Learning never ends and in the human resources industry it only begins after one becomes a manager. A year amidst the pandemic, however, slowed down this process considerably as everything went virtual. Many organisations saw this as an opportunity to train the first-time managers with a global perspective. Yokohama Off- Highway Tyres (YOHT) has introduced a training programme for the early and mid-level managers in tandem with the organisation’s US employees. Called ‘Lead – Leading Teams Effectively’, the objective is to support the development of early to middle managers. The participants are from corporate, sales, appliance functions and also from the US verticals.
Dheera Bhadani, senior manager, human resources, YOHT, who is leading the programme, explains, “Since none of the trainings were happening physically, we saw this as a good opportunity to be leveraged and aimed for diverse participation in the programme. Traditionally, we run such training programmes at the respective locations. People were anyway working from home, so they were able to join whenever and from anywhere, irrespective of the time zones they belonged to.”
Rajeev Singh, CHRO, YOHT
It’s a 12-week exercise and has competency-based assessment, pre and post the sessions. There are three learning modules spread across six virtual sessions conducted by trainers. It has a mobile-based gamified platform as well. After every module is completed, closure or feedback sessions are conducted. After completing their assignments people revert based on their learnings. This breeds peer learning and sharing of cross-cultural participation. That’s why the virtual programme, which began in January 2021, had a mixed batch.”
The idea to roll out a programme for early and mid-level managers comes from a 2019 initiative called ‘Managers as Coach’. Bhadani reveals that the organisation had several batches running for the ‘Managers as Coach’ programme. Offering further expalantion, Rajeev Singh, CHRO, YOHT, says, “The purpose of this intervention is to create a developmental culture in the organisation. The first thing is to look at the senior people and sensitise them. That’s why, the initiative of ‘Manager as Coach’ was introduced. With that mind-set, it’s easy to have conversations.” With the senior levels adequately addressed, the question arose as to how to address people who are managers for the first time or those who need some support to be better managers. “The objective was to ensure that managers across levels are able to understand how to manage themselves, their teams and the stakeholders. Therefore, the goal was to prepare a senior manager to nurture a coaching mindset and then work on making the upcoming manager more
effective,” enunciates Singh.
The criteria to get selected for the programme is quite simple. This is designed for those managers who have recently been promoted or have moved from an individual contributor position to that of a team-handler. Such managers needed assistance to perform their jobs efficiently. The participants for this programme are selected after holding conversations with their managers, the HR manager and the employees who are getting nominated. The manager and the HR will discuss the requirements and identify the people who will benefit from the exercise. The nominated employees are made aware of the objective of the programme and the managers identify the areas relevant for their learning and development. They customise the programme according to the feedbacks.
The programme was put in place by YOHT in partnership with Tack TMI Inspire One, a service provider. It also employs some measurable tools to gauge the transformation in these managers before and after taking this training programme.
Dheera Bhadani, senior manager, human resources, YOHT
Even though the program is only a few months old, both Bhadani and Singh have observed some noticeable changes in the behaviour of the employees. Bhadani shares, “People were excited doing role plays or activities in the breakout rooms on Zoom meetings. They related some examples which were very specific to our industry. In the first module, the trainer used generic case studies, while in the next one, the suggestion that came up was whether it could be more relatable. Accordingly, we tried to modify the questions and case studies.”
Some of the changes incorporated were use of terminologies relevant to the industry, or situations that managers may come across in the organisation in a normal day. A few quick chats with the participants and managers in terms of context and expectations helped them come up with a solution. “Participants shared some situations during their feedback sessions and we incorporated them in the programme. It was a game changer for us. In a virtual session, one cannot see everyone. After the modifications, however, one could even see few people — who wouldn’t otherwise contribute — volunteer to speak because they could relate to it,” Bhadani reveals.
Singh, on his part, realised that people had already started putting their learnings to use. “One of the criteria is what benefits they will get from it. Their takeaway is getting measured with some in-built tools. I have seen people’s approach to work change. I have seen the tool kits that have been shared during the sessions being used in their day-to-day interactions,” Singh observes proudly.
For the first batch, the virtual module had two hour-sessions every day spread across three months. The organisation now plans to make it physical by moving the session to the plant. Therefore, the courses will get compressed to one or two days at the site. “One can’t make someone sit for hours on a virtual medium. Therefore, we had divided the modules into a couple of sessions rather than have long sessions on each day. Each session lasted two hours and was scheduled in the evening. People were in different time zones. Going forward, since things are going back to normal, we are moving the exercise to the plant site,” Bhadani explains.
Singh reveals that the organisation always wanted the session to be in person. “Plant setups are ideal for in-person sessions. We also want to test the effectiveness of the programme. Henceforth, we will have two-day programmes instead of three-month long ones. The on-site programme will have the same faculty, content and measures. This is specifically curated to help the staff at the physical sites,” informs Singh.
Currently, each batch has 20 odd participants. Moving forward, the organisation wishes to train 300 managers. To become effective contributors, YOHT believes that all upcoming managers need to go through this training programme.