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LEARNING &

DEVELOPMENT
ASSIGNMENT 3: CASELET

BRIDGING THE SOFT SKILLS GAP

Submitted To: Dr. NAVAL LAWANDE

SUBMITTED BY:
ADARSH PANDEY (E: 02)

PAVNEET KAUR (E: 25)


BRIDGING THE SOFT SKILLS GAP

Sana wears a superior smile as she reads out a familiar story. “An empress with no children
decided to hold a competition to determine who would succeed her when she died. She
summoned all the children in the city to her palace and gave each one a seed.” she reads to a
class of 50 new Graduate Trainees at Infosys Training Campus at Mysore.

A Training session is on, and Sana thinks she knows where this exercise will go. The Educator
will probably ask her about the lessons she learnt from the characters in “The Empress Story” like
about the different children and the challenges they faced.
But after few minutes, the Educator says, “Take a sheet of paper and write who you think the
characters in the story represent with respect to the Corporate World. Who are the Employers,
who are the Clients, are there any Project Managers or the Market?” in the corporate world. Are
they the clients, the employers, CEOs, project managers or the market?” Sana is visibly
perplexed; her smile disappears. Certainly, the youngster from Jammy was not expecting this
twist in the tale as part of her Leadership Skills and Personality Development Training.

On another floor, new recruit Bhavesh Joshi, a Computer Science graduate from Jaypee
University who had joined Infosys earlier this year, is dealing with a separate set of surprises. He
thought he knew the basics of etiquette, since he was from an Air Force background.
But he had no idea that throughout face to face interactions, looking from left to right, and then to
the forehead of the person in front, is considered a sign of arrogance. “I never realized these
subconscious signals could be offensive,” says Bhavesh.

Sana and Bhavesh represent the new age techies. The days of the nerdy, inarticulate programmer
of the dotcom times, who used to keep to themselves and had no life outside their work as they
switched form Project to Project as per Client’s demand are over.

IT Companies now want their Employees, including Programmers to be well spoken, confident
and savvy enough to clinch deals on their own. As more and more Projects are now outsourced
to India, IT companies feel their Programmers should be able to handle both Client Servicing and
some level of decision-making.
At Infosys Global Training Centre at Mysore, on an average 10,000 trainees join every year and
they are provided a colored batch which indicates that they are Systems Engineer Trainee.
Senior Educators at Infosys believe “They have to act like consultants, not order-takers.” That is
why companies like Infosys, Wipro and Tata Consultancy Services, looking to create such ‘all-
rounders’, are investing considerably in Leadership Training and Personality Development for
their Employees.
In five-to-six-months training sessions, around 15 days are for Soft Skill development classes,
where, the trainees are molded and taught on how to interact with foreign clients and other
aspects of behavioral competencies are considered. One of the main motives is to arm trainees
with an attitude for the real Corporate World. For an effective session the entire set of trainees
are divided into batches of 45-50 so that they can get individual attention. They are made aware
about the importance of having a good hold over soft skills along with technical skills.
The sessions aim at teaching the Trainees to conduct themselves among Peers and Senior
Management, Conduct Boardroom Presentations and how to address Queries and Suggestions.
The importance of body language is drilled into them through lessons on Business
Communication and Etiquette.

Seeing the limited period allotted for Learning and Development, it gets difficult for trainees to
understand the new cultures. Hence a good set of Educators are appointed to provide quick and
insightful tips, particularly when it comes to interaction with foreign clients, and as this is the group
that the new Trainees have to interact frequently, they all listen carefully.

Srishti, another Trainee from Mysore, joined Infosys after being inspired by founder Narayana
Murthy’s wife Sudha Murthy, says she learns new things about corporate etiquette at each
session like leaning forward while sitting is a sign of anxiety. And she adds that in the corporate
world a lady should be the first to extend her hand for a handshake and also, she should certainly
not wait for the man to open the car door. Meanwhile another Trainee, Deepak, says he is
surprised to learn that the chivalrous act of holding a car door open for a lady, is not considered
decent the corporate world.
Educators in Infosys are very tactical. They conduct their classes with stories, anecdotes and
mythology or any cultural reference that would be familiar and suitable enough to get the message
across. The story is, of course, followed by a discussion on the corporate or soft-skills learnings
form the tale.
Some of the sessions focus on the importance of developing an image for oneself. Asked which
personality is a brand in himself, the Trainees agree that it is current Prime Minister Narendra
Modi but then they are stumped when asked to write down few lines about the personality traits
that define them. Though some of them try clever taglines, resorting to “I am better than the best”,
“impossible for me is nothing”.

But they have also realized that one of the major challenges is to recognize and realize your own
strengths and weaknesses. So enthusiastic are the fresh recruits for their personality
development and soft skill training, that they actually jot down every word the Educator says, from
the perfect color combination of Formals for a meeting, to behavior that could be a deal-breaker.

One Trainee tells an anecdote about the deals that were jeopardized due to silly mistakes where
a Chinese delegation that had come to meet Infosys Officials, sat down for a meeting after the
customary exchange of business cards and then there was a sudden power failure. An Indian
official took out the first thing he found in his pocket to fan himself with, and it turned out to be the
card of one of the Chinese officials. The delegation was so offended, it simply walked out.
While one group is asked to show the negative impact of aggressive behavior at the workplace,
another one was told to act out how a mediator could settle an office dispute. One trainee, who
resorted to hitting people who were found smoking in a no-smoking zone, required several
explanations to make him understand that such behavior was unacceptable at the workplace.
During the role-play sessions, the trainees are given actual corporate scenarios to re-enact in
groups.
Also, among the various challenges facing Infosys Limited is the one that involves teaching the
Company’s Employee Design Thinking, which is a part of an initiative to transform each Employee
from someone who takes orders and writes code to someone who is an innovative thinker.
Popularized by IDEO, which is a California based consulting firm, Design Thinking as per IDEO’s
CEO Tim Brown, it is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s
toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology and the requirements for
business success.
250 classes where conducted initially, day-long, across Development Centres in Mysore, Pune
and Hyderabad.
Infosys is trying to implement this approach central to the Company’s culture, and use metrics
based on which it can evaluate its people both in the delivery and sales business on how
effectively the elements of design thinking are being used.

Sunita Cherian, HR head for Wipro Eco-Energy believes that their values and behavior define the
company’s values. Apart from just functional competencies, nowadays it is integral for the
organizations to have strong values that speak for the company.”
Two months training is provided to every new batch of Trainees at Wipro. The training program
focuses on Behavioral and Technical skill development.
Wipro has its Training Centres at its offices in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai and Cochin. This
is done to provide them a feel of the office along with the training. Mr. Selvan Dorairaj, Senior
Vice-President for Talent Transformation at Wipro believes that the inclusion of behavioral training
shows that the demands of the customer as well as the business environment have changed. He
also says that in the present scenario foreign companies now look for a pro-active solution from
their Indian partners, which makes training a necessity at every level. Cultural behavior training
is provided to all the teams of techies when they are sent abroad.

Behavioral training at Wipro follows CRISP Model, which stands for Communication, Relationship
Management, Interpersonal relations, Self-Realization and Personal Effectiveness. This model
instructs Employees on things like time management, organizational skills and a better
understanding of one’s strengths and weaknesses.
Despite a lack of quantitative analysis on the effects of behavioral training, Dorairaj said that the
instant reactions from their Trainees was highly positive and motivating. Wipro now is taking a
step ahead and initiating the same Behavioral training sessions online on its portal for the
Employees to have an easy access to the next modules as well.

Similarly, TCS send their new hires for a technical and non-technical training, to its Training
Centre at Trivandrum. The training is highly customized according to the batches and their
requirements.

Engagement is important on three levels, Cognitive, Emotional, and Behavioral. Without all of
them at place, passive learning, Poor knowledge retention and lack of commitment contributes to
challenges in Learning and Development. And this Behavioral Change is impossible without
learning engagement. And, when learning feels irrelevant or unnecessary, most learners
emotionally & mentally ‘check out’ and resist engaging.
QUESTIONS:

1) What are the approaches that can be used to build Employee Awareness and
Engagement regarding such Learning and Development initiatives for Trainees?

2) How L&D Professionals can provide quantitative assessment regarding the impact of such
Training Modules in their Organization?

3) What modern Training methods can be used to effectively train Millennials at the
Workplace?
REFERENCES:
1) https://www.livemint.com/Companies/RxbzhMXGo9TllcjpnxQ7OL/Infosys-seeks-to-
make-design-thinking-central-to-its-culture.html

2) https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newCDV_34.htm

3) https://cmoe.com/blog/learning-development-challenges/