Organizations spend millions of dollars every year to train or develop their employees. Various methods are used, mentors & coaches are hired, assessments are conducted, but at the end do we get that ‘perfect’ or ‘ideal’ employee? Do we get that perfect ‘fit’ based on our organizational values or ethics? The answer could be no or even a meek yes and when probed deeper with the faculty more than often, their response the participants in the room where more there to take a break from routine or as part of checklist rather than motivated to learn or to be a student. The point to be considered than is who is responsible for developing an employee? Is it the organization or is it the person in question.
Many researchers are of the opinion that people’s motivation to grow, is highest when they feel a sense of autonomy and ownership over their own development. But in reality we see that over the years organizations are constantly trying convincing people that they need to consult their managers or supervisors for a feedback and decide what they need to do for their development. The usage of terms like ‘sent’ or ‘nominated’ for a training program or having done a 360 degree assessment ‘done on me’ clearly denotes the fact that people still see their development as being owned by someone else – HR, training companies or their own managers.
Even though over a period of time, various methods have evolved such as continuous performance feedback, action learning, mentoring & coaching, assessment / development centre’s, the fact still remains in people’s mind that it is someone else’s responsibility to “tell me what I need to get better at and how to do it.”
The challenge is to be able to help employees take the driver’s seat and steer their own development. Now the question arises are people inherently excited to take charge of his/her own development? Yes and one of the ways is by starting to take risks, make decisions and be accountable and responsible for the consequences positive or negative.
Here are few interesting example to illustrate this point.
In his study on how Colombian drug traffickers were able to grow their operations despite a multi-decade, campaign against them costing billions of dollars, Dr. Michael Kenney (Michael Kenney (Ph.D., Florida) is associate professor of international affairs at the University of Pittsburgh and Fellow at the International Centre for the Study of Terrorism at the Pennsylvania State University) found that a key factor was the traffickers’ ability to outlearn and out-adapt their U.S. government adversaries. Kenney discovered that traffickers, despite lack of education, were driven to learn and develop by the “high risk/high return” for learning. The rewards for those who learned the most were money and status; the risks for those who failed to learn, were prison and sometimes death.
Colombian drug cartels do not have H.R. departments or training companies to manage their training programs, yet these young, often uneducated traffickers still find sufficient motivation in the risk/return for learning to drive their own development.
If we look at our Indian mythology, the story of Eklavya in the Mahabharata also illustrates the same. (Ekalavya, who was determined to learn archery approached Guru Dronacharya for lessons but was refused to be taught. Though disappointed, he did not deter away from his goal. He installed a clay idol of his Guru and took self lessons in archery. With regular practice, passion and a single minded focus he soon became an expert archer.) Both the stories highlight that what matters at the end for accomplishing success is the eagerness to learn which is self ingrained.
So as organizations and HR leaders we need to draw lessons how much self motivation is required in the employee before we nominate for training. Is it appropriate to believe that by filling seats in the rooms we have done justice to the organization capability? Is it right for us to assume that by having coaches the true learning’s have been incorporated in an individual / participant?
We guess the key lies in investing those employees who haven’t already divested towards learning by believing that they have arrived in life without realizing that we are all students of life . . .
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