Top positive review
One person found this helpful
A solid how-to for companies looking to enable their front line employees deliver maximum value
on 7 May 2013
Vineet Nayar has produced a summarized account of the turnaround he helped mastermind at HCLT, a leading Indian IT company in this book. While accounts of this sort often risk turning into an advertorial for the company or the CEO, in this case I would say the author managed to successfully thread the thin line and deliver content first, with the company itself remaining more in the background.
The premise - somewhat provocatively named 'employees first, customers second' - is that often most value in companies is generated at the bottom layers of the pyramid and that it is exactly those people there that should be empowered by management, so as to deliver the maximum value to the customer. In the end, as the author repeatedly mentions, this does not mean putting the customer second as such, it just means that priorities internally should lie with enabling the employees to be as effective at solving customer issues, as possible.
Specific issues tackled are the role of management, communication channels, reorganizing support functions, blue skies strategies, etc. If you have been working in a larger company in the recent years, you will definitely recognize some of the approaches - such as ticket systems for support functions (although if the companies I have worked with in the last years are indicative of the whole, this has been sadly successfully resisted by all but IT departments), various blogs and other social media like platforms enabling employees to confront top management with inadequacies they face in their daily work lives, etc. What I find refreshing is the introduction of those as a coherent whole, with clear objectives behind and a constant development. Not trying to claim this is not the case anywhere else but the author at least does an excellent job of demonstrating how to do it right (as opposed to just paying lip service to the new fad of the day).
If you are looking at the book from a 2013 perspective (the turnaround started in 2005), some of the things do not seem as new as they were when introduced (where many were much closer to, or at the leading edge). This should not deter you from reading the book, though - the explanations, the overarching plan and the consequent implementation is what matters and where the book delivers very well.
In the end you may forget the employees first, customers second catchphrase, or use your own. Still, the book is likely to garnish you with some solid concepts that will help you in improving the management of a medium sized or large enterprise. In spite of all the useful advice, success will probably still be highest, if you initiate such change from high enough up (like the author), otherwise many of the ideas will probably fail to penetrate the resistance of the status quo defenders.