Mumbai: The next time a mutual fund or a brokerage reaches out to its regulator, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi), it may find senior regulatory officials giving a patient hearing and coming forward with a friendly smile to address any issue that they have raised.
It is not just wishful thinking. This could be one of the fallouts from a soft skill training programme that the stock market regulator has embarked on for its 500 or so employees.
Since January, 115 senior officers of the rank of general manager, deputy general manager and assistant general ma-nagers have undergone a one-week off-site training that aims at imbibing leadership skills, maintaining work-life balance and creating more engagement and commitment to the organization.
Another 200 employees at the manager level are about to start their training.
Conceived of by Sebi chairman M. Damodaran, this initiative is being implemented by the human resources department of the regulator along with the National Institute of Securities Market (NISM) and the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore.
NISM is established under the aegis of Sebi to impart education about the securities market.
“The idea of this one-year training programme is for the career advancement of employees. If they take up the role of leader, commit themselves to the organization and not just to their work, it will help us promote more people,” says a senior Sebi official, who has been associated with the programme, but didn’t want to be named.
Sebi insiders say this is one project that’s very close to Damodoran’s heart. That’s not surprising, considering that in his previous stint as chairman of UTI Mutual Fund, one of Damodaran’s key contributions was his focus on people and matching the right people to the right roles. An email sent to Damodoran seeking comments for this story didn’t elicit an immediate response.
“They are a bunch of well-qualified and smart individuals who are capable of delivering good results, but are concerned about their own career progress. They are eager to contribute to the organization, but lack the direction to do so. The training programme is designed to address this attitudinal issue,” says V. Anand Ram, professor of organizational behaviour and human resources, at IIM Bangalore.
The one-week residential training programme is typically held outside Mumbai. The employees, divided into small groups, discuss corporate case studies, undertake group exercises and fill in questionnaires that give them insight into their own attitude towards team-building and mentoring and their expectations from work. The training concludes with an informal, open-house interaction of employees with senior Sebi officials, which they don’t often get a chance to do back at the office. Some employees even got a chance to meet the chairman for the first time, when he attended the open-house sessions.
Sebi insiders say it was one such training session in which employees expressed unhappiness about the strict rules for seeking employment outside Sebi that led to the relaxation of such norms. Earlier, a Sebi employee who wanted to get a job with a regulated entity, such as a mutual fund or a brokerage firm, had to ensure that the entity took permission from Sebi before her candidature was even considered. Such rules were withdrawn in February, as reported by Mint on 30 May.
To ensure that the training is effective, once it is over, employees undergo a 12-week improvement project in their specific department.
“When anyone has to approach a regulator, there is always an apprehension...whether the officials at the regulatory body will have an open mind to listen to them,” says Siddharth Shah, head, corporate and securities at Nishith Desai Associates, a legal advisory firm. Also, being in a regulatory position, one is distanced from the corporate world where performance is much more quantifiable and motivation levels are higher, he says, adding that soft skills training can help develop an open mindset.
Such training is much needed now, especially as the regulator interacts with its peers from other countries on a regular basis, points out a compliance officer at a brokerage who didn’t want to be named.