According to the study done by Professor Paul James Davis at the Kazakhstan Institute of Management, here are the top six complaints of mid-level managers from private companies across S.E. Asia about the learning and development opportunities offered by their companies:
1. Does not relate to my current job/work…I can’t actually use what I have learned.
2. Does not train me in the skills/skill gaps I most desire/need.
3. Is not interesting or engaging in content or in delivery.
4. Takes too long; could easily be delivered in a shorter time.
5. Is a distraction from work/ takes me away from work which then builds in my absence.
6. I have no say in/choice of/control over the learning activities I participate in.
These complaints resonate with what i have seen, heard and experienced through consulting with many organisations. Some of these are easier to solve than the others. In my opinion, complaints 1,2 and 5 happens because of 6. In other words, the responsibility of job-related learning and development ought to be given over totally to the managers. Managers are appraised on their job performance, and developmental activities are there to assist them in this journey of enhancing their performance. Some managers may not really need to sit through the courses because they are already competent, and some think that they don’t when they really do have a gap. Regardless of the motives or reasons, they are simply measured at the end of the day on their performance. If their performance continues to be poor, it should act as a strong signal that it’s time to get some upgrading. If managers own their own learning and development, they should also be empowered with a budget to select activities that would benefit them. Learning and development executives in this case would serve as consultants to them, offering them diagnostic tools, coaching and resources to help them develop.
People who are motivated to take personal responsibility to learn, usually behaves and learn very differently when participating in courses and activities. Through the courses that i’ve attended, it’s usually easy to spot those who are self-sponsored versus those who are company-sponsored. The ones who signed up on their own, paying from their pockets tend to be much more attentive, inquisitive and eager to milk every cents’ worth of the program.
As for complaint 4, my experience with participants who thinks that the activities/programs take too long fall into two categories:
a. The program is really TOO long: Some programs are filled with unnecessary contents and meaningless activities, with long breaks and extended discussion time, that it should have been finished in half the time. This is a design problem. In Singapore’s context, sometimes it’s indirectly caused by government requirements for funded programs.
b. Participants think that they have mastered the concept: This is increasingly an issue where knowledge is freely available and people KNOW a lot but actually PRACTICE little. Everyone “knows” about active listening, but how many really practice it? Good programs are designed to allow more time for internalising and practice, but some participants may not see the benefit of it.
What is YOUR pet peeve about learning and development opportunities in your organisation? Do you agree with the six reasons listed?