Article: L&D budgets: Think big…think different

C-Suite

L&D budgets: Think big…think different

Through MDP, HR has kept in touch with employees more closely, says Praveen Sinha, Chief General Manager - HR, Escorts Ltd
 

The MDP was launched for 2000 employees with the training budget of approx INR 50,000

 

The mantra is Think BIG…Think DFFERENTLY

 

Budget Constraint – not to hinder L&D initiatives

Through MDP, HR has kept in touch with employees more closely, says Praveen Sinha, Chief General Manager - HR, Escorts Ltd

The trigger…it all started in December 2008, when the Indian economy was already facing an unprecedented change and uncertainty during the deep downturn and in industries everyone was looking at HR for innovative approach to combat with severe cash and credit crunches, shrinking HR budgets and sinking workforce morale. That is when we in Escorts came out with “no cost / low cost” plan for employee training & development through Management Development Program (MDP) initiative which we implemented successfully.

An extract of an internal communication conveyed to all the employees in the company in February 2010 mentioned that: “Management Development Programme is set to get BIGGER in ESCORTS as we cross the 1000 mark in January 2010. More than 1000 participants from executives to DGMs across different functions in all businesses attended MDP since its launch in December 2008. This mark of 1000 resonate interesting statistics of over 50 training programs and 8000 man-hours of trainings.”

The challenges facing HR in December 2008 were quite a few including HR participation to ensure more efficient use of cash (identifying different sources of credit, including, outsourcing, in contractual terms, and by combining functions), make the best use of available resources and rethink the HR training budget without compromising on the objectives of training & development.

The MDP was launched for 2000 employees with the training budget of approx INR 50,000. Initially we set two objectives for MDP: Spotting Talent to create “Pool of Internal Faculty” and Nurturing Employee Development to boost “Learning Culture” in the organization. Both these initiatives focused on developing in-house capabilities to cascade and sustain training programmes and ignite intellectual and managerial aptitude within the organization.

The employee morale, motivation and linking employees to senior management were other challenges which HR had to address. In response to these challenges, we built-in sessions on “Know Your Company” and “Open sessions” in training programs to share with our employees in-depth know-how on organizational growth, restructuring, future business plan and execution. Ideas on efficient operations and allied information were shared by senior level executives including top management team.

As part of MDP, several programs on building managerial effectiveness, finance for non-finance (focusing on building business/financial acumen), sales & marketing management (also attended by non-marketing professionals), innovation, lessons in excellence, unleashing learning potential were conducted by our in-house team. In the process, we have created a pool of internal resources comprising of more than ten internal faculty representing different functional areas – line functions/support functions. Through our internal communication to all employees, we acknowledged the immense contributions made by our internal faculty in success of MDP during its journey of one year.

We have planned to post communication on our intranet for search of talent for “Internal faculty” for conducting programs where employees with work experience of 3 years & above may apply. We hope to receive a good response!
There was also a greater need to bring in some external perspective to the employees and to address this we also hired some external trainers to conduct programs on team building, effective communication, drive & initiatives but this came at a little later stage – only after MDP showed positive movement within the organization.

In order to make MDP a transparent initiative, we always shared participants’ feedback on programs and their learning with the top management team. This approach has generated good support of line managers and receiving nominations for MDP programs has never been an issue. The feedback/overall score of various programs conducted during the last one year, as per the rating of the participants, was above 80.

When the business pressure is high (in particular months) or when target meeting is key driver, large MDP programs is held back, however, to remain anchored with employee development activities, Small Group Meeting (SGMs) are conducted in areas like – Lessons in excellence, Innovation and some OD interventions for team building and communication, if required.

Cementing the Bond

As HR, we cut costs wisely without compromising on objectives, participated closely with the business in protecting cash during difficult times and combined other functions like production, operations, finance, sales & marketing effectively and meaningfully with HR initiatives.

Since we conduct programs where employees from across all businesses/functions come together to a common learning platform where we encourage lots of interactions and learning through experience sharing, MDP also contributed in making business unit/departmental boundaries more porous to enhance synergy.

In addition, through MDP, HR has kept in touch with employees more closely which helps in understanding their overall engagement level necessary to address their needs.

Although, we have no statistics available to share as to how much our MDP helped in enhancing employee engagement level during the downturn time, but certainly linking employees to senior management executives helped them remain connected to their commitments to company’s growth plan, execution and implementation challenges, cost compression measures, sales & service priorities, customers demand etc.

Taking this further, the MDP agenda for next 6-7 months includes programmes aiming at building managerial effectiveness and would cover a large number of employees. Programs on “Coaching skills”, “Mentoring”, “Managing for Results”, “Art of conversations”, “HR for Line Managers” and Small-Group Meetings (SGMs) on Lessons in Excellence series at the business unit level are some of the highlights.

The mantra is Think BIG…Think DFFERENTLY. If we continuously make new rules for getting the right things done and never hide behind BUDGET constraint, we remain in BUSINESS OF HR and effectively play a business partnering role in good times…in difficult time which may call for ‘no cost/low cost’ initiatives with results.

Praveen Sinha, Chief General Manager - HR, Escorts Ltd
 

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Topics: C-Suite, Leadership

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