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L&D in Accenture

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STUDENT NAME : Rounak Loudhia

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CONTENTS

|Particular | |Page No. |
| | | |
|Introduction |– |3 |
| | | |
|Review of Literature |– |3 |
| | | |
|Learning Theories |– |4 |
|Reinforcement Theory |– |4 |
|Constructive Theory |– |5 |
| | | |
|Organisational & National Cultural Impact at ATIS |– |6 |
| | | |
|Concerns In Designing Of L&D Program At ATIS |– |8 |
| | | |
|Conclusion |– |9 |
| | | |
|Recommendations |– |9 |
| | | |
|Reference |– |11 |

INTRODUCTION

This case study is provided to study the Learning and Development (L&D) Programme of Accenture Technology Infrastructure Service (ATIS), the current methodology adopted and issues related with the same.

Accenture is high performance multinational organisation with multiple operations in consulting, outsourcing, technical services, financial services and global management. It has presence in more than 120 countries employing more than 223000 people. It has a subsidiary company ATIS in Bangalore with 125 employees out of which 25% are women. ATIS provides technical helpdesk service to Accenture consultants at global level, mostly from UK and USA.

It has been decided to expand ATIS business deliverables and so hiring of 50 staff per month has been approved. These new hires would be provided with training in culture, voice modulation, technologies and accent pronunciation to improve their productivity and familiarize with new culture. This would be followed by on the job training where new hires would be paired with an experienced staff as buddy system. For training of new hires services of both outside and in-house trainers would be utilised.

L&D is a continuous process as per the changing organisation needs and market demands. L&D provides career development and employee retention, it also leads to competitive edge for an organisation. However L&D faces challenge in today’s business environment where knowledge is dispersed among employees working at various different geographical locations.

REVIEW OF LITERATURE

Learning can be defined as, a process of active engagement involved in development or improvement of skills, knowledge, understanding which leads to change in behaviour and curiosity to learn more.
Reference : Museums, libraries and archives - learning - How we define learning. 2012.[ONLINE] Available at: http://www.inspiringlearningforall.gov.uk/learning/ [Accessed 20 July 2012]

Learning can be done through mentoring and coaching by a trainer or through self learning by experience. This leads to improvement in a person’s knowledge, norms, skills and attitude.
Many times L&D is confused with training. While learning is a process, training is one of the methods used by organisation to impart learning amongst employees. (Reynolds et al 2002)

LEARNING THEORIES

There are various theories related with learning, i.e. Cognitive Theory, Reinforcement (Behaviourist) theory, and Constructive (Humanistic) theory.

1. Reinforcement theory – Also known as Conditioning or Behaviourism Theory, this theory implies change in a person’s behaviour as per the external factor or environment and the stimuli given to them. It is emphasised that all behaviour are result of conditioning, which appears through interaction with external environment. This theory states that a person’s response to stimuli shapes their behaviour.

Behaviour is studied in observable manner in systematic way, where internal mental status such as mood, emotions and cognition etc, are not given importance as it is subjective matter.

There are two major ways of conditioning, • Respondent conditioning • Operant conditioning

Respondent Conditioning – Here natural occurring stimulus is paired with desired response. A controlled stimulus is used to generate an uncontrolled stimulus which leads to a desired behaviour, over a period of time controlled stimulus generates desired behaviour even if the uncontrolled stimulus is missing. Ivan Pavlov used two stimuli, ringing of bell followed by appearance of food, which led to salivation amongst dogs. After multiple bell and food combination, only ringing of bell led to salivation irrespective of appearance of food Ivan Pavlov (1903).

Operant Conditioning – In this form of learning, an individual’s behaviour is conditioned based on feedback of their reply to stimuli (which can be neutral, negative or positive). Here behaviour conditioning is maintained by consequence. Edward L. Thorndike used a hungry cat in a puzzle box; initially it took more time for cat to escape where cat tried different combinations both effective and ineffective, to come out. Over a period of time cats were able to repeat effective response and come out quickly. Hence, effective response which led to food was repeated more frequently. Thorndike (1905)

Reinforcement Theory as Learning as Acquisition of Skills at ATIS –

Both respondent and operant conditioning is used in class room training at ATIS to help new hires to acquire new skills as per the requirement of ATIS.

Conditioning is used were stimulus is provided in reading material, brochure, presentations are given about Accenture corporate culture and new hire is expected to modify his behaviour with customer which is in sync with Accenture’s corporate image and policies. During software training, a new hire also learns from mistakes when his inputs to software does not give correct response. They start identifying and following the correct course of action during the technical training. A new hire also starts to repeat effective response when it comes to voice modulation and accent training, as improper accent pronunciation may result in their going back to initial starting point while their colleagues who are correct in their action are moving ahead.

At ATIS, class room training for new hires is a prefect example of implementation of behaviourist theory in real world condition. A new hire is expected to provide a desired behaviour to external stimulus and this desired behaviour is governed by Accenture corporate culture, quality standards of technical support, need to harmonise the cultural difference between ATIS staff and Accenture consultant across the world. Hence it becomes important that a change in basic behaviour of new hires coming from variable background is standardised.

2. Constructive theory – In simple words, it defines “How people learn”. As per Kolb, 1984 this theory implies that knowledge is gained through the sharing of experience from one person to another. Here person learns from their past experience and present observation, thus creating new concepts, understanding and ideas for future implementation (Fosnot, 1989). It is a continuous process where old thoughts and concepts are replaced with new ones. Here educator acts as facilitator in creating an environment to support use of experience and creative thinking (Rogers, 1983). It also states that every individual constructs their own personal knowledge and understanding of the world. Constructive Theory as Learning Though Participation in ATIS –

During the incubation period of 4 weeks when new hire is supposed to take live calls, they are provided with on the job training by their assigned buddy who is usually an experienced employee of ATIS.

Learning by participation is more about problem solving, inquiry based learning, where enthusiasm play a major role. Constructive theory is more active form of learning as opposed to reinforcement theory which is more passive form of learning. Here the role of teacher is more a facilitator as the buddy assists new employee in formulation of ideas for resolution, draw conclusion about occurrence of problem pattern. During incubation period of 4 weeks new hire becomes an active participant of learning process.

By the time new hire is taking live calls they have build up sufficient knowledge base about Accenture corporate culture, technical systems, and usage of software etc. While taking live calls they start applying their knowledge into practical usage. A new hire starts building on their experience about common types of technical problems and their quick solutions, they start fine tuning their keyboard skills to improve their software usage speed, they also add up to their experience about different cultures while interacting with Accenture consultants at global level. Constructive learning also happens when the assigned buddy share their experience on a particular situation with new hires.

ORGANISATIONAL & NATIONAL CULTURAL IMPACT AT ATIS

Culture of any company can be set of beliefs, norms along with dramatised events and personalities which shape a unique character of the organisation. In long term it goes to define the day to day activities, practices and policies of the company.

Accenture is a US based company which follows US culture in its day to day operation, where as its subsidiary ATIS is India based company which has to provide services to Accenture consultants throughout the world. Hence the impact of cultural difference is a major point to be considered while designing L&D program at ATIS. Greet Hofstede’s five dimensional cultural theory can provide valuable input in L&D of ATIS.

• Collectivism And Individualism – India with a score of 48 is more of a collectivist society as compared to America which is more individualist with score of 91. Indians prefer to think about their group i.e. their team, their family, etc to take collective care of each other in exchange of loyalty. Accenture has adapted to Indian by introducing buddy system in 4 weeks of on job training. Here sharing of information and experience happens in at small group level, which finally leads to fine tuning of skills and knowledge as per customer requirement.

• Power distance Index – Power distance score in USA is 40 as compared to India which is at high 77. Indian employees believe in following top down / vertical approach of management. Chain of command is diligently followed. Real power is concentrated with managers who appreciate obedience from team members and team members also do not question back to avoid discourteous image. L&D in ATIS should encourage new hires to ask questions and doubts both at class room training and on job training to avoid confusion, misleading of efforts and to maintain the quality of service provided to end customer.

• Feminity / Masculine – Both USA and India have very close score 62 and 56 respectively. Masculine society is driven more by success, competition, and achievement. Whereas Feminine society prefers caring for each other, comfort, quality of life. Since high performance culture of Accenture is also influenced by high masculine score of USA. It should adjust with Feminine preference of India where work life balance is given importance, and Indians are more socially engaged in their extended families. But since the score of both countries are close, new hires should not have problem understanding healthy competition, when achievement is clearly defined in numeric terms.

• Uncertainty avoidance – This shows the level to which a society is comfortable when it comes to dealing with ambiguity of future. In USA with high score of 46 tries to control the outcome of everything and wants more stable and consistent behaviour of everything around them. India with score of 40 has more acceptances towards change, and has higher risk taking ability when it comes to new ideas, variety of opinion and unorthodox behaviour. Accenture can utilise this to advantage where new hires are more receptive to training of new culture and also come with variety of solutions to problem solving.

• Short Term v/s Long Term Orientation – The score of long term approach of India at 61 is nearly the double of USA at 29. Indian employee work with long term orientation towards their job, they take their training seriously. Employees at ATIS have strong determination in achieving results and are more dedicated to their jobs. Accenture must also inculcate attainment of short term goals amongst new hires, which eventually assist in achievement of long term goals of company.

CONCERNS IN DESIGNING OF L&D PROGRAM AT ATIS

While developing L&D program, ATIS needs to consider issues related to employees, organisation, and the work. As L&D program is a crucial factor in development of new hires and eventual success of ATIS. Following factors needs to be considered:

• Employee Background – Selections of new hires happen from people coming from different background, i.e. social, financial, educational, and cultural. It is important for a good L&D program to train all new hires at a standardize level where they can perform equally towards achievement of organisational goal. Every new hire should be treated equally irrespective of who understands technicalities fast or who master skills quickly. Some new hires with rural background may take time or hesitate to interact with each other. Management should be aware of such problem and also consider the religious sensitivities of new hires while designing the L&D. The aim of L&D program should be to iron out all background differences and bring all new hires to common platform of competence.

• Customer Background – ATIS provides technical support to Accenture consultants at world wide level. The caller can be from Asia Pacific, Europe, Middle East, Americas, and Africa regions. They can be of separate cultural background from that of the ATIS employee. Hence it becomes important to have neutral pronunciation free from the mother tongue influence, voice modulation should be perfect and accent should be clearly audible. These soft skills increase the efficiency of technical helpdesk by improving the call quality. Class room training of ATIS for 5 weeks is a right step towards meaningful L&D.

• Financial Factors – High performance organisation like Accenture needs to have a L&D structure where cost incurred should be economical and value of money for the skills developed amongst the new hires. Also time required in training should also be optimal as sooner the new hire reaches desired level of productivity, it is better for ATIS to generate revenues. Since people with prior experience in technical helpdesk are being hired, cost on technical training is limited to get new hires accustomed to Accenture systems. However voice modulation; accent neutralisation should be given importance to negate the background effect of new hires. The time dedicated in training helps in development of skills and improvement in competence level, but also brings in the cost burden of salary to new hires with no-income generation.

CONCLUSION

No doubt that Accenture has created a sturdy L&D program to train their newly hired employees, which is combination of both on job and off job training modules. The L&D methodologies have considered various theories of learning i.e. Congnitivist, Humanist and Behaviourist theories. Learning for acquisition of skills is required in first phase of class room training where technical training, cultural training, voice and accent training is provided. This is followed by learning as participation which is found in on job training well assisted with buddy system where an experienced employee shares his experience, thoughts and ideas with new hires. New hires polish their skills as and when they practice it with day to day business.

While developing L&D programs in future some factors such as Time and cost, employee background and customer background should be considered to develop more robust and effective L&D structure. To tackle these issues some suitable recommendations are mentioned as below,

RECOMMENDATIONS

1. As per operant conditioning of behaviourist theory, providing proper motivation to new hires during training period can lead to more enthusiasm and better performance in participation and acquiring of knowledge and skills. Motivation can be in form of extrinsic or intrinsic rewards (Dessler 2007). Intrinsic method of appreciating the best performer or giving them additional responsibilities as per their capability and performance will surely motivate people to put their best efforts.

2. Periodic evaluation of new hire performance at various level of training, after completion of training and during the job, followed by proper feedback from trainers and managers. This helps in aligning the efforts of all employees towards common goal and also provides with self evaluation tool for management on the effectiveness of training program. Further improvement both at new hire level and training module level is possible with timely and fair evaluation.

3. Time and cost saving can be promoted by ensuring that new hires are skilled enough to expedite their class room training session. This can be done by giving them voice and accent test by externally hired special language instructor. So these new hires can spend time only on technical part of class room training and can be promoted to on job training as soon as possible. This reduces the training time and saves of duplicity of training cost. This would also help by avoiding all experienced staff getting booked in buddy system at same point of time, which can surely have negative impact on business operations. By the time new hires that did not perform well in voice and accent test can get their class room training. By the time they would get on board training with experienced staff, those who had on boarded early would have come up the learning curve. Thus providing stability to ATIS in handling call volume.

4. New hires undergoing training should be provided with access to online training manuals, and tests where they can learn and practice their skills in spare time. Call records which could be accessed through phones can surely help develop accent and voice skills of new hires.

5. Management should create an informal learning atmosphere during first 5 weeks of incubation period. This would create a less stress and relaxed atmosphere, where new hires would feel more comfortable in asking their doubts and clarifying their confusion. There should be culture of participative learning and rewarding culture.

REFERENCE

1. Michael Armstrong, 2009, Human Resource Management Practice, , 11th Edition

2. B. F. Skinner, 1974, About Behaviorism Ch. 1 Causes of Behaviour § 3 Radical Behaviorism Kolb, D. A. (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. New Jersey: Prentice–Hall

3. Rogers, C.R. (1983). Freedom to learn for the 80s. Columbus, OH: Charles Merrill.

4. Hofstede, G. (1980) Culture's Consequences: International Differences in Work Related Values, Beverly Hills, CA, Sage Publications

5. Fosnot, C. (1989). Enquiring teachers, enquiring learners: A constructivist approach for teaching. New York: Teachers College Press.

6. http://www.thirteen.org/edonline/concept2class/constructivism/index.html

7. http://psychology.about.com/od/behavioralpsychology/f/behaviorism.htm

8. http://www.bfskinner.org/BFSkinner/Home.html
.…...

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...responsible for creating Accenture’s own social networking tool that allows collaboration among the company’s workers worldwide. Aptly called Accenture People, it resembles popular social networking sites, much like Facebook, and allows employees to create their own profiles provide a glimpse of each employee’s role in Accenture, including technical expertise and the projects in which he or she was involved. For a global company with numerous business units like Accenture, the idea is to simply make everyone more familiar with each other’s background and then encourage knowledge sharing. In the Philippines alone, Accenture has around 15,000 workers doing management consulting, system integration, and BPO(business process outsourcing). In terms of size, the Philippines is behind only to the United States and India in Accenture’s global network. “One of the challenges for us is collaboration,” said Michael Duff, project manager for Accenture Philippines, who leads a six-person team that developed Accenture People. “Different teams within Accenture have been using tools before that allow people to share knowledge on projects. This time, we put everything into a single system,” added Duff, who has been with Accenture for more than eight years. 필리핀 IT전문가 팀은 전세계 회사 직원들간의 공동작업을 허용하는 Accenture사의 소셜 네트워킹 도구를 만드는 것에 대한 책임을 지고 있다. 그것은 “Accenture People”이라고 불린다. 이는 페이스북 같이 인기 있는 소셜 네트워킹 사이트와 유사하고 종업원들이 Accenture사에서 어떤 역할인지 볼 수 있는 그들의 프로필을 만들 수 있도록 허락한다. 이 정보는 기술적 전문지식과 그나 그녀가 어떤......

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Accenture

...Finance and Performance Management Mastery and the High Performance Business At Accenture, we have always believed that a direct correlation exists between the sophistication of an organization’s finance and performance management capabilities and its overall performance. 2 Now, we’ve put that theory to the test. In a recent landmark study, Accenture examined the relationship between finance and high performance. The results show a tangible link and strong correlation between a high-performance business and mastery of a new finance competency set. The results also reveal that those companies that created the greatest value have embraced entirely new ways of thinking about finance and performance management. Achieving High Performance Accenture defines high-performance businesses as organizations that consistently outperform their peers over a sustained timeframe (typically 5 to 7 years) and across business cycles, industry disruptions and CEO leadership cycles. These companies deliver consistently upper-quartile total returns to shareholders. They create returns on invested capital significantly in excess of the cost of capital and drive profitable revenue growth faster than their industry peers. In short, they are lean, responsive to changing competitive fundamentals and consistently rank as market leaders. How do they do it? Accenture embarked on a major research program to identify the attributes and practices that distinguish high-performance businesses......

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Accenture

...supply chain that could serve as a platform for future growth and profitability. Working side-by-side with Staples' business professionals, Accenture helped define a broad-based strategy that extended beyond the supply chain. A high-level analysis by Accenture pinpointed the drivers of inventory inefficiencies and ways to create a competitive advantage through supply chain improvements. But the analysis also found other opportunities for higher performance in marketing, merchandising, and store operations. Accenture's analysis demonstrated how predictable demand lends itself to a smooth and efficient supply chain. With a strategic blueprint in hand, Accenture then collaborated with Staples on redesigning a range of core processes that included category strategy and management, circular advertising, in-store promotion, store space management, replenishment merchandise flow, and in-store management. The aim was to drive greater coordination among supply chain participants, improve supply chain reliability and costs, and increase service and selling effectiveness. Accenture's solution involved process changes—not technology. The initiatives identified minor gaps in processes that had a substantial impact on Staples' overall supply chain. Accenture worked with Staples to better synchronize processes and functions. For example, Accenture found a disconnect between the inventory that Staples' systems showed as out-of-stock and what was actually available in stores. The biggest......

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