Chandan Chattaraj, president, HR (India and global), Uflex, and his team have been driving a campaign since 2012 to make Uflex a learning organisation in its true sense with all global processes and practices. Here's the story.Over the last three decades, Uflex has not only cemented it's position as India's largest flexible packaging company, but also as a strongly-emerging global player. Looking at the pace of the growth, Chandan Chattaraj, president HR (India and global) focused on creating a structured training and development strategy to cater to mid to long term developmental needs of employees.
"When we initiated this campaign in 2012, the learning and development scenario largely comprised need based, functional and on the job training," says Chattaraj. "More emphasis was sensed on leadership development and behavioral training through a well-crafted journey."
The project was conceptualised in mid-2012 and initiated by the third quarter of 2012 with well-defined milestones. "The progress till date is quite satisfactory and we plan to end the first phase by mid-2017."
Step 1: Pack in the stakeholdersChattaraj highlights the four different segments of stakeholders in the campaign: firstly, the chairman and the business CEOs; secondly, the SBU heads and functional head; thirdly, the HR team members; and lastly, the ultimate stakeholders i.e. employees across levels.
"Owing to the fact that we have six different business verticals, with manufacturing facilities at strategic geographic nodes, namely, India, Poland, USA, Mexico, Egypt and UAE, we had a lot of stakeholders to convince and work along with," Chattaraj points out.
Admittedly, it was a "very challenging task" but the project team emphasised on explaining the ROI of this effort to all stakeholders, especially the business heads.
The focus was on assuring them that one of the many actions that an organisation can take to improve its performance and profitability is training - "because we strongly believe that without formal evaluation, the basis for change can only be subjective," adds Chattaraj.
"We assured them of a clear linkage of this campaign with business growth and bottom line and explained them about our adopting the Kirkpatrick Model and giving them empirical evidence of the linkage," he says, bringing the need to quantify the impact of the programme.
Step 2: Parcel up the implementation processTo start with, Chattaraj and his team segmented the employee base in five categories: top leadership, senior management, middle management, junior management, and operators. Programmes were then created for each category, keeping in mind the core competencies they needed to perform their roles better.
The design and development of programmes was underpinned by the ADDIE model, i.e. analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation. What that implies is they were deliberated on with clear cut business objectives and measurement methodology, and a view to remodel every year.
Chattaraj explains with an example: "For operators, we launched a programme called Safalta Ka Mantra in 2012-13, focused on creating an intent to change. This led to the launch of Unnati Ki Aur in 2013-14, focused on ownership, which further evolved to Bano Vijeta Har Baar, focused on fostering excellence."
In addition, Uflex also initiated the training need identification (TNI) process, conducted every year for all categories of employees, though which needs are further analysed and programmes are identified.
"Apart from these, we take keen interest in designing business specific programmes that cater to the specific business needs arising out of individuals and teams. This includes goal alignment workshop, outbound workshop, and more," says Chattaraj.
Step 3: No project is free of challengesTo build a culture of learning within the organisation and create a strong buy-in for behavioral, managerial, and leadership training was a big challenge, admits Chattaraj.
In response, the project team conducted a lot of individual and group meetings to drive the point that this campaign will enhance the rate of business growth.
"Even after convincing and garnering the acceptance of business leaders, it was necessary to work on their understanding and appreciation of the campaign," he explains.
Another major challenge, according to Chattaraj, was to diagnose individual training needs and prepare the training plan.
He elaborates: "In between the TNI and training execution, there were many other tasks like analysis of diagnosing, content finalisation to ensure that it caters to the requirements of business, selecting the right facilitator who can relate to our business dynamics, pre-work to understand different aspects like business needs, individual skill gaps etc. followed by the execution of the training programme."
As a result, the team ensured to identify the KP level of measurement while designing the workshop itself. Uflex's behavioral and attitudinal programmes are measured at Level 3 – behaviour, ensuring this is a longer-term activity and takes place weeks or months after the initial training.
"During the programme, we involve our participants to create an action plan on the tools and techniques learnt. The action plan is created around how they will implement the tools and what measurable results can be seen after a defined period," says Chattaraj.
Step 4: A packet of success metricsThe deliverables of this campaign have been stated clearly: employee productivity, employee engagement, employee retention, and business growth, with a target to achieve KP measurement level 3 i.e. for each program, Uflex must know the impact on the business, and uses a structured methodology to showcase this impact with data and metrics.
For example, under employee productivity, production targets getting achieved upto the next level, or in the case of employee engagement, any subsequent survey indicating an increase in engagement score.
As such, the L&D effort was tracked by metrics such as, number of programmes, number of mandays, penetration levels, feedback rating, and more.
Affirms Chattaraj: "Employee engagement and L&D interventions in our films business over the last 3-4 years has resulted in about 20% delta increase in production, and 40% reduction in conversion cost." Further, the operational excellence intervention has resulted in incremental savings of approximately INR five crores (more than SGD 1 million).
In a span of three years, for each training Chattaraj and his team have created an empirical evidence matrix to link L&D efforts to business growth. He shares with pride: "The impact can be vouched by the fact that all business heads now put special emphasis on L&D. The tables have turned - earlier we were after them to do the programme, now they chase us to do more and more."
Lead photo / iStock