Saturday, November 04, 2006

Peanuts, Cashewnuts and the way ahead!?

On Thursday, I happened to have an interesting chat with a senior doyen of the Indian Industry. Past Chairman of Southern Region of CII ( confederation of Indian Industry), his group has interests across different fields.. banking, finance, education, healthcare, hospitality among others!!

We got around to talking about the new economy, changing perceptions of entrepreneurs, increasing demands of job seekers, and rightly so-the challenges of balancing it all together.

He recalled the adage :’Pay peanuts-and get monkeys”! Are cashew nuts the solution??

What do we do to find the right talent??

I had just made another visit to Gurgaon-and the growing city just baffled me-one sees lot of action in infrastructure all around-roads, huge commercial spaces, equally enormous malls-but where are the people? The young recruiter of a large BPO had just briefed me that his company had hired over 10000 people this year…and their present employee strength was about a thousand lesser!!? The pressure on recruiting targets was just mind boggling-the target for this week alone was close to a 200 joinees!! And all this activity just wasn’t in a bid for expansion…they were just trying to fill up positions that fell vacant due to attrition!!

Is it high time we stopped looking for instant gratification? Is rampant poaching of ready made or even half baked talent really giving the desired results…?

Did the forerunners in the Indian ITES/BPO industry –do the right thing in glamourising the work culture? Is it ingraining that short term gains are the only way out? With employees not seeing any ‘visible value adds’ in their early and young career, see the only way out to ‘jump jobs’ and equate higher salaries –as the indices of growth??

Will the boom that came India’s way, just pass off …as another ‘dotcom ‘fever’?

Can one instead ‘farm talent’?

Ironically among some of the measures the legendary Jack ‘neutron’ Welch did was to institute the Six Sigma program- developed to maximize the efficiency of manufacturing processes through the minimization of production of defective units. When applied at General Electric it became the largest quality-control measure ever adopted in corporate America. Can you imagine, they had hired over 200 engineers (Defence officers with strong people management skills and ZERO commercial exposure) and put them through 2 years of orientation across the different departments of GE that they have the business acumen ? The program required a huge investment in training and tracking but ultimately led to great gains in profit and productivity.

Can we learn..and react before it is too late? Who will bell the cat??

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