Sanjeev Kotnala: Appreciating contribution in creating highly untrained leadership in advertising

10 Jun,2015

By Sanjeev Kotnala


The classic quote “Our assets go down in the elevator every night” still reflects advertising and communication organisations and highly people-centric professions. Yet, the practice defies logic. Surprisingly, beyond learning on the run, they do nothing in terms of organised training. Throwing in the deep end seems to be the only formula the top management and poor HR believe in.


No surprise that employees lack loyalty and find it necessary to look at outside opportunities to expand their scope and relevance in ever competitive environment.


Continued training, learning and development process can provide leverage in talent acquisition and retention in addition to enhance human capital and efficiencies at work.  Motivate employees infusing them with the skills and knowledge sets that make them future proof and more attractive to hire. Expect no change till the top management continues to see HR as a recruitment cell and an expense.


The management is happy doing lip-service with yearly annual conclaves punctuated with few nominations to industry forums and seminars. That is neither training nor coaching. The knowledge pedalled in such sessions is easily available to the proactive smart employees without organisations intervention.  No one is voicing their concern, raising the voice or ask for it. HR is busy filling the gaps created by loss of employees failing to realise that lack of training could be one of the cause for the situation.


There is a shocking lack of investment in identifying training needs. There exists no set process for evaluation of the content, process and partners that can help train. Training, if any, never ventures outside the tactical job requirement restricting its scope and impact. Unfortunately, the new generation looking for wider exposure is not satisfied with on-the-job training. They are looking for complete cross-functional area training, involvement in their employees’ development and discussion, policies that provide support for sabbaticals, support on going education.


“A average Starbuck Barista employee gets more training than the average communication employee,”  commented Arnold Bennett on a 4As worldwide survey.  Truth may not be different. Organisations are not realising that this apathy is creating a future untrained management and talent pool. Yet, we are surprised when clients go hunting with consultants, niche agencies and freelancers who as a practice invest a lot more in their training, knowledge acquisition and keeping pace with new business realities.


If you agree that employees are your best assets and bet, if you agree that the ratio of new employees to old will always be miniscule and if you agree that the existing employees have a stronger understanding and are in sync with the process and culture, then it makes absolutely no sense in creating a future management team of highly untrained leaders.  May be you need to rethink your training and L&D policies and plans.


Sanjeev Kotnala is Founder and Head Catalyst at Intradia. A Brand, Marketing and Management Advisor. He conducts specialised workshops in the area of IDEATION (Harvest and Liberate) and Innovation (InNoWait). His focus energy in enhancing client’s internal team’s potential and capabilities. In process decreasing their dependence  on external resources. To contact email  or tweet at s_kotnala visit


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