“An organisation’s ability to learn and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage”- Jack Welch.
The competitive advantage Jack Welch talks about in the quote above is one given to an organisation by its people- in their ability to transfer learning with speed and flexibility.
From a strategic perspective, what this essentially means is that organisations need to focus on capability building rather than only training. If an organisation wants to drive its growth agenda it should invest in shaping behaviours that will eventually lead to fruitful actions and not just imparting skills.
From just training to hone skills, the focus is now on learning – aiming at preparing the top talent to develop future-ready skill sets. Why? Because, competence and performance are inter-related and are key differentiators for a great organisation.
Here are a few guidelines to maximise ROI in capacity building
1. Align the learning outcomes and business goals
Investment in capability building needs focussed attention to what really matters to the overall agenda of the organisation. If you ensure your development programmes are built around core competencies of your organisation you are, in effect, creating a robust path to achieve organisational goals.
Competency based training helps you to establish expected behaviours that are critical for success of both- the individual as well as the company.
2. Adopt the right learning tools
In today’s business scenario, you need to identify the learning mechanisms, tools that will enable development with speed and flexibility- while of course retaining the impact! If it is a knowledge-based input, you could consider using self-paced tools like podcasts, webinars, story-boards, etc.
However, if your learning objective is for them to shape behaviours, you could consider an instructor led program that is experiential in nature. Experiential programmes convey a message much faster, better which the employee remembers; and then brings about a positive shift in actions.
3. Identify measurement metrics
One of the biggest flaws of a learning & development initiative could be not setting measurement criteria right at the beginning. You may have the best of tools, best of facilitators, but if you do not clarify how it will be measured, the impact is lost or often diluted. More so, if you don’t focus on the improvements, you will only see a cost, rather than an investment.
A key to identifying the right metrics is to think of the intent of designing the intervention. It helps to break down the intent or the outcome in specific behaviours that will see a shift to indicate success. The best way is to build the programme around core competencies as they already have success indicators tied in.
4. Make it growth oriented
It is important to design training programmes to impact individual and company growth over a longer period of time. Quick fix solutions may mitigate the problem situations for a while, but you stand to lose more money, more time over them. Moreover, it also gives your employees a feeling that training programmes are created only to solve skill-based issues.
When you design to develop individual capability, you are taking a step towards building a talent pool that will contribute positively. Design the learning initiatives that help your people expand their canvas of perspectives, ideas and actions which will shape them into becoming leaders.
5. And the success lies in ‘Post Training’
“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand”. The great philosopher, Confucius rightly said so, because learning without application of the same is futile.
In fact, what happens post a training intervention is sometimes more important to ensure consistent application of what is learnt. This is one of the biggest contributor to the ROI in capacity building. There are a few ways to reinforce learning that happens in a training program.
a. Action Reflection
Action learning is a continuous process that involves problem solving of real-time issues through action (inputs) and reflection (learning).
For your people to actually transfer their learning to the workplace, you need to entrust them with opportunities where they can do so. For example, if a group is expected to learn about collaboration, they should have the environment to actually work together towards a goal. If they end up having to work in silos, they won’t be able to practice collaboration.
If their reality is very different from the conceptual framework, they may struggle to apply their new learning; and over time if this continues, they will soon forget the concepts as they simply wouldn’t see them fit in the context.
b. Create Collaborative learning platforms
One of the best ways to reinforce learning post a training intervention is to create project teams that work on real time issues. You could create a project team to work on resolving an existing issue or in fact developing a process right from scratch too.
At times working on a mock project or participating in intra-departmental competitions could become a great collaborative learning platform, one where the excitement for achieving results remain but the pressure to perform is eased out.
The goal is to foster ideation, application and therefore not only sustain but create continuous learning cycle.
c. Apply the 70-20-10 principle
The 70-20-10 is a holistic learning and development model that emphasises the role of multiple learning strategies. According to the model, people learn maximum (70%) from on-the-job challenging assignments, supported by constructive feedback (20%) and through training programmes (10%).
You could choose to create a learning intervention in the form of developmental assignments to facilitate experiential practice and support them with instructor led workshops and coaching. In this way you can shape their work and life experiences in ways that will expand their knowledge and skills.
In a nutshell, you should focus on building a learning mindset and capabilities for future by adopting a variety of learning strategies that essentially include opportunities for practical application.
At Yellow Spark we ensure the efficacy of our trainings and workshops by developing a structured ‘practical application post training’ (PAPT) format for our clients. To develop a competency-based training calendar with a built-in post training module, write to us on – firstname.lastname@example.org
Author Profile: Aparna Joshi Khandwala is a passionate HR professional. She co-founded Yellow Spark to work with like-minded people who believe in the power of leadership, which is the only business differentiator in today’s time.