Employee First, Customers Second by Vineet Nayar


Employee First, Customers Second, it is the title of the book which knidled a curiosity in me and I picked up the book in order to know more. It is written by Vineet Nayar, who is the has been promoted to vice Chairman of HCLT, has been asked to take the reins of the company as its CEO. His slogan Employee First and Customers Second earned him global recognition for turning conventional management wisdom upside down.

As Vineet Nayar wrote in the book that employees are the core of any company and it is employee who provide the real value to the customers of the company. They are the one who are most ignored when policies are drafted.

When Nayar stepped into the company’s board as CEO, HCLT has been doing well, posting profits at each year end and growing at a decent rate. But this is just one side of the coin. The other side of the coin reveals much sorry state of the company. It is the truth that company is growing but its competitors are growing at much faster pace. In fact, HCLT is far behind all the top IT player of the world. It is not even in the top five  IT companies of India.

This was the reality of HCLT when Nayar joined in through the book Employee First, Customers Second, author has given details of various tools and ideas his team adopted to transform the fortunes of the company. And many of these ideas and improvisation came from the employees themselves. Nayar has deviced such openness  in the office environment.

This transformation process is divided into four phases:

Mirror Mirror- Is the reality check time for the company. People in HCLT were sitting comfortably on the laurels of the past and has turned a blind eye to the present situation that company is not progressing but is all set to crash.

Transparency: After realizing  the elephant, it was time for some action. But Nayar found a dearth of trust in the people of HCLT. According to Nayar, Transparency is vital in order to strengthen any relationship. His team transparency by sharing information that other companies might cringe in thinking about it.

HCLT start becoming transparent. Financial performance of the each employee and other teams was right on their desktop.  It became easy for them to know where they stand and others as well. U&I potral started for shooting question for answers, discussions, conversation, complains etc.

Inverting The Pyramind: This was the third phase which won Nayar many criticism but far more accolades. Previously, it was value zone which is at the bottom of the pyramid accountable to entire management. But reverted the pyramid and made it vice-versa. He introduced some tools like Smart Service Desk, 360 Degree Survey, Happy Feet, Directions etc through which HR, Finance, administration, training, IT team, transport, senior management and CEO himself became accountable to the value zone.

Recasting The Role of CEO- Nayar believed centralizing too much power in one hands is detrimental for the growth of a company. The company becomes impaired. So through various ways like My Problems, My Blueprint, Smart Response etc he started distributing the responsibility and decentralizing  He gave a very interesting example of spider and starfish which was absolutely stunning and thought provoking.

Over all it is fantastic business book to read and implement it in your business. Nayar has written the book in the most simple way which could make it understandable even to non business people like me. I always find business books hard to understand. But not in the case of  Employee First, Customers Second. It might be because Nayar himself is a very simple and level-headed person.

But I have one remorse. The book could also include the feedback of employees about the various tools and interface introduced between 2005 and 2010. We as readers would have the whole picture to ponder over. In today’s scenario for customer satisfaction, companies are completely ignoring employees satisfaction, Vineet Nayar’s concept of Employee First, Customers Second is path breaking and revolutionary.

Even Southwest Airlines, Wegmans also follows similar strategy of Employee First and Customer Second. In fact for many Employee First and Customer Second by Vineet Nayar is a great case study. If someone is looking to develop better business and admin strategy could always refer this book for some ideas.


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Ritu Mantri

Ritu is an avid book reader. She also reviews books and have reviewed around 200+ books till date. Her target is to finish 1000 books.