When you read the title of my blog, what did you think? Hopefully, “Well that can’t be right… that doesn’t sound like Ghandi at all.” And you would be correct. Ghandi never said that, in fact, he was a big advocate of change, wanting the world to prosper and grow and transform into something better. The same change and transformation is desired in our businesses today. But so rarely do we actually see change taking place.
Why is this? According to an HBR article published this month (which we will rely heavily on in this blog and suggest you take a quick read as well), last year alone companies spent $365 billion globally on employee training and education. All this money spent on training programs, and yet, within months of completing the programs, most employees were found to revert back to the old way of doing things, and the passion and drive they felt during their sessions had long since gone.
Much of this can be attributed to the environment of the organization, rather than the training or individual. “Participants in corporate education programs often tell us that the context in which they work makes it difficult for them to put what they’re taught into practice.” Some corporations tend to forget that organizations are systems of interacting components: Roles, responsibilities and relationships defined by organizational structure, processes, leadership styles and much more. These systems have a strong impact on mindsets and behavior.
So what needs to happen? The organization needs a new way of thinking about learning and development. The system needs a change. “Context sets the stage for success or failure, so it’s important to attend to organizational design and managerial processes first and then support them with individual development tools such as coaching and classroom or online education.” If you give your employees great training, fantastic. However, say you give them great training, but their unit or department still goes by a much more rigid guideline that does not fully accept the training they just received. Do you think the employee will stand up and go against the tide? Of course not.
Systems must change if they want the employee to change. If the system does not change, it will not support the change expected of the individual. Senior leaders, you can’t just have HR point to employees as the problem and training as the solution. Organizational redesign = more important than individual development.
HBR advocates six basic steps to approach talent development. You can find them in this article that has been quoted throughout.
While I appreciate HBR’s process and ingenuity, I feel I must veer off from their approach in one regard, and that is the unit by unit approach. They suggest that individual units should reflect on their needs and capabilities in the context of their own strategies and goals. I respectfully disagree. For Paradigm’s leadership development and business acumen training, we incorporate groups from very diverse units and departments. Whether they are senior leaders, engineers, marketing, or HR, everyone gains value from obtaining the complete understanding of how the business operates and makes money.
Business acumen training can indeed reflect an organizational rather than individual change, but is a change that needs to happen for everyone. If the goal is for every individual, every department, every unit to think like a business owner and understand the ins and outs of the organization making decisions based off a clear strategy and values, then desired change will indeed be seen throughout the entire company.
Be a part of the change that’s needed, not the false representation of change that started this post.
To learn more about managing change in your organization, download this eGuide.