3 secrets for “Learning professionals” to find a seat at the table in their org

Selling Cars
Est. Reading Time:
6 mins

Spoiler alert! this secret sauce is going beyond COVID, this is dealing with the bigger picture of the future of learning & development in our organizational societies.

It’s time to face the truth, focus on being indispensable, and having a seat at the table even in the face of the pandemic.

I called up my mum yesterday as a flood of posts on mother’s day reminded me to thank her for everything I am today.

She is a yoga instructor and has been working for a few schools and women-empowerment groups. I was excited to have a chat with her and some gossip as I do take occasional trips down the guilt lane for not being there for her as often as I would like to be.

Force of habit and the new normal, I called her up while taking a long(pun intended) strides in my balcony, and as soon as she picked up, hey Ma, very happy mother’s day. Ma replied with the same enthusiasm in her voice that lights up my face always.

Thank you Ma, for being there always.

What are you up to today?

Thanks, beta, just the usual. This is when I could suddenly feel it wasn’t all the same. She continued, I don’t know what to do because all channels on TV and all groups on the whats app are flooded with COVID-19 news or its impact on the future. She continued…

Even my official associations speak only about the future of work and the new normal. I think I will be left behind and clients might leave me if I don’t start my sessions online and tailor some of my offerings for the indoors.

The genius that I am 😉 I was quick to say, hey Ma, why do you worry? You will do this the way you learned whats app and Paytm, it is not difficult at all, a phone and a laptop with some clicks here and there, and you will be up and running online in no time. After all, you only taught us to learn, adapt, and evolve.

Maa said in a flat tone, exactly that’s what I am worried about, we need practice and authentic experience/experts to suggest what will work and what not?

And I said with the same confidence, Ok, let me help you.

After spending the afternoon with setting her up for her first video session, showing her how others do it too. I was able to get that smile back on her face:)

And that got me thinking. Nowadays, so many webinars, blogs, and articles have been brewing about the Future of L&OD, How L&D will take shape Post-COVID, New Normal and New Talent Management, etc.

My submission is that there are no experts in the unknown. And, I realized that instead of making speculation about future it will be very useful for you if you discover the secrets of our L&OD’s success at Cars24, where we are sailing flawlessly during this crisis, and how are we getting stronger and sharper for the future workplace and the challenges ahead.

Here’s why it matters.

At cars24 during one month of the lockdown, we could run the herculean show of 650 virtual training sessions, 1700 training hours invested, 2500+ unique emp. Were trained, 9000+ emp. Got trained in multiple training agenda, and 16600+ emp.s attempted 160+ e-learning modules.

Enough for the storyteller in me let’s look at the recipe

1. Build a network, not just training

Keep on building a virtual network of learners and learning admirers in your organization. Rome was not built in a day, certainly not by one person. No one can build a winning and learning culture in a day. Take it with a pinch of salts like a sales assignment where you are a salesperson and your stakeholders are your customers, or potential customers (until you win them over) 🙂

Build rapport, pursue them, and truly understand their needs (similar to customer’s need identification in sales).

For instance — what is their product, who are their customers, what is going right and where can you partner? Get buy-in on how training plan should be, have calibration between your and their definitions of benchmark and milestones. Do market your work within the organization through meaningful teasers, mails, and regular metric updates (yes business metrics you moved, more on this later). If you find regular dashboards risky then use this risk as your positive push for a higher return.
It creates a culture/virtual network of learners and leaders over time who not only support learning but drive it.

At Cars24, for about 4 years now we all have been investing in building this network. People have a habit of going through systematic training interventions from the day of joining. Leaders have a mindset of talking and asking relevant training completion and complementing the achievers in public. Respective trainers and leaders have a weekly (yes, every 7th day) connection to follow without fail to stay on the same track and echo the same agenda. And, to enable this all work goes under the regular and transparent metrics published to all.

2. Digitization is the key

If you think speaking a few new terms like the gig economy, ML (machine learning), big data, AI (artificial intelligence), MOOC (massive open online courses), LXP (learning experience platform), byte size learning, etc. make us tech-savvy and is enough to bring digitization in your L&D function, you are in for a big surprise (and not a pleasant one).

It is crucial to understand that what problem are you trying to solve, what is that metric that will be impacted because of any digitization at all. Are you trying to solve cost or experience or learning curve or trying to just invest the designated budget, it can be any of them, but if you do not know what do you want to achieve from digitization and how would you measure this change, then the market is flooded with numerous digital product or solutions which may make you feel happy that you talked and tried but such experiment/s probably can eat your seat on the table while evaluating the impact.

At Cars24, we believe in agility and this quality keeps inspiring us to experiment, come up with new, fail fast, take learnings, and grow better. We started working on solving issues like travel time for training, the outstation cost during training programs, and a trackable repository for training material. Also, instead of waiting for the best e-learning platform or the best virtual training solution, we started with baby steps by having an open-source LMS and customizing one-two digital products to kick off our training virtually and kept on iterating. Our team’s effort paid when about a year ago we already had moved to virtual and digital training experience and this capability helped during lockdown to offer brilliant productivity across as we were not in mess to identify the modus operandi overnight or execution was not any challenge because the organization was already programmed this way.

3. Content is the new currency

Adults like to learn things in different ways. And, let’s accept the truth that today’s consumer’s attention revolves around the content, be it Netflix, or be it LinkedIn learning, be it food blogs on food aggregator platforms, or be it fashion blogs on buying sites, etc. Gone are the days when training content competition was between companies.

Now, this battle is between industries and across functions. How much longer and efficiently you can have user’s eyeballs glued to your content will decide who wins.

Experience matters too

It does not only include what is written on the ppt but also includes the simplicity of understanding, innovative ways of delivering, pre-post communications around it, etc. And, you should be open for feedback from across.

At Cars24, we effectively do not have any dedicated training content team and the reason was simple that your trainers are the best SMEs, the way they understand the field, knowledge, and requirement no one else can. A leader just needs to challenge the team positively to seek value through experimentation and new ways of engaging learners. And, that is the precise practice which helped us curating the useful content in power-packed user-friendly byte-sized modules.

This journey has been incredible and certainly, the credit goes to business leaders, who partnered throughout and field L&OD team who keeps on surprising me by their hunger for doing something new.

We have a lot more to share in the pursuit of that if our tested and ok methods at Cars24 can contribute to building a learning culture across the corporates in this country. Do let me know what more details can be helpful for you and stay tuned for the next (hopefully shorter) one 🙂

Pooja Dudani – Head of Learning and Organisation development at CARS24

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