“Culture is the currency for future success of the organization,” said Ramakrishna Rao, Head of Learning and Development (Retail), LifeStyle brands, Aditya Birla Fashion & Retail. Read the full interview for his insights on the impact of culture in increasing workplace efficiency.
What are the steps you take as a leader to embrace innovative disruption?
Questioning status quo and killing your own creation to re-invent are the two mind-sets I cultivate to constantly evolve. I do it with a couple of what-if questions. What if, someone else joined in my position today? What would he/she do differently? What if, we are in 2023 (+5)? How would my strategy and ways of working be different?
I also strive to be connected with the top 5 leaders in my domain. To bring in diverse thinking I would also look at what the leaders in the affiliated domains are doing. These help me look at things from a new perspective.
What are the strategies you employ to upskill your workforce?
We have a robust capability building program for all life-stages of an employee (induction, capability-building and role-enrichment). Along the lines of 70-20-10 model, we use learning methodologies of varied kinds like stretch projects, mLearning, simulations and class-room learning to upskill our workforce.
My development plan (MDP) is a key strategic lever that empowers every employee to design their learning for the year. Beginning of the year, manager and employee discuss development plan on both functional and behavioral dimensions. This is also in alignment with their career aspirations and goals. Periodic mentoring and coaching conversations ensure the effectiveness of learning.
How do you win at talent management?
We take pride in the fact that 70% of our leadership positions are filled internally. We have a robust talent management program across all levels of employees who go through a curated 12-months learning experience preparing themselves for their next role.
The biggest reason why we are doing well is because our CEO drives the agenda personally. Our operations/line managers conduct majority of the training programs and the projects are real business problems which get solved. This amplifies the learning multi-fold. We lay lot of emphasis on building functional competencies along with the behavioral competencies.
This talent management process has helped us in retention, enhancing brand equity as employer and makes lot of economic sense as well.
What role do you think culture plays in increasing efficiency at work?
Culture is the currency for future success of the organization. For an employee, his/her manager’s/skip manager’s way of working forms a large part of the culture. It is possible that many cultures exist in pockets in a large organization. Aligning the organization to a unified work-culture espoused by the ‘values’, totally takes the organization to the next orbit in terms of its performance.
In our organization, we nurture culture using the five Aditya Birla group values of integrity, seamlessness, speed, commitment and passion. We acknowledge and reward value champions facilitating the desired culture building. Value ratings form even a part of the performance discussions.
What role do you think technology plays in talent management? How can technology bring about a change in the talent management lifecycle?
Designing career path-ways and enabling the journey with blended learning experiences is at the core of talent management. Technology can magnify the effectiveness of this multi-fold. To start with technology(machine-learning) can open-up multitude of career path-ways which were never explored in the past, by matching skills-sets, past experience and future aspirations.
Blended learning with simulations, bite-sized mlearning and assessments can accelerate and make the talent management process more robust. Talent management now happens in cycles of one year and with technology I see the whole process becoming more agile. People are now looking for meaning in their jobs more than ever before. Many professionals know what they don’t like, but are not sure of what they like. There is lot of potential waiting to be explored in this space.