Striking the Right Balance Between Technology and Human-Centric Experience Creation: Alka Rai, Flipkart


According to Alka Rai Sharma, Senior Manager, Learning & Development at Flipkart is it imperative for an organzation to know and state clearly what distinguishes them from others in this digital age.  Keep reading for to know more about how culture can effect efficiency at the work place.

What are the steps you take as a leader to embrace innovative disruption?

With technology redefining the way we live and work, as a professional, it is crucial to get comfortable with cycles of un-learning and learning being a core part of our roles. The agility with which we embrace, conquer and drive this contextualized change is what sets us apart today.

To be able to get comfortable with frequent disruptions, in my experience, it all starts with the ‘right’ mindset- to consciously and deliberately maintain an open mind and a thirst for more knowledge. For instance, today it is essential to get comfortable with moving away from traditional, well documented architecture that may be considered an industry norm toward customizing our approach entirely. What that means is that L&D professionals are having to wear different hats more frequently and inter-changeably than ever — that of innovation partners, problem solvers, collaborators and performance consultants, to name a few. This means a lot of unlearning and some re-learning as well.

Whether it is using new technology developments to problem solve or partnering with thought leaders within the organization, the core principle remains – ‘how do our learners learn best’.

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What are the strategies you employ to upskill your workforce?

In my experience, great strategy is constantly evolving and has a balance of long and short term employee-centric growth goals that hinge on a few important factors and organisations should focus on these aspects:

– Technology as an innovation ally. How can we simplify it and contextualize it to real-time problem solving for the business.

– Especially for millennial generation, try to club avenues of ‘experience’ and learning. Learning in smaller ‘bites’ can allow them to pick it up at their own pace and place. This becomes particularly important because as the way organisations work evolves, the way learning and experiences shape should evolve as well.

– Letting learner data (participation, impact, 360 surveys, etc.) dictate one’s approach.

– Focusing on blending traditional and new age/agile learning practices as solutions.

How do you win at talent management?

Talent Management, like any organization, is ever evolving. Having said that, it is essential to create a consistent quality of experience at every stage for an employee- from hire to exit.

Though the list and priorities might not look the same for different organizations, a great talent strategy will usually have the following crucial indicators:

  1. Hiring not just for roles but deliberately looking for a cultural fit.
  2. Talent Engagement in partnership with L&D. Building talent fungibility and scalability benefit both the organization and the employee, in the long run. As our world becomes more and more digitally-enabled, there is a need to have more ‘fluid’ talent, that preferably have a balance of ‘specialist’ skills and ‘bridging’ skills.
  3. From an organization’s perspective- deliberate, long term focused ‘investment’ in development of employees.

What role do you think culture plays in increasing efficiency at work?

Peter Drucker once said, “Culture eats Strategy for Breakfast”. It couldn’t be truer today. As digital levels the playing field between new age and seasoned organizations, it becomes imperative for an organization to know and state clearly what distinguishes them from others- from employee, leader and customer perspectives. The clearer the vocabulary and understanding of this collective ethos, the clearer decision making becomes. There is a better understanding of what management styles will help lead people and organization the best, etc. In short, it reduces the ‘dead weight’ that comes with delayed decision making, wasted efforts, failed projects, etc.

Other than efficiency, a great culture also creates the perfect ecosystem for ideation and collaboration, furthering the cycle of efficiency.

What role do you think technology plays in talent management? How can technology bring about a change in the talent management lifecycle?

Technology plays and will continue to play a big role in the talent management lifecycle. While today a lot of organizations use technology to streamline processes, the power of it lies in using it to architect employee experience- right from onboarding to exit. Technology enabled platforms can today help create a synchronized experience of the organization for an employee encompassing milestones such as performance management, career framework and aligned learning pathways, etc. It can therefore bring about a more strategic intent to talent management. For instance, simulations/simulated environments are being used today as a catalyst to hire the right talent, train employees for current and future roles, etc. Also, availability of these technology-fueled modalities is helping learning, talent and HR professionals be a lot more proactive in their solutions today. This in turn also paves way for learning becoming more intuitive and proactive.

It is also important to strike the right balance between technology and human-centric experience creation.


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