Instilling A Culture Of Learning
How often does one get to hear a Mt. Everest conquering corporate banking head shares his perspective on how to challenge life? Or a decorated war veteran shares his perspective on leadership? And how often does one get to reflect on their ethical dilemmas and deconstruct a case study on the subject? Employees at HCCB were treated to such thought-provoking sessions and much more during the recently concluded 'Learning Month'.
The month of September 2020 brought a much-awaited, celebratory mood for the employees of HCCB. With the objective of developing capabilities and celebrating the culture of learning, HCCB launched a month-long festival of learning through a series of sessions in September. This high intensity, high engagement festival of learning brought in a high level of empowerment and enthusiasm among the employees. A prelude to the learning month was the 'learning hour', which began during the lockdown, and included a 60-minute session twice a week, conducted by HCCB's partners and associates. Its success with a participation rate of 300+ employees for each session paved the way for the learning month.
Among the many instances demonstrating the success of the learning hour was Kedar Vashi, Head of Learning & Development, HCCB, receiving a call from one of the Company's area sales manager, stuck at a hotel in Patna, who narrated how much she looked forward to the learning hour each week. The session had become an anchor for her and that it made her feel connected to the other employees who logged in. The reason the learning month became such a success, says Kedar Vashi, is "because it fulfilled a real need in people, which was to find hope, positivity, empowerment, engagement, and a sense of being included, especially at a time when people are feeling detached and lost."
Beginning with the learning hour, the learning month brought in a range of formats and themes for different groups of employees, taking on a completely digital mode this year. The good thing was that the first five months of the pandemic from April to August had given the Company ample time to warm up to and experiment with the digital medium. Subsequently, a host of technologies were deployed during the learning month, using available platforms and tools, along with curated content modules through external partners, most of which could also engage audiences in a two-way mode.
Christina Ruggiero, CEO
The first of the series was called 'Learn with Leaders', in which every weekday, one member of the leadership team would conduct a session on his/her topic of choice. The series was kick-started with a session by Christina Ruggiero, CEO, HCCB, followed by 24 more sessions on topics ranging from 'ethical dilemma' to 'strategies in the new normal'. Even as these in-house learning sessions became a huge success, there was another mode of digital learning that was introduced through e-learning platforms like LinkedIn learning and Harvard ManageMentor (HMM). Under HMM, 'Time management' was a course taken the most number of times followed by 'Crisis management', 'Goal setting' and 'Customer focus'. Under LinkedIn Learning, most users chose the course on 'morning habits of high performers, followed by 'strategic thinking', 'building resilience', and 'developing your emotional intelligence'.
To encourage employees to experience and explore various digital learning platforms, quizzes were conducted throughout the month.
For the executives and team leaders across all functions, another series of sessions, called 'Becoming an Extraordinary Team' was conducted over four weeks. With more than 350 people attending these sessions, and with a tremendous average feedback score, it was a resounding success. For the managers, the learning needs were addressed through 10 sessions of "Learn with a Story" , which again garnered superb feedback from 250+ managers who participated.
Apart from these sessions, a panel of guest speakers addressed the teams every week. This included Farhad Talhame, the ex-Chief Innovation Officer of Godrej, speaking on 'step, jump and leap innovation ', a popular innovation strategy.
Next, Vikas Dimri, Head of Corporate Finance Division of Deutsche Bank, and an Everest climber addressed the teams on how to challenge life, bringing together corporate experience and personal passion.
Another extremely well-appreciated session was by Kapil Sekri, CEO and Founder of Fratelli Wines, a home-grown wine brand doing exceptionally well in the curated wine space globally. He spoke on how he helped the Company grow during pandemic times. Pravesh Pandey, CEO of Big Brewsky, a chain of pubs in Bangalore, took the teams through the topic of leadership resilience during the pandemic. The grand finale of the month, was a session by Lt. Gen. A Arun, Director General, Strategic Planning of The Indian Army speaking on Lessons on Life and Leadership. This session replete with stories from the Armed forces inspired and energized the audience.
At HCCB, inclusion is one of the Growth Behaviours, and the Company believes that developing capabilities in the learning month should go beyond the organizational boundaries. It should reach those who generally do not get much opportunity to learn from corporate leaders. Accordingly, a series of sessions were organised for the students of tier III city colleges, who do not get the exposure that students of tier I and tier II cities get. Dhanpat Jain of the L&D addressed 2000+ students of tier III city colleges on "how to shape your attitude and change your communication style to meet the corporate challenge of today." I am immensely proud of this initiative", says Kedar Vashi because "you never know who got help out of this – who was sinking in confidence and just got a boost."
The final series, called Digital Dronacharya, turned out to be a super hit. Any employee who trained his/her team was awarded the badge of Digital Dronacharya, named after the esteemed teacher character from the Mahabharata. The participation was so high that 50 awards had to be shortlisted from 3x entries! "September is the amazing learning month and has benefited my team and me as well in day to day professional and personal life", says M. Sai Siva Patnail, Area Sales Manager, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana Zone.
The end of the learning month clocked 40k+ hours covering 26,000 participants, with 86 per cent coverage of the employee population. More importantly, only 17% of the hours were delivered by external speakers.
Indrajeet Sengupta, CHRO
All of this learning was not just for the sake of it but was linked to people's specific development plans, to be captured in annual appraisals. "Learning Month has given me a chance to improve knowledge of best practices in both personal and professional life, which represents individual success", shares Swapna Neha, Executive – HR at HCCB's Ameenpur factory.
"The thing that changed this year was that it was all about managing the sessions remotely, and yet it turned out to be so much more successful than last year.", says Arun Prakash Ray of the Learning & Development.
Indrajeet Sengupta, CHRO, HCCB signs off saying, we learnt that when you democratize learning, it works perfectly fine, that digital is the new way to learn and that we learn very well from peers."