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How Learning & Development Help in Scaling Up In today's challenging business environment, learning a new skill to upgrade yourself and remain relevant is an absolute necessity

By Dr Hory Sankar Mukherjee

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Let us admit that you understand the need to train your people. Re-skilling and up-skilling is on top of your mind but running on a shoestring budget, funding constraints and the fight for survival are your bigger worries. In such an environment when things are moving really fast, it is important that employees are encouraged to learn and develop. So here are things that you can do:

Make learning a part of the evaluation process and organizational culture: If employees want to spend a part of their day learning, encourage them to do so. Encourage your managers to do so, if they find it relevant to their current or possibly their future line of work. Every year during evaluation, ask the employee, what they have done to learn, how much time they have spent and link a part of the rewards to the learning they have done.

Start with baby steps: Can you have a library in your office around themes or areas that are relevant to your employees? Can you encourage employees to share their knowledge every week for an hour with others? Can you reward employees who share their skills with others helpful at the job? In this way, you also ensure that you have sufficient people at hand, in case you need a back-up. You can also encourage them to buy books or online resources or online training programmes with the budgets you have.

Leverage the MOOC platforms: Open online platforms cost you less, but are informative and does not need much resources; either time or money for the organisation or the people. Ensure that they are learning the right skill sets, putting it in the right use and sharing it with others.

Recognize the difference between learning and training: It is important that learning becomes a part of their work, without the fear of failure or blame. Learning can be self-taught or learnt from peers. Encourage mentorship, peer to peer learning and coaching.

Choose the right skill sets: If you have to really hire someone external to train your people, ask three simple questions. First, what is the end objective from this programme. Secondly, how do I see it being demonstrated by the employees. Third, is the skill set amongst the top five skills that are needed by the employee to be successful at their work. If you have an answer to these questions or quantifiable answers, it is worth the investment.

Communication still holds the key: A lot of the success of your organisation will be owed to how well your employees have been able to communicate. You may not have standardized process to communicate, but these employees will be your brand ambassadors for the future organisation that you have dreamt of. Invest in improving their ability to communicate. Don't forget to place "communication' on the top five skill sets that you plan to train them on.

As a founder therefore, ensure that you are identifying the right skill sets you want your people to be trained in, have a demonstrable outcome and encourage a "learning culture'. Inspite of all the "fire-fighting' that you do, ensure to set aside some budgets to train your people, so that they stay motivated from the beginning to the end of their journey with your organisation.

(This article was first published in the February 2020 issue of Entrepreneur Magazine. To subscribe, click here)

Dr Hory Sankar Mukherjee

Principal— Education, Training and Assessment, Infosys

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