Development Centres: Adding Value For Better Results

Updated: Nov 30 2002, 05:30am hrs
When it comes to implementing the technique of Development Centres (DC), some companies are now experimenting with change. If earlier corporates were deploying DC by using certain traditional tools like simulations and in basket exercises, now they are taking an integrated approach to the initiative by incorporating a host of additional techniques like Behavioural Event Interviews (BEI), strategic counselling and psychometric assessments among others.

And there are a couple of recent challenges that has triggered this new thinking among-st the corporates. For instance, consultants point out that DC is one of the few interventions in training and development that consumes an enormous amou-nt of organisations time and resources thereby leading to bloated costs. And the integrated approach aids the organisations in being able to optimise these costs that they incur on a DC, says Mr Rajiv Shahi, Partner, Developm-ent Trainers India Ltd that focuses on the new integrated approach to conducting DC.

Also, the traditional form of using DC normally confronted the issue of not being able to give the employees a clearer idea of the development needs. But the present interventions necessarily incorporates a wider gamut of assessment techniques and thereby lends a robustness to the entire process of employee evaluations.

Further, corporates are also looking at broadbasing the initiative whereby they are also trying to identify the appropriate match between jobs and roles rather than merely confining such initiatives to creating a career development plan for the high potentials. And such alternative approaches aids the companies in being able to proficiently attain this objective. Says Mr V Nagraj,Chief Human Resource Officer, of the Bangalore based Bharti Telenet Ltd: For us, one of the major deliverables in a DC is to understand whether we have the right kind of people to handle our businesses at least in India. And here is how the company deploys the initiative.

Bharti Telenet
To start with, the organisation conducts the initiative right from the levels of General Managers (GMs) and above in the establishment. Accordingly, they have tied-up with SHL, considered to be the process leaders in DC for implementing the entire programme.

All the top management professionals are then taken through a career counselling initiative. Further, they also undergo a Group Discussion (GD) and Personal Interview (PI) alongwith undertaking exercises in case studies.

This form of deployment, consultants affirm is one of the distinctive approaches to DC. Thats because all the globally validated techniques are being put together to conduct a rigorous analysis of the development needs, says Mr Shahi.

Further, the company also exposes them to a psychometric testing alongwith all these aligned interventions. In all, we are actually putting together a basket of exercises to communicate to our employees as to what they are good at and what they are not, says Mr Nagraj.

On the cost front, the initiative assists the organisation in being able to invest more prudently on the development interventions of the top management professionals.

This is more so because all these techniques are being combined and implemented to give the individuals a fairly clear idea of where they lack when it comes to driving the business results. And to prevent the gaps in implementation of any of these initiatives there are certified and competent corporate trainers who conduct and monitor the said practice.

As for the specific benefits that the programme can attain the company does admit that they have been on an experimental mode and still more time is required to map the deliverables. Now there is no data or learning that we have been able to garner & we are still cruising in uncharted waters, more so because our business has just recently taken off, says Mr Nagraj.

What Is The Future
HR practitioners affirm that these initiatives are a welcome change to the traditional form of implementing development centre interventions. However, the need is also to try and measure the amount of talent inventory that is available with the organisations.

The corporate professionals believe that the sustenance of the initiative will depend on the extent to which they keep rendering cost benefits to the organisation in the long run.

Consultants also affirm that there is a need for HR to keep a tab even on the costs that incur-red in such training and development programmes. Such initiatives can become more complete only if HR department can convince the finance professionals the return on investment that they can reap from all such development initiatives, says Mr. Shahi.

In fact the techniques also need to be refined from time to time so as to appropriately distill the development plans for the employees, sums up Mr. Prahlad Rao, partner, Team Value Profiling Services.