Home / Industry / At Marico, will is more prized than skill

Honing employees’ skills, instituting 360-degree feedbacks and grooming leaders internally, Marico Ltd, the packaged consumer goods maker that had sales of nearly 5,000 crore in 2016-17, has made it to the eighth among Great Places to Work Institute’s top 10 list of the best manufacturing companies to work for.

The maker of Parachute and Saffola oils obsesses over “empowerment" and “early responsibility" to make sure employees across corporate offices and shop floor, and all seniority levels, remain engaged with their jobs.

“We prioritize ‘will’ over ‘skill’ because our belief is that people with the right ‘will’ i.e., learning agility and achievement orientation, will be able to make a difference," Amit Prakash, executive vice-president and head of human resources, said in an interview. “Skill is something that can be developed. We have experimented with different approaches like reverse mentoring, growth hacking teams and think tanks to build capabilities at Marico." Employees at Marico are called “members" and “Mariconians".

“Our 360 degree feedback process is one of the signature practices that new leaders experience in Marico," Shruti Ambegaoker, head of organization development and governance, said in an interview. “New leaders receive detailed in-person feedback from various members, in addition to going through a few self-reflection tools as part of their first development dialogue. These rich insights and discussions set them up for long-term career development at Marico."

This is crucial when the company develops a steady class of young managers who will go on to fill the ranks of middle, upper and top management. Marico relies on a mix of new B-school graduates, internally identified star employees and lateral hires from the industry. All of them are guided by the company’s board directly.

“The top management gets involved in leadership development by mentoring Marico’s Young Board," said Ambegaoker. “The Young Board is formed every year by selecting young leaders from different functions and geographies to work on one or two key organization initiatives, which could include big-bet ideas or culture-building initiatives. The top leadership team is also actively involved in sponsoring and mentoring Think Tanks and Growth Hacking teams to harness new business ideas."

Not just with grooming management, the company is closely involved in ensuring gender parity across seniority levels. A big diversity challenge for manufacturing companies is ensuring women are able to work on the shop floor and in field sales teams—both spaces traditionally dominated by men.

“We have worked towards this by creating basic necessities like clean dedicated washrooms and specially created changing rooms to cater to their emotional and physical safety," said Ambegaoker. “We have dedicated POSH (prevention of sexual harassment) committees in place at each location that we operate in. We have generated high trust in our Code of Conduct and POSH committees, through quick and rigorous enquiry and action with complete confidentiality. This is evident through various surveys which indicate almost 100% confidence in these systems."

What matters at the end of the day, say Prakash and Ambegaokar, is that the company and its employees should feel committed to helping each other to grow. After all, the promise they make to everyone in their ranks is “to continuously challenge, enrich, and fulfil, the aspirations of Mariconians so as to maximize their potential to make a difference."

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