Hire to Retain

Recent conversation on LinkedIn by a group of HR enthusiasts, interested me. The topic was about hiring the right candidate and some strategies on hiring the right candidate, ensure they succeed at job and give the returns on investment on hiring, training and retaining. Which kind of stirred up a memory of similar dialogue I had with a now retired dean of Management Faculty M.S.U and now a Professor@Delhi School of Management, I’d used a term “Programmed to fail” to his apparent amusement at the state of hiring of candidates by grossly inadequate HR officials of my company. The only mantra my guru had for me was “but you are empowered, isn’t it? turn the glass into a crystal!”

No company hires a candidate to fire. So what explains such high attrition rate? Ambition? Opportunity? Pure financial attraction or is it the age-old peg and hole theory? Well I believe a square peg can be systematically trimmed at edges to fit the round hole.

When I was interviewed as a new hired manager, by a Retired Maharashtrian Tata Executive who was our HR consultant (and responsible for most the mis-hires) about the comparison between the present company with previous (Bombay Dyeing Mfg.Co.Ltd. Ltd) I had shared the role of HR limits after the initial hire and the departmental lead or HOD should take over to shape the future of the hired and bring out talent to mold it as per company needs. And the process is continuous.

What is it that makes an employee happiest? A sense of achievement! The pride of reaching a goal. This followed by instant gratification and appreciation conveyed in cash or kind. So, what is new that I am stating? Really not? But how many organizations have such mechanisms.

This is what I have seen across the board (across borders). ‘Programmed’ Supervisors view their role as overseer – disciplinarian – enforcer – show scant interest in developing or mentoring their team – but are simply focused on pleasing their boss (to survive). To them pushing people to perform is the best way to display leadership. As a result, they end up having suckers who “play favorites” for reasons other than merit which creates an environment of discrimination. Which leads to frustration amongst the ranks resulting into significantly higher quit rates.

I must mention here,that mostly, I have had the opportunity to work with some of the finest supervisors who lead by example – coaching, mentoring – providing performance feedback – more of advice on failure-how not repeat it and fostering a greater sense belonging to the team and at the workplace.

Remember one thing, nobody, repeat nobody goes to work to under perform. The triggers are at the workplace itself. It is all about culture at the workplace what does the leader (team lead/supervisor) bring in his baggage when he or she comes at workplace with. The buck starts and stops at their desk.


Oh ! how different .

The biggest impact of the digital disruption is the democratization of consumerism worldwide. And because it happens to and through digital things its power multiplies precisely because it can apply to industries that are not even digital.

The outcome of this is a more informed and empowered customer. If you are in the service industry, this is change is perceptible. These days the customer does not call only for a service but to know what more than can get from you than your competitor.

Present day consumer of product or services expects and knows their money is worth more than the price printed on the label and the product or services may not be good enough — but better than it promises.

With information on ‘hand’ and easy mobility the consumer will bypass the geographically convenient and maybe a cheaper store brands to prefer a more expensive product that they believe is better (in value).

Certain items — belonging to the psycho-graphic segmentation variables – like phones, cars, shoes, handbags, favorite hotels, etc. — can get them quite excited. Not only they buy those products, they advocate them to others – on social media.  Good old times — Harley Davidson and Marmite — were tattooed on bodies. Now they give them the thumbs up (likes).

Hence the challenge of today for the “truly marketing oriented “company is to be “truly differentiated” not in terms of your product or service but how you come across your customer at every touch point.

So ultimately, differentiation is to be found in what you do for your customers each and every day. It is embodied in the routines that people throughout the company follow, especially front-line employees, your call center employees, people handling escalations.

Ask executives whether their company’s offerings are differentiated and about 80% will say yes. But ask customers of those companies the same question and only about 10% will agree. Unfortunately, more than half of front-line employees aren’t clear about their company’s strategy and what makes it different from competitors. Most do not know what they are offering what the customer pay for.

Here is a suggestion make them think customer. The front line guys, sales representatives, customer service agents should be asked to respond to their service encounter as if they are the customer and how would they react? Empathy is a cliché’. What is required something deeper-introspection very conscious-continuous.

Differentiation in overall approach to the customer ,existing or future, may begin with the founders or leaders of a company, but it doesn’t become real until the front line lives it and breathes it.

To me the secret to most successful enterprises — companies who realize this importance — translate these strategies into front-line activities and focus maniacally on routines. In short create a replicable behavior in each interaction with their target audience – the consumer they want to win over each time.

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