Multi-city operations

Operating a business, be it big or small, is certainly not a child’s play. There are too many intricacies one has to take care of in order to ensure success. Similarly, running an organization on a multi-city operations basis is not cake-walk. There are a number of things that have to be taken into consideration while managing resources and ensuring profitability at the same time. It is a given fact that when you are operating out of so many different locations, you ought to also consider the working patterns, cultural affiliations and norms of the current and prospective employees. From finding the right locations and preserving the basic culture of the organization to employing the right kind of people across all offices, every single detail requires attention. Hence, HR managers today are spending a lot of time towards formulating effective strategies to address this issue.

Managing various cultures, ensuring that shared ethical values are practiced, being empathetic towards others’ problems and addressing the needs/demands of a diverse workforce are the major challenges faced in a multi-city operations system. In one Company the selection of a location is based on several factors such as the potential of the market, demographic profile, economic conditions, logistics and other socio-economic factors. Once a new location is identified, the challenge is to replicate tried and tested processes into real-time business application after taking into account the special needs of that particular location. If you have robust processes in place, extending operations to multi-locations is not tough. A particular business requires them to be close to their customers. Since they have a 30,000+ customer base, it is mandatory for them to have multi-location operations. They have their own set-up and people in majority of the over 17,500 locations that they operate in. Co-ordination and communication are major hindrances but they ensured at no point their employees across the country feel neglected just because geographically, they are not close to top management.

When you are operating in different locations, it becomes imperative to maintain a unanimous culture and follow the same business ethics and values. How do such organizations make sure they maintain this harmony? It is extremely critical and necessary that an organization is sensitive to three factors that distinguish employees from different geographies from one another: culture, local language and diverse mind sets. The HR team needs to ensure that while organizational values are respected, local needs too are taken care of.

At First Advantage Pvt. Ltd; values are what they have subconsciously held sacrosanct, all through their existence as an organization. Organizational values serve as the foundation for determining whom to be recruited, retained and rewarded. Similarly at Blue Dart, they have vision statement that was adopted in 1993 and it still holds relevance for their businesses.

Their cross-functional initiators team across the nation ensures that cultural events, national events etc. are celebrated. To ensure that the philosophy of the organization should percolate to each and every employee irrespective of the location, the conduct of the top management personnel is very vital.

AT TCI, frequent meetings and forums are organized to share the management’s vision about the company. Employees are encouraged to form small informal groups with a view of infusing the sense of oneness, sharing and caring. At First Advantage, they have a well-defined ‘annual communication plan’ for all supervisors including the leadership team. All policies and procedures are transparent and employees are encouraged to provide their feedback and suggestion. An interesting practice they have introduced is called ‘Your Time with Me’ wherein the employees get to have a one-to-one walk-in interaction with the MD. They also have monthly ‘leadership on-the-floor’ sessions. If an organization is widely dispersed, typically there would be a local HR SPOC (Single Point of Contact) who is expected to take care of employees at his/her location.