CLOs, L&D Professionals – Here’s The Message From CEO

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I attended the CLO Summit in Mumbai last week and listened to some wonderful speakers over the course of the two day event. I felt one speaker that really delivered a punch, was Bhavdeep Singh, CEO Fortis Healthcare. His session titled “Learning and Development – an integral competency of a CEO” was full of very powerful messages for CLOs, L&D professionals, and other CEOs.  He has implemented several L&D initiatives successfully including a mentoring program at Fortis, so whatever he says is based on his first-hand experience. This is from the real-world, not preaching from the pulpit.

Understand the business – not just superficially
As L&D professional you need to understand what your organization does and what your people do. What are the core skills they need to have to do a good job and what’s the difference between various tasks that they perform? Unless you know this well enough, you’ll not be able to think about their learning/training needs. How do you convince an experienced surgeon to attend training on a new surgical method; especially when you don’t know how the new method is better than the older one?

Share the pain, and then joy
Missed deadlines, products faults, customer complaints, infrastructure issues- there are many types of problems in each and every organization. While they’re unpleasant, they are the issues that you need to identify as learning opportunities. You need to be there with the people when they are stuck with something – to share their pain. And then propose training sessions/plans to resolve those pain points. Being there during the pain lets you visualize how a solution would work to reduce the pain; helping you create better solutions. Also being part of their painful moments gets your solutions easy acceptance.

Think like a business person
Your CEO is a busy person with numerous things on his mind every moment – finance, customers, productivity, stakeholders, marketing et al.  You don’t want to be another of those items but rather act as an enabler for all of those. How to help improve productivity? How to ensure customer satisfaction? Speak the right language and your CEO would welcome you whenever you need his time.

Be action oriented
Don’t just sit in your office and hold so many meetings. Go out in the field and spend time with the teams. Observe them, interact with them and ask what they need to perform better. You’ll be amazed at the insights you gather from the field, from your own people. And that you can’t get from any HR management book or from any HR consultant.

Have courage & conviction
You’ll need to be convinced about your own ideas and plans to be able to sell them to your CEO. Its not necessary that all of them would be accepted but every CEO likes to see a logical case being presented for discussion. Have the courage to say “I was wrong” when you are.

Have a story – be able to see the goal
15 years ago if anyone gave you a laptop and asked ‘do you need this?’, you’d have probably said NO. Today our lives depend on laptops. The state of L&D in most organizations in India is similar(and probably elsewhere too). Your organization needs you but just doesn’t know it yet. So have a story, built a vision and sell that vision to your CEO.

More important that providing value is to be perceived to be providing value
Even if you do a good job but people don’t think you did a good job; then you may wonder what’s the point? L&D professionals need to take responsibility for the perceptions you create about your role. Go out and change it.

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