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Why I Put My Employees Ahead Of My Customers



Here at HCL Technologies we developed a management approach called Employees First, Customers Second that has become known around the world. It is not what you might think. It isnot a human resources initiative, as many seem to assume. « It’s an employee satisfaction program, » one person who heard about it said. « It involves picnics. » No. It is about employees, but it’s not about HR.

I have nothing against programs designed to improve the lot of employees or at least make them feel a little better. And I have nothing against human resources departments and what they do. But Employees First, Customers Second is a management approach. It is a philosophy, a set of ideas, a way of looking at strategy and competitive advantage.

The idea came from observing our company closely. We create value in one very specific place: the interface between our HCL employees and our customers. We call this the « value zone. » Every employee who works in the value zone is capable of creating more or less value. The whole intent of Employees First is to do everything we can to enable those employees to create the most possible value.

This has led us to take a number of actions to turn the organizational pyramid upside down. In other words, we want management to be as accountable to the people in the value zone as the people in the value zone are to management.

EFCS is not about making employees happy or comfortable. I don’t even really care if employees are happy. I don’t think that employee « satisfaction » is something a company should strive for. Satisfaction is a passive state, isn’t it? Satisfaction doesn’t produce change or improvement or innovation or much of anything.

As for employee « engagement, » that isn’t much better than satisfaction. I would hope that everybody, no matter what their job is, would be alert and paying some attention to what they do, would be engaged.

source: forbes.com

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