MS: As employees have been noticing, you as Director of Human Resources have been making some exciting changes here at LABVANTAGE. Can you tell us about them? 

NM: Yes we have made several changes…and thank you for noticing! First, we had a major re-org exercise early last year. This implicated huge changes for many people. For some, it entailed a change of supervisors or a change of roles, and for others, it meant they were now supervising teams for the first time. From an HR perspective, we took the role of “enablers” for these changes.

For example, one of the first things we did this fiscal year was to assign HR Business partners for business teams in India. So the HR team of Ipsita, Anupama, Kinkini  as HR Business Partners, have undertaken an employee sensing exercise where they connect with employees to understand their views and concerns vis-à-vis a) their roles and their comfort with the work they are doing b) their supervisors and c) the organization. This provides us with a wealth of data on where the things are going-on well and where they need improvements. We have also invested in Dale Carnegie Leadership Program, to ensure that our new leaders are able to handle their new roles successfully. Very soon, it would be one whole year since the changes were implemented, and all in all, we have been pretty successful in managing the transition to the new org structure. So this is an area we plan to build-on this year.

Second, we fine-tuned our recruitment engine and are now in a position to enter the game of mass recruiting whenever the organization is ready for sourcing large numbers.

Third, we are looking at the Performance Management System as a huge enabler for the organization.

Fourth, with the goal of focusing on the basics this year, we did an extensive audit of employee records across our regions to ensure we are up-to-date on that front to the best of our ability. We streamlined our legal compliance and visa processes to ensure we are following the global norms on these crucial issues.

Finally, we are ensuring the basic policies and processes are in place. Very soon we will have our induction manual for various regions and a new employee handbook as well. 🙂

MS: How did you evaluate our performance management system? What are its components?

NM: Our focus this year has been to ensure the organization as a whole gets into the rhythm of goal-setting and assessments in a formal manner. We have looked at some of the best processes on performance management and created a process which is ideal for our requirements.

There are four basic components to our PMD process:

  • The Goal-Setting Process – This is important as it removes the ambiguity on what is expected from an employee and creates mutual expectation setting
  • The SMART Criterion – This refers to the Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound parameters of the process
  • The Rating Scale – We have a four-point rating scale from excellent to unsatisfactory
  • The Assessment Process and Communication

MS: The company’s culture is important because it can make us or break us. How do you want LABVANTAGE’s culture to look like in the future?

NM: Melissa, I have no doubt in my mind we are at the cusp of some very exciting times ahead as an organization. Hence there is a lot of work that needs to be done on the HR side. We are still a young company with big dreams. We need to get a lot of key systems in place and processes aligned.

We are in a people’s business – so the kind of culture we create while we are still a young company will have an enormous impact on our success potential in the future. It’s very difficult to try to change the culture of a large, established company. So, as we continue to become larger, we need to take special care of maintaining the culture elements that make this place so special. We need to focus on three things: team spirit and a sense of ownership and commitment, keeping things simple, and a nimble sure-footedness during decision making.

MS: How have you been adjusting to the US on a personal level?

NM: Well, right after I came, super storm Sandy chose to rip through New Jersey leaving a trail of destruction all around. I saw the ferocity of wind like I’d never seen before, but what stood out to me was the resilience and a spirit of togetherness. People reached out and opened their homes and hearts to assist those in need.

Post the initial hiccups and Sandy phase, my wife and I have started liking it here as the people are very friendly and helpful. We are getting used to the cold weather and are enjoying the occasional snowfall. I love watching the gaggle of geese sauntering across the greens and the occasional darting deer as I come out of the office building in the evening!

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