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Learning and development: One size does not fit all

At the Richmond Human Resources Forum Terry Jones spoke on tailoring a L&D strategy to the organisation

One size doesn't fit all when it comes to learning and development, according to Terry Jones, vice president of learning and development for Europe, Eurasia and Africa at insurance firm Chubb.

Speaking at the Richmond Human Resources Forum, Jones said firms must align their learning programmes to their culture. "If I took what I did at Google and just dropped it into BT then it wouldn't have worked," he said. "You cannot lift and shift what you have done previously to a new organisation."

Instead, Jones suggested anchoring learning to things happening both inside the organisation and beyond. "Try to link your strategy to your actions," he said. "Google was a non-conventional business so conventional learning and development methods weren't going to work. Everyone in Google is talent, so there was no point using a nine-box grid. You have to think about this in order to build a programme that has meaning and impact.

"There might be something happening in the news that you could link to your learning, or an expert might have written a blog piece. If you have experts in the business they should be giving back. If they aren't this is a discussion you need to have."

The changing role of the leader has also affected learning and development, according to Jones. "In the 1970s it was all about trait theory, and what traits you could have that made a good leader," he said. "It created a relationship between the leader and follower based on dominance. Generation Y are not going to buy into that.

"Since the millennium there has been a large shift towards organic leadership; allowing you to bring yourself to work. This changes the dynamic and allows leadership to be far more collaborative."

Jones also offered advice on recruitment. "Don't lose your bottom 10%," he said. "Just don't hire them in the first place. You should forensically scrutinise everybody that you hire. Try to hire based on cognitive ability, their leadership capability, their passion and their cultural fit. That will lead to success. You want to hire smart people and then empower them to make magic."