The supportive leadership

The first issue is generally prevalent only for the first few days of the new shift – subsequently, the body adjusts itself to the new cycle. However, the long term effects of (relatively) frequent clock cycle shifts are not measurable. The second issue is a more deep-seated one. The odd hours of work ensure that external socialization is almost absent. In addition, intangibles like working during evenings and late nights, when everyone else is taking time off add to the stress.

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The incidences of short-term relationships, generally ending with shift changes, are on the rise. While this is indicative of Indian society as a whole, the confined environment and the absence of any external interaction on a sustained basis makes BPO industry the “pressure point” i.e., the place where these changes first show up and intensify, before spreading to the whole of the society. This could be the primary reason for the high attrition rate in BPOs. The workforce changing career plans is a more prominent factor than poaching by competitors. The companies have now realized that their 24-years-and-less talent pool is changing careers due to lack of fair idea of the sector’s potential. Consequently, BPOs are now ensuring that their employees can have proper career guidance. Measures like faster promotions and earn-and-learn schemes are being taken to ensure that the attrition rate is kept low. Progeon has recently created a career planning committee to guide young employees on future prospects.

However, poaching by competitors isn’t an inconsequential problem. This is where the HR department’s real test lies. A Draconian HR policy would lead to high attrition. A very loose policy would result in lower employee efficiency. It is a very fine balancing act. To counter attrition, Progeon offers relatively high remuneration. However, a lot of their prospective employees view the job as a temporary step to make some quick money and then move on to “better” jobs. This is especially true when one looks at the hiring rates and on-campus recruitments. The number of employees being hired is increasing very fast, but the quality of employees is not the best available. BPO is seen as a low-end job, and Progeon is engaged in a constant struggle against perceptions.

In spite of the varying quality of input, the output is maintained at a constant acceptable level through very robust systems of formal training and constant evaluation. Thus, the input quality is not a huge issue in Progeon. However, as it begins to ramp up its operations and pitch for high-end jobs, it might have to re-look its hiring policies. An innovative recruitment program which Progeon initiated in June 2003 is to catch youth in an informal atmosphere and conduct interviews for interested candidates. Coasters with the slogan ‘Interview over coffee’ are distributed with beverages, asking customers if they are Progeon material. Those interested are invited to refer to the back page of Cafe Beat, the Coffee Day magazine, where a fun questionnaire awaits completion. Applicants must fill in the questionnaire and dispatch it along with their resume to be considered for an interview over coffee.

This strategy was followed to increase their visibility among the right segment of the population, because Progeon is a relatively young company. It seems to have paid off to some extent, with successful recruitments occurring from Coffee Day outlets. Progeon calls its service business process management rather than outsourcing, because the differentiating factor is that it offers end-to-end process management, rather than just a call-centre base or a small element of a project. The company ensures that the client views the operations here as an extension of its own company, rather than the perception of outsourcing.

Progeon is all about partnership delivered through teamwork and passion. Progeon is proud of its heritage. Its parent company Infosys is globally recognized for its values and employee orientation. Progeon follows the Infosys C-LIFE principle. Supportive or directive leadership does not fit into Progeon because When working on a task that has a high structure, directive leadership is redundant and less effective. When a highly formal authority system is in place, directive leadership can again reduce workers’ satisfaction.

When subordinates are in a team environment that offers great social support, the supportive leadership style becomes less necessary. So considering the above factors, Progeon could follow an achievement-oriented leadership where the manager sets high goals and expects subordinates to have high-level performance. This will lead do a democratic style of management as the manager has to delegate more authority to his subordinates. Democratic style of management also ensures flexibility and dynamism in response to changing environmental needs.

Systems refer to the processes used to manage the organization. Being in the Information Technology Enabled Services (ITES) domain, internal and external systems are largely based on software. These systems provide a common network for information gathering and sharing across all parts of the organization, especially the operating core, technostructure and the support staff and a set of rules, procedures and processes that help in the regular functioning of the organization. These systems include the following: