History taught me a management lesson

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Published: Thu 18 Nov 2021, 9:00 AM

When our Al Adil Group expanded, the new employees also increased and it became imperative for us to set up a Human Resources and Development (HRD) department. HRD is one of the most important departments for any company as its work is directly related to the grievances and welfare of the workforce- hence, difficult and challenging. Initially we didn’t have the required skilled staff to work there so we published advertisements in newspapers to fill various posts. After a series of interviews and a meticulous selection process, a hierarchy of suitable candidates was formed and finally the new department started functioning.

By Dr Dhananjay (Jay) Datar

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Within the first six months some employees from that department resigned from their post and joined new companies. Surprisingly the chief HR manager, the head of the department, was also among them. This unexpected development suddenly halted the entire work of the department. We then hired a recruitment agency to fill the vacant posts immediately. We even offered a lucrative salary package as per the agency’s advice. Yet, the same thing happened again. We couldn’t keep employees for even a year. It made me nervous and irritated. I couldn’t understand why the staff in the HR department remained dissatisfied even after we’d offered them an attractive salary package.

I asked a business consultant about it and he said, ‘These days loyalty has lost its place and opportunity seems to overrule it. In the old days employees would prefer stability in their jobs, but nowadays only the package matters. This trend is likely to continue. Don’t worry. Hire new people.’ But his advice couldn’t satisfy me as it is quite difficult for any employer to constantly repeat the hiring process. I began thinking for a solution. And unexpectedly I found it in history.

I was reading about the history of Marathas and especially Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. It was described there that the king Shivaji encountered a similar problem when he took up the task of building his own fleet of warships. He assigned the work to Portuguese carpenters who were supposed to be excellent and master ship builders. They started the work- but after a couple of months, suddenly stopped and all ran away. King Shivaji, anticipating this problem, had purposefully kept his local carpenters under the foreign artisans. He trained his own workforce and later they built an excellent fleet of warships.

This incident inspired me to train my own staff to work in HRD department. I disseminated a circular in our group companies and invited desirous and studious employees willing to work in the department. We provided them with necessary training and built a team again. We purposefully kept the senior positions vacant for skilled candidates to compete for. I am proud to say none of them have resigned from their job so far. As Peter Drucker says, “Every enterprise is learning and teaching institution. Training and development must be built into it on all levels, training, and development that never stop.”

Dr Dhananjay (Jay) Datar is the chairman and managing director of Al Adil trading

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