By Vikram Singh Khangarot
Rare organizations treat employees as family members and Apeejay Surrendra Group is one of them.
I have joined the tea company of the Apeejay Surrendra Group this year in the month of February after a selection interview before a panel and then a one on one interview with Group Chairman Mr. Karan Paul. I was very thrilled and eager to meet the Chairman and found him to be a very down to earth, simple and dynamic personality. He asked me about the latest challenges in the tea industry and what are the learnings that can be implemented for the betterment of Apeejay Tea. The discussion with him and meeting with Mr. Karan Paul was a lifetime experience. I got an offer letter shortly thereafter and was asked to join Hokonguri Tea Estate. Situated in the heart of a small town known as Borhapjan in the district of Tinsukhia, it took me no time adapt to the new environment.
This company promotes an open environment where every employee is given a chance to speak their own views and ideas. Everyone is approachable and supportive. Nothing shows this better than how I was made a part of a new reward & recognition initiative planned by the management within a few months of my joining because I showed initiative. Three months after I joined, the company invited views from Hokonguri Tea Estate about a very special recognition under consideration for all of the company’s 15 Factories. Even though I was a relative newbie, encouraged by my seniors I wrote back with my inputs and to my surprise Ms Renu Kakkar, Director CSR, immediately responded back saying that my inputs were cohesive and that she would like to set up a time after working hours to discuss them further.
I finish work late in the night so we spoke well after 9.30. She shared with me inputs coming in from other gardens and mine. We spoke many times after that on the workings of the awards. I used my experience to knit in measurability into the parameters to be considered for these special awards to be introduced in the Factories. We both worked tirelessly and created a worksheet that made two of three award parameters, personal habits and skills, measurable. Excellence in both is absolutely essential for our tea factories to deliver on the quality and product expected of us as a company. It was an important milestone for me in this company when there was all round appreciation of my inputs and I was encouraged to do a test run in my factory at Hokonguri with the data for the month of May 2018. I was able to deliver flawlessly and with complete transparency on who the winner of the Factory Star Awards would be and why.
The award and its workings were announced company – wide and team truly surprised me by carrying a picture of Hokonguri Factory and two of our people, a picture I had taken, along with picture courtesy given to me in the Awards’ Announcement communication Poster company-wide! What an enduring ode to my contribution! Here it is below :-
The Factory Star Awards have now been operational for three months on an architecture I contributed towards. In some of our sister gardens ladies have emerged winners multiple times! I couldn’t be more proud!
To maintain the clarity and transparency each of our factories have formed a committee comprising of Factory In Charge, Head Tea House, Hazira and Production Staff who do an the assessment of each and every qualifying worker’ personal habits and skill assessment parameters. The latter two include attributes such as personal hygiene, intoxication/disciplinary actions/use of PPE and knowledge of food safety, safety at work place and certifications and skills carry attributes like Handling & delivering assigned responsibilities as advised by sirdar/staff with initiative and an eye on Targeted Output, Knowledge of working area, Punctuality and Duty Flexibility (Day/Night), Approach to the training imparted, Communication skills, Attitude of giving support to the Freshers/new joinee. Like elsewhere in the industry, absenteeism is a day to day challenge and as a team we can only but manage this problem to the best of our abilities. Thus attendance carries a maximum weightage of 50% as it is the qualifying criteria while the other two have the remaining 50% .
I feel that the initiative I was part of creating has initiated a healthy competition among the workers which in turn is motivating everyone to perform with their best and take the business closer to its goals. After all we all are here to serve a larger objectives of our company that works sincerely to provide for thousands of its employees. The first edition of the award went to Sh David Buash for the month of June and I was surprised when our garden union told me that they would extend their full cooperation in implementation / awareness of this award. The second award was given to Sri. Milon Karmokar for the month of July and Sh Habil Urung has received the award for August 2018.
It’s been 6 months now and I have been totally involved in Hokonguri Tea Estate and the Hokunguri Factory and putting my efforts for the betterment of this company. I am in charge of the manufacturing facility of the Hokonguri Tea Estate. The factory is the largest of the 15 such units of Apeejay Tea Group having a capacity of 30 lakh kgs of made tea with dual production of CTC and Orthodox. With my experience of 19 years in the industry, the systematization has been initiated in each and every department in the factory and this impacted in improvement in quality of production and as well in the financial parameters. Daily supervision and maintaining a strict decorum creates punctuality and discipline among everyone who works here. My main emphasis is on skill development of the workers and a systematic environment of work in each and every department of the factory as I believe and live by the principal that we all must take ownership approach while delivering assigned responsibilities. I personally feel that this Factory star Award will be helping us to motivate the workers and it may bring down the absenteeism to some extent in the near future.
While I belong to the “Pink City Jaipur” and am a proud Rajput, my attachment to the culture and tradition of Assam where I have spent 19 years of my life and my career in tea plantations has made this state my second home.
I will always cherish memories of my life in the tea gardens of Assam. In my first few months at Apeejay Tea I am able to proudly say that I am part of the team who created the Factory Star Award and its success. By no small measure it shows how dear my new company has become to me.
Vikram Singh Khangarot is Deputy Manager, Hokonguri Tea Estate, Apeejay Tea Limited