Learning and development (L&D) programs and initiatives have been headlines of corporate agendas in 2020 and continue to do so in 2021 as well, as businesses adapt to the ways and needs to learn of their employees and business partners. Also, studies of this year showed that improving L&D is a critical initiative to 86% of companies.
In this context, we recently talked in a comprehensive interview with Gabriela Degeratu, EBS Head of Support Functions, Euromaster Tyre & Services Romania.
In the long term, our goal is to set the basis for a culture of learning. Change is the only constant in life, this year has fully proved it, and learning, development and a growth mindset should be the constant goals for each reputable professional, regardless of the field he works in.
I represent EBS (Euromaster Business Services), the shared service center of Euromaster Group, which is part of the Michelin Group. Our SSC in Bucharest has around 200 employees – great individuals and professionals in charge with finance, accounting, data maintenance, supply chain, business intelligence activities, IT operations, and SAP support at group level. Our core objective is to strive for excellence in what we do and I see determination, great professionalism and team support towards this goal every day.
Before the pandemic, we were addressing each team’s training needs with thorough research for the best solutions, we were customizing content and paying extra care for the in-class delivery experience. As a rather small entity, this approach made sense and could be implemented. The lockdown put us in the freeze mode, we put on hold the majority of the programs, as they were largely dependent on in-class delivery. After 2-3 months of observing the market and the possible trend of the pandemic, it became obvious that we need to quickly adapt and redesign our approach. So, we’ve reshaped the process considering the live online learning, having the same strategy in mind – relevant and curated content to address specific needs, best partners and solution architects. As everyone on the market, we could only make a wild guess about the outcome of the new plans, but we accepted the challenges and the risks.
The assessment of the needs revealed pretty much the same competencies to be addressed or improved, with an increase and a more special care for emotional resilience, managing the teams remotely, keeping people together. For us it is key to rely on our colleagues’ proactivity in addressing issues and finding solutions, on their innovative capacity and their accountability. These elements allowed us to respond better to the difficulties of 2020. This is part of the organizational culture and of the leadership style that we promote. There are things that changed, but there are also things that remained our anchor in this struggle to adapt and live in the new reality. Leadership and organizational culture are among these and are at the core of our interest at the end of this year and beginning of next year.
We will implement a program that will address the skills of leadership and management and that will make us better underline and agree on the core values of our entity. With this skill set, we should be prepared for whatever further challenges 2021 has to offer.
Furthermore, we will continue to address the identified needs within the teams.
The new normal asked for other skills and digital transformation has become mandatory
The year 2020 took mankind out of the comfort zone and demanded from each of us to reinvent ourselves, to rethink how we do things. The new normal asked for other skills or maybe some that we weren’t using that much in our former day-to-day interactions.
Digital transformation has become mandatory, we need to adapt and to implement it. If this is a too fancy concept and maybe more difficult to address in times of economic challenges as well, I still think we should not compromise on personalized and relevant content and to push the change towards embracing online as a solution of moving forward. Even though we are in the process of evaluating classical eLearning and gamification platforms, we believe that customization is key to success in learning & development, as it is in any other field – we don’t have one magic formula that can provide solutions for all individuals or groups. Nevertheless, we shall explore all possibilities in order to be sure we equip our colleagues with the skill sets for growing and empowering them and for reaching their and our organization goals.
We relied very much on in-class training delivery, it suited our need for interaction and of having the most customizable content possible for the group in front of us
During 2020 “different” is probably a correct description for many of the learning & development programs. We relied very much on in-class training delivery, it suited our need for interaction and of having the most customizable content possible for the group in front of us. Of course, this had to change in 2020. Nevertheless, different in our case refers more to the logistics and administrative aspects, relying on the collaborative platforms. Otherwise we didn’t identify the need to dramatically change the programs compared to the pre-covid period, in none of our business units.
As mentioned before, in 2021 our focus will be to implement an extensive Leadership program, to address all specific needs, both for soft and hard skills, through relevant and impactful content and to further research the eLearning offer on the market, as before the pandemic data suggested that online training will benefit of a rise in investment, so we are open to give a try to the blended learning – online and in-person learning.
We all had to reinvent, at least on how to deliver learning & development programs and we’ve seen the training companies in a continuous struggle to reach for the perfect mix of elements towards efficiency.
Without the experiential activities at hand, part of the desired result of soft skills training is gone, for instance. What to put there instead? Hard to say, even after nine months of online mode. The “a-ha” moments that last over time are hard to be replicated in the virtual environment. Soft skills courses seem to have lost, in the new normal, part of the important connection with the emotions, the screen doesn’t create the empathy we all remember from the in-class sessions.
On the other hand, the hard skills training sessions seem to have become more efficient, better organized and quite well delivered in the online environment.
But, bottom line, each individual aiming for growing himself and hopefully others, can find his magical formula, the proper blend of ingredients to reach his goal. L&D industry cannot do magic for individuals or organizations. Instead, each individual always had the responsibility to choose how to treat the opportunities of each encountered path. Blaming pandemic will not give us back the time we could have spent developing, learning, becoming the persons we want to see in the mirror each morning. Nor will it bring a promotion solely to encourage the resilience in this hard time.
This period will help us all to become more self-aware and more confident in ourselves. Because we will see that we can embrace change and be successful. It will become obvious that we are in the driver seat and we have the power to reinvent, with the proper mindset, even in the hardest conditions.