A young aspirant entering the corporate corridor for the first time is actually taking her professional birth. Therefore, like a new-born baby, requires adapting to the new environment. This adaption process begins with an effective induction.
Here are excerpts from an imaginary conversation that took place between Ms. Jenny Patel (Postgraduate in Business Management from a leading B-School) & Head of HR, Ms. Sujata Mathews on Jenny's first day at Aston Private Limited, a company headquartered in Mumbai.
Sujata: Hi Jenny, its ice meeting you again. How was your vacation?
Jenny: Great madam. I had been to grandma's place for a few days and then volunteered at a local orphan home for a week.
Sujata: That is very good. Anyway, congratulations and welcome to Aston. I wish you all the best for a fulfilling career ahead.
Jenny: Thanks madam. In fact, Aston was my dream company and I am fortunate enough to start my career here. Can I ask a few questions that will help me understand Aston a little better?
Sujata: Sure dear. That is one of the purposes of this meeting.
Jenny: Where does Aston stand today vis-a-vis the competition? What are projected revenue numbers? What key strategies are in place for growth?
Sujata: Wow, seems you are well prepared. As far as the competition is concerned, Aston today is in Top 3 in India. We have achieved about 1 billion USD last year and expect a CAGR of 20% for next 4-5 years. About 50% of the growth will come from new products and new markets. Remember, industry is growing at CAGR of 10% in last 3 years.
Jenny: That is fantastic. It means that Aston has great products, strong leadership, well-trained members and good programs for career development. Right?
Sujata: Let me explain. Aston's mission is to be in top 10 in Asia by 2020. To achieve this, the HR Function is focused on effective recruitment & stabilization processes, various development and reward & recognition programs, culture management, etc. The top management treats HR as a critical function and has been actively acknowledging its role in helping Aston achieve its mission. Currently, we are focussed on talent retention, new performance management system and introducing new entrants- & customer-feedback mechanisms. We are now about 5000 employees across 3 cities and in coming 3 years, would grow to 7500 employees across 5 cities in 2 countries.
Jenny: Hmmm. So, could you please share on, how business objectives are translated into reality and how different functions are integrated?
Sujata: Would you care for coffee?
Jenny: Oh sure. Thanks.
Sujata: Aston is a team-company. We regularly communicate across-the-board on mission, business plans, achievements, gaps, market conditions, etc. and also seek inputs from employees in a structured way. This helps staff members appreciate business realities and understand management's transparent approach. Apart from inter-functional teams for better coordination, all the functions are integrated through SAP, virtually and hence relevant information flows to all concerned in real time. This enables informed decision-making at all levels. In fact, we also communicate with our vendors & customers regularly.
Jenny: While in college, I had heard that Aston was fined for unfair business practice?
Sujata: It is other way around. In fact, we had sacked a manager, who after an internal inquiry, was found guilty of sharing sensitive information with a competitor and as per rules, we had informed the Fair Practice Commission with due details. Aston is a fully compliant organization and respects the law of the land.
Jenny: You are so well-informed madam.
Sujata: Dear, at Aston, every manager is first a business manager and then a functional manager. We believe that, all managers must know business fairly well. Only then they can understand internal & external linkages.
Jenny: What kind of performance management system do we have?
Sujata: Once the annual business plan is frozen, HoDs finalize their plans with CEO. Then after departmental plans are converted into functional plans and functional heads discuss with each staff member(managers & above) & make individual performance plans. The entire exercise is done on-line and finished in January as we follow calendar year. Company & departmental plans are reviewed monthly and other plans are reviewed half-yearly. Individual performance planning & review process is entirely based on KRAs & Key Attributes, specific to each level. In short, staff is fully involved in her performance planning & review, and is well aware about company's expectations.
Jenny: This is exactly my senior, who works here, had told me when I had spoken to him before my final interview. But he was also mentioning about rigid reward policy and it is a concern for me.
Sujata: This is not true. Aston firmly believes in pay for performance and at the same time, have a little tolerance for low performers as we have invested in their training. This means that, those not doing well would receive a fixed rise annually, but only for a year or two, depending on overall feedback from their bosses.
Jenny: Oh, I now see the logic. This has been a very informative dialogue and is helping me a great deal. Could you please guide me on behavioral norms, if any?
Sujata: Just don't worry. Aston is a young organization with an average age of about 31 years and therefore, we have vibrancy all across. We address each other by first name, of course with due respect. Moreover, everyone including CEO takes lunch at the same place. We essentially respect the individual & not the level, and have a culture of openness. Don't get surprised, if my boss comes to your table for a coffee, and checks with you on your comfort. That is natural at Aston. We also organize lot of group activities that help staff bond better. So observe for a few days, and you will come to know. Let's go for lunch now and if you have unfinished agenda, then let us catch up again in the evening. Is that fine dear?
Jenny: Yes madam. That is fine.
Sujata: I just told you, we address each other by first name. Yeah!
Jenny: Oops. OK Sujata.
After the above imaginary conversation & its extension in the evening, Jenny is much better informed and has developed a basic understanding of Aston. This would calibrate her expectations and help her stabilize faster in the new assignment and environment, which is the core aim of any effective induction. Isn't it?