Showing posts with label employee. Show all posts
Showing posts with label employee. Show all posts

22 January, 2024

A Firefly finally takes off

Monday - 22 Jan. ‘24 is a very important day in my professional life. I complete eight months today in my role as Executive Vice President at Daily Thanthi’s digital start-up division. But that’s not why it is such a significant day.

“Minmini” has been in the making for the last 30 months or so. And today, it has taken wings to fly through the globe and connect Tamils together. 

What started off as a digital transformation exercise at the group level, with the Vision of our Group Chairman and Managing Director Thiru Balasubramaniam Adityan, has now evolved into a full-fledged hyperlocal social app, ready to welcome users across the world and be a single platform for sharing posts, videos and collaborate on many other things.


When I first met him for my interview a few days ahead of Pongal 2023, the concept was still at an ideation stage, even as M/s Accenture was strategically advising the organisation as well as developing the product. 

From just being an alternative to the likes of “Reels” and “Shorts”, Minmini has taken giant strides over the months and is now the first hyperlocal social app focussed on local and global Tamils and is ready to connect digital users to the retail fraternity around them.

During the days of brainstorming and internal meetings since I joined in May ‘23, several ideas have evolved on how the local communities could come together, embrace each other economically and drive the society towards a single purpose of prosperity.


Minmini will eventually host lakhs of shops, shopkeepers and service providers such as electricians, carpenters, plumbers, mechanics, tuition teachers, tailors, drivers and every self-employed person to assist them spread their network. And all this comes “free” to the users as well as the professionals as they discover one another around them. 

The newest baby of the eponymous Daily Thanthi group, “Minmini” has taken a flying start today, quite literally. 


As you read this article, many of you would have already seen the full-page advertisement in today’s edition of Daily Thanthi across Tamil Nadu, Mumbai, Bangalore, Dubai and Sri Lanka along with today’s edition of Times of India across Tamil Nadu. 

Our ads are live on Tv, Radio and several digital properties as well from today onwards. Here’s a link to the press release that appeared earlier today. 


I have been on the other side of Retail since 1997 – frontline operations for over a decade followed by Strategic Management and Business Development. Went through the ups and downs of Entrepreneurship and eventually decided to get back to professional employment – to be on this side, the digital side of things. 


As Superstar Rajinikanth says in one of his movies as a dialogue, “This is just a trailer, main picture is yet to come!”. 


Through Minmini, I believe I have a chance to onboard thousands of small and marginalised retailers on to the digital bandwagon. 

If I can make a small difference in the lives of a few hundreds, I will feel happy that one of the main purposes of my life is achieved. Time will tell.

07 April, 2017

E for Empowerment - Employee Empowerment

Have you felt that the restaurant where you spent a few hundreds or even thousands provided a great meal but the service was basic, if not atrocious?

Have you experienced cashiers without any life at cash tills in supermarkets who hardly look at the customers faces?

Have you encountered sales staff at apparel boutiques who are not interested to show you varieties of merchandise?

Have you seen sales staff at a mobile retail store who are more engrossed in their own smartphones playing games or watching Youtube than serving you?

There are many such examples that we could discuss in detail and the prime reason for this is that the Retailer has provided limited or nil empowerment to the staff. I had a similar example this morning. I was at Café Coffee Day Ispahani Centre (Chennai) with a guest and we ordered two cold beverages which arrived fashionably late after 10 minutes. One sip and the Frappe was lesser by a quarter. In 3-4 minutes my drink was over! And it was meant to be a cold drink. After a while, I went to order a Cappuccino and again had issues with the staff who were novices and were under training while the senior guy was not around. When he appeared suddenly I told him about the cold-less Frappe and he just gave me a blank look – nothing more. No apology, no offer to replace the drink, nothing. I wouldn’t blame him. This is how most of our large Retail chains work who are facing severe challenges in employee management.

While we could debate what the staff in the above example could have done, I think the issue should be addressed at the Corporate level than at the store level. Worldwide, many retail stores, especially in services businesses such as food and entertainment have given a lot of empowerment to their staff across hierarchies. For example, walk in to a Starbucks and order a drink – if you didn’t like it and inform the guys behind the counter, they would just replace it without battling an eyelid. Yes, there could be some cunning customers who do it purposely to give a try for some new beverages, but “Customer Delight” which we discussed in the previous article is foremost for such Retail Brands than the few sour apples.

Indeed, many small and medium retailers have empowered their staff immensely and I must give credit to such Entrepreneurs as well. It is not without a reason that some brands have grown their businesses immensely while established ones falter. Even large retailers are empowering their staff. Case in example: The Store Managers at The Future Group outlets are designated as “Kartas” not without a reason. Karta is the official name of the person who heads a business managed by a Hindu United Family (HUF) and the Future Group has just taken a leaf out of it. The Karta of a Future Group is fully empowered to take decisions pertaining to his/her store, ofcourse what’s within their areas of power & consideration.

There is inertia among Business owners to empower their staff due to trust deficit and employee dependability. However, with the right coaching & mentoring, this can be very well be overcome and businesses can indeed succeed.

01 April, 2017

A for Attrition

My father started and ended his career after 33 years at ITC Limited, the largest cigarette manufacturing company in India, which has now morphed itself in to a full-fledged Consumer Products Company. I always used to wonder how such traditional companies could retain their employees so long while new-age Retail Companies - established players as well as newer startups fail to do so. One of the biggest issues plaguing Organized Retail (Offline & Online) today is – not just lack of Investments or returning customers, rather staff attrition. Despite best efforts by the company, from monthly felicitations, cash rewards, mid-course promotions, and of course the house parties at startups that sometimes even have beer and snacks flowing, employees leave. At times, abruptly.

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Why Employees leave – Myths

Competition: Loyal employees, almost certainly never jump to competition. They leave their present organization on the premise that employee-friendliness is better at the Competitor’s place. And the job-hopping continues.

Higher Pay: Most employees never work just for money. They work for their passion towards Retail and serving customers whole-heartedly. Indeed, a good salary is important, but it is certainly not the only reason for them to leave.

Recognition & Rewards: While most Retail companies have a robust R&R mechanism, it generally fails to reward deserving candidates due to internal conflicts, nepotism and favoritism. Employees leave when they are not recognized for their hard work, especially at the front-end grass-root levels.

Distance to travel: Another big myth is employees feel the workplace is too far from their residence. Certainly not. Happy employees will travel any length to their workplace provided they are happy working for the Employer.

False promises: At times, Employers make tall promises about the job, work-life balance, promotion opportunities and incentives in addition to remuneration. When these are not kept up, employees feel cheated and walk away.

There is an old adage, which goes “Employees never leave an Organization, they leave their bosses”. This is so much true and relevant in current times when there are so many jobs that are getting mechanized from Retail Warehouses to Cashier checkout points. 

Offline Retail stores rely completely on human values and relationships between the front-end employees and their customers, so for these Retailers it is even more important to ensure the staff are kept happy.  At senior levels in the Organizations, the CXOs must ensure not just a happy working environment but must also measure these experiences from time to time and also keep improvising it. Top Retailers in the world have seen closure of their businesses and one of the key attributes to that is employee retention.

--> For most of us, A for Attrition is a bad word. But we must strive our best to ensure that this word loses significance in our business lives, slowly but steadily.

Thank you, HR

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