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'Make Line Managers Accountable For Attrition In Team'

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Rajesh Nair is not exactly the HR head of a company.  Rather, he is the CEO of TopGear Consultants Pvt  Ltd, a strategic Human Resource management and placement consulting firm with primary focus on recruitment and helping clients to retain employees. Surviving the 2009 recession and triumphing over it, has been Nair's greatest achievement (the company grew 15 per cent) so far. Nair believes managing human capital cannot be the responsibility of the HR department alone and line managers should be made accountable for attrition in his /her team.

What attracted you to HR and recruitment?
The most critical asset for any company is its employees. The company with best employees always has an edge over its competitiors . For example, an FMCG major has the best tetra pack juice in market but its rival easily beats this company in sales by a very long margin. The only reason I see is that the rival company has the best marketing brains in this country. They have actually recruited the best team , invested a lot in this team and this team helps them be market leaders. HR/recruitment is the most critical role for any company , be it a start-up or an established player. This is what actually attracted me towards HR and recruitment in particular.

What has been the biggest achievement in your career?
My biggest achievement till date I feel is facing recession in 2009 head on and managing to survive it. But it would would be wrong to say that it is my achievement  alone. We as a team not only survived it but also grew 15 per cent in 2009 which I felt was extraordinary . Also being awarded the “Platinum Certificate of Excellence” by HDFC Stanlife Insurance and “The Most Preferred Recruitment Partner Award ”  by ICICI PRU Life Insurance has been really special.
What have been the primary traits/qualities that have helped you attain your present position?
I feel we still have a long way to go. I have always believed in hard work . We have always placed our clients’ interest first. We have never compromised on quality and will never do so. In fact, we have managed to deliver high quality service even when faced with pressing deadlines. The client appreciates this and I feel that has been the reason for our success. I feel this approach will help us be the best and biggest recruitment company in the world.

What are the challenges you are facing in organisation?
The challenge is to maintain the high quality of work. With the volume of work increasing, we have to ensure that quality does not go down. We do have our audit process in place but still it is a challenge.

What are the steps a company should take to develop and motivate future leaders?
Empowering people goes a long way in deciding whether he /she has the stomach to take on responsibilities. I feel giving responsibilities to someone even when he/she is only 60 -75 per cent ready for the job also works well. Also making future leaders stand up to real crisis situations has helped me analyse and handpick leaders.

What is your rate of attrition? How do you prevent it?
Our attrition rate for senior managers is very low. Many of them have been with us for more than 5 years. I feel giving more responsibilities and space to grow can help prevent attrition. Of course you add good compensation to it.

How do you retain talent in your company?
As I said giving your employees space to grow as a professional goes a long way in retaining talent. But at the same time I believe in the philosophy that non-performers should not be tolerated.

What sets your company apart from other companies as far as work culture goes?
Transparency! We always have had a very transparent work culture. Even a trainee is able to view data about the senior-most managers’ performance. Also we have the best profit-sharing model. Everyone has a sense of ownership and is aware that the each one of us will grow with the company.

What is the biggest challenge you face when selecting people?
The biggest challenge for us has been separating serious job seekers from the stop gap kind of job seekers. But we have a good recruitment process in place that helps us in selecting the best.

How do you track of employees' satisfaction or dissatisfaction?
We have open house sessions and one to one meeting every 15 days. The performance of every team member is tracked and timely feedback is given. We also have assigned mentors to each team whose primary job is to ensure that everyone remains motivated.

How HR has been important to the bottom line of the company?
If we recruit quality people it straightaway reflects in the bottom-line. Obviously when you recruit someone who is on the job from day one without much of training, it helps improve your bottom-line.

How has the downturn affected HR?
Downturn has had an impact on recruiting for expansion while there has not been much impact on recruitment for replacement. However, many companies have again started recruiting for expansion.

How should HR be integrated with the core line of business?
I think line managers/ functional managers should be sensitised to the challenges faced by the HR managers in recruiting the best talent. Also the line managers should be made accountable for the attrition in his /her team. Managing human capital cannot be the responsibility of the HR department alone.

A recent survey has questioned HR's actual contribution in an organisation. Would you like to comment on it with particular reference to your organisation?
The HR department is traditionally viewed as a support department . But if you look at top companies, they have always given a lot of importance to HR. Companies like Infosys have always maintained that their meteoric growth is a result of high quality employees. Narayan Murthy used to refer to employees as the most critical asset. So, the role of HR has become much more critical. A wrong recruitment choice can have a negative impact on bottom-line as well.