Cleaning the stairs from the top down

Cleaning the stairs from the top down

Transparency proved to be one of the biggest drivers of our success, says Sanjay Hans.

Is transparency a necessity? What about trust and empowerment? How do organizations scale rapidly in a competitive global environment? From the outset, the Iris leadership had put in place strong organizational and cultural values, says Sanjay Hans, Vice President and Global Head of Talent Acquisition and Global Resource Management. He has worn multiple hats in his two decades at Iris.

“Transparency, the oft-maligned and frequently bashed keyword found its way into Iris as well,” Hans says. “However, what stood out is the commitment by the leadership team to adhere to this core value.” He recalls a pithy remark by Iris President Sunil Puri: “Stairs need to be cleaned from the top.”

Excerpts from the interview with Sanjay:

Transparency drives success

As a privately-held company, there was really no need for Iris to embrace the attribute of transparency. Many organizations with a similar structure and background arguably found success without it, but for us this proved to be one of the biggest drivers of success. Whether the situation was good, bad or ugly, we take inputs from our co-workers before making decisions.

Everybody knows how well the organization is doing. Visibility always existed from top to bottom. One notable transition period for me was in 2005-2006, when I moved from a sales position to the talent resourcing function. It helped that both Sunil and I have a hands-on style of working.

We both knew that to be able to scale and grow, we needed a system of ‘trust but verify.’ This would allow for zero room to hide and help us foster the transparency that we so strongly believed  in. We had our ears to the ground, but our hands were firmly off the table. The people we had in place, the weekly calls, reports and quarterly presentations ensured we scaled rapidly to a point where we were hiring 50-60 people each month for client sites, up from a total of 60 candidates in the previous year. 

Commit to process, reap the gains

If we had not set up the right processes up front, we would have been unable to grow the way we did. It’s all wired together. My focus which was primarily on North America at the time, and that expanded to include the Indian subcontinent. The process I had in place was brought into a new business unit and helped it scale rapidly.

“No two markets are alike, and we require different people for each,” was what we were told. Our teams in various countries worked collaboratively on international projects with a turnkey approach that allowed us to enter newer markets. That would not have been possible without the faith we had in what we were doing.

It was also no small feat for our meetings to transition from being personality-driven to focus on issues. We achieved that because of our faith in our processes and people. We use our meetings to dissect the same data together and as a forum to raise professional challenges and get help.  

Transparency with empowerment

“Bad things will happen,” but the intent to fix what goes wrong must exist. So whether it is making good on a commitment that a colleague had made in error or providing the freedom to select vendor partners and decide on what to pay them – we have it. Without this power to make decisions, and more importantly, to make mistakes, we would not be able to perform efficiently.

Enter collaboration, exit buck-passing

Working across geographies is a challenge and doing so during the pandemic is even more so. The distance between teams (both physical and mental) led to some buck-passing at the start of the pandemic. However, rather than stepping in to find solutions, we chose to back off and trust the process. If a particular team or an individual had a problem with another, they could always speak with each other and resolve it between themselves.

It helps that everyone has skin in the game. Variable components of compensation that are linked to securing business would be affected if there were no collaboration. Our faith in the process is consistently justified as teams and individuals work together to iron out issues and deliver results.


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