COVID-19 has been the biggest digital disruptor of the century. How can organizations build a successful future-ready workforce that is digitally prepared? In this exciting fireside chat, Krishna Kumar, Founder and CEO at Simplilearn had a quick chat with Sri Krishnan Kumar, Senior Vice President at Bosch wherein he shared his views on how investing in digital capabilities and skills is the road to the future and will ensure digital readiness and business continuity.
Here is the excerpt from the chat:
Krishna: As a Senior Business Leader, when you look at building or hiring large or new teams for any of your initiatives, how do you balance the hiring needs for the current skills versus the candidate’s ability to learn on the fly? And how do you test that out if the candidate has the required agility or not?
Sri Krishnan: When we talk about innovation in our team, we look at including new age technologies which could be blockchain, IoT, etc and it's not easy to get ready-made skills in the market or in people. Learning to learn is more important than having pre-qualifications, especially when it comes to new things. As per an interesting statistics from the WEF, 40% of the skills will become outdated in the next 4 years. So, this life long job with one particular qualification for any candidate days are gone. We have to keep on updating ourselves. I look into the aspect of whether people are able to learn other than having a basic knowledge.
What we specifically check in candidates are:
- What have you learnt in your last two years? Could be technical or something beyond the work calls.
- Is the person updated with the latest happenings in a given topic/scenario. The candidate should keep themselves updated with the current market scenarios.
Krishna: At Bosch, how do you ensure your recruitment team and L&D team are on the same page with the brief you shared once you have finalised a technology? How do you manage responsibilities?
Sri Krishnan: We do a mid-to-long term planning when it comes to new or upcoming skills. We have chalked down different technology roadmaps for different brands like Bosch for automotives, Bosch for consumer segment. Accordingly we need to figure out how much we need to recruit or build versus how much is available in the company. We balance out with both internal skilling at program level or entry level along with seeking guidance from industry leaders. We give both the recruitment team as well the L&D team the required amount of guidance and skillsets. For the L&D team, we also look at the aspect of reskilling with systematic programs and new technology related.
Krishna: Most L&D professionals face a challenge wherein they might have a very detailed plan of a program in place to give but there are not many takers. At Bosch, there is an initiative named ‘Nipun Program’ which saw a lot of traction. What was the genesis of this program? Where did this thought come from?
Sri Krishnan: With so much automation and technology coming in, the ground is shifting now. If our people don’t upgrade themselves, they will be soon out of the race. This program was evolved with the participants from youngsters who are well versed with what is happening in the industry. This entire program was planned in various steps and levels wherein people could qualify themselves and also we made it open to everybody. The results were quite encouraging as many people were coming up and taking active participation in the program and successfully qualifying.
In our L&D program as well there are certain mandatory programs that the company prescribes. We also offer a budget to the people to opt for a particular program from the buffet of programs which they want to opt for themselves and qualify. This gives them a sense of motivation.
Krishna: You have access to the data wherein you can check out who is doing which program and keep a tab on their progress as well. How do you plan to use this data? Do you use these data to check for who to consider for which assignment?
Sri Krishnan: We have a complete scaled database in our company and whenever there is a new job, we internally advertise and hire people who are certified and qualified for the jobs and go ahead and apply for the same.
Krishna: When the pandemic hit, a lot of organizations took over the cost-cutting model via salary cuts, layoffs etc. The Nipun Program got launched amid this crisis time. Was it a thought-through step? How did you manage to convince your team for such an investment?
Sri Krishnan: Our motto of the company says, ‘Invented for life’. We are a company who has been in its 134th year now. This doesn’t happen without simply long-term policies. We are not under the pressure of listed companies and hence we have enormous entrepreneurial freedom to actually focus on the development of people and business both. This kind of pandemic may occur again in some other form but we are ready to take up new challenges and ensure the learning curve is not hampered in any which way.
Krishna: Employee engagement and attrition rate are the two most important things HR leaders most worry about, especially if they have to measure HR function in a very objective manner. What will be your advice to the HR professionals to combat that?
Sri Krishnan: Purpose, Mastery and Autonomy: If these three aspects are well taken care of, people will stick to the organization and stay engaged. There should be a bigger purpose visible beyond the normal business. In Bosch, they have invented a life stance in front of us and that we have to keep in mind the overarching purpose that we ultimately thrive for. When it comes to mastery, Bosch gives enormous opportunities to people to learn and develop. Learning is not restricted to via trainings/programs but it's also about the on-the-job training.
In my last 21st years, I have channelized through 5-6 completely different roles altogether. This kind of freedom is there to explore, learn and contribute. When these are essentially met, I don’t see a reason for people to move out.
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