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HCL technologies, a tech solutions company that was started in India is pioneering new forms of management and internal practices that truly do put the employee first. Their website is filled with interesting information about their culture of ‘ideapreneurship‘ which puts employees at the forefront of innovation, their employee-centric mission statement and their reverse management style. The list does not end here.

Many companies display grandiose ‘stuff’ on their websites to make themselves look like ‘darling’ employers. However when you peel back the layers of fluff and stale air – there really is no engagement or fulfilment of these promises. This is what makes HCL a ‘company behaving awesomely’ –  they do it and then they say they’re doing it, not the other way around. Putting employees first is truly entrenched in their organisational structure.

Their ‘Reverse Accountability’ is truly ingenious and forms the basis for their disruption of regular management practices. How do you empower employees across the board, in a hierarchically structured organisation? Here’s how HCL gets it right:

  • Employees rate their boss, their boss’s boss and the ratings are published online.
  • When it came time for strategising, they distributed all the company information to 8000 employees and everyone got involved in creating the organisational strategy. (If thats not engagement then what is?)
  • And here’s the kicker – the ticketing system: an employee at any level who disagrees with their manager or feels they have been treated unfairly, or feels that an internal department is not living up to its standards can fill out a ticket on the ‘offender’. Tickets are visible to the whole organisations, and they can only be closed by the employee. So until such time that the employee feels that the issue has been resolved, the ticket remains open.
  • Any ticket not closed in 24 hours gets escalated to the next level of management – Well hello, no leaving unresolved issues by the wayside nor dusting them under the rug with this system.

If this system does not exemplify making managers accountable, and putting employees at the core of your business then I don’t quite know what will. It is so empowering for employees to know that they have a voice and that people are listening.

Vineet Nayar

Vineet Nayar, CEO and pioneer of the movement towards the ‘Employee First’ mentality and creating a fantastic culture that drives transparency and innovation on the frontline says in an interview with The New York Times:

All HCL’s financial performance information is on our internal Web. We are completely open. We put all the dirty linen on the table, and we answer everyone’s questions on our internal Web site. We inverted the pyramid of the organisation and made reverse accountability a reality.

So my 360-degree feedback is open to 50,000 employees — the results are published on the internal Web for everybody to see. And 3,800 managers participate in an open 360-degree and the results — they’re anonymous so that people are candid — are available on the internal Web for those who gave feedback to see. So, that’s reverse accountability.

Gary Hamel, renowned management expert, describes meeting Nayar and this being one of the first things that Nayar said to him:

“We must destroy the concept of the CEO. The notion of the ‘visionary,’ the ‘captain of the ship’ is bankrupt. We are telling the employee, ‘You are more important than your manager.’ Value gets created between the employee and the customer, and management’s job is to enable innovation at that interface. To do this, we must kill command-and-control.”

When the guy at the top is driving this sort of change with this much passion, I say hat’s off to him. With this spirit behind them it’s no wonder that HCL has seen continuous growth and innovation. In fact pioneering this new style of management led to a growth of revenues, market cap and profitability of 600% in the peak of recession – this statement makes my point for me. Look after your people and they will look after your bottom line.

If you’d like to find out more about how they do what they do check out some of the following links:

A video by Gary Hamel on HCL’s reverse accountability – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IriL2k-QwKs

An article on HCL’s Extreme Management Makeover – http://blogs.wsj.com/management/2010/07/06/hcl-extreme-management-makeover/

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