Ekta Capoor, our Chief-in-Editor of Amazing Workplaces had an insightful interview with Senior Director Learning & Development, Biocon BFI. The purpose of the interview was to understand how learning and development plays a major role in improving engagement in an organization.
Biocon BFI has augmented its growth in the last few years and have been projected as an organization of repute. They believe competency can be developed through knowledge enhancement of the employees where L&D plays a significant role. The organization believes in initiating to develop and implement advanced programmes in order to build employee engagement through L&D.
What is the objective and Purpose of Learning and Development at Biocon BFI?
Biocon BFI believes in engaging the company’s employee to participate in business and use the situations to build their competency.
The pharmaceutical market being fast and unstoppable brings several alterations in businesses. Due to these fast-changing scenario and competition, employees too have to participate, learn and keep progressing according to the changes in the market. As a result, the organization have to provide a learning solution to carry out with the market as well as achieve their business targets. Hence, the purpose of L&D is to facilitate employee development to tackle these issues.
What are the different approaches and arrangements that you follow in Learning and Development?
Biocon practices a multi-pronged approach for their employees. They believe that employee training cannot be done in a single way & needs to implement various methods to keep up with the employees’ changing learning styles. Basic methods being used by us is classroom training, where we mix instructional training with experiential methods. The trainee is put into a different selling situation and is asked to solve the problem at hand.
Other methods used are E- learning and M-learning for regular knowledge enhancement. L&D also provides coaching on-the-job. A Trainer accompanies sales persons & managers in the field and observes and studies the sales process. Subsequently feedback is given so that the sales person can improve his performance.
Biocon also uses outbound methodology where experiential learning using unfamiliar exercises encourages skill development.
Tell us about gamification in learning and development
Gamification makes technology platforms much more engaging and interactive than other platforms. It makes learning livelier through a game process. The particular mechanism is usually used in sales training. It helps in training the employee before meeting with clients. At Biocon, game durations are for 45 minutes.
The trainees are provided with virtual mock ups regarding sales conversations with possible clients. The trainee has to make fitting conversations in order to pitch the client and test his skills. They are also given timely feedbacks in the game regarding corrections, advises and approval. The game mechanism educates the trainee about what went wrong when they are unable to gain success.
Through this exercise, the sales person gets hands on experience before meeting the real customers. Gamification also includes experimental programs where few activities are used to make the game more engaging for the participants. L&D is not just about engaging but also to learn after all, “The end objective in the program is to learn”.
What are the effects and impacts of a robust Learning and Development program?
Pharmaceutical selling is largely “Personal Selling”. Success here largely depends on Sales person’s ability to relate customer, understand needs & providing value added solutions. It needs hard work, deep knowledge of medicines & skilful execution. Hence, Sales training has potential to provide a significant opportunity to impact the sales process. Another key reason is that 30% of Sales Force usually includes fresh graduates who need appropriate sales training.
Enhancing productivity should be the main objective of L&D, employee engagement follows. Hence, to start with participant’s feedback during and after training workshops plays a valuable input to make training relevant to market scenarios which the sales force often face while interacting with customers. Further, we also check the learning impact through assessment & change in behaviour. Ultimately, a sales training can be called successful only if it helps in increasing sales.
Other impacts are enhanced ability of Sales people to handle customer queries, number of customers supporting our product range etc.
Learning and Development Case Study
The most important function of L&D is to train the employees for any upcoming competitive scenarios in sales. In 2018, Biocon’s, Front line and second line sales manager started facing issues in their role clarity as well as other competencies. Since front line managers play an important role in the organization, their being effected created a direct impact on the revenue and sales.
As a trial and first phase solution, Biocon hired an external trainer to train the HOD’s and Business Unit Heads. As a part of the training program, the trainer trained the concerned personnel in Role clarity as well as the following three competencies:
- Ability to coach
- Ability to drive performance through setting goals, conducting review & giving feedback
- Ability to drive change
After the procedure of external training, the Sales Heads further trained the Regional Managers and finally continuing the chain, the Regional Managers trained the front line managers. Due to this entire chain training the given core competencies became a part and parcel of the top managers. Positive returns started to initiate once again.
To translate learning into execution a matrix was developed on the basis of the measurable parameters to measure the progress. The matrix was monitored on a monthly basis to check the progress and level of change. The dashboard was displayed for everyone to take notice.
At the beginning, there was resistance and hesitation found in implementing the matrix with only 10-25% of implementation. Nonetheless, in the past six months due to the constant monitoring, the implementation ratio has reached 70-75% .
As the program came to a close in April 2019, the company identified around 15 managers to reward and recognize them for doing extraordinarily well by implementing this program really successfully with their teams and producing far reaching results.
We really hope that this recognition will get other managers also inspired and they too become instrumental to bring about change. This would eventually transform into the culture of the company.