Elements of an Effective Developmental Experience

January 2011

Dear clients,

At the beginning of a new year we often like to look into a crystal ball and predict what will happen in the new year. Bersin & Associates, a world-class research and consulting firm that empowers HR organisations to drive bottom-line impact, is known for its insightful predictions in the HR–field. In its predictions for 2011, it predicts a shift towards a global, borderless workplace that will demand new people strategies for business performance. These new strategies include the use of social networking for recruiting, the adoption of informal learning and coaching models, a refocus on specialisation and deep skills development, and a change in leadership models to promote innovation and collaboration

“Deep specialization and career development will drive integrated talent and learning strategies. Organizations that thrived over the last few years have one thing in common: they are very good at what they do. Organizations will realize that deep skills are critical to all major job roles (e.g. sales, finance, IT, marketing, engineering and HR), and companies will rethink their leadership and development and talent management strategies to build deeper skills” (Bersin & Associates). This prediction supports LeMaSa’s view with regards to development and we are deeply involved in helping our clients to build deeper skills.

In this edition of the LeMaSa Chronicle we explore the components of an effective development experience and workforce planning as an important aspect in employee development.


Sandra Schlebusch

Elements of an Effective Developmental Experience
Elements of an Effective Developmental Experience

The Centre for Creative Leadership designed a developmental process model that forms the foundation on which their work is built. The developmental process has three key drivers of leadership development: assessment, challenge and support.

Assessment comprises data capture, predominantly from feedback methods, which provides a benchmark identifying an individual’s strengths, weaknesses and development needs.

· Challenge means taking people out of their comfort zones by facing them with new and testing experiences, developing new capacities in the process.

· Support through the development process provides the individual w ith the motivation and belief that they can learn, grow and change.

To enhance the development of leaders we need to help them find, create, and shape a wide range of learning experiences, each of which provides assessment, challenge and support. There are six experiences, three formal, heavily planned and monitored (360-degree feedback, feedback-intensive programmes and skills-based training) and three informal, occurring naturally but with some design (job assignments, developmental relationships and hardships).


The use of feedback data is very important in any development programme. Programmes with feedback at their core are called Feedback-Intensive Programmes (FIP). These programmes focus on providing feedback regarding skills, behaviours, values and individual preferences. FIP is recommended for managers who have taken on greater responsibilities. Throughout, the tripartite elements of assessment, challenge and support are maintained. Outcomes from FIP include greater self-awareness, leading to transformational perspective change, goal attaining and, eventually, behavioural change.

LeMaSa’s core business involves the provision of Feedback-Intensive Programmes to enhance learning. Our collaborative approach supports this best practice in development and echoes the benefits of FIP. It helps a person to see significant patterns of behaviour more clearly, make better sense of the attitudes and motivations underlying these patterns, reassess what makes the person more or less effective relative to the goals he/she wants to attain, and evaluate alternative ways of meeting these goals.

Source: Centre for Creative Leadership. Handbook of Leadership Development. Cynthia D McCauley, Russ S Moxley and Ellen Van Velsor (eds). 1998, Jossey-Bass

Workforce Planning
“The term Workforce Planning is a fairly new catchphrase, but essentially refers to what was known in the past as manpower planning, talent planning, personnel planning, HR planning or staff planning. The focus on integrated talent management/human capital management highlighted the importance of linking all human resource activities to the strategic objectives of the organisation. Organisational strategy therefore is the reference point for everything that is implemented with regards to Human Resources. Strategic Workforce Planning provides the link between the organisation’s strategy and human resources strategy – hence the renewed focus on this discipline in HR” (Cillie-Schmidt, 2010, Workforce Planning in Human Capital Trends: Building a Sustainable Organisation, edited by T Meyer and I Bonelli). “Workforce Planning is about determining and shaping the capacity and capability of the workforce that is needed to achieve an organisation’s goal and direction” (State Government of Victoria, 2006). This definition encapsulates the idea that Workforce Planning is about: · Identifying and predicting the organisation’s workforce requirements to meet the organisation’s goals and strategic direction (present and future focused, using past trends, current reality and future scenarios); · Determining the number as well as the quality and timing of the workforce needed to achieve organisational goals; and · Taking action to ensure that the workforce is shaped to meet the requirements for organisational success. The roadmap for workforce planning consists of the following phases: An important aspect that forms part of ensuring the readiness of the organisation for Workforce Planning is deciding the scope of the Workforce Planning process. According to The State Government of Victoria (2006) this involves identifying which jobs or areas of the workforce will be analysed because the workforce plan can cover the entire workforce or be more limited in scope and focus on: · Mission-critical occupations, key employees/roles or branches; · Occupations and skills that are difficult to recruit or retain; or · A particular strategy to ensure that the right people are available to get particular work done. Recent research by Aberdeen (2010) found that organisations that are able to identify job roles that are critical to organisational success are four times more likely than those that do not, to achieve “Best-in-Class performance” status. In LeMaSa’s experience it is important for organisations to be clear on their future workforce needs (capacity and capability) when they embark on employee development programmes.