As a designer of the real-time learning process and a performance consultant based at Satyam, I participated in one engagement that epitomized this type of learning. The members of an onsite account team from Satyam were working with a large customer—a Fortune 100 company—with which they wanted to improve their relationship. Satyam’s account leaders wanted our help as performance consultants in meeting two goals: first, to enable Satyam to grow from being the customer’s core partner to being its strategic partner— meaning more opportunities for project wins; and second, to improve Satyam’s score on the customer’s satisfaction survey from 3.67 to more than 4.0 on a 5.0-point scale.
While collecting data during stage 1 of this real-time learning process, we learned that for the past two quarters, this account team had seen increasing revenue but not won any new projects and that the annual attrition rate for Satyam’s onsite team was nearing 20 percent. The team identified an increasing threat from other service providers and informed us that there would be projects worth millions up for bid in the next six months. Though the customer was continuing its healthy growth and dominance of its industry, its external perception in the marketplace was not stable. For instance, during one visit we had to make our way through a crowd of protesters upset about its perceived lack of eco-friendly practices.
Armed with extensive data from stage 1, we began to ignite change onsite, stage 2 of the real-time learning process. We started the week with a dinner for Satyam’s employees and their families. This helped us get to know the team on a personal level and build trust which would be necessary for our work together. During this week-long stage, we spoke with 18 of the customer’s managers, had development conversations with 26 of our onsite employees, and observed 16 meetings. We found that Satyam’s employee turnover was essentially due to a lack of cultural integration with the new country where they had been asked to move (mostly from India) and a lack of customer integration. We provided 12 learning and development sessions, all outside billable hours. Throughout the week, observed the Satyam team and customer interactions to ensure that behavioral change was happening, and we ended the week with an action planning session for all stakeholders. This customer employed four vendors with similar capabilities and remarked that our learning and development services differentiated us from our competition. The customer saw this engagement as enhancing its communication and working relationship with the Satyam team, which was previously as roadblock to a true partnership.
During stage 3 of the real-time learning process, sustaining change, we began with writing and socializing the final report. This final report documented all aspects of the engagement. We documented all stakeholders’ initial goals, feedback, and thoughts. In addition, we prepared our analysis of the account’s current state and opportunities for team development, which included an action plan to strengthen the relationship and business development.
From this point we had weekly coaching sessions with Satyam’s onsite team leaders, monthly follow-up meetings with the onsite task force, and conversations with key customers to monitor the team’s progress. As a result of this engagement, Satyam’s team reached its goals outlined from the start. It achieved strategic partner status and a satisfaction rating well above 4.0 during the next customer satisfaction survey, thus well positioning the team for business development.
When the Satyam debacle occurred, we coached Satyam’s key team leaders for this customer’s account on how to manage the customer relationship and their teams during the crisis. We, as performance consultants, became trusted advisors to the Satyam team–and the team achieved the same status with the customer. Today, this customer is still using Satyam’s services.