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Vol 2, Issue 01, Feb 2020
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Human Resource Mgmt.
L&T Construction was India's largest construction organization and also ranked among the world's top 30 contractors. The case describes the appraisal process and recounts the predicament faced by an intern, Sheel, who was given an assignment to propose improvements in the new performance appraisal system. Armed with the information she had collected about the ongoing and the previous performance appraisal process, Sheel was required to identify areas for improvement and also propose changes to the performance appraisal process that would overcome concerns, if any, with the current system.
Performance Appraisal Process at Larsen & Toubro Construction
The merger between Idea Cellular (Idea) and Vodafone India (Vodafone) in August 2018 resulted in the formation of Vodafone India Limited (VIL). VIL focused on accelerated integration with a very clearly defined five-pillar strategy – (i) accelerate execution integration (ii) prioritize investment in terms of profitable areas, (iii) drive average revenue per user (ARPU) up with simplification and upselling, (iv) focus on partnerships to drive value, and (v) strengthen the balance sheet. This formed the blueprint under which several strategic initiatives were taken to improve its revenue, profitability, and competitive position in the marketplace.
One of the key steps taken was to revamp the organization structure and culture of VIL on the basis of the newly created vision, mission, and values. Despite the restructuring efforts and its efficiencies, VIL’s market cap fell by more than 20% (over INR60 billion) and its share price by 81% following the merger, which closed on August 31, 2018. It reported a net loss of INR48.73 billion, its third successive quarterly loss since the merger. Revenue had declined 4.3% sequentially to INR112.69 billion, falling below Jio’s revenue for the first time in the same period. Debt was INR993 billion as of June end 2019. On August 19, 2019, VIL CEO Balesh Sharma (Sharma) announced his resignation citing personal reasons. He had served as CEO for just under a year. Ravinder Takkar (Takkar) took charge of operations as CEO and MD on the very day of Sharma’s resignation. Takkar’s top priority was to reverse the revenue decline.
Organizational Redesign at Vodafone Idea Limited
Microsoft ditched its traditional performance management system in 2013 and took several initiatives to help create a new Performance and Development (P&D) system. The new P&D system focused on employees’ skills and competencies and facilitated open conversations. Through ‘Connects’, employees received real time feedback that helped them learn, grow, and focus on their strengths and key learning areas. This flexibility allowed managers to discuss P&D all through the year. In 2018, the HR team partnered with Core Services Engineering and Operations (CSEO) and built a new feedback tool that would make feedback more actionable without triggering negative feelings. The new ‘Perspectives’ Tool was a result of studies on Brain science which showed that people were more receptive to feedback when they themselves asked for it rather than when someone wanted to give feedback. As part of Perspectives, employees were invited to suggest things that their colleagues should keep doing and actions they should rethink. These two new initiatives had an impact on changing the mindsets of employees. They also improved communication and coordination between and within teams. ‘Perspectives’ also helped Microsoft rethink how it was evaluating and critiquing employees and was a step forward in building the company culture.
Microsoft: Building a Collaborative Work Culture to Foster Innovation
Women employees made up between 27 percent (Microsoft) and 47 percent (Netflix) of the workforce in major tech companies. But, the percentage was much lower when it came to actual tech jobs. In addition, women computer science graduates had become very selective, preferring to work in companies that had a fair representation of women employees. This was surprising in a progressive country like the US, which valued gender diversity at the workplace. Duolingo, a US-based language learning app, experienced this situation first hand when it hired fresh computer science graduates from universities in 2017. Of the candidates selected (both men and women), only men accepted jobs at Duolingo; not a single woman joined the company. On close introspection, Duolingo’s management found that women candidates had rejected its offer as the hiring panel consisted of only men, which gave the impression that Duolingo was a male dominated company. The company’s management, which strongly believed in having a more diverse workforce, revamped its hiring process to get more women software engineers on board. This strategy was very successful and helped Duolingo to hire an equal number of new women and men computer science graduates in 2018.
Gender Diversity Initiatives at Duolingo
Sanofi Canada (SC) had been witnessing a drop in revenues since 2005 when its exclusive rights to a number of medicines started to expire and patients began to switch over to low-cost generics . Consequently, SC laid off employees and in 2011 decided to sell off its dermatology business, Dermik. The sale also included the company’s existing 45-year-old head office building. These developments had an adverse impact on employee morale, leading to higher attrition rates. Jon Fairest (Jon) took over as CEO in 2012 and was immediately tasked with shifting the head office to a modern facility with an open-plan working environment. Further, Sanofi’s global management saw in this an opportunity to change the working culture from a closed, non-collaborative one to one that was more open and collaborative where employees did not withhold information but shared it for mutual benefit. Jon along with a steering committee that comprised top management members and personnel from the Communications and Human Resources teams developed a year-long change management campaign. The change leadership strategy focused on empowering employees to actively take part and support the forthcoming change. In line with this strategy, 30 employees were roped in as Change Ambassadors to educate their peers about the transitions. To get employees used to an open-plan working environment where employees freely shared their ideas, the Change Ambassadors conducted many initiatives such as “Open Door Challenge,” and “Getting to Know You” sessions. The team also issued behavioral guidelines for engendering a friendly, collaborative working culture. Employees were allowed to voice their opinions on furnishings and workstations. Photos of the new buildings with the furnishings chosen by the employees were regularly posted on the walls. This created a positive feeling among the employees. The employee-inclusive campaign ensured a smooth transition to the new building and the employees expressed satisfaction with the collaborative work culture. Attrition dropped to 0% post the transition.
Sanofi Canada Overcomes Resistance to Change through Change Ambassadors
In 2007, Chade Meng Tan, a software engineer at Google, started the “Search Inside Yourself” (SIY) program at the company in collaboration with experts in the fields of neuroscience and emotional intelligence (EI). The program aims to teach EI to Googlers through the mindfulness meditative technique. The two-day program teaches Google employees the methods of mindfulness, self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, and empathy and leadership skills. The SIY program at Google has been very successful, with many employees registering for the program that generally has a long waiting period. Numerous Googlers have attributed their new found calmness, resilience to demanding situations, empathy, and attentive listening skills to the SIY program. The SIY team went on to set up the “The Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute,” in 2012 as an independent nonprofit organization to offer EI courses to Googlers and non-Googlers. Many multinational companies, including AT&T, Philips Electronics, and Autodesk conduct EI workshops on a regular basis for their employees. Aetna, a US-based health insurance company; General Mills, a global consumer goods company; and computer chip maker Intel have also implemented mindfulness courses for their employees.
Mindfulness Training at Google
In 2005, L’Oréal, developed a comprehensive on-boarding “Follow-Up and Integration Track (FIT)” program. This was a formal integration/induction program designed to help new employees learn to adapt to its culture.
To better support and onboard its new employees all over the world and align itself with the digital learning trends of millennial employees, the company developed the Fit Culture App in 2017. The app was designed to assist its newcomers understand the unique company culture and key values through challenges, personal stories, and videos and was made available in 11 languages. It was the world’s first mobile application designed to assist newcomers in an organization understand, decode, and master their unique company culture. The app had bite-sized capsules of content on topics such as entrepreneurship, cooperation, agility, and networking. New employees needed to use the app for 5-10 minutes daily and were able to familiarize themselves with L’Oréal’s culture in 30 days as the entire content of the app was learner-driven. The app was paired with other culture-focused initiatives within L’Oréal’s learning eco-system such as the ‘Simplicity transformation program’ that included seminars designed to share the culture with executives and managers; the ‘Lead & Enable program’, where managers learned to help employees grow and encourage them to take the initiative; and the ‘L’Oréal Momentum program’ that provided opportunities for managers to reflect on how they could build a new, community-driven and more collaborative L’Oréal.
L’Oréal’s FIT Culture App: A Culture Acclimatization Tool

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