Rolling into 2021, Jombay worked with a restaurant chain with pan India presence. Known for decades for serving the best biryani, they have now expanded to many cities across the country. We ran a Virtual Assessment Center for their operations team to identify their core competencies, their development needs and to aid the leadership team in mapping their talent strategies.

1. What was the business context of running this exercise?

Beginning as a modest café in 1953, the restaurant has grown into one of the most-admired restaurant chains in the country today – a testament to our committed pursuit of culinary and service excellence. A permanent fixture on the cultural scene, people consider a trip incomplete without a visit to this iconic place that serves the best Biryani. Over the last four years, we won the hearts of guests in multiple other cities pan india by opening several successful outlets.

As we seek to accelerate our growth across the country, people capabilities have become of key importance. We wanted to strengthen our operations leadership at store level to take this journey of growth ahead.

We realised that hard skills for each role were easy to identify. But softer skills crucial to each role were harder to identify and measure. And so, we wanted a reliable, scientific tool to identify the behavioral competencies for the roles we had. At the same time, we wanted to marry our expectations with industry best practices. We then wanted to use this information to create the precise job description that would attract suitable talent to our restaurant.

We also wanted to identify a development path for internal trainings for multiple operations roles, from area managers to restaurant managers and shift managers.

2. What was the format of your previous Assessment Centers? What have been some challenges that you faced in the past?

We had previously been used to face to face assessments for the purpose of hiring or promotions. We wanted to make sure that going forward, we eliminate any bias, and rely on a scientifically proven tool to aid our assessments at scale.

3. What was your experience of rolling out the Assessment Centers at your organisation? 

This was the first time we attempted a Virtual Assessment Center. We had immense buy-in from the top management. I then made sure that I had personal interactions with all the group managers to pass on the right purpose and intent of the exercise. 

I also shared my previous experiences, reports and my own journey of improvement to build a sense of confidence among the team. We took efforts to assure the operations teams that the intent was purely individual development. 

Jombay brought a lot of industry experience and benchmarking and their credibility gave us confidence as we identified behavioral competencies that we wanted to measure. Jombay rolled out a Virtual Assessment Center with psychometric assessments, situational judgement tests and cognitive tests – catering to each level. (Area Managers, Restaurant Managers & Shift Managers) 

Jombay also helped us identify strengths and gaps at a city level and at an organisational level through their analytics. The assessment center has let us identify individual needs rather than a group need, hence allowing us to leverage strengths and develop areas that need improvement in each individual. The analytics was really able to articulate our talent strategy.

4. What were some of the participant responses?

We were happy to see that the participants really enjoyed the process! They were also very pleased that the outputs of their individual reports fed into the 9 month development program we had planned for them. 100 projects, with assigned coaches have now been undertaken by participants.

Our leadership too was happy and eager to see the reports and learn how to interpret them as they mapped their talent strategies.

5. What were some of your key learnings for implementing a successful and scalable Assessment Center exercise?

Buy-in and a TOP-DOWN approach from the leadership is absolutely necessary.

It is important to pass on the right intent of the exercise to all the participants. This dispels uncertainty and fear.

6. How have you evaluated the success of this initiative?

While we have not taken any formal feedback, we have been able to take a “pulse” of the team through informal conversations. The Assessment Center process allowed us to assess the behavioral competencies that are core to Paradise Foods and hence helped us to craft the right JD. The VAC is now a necessary step for all hiring decisions and internal promotions.

We were also able to pinpoint the strength of each individual and the path for their further development. Our participants are now undergoing a 9 month development journey, after which they will retake the VAC to see if the needle has moved!

The analytics (at a city level, organizational level and an industry level) provided by Jombay was fantastic. It helped us add more interventions to our development program.

Overall, the exercise helped us to define a talent strategy for our growing organization. 

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