For companies wanting to upskill and train their staff, it isn’t enough to simply have access to the best L&D tools and resources. You also have to create great learning experiences that reflect your company’s distinctive values.
With the right learning experiences, you can deliver great training and onboarding for your employees, and can show what makes your company stand out in the market. These experiences also help with the most important goal of all: generating value for customers.
Recently, I spoke with Gauresh Gaitonde, Head of L&D for NeoSoft Technologies in Mumbai, about his personal learning philosophy, and how he creates the best possible learning experiences for his staff. NeoSoft is an IT outfit providing software services to enterprises, agencies, and startups of all kinds.
Gauresh talked me through each step in NeoSoft’s L&D process, and how he inspires learners by matching them with the right tools and resources.
As Gauresh explains, great learning experiences contribute directly to better service for customers and clients.
“Our developers need to get the best learning they can, so that they can help our clients do much better,” says Gauresh. “Our L&D philosophy is a big part of that.”
“Our philosophy is that the process of learning is quite similar to the process of healing. The best learning experiences are personal and slow, and require a lot of nurturing. It isn’t a band-aid you can just rip off - it doesn’t work that way.”
According to Gauresh, the main job for L&D leaders is to empower employees with the right inspiration at the right time.
“Every person has a very unique way of learning, and we recognize and appreciate that. L&D should provide the right resources and direction, and should also provide inspiration so that people gain more from what they learn. Everybody has their unique style - we just help them with the resources they require.”
"The process of learning is quite similar to the process of healing. The best learning experiences are personal and slow, and require a lot of nurturing."
In L&D, there’s always the pressure to demonstrate progress as quickly as possible. But as Gauresh points out, great learning experiences take time and patience to get right.
“Learning doesn’t happen immediately,” says Gauresh. “What you gain during training is the knowledge part. Then, it takes time to develop that technical or leadership competency in the real world. But when the right opportunity arises, your people will be able to utilize that knowledge to make the most of it.”
For NeoSoft, there’s one core concept that is reflected in every one of its learning experiences: continuous development.
“Great learning requires a huge amount of nurturing,” says Gauresh. “The process needs to be constant. A single training activity isn’t enough - our people should be constantly trained on new technologies and capabilities.”
“When you do this, it becomes a natural process for employees within the organisation to understand how learning works. They embrace that philosophy, and it becomes a process of continuous improvement.”
“The process needs to be constant. A single training activity isn’t enough - our people should be constantly trained on new technologies and capabilities.”
Theory is one thing, but putting it into practice can be tricky. So, what are the concrete steps NeoSoft uses to curate the right learning experiences for its employees?
“We use a four-step process: assess, curate, create, and partner,” says Gauresh. “That’s how we deliver world-class learning to our employees. In today’s world you have a lot of content available outside your business. It makes sense to reach out to these experts for the knowledge you need.”
For NeoSoft, this means matching learning priorities with the right resources.
“We focus a lot on curating the right content. We look at courses that will help our employees the most, and will give our technical experts the capability and credibility they need. We want our employees to get access to the best learning experiences.”
As Gauresh explains, this includes offering a mix of technical and leadership training.
“We have technical programs, as well as non-technical or leadership programs. Our senior managers take care of nurturing expertise within their group, and help us to identify very project-specific requirements.”
“We also get a lot of support from our HR folks, who are able to survey staff and determine their learning requirements. These interventions are based on direct interactions and performance reviews, as well as internal surveys.”
Once NeoSoft has completed learning assessments for staff, they then build an engaging program of content and training.
“We decide whether we want to curate our own content, whether we want to create something on our own, or whether we want to partner with somebody,” says Gauresh. “This could be an external trainer, or it could be an expert within the business.”
“Because we’re an IT company, there are constant changes in technology and innovations across the globe. This means we need to help our sales professionals by offering the training they need.”
The key ingredient of a great learning experience, according to Gauresh? Excitement.
“Everything that we learn, we experience,” says Gauresh. “Learning needs to be interactive, it needs to be relevant, and it needs to be smart. We want our people to feel excited. They should be challenged by activities, and they should gain more from it. They should feel like the content is smarter than they are - that’s the real challenge.”
"They should feel like the content is smarter than they are - that’s the real challenge."
Every organization needs a workforce with a mixture of hard and soft skills. For Gauresh, interactivity in learning is key to achieving this mixture.
“It’s all about interactivity,” says Gauresh. “Employees should see an opportunity to apply their learning. If they are part of a group, they’ll be able to interact and learn by doing. We want our people to get into group discussions and apply their learning in a particular way. When that happens, the entire learning process comes to life.”
“For example, let’s look at project management. We used to run standard waterfall training, with leads who were responsible for updating stakeholders on the status of each project. Now, with Agile, everybody is involved with stand-up meetings. This is great, but it creates a new challenge, because some people aren’t as comfortable with group input as others. Our L&D system helps each of our learners work through this.”
Another great tactic, according to Gauresh? Using bench employees.
“Employees on the bench have to interview for their next project,” says Gauresh. “This way, less experienced employees can use the interviewing process to better understand the project and seek tips for presenting their profile and work experience to match the work.”
As Gauresh explains, the best learning experiences treat L&D as a lifelong goal.
“We focus on upskilling, reskilling, and ensuring that our people have the technical competencies they need, including behavioral competencies. That’s what our L&D philosophy means in practice.”
Our huge thanks to Gauresh for taking the time to talk us through NeoSoft’s distinctive approach to creating great learning experiences!
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