SIX YEARS AGO, the human resources (HR) department of pharmaceutical major Zydus Lifesciences Ltd. faced a peculiar problem. Several senior managers and leaders started complaining about the bell curve system to rate performance. They said the system, which compulsorily rates a certain percentage of employees in each division as outstanding, good, poor, etc, in a pre-determined format was making it difficult to record true performance of managerial staff. The HR department held multiple discussions and brainstorming sessions with the leadership team and introduced Zydus Scorecard. “We decided we will not evaluate managerial group on forced bell curve as their job is not repetitive. We evolved, interacted and understood the problem. We made the process more robust in terms of its relevance to the business,” says Rishikesh Raval, CHRO, Zydus.

The new system has two components — Zy Score, an enterprise level score, and My Score, individual KPI (key performance indicator). “Together, these are 1,000 marks. Of these, 500 are for Zy Score, which evaluates success in critical areas such as regulatory/legal compliance, innovation, customer service, productivity (manpower cost to business turnover ratio), financial performance, etc. Regulatory compliance and innovation have highest weights of 100 each, says Raval.

Future Ready

The ‘Zy Score-My Score’ system shows how HR processes are aligned with business goals. Almost 2,000 people in managerial positions are now assessed by this enterprise level score card. Overall staff strength is 26,000-plus.

“If you look at these parameters, they are numerical, quantifiable. There is no subjectivity. The more senior you are, the higher is your weight on Zy-Score. More weight is given to My-Score the lower you go because individual performance matters more at junior level. This also nourishes collaboration,” says Raval.

Zydus has also put in place other mechanisms to minimise bias and arbitrariness in HR decisions. For instance, two years ago, it created councils for hiring talent and promoting staff. These comprise various functional heads to ensure that cross-functional abilities are considered for hiring and promotions. The company has also set up technical assessment centres to ensure that promotions are carried out on the basis of independent assessments. “Now, if a person is recommended for promotion by the manager, that person takes a functional competency test at the technical assessment centre and an interview by a panel of cross-functional heads. His reporting head is not on the panel. It is a purely data-driven decision,” says Raval.

Technology Use

Leveraging technology to make HR function more efficient, HR heads can now access all HR indices on an internal e-dashboard where headcount, attrition, employee cost are available in real time. An AI-driven bot answers frequently asked questions. The company has also created an innovation forum where its 1,500 scientists can present their ideas before leadership.

HR also works with business unit heads to identify leadership pipeline, groom talent through learning and development programmes and align talent management with business needs. “Our target is to ensure that at least 50-60% managerial roles are filled from within,” says Raval.

As part of its internal training plans, the company has introduced a virtual learning module system which employees can access on mobile phones. The company also has a dedicated six-month programme for women employees. Business and growth is central to HR practices, says Raval. “When HR conducts monthly review meeting with all HR heads as well as the US HR director, the first presentation covers the company’s business. We review that first because HR programmes in isolation have no meaning. HR has to be relevant for the business,” he says.

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