Article: Practicing what is preached

#BestPractices

Practicing what is preached

L&D Leadership League 2014 winners show best practices that beat industry expectations and improved business performance
Practicing what is preached
 

NTT’s gamified platform incentivized participation, identification of learning resources and motivating team performance

 

S H Kelkar’s top management drove the diversity initiative, with each leader involved in developing policies, practices, programs and services

 

Like last year, this year’s People Matters’ L&D Leadership League brought forth some of the most progressive L&D practices in India. From ingenious process-level innovation to complete overhaul of the learning structure, these practices demonstrate exemplar execution of L&D teams and commitment of leadership. Some of the high-level insights gleaned from these practices are profiled below.

Social-driven career self-navigation

HCL Technologies was faced with the challenge of an alarming number of HiPo attritions. Understandably, the non-availability of resources at critical junctures of the business had a direct impact on business execution and profitability. Upon deep investigation, the company realized that a key reason behind the problem was the fact that it was unable to match aspiration with development opportunity.

The L&D team took up the challenge of matching aspiration with opportunity by creating an aspiration-led talent rotation model. The model was based on social-media called Career Connect. The platform gave one access to counsellors and career resources to allow self-steering of one’s career. Within a year, 20,380 employees joined the platform and over 10,000 choose to use it actively to steer their careers. Besides being a cost-effective platform, the beauty of this practice lies in the fact that participants get a chance to self-navigate their careers leading to greater ownership and more transparent accountability.

Gamified pre-joining onboarding

One of TCS’ service units catering to high volume service requirements had alarmingly low offer-to-join ratio besides the fact that the time-to-productivity of new recruits was higher than desirable. The traditional campus recruitment program revolved around doling out a high number of offers and hoping that most will join. Also, post-joining, the company invested approximately 60 days for training before the candidates were placed in actual assignments. The company realized that it required making recruitment and onboarding process much more efficient.

The company created an out-of-the-box gamified platform to engage and involve selected candidates in the months between offer and joining. Through the gamified learning and on-boarding platform, candidates were pre-wired to actual work situations, issues and conditions through badges, leaderboards and e-learning. The platform has participation incentives and leaders are provided with joining incentives and company merchandise. As a result of the engagement the platform created, the company was able to significantly increase offer to joining ratios and reduce the formal training period to 21 days. In terms of direct revenue impact, the platform’s direct cost savings and profitability impact was to the tune of approximately $ 4 million in a month.

End-to-end gamified learning

NTT Data Global Delivery Services Ltd is a highly learning-oriented organization. Learning is equally a business need for the organization as it is a talent need. The organization, however, realized that learning delivery of the large 75,000+ employees was not standardized or need-aligned. As a result, not only was learning ineffective, it translated into low engagement with the learning process. Learning engagement continued to drop year over year and the overall satisfaction of the workforce dropped. All learning metrics such as participation deteriorated. Another key problem the company faced was that while the content was really impressive, people in the organization did not know about them. For a company so reliant on learning, these issues started showing direct impact on business performance.

The company implemented a gamified learning platform called Catalys, which included elements of storytelling, real-time feedback and clue-based games. The platform also had simulation capabilities to enable learning through experience. The gamified platform incentivized participation, identification of learning resources and motivating team performance. Badges, points and team standings were regularly displayed to engage and keep employees motivated. The gamified platform also centralized all of the company’s learning processes and resources. Within a short span of time, the company started seeing an increase in participation in learning and engagements with learning based activities increased.

Cultural change through business excellence

Owing to a merger, Sesa Sterlite Limited, Aluminium & Power, a subsidiary of Vedanta Group faced several human capital and business-level challenges. They included low engagement, high attrition, lack of company culture and negative profits. As a result of these issues, business efficiency was suffering. Culture was one of the biggest challenges the company faced and some of the manifestations of the problem included a lack of job role clarity, a lack of ownership and a lack of pro-active approach to solve problems.

While the company wanted to implement a world class manufacturing (WCM) model to standardize culture and measure outcome consistently. At the same time, the high costs to implement a WCM model served as a hindrance. With that in mind, the company implemented a customized business excellence model. The capability model was unique both in terms of format and delivery. It not only had the capability to integrate work with learning, but also had interesting business simulation capabilities. The program was also a channel for fostering creativity and innovation. Rather than focus on short-term wins, the company’s management approved the requisite budgets based on a structured business case that the L&D team built showcasing the risks and recommendations to minimize them. Such a detailed business case helped secure budgets for the program.

After launch of the program, the company was able to improve on every business and talent metric, but most importantly was able to inculcate a common culture all throughout. It also reduced ambiguity about job descriptions and increased overall engagement. The business results were clear through improvements in revenue and EBITDA. In terms of people capabilities, a large number of participants got TQM and six-sigma certified and the number of employees with direct involvements in these improvement exercises increased significantly.

Gaining market share through diversity

S H Kelkar Group, a fragrance and flavours company, felt the need to expand globally and stay in the competitive race. Considering the business is highly culture dependant, the need to focus on diversity to integrate the external and internal culture of the organization was necessary. The lack of diversity increased competitive threats for the company.

The company’s top management drove the diversity initiative, with each leader involving themselves in developing policies, practices, programs and services. After implementation of the diversity initiative, the company witnessed improvement not only in business outcomes such as sales and EBITDA, but also in people results such as engagement, retention and overall satisfaction. The company also has built a sustainable cultural base to expand globally with diversity-rooted values at the core.

Making lessons stick through long-term engagements

Research and advisory company Neilsen India wanted to improve its manager effectiveness score. The move was aimed at improving its talent branding because one of its exit survey analyses revealed that past employees were less likely to recommend the company. Also, the survey revealed that employees had little visibility into how their contribution led to business impact.

To improve its manager effectiveness, the company rolled out a long-term engagement model of learning comprising a mix of online and offline programs spread across six months. While it did run the risk of higher dropouts, the chances of the lessons sticking were higher. The online and offline channels included a mix of classroom, virtual trainer led course, intranet based programs, Skill Soft and Harvard Manage Mentor Program catalogues for self-learning. It also included leadership talks.

It is critical to note that rather than implement immediate steps, such as manager excellence programs, the company chose the long route. The key to such an approach is not to be driven by immediate results, but start with the intent to make lessons stick. After implementing the practice, the company witnessed improvement in scores in their three-yearly survey across all major manager effectiveness parameters.

While the above profile the six winners of 2014, several other exemplar practices were shared in the L&D Leadership league. All of these leading practices not only indicate positive intent of the L&D team, but also a great level of willingness on the management’s part to drive and sponsor them.

2014 marked the second edition of the L&D Leadership League Awards in partnership with Center for Creative Leadership, Cornerstone OnDemand, KNOLSKAPE, Pearson TalentLens & Great Lakes Institute of Management. The People Matters L&D League provides insights into the best learning & development practices of Indian and global organizations and helps create an environment where they can build their strategic capability. People Matters held the 2nd L&D Leadership League Annual Conference on the 5th of November at Crowne Plaza, Gurgaon, which saw the attendance of more than 200 HR leaders from across various sectors. This year’s theme was Learning for the Learned: Moving from the virtual to a cerebral plane.

Topics: #BestPractices, Leadership, Learning & Development

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