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Role of Human Resources Practices in the course of evolution of the Idea


Approach Note to the case study
The Background
Idea evolution and expansion followed the path which is laid down broadly as follows:
2003 3 Circles;
2005 5 Circles;
2008 8 Circles;
2009- 16 Circles,
2010- pan India Operations.
The growth of Idea has been both organic (gradual growth through market expansion) and inorganic
through mergers and acquisitions (RPG Cellcom Madhya Pradesh, Escotel UP West & Kerala, Spice
Punjab). The growth of Idea from 2 circles in 1997 to pan India 3
largest operator in 2012 has been very
fast paced and benchmark by any standard. The diversity of the geography and the organisation culture
posed a huge challenge to the evolution of Idea as a brand apart from the fact that employees in
different parts of the country came from different organisation and related to different cultures. The
journey of Idea from 1997 to 2013 represents the meltdown of different organizational cultures into
one, seamlessly done with profitability. Ideas Journey to what it is today has been a story in itself, a
unique and uncommon one in many aspects.
Current Business Scenario
Idea is the 4
largest operator in India in terms of market share (12.48%), third in terms of Revenue
Market Share (RMS) 13.6% and second in terms of Incremental Customer Additions (Net Additions at
the rate of 21.04%). The quality of sales as judged by Proportion of VLR subscribers (subscribers who
remain in the network) has been the highest for Idea at 92.33%. Similar is the experience for Idea when
customers were given choice to port out to their desired Service Provider through Mobile Number
Portability (MNP). (Source TRAI Data)
Idea has been rated as the Buzziest Brand consecutively in 2008, 2009 & 2010.
The multiple drivers of this sharp profitable growth have been robust Voice & Mobile Data revenue
coupled with scale benefits and better cost management. The Voice minutes expanded by 12.5% on YoY
basis to 147.3 billion in Q1FY14 supported by net annual new customer addition of 7.8 million,
cumulative subscriber base reaching 125 million as on 30th June 2013.The revenue growth trajectory
and cost efficiency has translated into healthy standalone 28.2% EBITDA margin, a YoY margin
improvement of 4.9%. This quarter one off regulatory charge of ~Rs. 250 million is included in License
and WPC charges.The above data thus signifies why the SHARE prices of IDEA has been stable even
after the bad sentiments in the share market. To get the results from employees in a recession market is
only possible if the strong routes of employees have been strong which it seems that IDEA has practised
in their HR practices to get the desired financial results. (Source Annual Reports)
Role of Human Resources Practices in the course of evolution of the Idea


Role of Human Resources in Partnering Business
This would not have been possible without the Human Resources matching and exceeding the
expectations at all levels cutting across the functions. While Idea had a phenomenal growth in our
employee strength, they have been able to sustain a high level of employee motivation along with
growth in an extremely challenging business environment. The OHS (Organization Health Study) scores
on employee engagement, internal communication and satisfaction have improved steadily over the
years. 40% of our external hiring is done through referrals from our colleagues. That basically shows our
colleagues also believe we are a good organization to work with and this reflects that as an organisation
the trust employees have in the company is extremely high. (Internal Source Idea documents)

The Case Study tries to explore some of the facets of Human Resources Practices through which HR has
been able to partner the business and contribute towards the toplines and bottomlines though people
development. The Key Human Resources Initiatives which has been explored in this Case Study are
1. Value System of ABG & Idea
2. Crack Sales System CSS & Son of the Soil System
3. Employee Value Proposition - EVP
4. Communications & Feedback Mechanism
Evolution of the Value systems (References from ABG & Idea)
Evolution of the Value systems in ABG Aditya Birla Group had spill over benefits for Idea as an
organisations. In 2004, Aditya Birla Group is the major stake holder for Idea Cellular. After an initial
public offering on the Indian Stock Markets, Idea Cellular now accounts for a third of the group's market
capitalization. Since its inception in 2004, the ADITYA BIRLA GROUP has been building critical
infrastructure on the human resource front to realise its leadership aspirations in the global business
The values of any organisation define its character and personality. Values guide, shape and influence
our behaviour and actions. The world of business in the 21st century is going through a crisis of trust,
where the credibility of business leaders and the legitimacy of business organisations are subjected to
questioning. Once again, people are searching for the soul of the corporation, its values. Mr. KUMAR
MANGALAM BIRLA stresses on the importance of the group's values since the inception of IDEA in 2004.
An exercise for identifying values is never easy. One has scores of values and values-related practices to
choose from. An emotional attachment with the past and multiple views of the future complicate the
task. Nonetheless, supported by a presentation by corporate HR, all the ADITYA BIRLA GROUP directors
and business heads worked through a common session to take a view and they agreed on the five of:

Role of Human Resources Practices in the course of evolution of the Idea


Let us quote a few words on how KUMAR MAGALAM BIRLA views each of these values and their future
plans for disseminating their values framework through the organisation.
We define integrity as honesty in every action. We shall act and take decisions in a manner that these
are fair, honest and follow the highest standards of professionalism. Integrity shall be the cornerstone
for all our dealings, be it with our customers, our employees, suppliers, our partners, shareholders, the
communities we serve or the government.
On the foundation of integrity, we see commitment as doing whatever it takes to deliver as promised.
Each one of us shall take ownership for our own work, teams and the part of the organisation we are
responsible for. Through this value, we shall build an even sharper results-oriented culture that is high
on reliability and accountability. Our commitment is likely to make us a formidable leader and
competitor in every market that we are in.
We define passion as a missionary zeal arising out of an emotional engagement with work which inspires
each one to give his or her best. All of us are expected to be enthusiastic in the pursuit of our goals and
objectives. We shall recruit and actively encourage employees with a 'fire in the belly'. With this value,
we hope to build a culture of innovation and breakthrough thinking, leading to superior customer
satisfaction and value creation.
We understand seamlessness as thinking and working together across functional silos, hierarchy levels,
across business lines and geographies. Each one of us shall demonstrate high level of teamwork through
sharing and collaborative efforts and garner the synergy benefits from working together. Before we can
truly benefit from a borderless world, we need to build a borderless organisation. We visualise free flow
of knowledge and information across the group.
I am reminded of the words of my father, the late ADITYA VIKRAM BIRLA: "Our search for knowledge is
not limited to within the group. We seek knowledge from every nook and corner, from our competitors,
suppliers, customers. Even the worst run units in India would have something to teach us. It is with this
humility that we seek knowledge."
We look upon speed as responding to internal and external customers with a sense of urgency. We
shall continuously seek to crash timelines and ensure expeditious completion of our tasks. Through this
Role of Human Resources Practices in the course of evolution of the Idea


value, we hope to build an agile and proactive organisation that is prompt to respond to the present and
future needs of our customers.
All these values together form our core ideology. They are all equally important and no value will take
precedence at the cost of the other. It is in the harmonisation of the five that we see the prospect of
greater value creation for all our stakeholders.
Let us conclude by saying that great businesses are never built on the quick sands of opportunism. We
reiterate that, if living by their values means, perhaps growing at a pace slower than they would
otherwise have liked, so be it. For them, leadership lies at the heart of knowing what they stand for."
In the ADITYA BIRLA GROUP they are becoming more heterogeneous these days as they globalise. Also,
30 per cent of their people have been with the group for less than five years and 48 per cent are below
the age of 38 years. With every acquisition, they are adding a significant number of new colleagues with
diverse backgrounds, and experience and most importantly, with different expectations from us. While
firmly believe that we need a stronger organisational glue to hold us together, apart from the time-
tested bonds of our legacy, heritage, a shared set of systems, processes and best practices, an activist
corporate centre, our logo and our name. (Source ABG & Idea).
Aligning & Practicing the Values
In Idea Cellular, All the Core Management Teams (CMT) members of Idea Cellular were taken through a
2 day workshop on Values called Values Workshop. They experienced the Value Workshop and in the
course were certified As Value Facilitators. These Value Facilitators were CMT from all functions such as
Sales & Marketing, Networks, Finance, and Commercial apart from Human Resources. All the employees
were taken through the Values Workshop to have the uniform experience and understanding. The Value
Workshop was made part of Induction in Neo Employee Orientation (NEO). Apart from the
understanding of the Values and their aligning with the personal values, lots of examples from the
society and industry have been incorporated. Not only is this, the dilemmas of the value adherence
discussed at length through Case Studies with the focus on the principle of Last Man Standing. The
Culture of amalgamating the performance and efficiency with the Value System has given Idea a unique
place in the industry. The Culture of Performance and Value can go hand in hand is clearly reflected
through the kind of Image Idea has in today telecommunications space marked with controversies.
To give special recognition to the Value Adherence, Reward and Recognition were built around the
Value Adherence and people recognizing the team members efforts in this direction also formed the
part of the recognition. These Value Awards and Value Champions were recognized at the highest level
in the organisation.

Crack Sales System Aligning Sales with Recruitment
Role of Human Resources Practices in the course of evolution of the Idea


The Telecommunications Industry with the advent of the private players and other factors have been
largely driven by Pre Paid business at this point in time. The Distribution System plays a critical role in
the Supply and Distribution system created by the organisation. Idea adopted a unique strategy to reach
the nooks and corners of India. This strategy also clubbed its key stakeholders in Sales & Marketing,
Networks and Human Resources who would know their own deliverables and at the same time seek
clarity on the wisdom of other stakeholder decisions. This practice of Check and Balances were defined
through the Bible of Distribution called CRACK SALES SYSTEM. The CSS norms defined the qualifying
criterion for distributor appointment based on the covered population. The number of retailers that the
distributor was expected to create to get the profitability was also defined through the covered
population. Accordingly the Territory Sales Executive (TSE) were defined on the basis of number of BTS
(Tower) he was supposed to be responsible for so far as their profitability was concerned.
The sourcing of the TSE was done on the concept of Son of the Soil. This implied that TSE would be
hired from the local references. TSE was supposed to be local to the place of posting. All TSE formed the
pool of ICSL (Idea Cellular Services limited). This concept gave Idea an edge in terms of cost of hiring,
stability of TSE and hence growth in the market, apart from the fact that being a local person, a TSE
always has local insights which has been critical in market development in the remote corners of the
Delivering on our Employee Value Proposition (EVP) A World of Opportunities

1. Career: Opportunities to build and fulfill career aspirations

The Talent Management process in Idea Cellular is aligned with the AGB Talent Management
Process. At the same time as Idea Cellular has the process of !Aspire wherein the nominated
employees (based on Performance Evaluation System PMS and potential evaluation) undergo
the Development Assessment Centre (DAC). The DAC are conducted internally in Idea where the
certified Assessors evaluate the nominated employees for their potential for the next level. The
process of DAC makes the succession plan in Idea robust and transparent. The DAC process
started with the Sales function where the need was the maximum and has now been extended
to all functions. The DAC has been decentralized to the Circles till Managers and for Senior
Managers and Above, the Corporate MDF anchors the same. If there is an opportunity in other
Circle, there is an national pool of Iaspire who are given first preference before others.

2. Learning & Development: Opportunities to learn, develop and grow as a professional

The role of the Management Development Function (MDF) is to identify, conceive, organize and execute
capability building interventions in the organisation. Corporate MDF is responsible for setting direction
and deciding strategy for L&D initiatives and oversee effective implementation across the country. For
having a proper focus Circles anchor complete learning & development needs of employees up to the
level of Senior Manager.

Corporate MDF is tasked with the responsibility of handling the same for employees who are Deputy
General Manager and above across the company. Further a conscious effort has been made to create in
house capabilities for content development and execution. In this regard there are two content
development teams based out of corporate office handling behavioral, sales & service content
Role of Human Resources Practices in the course of evolution of the Idea


development. The same is deployed through teams of qualified MDF, Sales Training and Service
Excellence Managers.

The MDF team advocates a Blended Learning approach through a mix of Instructor Led Classroom &,
Outbound trainings, E-Learning courses and Innovative Out Of Class Room Interventions christened

The MDF also complements the Organizational Development (OD) Initiatives through the Human
Process Lab (Parivartan) for the nominated employees till Vertical Head levels. All the CMT / Functional
Heads have experienced / in the process of experiencing the Human Process Lab through ISABS. The
sensitivity programs are being further enriched through the medium of Theatre & NLP as form of
experiential learning. The Centre of Excellence have been created in the organisation so that Subject
Matter Experts (SME) are developed within the organisation. This would go a long way to create the
internal resources who are fully geared to respond to the OD needs of the organisation.

The role of the Sales Training function is to meet the functional training needs of the Sales Function
across circles. The Corporate Sales Training team is responsible for identifying the Sales Training needs
of the Sales Team, create various training modules, implement and analyse Training interventions.
The Circle Sales Training Manager (CSTM) is responsible for the Functional developmental initiatives for
the Circle Sales Team. The CSTM conducts classroom and Out Bound Training programs for the Circle
Sales Team comprising of Idea Cellular Ltd, Idea Cellular Services Ltd, and the different Sales Channels of
Prepaid and Post paid.
Field Sales Trainers (FSTs) are appointed (outsourced rolls) at Zonal offices to conduct Functional Skill
development Training programs for the ICSL employees, Sales Channels and their employees.
Apart from classroom trainings and out bound trainings SMS and online methods are used to support
learning process.

The TQM Program
There is dedicated TQM Resource at each of the Circles. TQM is the part of Human Resources but as part
of process of partnering the business, TQM works closely with Circle Head of each of the Circle and
reports directly to him. This gives better insights and opportunities where the TQM process may impact
Training : Quality Awareness training, Green Belt training, Business Process Management
Systems training, Black Belt training
Employee Engagement in Quality initiatives : Kaizens, Quality Fair
Process improvements projects & Process Standardization (Sales / Marketing / Service Delivery /
Network Services)
Business initiatives : Participation in various transformation projects, involvement in ISO 9000
initiative of the Service Delivery function

3. Rewards & Recognition: Opportunities to get rewarded and recognized for commitment and
contribution. The Culture of E Smiley is unique to Idea wherein any one can appreciate the
good work done by colleagues/ senior / peer/ subordinates.

E-magazines are a communication platform to share important updates with all employees in
the Circle. It is driven by an editorial team comprising of members from various functions and
rolled out on a periodic basis.
Role of Human Resources Practices in the course of evolution of the Idea


4. Enrich Your Life: Opportunities to fulfill responsibilities and lead a healthy balanced

Life Unlimited: An Employee Assistance Program EAP

Life Unlimited is a one-stop-shop for all the support provided around wellness. It is an online portal
which provides employees with following services (a) Counseling support to address and resolve issues
that are important for the employee and his/her family. This is free and confidential service available via,
Email and Telephone. A face to face interaction can also be sought in case of need, for which we have
counselors who have been tied up across various cities and (b) a knowledge portal includes reading
material on relationships, Self-development, Parenting & work, Self Assessment Tests, E-Workshops and
Counseling for employees and their dependents.

Beyond Life Nishchint Ho Jao! (Group Term Life Insurance): The company realises the importance of a
life insurance outside the Mediclaim & GPAI policy and therefore the company has introduced a voluntary
Life Insurance Policy called Nishchint which provides a cover as per the defined definition and provides
a security of upto 2 - 3 times the yearly salary of the employee if in case of an unwanted event of loss of

Communications & Feedback Mechanism
Idea communication framework is a reflection of the belief that effective communication builds trust in
the organization, ensures flow of information and helps in taking the right decisions. Given below are
the various employee communication mechanisms;
1. Samvaad is an address by the MD to all employees through a Webcast/Video posted on intranet
where he shares business performance, insights and way forward.
2. MDs chat is a forum where all HODs across our company have a video conference with the MD once
in a quarter where the MD gives them update about the business and the plan ahead. In MDs chat,
HODs get an opportunity to interact directly with the MD.
3. Idea Post is a platform to share the highlights of our company, updates, new initiatives/roll outs,
customer testimonials and press releases on Idea with the employees on monthly basis. This short e-
magazine provides a complete view of the latest happenings in the organization.
4. Organizational Announcements are made to communicate to Idea employees on all important

5. All employees access intranet portal which is a dynamic repository all relevant information concerning
various functions, policies, processes and systems. It also hosts Employee Policies and links to Employee
6. OHS (Organization Health Study)/Vaartalap - Through this platform, employees can give
candid and anonymous feedback on work group level engagement on a periodic basis.
Role of Human Resources Practices in the course of evolution of the Idea


This forms the basis for managers to take appropriate steps to improve the engagement of the team.

7. All Team Meets start with an address by the Circle Head giving the complete business
performance picture to the employees. All team meets are also a forum to recognize the employees
through a felicitation ceremony.

8. E-magazines are a communication platform to share important updates with all employees in
the Circle. It is driven by an editorial team comprising of members from various functions and
rolled out on a periodic basis.

9. Voice Redress Mechanism for employee concerns: Provides a platform to the employees to voice
their unresolved concern(s) which s/he may be having in the work place and to seek resolution in a fair
and transparent manner. Employees can write to the Voice mail id and Employee satisfaction

10. Understand the issue by listening to the employee concerned & drive resolution accordingly. It
reaffirms our willingness to listen to any employee concerns and to strive for resolution in a transparent

In Nitshell, it is the booke of offerings by the Human Resources Function in Idea Cellular through
Recruitemnt, Facilities, Operations and Management Development & Training (Behavioural / Functional
and Quality) which has helped HR partner in business in various stages in the life cycle of the employees
and of the organisation. This has made Human Resources a vital and key ingredient of success of Idea
which has evolved as a unique brand. The alignment of the Idea Brand has been done as much internally
as externally. This becomes clear if we see the concept of the Idea brand defined thus
Idea Brand Vision To be the most customer-focused mobile service brand, continuously
Innovating to help liberate our customers from the shackles of time and space.
Idea Brand Values Humane. Champion. Elevating.
Benefit promise An idea can change your life.
Style and tone Aspirational for the masses, Warm, Confident.
Audience relevance Everyone can experience the pleasure and delight of having an Idea!
A note on Idea Brand values:
Humane : As the category matures, it will be service that will build preference for the brand and not
merely the functional parameters.
- Someone who is caring
- Someone who understands me
- Someone who is warm & friendly
A winner chases the finishing line, while a champion is driven by a cause.
Champions win hearts, winners win targets.
A winner has ephemeral popularity while champions are forever.
In this fast changing category it is important to be ahead of the times and therefore we must:
- Be imaginative
Role of Human Resources Practices in the course of evolution of the Idea


- Think ahead
- Be future-ready
Successfully accomplishing organizational strategy and goal requires a critical mass of positive factors
related to effective management of human Resource. To achieve the organizational strategy and goals
the quality of managing and developing human recourse is a key determining factor in a attaining
organizational goals. In journey of Idea evolution, Human Resources embraced unique HR systems
align with Business Strategy like Employees Value Systems, Employees Values Proposition EVP and
Communication Mechanism to survive and sustain in competitive advantage.
The growth of Idea has been a unique story. The growth has been fuelled by People Power. Some of the
facets of People Power has been Trust Based leadership, Connect with the Last Mile, Human Resources
geared to Engage and empowering People to Express, Leaderships which Inspire Excellence, Developing
Capability, Balancing Work Life and Being a Good Social Citizen.
(References !parichay & Other Idea Documents for Internal Circulation)