Article: Growing Talent from within: Q&A with S.P. Singh

Leadership

Growing Talent from within: Q&A with S.P. Singh

S.P. Singh, Director-HR, NTPC, speaks with People Matters on how providing social security and support to employees can generate unquestionable employee commitment
 

Our talent philosophy focuses on building a leadership pipeline and we begin identifying key talent from the moment they join

 

All our efforts work towards providing social security and a support system to all our employees, which I believe is very crucial

 

S.P. Singh, Director-HR, NTPC, speaks with People Matters on how providing social security and support to employees can generate unquestionable employee commitment.

What percentage of hiring do you do at the entry level, middle level and senior level?
We hire very little at the middle and senior level. Our plan is to hire in large numbers to support our growth plans – right now, we are about 34000 megawatt and want to become 74000 megawatt by 2017. And we have about 15 new projects coming up, out of which 10 are Greenfield projects. In order to man these places, we need people at various levels. Therefore, we have boosted our intake at the grassroot level – we are taking around 1000 fresh hires at the executive trainee level.

What is the talent management philosophy that ensures that people hired at the base level are channelized in the right direction?
We believe in hiring in large numbers at the base level and thus try to pick the best of the lot from campuses, who go through a very precise and structured induction process. The new joinees undergo a one year exhaustive training program where they are totally exposed to the power industry. This process ensures they are put in various verticals to learn on-the-job. They spend ample time in each vertical, which helps them to specialize in a particular area by gaining good expertise in that particular field. During this time, each new recruit is assigned a mentor who provides guidance from the overall personality and growth point of view. We have a strong coaching culture, where a more experienced person in the field hand-holds the fresh recruit to help him/her learn fast on-the-job and enables him to specialize in certain technical areas. After spending adequate time in a particular area, the person’s ability and aptitude is assessed to identity the domain area that he/she can specialize in.
Our talent philosophy also focuses on building a leadership pipeline and we begin identifying key talent from the moment they join. Employees’ capabilities are assessed at various points of their career to identify skill gaps so that focus can be laid on the areas of improvement for each employee. The assessment and development centers, in turn, help in chalking out the right development plans for our people.

How are you able to measure employee aptitude?
The structure of the rigorous training process that employees go through allows a direct and continuous employee assessment, while on the job. The system enables continuous interaction between the new employee and his/her superior during which the superior is able to assess his/ her aptitude and capabilities on a real-time basis.

Do you find it difficult to attract talent given the changing demands of the new generation employees?
I would not say that the public sector faces any difficulty in attracting quality talent. Rather, I would say that there are two sets of young people who are looking for jobs today – one group is still looking for a very safe and protected environment where they would like to have a good pay package and growth opportunities, and the other set of people are those who would like to take more risks and explore opportunities in the private sector, with the hope that ultimately at some point in time they will earn more in the private sector. So, at any point in time, there will be two sets of people who will be available for both sectors.
And especially in the power sector, the private sector has not been able to make such a big entry. So, we have not faced any problems in attracting quality talent, as NTPC continues to be the first option. There was a time when many people were disillusioned by the private sector entering the space in a big way and many people left NTPC to explore those opportunities.

Your plants are often located in remote areas. How do you keep employees engaged in such situations?
We face very little attrition and we have been able to establish ourselves as an employer of choice. The key lies in understanding the dynamism and the changes occurring in the expectations and aspirations of the people. There are three generations living at one time and the rate of change being so fast, it is imperative for the organization to pay special attention to ensure employee engagement as an active practice. To give you an example, when I joined as an Engineering Trainee (ET) in 1975, we were happy to get a cycle, but today an ET knows that the day he joins, he is eligible to apply for a car loan.
In most of our projects, which are located in far flung places and away from city life, the challenge is in creating an engaging environment for our employees within the townships we have established. We not only have to think about the employees’ engagement but there is an equal need to cater to the employees’ spouse and children’s needs and aspirations within the township. We have adequate amenities within each township to make them self-sufficient and fill the void of the facilities that a metro city automatically brings. Broadly, we have mapped employee requirements in three major categories – medical, education and social.
We have recently started the NTPC Employees Housing Welfare Association which is aimed at enabling employees to own their own house in their choice of cities and we are presently trying to gauge the employee preference of cities where projects can be initiated.

What makes NTPC a preferred workplace?
Our constant aim is to provide a very secure and learning environment for our employees, where they enjoy the freedom to take initiatives, and grow. With the revision of the Pay Scale, our compensation packages have also become quite competitive.
All our efforts work towards providing social security and a support system to all our employees, which I believe is very crucial. The amount of commitment this generates is incomparable to any amount of compensation, and employees are clearly more willing to contribute to the organization simply because the organization cares for them.
 

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Topics: Leadership, Learning & Development, #BestPractices

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