How Trident Group adopted OKR-based pay for 14,000 employees

The Company has recently revamped its people-centric policies, including compensation and benefits and succession planning


Sweeping changes have taken place across several companies that were once organisational centric. Many corporate giants braved the turbulence that was 2020 and set the tone for their fellow competition.

For the Trident Group too, it’s out with the old and in with the new. The Group’s organisational setup has changed from being performance centric to being employee-centric. A steady leadership-development pipeline, called ‘Brahma’, has emerged.

OKR: Organisation centric to employee centric

Taking inspiration from Google, Trident has adopted the OKR system for goal setting, pioneered by the former. The OKR system is for all employees across functions and seniority, encompassing the roughly 14,000 strong workforce of Trident.

Short for Objectives and Key Results, the OKR goal system is a tool that aligns and engages employees around measurable goals. In simple words it’s a variable pay-distribution model. For a traditional manufacturing organisation that has always been performance oriented, Trident’s purpose of adopting the OKR methodology was two-fold:

i) To move from a regimented top-down system of KPIs to a system that gives more flexibility to the employees, enabling them to pick objectives and key results that align with their key accountability. The system provides employees with the flexibility to select OKRs based on their monthly priorities, as opposed to an annual / semi-annual KPI approach.

ii) This methodology also works where variable pay is a part of the compensation. To have a sense of control on this aspect of one’s compensation, OKR provides employees with the ability to control what they earn.

Pooja Luthra

To align organisational vision and individual/team aspirations and achievement in a fair, futuristic and fundamentally transparent manner, is the cornerstone of a sound performance-development system.

Trident Group hints at having developed a business strategy for up to 2025 and one of the key focus remains its people strategy. As a relatively young organisation, the Group is also committed to providing ‘opportunities unlimited’ for the younger generation to take their career in whichever direction they choose. An entrepreneurial spirit is encouraged, based on the firm belief that growth is driven by performance and not experience. The culture is a great equaliser when it comes to equal opportunities for women, LGBTQ and the differently abled.

Pooja Behl Luthra, board member, Trident Group, adds, “To strike an alignment between organisational vision and individual/team aspirations and achievement in a fair, futuristic and fundamentally transparent manner, is the cornerstone of a sound performance-development system.” The principle the Company is trying to institutionalise is around ‘self-funding OKRs’. This keeps the business in top line at the helm of the OKR strategy, while respecting individual contribution and performance.

Leadership development

The Group went forward with its leadership pipeline programme, Brahma, in the first quarter of 2019. The organisation is wrapping up Brahma 2.0 with Brahma 3.0 in the wings for 2021.

Succession planning is an integral part of Trident’s talent-management strategy and has been in place in different avatars for a number of years. In fact, Luthra opines, “There can be no better ROI than a talent-management philosophy rooted in the idea of ‘invest in your best’. It gives high-potential employees the ability to earn, learn and grow while being catalysts in driving organisational vision.”

This principle is also what drives the Trident Group. The idea behind a structured succession planning initiative is to deploy scientific tools, such as cognitive psychometric assessments coupled with competency-based assessment centres to gauge the potential of employees at a certain level.

Around 1,200 white-collar employees are picked to participate in the Brahma programme for a period of two months. Then, around 100-200 of the top performers are put through an individual development plan (IDP). This IDP runs for an average of six months to a year, depending on the employee. In this phase, the employees go through a rigorous learning period by visiting campuses and attending sessions with experts and senior management. After this period, they shift to their new roles as and when a vacuum is created.

The organisation has always believed in the idea of ‘earn, learn and grow’. Therefore, once the high-potential talent is identified, the learning and growth into the new role comes with the incentive of higher grades within the system. The talent-management team at any point would identify critical positions for the next one year and ensure that there is readiness in the system for departures at a short notice.


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