E-talent helps our managers guide the performance of their teams: Sandhya George, Essilor

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According to Sandhya George, Senior Manager, Essilor, in this age, any company which delays adoption will have an issue with managing talent. 

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

At Essilor, we strongly believe in innovation. It has been named by Forbes as one of the world’s “100 Most innovative Companies” for 2018. Innovation has been at the core of Essilor’s identity underpinning the Group’s mission of improving lives by improving sight.

As a company these aspects are chronicled in our Principles and Values- WIRED- which every employee needs to be aware of.

W – Working Together- strengthens our company’s performance and enables us to maintain a dynamic of permanent evolution

I – Innovation –  Concerns all aspects of  the company: technology, manufacturing, Sales and service

R- Respect & Trust –  are at the heart of our human relationships and foster commitment

E – Entrepreneurial Spirit- Encouraging initiative and empowering individuals are part of our  founding characteristics

D – Diversity- Our diversity and the values we place on differences are strengths that create value through embracing multiple viewpoints and enrich our human experience.

As leaders, we promote these principles and values at an employee, team, function/group level, which can enable and promote innovation. This is usually by encouraging new thoughts from an idea all the way to implementation.

What are the strategies you employ to upskill your workforce?

At Essilor, everyone shapes his or her own career. When you join Essilor, you’re able to fulfill your potential, develop your skills and evolve professionally, with the support of a personalized development program. From recruitment to integration, through training, functional or geographic mobility, work placements or internships, you can build a career path that suits you here.

We’re constantly thinking about building for the future starting with young talents. We’ve created different programs to attract, engage and develop three key groups – undergraduates, fresh graduates and young talents who are already part of our Group.

We want to give our managers the opportunity to step back and develop their strategic thinking and management style, with the aim of creating a continual development process within the Group.

Designed with business schools and coaching networks, our management leadership programs mesh with the reality of our businesses. They enable managers to benefit from working with Essilor business cases and apply the tools and approaches explored in training back in their business unit. An example of these programs is our annual AMP (Advanced Management Program) that gives some forty experienced managers access to interact with leading business schools faculties.

In addition to the above, we have our internal training platform, Essilor Univeristy- in short, called EssilorU.

How do you win at talent management? 

Employees are a great asset for the Essilor group. We are therefore very committed to their development and are driving many initiatives (globally and locally) to support this. For example in 2016, we launched an HR tool called E-talent. It helps our managers guide the performance of their teams and it also provides an opportunity to discuss the development of each individual. This way we will be able to get better individualized plans but also are able to get more qualitative insights in group developments.

One of our human resources priorities is enabling all talents to develop. Through training, everyone at the Essilor Group can progress in his or her career, develop individual performance or enhance skills and employability.

Essilor’s training platform turns around three learning and development categories: Essilor U, our online university, that has been the centre of a network of online ‘academies’ and internal trainers. With over 1000 modules available, the platform is available to 42,000 employees worldwide with over 30,000 courses covering topics as diverse as new products, managerial development or the Group’s Principles and Values. Classroom-based training programs, such as Vision Essilor, an integration program, provide managers with key insights and skills; while a number of functional and regional training programs exist to cater towards specific business needs. To offer every individual a diverse and varied career path, we have also deployed a global talent management framework.

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

We know that people give their best in a company where health, safety and well-being are paramount, so we strive to offer our employees a safe and pleasant working environment.

From the results of opinion surveys that we conduct regularly with all our employees, hundreds of action plans are developed locally. The day-to-day work of our network of health and safety managers on the ground has also enabled us over recent years to improve our key health and safety indicators. 

Listening, discussion and openness in internal dialogue is important and we aim to ensure that everyone can participate regardless of usual hierarchical channels. Locally, consultation with internal partners reflects Essilor’s own culture: each legal entity independently structures it in the most appropriate way.

Since its origins, the Essilor group has been committed to employee shareholding. Today, nearly one in four employees is a shareholder. Internal shareholding brings Essilor a unique governance model that both engages employees in major decisions of the company and aligns their interests with those of other shareholders. It is supported by Valoptec Association, which unites nearly 9,000 shareholders, representing the Group’s largest shareholder.

All the above together adds to the culture of our organization and enables the growth and efficiency of the company.

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

We are living in a world of apps, AI, predictive analysis etc. In this age, any company which delays adoption will have an issue with managing talent. All these functionalities are changing the way we operate in HR and are driving the need to adapt technology.

Employees are expected to be connected real time. His/her working environment is hyperactive and changing continuously.  Talent Management has to ensure that technology is simple, easy to use and scalable. Additionally, there is whole new change in the employee demographics at the workplace. We have the Gen X, Y, Z all working in the same environment. The hierarchical model of operation is no longer applicable and relevant. We are talking of teams operating on the same project, by drawing expertise of different people situated across geographies, regions and locations.

Technology will play a key role in ensuring that the Talent Management teams are able to encompass these new challenges. It has to be designed in such a way that it helps employees to be more productive and efficient. Collaborative tools such as Skype, BlueJeans, Trello help make communication easier. Instead of doing a once a year performance management process, the focus will shift to real time feedback, 360 feedback etc. Instead of employees waiting for L&D led training programs, focus will shift to employee led training through online, mentoring, knowledge sharing platforms etc. Instead of working on excel sheets to determine employee trends, online analytical tools will present real time trends with predictive analysis.

The Deloitte report on “HR technology Disruptions for 2018” has clearly stated the following:

“Integrated talent management (software that handles people management from prehire to retirement) alone is no longer effective. Companies want management tools that help enable and empower teams, drive team-centric engagement and performance, and support agile, network-focused HR practices.”

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