You can Anticipate the Future based on Data: Sreejith Krishnan, Head– Learning & Development, Sony


“We constantly challenge ourselves and look for ways to do things smarter and faster,” said Sreejith Krishnan, Head– Learning & Development, Sony India Software Centre. We had an interesting chat with Sreejith about upskilling for the future, among other things.

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

There are 3 things – Active Listening, Analysing and Anticipation. We have to be active listeners, get input from business, listen to employees, and listen to your internal and external stakeholders. Analyse the situation and anticipate the future. I think the most important skill of a leader in a disruptive environment is to anticipate the future based on the data available. From a Learning and Development perspective things have changed in the last 10 years. The approach is business driven. To give you a comparison – cable TV channels versus Netflix. So the cable TV format is such that you have to watch what they show, when they show and you don’t have control over things like ads that appear. Whereas if it is the new age internet based channels, the content is more viewer-driven.

It is about what business and participants want. We constantly challenge ourselves and look for ways to do things smarter and faster which will have maximum impact. There is a shift from the traditional classroom training approach to on-demand learning. It’s mostly micro learning, e-learning, mobile learning etc. where they spend less time and get more. The fast pace of the workplace requires a new approach that steps outside the traditional methods of training and harness a more real-time approach with immediate access to learning resources.

What are the strategies you employ to upskill your workforce?

We have something similar to the design thinking approach where we develop a product. We have a similar strategy in designing a training program. We will go to a customer, in this case the Business Head or the target audience and do an empathy mapping to understand where the need is coming from, the impact that it is going to make and how their life is going to change by doing this intervention. We do a deep dive to understand the need and then we partner with the business to design the intervention.

We have innovative learning methodologies like gamification, learntainment, simulations etc. to make learning interesting. We have observed that the retention is very high if the participant is emotionally connected to the information. We design learning roadmaps to show them where they are by using effective assessment tools and will provide them the best resources, strategies and techniques to reach their destination.

How do you win at talent management?

Basically there are three elements to talent management – Attracting talent, engagement and retention. For each of these things, there are different aspects. I will talk about talent engagement- I believe line managers play more of a critical role in talent engagement than HR folks. It is not about organisation wide initiatives that we do every day as a manager which matters for an employee. We train our managers to become world class managers so that they can make an impact everyday while managing people. We also align our employee development plans with the companies’ strategic plan. When you engage employees in their work through organizational goals, you create greater employee ownership and they become more committed to achieve higher levels of job performance.

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

Culture plays a very important role. A big role in fact. In psychology there is a concept called Social Learning. We observe and learn from people around us. It starts with the leaders – what they do or what they don’t do, has an impact on the organisation culture. Culture is nothing but a group of people doing something in a particular way. Each company has its own culture. So from an HR point of view and from a learning point of view, we start early enough on developing these behavioural aspects. We share the mission, vision and values of the company with great passion on day one itself so that they find meaning in what they do at work. We have a global behavioural framework and we conduct regular trainings to reinforce these behaviours on our people. It’s not about what we do but why we do which matters to most people, so we make sure that it is communicated to everyone.

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

Everyone knows the buzz words AI, IoT, machine learning, robotics etc. It’s not about robots taking our jobs but about being effective in what we do. Let’s talk about one function, Talent Acquisition. We all know that hiring is not a fool proof process and hiring mangers make mistakes. Even after training on how to conduct effective behavioural skills for interviewing, they end up hiring wrong people at times. But today we have amazing technologies which will do 90% of the process. From screening resumes to conducting interviews. It is not only about saving time and effort but about getting flawless output.

There are many AI based employee engagement tools in the market, which gives amazing inputs and trends. I recently came across one tool where the employee can take a selfie and the system will tell you the health condition of the person.

The future is definitely exciting. We have to embrace technology at the same time, spend the saved time using technology on connecting more with people at a human level.


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