How Aspire Systems cracked the code to people development
A modern future-ready workforce is pivotal for companies to remain competitive in the post-pandemic world of work. While technological disruptions are still a mainstay, the last few years have seen companies rapidly evolve and catch up with the changing nature of work. Consumer preferences have evolved, and older business processes are under threat of becoming obsolete and are being relooked at. Skill demand has further accentuated, and as a result, skilling initiatives have taken new, more relevant forms to catch up.
With this philosophy, Aspire Systems reinvented its skilling and people development efforts. For Dinesh Kumar TK, Vice President - Human Resources at Aspire Systems, it was all about figuring out the blueprint of people development and success in the world of hybrid work.
Calibrating for a hybrid world of work
The new world of hybrid work and business disruptions mandates that companies reassess how they skill and build their talent and give them the right opportunities to grow. A skilled workforce with the right mix of core, technical, and soft skills helps organisations quickly adapt to changing external conditions.
To address the demand for skilling in the new world of work, Aspire Systems focused on multiple things. One initiative was to see how we could start focusing early. "We increased our COEs (Center of Excellence) with multiple universities and ramped up our efforts to train and make new hires learn the right practical knowledge and become project ready, virtually," noted Dinesh. Paired with other 'Impact Training' programs, they helped create an impactful way to onboard and kick-start learning journeys with new fresh hires.
But the complexity of business disruption and a widening skills gap meant that these skilling initiatives had to be supported by other, more result-oriented efforts.
Reflecting the increasingly digital mode of collaboration and connection, training and development took a more virtual approach at Aspire. For Dinesh, hybrid training sessions were the need of the hour and accrued benefits beyond simply achieving learning outcomes. “These initiatives helped engage different stakeholders and played an essential role in assessing capability gaps, allocating employees across different projects, upskilling them in complementary skill sets etc.,” said Dinesh.
Aspire's people development process started at a steady pace. Initiatives were put in place to help the company scale learning. The result was efficient, successful, and targeted talent management and nurturing interventions in a hybrid workplace.
Building the right leaders
People development and building the right leaders go hand-in-hand. Employees need the right leaders and mentors who can connect, motivate, and lead them in a world where old forms of engagement are slowly being replaced. To create impactful people development strategies, a company needs managers interested in accelerating their teams' growth and ensuring development and training opportunities are inclusive.
To enable Aspire to build the right leaders to support organisational and people growth, Dinesh noted how their leadership development was anchored through multiple initiatives that helped make them better at leading people inclusively. “We follow a multi-tiered approach,” he added, explaining the following were vital in developing the right leaders.
- Standard training for first-time leaders and managers, which is a mix of general skill-building, understanding the culture and how to lead with success.
- Coaching and mentoring interventions for senior leaders to bridge any capability gaps and empower them to lead larger teams and initiatives.
- Exhaustive feedback mechanisms: Aspire identified an in-depth and detailed feedback mechanism for leaders. Dinesh explained how “competencies were recognised to encapsulate all expectations. We also wanted to boil down to the specific challenge areas so meaningful feedback is shared with a focus on the growth curve.”
- Regarding your manager (RYM): “Because feedback should be on relevant matrices, we have a mid-year feedback cycle for people managers that ensured honest feedback was given to our managers by their team members,” he added. This was kept separate from the annual performance appraisal primarily to avoid biased feedback. RYM feedback is given as a final average score, mainly for self-development purposes.
Leaders today play an essential role in bringing stability to their various functions and teams. They are key drivers of all organisational initiatives, and because they are directly connected to the people, play a vital role in improving employee engagement, development, and retention. With informed, trained, and attentive leaders, Aspire Systems ensures robust engagement and productivity of the workforce.
The road ahead
Looking ahead, Dinesh hopes to strengthen Aspire's people-first approach to development and skilling. This focus will extend to both employees and developing the right leaders. "While we have recognised the critical role of leaders in connecting with our people and driving them forward, there are organisation-level initiatives that are also getting started," said Dinesh. "For example, as a global company, we have launched a global engagement platform where we post all exciting opportunities, and people can nominate themselves to undertake these activities. This program is called iGain and is a global platform where Aspirians get the opportunity to explore new projects and develop any skill they are unable to showcase within their own project. We will also be very soon coming up with a reward mechanism for the same." he added.
With market uncertainty remaining a constant challenge for many IT companies, for Dinesh and Aspire Systems, their people are their biggest bet. "We believe that our philosophy of paying attention to people will undoubtedly grow, and we will continue to strengthen it further and carry it forward," he said.