A Breakthrough in Employee Satisfaction

We all have experienced this at work, a distinct organizational hierarchy, a boss-subordinate distinction and sometimes we’ve even dealt with some power play where bosses, supervisors & managers use the power trump card quite liberally.

Vineet Nayar, CEO of Indian outsourcer HCL technologies started idea of a public 360-degree feedback online, designed to hold managers accountable for correcting any professional faults their employees think they have. The first year, Nayar posted his own before asking his team and others to follow suit.  And he needed to work on his time management skills said the 3.6 out of 5 the 81 managers who rated him. And everybody at HCL now knows this thanks to his public online feedback system.

Nayar’s grades along with ratings for the top 20 managers at HCL are published on the company’s intranet for anyone who wants to see them. Employees also have the capability to see their own supervisor’s scores.

This is generating a lot of buzz, of course! In the exponentially fast-growing India there is a huge challenge of retaining workers especially in this field with a few other mammoth billion dollar companies in direct competition with HCL. This probably will help. HCL is the country’s fifth-largest infotech outsources. So far Nayar’s methods seems to have made a huge impact. They were once wearing down and reducing in numbers at the rate of 20.4% (reportedly among the highest in the industry) and since Nayar took over in 2005 thanks to his innovative ideas they are said to be at a 17.2% now.

Though still higher than few of the others in the industry, this is no small effort considering how in today’s culture jumping ship for more pay is a trend although it disregards corporate culture. Marketing Manager Krishnan Chatterjee says “It can sometimes be like coin-op machines”

Even though HCL employees are the primary beneficiaries of this  novel idea, they were initially skeptical for many reasons. One of them being how it would look if big bosses got negative ratings by their understudies or the relatively inexperienced. But slowly the workers learned to trust the system.  Nayar makes it clear this feedback is not used to determine bonuses or promotions.

There area lot of unidentified big guns who are supposedly studying this system and researching it. And in Harvard Business school this is a case study and is being included as a part of their executive education courses. It is also being considered for regular MBA courses.

I just find it unbelievable how far we’ve come from just 7-8 years ago when I was in India where I was very much subject to some strong power play be it my research advisor or any supervisor I have dealt with. Hats off to this effort and I truly hope this sticks on and creates a wave of change with the big picture being professional development, economical development and technological & infrastructure development and not about personal ego or power struggle.

This is based on a fantastic and eye-opening article “The Employee is always right” published in Business Week written by Jena McGregor.


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