Signs of the times

This year’s HRD Week offers an insight into training interventions suitable
to match our turbulent business climate. 
Simon Kent reports

Is it possible that the backdrop to the CIPD’s HRD 2002 conference is
unprecedented in terms of the changes and challenges faced by the training
profession? For the past few years we have become used to the idea of
continuous change, decreasing budgets and career uncertainty. Is this year any
different from the last? Judging by the speakers, subjects and solutions to be
presented at Olympia from 16-18 April, HRD 2002 not only starts from the
understanding that the start of the new century is more turbulent than the end
of the last for business, but also demonstrates that training solutions are now
being developed and implemented to match these most demanding conditions.

"We have always lived in times of change," says conference speaker
Robert Holden, managing director of The Happiness Project
(www.happiness.co.uk). "But now that change is faster and more
unpredictable. Many people are waiting for the changes to stop so they can take
their next breath, but the problem is they won’t get that opportunity."

"How to train Generation X staff is still a major challenge for organisations,"
says Debbie Meech, director of talent management at Freeserve.com. "You
have to manage them on the understanding that they may not be committed to the
organisation for lifelong careers. At the same time you still need a commercial
return on developing them." Meech will be talking about developing
employees at Freeserve.com as a case study for Using Training to Promote Your
Brand (session A11 on 16 April at 3.30pm).

The need to align training with organisation direction is emphasised by Todd
Lapidus, author and president of customer contact corporation (C3Corp).
"All training interventions need to be in alignment with the main aims of
the organisation," he says. "Getting that alignment right means that
rather than working against the current you’re in the current – and when that
happens you can literally feel it. Employees may not be able to articulate why
it feels different, why it is easier to learn and why they can assume new
skills quickly, but they do feel it is."

At the heart of successful training interventions appears to be the
acceptance that the delivery of development initiatives can take many forms and
structures. Holden says his company can now deliver a series of short
development interventions for clients – for example, three lunchtime ‘brain
snack’ sessions spread over three months, rather than a concentrated and
disruptive three-day event away from the office. Such innovation and forward
thinking in terms of training solutions is reflected among many of those on
show at the HRD exhibition.

Action stations

Experiential training specialist Impact Development is using HRD 2002 to
launch a course in inspirational leadership. According to head of marketing Sam
Carey, the course recognises that leadership is all about action and so presents
delegates with a series of challenging situations. "The common denominator
with everything we do is that we’re committed to helping organisations be more
effective and profitable, whether that means working as a team or developing
individual leadership skills," she says. "Some of what we do is
outdoor based, but everything is experiential – doing something and receiving
instant feedback rather than just talking about it."

Impact’s 4th International Conference held in June this year, will also focus
on how organisations can harness their leadership talents. With speakers
including leadership specialist Manfred Kets Vries and Simon Woodroffe, the
founder of restaurant chain Yo! Sushi, the event reflects Impact’s increasing
worldwide activities.

E-learning and technology-based development is unprecedentedly high on the
agenda at this year’s conference. Training and communication solution providers
Information Transfer will be showcasing Seminar4web, its new software tool that
can be used to create learning and assessment courses via the web, e-mail,
CD-Rom or floppy disk. The courses can be linked to a score recording system
enabling the learning process to be tracked and managed via e-mail systems.

The company may not have a high profile, but it has long-term working
relationships with major clients including GlaxoSmithKline, Nestlé and Reuters.
On 16 April at 14.45, Information Transfer’s technical director, Guy Sweeten
will give a 30-minute talk on Five Practical Steps to e-Learning as part of the
Topic Taster Showcase. The session promises to inspire trainers to return to
their organisations with a clear view as to how to approach the design and
implementation of an effective e-learning system.

Video Arts is not a newcomer to the HRD showcase, but it consistently
produces relevant and high-quality training materials, such as The Ultimate
Stress Show and this year the company brings The Ultimate Change Show to the
exhibition. Starring US actor David Soul the programme won a Gold Medal in the
category of Personal and Professional Development at this year’s New York Film
Festival. Video Arts has also recently released Absence Minded: Managing
Absenteeism which offers managers a structured method for tackling absenteeism.
Martin Addison of Video Arts says: "We are constantly ensuring that the
content and style of our learning programmes reflect the changing needs of the
marketplace." Programmes supporting leadership development and diversity
in the workforce will also be available at the exhibition.

As if to ensure trainers are not swept away by this wave of new products and
innovation, every day there will be two chances to attend a two-and-a-half-hour
workshop on evaluating the true cost of training.

The conference and exhibition is an opportunity for training managers and
directors to be inspired and consider what investment they can make in the
future for their organisation’s development, however, without the skills and
approach to demonstrate how training pays, the chance of getting such ideas
past the board will be compromised.

Specialists, including Isobel Heaton of DTC International and Chris
Schiller, director of Archway Management Training and Development, will provide
guidance and lead discussions on how to measure cost and benefit from training
interventions – financial and non-financial, quantitative and qualitative. With
the wealth of information available at the conference, exhibition and workshop,
trainers should leave HRD 2002 fully equipped to help their organisations face
the future.

Programme content

The HRD 2002 Conference programme is split into three distinct areas:

– Masterclasses – in which experts give their view on specific subjects

– Training Essentials – practical methods of approaching challenges

– Case Studies – an opportunity to gain insights through studying training
practice within a variety of organisations

Speakers have been drawn from a variety of disciplines – from academics and
consultants to top-level front-line practitioners. And e-learning will no doubt
feature heavily in sessions on Investing in the Future of Training led by
Martyn Sloman of the CIPD and Professor David Ashton, University of Leicester
(16 April, 09.15), Integrated Self-Managed Learning (18 April, 09.15) with Ian
Cunningham, chairman of strategic developments international, and Implementing
Blended Learning – a case study session with input from Shell’s senior learning
and development adviser Regy Loknes and Finola Harrington from Ernst &
Young.

There are three sessions dedicated to e-learning, including How E-Learners
Learn which, among other things, explores whether e-learning encourages
knowledge sharing among employees. This session will be led by Jake Reynolds,
assistant director of the University of Cambridge Programme for Industry and
Alison Winch, director of learning and development at Interbrew UK Ltd.

On 16 April Todd Lapidus will be leading a morning session on Designing
Training for Success under the Training Essentials banner as well as a
masterclass on High-Impact Training the same afternoon. Lapidus’ aim may seem
to be impossibly high – aligning training with the strategic direction of an
organisation would first require training to have a high profile within an
organisation – but he believes it can be achieved through asking a simple
question before any training intervention is made: "The technique we have
learned at C3Corp is to first ask the question ‘who is the customer of this
training programme?’ and then to design the training intervention from that basis."

Lapidus argues that identifying the customer is crucial to being able to
measure success in training. It also enables the training function to move away
from being viewed as a separate entity called upon by the company simply to
plug gaps in perceived skill shortages. Instead, training is focused on
required outcomes, guaranteeing that new skills developed among employees are
both relevant and beneficial to the organisation.

The conference is certainly be the main forum for receiving information from
training experts, but HRD 2002 includes other opportunities for delegates to
learn from the experience and opinions of training and development specialists.
While the exhibition provides the chance to meet more than 350 companies, this
year also sees the introduction of the Topic Taster Showcase, the Learning Area
and the Training Cinema. In the first of these forums, training suppliers will
present the latest in training and development content, the Learning Area
offers first-hand experience of delivery methods while the cinema is the
perfect venue to view training software and videos.

Gareth Jones, head of innovation and learning at BBC Training and
Development will be appearing at the Training Cinema at 10.15 on 17 April,
talking about employee development no longer being about educating the
individual but about empowering them to learn for themselves. He believes there
is a convergence between formal training and informal knowledge sharing and
that technology acts as the catalyst.

As a leader in the provision of multimedia and web-based services, the BBC
is able to offer a wide variety of courses, provided via a range of different
technological media or directed at developing technology skills.

However, that technology alone is not the solution to creating a
cost-effective training initiative: "Organisations are moving away from
considering technology alone as a solution, realising that culture should be
their main consideration," says Sue Harley, managing director of IQdos,
who will be speaking at the Training Essentials session Attracting and
Supporting E-Learners (17 April, 15.30).

Harley will be joined for the session by David Roe, head of training and
development at Janssen-Cilag. Harley notes that this company has ensured
company culture supports its new learning method – even employing an external
marketing consultant to promote the initiative internally.

"E-learning is not about technology," says Harley, "It is a
wake up call for all organisations to consider how they manage adult corporate
learning and how best to use the tools available for that purpose."

Make a reservation

Book at: www.cipd.co.uk/HRD
Tel: 020 8263 3434

How to get there:
HRD 2002 is held at Olympia Conference Centre, London From 16-18 April. Tube:
Earls Court District Line.

Visit Olympia’s website at www.eco.co.uk
 for travel details. Car parking needs
to be pre-booked on 0800 056 8444.

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