Knowing how to lead a transformation project, whatever it may be (organisational, managerial, technological, cultural, etc.), has become an imperative for companies. While many have already taken the digital turn, the need for transformation does not stop there, quite the contrary. The world in which we are operating and evolving requires companies to know how to adapt; the health crisis is a good example.
We spoke to Anne Dauvillaire, leader of the learning and culture offer at Wemanity, and Agnès Joly, change manager at Engie, about the role of training in the success of a company transformation.
1. Putting people at the heart of the transformation process
To meet the challenges inherent in a transformation project, companies have no choice: they must rely on people.
Agnès Joly is convinced of it: ‘Investing in human capital is investing in the company’s wealth. It is a way of motivating employees, and also of developing their employability. It means helping them to be more productive, more innovative, happier to get up in the morning, and better equipped to deal with change and new constraints.’
Anne Dauvillaire confirms: ‘There is a tendency to think that putting processes and tools in place will be enough to transform, and although this is a first step, it remains a short-term vision. If we want to drive transformations that are sustainable and long-lasting, they must be led by and for the employees.’
So how do you get your teams on board with a transformation project? For Anne, the answer is clear: we must succeed in making the transformation meaningful to the employees, but also support them in carrying the issue.
Training serves this purpose: ‘It is essential that everyone has a clear understanding of the transformation to come. Training is also there to provide this framework. When you make a transformation plan, if you don’t set up training, or if you launch a training plan without explaining why, and without communicating, you’ll automatically create problems. The aim is for the transformation to make sense to people, but to do this they need to develop new skills or a new mindset to be able to understand.’
Agnès Joly also tells us that training courses also provide a privileged space to settle down, to be together, to share and to experiment. Being able to connect with each other in a context of transformation, which can generate anxieties, is beneficial. It is also necessary to ‘support the teams in understanding the usefulness of the change. It’s never fun to leave a comfort zone, and go into the unknown. But when you think about it, change is already an integral part of our lives, and can bring us a lot.’
To learn more about this vast subject:
How can human resources use the culture of change to combine employee development and organisational performance?
Thibault Beuken, expert in organisational transformation at Wemanity, gives us his analysis of how to create a better employee experience.
HR functions: essential for the success of a transformation
In its study on HR transformation and how to accelerate it (published in 2020), IBM highlights the importance of reinventing the function. This reinvention is becoming a major business imperative to support organisations in the transformation challenges they face today.
The results of this study show that the HR 3.0 function is based on 5 essential characteristics:
- Take into account the needs of each individual, in order to achieve a unique, personalised employee experience.
- Promote skills as a central value of the company.
- Support decision-making based on the relevant use of data.
- Rely on agile practices to gain speed and responsiveness.
- Be transparent to maintain trust and minimise the risk of a reputational crisis occurring.
HR 3.0 is an ideal that few companies have yet achieved: some have started to make progress on some of these principles, but few have made progress on all five (10% according to the IBM study).
The study identifies 10 key areas for reinventing the HR function and giving it the necessary scope to meet the new transformational challenges ahead. Among these main areas: training and ways of acquiring new skills.
Anne Dauvillaire shares her vision on the subject with us: ‘Today, many HR departments offer training courses that fit into our regal models. The approach remains traditional, and allows the large number of employees and requests to be addressed. Nevertheless, this training strategy is a reaction to the demands made, and in the worst case the learner makes choices out of legal obligation rather than real motivation. The challenge is to succeed in changing the codes in order to change the prism and the perception of HR in their role in training. To be closer to the realities on the ground, in order to act as a catalyst and influencer in the training choices made.’
The HR function must succeed in moving away from the paradigm in which it constructs its training plan essentially on the basis of the needs expressed by employees (even if these are obviously important), in order to scale up its ambitions:
‘Today, we are starting to see HR people positioning themselves more as influencers. Thanks to their analysis of market trends, and because of what they can observe within the company, they are the ones who will recommend and promote training to employees. The challenge of their recommendations is to meet the needs and realities of the company, in order to serve the group’s strategy, without neglecting the employee experience.’
Focus on the importance of leading your agile transformation with HR.
2. Enterprise transformation: what direction should training take?
If for a long time only hard skills were valued, today the lines are moving. Even if it is undeniable that increasing technical skills remains a strategic imperative that must not be overlooked, the development of employees’ interpersonal skills is just as crucial.
For Anne Dauvillaire, as for Agnès Joly, there is no doubt that in order to maximise the success of her transformation plan, the training courses must mix the acquisition of new technical skills with the development of soft skills.
Soft skills training is developing more and more: we have seen a clear acceleration with Covid. Naturally, at the beginning of the pandemic, training to learn how to use remote tools, collaborative tools, etc. was the most successful. But very quickly, we saw other subjects emerge, inherent to this unprecedented and rapid transformation: subjects on psychological safety, training on feedback culture, on conflict resolution, or agile leadership, etc. These types of training met with strong demand from the business departments, as well as the HR departments.
Knowing how to combine hard and soft skills training is all the more important in key management positions, where individual resistance to change can sometimes take its toll.
The other challenge in choosing training courses is to identify possible reskilling and upskilling needs. The ambition is ‘to have the right skills and talents in the right place at the right time.’:
- Reskilling: in a context of transformation, certain professions may disappear in the more or less long term. It is necessary to be able to anticipate this and to prepare the support of the employees concerned in taking on a new role.
- Upskilling : for some, the climb to support the company’s transformation needs is less dizzying. Knowing how to identify these employees so that they can be brought up to speed quickly will also be essential in order to sustain the transformation and be equipped with the right skills.
Agnès Joly underlines the importance of finding these ‘early adopters’: ‘I strongly believe in setting an example. It is when employees see managers, in particular, adopting new practices that they will want to take the plunge themselves. It’s very powerful to really get teams on board.’
3. Becoming a learning organisation: the key to sustainable transformation
Making learning part of the company’s DNA
In a world where radical and major transformations are multiplying, the ways of training must evolve, so that companies become learners.
‘Training should not be a one-off action: it should be a constant. This does not mean, however, that you have to do 210 days of training in the year. The learning organisation is first and foremost an organisation capable of creating learning opportunities, an organisation where there is a right to make mistakes, where there are communities for peer-to-peer development, where there is also a right to say I don’t know and I want to be coached.’
Learning must be part of the company’s DNA.
‘With one client, we recently organised a week on the theme of “Learning to learn”’. There were lots of small conferences and online workshops where employees could sign up and participate as they wished. We are not in the training business in the strict sense of the word, but in the event business, which combines training and inspiration, and that is very powerful.’
Agnès Joly shares this vision: ‘It’s a long-term job, you have to constantly plant small seeds.’ There is a real stake in involving employees in the training process: ‘individuals must be more involved in the training course and not just come as consumers’. This is essential for the benefit of training to be maximised.
How do we go about creating a learning culture? ? The answer lies in our deciphering.
E-learning: an asset if used correctly
The digitalisation of training facilitates access to knowledge, but we must not fall into the trap of thinking that e-learning will be enough to instil a learning culture within the company. Providing access to training catalogues on e-learning platforms is not enough.
‘I don’t believe in the effectiveness of training where the learner is alone in front of a screen, however well done, however gamified, however immersive e-learning may be. Learning also takes place in groups, through exchanges between peers, confrontation and human links, even at a distance.’
In order to anchor knowledge in the long term, continuity is important: there must be opportunities to put it into practice, and to meet again to debrief. Used wisely, e-learning will be relevant (as a capsule before a week of events, for example, or downstream of the course to go over the essential points), but without thinking about a coherent training programme, its effect will be very weak.
‘If you only rely on slides to train your teams, it can’t work. Effectiveness really comes through “train-action”: I give a concept, and I immediately put it into practice in the group.’
Discover our tailor-made training programmes, to support the entire organisation in your transformation project.
Transformation and training are inseparable.
‘If you want to introduce new skills, a new mindset or new forms of leadership, it is essential to take time to learn. Training is a door that allows a collective to read together, so that the transformation can unfold with tranquility.’