha Maurya Walia – Prof and Trainer
Founder and Principal Trainer at Prism Trainings and Consultancy
New Delhi – 110076, India

Reference work
  1. Richard G Zalman, The basics of In-house skills training,HR magazine Feb 1991 pp 74-78.
  2. Research conducted in 2008, by DDI and the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU)
  3. A Human Capital Institute Position Paper - September, 2004: By David Creelman Return on Investment in Talent Management
  4. Ryle 1949: 58
  5. H John Bernardin - HRM
  6. CIPD Annual Survey Report 2010
  7. Maples and Webster 1980 quoted in Merriam and Caffarella 1991: 124