When faced with external and internal challenges, VIP Industries knew that it had to act quickly. The L&D team, comprising all three members, set out on an ambitious journey to cultivate leadership and ownership across the organization to further the overarching business goals. Here’s a look at how they succeeded in their objectives.
VIP was tackling several internal and external disruptions that led to an eroding market share and lower profitability in recent times. The overall macroeconomic slowdown’s impact on the travel industry, the weakening national currency, and the standoff between the US and China; all these factors were contributing to a challenging business environment.
Internally, the workforce was at risk of burning out under high pressure and strict targets. Furthermore, a majority of the employees did not view training and development as an opportunity to advance professionally, and there were no avenues to help them build new career paths within the organization. Simply put, the entire L&D function was not seen as a business driver, and instead of being essential to drive results, it was ineffective. The leadership in the organization identified the need to cultivate a new generation of leaders to inculcate a culture of ownership and innovation.
VIP launched ‘Gurukul,’ an organization-wide program to identify and nurture leaders. The program aimed to build leaders at four levels in the leadership pipeline based on Ram Charan’s Career Turns Model:
- Leading Self: These leaders were trained to focus on improving their performance and engagement by breaking silos between learning and engaging. The line managers of these leaders co-facilitated the learning programs and aimed to develop an overall sense of well-being using varied learning approaches, including gamified mobile learning through VIP DOST (Development of Skills using Technology).
- Leading Teams: The leaders at this stage were supported in expanding their learning and knowledge from other teams, inculcating a growth mindset, developing work-life balance, and how to develop strength in team members.
- Leading Managers: The leaders in the level were trained on the importance of feedback, performance conversations, biases in decision-making, and employee wellness using a blended learning approach that involved classroom training, MOOCs, peer learning, reflection journals, interaction with senior leaders, etc.
- Leading Functions: These leaders underwent executive education programs and coaching sessions from top business schools in India and abroad to develop and implement projects of their own. Further, role rotations were encouraged as part of the new talent management strategy. Leaders were also a part of the D&Ilogues, a program to champion diversity within the company. Finally, senior leaders were encouraged to participate in industry forums to share their wisdom and enrich their perspectives.
For each of these career turns VIP used the 3 levels of Leadership model developed by James Scouller to develop the Public, Private and Personal Leadership behaviors relevant to the group.
Much like any endeavor, the program faced challenges and obstacles along the way. The launch saw a limited adoption of mobile learning, and since the learners were new to using some of the technology, they required frequent nudging. Similarly, it was a challenge to schedule the training of a geographically-diverse team that relied heavily on internal content. However, the L&D team was quick to identify and remedy these challenges to make the program a success.
Gurukul has helped VIP establish stability and confidence throughout the organization. Not only have the sales displayed an impressive uptick, but the organization has been able to establish itself in the premium segment on the back of remarkable employee performance. Here are some of the highlights of the many milestones achieved:
- 1500+ employees, comprising of nearly half the workforce, were trained in 50+ classroom programs across 18 locations last year; this year, the number has already touched almost 1800
- The sales promoters who were a part of the training earned higher incentives as compared to the previous year
- Despite facing a low adoption initially, mobile learning has touched 55 percent, with each participant spending three minutes every day to undertake ‘micro’ learning
- There has been a 15 percent increase in the engagement levels and a 32 percent increase in the overall training and development scores
A certification-based training school has been launched in VIP Bangladesh.
On the radar is bringing employees from non-sales function into the fold and identifying internal learning enthusiasts who can drive the leadership development agenda by co-creating learning programs. The team attributes this success to its passion for learning as a driver of engagement and business results, its focus on metrics that mattered and bringing play into blended learning journeys that were a part of Gurukul.