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Posts Tagged ‘Motivation’

How have some of our business leaders responded to the challenges posed by the pandemic? Well they appear to be following the popular saying that when times get tough, the tough get going!

As per press reports, Sanjiv Mehta, Chairman and MD of Hindustan Unilever, has spoken of the kind of steps taken to boost the company’s prospects by focusing better on health, hygiene and sanitation products. As many as 50 new product and pack innovations are said to have been made. Agility and speed have helped.

Manu Jain, MD of Xiaomi India, has said that the pandemic has taught him the importance of empathy and patience during tough times. The ability to be able to put oneself in another person’s shoes stands out. Instant gratification is nowhere on the horizon; patience alone helps. So does slowing down and staying calm.

Ronojoy Dutta, CEO, IndiGo, has highlighted the importance of staying connected as well as being transparent with employees so as to retain their trust. According to him, irrespective of the situation, honesty and transparency win in the harshest of times. According to C P Gurnani, CEO and MD, Tech Mahindra, leaders need to give up their ‘command and control’ mindset and shift to a ‘mentor and inspire’ mindset.

Manish Sabharwal, Chairman, Teamlease Services, concludes that resilience matters as much as performance.

(*Source: The Economic Times Magazine, August 30-September 05, 2020, etc)

Leadership traits which help

Leaders who thrive in an era of heightened uncertainty and bloated entropy are better placed to steer their organizations more purposefully and effectively. The virus has highlighted the following qualities in someone who leads an organization in such stormy times: Prioritizing people. Creating clarity on what needs to be done; providing hope and refusing to let a mood of despondency creep in. Having an ear to the ground and being flexible in an evolving crisis; engaging with other stakeholders, including employees, to understand their concerns better.

The virus has brought into focus the dire need for such leaders. It has even indicated the kind of traits such leaders should have: empathy, compassion, higher resilience, an inner sense of peace and equanimity, brain stilling, actions which are rooted in basic human values and better concern for the environment.

It is already understood that leaders who believe in delegation, decentralization and quiet consensus building are able to handle crises better. The approach to problem solving needs to be non-muscular. A shock-and-awe tactics is best avoided.

Leader Mindsets and Human Values

Prof G P Rao, a behavioural scientist of repute and the founder of SPANDAN, a NGO which espouses the cause of human values in organizations, demonstrates that leaders have three kinds of mindsets: ‘I am Everything’, ‘I am Nothing’ and ‘I am Something’.

In a recent study, he has identified the following five topmost values perceived as being conducive to tackling the pandemic successfully:

  • Faith in basic goodness of human beings
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • A positive outlook: Happiness – contentment – self fulfillment
  • Respect to nature and mother earth, and,
  • Preparedness.

The empirical study covered a total of 100 professionals, of which 57 were drawn from the senior and middle management rungs of a software company and 43 belonged to a mixed group from different professions and organizations. The study was conducted during the months of July and August, 2020.

The basic premise is that ‘I am Something’ leader mindset needs to balance the needs and aspirations of others and that of the environment, choose suitable human values and facilitate others to do likewise.

Examples quoted above from the practical business world also testify to the proposition put forward by Prof Rao – that the aim of a leader should be to strike and acquire an optimal balance between and among the select human values so that there is synergy between ‘I am Something’ leadership and human values.

By reposing one’s faith in the basic goodness of human beings, by responding to fresh challenges in a creative and innovative manner, by adopting a sunnier disposition, by preparing for contingencies in advance and by reconfiguring operations with due respect to nature and mother earth – that is how the challenges posed by the pandemic are being met.

(Inputs from Prof G P Rao are gratefully acknowledged.)

(Part 2 of a series of articles on Corona virus and Leadership) 

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2020/09/05/corona-virus-and-an-early-onset-of-industrial-revolution-4-0

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2020/09/14/corona-virus-some-lessons-from-bhagavad-gita)

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One of the professional hazards CEOs face is that of giving in to relentless pressure and becoming Road Rollers. Quarterly targets have to be necessarily met. Stakeholders have to be kept happy. Auditors have to be kept in good humour. Regulatory agencies have to be held at an arm’s length. Star performers have to be kept excited.

Amidst all this razzmatazz, CEOs run the risk of caring about results alone. They would achieve targets by ruthlessly crushing anything that comes in their way. Concern for Production gets the top priority. Concern for People takes a back seat. Concern for Ethics gets dumped. In terms of the modified Blake Mouton Grid, they end up being slotted at 9,1,1.X Y Z upgraded

Such heartless hard task masters end up neglecting even the genuine needs of their team members. Employees have to be dealt with in a stern manner. Shorter working hours are held to be…

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An effective tool in the management’s arsenal to reward and motivate guys who excel in their jobs.

There are two key challenges faced in case of promotions:

  1. Pressure for time-bound promotions

Everyone expects to get promoted after having slogged it out at a given level in the organization for a few years. The reason you find most organizations top-heavy today is because the management twenty years back did not pay attention to managing the aspirations of its people and instead went along with the philosophy of time-based promotions!

  1. Managing is different

Doing a job yourself is one thing. Getting it done through others is a different ball game altogether. To be a good manager, one needs to be a leader, bestowed with skills in team building, communication, delegation, and supervision. Often, two-thirds of the promotions in corporates are based on incumbents putting in an impressive show in their present role. Once promoted, the incumbent is left twiddling his thumbs, trying to figure out how to manage the same activity through others.

The solution possibly lies in building up a culture which rewards good performance but does not overlook the projected managerial talent of the promotee. Job rotation, counselling, and job enrichment are some of the tools which a wise Human Resource guy may use to manage the majority which deems a promotion as its birth-right, based only on the fourth dimension of our universe – time!

A populist approach like resorting to time-based promotions can also be practised, provided there is an aggressive scheme in place to enforce employee separations as well, that too in a time-bound manner!

(Excerpt from my book ‘Surviving in the Corporate Jungle’, the English version of which was released recently. The Portuguese version of the excerpt follows.)

PROMOÇÕES

Uma ferramenta eficaz no arsenal de gestão para premiar e motivar os indivíduos que se destacam nas suas funções.

As promoções levantam sobretudo duas dificuldades:

1. Pressão para ser promovido dentro de um determinado limite de tempo

Qualquer um espera vir a ser promovido depois de se ter arrastado num determinado nível da organização durante vários anos. A razão por que a maioria das organizações hoje em dia são tão pesadas é porque há  vinte anos as chefias não souberam gerir as aspirações dos seus subordinados e deixaram-se levar pela filosofia das promoções baseadas no tempo!

2. Ser chefe é diferente

Uma pessoa fazer um trabalho ela própria é uma coisa. Fazer com que esse trabalho seja feito por outros é uma coisa completamente diferente. Para ser um bom chefe, é preciso ser um líder, dotado de competênciasde
coordenação de equipas, comunicação, delegação e supervisão. Muitas vezes, dois terços das promoções das empresas baseiam-se no facto dos candidatos à
promoção ressaltarem de forma impressionante as suas funções atuais. Uma vez conseguida a promoção, o promovido fica a girar os polegares, a tentar descobrir como realizar as mesmas funções através dos outros.

A solução passa, possivelmente, por estabelecer uma cultura empresarial que recompense o bom desempenho, mas sem negligenciar o potencial talento de gestão dos promovidos. A rotação no trabalho, o aconselhamento e o enriquecimento das funções são algumas das ferramentas que um Diretor de Recursos Humanos sábio poderá usar para gerir a maioria dos colaboradores que estão convencidos que a promoção é um direito que lhes assiste desde
a nascença, com base apenas na quarta dimensão do nosso universo – o tempo!

Uma abordagem populista que recorra a promoções baseadas no tempo também pode ser praticada, desde que esteja igualmente implementado um sistema agressivo que permita distinguir os colaboradores, também de forma
limitada no tempo!

(This is how you can lay your hands on the Portuguese version of the book, launched in Portugal during March, 2016.)

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The Patient Satisfaction Quotient

It is well-known that the Patient Satisfaction Quotient is a function of various factors – the time spent with the physician, the quality of interaction had, the seniority of the physician in the system hierarchy, etc.

It follows that the following laws might apply:

Law #1: The more the time spent with a physician, the higher the level of satisfaction of a patient.

Admittedly, this law does not apply to those perched on a dentist chair. Nor does it apply to those facing a minor surgical procedure without the aid of analgesics.

Law #2: The better the quality of interaction, the higher the level of satisfaction of a patient.

This law is a direct derivative of the psychology of the individual. The more a patient is able to off-load her worries and anxieties onto the hapless physician, the happier she is apt to feel.

There are some exceptions here as well. A physician found making an inappropriate remark about the weight of a patient who is a member of the female of our species risks losing the latter’s goodwill.

Law #3: The patient satisfaction level is directly proportional to the seniority of the physician being consulted.

Amongst the well-heeled patients, the respect and admiration for a physician depends upon the amount of fee being charged, the waiting period to get an appointment, the seniority of the physician in the system, and the value as well as the rare availability of the medications being prescribed.

This one surely does not apply to the teeming multitudes who strive to keep their body and soul together day after day.

It follows that most patients using the public hospitals are left dissatisfied. It does not occur to them that the sheer exposure of such physicians is so very wide that the medical advice they dish out is much better. Superfluous investigations are discouraged. Medications recommended are often of a generic kind, saving the patient some precious money.

A Patient Motivation-Hygiene Proposition

Those familiar with Herzberg’s two-factor theory, popular in the realm of organizational behaviour, would notice a striking similarity between the situation envisaged in organizations and the one we are endeavouring to explore here.

In case of organizations, job satisfaction and job dissatisfaction are not part of a continuum. Absence of satisfaction does not necessarily imply presence of dissatisfaction. If the presence of Motivation Factors (respect and recognition on the job, for instance) improves job satisfaction levels, the absence of Hygiene Factors (such as physical working conditions, etc) leads to higher job dissatisfaction levels.

Likewise, satisfaction/dissatisfaction levels of patients perhaps tend to be independent of each other. If the treatment is effective in the long run, the satisfaction level improves. If the time spent by the physician is inadequate, dissatisfaction sets in.
In that sense, Effectiveness of Treatment would be akin to a Motivation Factor in the theory propounded by Herzberg.

However, the set of laws proposed above would be like Hygiene Factors, the absence of which would cause a patient dissatisfaction.

Patients of various hues

Patients obviously come in various body sizes, pocket sizes, shapes and hues. Amongst those who do not face a medical emergency, there are wide variations in temperaments. Here are some which might be of interest.

The Reluctant Ones

These are patients who believe that a doctor should be visited only as a last resort and that medicines need to be stopped as soon as the immediate problem is addressed. They believe that there is no need for any follow-up visit, till, of course, the next crisis strikes.

The Casual Ones

These are the ones who are casual in their approach. They may or may not follow either a doctor’s prescriptions or the food restrictions placed on them. Nevertheless, a medical consultation is akin to a pleasurable outing for the, so they shall keep coming back to see the physician. For a public service doctor, they happen to be a nuisance. For those in the private sector, they are a source of delight.

The Conscientious Ones

In this category fall the hapless and anxious souls who take their illnesses rather seriously. They take medicines regularly, and follow diet-related advice to the best of their ability. They tend to seek guidance at frequent intervals. Those who suffer from lifestyle diseases often end up forging a close bond with the physician, thereby replicating the age-old system of ‘family doctors’.

The Anxious Ones

Then there are the well-heeled hyper-anxious ones who take a magnified view of their afflictions, tend to be jumpy, worry excessively about prognosis, and keep troubling the physician concerned with inane queries from time to time.

(Notes:

This forms part of an article which has appeared in an issue of NAMAH:

NAMAH_OCTOBER_2017

Inputs from Dr Shivani Salil and Dr Shruti Bhatia are gratefully acknowledged)

(Related Post:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2017/06/19/an-armchair-view-of-physicians-and-patients)

 

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One of the professional hazards CEOs face is that of giving in to relentless pressure and becoming Road Rollers. Quarterly targets have to be necessarily met. Stakeholders have to be kept happy. Auditors have to be kept in good humour. Regulatory agencies have to be held at an arm’s length. Star performers have to be kept excited.

Amidst all this razzmatazz, CEOs run the risk of caring about results alone. They would achieve targets by ruthlessly crushing anything that comes in their way. Concern for Production gets the top priority. Concern for People takes a back seat. Concern for Ethics gets dumped. In terms of the modified Blake Mouton Grid, they end up being slotted at 9,1,1.X Y Z upgraded

Such heartless hard task masters end up neglecting even the genuine needs of their team members. Employees have to be dealt with in a stern manner. Shorter working hours are held to be injurious to employee’s health. Trade unions have to be manipulated. Signs of a white-collar mutiny, if any, are to be handled severely. People are like spare parts in a machine, simply to be replaced at the first signs of trouble.

In their jaundiced view, someone asking for some time off to ensure her kid makes a successful bid to enter a prestigious academic institution simply lacks commitment to organizational goals. A person wanting to leave office one hour early so as to be able to celebrate her marriage anniversary is merely offering an excuse to shirk her responsibility.

In the pursuit of excellence on the bourses, accounting norms evolve to loftier levels. Window dressing of financial information becomes the norm. Customer billings get preponed and get squeezed into the last few days of each month. Hapless auditors are kept busy highlighting Receivables and Customer Returns which get deftly swept under the carpet. Auditors keen on not losing a prestigious client easily get persuaded to fall in line.

Since the entire focus is on quarterly guidelines being exceeded, the organization suffers from Corporate Myopia. Vision Statements remain a set of pious intentions and can be seen only where these belong – on office walls and on display shelves.

When it comes to complying with a plethora of rules and regulations, the regulatory agencies have to be simply ‘managed’. Records need to be fudged, wherever necessary. Testing software and instrumentation has to be rigged, so as to show results within the legal parameters. Liaison officers need to be appointed so the inspectors could be kept in good humour. Government seniors have to be molly cuddled, so that they look the other way when violations are brought to their attention. Lobbying for suitable changes in government policy invariably assumes top priority.

When Road Rollers rule the roost for a long time, organizations often end up sitting on a dormant volcano which could erupt any time. Attrition rates gallop. Key performers get burnt out. People lack focus and work merely to show off. A sense of lethargy pervades. The percentage of employees of the Y-kind plummets. Managements concerned about lack of employee morale and motivation keep calling in experts to cheer up team members, with minimal results. MICROMANAGING

Often, micro-managing skills are applauded. Thus, grooming of future leaders assumes a lower priority. This leads to an absence of succession planning.

When faced with smarter government agencies who either sense a loss of public revenue or a scandal which might sully the image of the political party in power, such CEOs often invite greater trouble for their organizations. In one stroke, financial gains made over several years get wiped out. The organization’s brand image gets sullied.

Most of the times, such CEOs behave like pilots about to press the eject button in their cockpits. However, their reputation precedes them. Parachuting down to greener pastures becomes a challenge.

Have you ever had the good fortune of working with a Road Roller CEO? If so, and if you survived for a long duration, sincere appreciation is in order. You have already developed nerves of chilled steel, a trait so very essential to success in business. What you need now perhaps is a crash course to boost your Emotional and Spiritual Quotients, so your organization and your team members can breathe easy!

Note: Inputs from Ms Somali K Chakrabarti are gratefully acknowledged. She can be found here.

{Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/12/24/looking-for-ceos-inspired-by-the-yuletide-spirit

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/01/07/ceos-who-happen-to-be-charmless-charlies}

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India can justifiably boast of a long history of culture, tradition and values. Scriptures of Indian origin are a treasure trove of nuggets of wisdom. These continue to be relevant in the current context and also find ready application in the field of business management and administration.

Here are some of the areas where I believe Ramayana can inspire management14 practitioners.

  • A Premium on Values

Sticking to some core values which are steeped in righteousness eventually leads to success. The main protagonist, Rama, is depicted in Ramayana as an epitome of virtue. He is an ideal king, an ideal son and a pragmatic person. He sets high ethical standards in warfare and invariably sides with dharma, or righteousness.

A random sample of all successful business houses which have been around for more than a century now – Siemens and Tatas, for instance – is ample proof that ethics in business do pay dividends in the long run. Names of such business houses enjoy tremendous brand equity in the market; understandably, that rubs off on their products as well.

  • High on Motivation

To me, the Ahalyaa episode is all about a good leader enthusing a team of demoralized members who have become zombies over a period of time and have stopped delivering results. Once ‘woken up’, they are fully charged and start performing along expected lines.

Rama wages a war on Lanka with very limited resources, backed by an army which is pretty out-of-the-box or unconventional. It is an army which is highly motivated, expecting minimal facilities. Goes on to show the superiority of motivation levels over the availability of physical resources.

A CEO who is out to increase his market share needs the back up of a highly motivated sales staff which – if motivated well – would go all out to win the hearts and wallets of the company’s customers.

  • Mergers and Alliances

When a merger is based upon a congruence of basic value systems of both the parties involved, long-term benefits accrue.

The alliance between Rama and Sita is a turning point in the Ramayana for more reasons than one. Sita is brought up in the household of the sage-king Janaka. When Rama gets banished to the forest after their marriage, she displays a clear absence of any hedonistic tendencies and chooses to accompany him to the forest. Without a synergy of this kind, the sequence of events could have been quite different!

Likewise, the friendship of Rama and Sugriva sets a good example of mutual cooperation between two people facing a similar predicament in life and career. What follows is Sita getting traced in Lanka and Ravana eventually getting vanquished.

When Etihaad decides to team up with Jet Airways, or when Tata Steel ties up with Corus, the parties involved are looking for synergies in their respective core strengths, so as to tap their joint business potential better.

  • Succession Planning

Dasaratha’s plans for installing Rama on the throne of Ayodhya do turn topsy-turvy, but the existence of a clear succession plan can never be denied. This is meant to ensure continuity in governance. It helped that besides being the eldest son, Rama was liked by all and hence chosen to lead the kingdom once his father passed away.

As per Raghuvansham of Kalidasa, when the time comes to relinquish his body, Rama divides it equitably between his two sons – Lava and Kusha.

All well-managed companies ensure that the career development plans of their top performers are directly linked to succession plans. Ideally, good leaders invariably groom at least three managers under them. When one gets promoted to the coveted slot, it is quite likely that two others may seek greener pastures elsewhere. Whatever happens, the goals and the processes involved in achieving the same enjoy uninterrupted continuity.

  • Leaving the Comfort Zone

When Rama gets ordered to remain in the forest for a span of fourteen years, Sita and Rama take it as an opportunity to engage with the ordinary citizens of their kingdom, rather than remaining confined to the comforts of their palace. This helps them to understand the ground realities better.

CEOs and marketing honchos of today who travel through the hinterland to get a better first-hand feel of the customer’s pulse do a far better job of servicing the market.

  • Excellence in Execution

The plan to locate Sita gets brilliantly executed by Hanuman. The wisdom withRamayana 3 which he conducts the search and the single-minded pursuit of the goal is an example worth emulating by managers at all levels. While crossing the sea, he declines an invitation from Mount Mynaaka to take some rest on the way.

The manner in which he assures Sita of his genuineness exhorts managers to conduct commercial negotiations by first setting the anxieties of the opposite party at rest.

  • Concern for Environment

For three days, Rama prays to the god of the sea to grant a passage to his army. Nothing happens. Rama then shoots arrows into the bosom of the sea, whereupon the sea-god appears and explains that he is bound by the laws of nature, just like earth, air, space, light and all constituents of the universe. Creatures living under his shelter he cannot forsake, but surely a shallow area can be shown where a causeway can be built.

Rama accepts the sea-god’s apology and orders the building process to start. Thus, the objective is met without damaging the eco-system.

In the current context, governments all over the world are realizing the importance of striking a judicious balance between economic growth and environmental concerns. Rama’s approach inspires us to strive to find the middle path and ensure that Mother Nature is not unduly disturbed to pave way for crass commercialism.

  • Dependence on Yes-men!

Ravana is a highly learned and accomplished person. One of the reasons for hisRamayana 2 downfall is to neglect the advice of nay-sayers. His wife, Mandodari, brother Vibheeshana and grandfather Malyavaan – all advise him to return Sita to Rama. Instead, he chooses to listen to his courtiers who play on his ego and pride and advise him not to do so.

A couplet in Sundara Kanda of Ramcharitmanasa clearly advises us to ignore the advice of a paid deputy, a doctor and a teacher who speak positively out of either fear or expectation of a gain. A king who acts upon such motivated advice loses his kingdom, his body and his righteousness (dharma) as well.

  • Humility in Victory

When Ravana is on his death-bed, Rama exhorts Lakshmana to learn the tenets of good governance from him. Lakshmana approaches Ravana rather haughtily first and fails. Rama then advises him to approach Ravana with due humility, whereupon Ravana speaks of the pitfalls of procrastination and shares his knowledge about statecraft and diplomacy.

  • Power of Attorney

The sincerity with which Bharata takes care of the kingdom’s affairs while Rama is away speaks of true values of follower-ship. Upon his return to Ayodhya, Bharata informs him that the kingdom’s revenue had gone up ten-folds during the fourteen years he was away.

Here is an excellent example of a kingdom held in trust and good faith, much akin to the present day concept of a power of attorney getting appointed to take care of administrative and legal matters of a business when owners are not readily available.

  • Make Haste, But Slowly!

Rama has won the war and is on his way back to Ayodhya. He decides not to rush back. Instead, he stays back at Sage Bharadwaj’s ashram for a night and makes enquiries about the state of affairs in Ayodhya. Also, he sends Hanuman upfront to break the news of his imminent arrival to Bharata who is living like an ascetic in Nandigram. He moves to Ayodhya only after receiving adequate feedback about its current situation.

  • Leadership Traits

With the possible exception of his handling of Sita upon her return from Lanka, Rama conducts himself in an exemplary manner throughout the narration. Whether it is befriending Nishaad Raaj, refusing to return to Ayodhya when Bharat approaches him in Panchavati, conducting the last rites of Jataayu, accepting Vibheeshana in his fold or even when reuniting with his mothers and brothers upon his return to Ayodhya, he sets a high bar for humanity in general.

In the corruption-infested times we live in, his leadership traits inspire managers to do their best even under the most trying circumstances.

  • Ram Rajya

The concept of being fair to all is the bedrock on which modern management is based. For those in power at the top, an impartial conduct of those in authority is a sine qua non for the morale of the people. Sita gets banished to the Valmiki ashram when an ordinary citizen casts an aspersion on her character. Rama’s role is not much different from that of a true-blue CEO whose loyalty to the company’s overall welfare is unflinching.

Skirt-groping CEOs who have a roving eye and managements which look the other Ramayana 1way just because they accord a higher priority to business goals than to the character of their top honchos could take a leaf out of Rama’s conduct.

There are several instances when management has to divulge information on a ‘need to know’ basis. However, if the basic practices are perceived to be fair to all, even management policies which impact the employees adversely – like a down-sizing – are not taken amiss across the company.

Ramayana is rich with several other narratives which could be useful to management practitioners. Also, each narrative may be interpreted in several ways, depending upon how one goes about analyzing it.

References:

Ramcharitamanas by Goswami Tulasidas, Valmiki Ramayana, Ramayana by C. Rajagoplachari, Raghuvansham by Kalidasa, Adhyatma Ramayana, Series on Ramayana by Narendra Kohli.

Illustrations Courtesy Internet

http://attachment.benchmarkemail.com/c117651/July-Augusl.pdf 

(Related Posts: 

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2013/07/12/management-lessons-from-mahabharata

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/09/04/management-lessons-from-the-life-of-lord-krishna)

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