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RACS / Articles  / Leading The Way In Learning And Development

Leading The Way In Learning And Development

As the world continually changes and evolves, as with the advent of the pandemic and the fourth industrial revolution, it gives rise to an increasingly competitive landscape for organisations. Donavon Goliath sums up some of the essentials to provide you with a glimpse of the wonderful world of learning and development and how we try to stay ahead of the curve to help our clients achieve greater success.

KEEPING PEOPLE AND PROCESSES IN TOP SHAPE AND UP-TO-DATE

If you believe that change is constant, then, like us, you are probably an advocate for continuous learning. This belief, coupled with the bigger picture in mind of using strategic approaches to assist and guide organisations to become more successful, explains why learning and development are crucial for RACS and all our clients.

Learning and Development (L&D) houses the development of organisations. In helping to ensure and maintain organisational relevance, readiness and success, our area focuses on team development, team cohesion, strategy development, stakeholder relations, conflict resolution and change management — generally, the development of the people within organisations.

To this end, we pride ourselves in guiding, advising, and supporting our clients with effective tools and strategies tailored to their needs in an ever-evolving world, including the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, University of Stellenbosch, University of the Western Cape, Department of Agriculture – Elsenburg Agricultural Training Institute and The South African Heritage Agency over the past two years. Within a South African context, learning and development departments have a dual agenda to assist companies in meeting their strategic goals and helping the country address its massive skills development deficit. This mandate also speaks to our passion for positively transforming society.

TRAINING VS LEARNING: SAME SAME, BUT DIFFERENT?

In workplaces with traditional job profiles — as opposed to Google and other tech giants driving the fourth industrial revolution, you will typically find a combination of standalone training and personalised learning options with a clear strategy mapped out to move towards the new integrated experiential learning.  

Stretch assignments and reflection should foster this. We ought to integrate coaching and community building into the learning design of programmes for development as a driver for engagement and productivity. 

The difference is evident in organisations that shifted from training to learning. Training is about the organisation, while learning and development are about the people, which should not be used or understood interchangeably. 

THE CORE PRINCIPLES OF LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT

Two core principles constitute the learning and development approach, placing the value of relationships and people at the centre. 

The first principle is “relationship is the foundation of accomplishment”. It means that to get great results, we should focus on our relationships with our work and those involved in our work. 

We believe that the greater the magnitude of relatedness, the greater the accomplishment can be. This concept looks something like this:

“As relationships grow, so does our potential for accomplishment”, which is fundamental.

The second principle goes that “the process is as important as the outcome”. However, sports achievement psychology challenges this notion by countering that “the process is more important than the outcome”. The latter means that we must be present in every moment and shift our focus to how we will get there, not just the desired outcome. 

The world is constantly changing, and currently, the fourth industrial revolution is taking centre stage. We should be asking more questions. What does the modern employee and leader look like? What does the future organisation look like due to all the changes? And how do we prepare our staff for the future?

SO WHAT DO WE DO?

As technology advances and people adopt it, we should prepare our people by ensuring that they can beat technology at the one thing it cannot compete with: the fact that we are human.

Organisations need to become more agile and capable of rapidly changing and adapting in response to changes in the market. For example, a high degree of organisational agility can help many organisations and its employees to react successfully to the acquisition strategy, the automation process, the development of new industry-changing technologies or sudden shifts in overall market conditions.

We need to start building confidence in our people for a new way of thinking. 

So what do people in agile organisations do, and how do they behave?

CHARACTERISTICS OF AN AGILE ORGANISATION

In agile organisations:

  • People understand the “why”. They understand the noble purpose of their work. It’s not only about ROI, improved yields and EBITDA, but also the benefits to customers and putting employees first.
  • People and teams do valuable work. They connect everything to the organisation’s mission.
  • Organisations value people for doing their work well. Rewards are based on team performance and an individual’s contribution to that performance.
  • People are friendly. They treat each other with strength, honour, courage and kindness.
  • People trust each other and have confidence in each other’s competence. Both are required.
  • People are allowed to practice their craft in a way that gives them pride. People are allowed to provide their input, and their input into what is produced is valued.

ORGANISATIONAL READINESS

A lack of organisational readiness is a significant challenge. The maturity level of an organisation’s technological advancement and the people’s ability to adapt to a rapidly changing environment informs this. We must first acknowledge that all organisations’ approaches to learning are different. These approaches are based on strategies and choices made in the past or simply organisational maturity. The learning journey is measured on one of the following: 

  1. Whether the company is following a traditional approach to workplace learning (i.e. everything is managed and controlled by L&D with almost entirely standalone options).
  2. Whether the company embraces a more modern approach to learning (i.e. e-learning, blended learning, social learning and collaborative and experiential learning).

Additional skills that are important to develop and hone are computer skills and developing cognitive abilities. These include distinguishing, interpreting, inferring, recalling, reasoning, reflection, and logic.

We need to understand what characteristics are required more and develop them in a coherent, structured and integrated way. 

WHAT IDEAL CHARACTERISTICS SHOULD EMPLOYEES HAVE?

People that are:

  • Energetic drivers
  • Flexible in character
  • Imaginative
  • Constant learners
  • Willing risk-takers
  • Big picture thinkers 
  • Conflict confronters
  • Methodical organisers
  • Sound decision-makers
  • People managers
  • Social networkers
  • The inspirational cheerleaders
  • Smooth operators
  • Skilled communicators
  • Practical and solutions-minded
  • Considerate carers
  • Calming presences
  • Responsible citizens

We hope this overview of the fascinating and constantly evolving world of learning and development teaches, enriches and challenges your thinking.

Donavon Goliath

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