Development Programmes are Disrespectful
The development programme has long been heralded by L&D professionals but I think it’s time for them to go or at least be reworked.
The problem with a development programme where a cohort of individuals all go through the same content/workshops/course in any format is that they assume that everyone needs the same development to progress. I understand they have been used to secure fairness, consistency & to ensure what is important to your business is covered, but this is only half of the story.
The consequence of this one size fits all, sheep dip approach is that it ends up only suiting a handful people and these are the ones that shine throughout the programme, get ranked higher and most likely get promoted - but they might not be the best person for the job. We have just failed everyone else who didn’t need that development, therefore didn’t engage as it wasn’t relevant to them or didn’t learn anything in the format offered.
Development should be agile in its approach & must be tailored towards the individual with an end goal/objective in mind. But instead of putting everyone through the same thing wouldn’t it be better if you worked out what the competencies required were for the target of your development programmes, did some assessment up front to ensure individuals are only exposed to the learning they need to meet those competencies & marry that up with the individuals personal development areas at this stage of their career?
If we think of our development programmes in this way then people can access these programmes of learning when they need to and not wait for the next cohort which might be too late or less effective for the individual.
But lets pause for a minute because the other thing that needs to be addressed is that development programmes should be a series of formal learning interventions. I think this needs to be shaken up. These individualised programmes of learning should focus on what can be learnt on the job, what activities/projects will help me develop in this area, will push me out my comfort zone, surround me with people I can learn from. This can then be supplemented by a coach that challenges me & improves my performance or a mentor where I can learn from their experience. Then & only then is this supported by high quality, relevant formal learning.
For me the real value in the traditional approach to the development programme is the bringing together of a group of people at a similar stage of their career so they can share and learn from each other.
But why aren’t we doing this anyway for everyone in our business regardless of whether they are on a development programme or not & make it easy for people to make connections & learn from each other all the time?
After all, an organisation that learns together, gets better together & ultimately wins together, right?