Articles & Blogs

The people tree

26 June 2007
Vineet Nayar

"As you sow, so shall you reap"? is an adage much battered from overuse but I maintain that clich?s become clich?s for a reason. Particularly in the context of people in the IT industry, I feel that it is overwhelmingly true. The energy directed towards discussions on how to cope with high attrition rates might be better channelled into figuring out the why of the problem. We have sown an environment in which we have devalued the individual and placed a higher priority on what that individual nets for his or her company at the end of the day. While all of us maintain a sharp eye on the bottom line and revenues, devaluing the individual in a people-driven industry is not so much about axing one's own foot as it is about placing the axe on the ground and getting a nice, long run-up to it.

In today's environment, where one wants to grow professionally and personally, a straight quantification cannot serve to define a person. So many factors come into play. Recognition, acknowledgement of a job well done, the freedom to experiment, moving beyond the shackles of key result areas and other parameters which can often be binding rather than empowering, learning opportunities - all of these put together carry rather more weightage than the old salary/ designation paradigm. Recognition of the individual is of more moment than recognition of the collective or the company - something we tend to forget is that people make up the collective and not vice-versa.

And how does the customer fit in here? Very neatly, as it happens. It's not a case of deciding between whether the chicken or the egg comes first. It's more a situation of nurturing the goose that lays the golden egg. Take care of your people above everything else and they will take care of the bottom line.

In fact, some time ago, I came across a survey by McKinsey1, which established a clear correlation between emotional intelligence and consumer activity. A whopping 58% of the bank customers surveyed, responded positively to the application of emotional intelligence at a crucial moment by later increasing the value of the products they purchased there.

Actually, this is something that we have been actively practising at HCL for over a year now. The "employee first"? policy puts the employee ahead of everything and everyone - even the customer. We believe that empowering our people will not just enable them to look after the customer but also drive them to do so. A five-fold programme that provides support, knowledge, empowerment, transformation an recognition (including transparent 360-degree feedback which allows management appraisal from the staff) has encouraged a healthier and more motivated team than we have ever had in the past.

And the results speak for themselves. We have sown and we are now reaping the benefits. We saw a drastic dip in our attrition rates, increase in employee satisfaction, smiles on more faces and a growth rate that is faster than others in the industry because it is driven by innovation that has originated from the employees. That is not all-the customers now love us for who we are and not what we do.