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No Distinction Between Management & Workforce

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Could you shed a light on Lava Campus Engagement Programme?
We have had rapid growth in last two years. Under the programme we hire young people from premiere management institutes. These guys join at middle management level. We also hire officers trainees at junior level. They primarily cater to our front lines sales and service. This year we have hired around 64 officer trainees and 20 young leaders. Since we are starting our manufacturing operations in India, we have also hired Diploma Engineer Trainees and Graduate Engineer Trainees.

Did you hire the Graduate Engineer Trainees from tier 1 colleges?
Until now we did not have requirement for Engineering graduates. So, we have gone to tier 2 collges for our limited requirement of 11 trainees. As the programme ramps up, we will surely be visiting top Engineering colleges.

Do you plan to increase the hiring next year?
We expect our manufacturing operations to be much larger. The campus hiring will grow across all the areas.

What kind of training do you impart to the new joinees?
For new joinees we have a fairly detailed curriculum. For the officer trainees and DIploma Engineers, we have six month training. For young leaders and Graduate Engineer Trainees, we have one year training period.

Initilly there is classroom induction where we tell new joinees about our organisation, the vision and values of the company and the way we are structured. Then we have orientation for different functions, we have a market visit, visit to our distributors and service centres. This goes on for the first one month. Then fo the officer trainees we have field trips where they learn on the job by working with our trained officers. This is done for two months. For the last three months, they do the job for which they are hired: sales officer or area service manager. After this they get confirmed.

For the young leaders, the duration is longer. The first month comprises of classroom training. Then they have theei fireld trips of sales and service. They also interact with supply chain people. After that they are assigned projects in sales or product marketing. Finally they get absorbed.

What is your appraisal policy?
We have a performance appraisal process which is a bi-annual process. The mid year appraisal is to give feedback to the employee. Then they are evaluated in October. The unique feature of our appraisal is that we also take feedback on the employee from the stakeholder. For example of you are in sale, it is important what your distributors think about you. This happens for the medium level.

For the managers, appraisals are made on the basis of KRA, competencies and feedback from stakeholders. The annual appraisal happens in May and June. We tend to keep it simple.

What is the current attrition rate?
It is about 20 per cent.

When do you plan to start the manufacturing facility in India?
It is a very major initiative this year. Phase one will be assembly unit for which we have identified space in Noida. This will go live by May/June. We will start with small number of people. After one year we are planning a three shif operation which will have 1200 people.

Will you be assembling the units in India or manufacture them too?
Phase one is assembly. Manufacturing will take time and investment.

How do you intend to go about the training and hiring process for the manufacturing facility?
Diploma Engineers will be the supervisors for our manufacturing facility. We have already hired at senior management levels. The challenge will be at the operator level. It is a new initiative by us and we are planning continuously.

How will you engage the young workforce?
This is a very challenging task. We have undetaken study missions across India and our head of manufacturing has also visited facilities in China. Our aim is that there sould be no distinction between management and workforce. We want to get right people who are hardworking who want to make a difference.

Further, engagement will happen if performance is measured at the team level. Therefore, the way we are designing our performance management system is that it will give emphasis to the right team behaviour. Next we would like workforce to get a share of the profits. How that will be done will be worked out. When employees see that there efforts are leading to tangible gains, engagement will happen.

Do you plan to introduce employee first policy in Lava?
It's more of a philosophy. As an organization we already believe that our success will depend on the quality and engagement of our people. We have several innovative schemes: we have performance linked incentives, we have a very rigorous process of selection to ensure very hard working and innovative people are selcted, we are trying to establish meritrocracy so that the hardworking people get the best opportunities.

We have different methods to connect the employees so that they see a long term career in our organisation.