Article: Upping the Leadership Game @ Siemens India 

Leadership Development

Upping the Leadership Game @ Siemens India 

A case study on the design and details of Siemens India's 2 year long high potential development program
Upping the Leadership Game @ Siemens India 

Siemens India recently commenced its second batch of structured Potential Development Program, a two-year intensive program designed to identify and groom potential leaders for addressing its current and future business challenges. 

Here is a detailed case study of how the organization has designed the 2 year journey.

Program Genesis

The growth opportunity in the domestic market necessitates the need to identify and develop high potential talent, so as to build a healthy pipeline for key leadership roles within the organization. In order to realize its 2020 strategy, Siemens India has designed an initiative called the Siemens India Potential Program, with the objective of identifying high potential individuals (HiPos), and providing them the accelerated learning opportunities for making them future-ready. 

Acronymed CORE (Change, Outdo, Rise and Evolve), the program emphasizes on development of learning agility, which is considered as a top predictor of high potential. This program is audited and validated by Siemens’ global talent development expert team.

The program expects the HiPos to (C–Change) challenge the status quo by introducing new perspectives, thoughts & ideas and (O–Outdo) exhibit high performance by demonstrating flexibility & adaptability to (R–Rise) take risks and performing exceptionally well in first time situations. CORE also calls for the HiPos to be self-reflective and know their personal strengths & growth areas by actively seeking feedback and taking corrective action. Finally, it demands that the HiPos (E–Evolve) understand others, be skilled in communication, be comfortable with diversity and handle conflicts constructively. 

Selection Process for CORE

To bring adequate focus to the discussion on performance management and potential development, Siemens has separated them as two distinct processes. Performance management focuses on the contribution of the employee in the current role and potential development focuses on identifying and developing the potential for future roles. Towards this, Siemens has moved to a new talent mindset where everyone is a talent, but only a few have high potential.

Siemens believes that the ownership of developing one’s own career should rest with the employees, with the manager and the HR facilitating the process. The potential identification criteria include cognitive ability, people agility, change & learning agility and motivation and resilience. Siemens chooses a batch of 30 HiPos every year who are below the age of 35, across business divisions and corporate functions, which ensures that the creme-de-la-creme gets into the program. For this, Siemens invites twice the number of employees for the selection process. Those who don’t make it are encouraged to develop their potential by leveraging the learning courses offered through its ‘Learning Campus’.

The nominated individuals are put through a battery of on-line psychometric and cognitive assessments to validate the potential and the batch of HiPos is chosen based on the assessment results.

Development Center

The selected HiPos are put through the Development Center to identify their Strengths and Growth Areas with respect to the Siemens leadership competencies. For example, HiPos with people responsibility go through the on-site development centre, and individual contributors are put through virtual development centre, Manager Ready. 

Program kick-off event

As a part of the program design, the Talent Development (TD) team in HR planned an intensive 5 days kick-off event that consisted of a series of learning interventions, engagements and experiences.

The objective of the kick-off event is to bring the HiPos together to initiate their journey by emphasizing the need for Learning, help them to prepare their Individual Development Plans, to create visibility to the country management by providing them a platform for them to showcase their personal brand and provide inputs on latest business and leadership related topics including a session to coach them to develop their “X” Factor. 

Day 1 started with a session on helping the HiPos draft their own Individual Development Plans (IDPs), followed by  a session to help the HiPo’s  underst  the “Big Picture” by summarizing the internal and external contexts and the need for learning, unlearning and relearning.  

Day 2 involved action learning through Business Impact Projects (BIP), where the HiPos form cross functional teams and identify key challenges within a business area and take on BIPs in these areas. These projects are entrepreneurial in nature and the HiPos are expected to identify and implement path breaking solutions. The progress of these BIPs is monitored by project-specific steering committees at regular intervals and the benefits quantified to business outcomes. A distinguishing feature of the event this year was the session on “Agile Learning Lab - Maximizing value through Business Impact Projects (BIP)” using Agile (SCRUM) methodology.

Day 3 focused on the workshop “Leadership Presence -Developing the X Factor” which covers topics such as corporate etiquette, high impact conversation, elevator pitch, the power of networking and personal brand and power dressing. 

Day 4 was termed as the “multiplex learning” day, with  3 concurrent sessions organized: “Communication for Impact and Influence” for HiPos, “Talking to your Talents - Talent Conversations that Work” for managers and “Explore the Unexplored” - a session for the mentors to enable their mentees to unlock their latent potential.

The evening event on day 4 culminated into the finale titled as “Upping the Leadership Game @ Siemens India -The Curtain-Raiser”. The event was inaugurated by the members of the executive management. The executive management, finance leadership team, managers and mentors of the HiPos and HR business partners were all invited for this program. This gala evening had three main highlights – personal branding kiosks for the HiPos (wherein the HiPos can showcase their personal and professional achievements and also promote their personal brand to the who’s who of Siemens in India), BIP presentations and a talent show. 

Day 5 was all about innovation and gamification, with sessions on ‘Acquiring Innovation Mindset and Design Thinking’ and ‘Thinking and Influencing Stakeholders - A Gamified Learning Experience’ respectively. 

Learning path for the high potentials 

As a testimony of the differentiated investment on the selected HiPos, an Executive Management course is offered to them, to develop their general management skills. The course, which is offered in collaboration with IIM Bangalore for a duration of 5 weeks in 2 phases of 4 weeks and 1 week each, is custom designed for Siemens. The key highlight of the course is the assignment of Organization Impact Projects (OIP), which are allotted to the HiPos  directly by the CEO of Siemens India. Participants work on these OIPs incorporating the learnings from the course and they are coached by professors from IIM B. While BIPs are business challenges specific to the business divisions, OIPs are business challenges at the country level which are common across the business Divisions.  

Mentoring is an essential part of this program. HiPos have the freedom to choose their mentors within the organization.  One mentor can only mentor one mentee at a time. At the end of the program, after 2 years, a mentors’ conclave is organized where the mentors talk about their experience of working with the mentees and how they are able to add value to the mentees.

They may even get an opportunity to be part of the shadow board and to go on learning expeditions to a few select companies on a need basis.

To continue and build on the momentum generated in the kick-off event, the HiPos are presented with their two year roadmap called “My Potential Realization Journey”. This details out each and every deliverable expected from these participants and also outlines the important learning interventions that they will be experiencing as a part of this program. 

Governance of the program

The talent development team is responsible for the program management which involves close interactions, execution and monitoring of the various initiatives, arranging frequent interactions with the senior management team both at the country level as well as divisional level, review of BIPs with the steering committee, publishing periodical dashboards, recognitions, ensuring retention of potentials by driving critical touch points through the HR Business Partners and so on.

The two year potential development journey is divided into four levels and the participants will have to work on pre-assigned tasks & deliverables and achieve the milestones to be able to clear the levels. As a part of this, they also need to stay in touch with their Divisional CEOs and CFOs and HR Business Partners and update them on the progress.

Impact of the program

Today, through the structured Potential Development Program of CORE, the organization has 30 HiPos from CORE 2.0 and 25 from CORE 1.0 who have the capability, desire and mindset to become the future leaders at Siemens.  The leadership bench strength is getting better with this focused initiative.  These names are considered as part of the succession planning and for driving many significant organizational initiatives.  

While CORE provides the platform for the HiPos to develop themselves, their success really depends on their commitment and perseverance towards the meticulous execution of their IDPs and in demonstrating their ‘readiness’ for taking up bigger roles and responsibilities within the organization. This requires the HiPos to learn faster and reduce the learning curve. 

As of now, 60% of the CORE 1.0 participants have already realized their career aspirations towards their leadership journey. And the journey continues!

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Topics: Leadership Development, Strategic HR

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