During the discussions in the day in two different meetings, I spoke with few friends about how the training & the planning for the trainings could effectively support the leadership development in the organization and help in teams and talent for future growth.


The topic of discussion was more on how the objective of corporate trainings have diluted from being strategy oriented to ‘task’ oriented.


Few interesting things that came out of our discussion were as follows,

  • Most of the training requirements are ‘technology’ oriented
  • The training requirements eventually are gathered by the Team Leaders with little help from managers
  • No strategic direction is set by Sr. management (apart from budget provision) so eventually the training identification does little to help future growth or leadership building
  • Very important topics such as succession planning, lead for growth, coaching, personal development planning, business transformation are not given its due consideration
  • Training is not powerfully used as a retention tool
  • The budget utilization is mostly done for the SE, SSE level (team members) to make them competent on the job. Very less attention is given to create MDPs & SMDPs.

IMHO, following should be the broad level objectives of the Sr Management & managers while planning the trainings for their teams.


Creating technically competent teams

Technology trainings essentially will always remain the backbone of the ‘IT’ companies. However all the technology trainings should be planned while asking the following questions,

  • Is this training going to increase the productivity of the teams? If yes, by how much?
  • Is this training going to improve the current working efficiency of the teams? Can the targets be revised due to this?
  • What is the direct benefit of this training for the teams in terms of Quality, Cost, Time?

If the technology training recommendations are not giving right answers to above questions, they need to be re-thought.


Having training plans tie up with personal development plans

I wrote earlier in one of my blogs about how the appraisals and the personal development plans are created ‘generally’ in the companies. Most of the times, they do not have any link up with the long term organizational growth, talent development plans and the individual development plans.


When the trainings are planned for teams and individuals, at least for the High-Performance-High-Potential people, they need to tie up with their individual development plans, team growth structures and the organizational growth plans.


Identifying the measures of training effectiveness

All the trainings that are provided to people in the organizations should be measured for effectiveness on the ground when the people go back to their work. Before identifying the training needs for the team, the managers should be clear about how they are going to measure the effectiveness of the training and what exactly is expected from people after they have finished their training.


Some of the questions that could help in planning for measuring effectiveness are as follows,

  • What change the training is expect to bring in the individual – self-behavioral change, behavior towards the team (team handling), more productive at work etc.
  • What is the category of the change? – Emotional (motivation at work etc), Subjective (can be seen at work),  objective (can be clearly measured)
  • What is the ‘delta’ of the change? Can you measure it?


Distributing the training content across hierarchy across competencies


imageThe training typically should be categorized in the following competency buckets,

  • Behavioral training – That affects interpersonal skills, personal leadership, managing people etc.
  • Professional training – That assists the role being played such as Risk Management, quality management, change management, project management etc.
  • Technical training – that affects the on-the-job results for technical jobs
  • Domain & business training – that makes people take right decisions about the business and its impacts across the teams and units

The image is a typical recommendation on how the trainings at different levels should be distributed and planned for.


Behavioral and professional training are very much even at the entry level because they define your organization culture.  The higher you go the, the means of the technology and domain training just becomes a refresher and should be to help people get an understanding of their work.


The budget of the training as well as the content of the training should always be a mix of above competencies for all levels.  After all, development of people and competencies are needed at all levels.


Include important organizational development aspects as a part of your training

As I mentioned above, once of the most overlooked aspect of planning the training within the organizations is how it contributed to overall organization building and development.  Some of the topics I mentioned above which needs to be looked into while planning the training are as follows,

  • Succession planning at all leadership roles
  • Lead for growth (people and organizations)
  • Coaching
  • Personal development planning for stretch roles
  • Business transformations

Although most of the above tie up very well in the leadership management & development, the trainings provide a great support towards the above. 

During my visits with companies to discuss how the talent management happens within companies, one of the key discussion point always was the process for ‘talent identification’.

We all know that ‘performance appraisals’ and ‘one to one meetings’ are common ways of communicating the messages down to people on how they are performing their duties.  On the other hand, some of you might also know about the try that WIPRO did to identify your top talent by asking their employees to go through an entrance test for promotion.

However, are these the only ways by which you identify your top talent?  Probably in a normal organization, yes.  So what are other ways of identifying your top talent?  Lets revisit some of the common tools and practices put in by companies to bracket their pool in to talented and ‘little less’ talented buckets.


Creating & maintaining talent grids


talentgridTalent grids typically helps the managers ‘place’ their people into right matrix blocks.  The talent grid is a matrix which is formed with grading people according to their performance so far, and what their supervisor feels about their potential.


The top right corner (High performance – High potential) is the people who have peaked in their current roles and have been doing extremely well and may need to be considered for future bigger assignments.  That is of course your brightest talent. The people under medium potential and high performance have been delivering well over their supposed capability and also should be rewarded for consistency. They may not be able to carry out entire projects on their shoulders but they thrive typically in the individual capacity roles.  The people in the high potential & medium performance bracket are the ones who need stretch assignments and could do better in roles where it requires lot of coordination and pushing others to get job done.


It is recommended that the talent grids are updated regularly (at least once a quarter) to ensure that your employees fit in the right block on the grid.


Annual appraisals & mid term appraisals

One of the most common ways of rating the talent.  We all know how the overall process works and the way people are taken through the goal-setting, mid term review, quarterly feedback and the year end review against goals cycle.


Although this is a mandatory process is all organizations, it does not give a fair comparison and reflection of top talent across organization.  This is primarily due to the fact that the goals are localized to the team the people belong to, and the comparison of teams often doesn’t hold well for top talent when it comes to so called ‘normalization’ phase during the appraisals.


While it has its flaws, this process is widely accepted as the natural talent assessment process which is heavily backed by corporate promotions, perk hikes and other benefits given to the employees.  However, if you ask the top talented people, if they feel really justified after their annual appraisals, I am sure many of them would deny.


Stretch assignments

In many companies, before giving promotions to people, they are put on something called ‘acting’ shoes for that role.  It means that while the individual is supposed to carry out all the activities related to the work, he or she can not take critical decisions unless backed up by the supervisor.  The stretch assignments are typically over and above your project scope and work that is done by the people in their existing roles. However, they are likely to give ‘opportunities’ to people who seem to think they can deliver better than what they are currently doing.


Stretch assignments should typically be the kind of organization wide or team wide tasks that are carried out by their managers or above. The good performers are expected to shine in the new given assignments and once they show promise, its expected that the management gives them their due reward.


Personal interviews & assessments towards senior roles

I mentioned earlier about the try that WIPRO did to introduce the personal interviews & assessments for filtering of the top talent. WIPRO has not the only company that been doing this work, quite a few MNCs (including Accenture) also apply assessment & personal interview filters to ensure that only the right talent which is suitable for the upper roles is given the priority.   Although it adds to the efforts to carry out the individual assessments and interviews, it definitely gives the people a sense of justice back that they have not been ignored due to ‘organization’ policy rules.

Continuing from my previous post about mindset of people towards corporate training and how any talent management initiative with the employees hits the rough road, in this post I would like to outline some of the challenges the IT industry faces towards managing talented people and also towards the overall in-house talent development concept.

talentitchallengesTalent needs way to grow

Where you like it or not, the talented people in companies can not be contained without giving growth opportunities for long.  You can keep them on promises only until a certain point.  If not your company, they would eventually leave you and join someone else who might recognize their talent better and reward them as per what they deserve.  So, you always have to mark your talented people in a separate category and pre-plan their growth and show them the path so they could retain the trust in you for their growth.

Limited bandwidth with HR

Although the HR teams are accountable for ensuring the talent management practices are in place and are followed, the limited number people strength in the HR, does not allow them to focus repeated and consistently over the progress being made in the project teams towards implementing these practices.

People managers & directors are busy with business

The project managers and directors are focused on delivering the business, so find little time to do actual handholding of talent reporting directly to them through their project. Since the talent development and implementing the practices a non business-core activity it is a always considered as a ‘tick-in-the-box’. Thus, it not getting the due attention and focus that it deserves.

The in-out game of training & development activities

The corporate trainings do help until a certain extent, but do not offer a sustained end-to-end development for an individual. The person feels good while in the training, but often lacks understanding on how to apply the learning back in his / her own project.  This further means that although the companies spend heavy money on arranging the trainings for people, the assimilation and application of the training is often left on individuals to carry out as per their own capability.

We all know how the corporate training works within the companies.


Although most of the companies, try and get best of the trainers and consultants to carry out the training for their people, somewhere it does not yield results as they expect. In my view, there are few basic issues around the way the trainings are done.  Some of them I am pointing out here,

The hurry up mindset

The completion of ‘certain amount of training days’ has been a KRA set by few companies for their employees which counts to some good portion of the appraisal evaluation.  If these employees do not complete these training days, then the appraisal results surely gets hampered.

Hence, to ensure that the training KRA gets completed, the employees ensures that the training days are somehow are completed by,

  • Either attending and taking training which has no direct relation to the work they are doing (but adds significantly to the completed training hours).
  • Or by completing the e-Learning courses online, where you can work and learn together (but still adds to your completed training hours)
  • Taking short-cut directly to the assessments, once successfully completed, adds the duration of the supposed learning to be done before the assessment to your tally of completed training hours

The get away mindset

Another phenomenon I have seen is of the people who attend the training to get away from their busy work schedule and supposedly get little ‘peace of mind’ by being away from work stress.  The whole purpose of learning, thus changes from being receptive towards learning something new to enjoying a break from their work.  Although they ‘enjoy’ being in the training for full day, the enjoyment comes from being away from work, not due to the learning they get.


So, in a nutshell, the the whole training thing just becomes a good day out and get-away from work, not really a fruitful learning experience.


The dunno-how-to-do-this mindset

There are few people who are genuinely interested in learning and do take part in the training to enhance their knowledge.  The training goes very well, and they very actively take part in the learning process by being part of discussions, debates and interactions with others.  The end of the day, carries a feel-good factor for them and feel genuinely pumped up to take the training learning back to their workplace and apply in practice.


However, most often, when the first genuine chance comes to apply these trainings in practice, they get stuck with ‘how to do’ and ‘what to do’ questions.  Mostly, unable to apply them and end up being terming it as a failure of the training or trainer’s incapability to relate to real life examples during training. Thus, the good trainings often ends up being no productive at work due to lack of someone guiding them how to apply the learning on the ground during their situations.


What do you think of this?

Do you think the corporate training courses work towards achieving the goal set prior to the training?

Well, in most of the cases I have seen and heard of it does not help !

What I have seen instead is the fact that the training courses and the on the job work does not really go hand in hand.  I have seen that the application support team being training in a Weblogic related development course rather than incident management, or ITIL courses. 

What really frustrates me is that in most of the companies (well I have only seen few myself, but heard a lot though) that the training courses are not fine tuned or aligned with the job profiles of the professionals undergoing training but mostly are the ones that are sold by the vendors and are standard courses.

This does not really gel well in the long term as the person, despite undergoing training, can not do his / her job efficiently and is blamed for the failures.  It does not work that way does it ?

Weirdly, what I have also seen is the corporate companies forcing compulsory training programmes for the associates and link them to their appraisals etc. Well, in a good sense if all goes well and if all ends tie well, this could well be good for the growth and progress of the organization, but as I said earlier, more often than not they do not end up improving either organization or the associate both.