When was the last time you attended a training program or intervention?

How effective was it for you on an individual level? Answer this for yourself and rank it on a scale of 1–10.

Now come back and figure out what went wrong. While some may say that there was a major breakthrough for them in terms of learning and implementation after the training, we might get answers here stating that while the content and activities were relatable, the impact was missing or didn’t go up to the mark.

While other factors like flawed (read “biased”) TNA & PM systems are an altogether separate debate, we more than often fail to understand the basics i.e. every individual’s level of competence is different from one another. Organizational learning cultures have almost always promoted programs targeted at groups of learners. How these learners are placed in those groups is usually decided on the basis of observation or reliance on feedback given by their managers and peers. So, for example, whether the individual needs to work on his team building skills or conflict management skills will be ticked in a checkbox of a form being filled by his/her manager who might or might not be familiar with the fine line that separates these two learning areas from one another.

Here are few questions thought out loud during conversations with learning managers that always get a mix of responses, usually repetitive but without concrete reasoning.

  • When an individual’s reporting line, direct feedback, evaluation of performance and opinion of potential graph are all assessed individually, why do we determine the major part of their annual performance via a group distribution (for e.g. our beloved Bell Curve)?
  • How strongly does your organization’s culture play a part in this annual performance?
  • Is the term “Strategic” just used as a word to create impact in your team’s minds that something really cool is coming soon? Or do your managers and their subordinates fully understand as a team how “HR” and “Strategic HR” are different from one another?

We all will probably have our own set of “correct” answers around this but prior to sharing them, let’s do some individual homework first. Gather 15 random individuals from your organization, get them on the table and ask them to individually write down the answer to the last question above. You won’t be surprised by the variance you’ll find in each of their “perceived” definitions.

So why do we continue to pursue the same road travelled in this regard? Let’s start by pondering over how focused are people on their individual development without the organization being involved, especially at the expense of their work/life balance?

While organizations globally are shifting their HR Management roles to People Management ones, the responsibility of the employees’ learning and growth is still burdened as a cliché on a single point of contact (mostly the HR/learning department), where the line managers merely play a role of highlighting the areas of improvement required by their subordinates, with no means of cross-checking this judgement.

The world is becoming reliant on data. Call it big or small, data drives our future. But with innovation come loop holes that help us innovate further. When the source of data is perception oriented (in our case, our managers or individual judges), unconscious bias will always be present. This can be a result of any negative or positive behavior we may have towards one another.

Whether the data your managers collected and submitted was “good” or “bad” is a question I’ll leave you to answer and will continue this in the upcoming post on how to assess the Good vs. Bad.


– Happy Thinking!