Learning & Talent Development – A Case Study


When I started my profession as Learning and Talent Development Consultant in 2003, one of the earliest lessons for me was ‘watch out how you write your emails’; from using CAPS to choosing your language and tone.

And as I progressed in my career, I realized that an email reflects lot more than just that. An email also reflects much about how you think and reflect; one even ends up expressing what they could not express in person. I have seen thousands of unpleasant emails that show zero emotional intelligence and their top traits were didactic, such as – ‘this is what you got to do…’, ‘this is how it is done…’, ‘you should have been doing this…’, ‘you did not do that…’ etc.

Critically thinking, there’s nothing wrong with such traits as “one got to tell what’s to be done or what’s not been done”. But a human has two important parts to their brain – left and right brain, logical and emotional side respectively. And such traits fail to cater to the right side of it. Now this can be so very fatal to any leader!

This post is not going to be about email writing, I want to address what happened at Zomato and the recent email exchange by the top leader to his employees.

The link leads you to a recent email sent by the top management to share their concerns regarding severe under-performance of the Sales Staff. Am sure that before they sent a stern mail such as this, they must have tried to handle and guide the team.

This email exhumes the lack of methodical approaches adopted by the management to handle and guide the team, and this actually is part of Learning and Talent Development.

For me, Learning and Talent Development is not a field or a division in a company, it actually is a life-style and thought-process adopted by the company.

Clearly, the top management is aghast at the sales team at so many levels, such as – under-performance, lack of vision, disoriented goals and missing team-spirit. They are so unhappy that they are not only clueless about what to do but also end up doing what shouldn’t have been done (hint, not hit the ‘send’ button for that email!)

The biggest asset to any leader is the people and the people not only need care (towards their aspirations and well-being) but also concrete steps as guidelines. Everybody loves inspiration, something that makes them ‘want to do’; not everybody is essentially ‘self-motivated’ (a very subjective term). And this is where a leader plays an extremely important role.

Here are a few things that the management at Zomato must adopt as Learning and Talent Development measures:

1- Coaching and Mentoring Systems

A leader must always be vigilant and aware about the developmental needs his/her people have.

And effective coaching and mentoring systems always keep a few factors in mind – learner’s readiness to learn and ongoing agreements to progression and the foundation of this is solid trust of the learner on the coach/mentor. While trust is gradual, the coach /mentor can expedite the process by displaying not only positive behavior but also demonstrating what they have done in that area or in those concerns.

Zomato’s management must train the leaders on ‘being an effective coach and a mentor’.

Additionally, the coaching and mentoring systems must have a mix of qualitative and quantitative aspects with regular documentation as a key feature.

2- Survey

A survey always helps gauge the pulse and the aspects that are causing the drain and the pain to all the stake-holders. They must conduct a survey that focuses on gaining a 360 Degree feedback and deeply analyzing the environment in a certain context. For Zomato the contexts could be about gauging Employee Motivation and Engagement, Leadership Effectiveness, or Work Culture. This survey will help them create robust plans for developing the people and the company’s future!

Doing a survey is especially important for Zomato because right now it may be very daunting to know where to begin. Survey will help identify priorities!

3- Career Paths

As mentioned in the mail, there does exist a 5 year Career Path and people may be fairly aware about this. But apparently, this is clearly not working for them, not as a motivating factor at least.

The foremost important qualities of good and successful Career Paths are:

– clear listing of competency-based behavioral and skill-based indicators

– openness to flexibility and change to let people explore their potential and interests

– regular feedback and guidance to people as they tread their paths

Zomato must re-look into their Career Paths and see how they can best guide their people. They must also train the management on ‘how to give and receive feedback’.

4- Knowledge Sharing Forums

It is a common myth that people don’t like to share their knowledge.

In reality, people love to share their knowledge; it’s just that they don’t get the right forum and acknowledgement for the knowledge they possess.

Zomato’s management should enable multiple channels where people come together and learn from each other, including their mistakes. Such forums could be in the range of Buddy Systems, Focused Sessions etc. Additionally, these must always be backed by acknowledgements and appreciations.

These are a few thoughts I had to ReWire Zomato’s Learning and Talent Development Culture and these were based as per my study of the article published in Economic Times.

For more, approach me at shweta.consult@gmail.com | Twitter: @consultshweta

Q&A – ROI of Training


On Oct 21st, I conducted a Q&A session at the L&D Global Community to answer questions on – How to Define, Measure and Deliver ROI (Return on Investment) for Training.

This Q&A was conducted on community’s online forum and I faced questions from across Indian L&D community!

It was great to see so many questions flooding in which clearly represented the need to practice stronger and more robust training plans.

Thanks to  Mr. Surya P Mohapatra, India Leader – Head Knowledge and Capability at Hewlett Packard Global Business Services, and L&D Global – Learning and Development Group – for enabling this forum.

Here’s an excerpt from the Q&A round:

Sumaa: In what kind of interventions we should not consider ROI?

Me:  In my experience and understanding, if you don’t gauge ROI, most likely you wasted money on intervention. Yes, unless you wanted it only to be an FYI or a constructivist approach.

ROI or more famously now, ROE (Return on Expectations) has got bright spot-light in today’s transactional world. And why not, the Business Leaders want to know where their investment (emotional & financial) is leading to.

But if you look closely, ROI doesn’t really have much to do with Business Leaders expectations really. It’s simply to do with what one learns and so what one adopts; and maybe then ultimately delivers. If you want your training intervention to be structured AND progressive, focus on designing and implementing ROI plans.

Bhavesh: What steps /corrective measures need to be taken into consideration while measuring or Defining ROI of a Training Initiative.

Me: One needs to identify and/or follow – 1) Readiness of learner(s); 2) Management Support; 3) The expectations and whether they are achievable; 4) Duration of the intervention and eventual gap to display the lessons.

The prime goal of learning is application. Now, learning may happen in a personal space but the application needs much support and recognition of several factors around. The factors mentioned above are some of the very crucial ones.

Arun: What are the methods to measure ROI?

Me: – Interviews, project based assignments, pre and post questionnaires, management ratings etc These methods differ from intervention to intervention and it is upon the designer to pick what’s best. (Instructional) Designer must be aware and extremely in sync with what’s required.       

One cannot apply one-size-fits-all theory when looking for methods to measure ROI. However, it’s helpful here to understand business leader’s expectations and the support they can extend to measure ROI.

Malini: Is it possible to calculate ROI for Behavioral Skills training programs & what would be the parameters in which it’s calculated?

Me: It is absolutely possible to calculate ROI for a behavioral skills program. The parameters have to be discussed and listed by the designer of the program and they vary all the time. Tips – focus on what are the top two objectives, list the deliverables and key indicators around them; now create parameters and add weightage to them; here, consider how you want to create the ROI Gauging forum; and last but not the least, always consider the time, space and support factor.

I personally believe, everything is math and science, even the behavior we display!

To gauge ROI for Behavioral Skills, just focus on the entire life-cycle of a learning intervention: analysis->design->development->implementation->evaluation – yup, that’s ADDIE 🙂

Rina: I have two questions.  1. We talk a lot about L&D professionals and what they should know about training ROI. What about business leaders?  What they should learn about training ROI? 2. What should Training ROI score card or dashboard in a company look like?

Me: The business leaders must know what is learning and what all goes into designing an effective learning and the importance of their role in it.; About the dashboard, it must enlist expectations, indicators, parameters, costs involved, pre and post change(s) observed.

Well, am not saying Business Leaders should study Instructional Designing, am just saying, they must understand the principles behind Instructional Designing – the science that helps lay-out a complete learning plan! In that they must support in outlining not only the competencies but also the indicators against the competencies; and accordingly commit and support.

Hope you enjoyed reading the excerpt above and found it useful.

Do share your thoughts and opinions; contact me at shweta.consult@gmail.com |Twitter: shwetaconsult