Industry Case Study 1 : Resource Optimization and Enablement

 

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Client Details : A leading aggregator in food delivery

Industry : Online food delivery

About The Company : The company was one of the initial companies who stepped into the business of food delivery. With the novelty of idea, the business picked up and they grew very fast in a short span of time.

Business Scenario : Inspite of having a huge team, they were not able to manage their call duration and the waiting time for customers kept on increasing drastically. This impacted their reputation and customer satisfaction. To manage the situation, they identified new resources and added to the team. Very soon the addition of new resources and adverse business reputation started showing in the balance sheets.

What Was The Challenge? The challenge was consistent addition of resources did not improve the efficiency of the team nor addressed the concern of high call time. The investors started questioning on the overall business model of the organization and competency.

Solution Deployed :

The first step was a SWOT analysis of the business scenario discussed above. The SWOT analysis was done post critical evaluation of call quality as well as the overall process flow. Herewith sharing the snapshot of the same :

The parameters which were considered while conducting the SWOT are :

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(a)  Overall morale of the team members deployed

(b)  Number of resources deployed at work

(c)   Methodology and framework to enable the resources to perform

Below are few key points which formed the foundation of the solution deployed :

(a) Based on the focussed group discussions with the team members, it was concluded that the team was motivated and recognized to perform at work

(b) On evaluating the SOPs, it was found that the documents were very elaborate and detailed, apt for a knowledge repository. However, the SOP documents were not a ready reckoner for a team member during the call

(c) On asking the team members as to what were the challenges they faced during the call it was found that they often got lost in the process flow which further increased the time in call handling

(d) On evaluating the training framework, it was concluded that every team member underwent mandatory process training post which an assessment was taken. It was mandatory to successfully clear the assessment before being deployed in production

(e) Lastly the leadership team’s idea of including further resources to the team was evaluated. There was no scientific method deployed through which the number of new resources required were determined. It was more or less a quick fix decision that was taken to address the issue of increased call handling time by the agents

The Solution Deployed :

Post evaluating all the aspects and the key parameters, our recommendation to overcome the business challenge was as follows :

(a) Resource Optimization : The KRA for each and every resource were to be defined and productivity metrics to be aligned to the overall business goal. While defining this, the ‘need’ for every resource was to be explicitly justified with a business case indicating the role expectation from the resource

(b) SOP and Process Flow : Apart from the regular training that was already provided to the team members, it was extremely important to translate each SOP into pictorial clickable process flow. We used an online tool named, Concept Draw for the same and translated the whole set of SOPs to pictorial clickable steps. This gave the agent a free flow to the process during the call whereby reducing the call handling time drastically.

Key Benefits From The Solution :

The two challenges the organization was facing were :

(a) High call handling time of 7 minutes on an average

(b) 10% increase in headcount cost every month due to inclusion of additional resources

Within a month of deploying the solutions the business impact seen was surprisingly tremendous – 

(a) The call handling time was reduced from 7 minutes per call on an average to 4 minutes per call on an average. With a consistent training on the revised SOP formats and manuals, the call handling time was further reduced to 3 minutes per call on an average

(b) From a business perspective as the call handling time was reduced drastically, it gave excess bandwidth to the existing resources. The organization could utilize this additional bandwidth towards specific org level initiatives and new product portfolio development. 

(c) The deployed solution also lead to a major downsizing of the current team whereby reducing the headcount cost by 30%.

Future Plan :

For a period of 6 months from the date of deployment of the solution, we worked consistently with the leadership team of the organization whereby ensuring implementation and compliance of the same

A task force was formed who would ensure regular update of the process document and implement the same across the board.

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Working Remotely

 

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Working Remotely is the new normal and it is nothing new that we are expected to do. Most of us have worked remotely at some point or the other and we had done it efficiently. Rather than focussing on challenges of working remotely, which are very minimal, let us look at the benefit, both from an employer as well as employee perspective.

What Are The Benefits Of Working Remotely For Employees?

  1. Employees can save a lot of travel time which they can use productively to complete a task
  2. One can save money. Imagine, where you used to spend a minimum of Rs. 500 everyday on travel, you can now save the entire chunk of it as you would be working from home
  3. Can maintain an absolute balance of personal and professional life
  4. Opportunities would increase as there would not be a location constraint for a specific job
  5.  You get an opportunity to explore and use various tools and technology for collaborative work

What Are The Benefits Of Employees Working Remotely For Employers?

  1. Employers would have a huge saving in terms of operational cost of running an office space
  2. Statistics have revealed that an employee working from the comfort of home tend to be more productive and contribute for longer hours
  3. Employers get a diverse talent pool for a specific job. One need not focus on a specific location only for hiring
  4. You get a motivated workforce who has a perfect work life balance and would advocate the organization culture
  5. Corporate politics would reduce to a great extent as tools and technology would capture work and overall productivity. This would result to an engaged workforce
  6. You maintain a healthy team of people and you live upto your values of “People First”

 

Myth Busters :

  1. Myth 1 : Employees would not work if they work remotely The primary need of working remotely is not just tools and technology but TRUST. Leadership team need to trust the employees and vice versa. It’s not the place of work that determines productivity. If you have a workforce who is self disciplined then there is no need to worry on productivity. A workforce who is not self disciplined will not be productive even if they work for 14 hours a day from an office location
  2. Myth 2 : Productivity and Performance cannot be tracked in a remote working environment – Today’s work environment is incomplete without tools and technology. This is the time when you deploy tools and track performance quantitatively. Gone are the days of subjective performance evaluation
  3. Myth 3 : I can do my household during office hours when I am working from home – Remember, it’s working from home and not working for home. During office hours an employee is expected to work. No employees should take it as an advantage of leading a weekend life on a weekday. It’s of paramount importance to stick by your usual routine and work as a professional

 

Way To Success :

  1. Trust
  2. Deploy tools and technology
  3. Have a team member who would just focus on tracking metrics and productivity of the team. For e.g., Scrum Master
  4. HR team to change focus from engaging a team at office to creating a virtually engaged workforce

 

 

The New Normal – Crisis Leadership

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*Source of image from internet*

In March 2020, the world saw a complete mess – The Mess Of Covid 19. Initially all of us thought that the crisis situation would get over in a month or two but now it is proved that we have to live with it. So it’s time we get back to normalcy – The New Normal.

The New Normal Way of living with an enhanced hygiene, taking precautions, increasing immunity and getting back to work in a different way. It’s time for a change in working model and an overall change in leadership to a Crisis Leadership Model. There cannot be a specific formula for the way forward as the situation itself is too dynamic and demanding. We have to bat as the ball comes.

So, let’s be prepared for change management and uncertainty. The leadership team of an organization would play a pivotal role in the same. As a leadership team member you have to adopt the style of crisis leadership wherein you take quick decisions, exhibit the right behaviour, be ready for adhoc changes and implement the same across board. In the midst of everything, demonstrating the right behaviour and cascading the same across the organization is the key. As aptly quoted by Donald Mcgannon – “Leadership is not a position or a title, it is action and example”.

We have always known that actions speak louder than words. As leaders, we should remember that how we behave and hold the fort without losing stability during crisis situation is how the team members would look upon us. Every action we take, determines our Brand Image. Crisis would go away in a year or two but our Brand Image would linger with us throughout.

Here are few key points which would help is sail through this storm effectively :

  1. Accept the situation : The first and foremost for every leadership team member is to accept the situation and the new normal way of working. Most of us are not used to remote working with the team but that does not mean that they cannot be productive. It’s upto us, how we drive the team. If we are able to work globally, we can also work with our domestic team, working remotely. So focus on productivity rather than place of work
  2. Care : This is indeed the time to demonstrate that we really care for our team members. All this while most of us have integrated, ‘Care’ as our key value and now we need to live upto it. We don’t need to do much but just few basic things such as asking people how they are doing, would they need any help, regular informal connects etc. We need to remember that this is the time where we need to focus on creating a real Engaged Workforce
  3. Being Connected : Being connected with the team is the most important aspect. As leaders, we need to remember that it is our responsibility to stay connected with the team and not vice versa. Drive away the silly assumptions as that would actually make the difficult situation more difficult
  4. Proactive Communication : The current epidemic is big but it has been made humungous with the contribution of fake messages floating around. Let’s proactively catch up with the team and communicate as to how we are doing in terms of business, revenue growth, resource utilisation etc. Let us be ready to face the questions from the team and answer them responsibly

Crisis leadership is about accepting the challenge, facing it and driving the whole organization towards the decided organization goals. There is no harm in having a conservative organization goal when the overall economy is crazy. The ultimate goal of every leadership in the difficult times should be based on a survival strategy. A survival strategy which would save the ship from sinking along with the entire the crew. 

Being In A Continuous Juggling Mode

The last month and a half has not been easy for anyone, specially for working parents. I am an enterpreneur with a 1.5 year old toddler at home and I totally understand, how difficult it is to manage business expectations, household chores and of course a super energetic kid.

As I had a regular catch up with my ex-colleagues and friends this weekend, I was quite surprised to see how few organizations are being extremely insensitive to this whole fact. Most of the organizations speak about work life balance, diversity and inclusion, specific support for working mothers etc, but very few actually live upto it. This is a situation of Global Emergency and people do not have choice. At this juncture, the last thing one can take is fear of losing job. So I believe being an enterpreneur it is my responsibility to ensure my employees remain strong at this situation of crisis. ‘Strong’ , not only in terms of financial health but also emotionally and mentally.

Few things which I think can be implemented by companies ensuring deliverables and simultaneously supporting work life balance are :

  1. Crafting weekly plans and communicate the same to the team members. Let the team members decide how they want to utilise their day with the ultimate objective being that at the week, the planned tasks needs to be completed
  2. Not being time stringent with respect to working hours at this stage. Let us be practical that an employee would not be able to spend dedicated 8 to 9 hours continuously as he/she would have done in any normal office days being in office
  3. Plan meetings better with specific agenda and output. This would not only ensure deliverables are met but would also be efficient
  4. Do away with meetings which can be done away with
  5. Recognize as and when required
  6. Trust your employees and team members. One need not have Video Call for everything to ensure team members are working. Believe in empowering and sharing responsibilities
  7. Engaging employees is good but its good to be considerate as people might also need personal space. Most of the time, we forget working hours when someone is working from home. A Friday Evening Catch Up after office may be good when situation is normal but doing it as a ritual in this situation may not make sense

It’s all about Planning Better & Sensitively.

Please share the best practices implemented by your company in this situation.

 

 

Would Covid19 Create Havoc In Employment?

Since the outbreak of Covid 19, we have been hearing about how this would result in layoffs, job reduction, recession which would be worse than the earlier ones and so and so forth. Well, let us think through it differently and logically.

The survival of any business depends on the below key parameters :

  1. Financial stability of an organization – How strong is an organization in terms of Liquid Cash?
  2. Business model and business plan of the organization – How lucrative and sustainable is the business model and plan of the organization?
  3. Type of services/products offered – Does the product or service have a USP or it is just one more addition in the whole array of similar products in the industry. 
  4. Existence of a lucid business continuity plan – Does the organization have a strong plan to fight adversity?
  5. Having a Plan B for survival – Does the organization have a Plan B if at all Plan A does not work?

If all the above parameters are affirmative, what we get is an absolute STABLE Organization and that’s the organization which would survive any adversity.

The next question that arises is – Are only Larger MNCs ‘STABLE’ in terms of the above 5 parameters or there are few startups as well who fall under the same category?

It is a myth that only larger organization has stability. There are many startups as well as medium sized companies who are extremely stable and have a strong Business Continuity Plan. We have read inspirational announcements from organizations in the recent past which are real moral boosters. Citing few here :

  • Flipkart assuring employees that even if its a tough situation, no paycuts would be made and appraisal would be done
  • Big Basket hiring 10,000 employees
  • Start Ups such as Nykaa receiving funding

AND MANY MORE….

So, the situation is not that bad as we think. That being said, there would be few sectors and segments which would be impacted but that doesn’t mean end of employability. Few sectors which would survive and thrive even after the Pandemic are :

  • Healthcare & Diagnostics
  • FMCG
  • Hotels/Restaurants
  • ECommerce
  • FinTech
  • IT Product
  • Manufacturing

So essentially, all type of job would survive. For e.g., If an IT company is laying off people, it does not mean there is not job in the market.

The need of the hour is to analyse and understand the skills of your respective role in different segments and prepare for the same. Spend this slow time in upskilling.

How Companies Can Deal With This Crisis?

The Covid-19 outbreak is not only a pandemic but the situation has slowed down the whole global economy to a level which has not happened in the last 20 years. We are yet to come out of the pandemic crisis and things would be difficult post that as well. At this juncture, enterpreneurs of startups are at an immense stress as they rely a lot on liquid cash. Few companies have to take tough decisions if they have to survive. So, how do we handle such a situation?

Let me write this differentiated into two phases :

(a) During the lockdown

(b) Post the lockdown

During The Lockdown :

The lockdown is a necessity and the need of the hour. However, the impact of it in business cannot be ignored. So what can one do as an enterpreneur?

  • Remember, in those busy days, you have always parked few things as you did not have bandwidth or time. Now that business has slowed down, take a step back and re-evaluate all those plans which had then taken a back seat due to time constraint. See which of those can be aligned to the upcoming anticipated economic condition and work towards the same. Your team would also have less work, so create task force and engage your team in creating the next level survival strategy for the organization. Trust me, you would surely get brilliant ideas and can face the crisis as one whole TEAM.
  • Review your organization chart and work with the HR Team to assess departmental level skills. Create online modules and focus on upskilling.
  • Reassess your business model and create a conservative one considering the forthcoming days
  • Do not take impulsive decisions and start laying off immediately. Remember, Employer Brand matters and that is something which would drive your organization in the upcoming days of crisis and tough competition. If you need to lay off your employees within 2 months of a crisis situation, that essentially means that there is a huge gap in your business strategy. Time to revisit and retrospect

Post The Lockdown :

Once we come out of the pandemic situation, then the real challenge begins – to bring back the economy to stability. That being said, lot of things need to be re-calibrated for survival of the fittest.

  • Focus on completing the reorg as per the revised business strategy
  • Freeze hiring for the time being
  • Realign and reallocate team members taking additional responsibilities
  • Cut down on operational cost whereby possible
  • Have consistent business review to track performance
  • Do not rush for fundraising immediately. Fundraising should be a support for service/product enhancement, not bringing you out of a tough financial situation
  • Laying off employees to be the last resort

Creating A Productive Workforce

“Creating A Productive Workforce”, an essence for every organization. Few key questions in this aspect are as below :

  1. How do we define a productive workforce?
  2. How do we create a productive workforce?
  3. Does creating a productive workforce a simple process involving few reports and MIS or it requires an overall culture change?
  4. How to draw a thin line from being informed as a leader and micro managing a team?
  5. Can productivity at work be driven and achieved only if it is linked with Performance Appraisals?

Let’s look at answering all these questions subsequently.

To any leader, a productive happy workforce defines the success of an organization. Creating a productive workforce is a practice and not just a process. All the processes of an organization needs to be aligned towards making an organization culture productive. The step by step approach towards creating a productive workforce is :

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  1. Hiring the right talent : It’s all about getting the right talent onboard, someone who meets your business requirement not at present but someone who can can scale up as the business scales. An individual may not be productive right from Day 1 but he/she needs to demonstrate the attitude towards being a part of a culture thats survives on being productive
  2. Condition of work : A productive ambience encourages productive thought process. This is the age of workplace designs that enhances productivity and innovation. It is of paramount importance for all enterprenuers and leaders to ensure that your team members get the best of working condition. A workplace that makes them comfortable, gives them basic necessities to work whereby keeping them motivated and passionate. Quite often leaders start taking their internal team members for granted. They trully abide by the policy of ‘Customer is the King’ but they miss the fact that ‘People Are The Assests’. You have to nurture your assets to capitalize on them. A happy workforce is a productive workforce.
  3. Use of technology and tools : Productivity and technology go hand in hand as smart work supersedes hard work. The key to being productive is to leverage the maximum potential of an individual which is only possible by deploying smart tools at work. A tool that helps collaborate, track metrics, generates reports and dashboards, serves as a knowledge repository whereby increasing productivity of an organization to a great extent.
  4. Strong review mechanism : Nobody likes being micro managed. Nevertheless, it is extremely critical for an enterpreneur or the leadership team being updated on the whereabouts of business. A 30,000 ft view is what is expected from a senior leader, however there is an essence of being tactical as well. A review mechanism which mandates real time tracking of data/metrics, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual review builds a strong foundation for a productive work environment.
  5. Reward and recognition : It’s Business ! It has always been a practical way of life that we get something we need to give something. Nothing comes free. You would need to reward and recognise your high potential employees. Reward and recognition does not only mean trophies and certificates. It means, deploying the best in class employee benefits (tangible as well as intangible), specific retention activities for high potential employees and giving them the best in the market.
  6. Take tough decisions : Creating a productive work environment is a huge cultural change. It can be driven by the organization culture in tandem with the processes, technology and tool. A productive work environment is a mindset and not just a process. That being said, if there are team members who do not have that mind set or form an integral part of a productive work culture, the leadership team needs to take a quick tough decision of parting ways.

Few Key Examples : Small initiatives with great impact

(a) Hiring the right talent : 

  • Explore candidates who demonstrate the competency required at the job. He/She may not have worked in the relevant field. Core competencies are difficult to be trained on, domain knowledge is trainable
  • See for the right attitude in a candidate
  • Scout for the ability to learn and unlearn things

(b) Condition of work :

  • Give a specific desk to the employee. A corner to which he/she can relate to.This is the first step in building accountability and loyalty towards the organization
  • Have bright workspace

(c)  Use of technology and tools :

  • Time Management & Metric Tracking : Zoho, Salesforce, Streak
  • Knowledge Repository : Confluence

(d)  Strong review mechanism :

  • Define and articulate business goals
  • Cascade into departmental goals and KRAs
  • Deploy a scrum master whose job would be just to keep tracking metrics
  • Monthly CheckIns
  • Quarterly business review
  • Annual review

(e) Rewards & recognition :

  • Recognizing high potential employees
  • Conduct compensation benchmarking and ensure high potential employees are paid better and at par with industry
  • Pay bonus or allowances for employees who go beyond the call of duty

 

Leave your thoughts as comments or write to piyali@zizique.co.in

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is Attrition A Bane?

Attrition

As an HR professional, attrition rate has been one of the major performance indicators and lower attrition rate, a major goal. However, I look at it a bit differently.

Is Attrition A Bane?

My answer is,”No”.

Today’s business scenario is extremely dynamic and at this juncture, Change is a mandate. An organisation can sustain only when it changes as per business needs and the team embraces the change in a timely manner. The challenge here is universal – Change is not an easy deal. Human beings are known to be the most adaptable creature however ironically, we all hate change. So, what’s the solution for this?

Do we still retain the team members who may not fit the change?

If we have a bunch of team members who do not align to the change due to business needs, shall we still consider a lower attrition rate?

I don’t think so.

In the current environment of cut throat competitions at every stage, the two philosophies that work are, ” Take it or leave it” and “Survival of the fittest”. As a founder, it is of paramount importance to be able to take strong decisions in favour of business. I know this sounds very much unlike an HR and many of my HR partners would find it extremely unempathetic but I believe that’s what a Business Partner role is, to think in alignment to business and act as per the need of the hour.

I have seen start up founders struggle to change the culture of the organization towards their vision just because of legacy issues and not being able to take a strong stance. At this juncture, what works is – If you need the change, you have to push the change. In that course of action, there might be attrition but of course for the betterment of your organization. The churn in the team would bring new fresh thoughts and the new team can be moulded in the new cultural aspects. Hence in this case, attrition is not really bad. At times it is a boon which helps in thriving and sustainability of the business.

She Is Empowered (#Women Empowerment #Diversity & Inclusion)

Women empowerment

March 08th was International Women’s Day and social media was flooded with messages celebrating womanhood. Many articles spoke about rights of a woman, few highlighted on empowerment whereas few others spoke about how she should tackle when she is a victim of a bias system.

I hold a slightly different opinion here.

I believe we as women we are responsible for what we face. Yes! you heard me right!

I will tell you why?

  1. Acceptance : 

Acceptance

      (a) We accept the fact that we need to be an epitome of tolerance

      (b) We accept that the only way to solve an issue or maintain harmony is to Be Quiet

    2. Believe :

Believe

      (a) We believe that we have to be superwoman doing everything on a personal front as well as professional even if it’s at the cost of our health or wish

      (b) We believe in keeping everybody happy around us forgetting that it is rather impossible to keep everybody happy. Human beings, being the most insatiable creation of God

    3. Hesitate :

Hesitate

(a) We hesitate to ask be it professionally or personally

(b) We hesitate to put our foot down and say strongly that something is wrong

(c) We hesitate to voice out our opinion in general

 Empowerment will come to every women the day we rule the above three factors.

 Kudos to the women who have already won the aforesaid points.

 

 

 

What Do Investors Want? – The Talent Perspective

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What Do Investors Want? A question which every start up organization asks. However, the questions asked are always in terms of funding, returns, break even etc. As less as only 20% founders talk about the investors’ want from a talent perspective.

Few myths that persists in the industry are :

  1. Investors look for only pedigree : In my recent discussion with a panel of investors from the top notch investment firms, we spoke about the real investor wants. Yes, it is RETURNS but through the right talent. Investors do not want to see just pedigree, they want to see a bunch of passionate high performers who can yield results and the aspired returns.
  2. Investors are specific about hiring their referral candidates : Very often during the hiring process, I have heard founders stating that a specific candidate has to be hired because he/she is referred by one of the investors. Do the investor really want it? I don’t think so. By choosing the referral candidate directly, I think an organization just demonstrates the laxity in hiring the right talent. There is no harm in evaluating the candidate along with all other suitable candidates for the position. What the investor really wants – is hiring the right talent
  3. Investors are not bothered about day to day operations : This may be true to a certain extent in a product based organization. However, in a services company, investors would be keen to see consistent enhancement of operational efficiency. They may not be involved in direct operations but would have an eye to see the impact of the same in the overall business goals. It is of paramount importance for all investors to see how cost is optimized sustaining superlative standards of quality and brand value.
  4. Investors do not pay heed to Capability Building : The investors may not directly ask for a report on performance management and capability building, however, a consistent effort, plan and implementation of capability building and a well managed holistic performance management model definitely rings the bell. A skilled talent pool ensures consistent superlative ROI
  5. Investors consider HR as a support function : Gone are the days when HR was an Admin. The role of HR has evolved to a Business Partner role and investors do want HR SPOC to be aligned to business. Headcount Forecasting, Resource Utilization and overall Talent Plan has to be in sync with the Business Plan. Alongwith other business priorities, it is of paramount importance for all founders to focus on People Perspective and have a strong HR team