Employees First Customers Second

Employees first, customers second?

“I’m sorry, for me, you do not come first because unless I take care of my employees they won’t take care of you.”

Vineet Nayar, CEO of HCL Technologies, has pioneered this innovative approach to employees first, customers second (EFCS). In 2005 HCL Technologies, one of the five biggest IT services companies in India, was losing market share and falling behind its rivals. Despite revenue of around $700 million and employing over 30,000 people, in 18 countries, the company was beginning to see a gap forming between them and the competition.

Vineet made the decision to break with conventional wisdom of putting customers first. Instead he thought about “how can I deliver on the promises we make to customers without looking after the people behind those promises first?”

The result? HCL Technologies is now a $4.2 billion company with 84,000 employees in 24 countries.

In the last 60 years management principles have hardly changed. The position of a manager was invented to turn the work force into a semi-programmable robot. Designed to ensure the farm hand, factory worker, telephone agent would to turn up on time and do the same thing over and over again. This model of management has worked brilliantly for many decades. But it is time to build an organisation that is fit for the future.

In the next 5 to 10 years there will be a whole generation of employees and consumers that have grown up with the internet. We had to learn and adapt to use the web. For these people the internet has always been at their fingertips.

The values that are ingrained in the web is ingrained in them, and will be ingrained in future business. Values such as openness, meritocracy, flexibility and collaboration.

All of the things that the internet represents is what we want our organisations to be. The internet is already adaptable, innovative and engaging.

So who really controls the conversation in your company over strategy, direction, and where the organisation goes next? It tends to be a small group at the top. We know from years and years of studying social systems that the more centralised something is, the less adaptable it is. Innovation cannot thrive in an organisation that is not adaptable enough to capitalise on the exciting ideas from the fringes.

So the important question for business leaders today is – Do I put my employees first and create a culture of meritocracy, innovation, and openness?

Putting this in motion now will help you to stay ahead of the competition and to recruit the brightest and best for your organisation.

What do you think of Vineet’s management philosophy and will you/have you integrated it into your business?


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