A lesson from HCL Technologies on culture – Employees first


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21st century leadership – Employees first

[First posted on MENG Blend]

In 2005, HCL Technologies of India decided to transform itself. New CEO Vineet Nayar decided to make a statement. He set out a new strategy called, “Employees First, Customers Second.” Vineet understood that the most important two feet in his business were those between the employee and the customer. His employees on the front line were the key to the turnaround of HCL. They were the true custodians of the brand and drivers of customer loyalty.

Culture trumps Strategy and Principles beat Rules

HCL inverted the pyramid and placed employees first. This wasn’t just lip service. Vineet engaged in a number of changes that reinforced the new direction. Here is a video that covers the transformation:

Do you agree with the HCL philosophy? Who is more important . . . employees or customers?

This is a great chicken and egg debate. Who comes first? I introduced this question over at Switch + Shift (a tremendous blog on leadership by Ted Coine and Shawn Murphy). What became clear during my research is that brands who understand the concept of marketing lagniappe for customers, also embrace the concept with employees. Both are equally important. Taking care of employees and investing into the “little extras” for staff help build a dynamic culture.

green goldfish project with bulb

I’m now on a mission to crowd source 1,001 examples of green goldfish. Why green for employees? First and foremost, green is one of the three colors of Mardi Gras (purple, green and gold). New Orleans is the birthplace of lagniappe, the overarching concept for providing “little extras.” A word that Mark Twain once said “was worth traveling to New Orleans to get.” The second reason deals with money. It’s well documented that financial compensation is not a strong long term motivator. This Project will explore the “little things” that can make the big difference in establishing culture.

Similar to the Purple Goldfish, it is my belief that employee lagniappe provides the following three benefits:

  1. Differentiation – a way to stand out in a sea of sameness. Give the company a remark-able difference or set of signature differences.
  2. Retention – keep employees happy and they’ll stick around longer.
  3. Word of Mouth – create a culture that attracts talent. Become a desired place to work and you’ll get more A players.

Here are the first 22 examples. Please leave your example by hitting “Add to List” below or e-mail me at stan [at] 9inchmarketing.com. Thanks in advance for your help.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Stan Phelps
Stan Phelps is the Chief Measurement Officer at 9 INCH marketing. 9 INCH helps organizations develop custom solutions around both customer and employee experience. Stan believes the 'longest and hardest nine inches' in marketing is the distance between the brain and the heart of your customer. He is the author of Purple Goldfish, Green Goldfish and Golden Goldfish.


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