Though it is clichéd, our business is all about people. It is not a plant and machinery business, but a people and brains business; so actually, there is nothing else for the CEO to focus on other than ‘people’. The three primary agendas include improving retention of employees, help people visualize and build long-term careers in the organization and to build leaders for the future. As the CEO, I have vested interest in these critical people concerns, which also feature on my scorecard. About 50 percent of my direct goals are linked to people activities of improving retention, building long-term careers and building leaders. And further, roughly 55 percent of my time is spent on planning and executing these three critical talent goals for the company. Broadly, this time goes into ensuring a direct connect with people through direct communication, which takes place in the form of formal training programs as well as through management by walking around.
Talent management is not just an HR function, it is a business function. Therefore, the CEO has as much accountability as an HR director in ensuring talent attraction and development takes place as required to drive business growth. The present talent challenge is not the talent scarcity, but in ensuring that while we hire in numbers, we are also able to meet the required culture fitment. Further, in our focus to retain employees, we constantly work towards identifying the strength of the organization and the organization’s culture, to ensure that we hire people to whom our culture is appealing. It is important to meet the individual aspirations of people when hiring them for Tesco; therefore, we are very aggressive on understanding the potential employees’ needs and attempt to match the same to the opportunities that Tesco can provide them. For example, there is no point in filling numbers by hiring someone who is interested in a domain outside Tesco’s expertise. This approach ensures retention of talent, where employees look at Tesco as a long-term career opportunity.
In the past year, my time spent on people-related activities has gone up from 40 percent last year to 55 percent today. This is true because, in the last year, we have worked towards increasing the number of senior executives in my team, which freed up my time to take on more people-related activities. Further, there was an increased consensus this year on building leadership for the future, which automatically requires me to increase my time spend on talent-related activities.