About a month ago, as reported by exchange4media, the team at Hanmer & Partners was strengthened by the inflow of seven people from Good Relations India’s (GRI) Chennai office. The team of five people, who comprised Hanmer & Partners’ Chennai office before this development, is now understood to have left the organisation.
While industry watchers insist that it is an offshoot of the inorganic growth path chosen by Hanmer and Partners, Jaideep Shergill, COO of the agency, disagrees. He said, “The entire team has been working together for 30 to 40 days. And all have not left at the same time. Some of them were planning to leave even before the recent developments happened. Our relationship with all the employees, past and present, is healthy and open and all of them spoke to me before they decided to move.”
The five employees left for entirely different and individual reasons, according to Shergill. This renders the argument of lack of synergies in the team being their reason for exit illogical.
In addition to the team from GRI, two new hands have come on board at Hanmer & Partners, Chennai. The five who have now parted ways with the agency include the former branch head, who is said to be joining a corporate shortly.
Not many are willing to buy Hanmer’s logic, perhaps because the five have moved soon after the new team has taken its place. K Srinivasan, Founder of Prime Point Foundation (which works in the area of PR education and research) and one of the Founding members of the Chennai PR club, said, “Competition among PR agencies, grabbing accounts and people from each other, is not in good taste. With such developments, clients will lose confidence in PR as an industry, which is in its nascent stage in the country. In the case of the Hanmer staff, it may be the case of a lack of HR initiatives to integrate the new staff with its existing staff. Differences in a transitional organisation are only natural, but they need to be managed well.”
Of the five employees who left, those contacted were unwilling to comment on their move. With the people centricity that PR as an industry is known for, one wonders if this will affect Hanmer’s clientele at Chennai. According to reliable sources, at least one of its clients is considering other agencies. But then, this too could be a coincidence.
Meanwhile, Good Relations has been working on getting its staff strength back. Refusing to get into details, Meenakshi Sachdev Verma, COO, Good Relations India, said, “New people have come in and they are settling in. They are buoyant about the work there is and they are fully aware of the circumstances under which they came in.”
A larger debate is on in the PR industry circles, on the challenges in sourcing good talent and retaining them. But then, that is another story.