WITH MOBILE handsets outselling cycles in India, it comes as no surprise that Bharti Airtel has grown its customer base by nearly 250 percent in the past one year in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh circle. What is intriguing is that how the company manages to keep pace with this growth and what kind of HR practices it employs.
Company’s COO for the circle, Sunil Goyal, attributes the success to the passion of the employees or “our people” as he refers to them, and underlines the company’s innovative management practices that have helped them manage the people.
“For a market which is so dynamic, so competitive and growing at such a fast pace, we need to have people who are not only hard working, but also passionate and have fresh ideas,” he told Hindustan Times in a special interaction to discuss the company’s management and HR practices.
The focus, says HR head Alok Nigam, is on retaining the right talent – people who are passionate about their work. “Our HR policies are designed to ensure that we get the right people, retain them and keep them engaged and happy,” he said. The company goes to great lengths to make them feel at home.
“It’s our mission that by 2010 Airtel should be the most admired brand across the country,” says Goyal. The company has identified three parameters to achieve the goal. (A) Benchmarked by more businesses. (B) Targeted by the top talent and (C) Loved by more customers.
“Firstly, we have to ensure that our people are engaged and happy with the work and their families are also committed to growth of the organisation,” says Nigam adding that “unless that happens the customer delight will not happen.”
“We don’t believe in employee satisfaction alone, but we believe in employee engagement,” he emphasises. And to achieve these goals, the company has an “Employee Engagement Philosophy” in place, which revolves around 12 points, the first being Role Clarity.
That Airtel’s management philosophy in working is clear by its attrition rate, which is 13.5 per cent, one of the lowest among the circles.
“An employee should know what is expected from him and what is going to be his key performance area. People in most organisations quit because role clarity is not clear,” says Nigam.
The management also monitors whether or not an employee’s peers, team and superiors are supporting him. The management also keeps track on all the training programmes and feedback. “By these interventions we ensure that he does right all the time,” says Nigam.
The management makes sure to appreciate good employees, not only in monetary terms but also in public. “We have got a system called catch them doing something good,” explains Nigam. “The COO gives a star to the employees in recognition of doing a good job and it’s done on a regular basis.”
Then the company has employee communication forum. “Every three to four months, employees from all over the circle assemble in Indore and tell us about what has been done and what have been the ups and downs and the COO then tells them the way forward,” says Nigam.
Another innovation is the joint action plans (JAPS). ““To encourage the sense of belongingness and interdependence, I make sure that my colleagues are also committed to do quality works in other fields,” says NigamNigam. For instance, if a family member of an employee needs to undergo surgery and needs funds then everybody comes together to chip in.
The company has laid out nine leadership competencies, “which should be present in our employees to make them leaders,” says Goyal. The company has a job rotation policy in place so that every 18 to 24 months an employee can opt for other responsibility as per his capabilities and career vision.
Lastly, the company does not believe in suddenly throwing out the employees who are not performing as per the expectation. “He or she is given feedback on improvements needed or guided on finding the right job that would fit with his/her career planning,” says Goyal.