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

Twitter Chat – Innovations in Learning



Happy to share the third episode of Twitter Chat that I conducted on October 9, 2015; the former two being – Business Excellence through L&D and How to Design Learning.

The reason I chose to chat about Innovations in Learning is that this subject is very close to my heart and this actually is reflected in all the projects I design and deliver in the Learning and Talent Development domain across the organizations.

Once again, the questions I faced were from Learning Consultants and Business Personnel from across India and they reflected the need to innovate and create more.

Am happy to receive the support of 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 of the chat:

Nishant: Do you think personality traits of leadership are important to encourage innovation?

Me: Very important; Innovation in a structure is mostly top-down and more so coz it needs investment.

With innovation comes the range of Risk-Scale and risk has to be taken by the leader, a team-member cannot be expected to take the lead. Only a strong risk bearing and calculating mindset can encourage innovation.

Rina: Is Innovation in Learning all about technology only or anything else also?

Me: Not at all, technology is only recent, learning has always been there! Humans have always evolved in how they learn.

Innovation should never be considered as synonymous with technology; in fact this is a widespread myth that exists. Innovation is all about making things better by either improvising or creating something new and this really can be minus the technology too.

Sunny: What innovation tips for the undeserved with almost no exposure to technology and low English levels?

Me: Just let them experience the real-world & relate that with their books and vice versa; let them explore and experiment.

Innovation naturally comes when one understands the existing and thinks of taking it further. For that, you can belong to any ‘status of the society’ and you definitely need not be from a ‘privileged’ class. The only differentiating factor is – how one manages the resources for execution!

Divya: Behavioral trainings do not receive credibility in organizations as the effectiveness isn’t evident. How do we innovate?

Me: Hold -> Bite-size sessions & Activities, Floor-walks, FGDs, Debates, Evaluations, Invite Positive Energy & Conviction.

Behavioral trainings are all about hitting what’s below the ice-berg! Most times the effectiveness doesn’t come because we don’t identify what’s underneath really and design a collective forum. These tips I gave are not only to bring people together but also to help them express themselves.

In continuation to Divya’s question above,

Surya: Will the business leaders wake-up?

Me: It’s a huge Dominos, eventually will reach everybody, give it time.

Spirit of Innovation is extremely contagious; once it possesses a team-member, gradually everybody joins the wagon. I say this despite the fact that innovation is not widely accepted in well-laid out secure systems.

Rupinder: What do you think is the most disruptive innovation in Learning?

Me: I think it’s the digital platform Vs the physical world, so e-learning, as its added disruption and variety!

The good news with digital learning is that it is so easy to reach, self-paced and even lesser expensive as compared to Instructor Led Sessions. However, many times organizations try to infuse the digital platform where an ILS was required. In that, digital platform has become disruptive and even inappropriately used!

Rabi: How useful is gamification?

Me: Very useful as it engrosses the learner by using playful methods, who doesn’t like to play?

Gamification is a subject that is increasingly being explored right now in the context of Learning and Education. The principles are extremely fascinating and I recently had an opportunity to learn them through Wharton University. Gamification helps the learner in easing the mind and channelizing their energy and this further helps in better outcomes from the learning forum!

Hope you enjoyed reading the excerpt and found value in it. Do share your thoughts.

For more discussions, refer to #LnDTalk on Twitter.

My Twitter Handle: @consultshweta

Twitter Chat – Businesss Excellence Through L&D

Chat 2 

Twitter is a great medium to reach out to people be it your area of interest or the industry that you work in. You get to meet and interact with so many people that it just constantly keeps you up and motivated!

On Aug 30th 2015, I conducted another twitter chat on ‘How to Achieve Business Excellence through L&D’. The last chat – How to Design Learning – gave me much indication that leaders across the industries and verticals are actively looking for solutions to develop their team-members; and so I chose to host another one on this topic.

Once again, the response was overwhelming. Got loaded with questions and all had to be answered quickly and in bite-sized thoughts!

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

So what did we discuss? Here’s an excerpt of some of the questions:

Divya: How can L&D help and support the business to drive innovation?

Me: Innovation is a way of life, a habit and that can be inculcated through constant drills and/or open forum discussions.

Innovation comes naturally to some and not so naturally to some but it’s innovation that helps us move forward, evolve. So it’s important that personnel constantly look for ways to improve processes, methods, efficiency etc. Additionally, they must also know how to gain confidence of stake-holders as ‘innovation, seemingly random, too needs channelization’.

Sunny: Share your advice for NGOs as there are little resources in technology. We are working in slums – L&D for community workers?

Me: Technology is not the answer, it’s only new – L&D has been there since earth. Use basics to let them express & learn.

True learning happens when there’s a need, the concepts and content are aligned with the need and most importantly, when the learner is motivated to learn, and finds value in it. So in that, technology is just one of the enablers, not end all.

Abhipsha: Considering the fact that orgs have started outsourcing L&D, how can it play a crucial role in driving business excellence?

Me: It’s about right solutions – outsource or in-house – don’t look at costs, they cover up!

I believe that learning and education are not business; every business is an off-shoot of learning and education and not the other way round. Every business emerges from a certain learning and to sustain it we need learning. So the focus should never be on costs, the focus should always be getting the right and appropriate solutions which come through – extensive need analysis; and innovative & relevant solutions.

Benita: Is 360 degree feedback a must for Business Excellence?

Me: Feedback is an opportunity to become better & strengthen – just the forum should be right & mind should be open, so yes!

Generally speaking, we don’t have an appetite for 360 degree feedback, and so we operate in very closed communication channels, this further leads to a closed heart and mind. What this does? This shuns the path to a pool of possibilities and a sea of opportunities. And business is just about this – becoming more open to horizons, in fact creating more horizons!

Abhipsha: L&D is treated as only a support function and not strategic enablers. How to bridge this gap?

Me: L&D folks need to be Amitabh Bachhan of Zanjeer movie! Revolutionary, confident, believer and insightful.

I have seen so many times when personnel from L&D, OD or Core HR don’t express their perspective clearly enough and this happens primarily because they deal with emotions and psychology of the team-members, something that can’t be easily quantified. So I constantly feel that if they could create systems to quantify their side of data and present it with stronger conviction, situations could be much better!

Rishi: Talking of business excellence, what parameters or domains of biz can we look at to excel through LnD?

Me: Biz is Biz, L&D needs to adapt to Biz not the other way. On hindsight, biz needs constant L&D to prosper!

This question implies ‘what are the areas that can be developed in business’. And it’s just super important to consider that all areas of a business need development, only then can the business achieve an organic growth.

Surya: How can L&D practitioners keep pace with disruptive changes in industry & business?

Me: Read, talk to people, seek opinions, think critically, study patterns.

If one is a professional of L&D then that person must truly understand the profession to the core, i.e., it’s about learning and development. Which means, this personnel must not only be aware of what’s happening at the market-place but also design plans for future and then align the stake-holders to implement them!

Benita: Can LnD show ROI? How?

Me: Yes, include evaluations not only for the learners but also their managers!

If you go to a temple or an equivalent place of peace and serenity, many times you tend to lose that atmosphere outside because the atmosphere is not sustained. Same goes for a learning intervention, i.e., once learners go through a learning intervention, many times they don’t get a supportive atmosphere back on the floor/field. Here, the immediate manager plays an extremely crucial role to sustain and promote that learning and so generate the ROI.

Hope you enjoyed reading the excerpt and found value in it. Do share your thoughts.

For more discussions, refer to #LnDTalk on Twitter.

My Twitter Handle: @consultshweta

Twitter Chat – How to Design Learning

Chat 1

On July 15, 2015, I conducted a tweet chat session to address questions on ‘How to Design Learning for Professionals’.

I addressed questions not only of HR and L&D professionals but also of managers and leaders in operations. Personnel from small to large sized organizations tweeted their questions about how to create effective learning environments.

It was a great to converse with people from across the boundaries and from multiple designs of work culture. Listening to them, posing their challenges, confirmed that they all are finding solutions for the seemingly similar yet very different operational and strategic challenges. In fact, it was heartening to note that they are eager and excited to find answers.

While twitter is a wonderful medium to express bite-size messages, it can be very limiting at times too. Had so many profound questions but regrettably had to crunch my answers only to a few characters in about just a few seconds as the volume of questions too was high. So I constantly hoped that I am able to provide a satisfactory answer!

Nevertheless, it indeed was a great experience and I thank 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 is an excerpt from the chat session:

Mr. Mohapatra’s question – “How important is formal qualification for a learning designer?” – needs much attention from organizations and governments world-wide. And so my quick answer to that was “Humans have existed for over a millions of yrs & so far learning has been very scattered, so very very important”

In fact I totally believe that we could and would progress faster if we just very well know what to learn (customized needs per person/group) and when even the learning method is very attractive and appealing.

Mr. Shobhit’s first question – “I am a team lead. My team has different requirements as compared to other teams at my firm. How should I take forward the L&D” and my answer – “Have focused group and personal discussions to identify aspirations and vision. Create a learning model that appeals all” – referred to very simple ideology that says ‘connect and grow’. For we are dealing with beings who have different back-grounds and belief systems, and you can only channelize them when you take efforts to connect with them.

His second question – “Can we ensure via L&D that the candidates we hire are shaped according to the needs of the team” and my answer – “Yes, design and conduct value based learning forums” – meant that run multiple pre-designed discussions to inculcate the vision and respective values that your organization wishes to establish.

Ms Divya Nambiar’s question – “How much time should we invest in designing learning?” and my answer – “Depends upon the goals and the scope.” – essentially hinted at the foremost aspect of designing learning, i.e., Learning Needs Analysis.

Worldwide, every time a learning-design fails to achieve its desired objectives, mostly points to extremely loosely or negligibly done needs analysis. Ironically, many times even today a learning workshop is conducted without any blue-prints/objectives. And this leads to multiple losses such as – time, efforts, learner’s trust in learning itself etc.

Shenode’s question – “What should the focus be, content delivery or the jazz and jargons of content delivery” and my answer – “ARCS – Attention, Relevance, Confidence and Satisfaction – build on this.” – is pointing back to my answer to Ms Divya Nambiar’s question above.

Let’s say it’s important to grab the learner’s Attention, make sure the content is Relevant, ensure higher Confidence levels of the learner post the learning intervention and at least aim at achieving their Satisfaction.

Ms Rajat Setia’s question – “How can a start-up ensure that the right skills are being passed onto the new members, since time is limited?” – and my answer – “Identify your goals and define knowledge, skills and attitudes you are looking for. Calibrate and motivate!” – is primarily directed to creating a foundation of Competency Frameworks that specifically detail key-indicators of ‘how to do your job competently and successfully’.

There were many more interesting conversations that took place for about 1.5 hours over the tweets and overall, it was a wonderful experience!

For more discussions, refer to #LnDTalk on Twitter.

My Twitter Handle: @consultshweta

Organizational Cultures

company-culture-killers-300x285What is an organizational culture?

By nature, a culture is supposed to be driven by a community and should be progressive. Now an organization’s culture should be able to do just that; and so the essential aspects are – leaders with their vision and goals; whether team-members are clear and aligned to them; and what is done about developing knowledge, skills and attitudes (KSA).

This phenomena of an organizational culture is as difficult as simple it is to express it. Why? No prizes for guessing as a human mind continues to be the most complicated scheme of things!

In my over 11 years of experience with Organizational Development, Talent Management and Learning & Development, I have come across so many different kinds of organizational cultures that I felt it’s time to reflect and share my experiences.

“Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful.” – Margaret Wheatley

So while the table below reflects my overall experiences but this study too by Gallup has been useful – click here to read.


The table above is more about established organizations with at least 1000 employees at one location and does not echo a culture of a start-up. Next post will be about culture at a start-up!

It is really a delight to work with a culture like that of Org A because of the strong and able leadership which is sure of itself while it stays democratic. Learning and executing runs in the veins of the team-members; and cut- throat competition and gossips related to compensation and incentive schemes are alien stuff there!

Would like to know more from you about your organization and whether you would like to change anything about it.

Do leave a comment or drop me a mail at shweta@saathcare.com


Variables of Engagement

Some of our fondest memories of childhood are the summer vacations – the visits to relatives or just general tourism. We were free to do what we like (well… almost free), no stress, lots of play and this play wasn’t just fun, there was a lot of discovering and inventing involved.

Fast-forward a few years and we are adults, working in an organization, still loving vacations as much as we did earlier. After all, vacations are synonymous with exploring, doing, walking, adventure, eating – in summary – a lot of stimulation to our senses. Our concentration levels, our energies, our connection with environment is at all time high.

Once back at workplace, everything is routine (and mostly a drag) again.

No, I don’t mean to blaspheme here; but that’s what some studies say, such as:

– Worldwide, only 13% of employees are “engaged” at work. – Gallup 2013
– The traditional definition of engagement — the willingness of employees to voluntarily expend extra effort — is no longer sufficient to fuel the highest levels of performance. – Towers Watson, Global Work Force Study in 2012

I would say that engagement is equal to stimulation of senses; when our natural faculties, such as Mental, Emotional, Physical and Spiritual (MEPS), are involved and throbbing.

It is safe to say – that an organization is no amusement park but a place to work and achieve exponential goals OR that it is ever difficult now to engage people due to rapidly advancing technology and sources of mind-distraction.

But if you look back at the reasons why we enjoy those vacations that not only pique our interest but also absorb us are that they are adventurous and exploratory. There is so much random learning involved and it’s all such fun – as long as you don’t feel looted by the locals of course!

So a few checks to ensure at work-place are:

– Have creative forums for learning – debates, play-sessions, role-plays, healthy-challenges etc

– Learn how to give and receive feedback – different strokes for different folks!

– Have regular, disciplined breaks – a power-nap after lunch is an accepted phenomenon now

– Avoid carrying work to home – mind gets baked with stress when cluttered and over-loaded

There could be many more ways; keep experimenting with MEPS!

Suggested Reading – World Wide Employee Engagement – by Gallup