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A Data Driven Approach to Workplace Learning: Interview with Pramit Chaudhuri

Updated: Dec 16, 2021

What are the most important skills for employees to adopt and succeed in the new environment ushered by Covid19?

I can think of 3 skills that I feel will be relevant as workplaces change because of Covid19.

Project Management One of the trends in the last couple of years, and one that has absolutely accelerated because of Covid19, is a shift to Gig Economy. A larger chunk of workplace teams will now be freelancers to work on projects. So, employers will expect employees to have strong coordination skills, be able to liaison with multiple parties, and deliver results on time.

What is going to make this even more challenging is that employees will need to form new teams and still show peak efficiency, like consultants. Relationship based working will cease to exist and having good Project Management skills will be crucial. This is specifically true in non-IT industries, which are now looking at digital transformation.

Tech Savviness

Notwithstanding tech and product innovations, for the larger set of folks, this refers to adoption of a tech mindset, being able to handle new solutions that come. One of the challenges we face when launching new software is getting people to adapt to it. And the big worry is, not using these effectively, can make people irrelevant.  To give an example, most organizations have workstyles which are more traditional, more office based. The introduction of a ‘Work from Anywhere’ policy which will need employees to be tech savvy. 

“A person not having a mindset to adopt the technology may not be able to perform in a post COVID19 setup.”

Time Management

While this has always been relevant, as teams go remote, a lot of work is delegated to meet certain deadlines. Typically, when a task is allocated, the manager is physically present and thus aware of how busy or occupied the team member is. They can therefore make an estimation on the expected delivery time for the task. With remote work, employees themselves need to manage their time, and be able to prioritise tasks. Employees love the idea of ‘work-from-anywhere’ but it’s only a benefit if they are able to strike work-life balance, and still deliver on their work.

These would be the top skills; I believe should be the focus of learning as we move towards new ways of learning.  

What are some of the most effective technology innovations in Workplace Learning that you look forward to?

Traditional learning methods are so deep rooted that it becomes important to foster a change mindset in order to incorporate an effective learning initiative. My initial experience has mostly revolved around a classroom centric, traditional approach towards learning. Most employees were unfamiliar with the regular use of technology. However, with the development of a changing mindset, they adopted all new policies and schemes and most employees are comfortable with new ways of learning.

Effective learning initiatives are driven by technology and a growth mindset can be promoted by a shift in attitude, that is by perceiving technology not as a hindrance instead an enabler to perform the task. 2 effective learning technology innovations that I look forward to are:

1. Real time learning dashboards

Business needs are dynamic. Sometimes this upskilling may not be strong enough to respond to the market in the way the organisation might want to do. With digital learning and dashboard in the picture, L&D managers would be able to view the dashboards on a regular basis and they would be able to understand which solutions are working and which aren’t.

“A lot about digital learning is push and pull; some solutions will have a pull catered by the external environment, some solutions will require a push and other compliance forces. In order to understand which force is a push or a pull it is important to have the visibility of data based on the metrics which define the success of the organisation.  This is something that interest me and it will help me have a more data driven approach towards learning”

2. Learning Experience Platform (LXP)

The traditional LMS has no bar on content. There is too much knowledge around, it becomes difficult to know which article to read. For an average learner looking to quickly upgrade himself, the abundance of information becomes a challenge. LXP helps the employee or learner to focus on their approach.

 This will also reduce the tendency to depend on the L&D team to provide a learning solution; so, they can then free up their mind space to work on more effective solutions and design an intervention which is more organisation based. I look forward to working with people who have worked/explored with LXP or have LXP products.

How do you measure the success of a learning activity?

I believe the Kirkpatrick Model involving 4 levels, is the most practical model to measure the success of a learning activity.

Level 1 talks about whether the learner has enjoyed the learning which can be measured with the help of features like ‘likes’, ‘comments’ etc.

Level 2 helps to understand whether the learner has learnt something or was he simply engaged. One way to measure would be with the help of quizzes based on the learning.

Level 3 further explains how the learnings can be applied at the organisation. Perhaps a manager could use a pre and post training analysis tool to see the result.

Level 4 is the most difficult to attain most of the organisations get stuck at level 3. Level 4 explains the linkage between individual learning objectives and organisation’s objectives.

In some areas which cannot be quantified, it does get difficult to measure the cost of training with its success. In such a case, behavioural changes can be measured. Dashboards will be a game changer. Data will give you new insights into the programs, the challenges; all the mental models related to learning will be changed by the data that will come.

“Data seldom lies. Data driven approach has only one direction and when you follow that, the qualitative analysis takes a backseat. With the right technology, all the things that sound subjective at the moment can be quantified through formulas in weights and averages.”

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How does an organisation’s culture help in making learning a priority for the employees?

The way employees look at learning depends on their belief that learning is going to shape the outcome that they desire.  This belief is determined by the organisational culture. Thus, an organisation’s culture becomes a parameter to make learning a priority for the employees.

Culture is something that people respond to at the workplace and how they respond to the workplace depends on the organization’s culture.

To facilitate such a learning culture, learning needs to be focused on what the employee needs and these needs should be tied to the organisation’s needs. Carrot and stick approach could be used here. Culture determines how learning is not a tick mark activity instead it can be viewed as worth being a reward. However, if an employee is not continuously upskilling then bold talent management decisions have to be taken.

The other concept is, employees have to understand that learning can be a reward for learning as well.

Learner’s agility can be facilitated by creating learning ambassadors and employing the 70-20-10 approach. This indicates that only 10 percent is focussed on structured classroom training while employees are encouraged to learn majorly on the job and from others. Culture plays a big role in ensuring this. Employees need to be encouraged to learn from failure and each other’s mistakes.

“To build a culture is not a 5- or 10-year project, it’s a project which has no timeline, it’s a continuous process’. With the support of leadership, it is possible to achieve this in optimum time.”

3 wishes for an HR Genie

  1. Learning to be a top business need in next 5 years

  2. A widely accepted “Google” for learning – repository for learning

  3. BHyve to have a great launch and be the stepping stone for my first two dreams

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