The number of employees in the talent pool across the group is around 20 per cent of the workforce at any given point
The leadership and development program is measured on the basis of the number of critical positions that have been filled internally
Diversity in exposure is a key tool for developing leadership potential to its fullest.
For Aditya Birla Group (ABG), leadership capabilities can be found in every person, the difference is the potential they have within and the different exposure that they require to develop that potential. “Leader-ship development at ABG aims to provide with the opportunity to develop the full potential of every employee. We differentiate employees with different potential levels in terms of the exposure we provide them.” says Santrupt B. Misra, Group HR Head. ABG leadership development program is based on the belief that leadership capability can be developed by providing diverse kind of exposure; this could be on-the-job training, educational programs, coaching sessions or even assignments in fields outside of the organization. “For example, we have given an assignment to some employees to work with an NGO for 2 years teaching children, as part of their leadership development,” says Dr. Misra. For other senior roles, the exposure could be in the form of attending leadership courses at top global schools like Harvard Business School or to lead a cross-functional project at the group level. Leadership development is customized to each employee’s potential and drafted based on programs that will help in maximizing this potential.
The process starts by identifying a talented leadership pool. Leadership identification at ABG is based on both performance and potential. Performance is assessed during the annual appraisal process; Potential is assessed in 3 levels: Firstly, the managers are requested to rate all the high performers in their teams based on a defined set of competencies. ABG has defined a set of 9 competencies as part of their Leadership definition; this includes competencies like “vision and strategic orientation”, “business acumen”, “developing self and others”, “promoting team work”, “innovation and improvement”, among others. Secondly, the high performers also undergo a ‘Development Assessment Centre’, that provides additional data about those competencies. Thirdly, the business team looks at all the inputs and provides a final classification for the employee based on a team consensus. For ABG, no one source of data is final when it comes to leadership identification - business management looks at each individual input (manager, development assessment centre, performance etc.) and only then decides on the employee’s position in the talent pool. This is called “process calibration” discussion.
The number of employees in the talent pool across the group is around 20% of the workforce at any given point. The number in each business unit differs depending on the nature of business and its stage of evolution.
The output of the overall process of identification of talent is an “Individual Development Plan”, this is drafted for every person identified as part of the talent pool and has a time frame of 3 years. This plan includes a combination of interventions that the employee will undergo during this period: Around 10-15% will be training interventions, 80% will be on the job learning with exposure to different rotations and the rest will be coaching and mentoring. “This plan is owned by the individual and his/her line manager,” says Dr. Misra. “The role of HR in this process is of a facilitator.” HR reviews the progress and status of the individual development plan with the employee and line manager on a regular basis. The manager is responsible for tracking the impact of those interventions and to assess if they are giving the desired output.
Employees selected as part of the talent pool have a massive advantage in terms of career development and training opportunities across the globe. In terms of compensation, there is no intentional revision of salary. Because of the roles access to the talent pool and the opportunities given, the compensation normally follows the leadership development process accordingly. But it is not an automatic change after being selected as part of the talent pool.
Once an employee is assessed and placed on the Talent Pool list, he/she is formally reviewed every year at the group level, and will continue to be in the pool if he/she continues to perform better than peers and is using the development opportunities for superior results. Potential assessment is done again for every individual in the talent pool only at an interval of 3 to 5 years, depending on the type of assignment and their progress.
The advantage at ABG group is that the leadership development program leverages on the diversity of business and sectors in which the group operates. “The leadership pool has the opportunity to gain exposure across 20 different businesses spread over 25 different countries,” says Dr. Misra. Because of the conglomerate, the business can offer different learning environment to employees to develop their potential as a ‘Profit and Loss leader’, ‘Functional leader’ or a ‘Specialist’.
The effectiveness of the leadership and development program is assessed on the basis of how many critical positions the group has been able to fill internally. This is of course without compromising on quality. In the last year, out of 40 key positions at very senior levels, ABG have filled 30 positions from within. “We do bring people from the outside if the internal capability is not the best available,” says Dr. Misra.
Aditya Birla Group has truly leveraged on the diversity of its businesses to creat a model leadership development program.