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While business leaders and executives generally recognise the importance of employee training and are more than happy to support it, they also would like to see more concrete measurements that can clearly determine the kind of impact that the aforementioned learning has done (and will do) to their workforce’s overall productivity, performance, and engagement.
This was one of the major issues that was addressed at the Training and Development Asia 2017 held last August 17 at the SMX Convention Center, SM Aura, Bonifacio Global City. The more than 150 L&D professionals, HR managers, and executive mentors who attended were part of an evolving profession that is turning them into strategic business partners and not just trainers. The conference speakers and panelists had been asked to discuss this trend, with their unique insights focusing on current employee and training needs, the synergy between leadership development and business performance, and the influence of emerging technologies on the various kinds of learning formats that appeal to a new generation of Millennial employees.
The Morning Sessions
The first speaker, Dr. William Thomas, Founder and Chief Teaching Officer of Designing Leaders, LLC, started the discussion with his thought-provoking topic, “How to Reap Maximum Benefits from Your Learning and Development Initiatives.” He enjoined the participants to make their department heads and hiring managers a vital collaborative part in designing programmes that will effectively turn learning into performance. He said, “Help your managers think ahead of their future talent needs and together, plan ahead for the future. See this as an opportunity that will set up success for that future.”
The next speaker, Ramon Cristino San Jose, Director of the Knowledge Management Unit of P&A Grant Thornton, emphasised that effective training programmes can give corporations a significant competitive advantage. He said that it all starts with the right approach that the trainers must have from the time that they are conceptualising their programs. He said, “We need to ask the following questions: ‘What is our role in the organisation? What competencies do we need to build people on? What is the expected scale? What is the most pressing question that the business is facing? How do we make the business successful?’”
A networking break, which facilitated the participants increasing their acquaintanceship with each other, followed these first two keynote presentations.
Following the break was a panel discussion on how learning and development programmes can successfully and positively change one’s organisation. Prior to the discussion entitled “Driving Impact – Measuring What Matters in L&D”, the three panelists each gave a ten-minute presentation of actual case studies and their own experience in solving these issues.
The first panelist, Jedediah Marie De Jesus, Executive Director of Learning and Development and Talent Acquisition in TeleTech, revealed that any metric that can drive impact must always take into consideration the need of the client. Afterwards, that need must be addressed by the development of the appropriate skill in the workforce. She said, “If you do not do what is important to your customer, then you do not guide impact. If you do not consider the metrics that are important to your client, then you do not add value.”
The second panelist was Vida Candida Santos-Arciaga, Vice President and Head of Human Resources – Philippines of EXL Service Philippines. In her presentation, Ms. Arciaga showed how successful planning can be one way to measure how learning and development positively impact the organisation. She said, “Succession planning is a strategic talent framework process that includes the various shareholders such as the employees. Expand the coverage of training and responsibility of the talent, and you will prepare him for his next role.”
The third speaker was Elaine Celestine Bernardo-Rodriguez, Assistant Vice President of Corporate Planning and Development and Marketing for FranklinCoveyPhilippines. Ms. Rodriguez highlighted the fact that any positive organisational change must begin with the behavioral change of the employees. She said, “The kind of assessment that must be done from the start has to be exhaustive. We should not just start with the type of skill that is currently needed, because the organisation will always demand higher results. We do have to ask what the organisation needs in order to achieve those results. And do the people have the right skills or attitude to produce those results now and in the future.”
The lively panel discussion that followed the three presentations had the audience texting in their questions on the key elements in training that senior management and the HR team should prioritise; another important concern for them was crafting the best method in measuring the key success in talent management, talent acquisition, retention and employee engagement.
The Afternoon Sessions
The first keynote speaker after the lunch break was Laean Benitez, the Senior Manager for Talent Development of Baker and McKenzie GSM. Her topic was how to grow world-class business leaders who can accelerate the company’s fulfillment of their business objectives. She emphasised that middle managers were one resource that had to be nurtured and developed. She said, “The responsibility of translating strategy into reality, pursuing high performance, and ensuring quality on a daily basis resides very much with the middle managers. Thus, it is vital to make sure they have the competency and confidence to effectively do this, in a constantly changing environment.”
The next speaker, Oscar Fudalan Jr., Regional Learning and Development Director for APAC for Teledirect Telecommerce, tackled this vital question: “How Do You Incorporate a Training Methodology That Best Fits Your Culture?”. He advised a mixture of the proven training programmes plus groundbreaking learning technology-driven techniques that resonate with the younger workforce of today. He said, “Changes in tech space are transforming the way we learn. We cannot be the sole sources of learning. One effective approach is to flip the various kinds of learning. For example, our talents can do e-learning first so that they have an idea of the content before they proceed to the actual classroom learning.”
Another networking break followed after Mr. Fudalan’s presentation.
Afterwards, the third speaker, Penny Bongato, the Executive Director for Talent Development of the IT Business Processing Association of the Philippines, spoke on “Transforming Learning Programmes According to 21st-Century Strategic Needs.” She challenged the trainers to be more open to the fast-emerging changes that are happening in the business world, and acquire the flexibility to respond accordingly. Ms. Bongato pointed out, “In recruiting, we should look for skills, not degree, because the degree that the talent graduated with may not be important any more by the time he comes knocking on your door. We the trainers have an opportunity to revamp curriculum which is no longer relevant.”
The second panel discussion picked up on the point that Ms. Bongato emphasised by showcasing “Training & Technology Trends in Asia: Moving Away from Traditional Training Methods.” Again, both panelists each gave their own presentation before starting the discussion.
The first panelist, Gladys Ocampo, is the Head of Learning & Development of Union Bank of the Philippines. She described how their workforce learned and deployed technology, such as coding, to improve services and serve the customer better. Ms. Ocampo said, “Our bank managers helped create digital solutions that cut down the queuing in their respective branches in Cebu. They spent six sessions learning the course and then created the apps that streamlined the queuing process. This shows us that people can learn new things and unlearn the irrelevant aspects of their work as we accelerate technology.”
The second panelist, Lara De Ubago Sia, is the Training and Quality Leader of Concentrix. She enthralled the audience with her presentation on gamification, the new learning trend that is encouraging Millennials to learn new courses and apply them to their workplace. Ms. Sia said, “We asked ourselves how we can make training interesting to the Millennials. First, the learning has to be immersive. Second, there has to be an element of fulfillment. These get the talents engaged and invite them to go online.”
During the actual panel discussion, Ms. Ocampo and Ms. Sia answered the audience’s questions on how to develop flexible, mobile, and convenient training methods that are cost-effective as well.
The conference ended on a high note, showcasing the indispensable link between training and business, learning and productivity, and professional development with corporate success. The digital age is transforming trainers into become strategic business partners, and as the conference has shown, they are up to the challenge.