Saturday, June 23, 2012

Learning and Development – Cost Center or Profit Enabling Center? – Part 2


Now that you have taken your first leap and convinced the business leaders that as an L&D professional, you can make a difference to enhance their business, it is time to move to the next most critical phase – prove what you said…in other words, ‘Walk the Talk’.

This is where the real work lies. Remember, in part 1 of this article, you did a lot of research on the business by spending quality time on the shop floor?  In this phase, you will put all of your research study in a document and then get ready to prepare your training content. Keep in mind that while preparing the content what’s important is not what you want to tell your trainees, but what they need to know to become more effective and efficient at work.

Start by preparing a basic program flow to understand the duration and the key topics to be covered. Bear in mind, that the business cannot release its people for luxurious number of hours. Be wary of the duration, keeping in mind the criticality of the business. If required, plan the session for (say) 2 days (depends and varies accordingly), keeping 1 as a business day and the other as a non-business day (say Friday and Saturday, giving them the usual Sunday off). This way, it will be easy for Ops to release their folks. Otherwise propose to conduct the training on off-peak hours of a day, or on off-peak days.

Once you have an ok on this, formulate a first-cut draft which you can share with the business. Take their inputs to understand if you are on the right track. If yes, take it further to organize a final cut for your presentation. If no, seek some more time to understand where the gap lies – this is a very critical step, so no compromises here. Keeping your audience in mind, don’t forget to add lots of simulations, activities and real-time examples in your session. Experiential learning is the key.

After taking a final ‘go-ahead’ from Ops on the content, take at least 2 dry-runs with the facilitator, to see if there are any gaps. If it is a 2 days workshop, prepare content for 1.5 days, so that you have ample time for extra role-plays, questions, etc…

While the program is being conducted, it is always great to have a positive kick-start from a business leader. Let him inaugurate the workshop and request him to sit through as and when his time permits. Once the workshop is over, conduct a mini quiz to judge the participants understanding.

After the end of day 2, it does not mean that your job as an L&D professional also ends. Do not cut the umbilical cord yet. Let it gradually decay off. As a coach, spend time with these agents on the shop floor. Guide them wherever and whenever necessary. Make buddy’s and let them help each other. Remember to keep them charged at all times, by making them realize what difference they alone can make to the business.

At the back-end, ensure that while you continue coaching them, you are also monitoring their performance, in terms of any positive shift.  Keep reinforcing this regularly. Also, start creating mini competition platforms to ignite the challenger within them.

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