Driving business performance with hyper-personalised learning
“Today, personalisation is available in everything we do,” says Harpreet Pannu, Director and Head Sales and Marketing Academy of multinational pharmaceutical giant Cipla. “And as learning leaders, we need to understand that our learner is our customer and we must customise and personalise the solutions that we want to give to them.”
Speaking at a fireside chat with Ashish Kumar Jha, Co-Founder and CEO of digital coaching platform Vani, Harpreet described how the Cipla learning team personalises learning initiatives to the needs of learners and, just as importantly, how to measure the outcomes.
Personalise to your learners' needs
Cipla, with more than 20,000 employees, clocks around eight lakh man-hours of training every year. Harpreet's own area of focus, the sales and marketing academy, caters to 10,000 people in sales and adjacent departments, and another 300-odd people in marketing.
These learners' needs are very clearly defined. Selling skills are important to them, and are measured in factors such as customer face time, coaching conversations, and how much the business units are enhancing organisational KPIs. Business communication skills are a critical baseline for this group of learners.
However, business communication skills can mean incredibly different things to different people. And the challenges that Harpreet's learners face are extremely varied. They have widely different backgrounds and highly specific needs. Sometimes they are challenged by language barriers – they might have studied in vernacular languages and faced challenges with English grammar when speaking. Others have difficulty with articulation, or with confidence building.
Partner to solve your problem statements
Personalising the learning for such a wide range of skills is not an easy task, which is where Harpreet's team realised that expert support can be invaluable.
“Sometimes as learning teams, we want to do everything ourselves. It's not possible,” she said. “Maybe the technical or functional capabilities can be looked at in house by your internal trainers. But if there are subject matter experts available outside your organisation for specific problem statements that you're trying to solve, go to them.”
That was where they settled on Vani's platform for support.
“It was a big learning for me that we can personalise something as broad as communication,” Harpreet said.
She and her team reached out specifically to people who were mapped to critical businesses – those where the company is launching future forward products and where they want customer face time to increase. These were high performers, but in internal evaluations, their communication skills were not as high as expected.
“As an organisation, you want your high performers to stay with you. But they would not have been able to go up the career ladder in the future if they do not work on that communication.”
Personalisation for them meant assigning a personal coach to each one, who would take them through the journey of addressing their own very specific needs and challenges.
The result was a huge shift in employee engagement. When Harpreet's team started the coaching programme, engagement was only 32% “because nobody acknowledges that there is some problem in their communication”, she said. But once the learners understood and accepted, they made great advances. Half the managers gave feedback that their team members had hugely improved in how they communicate and even how they listen.
“This approach of ours took time and took effort,” Harpreet said. “But when we did this, we saw 18% enhancement in our customer face time and a 48% shift in learning scores. We were able to move 17% of our people from high effort, low performance to high effort, high performance. And this all happened because we were able to personalise different learning to different cohorts instead of one solution going to everybody. Unless you personalise what you're trying to solve for, you will not get the right solutions.”