A company like Selco must have a unique culture. Harish has explained that his company does not offer charity and he does not want his workers to have pity for people. Instead, they are intermediaries who assist individuals as they make their own changes and shoulder their own responsibilities. Doing so requires a unique organizational culture.
SM: Let me switch gears a bit and explore how you build an organizational culture to sustain this model? How do you hire employees in this culture, especially facing the stiff IT competition? HH: It is very difficult to answer the question about hiring people. At different levels, they have been hired organically. I have had good managers who have hired good people. People who like it stay for a long time, and those who do not like it are gone in six months. There is a culture, and if people do not work hard or do not like working there, the others make it uncomfortable for them to stay so they generally tend to leave early.
SM: It is a very specific type of work, and if I am not mistaken you are not competing at the same salary levels as IT in Bangalore? HH: No, we cannot compete with IT sector and not even the Non-profit sector because they pay a higher salary. In fact, that is my highest competition: the non-profit sector in India pays a very high salary. I can’t afford that.
SM: You probably are not competing with the IT industry directly then. HH: No, but what I do face is that the people we hire are the brothers of the IT hopefuls, and they have a significant pressure not to join a company like ours.
SM: Did you have the same pressure? HH: There was a pressure about whether or not it made sense because I did not have a business background, and people wondered about the model. The typical comments were that poor people never pay. Obviously those pressures are there.
The pressures I see today are when young people want to join the company, and their parents call up and ask how long we are going to be here. I point out that we have been here for 12 years, which is longer than any IT company in town. If the company is going to keep growing I need quality operations managers. Convincing the families of my applicants is a difficult task.