Developing the critical behavioral competencies to succeed in the workplace of the future.

Posted on Posted in Uncategorized

This is the fifth in the series of blogs that I have written on the effects of the fourth industrial revolution. In my last blog I had talked about how to assess the four competency sets which support “Innovation”, “People” and “Business processes” and “Cognitive Flexibility”
Once the assessment of these competencies has been completed for the targeted employee set, what next ?
In this blog I will discuss the methods to develop the competencies which support “Innovation”, “People” and “Business processes”. I feel Cognitive flexibility is a little more complex so I would like to devote a complete post to it and “Change management” as in my opinion both are closely interlinked.
The issue with most competency development interventions is captured succinctly in the cartoon strip which leads this post. Organizations spend a lot of time and money in learning and development interventions, however, there is very little transfer of this learning to the workplace and most research on the subject finds that less than 10% of the learning on these interventions is actually utilized in the workplace.
Most organizational development interventions should ideally result in improved performance at the workplace, however, most interventions tend to focus on getting the learning imparted with very less follow up to ensure that the learning is transferred effectively to the workplace. I feel that unless the principles of action learning are incorporated into the developmental intervention, organizations are unlikely to get a necessary return on investment.
Which brings us to the question, what is action learning and how it can be incorporated in the competency development intervention?
The diagram below gives out the essence of the action learning cycle, with the first step being the learning. This we could equate to the training program/experiential workshop which is the first step in a developmental intervention. The second step is the planning process which involves trying to understand how the learning of the training/workshop can be implemented in a work situation. The third step is implementation of the plan or Act, which involves application of the learning of the training to work situation. Once the learning is applied, comes the most critical part of the process which is Reflection, where you step back and critically assess the impact of the implementation of learning. During this reflection step, the participant critically examines what went well, what did not go well and what is the learning which could be implemented the next time a similar situation comes up.


The action learning cycle is continuous and ongoing thereby ensuring that all learning gets implemented at the workplace. The reflection step acts as a critical step where the key takeaways from the implementation phase gets internalized. The steps of the action learning cycle ensure that the learning gets transferred to the workplace through application in real world situations.
That much for theory, you would ask, but how does one implement the action learning style in the learning and development intervention? I would like to recommend a design which incorporates the principles of the action learning cycle and which I have successfully used in a number of developmental interventions.
The design envisages a 6 month long intervention addressing up to a maximum of 5 competencies. A day or two day workshop (depending on the complexity of the competency being developed) to explore aspects of the first competency being addressed starts the intervention. The workshop design is based on experiential learning with time for reflection post every activity being an integral part of the design. Post the workshop the participants apply the salient aspects of the learning on their job and keep a note of what was practiced, in which situation, what was the impact and the learning (the reflection part of the action learning cycle). Over the next four weeks the participants are expected to apply the learning at least twice a week in a work environment and maintain a log of the four steps enumerated above. At the end of the month all the participants get together with the facilitator and share the contents of the log with specific focus on the reflection and learning from each of the incidents. This ensures that all participants learn from the experiences of the others and I as the facilitator bring out salient aspects of the applied behavior and how its application differs from situation to situation. The second competency is now explored in a workshop environment and the participants then go out and apply the learning once again in the work environment. This process is followed for all the five competencies.
This is a generic model for developing any of the selected competencies. The workshop design would incorporate exploration of the salient facets of each of the competency as is relevant to the unique business environment of the organization and the level of the participants.
At the end of 6 months, the sixth session is devoted to shared learning of the complete intervention, the key takeaways as well as critically examining and understanding how the application of the same principle differs in different situations.
To increase the impact, a 3-6 month follow up program where a real life project is implemented utilizing these competencies in the business environment by the participants in cross functional teams could be incorporated.
Do let me know what you think about this blog. Would love to hear your views and what could be done to improve this design.
In the next blog I will talk possible ways to develop the more complex competencies like Cognitive Flexibility and Managing Change.
Rajiv is the principal consultant at R Square Consulting. This is fifth in a series of blogs, which will discuss the effect of the fourth industrial revolution and the competencies required to be successful in the workplace of 2020. Rajiv can be reached at for any query, discussion or any professional requirements.
About R Square consulting : R Square consulting provides end to end services in the field of building leadership and managerial capability to include leadership development interventions based on a holistic blend of exploration, reflection, action learning and coaching, assessment centers and various Organizational development interventions.
We are a HR consulting firm providing customised and holistic HR interventions for developing the human capital of an organization through:
Executive Coaching
Assessment and Development Centers
Organizational Development Interventions
Leadership and managerial development
Flexi HR support for SME
Pune : Mumbai : Dubai : Dehra Dun

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *