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Training OR Development ?
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Training OR Development ?

by Ashok Grover

The term “Training & Development” is used quite often; but have you ever pondered what is the difference between “training” and “development”?  Do they mean the same thing? If yes, then why use two terms instead of one? If not, why not?


Thinking a little deeper, you will find that training is a specific event with a defined beginning and a defined end. However, development is a process which is continuous. In most of the cases, companies do arrange trainings where participants are exposed to some new ideas, knowledge and skills. In many cases, the training programs are wokrshops, where they do apply this new learning during training sessions and then they are expected to go back to the work and implement all what they have learnt during those couple of days. Unfortunately, things are not really so simple.

What actually happens is that generally these programs are considered an opportunity to get some time off the rigours of daily routine and have some leaisure time. In the better scenarios, some temporary change (if at all) may take place and that too only in some of the participants. The positive impact (whatever) fades away rapidly and things drift back to the earlier situation in spite of the best intentions and even serious follow-up.

Development on the other hand focuses on sustainable behavior change, which is a slow process and takes time. How much time depends on a number of factors like complexity of new learning, degree of change needed to adopt it and of course, learnability (trainability quotient or TQ) of participants. While learnabilty does help, even a low level of TQ can be more than compensated if the participants have a high degree of willingness to learn.

Random training programs can be a sheer waste of time and resources like directionless missiles. You may end up filling the training hall with employees, who are soft targets – the ones who can be easily spared instead of the ones who really need training.

Organizations require a focused developmentmental approach with a scientific way to identify development needs. It must be supported by a communication strategy that continuously communicates the value the new way adds to the company and employees. When employees understand that, they get involved and their commitment level shoots up. They become more productive, loyal to thye organization and seious about these interventions. It is not a one time exercise. While clarifying the gray areas to reduce confusion, the communication strategy should aim at reinforcing new behaviors through recognition and encouragement. I think, that’s the only way you can develop your people and align them to the organization’s vision.

Yes, trainings are important – but only as an integral part of employee development program. So, stop wasting organizational resources. It is much better to have a trncated development program rather than a series of ad hoc training programs to have a nice looking and healthy (?) figure of training hours per man day. It would be wiser to shift your focus to improvement in business results through employee development instead of creating superfluous benchmarks in the area of training man days. Think about it!

Ashok Grover is an expert in people assessment and focused executive / leadership coaching. He is Director at Skillscape, a company with a vision of Value Creation by enhancing people and organizational competencies.

His last assignment was with the JBM Group as Corporate Chief Human Resource Officer. He has over four decades of experience in operations, materials, information technology and people development with Parle Group, Mohan Meakins Group, Hawkins Cookers Limited and JBM Group.

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