Tag Archives: corporate

What Should Uber’s Response Be?

I really don’t envy Uber’s management these days – especially the CEO and General Counsel. As in all brands, there’s a positioning game that you play for a short while by portraying yourself as a brash, fast growing, and arrogant, young company that really only cares about growth. But as a long-term, sustainable strategy it may not have enough legs – unless supported by plenty of checks and balances of, among other things, egos.

These headlines and the map (sourced from Bloomberg) will be giving the entire management some food for thought and hopefully, they will come up with a long-term measured response:

  • Uber Under Attack Around The Globe: Wall Street Journal
  • Uber Needs To Say More Than I’m Sorry: Marketplace.org
  • Uber In The Middle of A Social Media Whirlwind: Exchange4Media.com
  • Things Are Going Downhill Fast For Uber: TheDailyBeast.com
  • Uber Drivers Hit With Penalties: The West Australian
  • City of Portland Sues Uber: Forbes
  • Uber Under Pressure As More Bans & Lawsuits Loom: BBC
  • Uber’s Plot To Spy On Reporter Is Latest Controversy: USA Today
  • Chicago Police Investigating Allegations That Uber Driver Assaulted Female Customer: Chicago Tribune
  • Uber Driver In India, Accused Of Rape, Faces Other Charges: New York Times

uber

We are dealing with a company which has been valued at almost $40 billion recently. The least that the organization can do is own up to its shortcomings, raise its hands and apologize. But it should not just stop there. It should then start to clean up its act, change its business practices and very importantly, learn that each country is a different beast. In order to thrive, and not simply survive, it needs to take into account the dynamics of the host country.

It cannot be an action as farcical as British Petroleum changing its brand and logo BP.

Uber needs to invest some of that hot PE money into good crisis managers (not PR guys), especially given the pace at which it has grown. In countries like India, where there is a dearth of reliable data for its citizens, Uber must make that extra effort and invest in background checks & fix GPS trackers in cars. I’m sure it won’t cost the company even a fraction of the $1.2 billion it recently raised.

It might even be HUGE brand victory if they were to rethink their current Terms & Conditions which absolve them of any wrongdoing by the so-called “third party provider”. A protection, even a limited one, could act as a good service differentiator.

Now it’s up to the management to either get some good PR people to spin another story or to roll up their sleeves and go back to the market more humble, but equally confident & ambitious.

Tying In HR With Business Development

Human Resources is still finding its strategic bearings – especially in Indian media businesses. And till it does so, all companies will continue to suffer from mismatched skillsets with work profiles and hence, higher attrition rates.

Even as the rest of corporate India is moving ahead on this count, the HR department at most media houses remains more of a support/administrative outpost. It is because of this status that it doesn’t attract leaders who are practicing cutting edge personnel management.

In fact, HR’s role in business development is as critical as the business team’s. Talent management/sourcing along with other traditional functions like remuneration et al are important, but maybe some part of an HR team’s KRA should be tied in to the actionable outcome (ie: has the overall business grown or not).

Moreover, I feel that the HR-round of interview, which is deployed by most organizations as the first checkpoint, ends up being a formality and is sub-optimal use of resources. It may be effective in screening out junior level roles, but not when you are selecting candidates for mid-senior managerial posts. The reason is that the concerned HR person ends up mostly checking off a list of criteria without any macro/strategic outlook. So a candidate with huge strategic potential may get marginalized just because he/she doesn’t fit the boxes of “preferred experience”.

Of course, there are some other areas where there have been significant improvements in the recent past – employee training & re-skilling, addressing grievances & career counselling, among others.