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The vicious circle of poaching in media agencies

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The vicious circle of poaching in media agencies

It was Ranjan Kapur from WPP, who said, "Poaching should continue. It is good for the industry because the blood has to circulate, the talent must circulate so that the whole industry grows. It should not be sole repository of one or two agencies."

However, most media agencies don't really share that point of view, as they are facing huge questions in the current day about rivals helping themselves to talent from their platter.

Lynn De Souza, Director, Lintas Media Services, said, "If people leave, it's because they get poached. Some of the giants in the media agencies have not paid attention to building and nurturing from within. Any volume player prefers to buy whatever he can, rather than create, that goes for business and sadly that goes for talent too."

De Souza added, "We have invested heavily in this area - both in funds and in time. We started the PGPAMM programme last year to develop good talent not just for ourselves but also for the industry. So, it's all about starting right at the grassroots level. For our current managers, our HR department has always had a strong training module, but that alone is not enough to keep people. We now apply more stringent yardsticks while recruiting, while promoting, and most important while letting people go. The most brilliant mind is not an asset if he is a poor leader with inconsistent value."

Vikram Sakhuja, Managing Director, Mindshare Fulcrum South Asia, said that Group M has realised the gravity of the issue, which is why it has an integrated HR policy in order to tackle work issues and reduce stress levels.

He added, "We have taken up huge investments in back office system infrastructure that will ease the grunt work in a big way. In addition, we have an Integrated HR strategy wherein appraisals, rewards, development plan, goal setting and career management are all dovetailed into one another."

He said, "To build loyalty, an organisation has to live out an employment contract as well as a psychological contract with its employees. While the employment contract deals with nature of the job, pay and career progression; the psychological contract deals with motivating, mentoring and investing in the development of our people. The unfortunate part is that despite being a people's industry we are not doing a very good job of fulfilling both elements of the contract."

Shashi Sinha from FCB Ulka, suggested that what you poach from the others, the others poach from you and it's an ongoing process.

Shashi Sinha , Lodestar Media President, asserted, "The scarcity of good people in the industry seems to the subject of most media parties. But if a competitor offers two to three times the salary a person is earning, there are bound to be very frequent movements. But it is a vicious cycle, you poach from others - others poach from you. Unless and until agencies become conscious of their responsibility towards human capital and nurture it, this problem will not be solved."

What about HR policies within agencies? Sinha said, "One part of the story is that agencies do not take up anything at ground level to improve the quality of people. For instance, are most of them taking the trouble of appointing people at starting level, like we do? Is anyone willing to look beyond MICA? We appoint around 30 people at the entry-level through campus interviews every year and train them. If you are not willing to invest in human resources at the initial levels, how do you propose to sort this issue?"

Ground level facilitation of talent in all probability is not on the priority list of most media agencies. It takes too much money, resources and time, accept most media veterans. Rather it's safer to eye what's on the other guy's plate and help yourself to it.


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