Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Grow! Grow! Grow!

Presently we are living in a fast paced world. Everyone wants everything fast- fast food, fast results, faster returns on investment. In such a scenario 'Patience' has become a casualty. You expect everything to happen in the same way a bulb burns on switching it on.

Yet, there are some things that happen at its own pace & time. you have planted a seed, watered it and put manure as well. Now you want to see it grow immediately before your eyes. No matter how much you shout & order "Grow! Grow! Grow!", the plant will grow in to a tree at its own pace and time with many more days of tending, caring, watering and manuring.

Similarly, although managements would like to see immediate results on behavioural training being imparted, it will not happen as immediately as we would wish. After a training program, from  reviews done after 3 months and from project presentations made by participants after practicing learning at work, I am convinced that we are on the right track & that having sown good seeds, manured & watered with love, the results are bound to come sooner or later.

Let us take the case of an exclusive training program organized by us in the  Learning & Development department  in the year 2014 for the employees identified by the company as "Future Leaders."  The residential  program titled "Strategic Program for Executive Education(SPEED)" nearing completion at a renowned international business school in Chennai has three modules of two days duration each ( Leading self, Leading Function & Leading Business). In between the modules spaced across nine months, participants return to work and carry out action learning projects (ALP) based on the inputs received by them.

As I witnessed along with the faculty, the  ALP  presentations  after the first module, "leading self", I had a sense of satisfaction that we are on the right track and that outcomes from the training program are bound to follow. One of the projects opted for by many participants was "requesting negative feedback" from subordinates/ peers/ bosses.They were required to develop an understanding and document matters such as 1) What was done?  2) Who were involved? 3) How was it done? 4) the challenges faced 5) How did they feel about the experience? 6) Did they notice any change in themselves and/or others? 7) Benefits experienced in task & relationships 9) What classroom learning did this validate? 10) Has the project helped in developing a skill or attitude? 11) Did they get any insights? 12) Any other comment about the ALP experience?

I would like to share here the gist of two of the presentations. The first one refers to a feedback from subordinates to the participant that he appeared  agitated most of the time and tended to shout at them. The participant said that initially  the feedback came as a jolt, as he had believed himself to be very pleasant and was not even consciously aware of the extent of  his  shouting. Having become aware of his own emotions and  gone through the challenge of accepting the reality, the participant analysed the causes. He realized that the multi tasks to be attended was making him insecure & edgy which was being passed on to subordinates.He became aware of the fact that a good amount of the pressure, had to do with his own perception & approach. Having understood the problem, the participant revealed that he started listing down all the jobs to be attended and became more organized in dealing with them. As a result he found that he was no longer shouting at others and his subordinates have become less stressed. In the discussions that followed the presentation, it became clear that becoming aware of our emotions is a  key aspect and that understanding it serves as the first step to resolving issues.

In the second presentation seeking feedback from subordinates was an eye opener for the participant, in the sense he was told that he did not give adequate time to colleagues for dis cussions & clarifications. This was resulting in not only resentment but also errors due to faulty understanding of jobs to be executed.In response to the feedback, the participant rescheduled his work calendar providing for time twice in a day in the morning and late afternoon for discusions, clarification & communication with team members. This improved the quality of work in the department as also improved the relationship with team members.

I have discussed only two presentations.There were many more insightful presentations that drew attention to improvements possible in various ways by a simple initiatve of seeking negative feedback and addressing the core issues undelying the feedback. With each passing day, I am more & more convinced that seeds sown in the form of learning or training can never go waste.It may take its time. But it will certainly  germinate, blossom and flower at the appropriate time if we tend it patiently  with care, water & manure in the form of follow up (ALPs, reviews, surveys) to ensure actual application of learning happens  at the work place. For many, the learning could serve as an important aid to  happy & satisfying personal lives as well!