Article: Business & HR are equal partners in people agenda: Niren Chaudhary


Business & HR are equal partners in people agenda: Niren Chaudhary

The restaurant business is people-intensive so the time spent on people issues is crucial

Our HR priorities for the year need to be read in the context of our mission of ‘growth with a big heart’. We aim to grow our business to a billion dollar company, with 1,000 stores across India; and we aim to grown in terms of people, from 15,000 employees today, to 50,000 employees in the next 5 years. Growth here does not just mean growth in numbers but growth for the people and the communities that we work in, which is our corporate social responsibility mandate.

The biggest challenge we face in HR is to attract, retain and grow the best talent. There is enormous competition and talent shortage which is a clear threat to our growth plans. The challenge is faced at all levels, from frontline to senior leadership roles.

The HR priorities therefore include the need to support the growth through capacity building. The second priority is to maintain our differentiated culture. We define our culture as fun, connect, contribute, and learn, which has been a key differentiator for us so we need to build on that and maintain it as we grow in size and scale. Thirdly, our focus is to build a learning organization which will help in constantly upgrading the skill levels of employees.

Being the CEO, at least 40% of my time is spent on people-related issues and culture building. I use this time to become a catalyst to help others become better leaders by investing a lot of quality time on coaching, mentoring, managing performance and feedback. Even when I visit a branch, my aim is to create an opportunity to coach people for the next level rather than assessing their business performance, which I can do even without visiting them.

I consciously spend time on culture building and nurturing people. I personally take sessions during the structured induction program to induct because I think is important and signal the importance of culture building in our organization. Our culture is defined as ‘How we win together’ and we reinforce this culture through a very strong recognition program which aims to ‘catch people doing the right thing’.

The restaurant business is a very people-intensive business so the time spent on people issues for a CEO and the complete management team is crucial. I am not sure if the current time is optimal but we always strive to spend a significant amount of time on people concerns. My personal philosophy is that if you focus on building people capability first, everything else will follow. HR is hence fully involved and integrated in making this happen. Business and HR are equal parties in the people capability agenda.

As an organization, our people contribution directly impacts our business. So we track our people performance through the retention scores at all level. We ensure that every single person is certified for the role before he or she performs the role. We also track the bench we create, in terms of ensuring there is adequate number of people to do the job. Finally, and very importantly, we track our success through the feedback that our employees give us in different ways, for example, the employee satisfaction survey, our internal dynasty survey on culture and external process like the  Great Places to Work ® survey.

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Topics: C-Suite, Strategic HR, Culture

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