Friday, 26 February 2016

From the Notes of Yesteryears- 3 Effective E Learning

This post is  based on the gist of notes I had taken from an article written by John.W.Cone and Diana.G.Robinson in the August  2001 edition of the Training and Development magazine.To my mind, the significance of E learning and its possibilities are all the more today than it was in 2001.Further, some of the ideas suggested for ensuring performance change post the  E learning exercise  can be gainfully applied to the regular class room training as well.

According to the authors,  the two problems that have been noticed with increasing frequency in respect of structured learning through technology are

1) Poorly designed E learning experiences: It is the same old stuff from the instructors and guides; the change being only in the medium.
2) Insufficiant focus on the work environment system after the learning experience (for ensuring change in performance)

The following action points  have been recommended to ensure performance enhancement post training:-

(a) Even prior to designing and implementing E learning solution, ensure that the learning design supports the results. At the stage of  'need assessment', the readiness of the work environment to support the new or improved skills be considered.
(b) Assess the need for the training intervention through conversations with client managers and program participants.
(c) Meet the client manager to agree on actions that management must take to address identified barriers to skills transfers.
(d) Resist and oppose the client manager's request to provide an e learning solution when the work environment won't support skills transfer and consequently the desired results.

While preparing the E learning solution, the following need to be kept in mind:-

  • The E learning solution design is equiped to  remove or minimise the effect of work environment barriers.
  • The solution connects to existing job processes and systems, especially those, that are also E systems.
  • The system anticipates and tweaks the design to  the actual conditions of use of the learners.
  • The design provides for enabling managers to give coaching. 
Finally, some tips for follow up to ensure effectiveness of the E learning after implementation:-
  1.  Stay connected with client managers to ensure that they are taking the agreed upon actions pertaining to the work environment.
  2. Make provision for  prerequisites   and requirements for attending the course that are comparable to those for tradional programs.
  3. If the E learning solution is stand alone, develop a method to indicate to the managers that their staff has has completed the program or module. This will enable managers to meet up with their employees and discuss how to apply the learning.
  4. Monitor participants after training to determine whether they are applying what they have learnt.
  5. In case of a lack of transfer, determine the primary causes and meet with the client manager to decide on actions.
The matters discussed in the article  are  relevant for any training intervention and not necessarily only  for E learning.To that extent, an L&D manager can profit from  these ideas for effectively contributing in his role. The article  provides inputs  for applying at  various stages of the training process, with the focus being on improved performance on the job after the training.  

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Momentary Unpleasantness Vs Bigger heartbreaks....

This happened around the year 1999- 2000. I was working in the corporate office of a PSU in Bangalore.A young man had come to meet me from KGF (Kolar Gold Fields) along with his uncle and a local political lightweight.Initially, there was some belligerence in their approach. However, from the moment of greeting them, I put the visitors  at ease, smiling and encouraging them to speak.The youngster was mostly silent and a major part of the talking was done by the politician.

They  related the purpose of their visit thus:-  The youngster's father was an employee of the company's KGF unit.He expired while in service a few years back. The boy had requested for employment under the scheme for 'compassionate employment' which is extended  to any one of the family members of an employee dying while in service.It appears that the HR at the KGF unit had  told the candidate that there were some  pending cases which needed to be attended to  first and that his case would be considered on  a later date.Quite a few years had lapsed since then and nothing had happened, in spite of the family frequently following up the matter. Now, they were fed up and had come to the corporate office for resolving the matter.

After listening to them patiently, I told the visitors that the department of public enterprises, Government of India had issued guidelines withdrawing the scheme of employment on 'compassionate grounds' and that the scheme was presently not in vogue.I checked the date of the death of the employee to find that the death had occured after the discontinuation of the said scheme. When I explained the position to them, initially they were very  upset, considering the number of wasted years during which period  they were waiting in anticipation and had  put in a lot of efforts on follow up.

I empathised with the candidate and enquired about his qualification.On learning that it was certification from  ITI ( Industrial training institute), I asked him as to why he did not try for a job all this while when job opportunities were available in the  nearby city of Bangalore.Even if he was waiting for the PSU job, experience in the intervening period would have been very valuable for molding him as a confident employee.After a fairly long conversation, the visitors appreciated my frankness and said that "atleast now we know the actual position and can move on in life and look out for other job opportunities."They further said  "Had this been told to us earlier,we could have avoided so many years of anxiety and  heart burn" and left for  KGF.

The incident was indeed sad and painful.There are occasions when those of us working in administrative positions put off unpleasant actions or decisions in order to avoid momentary discomfort but this actually leads to more complicated situations and heartburns on a later date.

Some managers also have the habit of evasiveness and avoid meeting people who come to them with grievances.When I was transferred as Head- HR of the company's Mysore unit, my personal secretary initially used to ask me "Sir, there is this employee who says he wants to meet you on some issue, shall I tell him you are busy and send him away? ". Later however, when he understood that  my style of working was to invariably meet the employee, he began to only ask "Sir, would you like to meet him now or what other time or day would be convenient? "

Evasiveness does not solve problems.On the other hand, open and free communication clears the air and misunderstanding; even if we cannot meet all the expectations of the employee.