Founded in 2002, Gionee Communication Equipment Co. Ltd of China is one of the world’s top 10 mobile manufacturers. Over the last five years, the handset brand has expanded very fast into as many as 50 countries, including India, Nigeria, Vietnam, Taiwan, Myanmar, Thailand and Philippines, to name a few. In India, it has one of its two global R&D centres. Besides, 215 employees on its direct rolls, the company generates indirect employment to 18,000 people in India and the headcount will be double very soon, says Gaurav Sharma, director, human resources, Gionee. Excerpts:

Being in a product-driven company, how different should your HR policies and strategies (including hiring, retention, appraisal, promotion etc) be from other industries?

Not just product, we are also a customer-driven organisation. Therefore, hiring talent, which has the right aptitude and skills, become the key factor for us. Our recruitment process is robust with predefined technical and behavioural competency requirements for each level and job. Our Line managers and HR department are trained to assess these competencies. Similarly our appraisal process is performance and potential-driven. We give ample opportunity to our employees to fast track their career by accumulating points based on their performance and extraordinary contributions. Since we are closely-knit organisation, we share our areas of concern openly and implement solutions quickly. The energy and enthusiasm in our company is very high primarily due to the fact that our management is open to ideas and recognise value drivers. Employees can easily approach our MD, who has great connect with employees. Therefore, we are able to not only retain talent, but are able to attract good talent from the market through them. 

How do you hire fresh talents and groom them?

Currently, we are hiring fresh talent from the market only. However, we have plans to start campus recruitments as well. By the time our factory is operational in India, we will have a robust campus connect programme in major management and engineering colleges across the country. Currently we assign fresh talent with projects that matches their skill set. The progress is monitored and feedback on continual basis is given. 

What is your current head count and what are your hiring plans for the next year?

We currently have 215 employees on our direct rolls, which we will double by yearend. However, we have generated employment to almost 18,000 people indirectly. We hope that by next year, we will be able to generate indirect employment for 26,000 people.

How important is it to provide equal opportunities to women employees? 

We are an equal opportunity employer. We follow merit-based selection irrespective of caste, creed or gender. At the same time we are sensitive towards diversity in our workforce. Some important portfolios of the company like corporate communication, online sales etc have been entrusted on women executives. We aim to increase the presence of women executives in the company, and our talent acquisition team has been assigned targets towards fulfilling this objective.

How do you build your future leadership team?

Creating a talent pipeline is an important mandate that HR is working on. Our succession planning is based on company values and competency requirement for the jobs. We identify high potential and nurture them with a definite time frame in mind. Our training and development programmes have specific focus on skill development of these identified leaders.

Could you throw some light on your appraisal policy and strategy and their impact on employees?

As stated earlier, our appraisal policy is geared towards fast tracking the career progression of performing employees. We have a unique concept of point accumulation, wherein an employee gets points as rewards for their performance. A high performer gets high points as compared to an average performer. In addition, if any employee takes up additional assignments, which results in cost saving or value addition, then he/she earns additional points. This way we make our appraisal process very transparent and objective. An employee knows when he/she will be eligible for promotion. Similarly for increments, we follow the merit matrix model, wherein a high performing employee with low salary gets the highest increment as compared to a high performing employee with very high salary, doing the same job. 

What are your employee-retention strategies?

Our attrition level is low, as compared to the industry. We credit our culture that binds all of us strongly. Our average employee age is 34, making our culture vibrant and full of energy.

What are the growth opportunities that an employee gets in your firm?

We have processes to identify high-potential employees and our development plans are geared towards grooming employees within a definite time frame to make them ready to assume leadership positions. The company is expanding at a rapid pace and there are ample opportunities. For any new senior level position, we look at our internal database first before floating the position outside.

Technology keeps changing fast so constant updating and upgradation is very important for the industry. How do you do that?

Being a product-driven organisation highly focused on customer satisfaction, it is important for us to be abreast with the latest. In the future, we aim to partner with educational institutes as well to upgrade skills of our employee. 

How important is it to create a distinct culture within the organisation?

It is important to have a culture where employees get motivated to perform. Our management has always encouraged employees to take up responsibilities with accountability. Successes are celebrated, but the setbacks are reviewed with the objective of learning from them.

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