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ISSN - 0974 - 1739

NHRD Network Journal

July 2011

Volume 4

ISSN - 0974 - 1739 NHRD Network Journal July 2011 Volume 4 People Power – Draw,

People Power – Draw, Drive and Deliver

Dr D Prashanth Nair


M Kaul



Vineet Kaul

Dr Y V Verma

C Mahalingam

Dr Arun Kumar Jain

Sourav Daspatnaik

Sonali Roychowdhury & Romit Roychowdhury

S Varadarajan & Alok Narain

Dr Sandeep Krishna

Dr S Ramnarayan & Neha Gupta

Anil Sachdev

S K Chathurvedi

Issue 3

A Quarterly Publication by The National HRD Network

Neha Gupta Anil Sachdev S K Chathurvedi Issue 3 A Quarterly Publication by The National HRD

NHRD Network Journal People Power – Draw, Drive and Deliver Volume 4 Issue 3 July

NHRD Network Journal People Power – Draw, Drive and Deliver

Volume 4

Issue 3

July 2011

NHRD Network Board Members

National President:

Past National Presidents:

Regional Presidents:

Sy. Siddiqui, MEO (Admn - HR, Fin & IT), Maruti Suzuki India

Aquil Busrai, Chief Executive Officer - Aquil Busrai Consulting

Dwarakanath P, Director-Group Human Capital - Max India

Dr. Santrupt Misra, Director - Aditya Birla Group

NS Rajan, Partner, Human Capital and Global Leader – HR Advisory, Ernst & Young


Sourav Daspatnaik, HR Director, Apeejay-Surrendra Group


S V Nathan, Director U.S. India Talent, Deloitte


Rajeev Dubey, President (Group HR & After-Market) & Member of the Group Executive Board, Mahindra & Mahindra


S Varadarajan, Executive President - HR,Tata Teleservices

National Secretary:

Prince Augustin, EVP-Human Capital, Mahindra & Mahindra

National Treasurer:

L. Prabhakar, Head-Human Resources (Agri-Business Division), ITC Ltd

Editorial Board

Sy. Siddiqui, MEO (Admn - HR, Fin & IT), Maruti Suzuki India (Guest Editor for this issue)

Dr. PVR Murthy, Managing Editor, CEO, Exclusive Search Recruitment Consultants,

Dr. Pallab Bandyopadhyay, Director - Human Resources Citrix R&D India Pvt. Ltd.

Aquil Busrai, Chief Executive Officer Aquil Busrai Consulting, Human Resources, Gurgaon, India

Publisher, Printer, Owner and Place of Publication

Printed at

Executive Director on behalf of National HRD Network, National HRD Network Secretariat, C 81 C, DLF Super Mart, DLF City, Phase IV, Gurgaon122 002. Tel +91 124 404 1560

Nagaraj & Co. Pvt. Ltd., 156, Developed Plots Industrial Estate, Perungudi, Chennai 600 096. Tel : 044 - 66149291

The views expressed by the authors are of their own and not necessarily of the editors nor of the publisher nor of authors’ organizations

Copyright of the NHRD Journal, all rights reserved. Contents may not be copied, emailed or reproduced without copyright holders’ express permission in writing.

Dear Readers,

The National HRD Network has been bringing out a semi-academic, theme based, quarterly journal for the past four years. It aims at compiling and publishing the professional views and experiences of reputed HR professionals, line professionals, CEOs, researchers, academicians in each theme area. We carry out extensive research, identify and invite persons who have eminent publications or have rich experience in the theme area to contribute articles for each issue. Through the journal, we aim to build a body of HR knowledge in all facets of HR which is not otherwise easily available for the current and future HR Professionals. So far, close to 300 eminent authors have contributed articles for the 17 issues. Each issue is guest edited by a person of eminence in the concerned theme area.

This journal is circulated free to the members of NHRD Network to stimulate their thinking and towards their professional development.

Publications so far have been based on themes such as :

Publications so far have been based on themes such as : • “IT in HR” •
Publications so far have been based on themes such as : • “IT in HR” •

• “IT in HR”

• “Performance Management”

• “Attracting and Retaining Talent”

• “Career Management”

• “Organizational Change”

• “Global HRM”

• “Women in Corporate Leadership Roles”

• “Organization Development”

• “Learning and Development”

Development” • “Learning and Development” • “Leadership” • • • •
Development” • “Learning and Development” • “Leadership” • • • •
Development” • “Learning and Development” • “Leadership” • • • •
Development” • “Learning and Development” • “Leadership” • • • •


“CEO and HR”

“Work-Life Balance”

“Institution Building”

“Coaching For Performance and Development”

“Human Resources Management in Rapid Growth Organizations”

“HR Competence”

“HR and Employee Relations”

The copies of these issues of the journal can be accessed from

The current issue (July 2011) is on the theme of “People Power – Draw, Drive and Deliver”. The following three persons have consented to guest edit the ensuing three issues:

1. October 2011 issue by Dr. S. Chandrasekhar, on the theme “Getting HR Ready for Gen Y”

2. January 2012 issue by Mr. Rajeev Dubey, on the theme “CSR & HR”

3. April 2012 issue by Mr.Vivek Paranjpe, on the theme “HR Challenges in the Knowledge Economy”

This is your journal and will be as rich as you want it to be.

In order to further enrich it, we would like to receive your

1. qualitative feedback on issues brought out so far, and

2. suggestions for themes to be covered in our future issues.

3. Any other suggestions

Kindly send in your thoughts to

Dr. PVR Murthy Managing Editor.



Title of Article


Page No.

1. Driving People Power in Indian Context : Dr. D Prasanth Nair Challenges and Actions


2. Building Ownership through people engagement : Some pragmatic dimensions

V M Kaul


3. Culture, Communication and Responsible Engagement

K Ramkumar


4. Delivering Excellence through Empowerment

Vineet Kaul


5. Leveraging Business Objectives through People Strategy

Dr. Y V Verma


6. Engaged Employees : A Key Organization Capability

C Mahalingam


7. Engage, Enable, Expand, Experiment, Exploit :

Dr. Arun Kumar Jain


Talent Management For 21st Century Organizations

8. Leading the New Generation Workforce

Sourav Daspatnaik


9. Managing the ‘Slash’ Generation

Sonali Roychowdhury and Romit Choudhury


10. Managing the Young Generation Professionals

Alok Narain and S Varadarajan


11. Taking to the next level : HR in Small and Medium Businesses

Dr. Sandeep K Krishnan


12. Ownership : Overcoming Indifference

S Ramnarayan and Neha Gupta


13. Mentoring, Coaching & Counseling :

Anil Sachdev


Value Chain for HR

14. Capability Development towards Organization Competence (Case study : The Powergrid Experience)

S K Chaturvedi



Title of Article


Page No.


15. The Why of Work: How Great Leaders Build

Reviewed by


Abundant Organizations that Win by Dave Ulrich / Wendy Ulrich

R Shantaram

16. Employees First, Customers Second by Vineet Nayar

Reviewed by Vidya Muralidharan


Mr. SY Siddiqui (Guest Editor of the Issue) Managing Executive Officer Administration (HR, Finance, IT

Mr. SY Siddiqui (Guest Editor of the Issue)

Managing Executive Officer Administration (HR, Finance, IT and Corporate Law & Legal) Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. And National President National HRD Network


I feel extremely honored and privileged to be able to present this

issue of the NHRDN Journal, exploring on the theme “People Power – Draw, Drive & Deliver”, to all the members and associates of the National HRD Network. I hope all the readers find the articles in this issue interesting, thought provoking and full of enriched learning’s.

In the current business environment the drivers of business growth include – ability to forecast and prepare for the future, flexibility and agility to change, response time to customer expectations, quality in product & services and ability to innovate. But on top of it all, the most differentiating and influencing factor would be the people strategy, work culture of an organization and the role of top leadership capability.

Today it is not rare to find a CEO recognizing the ‘People Factor’ as the most critical driver of business growth. Successful CEO’s lay emphasis on cascading the organizational vision, mission, values and culture in the people while defining the business strategy and goals creating total involvement and buy in of its people with high ownership and commitment. HR is expected to share a common territory with the CEO by defining the vision, mission, core values and culture building while playing a direct role in people capability building including the leadership talent pipeline, involvement and empowerment, strong two way internal communications, open and transparent assessment processes, rewards & recognition initiatives and career development process with equal opportunity for the total population in the company. HR is expected to take a lead role in building leadership credibility of the top management and CEO while leading employee engagement and people satisfaction.

Organizations who have been striving for business excellence have realized that the core of any business excellence programme has always

been people. It’s the people who create sustainable competitive advantage for any organization. The impact of any excellence model is linked to how people adopt and practice it on a day today basis. It is thus critical that we lay emphasis on energizing and engaging people who will be real game changer in any endeavor towards business excellence.

While framing the theme of this journal, we pondered and brainstormed and felt that making optimum utilization of the People Power in an organization is the biggest challenge ahead of the CEO and the HR community at large and thus felt that this is the subject our next issue should focus on. This issue of the NHRDN Journal addresses the theme of “People Power” from multiple facets. Some of the sub themes which we have tried to address include the Essence of People Leadership, Drawing Excellence thru Empowerment, The People Challenges in Creating a World Class Organization, Building Ownership thru Engaging People.

We have also tried to cover some extremely contemporary challenges such as Managing the Generation Y and Innovative Talent Management Initiatives.

I have been extremely fortunate that I was able to gather the support

of some of the stalwarts in the HR field, who agreed to share their time and thoughts with us by contributing articles to this journal.

I am extremely grateful to them for the support they extended, despite the tough timelines we had given to them.

I would also like to extend my sincere thanks to Dr. PVR Murthy

and his team. It was only with their support, dedication and passion that we could see this journal through. The amount of

time that Dr. PVR Murthy could manage to support us was simply priceless.

Given below are the glimpses of the articles to give you a flavor of the same –

Dr. Prasanth Nair talks about the challenges of driving people power in the Indian context encompassing the range of complexity of organizations, the varied rate of growth and the competitive scenario they operate in. Dr. SK Chaturvedi writes about the need for capability development towards organizational competence. Mr. VM Kaul further elaborates on how to build ownership thru engagement of people.

Mr. Ram Kumar shares his views on the subject of Culture, Communication and Responsible Engagement and attempts to connects them into one fabric. Mr. Vineet Kaul talks about how to deliver excellence thru empowerment by sharing the three levels of empowerment and a few learning’s from effective empowerment. Dr. YV Verma shares his perspective on how to leverage business objectives thru the people strategy.

Mr. C Mahalingam explains why the engaged employees are a key organization capability, by talking about both the lighter and darker sides of engagement. Dr. Arun Kumar Jain covers the major paradigm shifts in corporate management and shares an interesting leadership framework for innovative talent management in his article titled Engage, Enable, Expand, Experiment, and Exploit.

Mr. Sourav Daspatnaik elaborates on how to lead the new generation workforce while Ms. Sonali Roychowdhury and Mr. Romit Choudhury share their rich experience on managing the ‘Slash’ generation. Mr. S Varadarajan and Mr. Alok Narain also cover the challenge of how to manage the young generation professionals.

Dr. Sandeep K. Krishnan shares his perspective on taking HR to the next level in small and medium businesses. Mr. S. Ramnarayan and Ms. Neha Gupta talk about what may inhibit assumption of ownership and what leaders can do to overcome the indifference. Dr. Anil Sachdev elaborates on aligning people thru the power of positive psychology thru an extremely interesting case study.

Hope you all enjoy reading the journal and draw out learning’s from the enriched experiences shared by the accomplished authors.

the enriched experiences shared by the accomplished authors. Dr. PVR Murthy Honorary Managing Editor on behalf

Dr. PVR Murthy Honorary Managing Editor on behalf of the Editorial Team

authors. Dr. PVR Murthy Honorary Managing Editor on behalf of the Editorial Team Dr. Pallab Bandyopadhyay

Dr. Pallab


authors. Dr. PVR Murthy Honorary Managing Editor on behalf of the Editorial Team Dr. Pallab Bandyopadhyay

Aquil Busrai




About the Author

Dr. D. Prasanth Nair, holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Calicut University. Thereafter, he has pursued the Fellow Programme in Management (equivalent to a Doctorate) from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, specializing in Human Resources Management. He was conferred the Degree for his Doctoral Research on “The organizational and human issues in mergers and acquisitions”.

Dr. Nair is President & Head – Human Resources & Financial Services at Thomas Cook and is responsible for the Human Resources function in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Mauritius.

Services at Thomas Cook and is responsible for the Human Resources function in India, Sri Lanka,

D riven by technological advancements and facilitated by changes in social,

political and economic contexts, the world and especially the business environment are interconnected and flat. Owing to the increased level of integration with the global economy in this period, Indian business environment is characterized by uncertainties, challenges as well as opportunities. Even as the ‘developed world’ experienced deep economic recession owing to the financial crisis in the last couple of years, the Indian economy (and the Chinese economy) grew, driven by inherent socio-economic-demographic features manifesting in strong consumer demand. India is undeniably an important future growth market of the world, it is young with 50% of population below the age of 25 and it is just beginning its consumption journey. Our success in the global market, stemming from the value proposition, has created the ‘India brand’ in the global arena. Much of this is reflected in the positive image that the global media now projects of the country and is in line

with the projection made by a report by Goldman Sachs titled ‘Dreaming with BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China):

The Path to 2050’, which predicts that over the next 30-50 years, “India looks all set to firmly entrench itself as the top three economies of the world”.

Consequently, we have witnessed two broad characteristics in the market scenario: one, where global corporations are entering the Indian market or strengthening their Indian operations; two, Indian companies (which till some years ago were satisfied in operating in Indian market) increasingly expanding their operations globally. This in turn, has increased the rate of birth, change (in form and nature) and decay of organizations. Through this process of change, corporations in India have been forced to examine their economic model, evaluate their strategy, reorient their linkages with external environment and restructure the internal working, to be in tune with the external needs, requirements and

July | 2011 NHRD Network Journal


expectations. And in this context, there is an acceptance that the only sustainable competitive advantage for organizations is human resources and the key to the success of organizations is the way they manage people.

Focus of paper:

Given the large canvass of study possible on the subject of people management, it is important to set the broad parameters for the paper to ensure adequate focus. This paper will focus on the challenges faced by organizations and the factors influencing the intensity of challenges, further to which a people management Action Plan will be presented. Even though many of issues and actions discussed will be relevant at a global level, the focus of the paper will be the appropriateness of the same in the Indian socio-economic-political scenario.

Organizational challenges

Competing in a flat world, in an environment characterised by the Darwinian theory of ‘Struggle for existence and Survival of the fittest’, organizations are required to constantly enhance their performance and lead change for which a dynamic alignment of strategy with external and internal environment is called for. This brings about challenges (mentioned below) on the organizational and people dimensions, accentuated also by the macro social and economic environment.

Driving higher level of performance:

In a context of the flat world, one key expectation from the design of the organization is that the business continues to perform in such a way that it is able to not just survive but continuously ‘beat the market’, set trends and create new benchmarks, balancing the short term and long term dimensions. Needless to mention, this


July | 2011 NHRD Network Journal

would be an expectation for all the stakeholders, even though the measures and definition of performance would change.

Skill Gap and Cost Appreciation: As an economy, our growth depends on our ability to productively create employment opportunities. But even though we have a huge population, there is demand – supply mismatch on the talent front, resulting from the lack of availability of talent in terms of numbers and quality as required by the industry. Dearth of required capabilities result in increase in employment costs, putting a question mark on the business model of companies and in some cases, sectors at large.

Engaging Employees in the context of change and flux: To drive performance and optimal customer experience, the employees need to be engaged with the organization. It is well proven that higher engagement is linked to productivity, a factor that directly impacts business. The challenge of engaging employees increases multi- fold given the dynamic context - new generation of work force coming in, the rise of aspiration level, the average time an employee is expected to spend in the organization, and the constant change the organization undergoes.

Enabling continuity and change: As organizations grow, diversify or both, it is important that the fundamental and core essence of the organization is preserved and nurtured. The challenge is - How to retain the essence and values when the environment is changing and in response to it, the organization also needs to change.

Governance mechanism: There is an increasing expectation from stakeholders, especially after the conduct of organizations in

contributing to the economic recession of 2008-09, that organizations have in place a sound governance mechanism which ensures adherence to laws of land and the principles of moral conduct.

Sustainability: Organizations also face the challenge of ensuring that their business model balances the short and long-term perspective while continuing to deliver shareholder value. Additionally, organizations are increasingly expected to exhibit responsible behaviour in terms of Corporate Social Responsibilities and factor in the ecology / environment in their business plans.

The challenges would depend on a variety of factors, but the intensity would depend on factors related to the organization and the arena of operation – industry(ies) and geography(ies); which in turn would affect the people management action plan. An attempt has been made to further understand these factors, which will influence the intensity of challenges:

Rate of Growth: This refers to the pace and type of growth of the organization. Type of growth refers to the mode in which organization grows both in terms of business model (organic, inorganic or diversification) and geographical (domestic / international). The rate of growth determines the degree of change that organization needs to go through to align the internal and external dimensions.

Competitive Scenario: Even though the broad competitive scenario is intense, there would be a degree of difference based on the industry or sector that the organization operates in; which in turn would impact the intensity of challenges faced by the organization. The industry structure and conduct

would be a key determinant of the business strategy pursued by the firms in that industry.

Complexity of Organization: This refers to the level of complexity in the organization indicated by the size and diversity within. Typically, the growth of organization leads to increase in diversity and differences – in terms of personalities, backgrounds, operating environments and even businesses. The more the complexity, lesser would be the applicability of uniformity, thus, the degree of complexity in organizations would impact the intensity of organizational challenges.

The interplay amongst these – each variable taken on an axis - can be represented through 3 dimensional spaces as shown below.

High Low Complexity of Low High Organizations Competitive Scenario Rate of Growth
Complexity of
Rate of Growth

As can be seen in the above figure, the intensity of challenges will be represented by the 3 Dimensional space defined by rate of growth, complexity of organizations and competitive scenario. The more distant the loci of point would be from the axis, the greater would be the challenges faced on the organization and people front. This in turn would determine the kind of organizational and people management strategy.

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People Management Strategy

Given the challenges and the need to drive people excellence to deliver sustainable organizational performance, the people management plan, which would be

a critical strategic tool, would need to focus on:

• Design of organization with respect to the structure, roles, systems and culture.

• Defining the relationship between individual and organization.

While there are studies on the people management addressing the above points, most of the studies pertain to the American, European or Japanese context. Research has brought out the fact that the outlook, views and lifestyles of people would have an impact on the applicable economic, business and management models. In a

worldwide study conducted by Geert Hofstede, the differences of cultural traits in different countries have been brought out; which shows that there are differences

in the ‘way of life’ in India as compared to

US or Europe or Japan. The differences will translate into fundamental way of managing people in defining the level of emphasis on ‘structure and systems’ on one hand and on ‘social and emotional side’ on the other. Unlike in the Western model, where the contractual relationship which specifies the pay and work place benefits between the individual and the organization is the main motivator, and the Japanese model where security and togetherness is the paramount driver, in the Indian context, an individual is inspired by the significance or importance accorded to the him/her and the level of task performed. At the same time, key drivers for India’s growth like hope and aspiration along with trends like consumerism and urbanization are changing the outlook and behaviour of people in the country, having important implications for the organizational and people management


July | 2011 NHRD Network Journal

strategy. Thus, applicable people management model in India for it to really address the challenges would need to factor in the context of India along with changes taking place, while of course borrowing the learning’s from the work done in other contexts.

Having studied the multiple drivers of people management and the context of India, a people management strategy IC3 Model has been suggested where the focus areas are:

I – Inspiration at an individual level


– Capability building at an

organizational level,


– Culture Management


– Competitiveness

A brief explanation is provided below for each of them:

Inspiration at an Individual Level: In

a competitive world, for organizations

to excel, the people need to excel, for which they need to be inspired. The factors that drive inspiration amongst people depends on the social context and in India there are three factors that can drive inspiration:

Connect with employees: This refers to the emotional relationship that will determine connect of the employees with the organization and the level to which the individual would be inspired for greater performance.

Personal Ambition: As evidenced, organizations would need to facilitate employees for achieving their personal ambitions. Hope and aspiration drives our country; individual desire to achieve greater power and wealth needs to be acknowledged and captured at an organizational level. Enabling individuals to achieve their

ambition would inspire them for greater excellence.

Higher purpose: It has been found in research and practice that Indians are inspired by task significance – how the efforts contribute to a greater cause. Hence it is required that organizations, for inspiring employees, connect the operational execution of their role to the larger strategy.

While in many a context around the globe, one of the factors or a combination with a predominant focus on one of them would enable organizations to inspire employees; what is interesting from an organizational design point of view is the combination with equal focus on connect with employees, higher purpose and personal ambition that is required to inspire employees in an Indian context.

Capability Management at an Organizational Level: Given the challenges faced by organizations, it needs to make sure of the organizational capabilities to manage the present and future. The key tasks involved are:

Talent Management – this involves attracting, motivating, developing and retaining talent. Recruiting and retaining employees is quite a challenge in today’s environment because of the opportunities in the environment, and hence the employee needs to be engaged with the organization. An integral part of talent management is to continuously develop required skills in employees and to put in place a compensation framework. As part of an integrated talent management plan, it is necessary to ensure positive energy level in the organization. Succession planning is another key aspect that needs to be built in to ensure minimization of


business plans.





Creating Talent: Given the talent shortage in the market, and the huge number of people with willingness but lack of requisite skills, organizations need to invest in creating talent. This helps in increasing supply of talent in the market, thus favourably influencing the demand supply gap.

Knowledge Management: To ensure sustainability of skills and knowledge in organizations, it is recommended that organizations invest in capturing knowledge through proper storage, retrieval and management. Given our social context knowledge sharing needs to be imbibed through a combination of system control and mindset creation.

Culture: An integral part of people management is to manage the culture of an organization with the objective of fostering an organizational culture, which enables business and ensures sustainability. In a challenging environment with organizations constantly on the lookout for growth opportunities, organizations need to look at old ways of working and re-calibrate it to what is required from a strategic point of view. We also need to factor in the fact that there could be new industries that the organization is present in, different geographies of operations and if the growth is through in-organic route, different organization cultures. It is in this context that managing culture becomes an extremely important action. Managing culture does not mean that we need to strive for uniformity in everything – but indicates that organization needs to put in place what is absolutely sacrosanct

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from its existential point of view and what parameters can be flexible. Depending on what the organization desires, it needs to choose between a global, local and glocal culture. Some of the best practices are when organizations put in place some core values, which are global in nature, but factors in the local context and tailors the same in its overall design, thus enabling a culture of high diversity with strong core basics. Given that the issue of sustainability and corporate behaviour is increasingly getting prominence, the value of integrity needs to be treated as the cornerstone of an organizational framework. Another important trait that will be extremely important in a context of change would be innovation. The ‘right’ culture for the organization – arrived at after taking into account multiple factors like history of firm, future operations, geographies of operations, and sectors of presence among others – would need to be defined and inculcated through the design of systems, processes and interventions.

Competitiveness: In a dynamic business environment, it is critical that Human Resource actions are always focused on the strategic objectives of the firm – both in short and long term with the aim of imparting a cutting edge to organization creating benchmarks. People management can enable competitiveness through the following key actions:

Business focused organization design: The organization design - the optimal structure, the capabilities required and the performance measures need to be aligned with the business needs, taking care to ensure scale up capability in operations. To ensure


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that decision-making is robust, and to mitigate risks both at operational, financial and strategic levels, systems and processes need to be put in place and adhered to, without over-designing the systems. Thus, organization design process management should ensure an optimal balance between risk mitigation on one hand, and enabling fast execution on the other.

Performance Orientation: As mentioned earlier, creating a performance oriented culture through the appropriate design of systems, demonstration of senior management behaviour and focus on execution with the objective of balancing long term and short term objectives can enable higher level of delivery from people. A key part of performance orientation is to put in place dynamic benchmarks for performance, which will enable competitiveness.

Cost Competitiveness: In an Indian context, where demand outstrips supply of resources, cost competitiveness would need to be given priority. Organizations through their design would need to focus on prudent cost management, focussing on higher levels of process efficiency and delivery effectiveness.

Even though all the four focus areas – Inspiration (at an individual level), Capability Management, Culture and Competitiveness are important and relevant, the specificity of action plan would be determined by the organizational and people management challenges (as defined in the earlier section through the variables of Rate of Growth, Organizational Complexity and Competitive Scenario).


The objective behind this paper is to enhance understanding of the challenges faced by organizations in the dynamic and unique socio-economic context of India. Based on a discussion on some of the key challenges faced, a HR action plan has been suggested, which enables organizations to draw the best from people, drive people excellence and deliver sustainable organizational performance. Even though more research needs to be done to scientifically validate the model, the paper serves the objective of establishing an overall framework to understand the challenges and people management strategy in context of social-economic- political context.

Further, going forward in a global interconnected world with organizations being responsible to multiple stakeholders, there is a need to factor in the socio- economic context in their business strategy – because what was defined as business responsibility in the past may not be true in future. Given the interconnectedness between business and socio-political- economic dimensions in India, businesses need to develop models that will enable them to be sustainable and competitive in a global economy, while demonstrating socially responsible behaviour and actively creating synergistic relationship between business, employees, people and society. How can we together achieve excellence?


Alvarez, Pilar and Rodríguez, Buylla: “How to Manage Rapid Growth”, tu-91.167; Seminar in Strategy and International Business; Helsinki University of Technology: Department of Industrial Engineering & Management, Institute of Strategy and International Business.

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About the Author

V.M. Kaul is a Director (HR) in POWERGRID Corporation of India Limited, the central transmission utility of India. He has a degree in Mechanical Engineering from IIT Delhi and a MBA. He has over 37 years of varied experience in the fields of HR, Project management and Contracts, and has earlier worked with NTPC and EIL. At present he is looking after all the HR functions as well as, Corporate Communication, Law, Joint Ventures and

Consultancy Services, both foreign and domestic. He has introduced numerous innovative HR policies for the active engagement of employees in POWERGRID during his tenure as Executive Director (HR) and Director (HR). His specialized areas of interest are training, talent management, industrial relations and employee welfare, besides planning and business development.

are training, talent management, industrial relations and employee welfare, besides planning and business development.

1. Introduction :

One of the important concerns of HR managers today is how to engage their people in the organization so that they contribute wholeheartedly to it during their tenure. The term ‘employee engagement’ or ‘people engagement’ has become popular among human resource management practitioners and development consultants, internal communication practitioners and business conference presenters. (Brad Shuck et al 2010) An ‘engaged’ employee has a high level of commitment and involvement in the day-to-day process of decision-making and contributes actively towards achieving the goals of the organization. People who are fully engaged in the organization are reasonably aware of the business context, and work with colleagues to improve performance within the job for the benefit of the organization. Though people are skeptical about the meaning of the concept,


July | 2011 NHRD Network Journal

it is by and large agreed that an engaged employee is an asset to the organization and is likely to remain loyal to it.

To achieve competitive advantage, organizations must find ways to create and sustain the level of energy and passion that people bring to work. The best way is to bring in a sustaining culture where engagement is not only the norm, but also a strategy that attracts and retains people. Organizations of all size and types have invested substantially in policies and practices that foster engagement and commitment in their work force (Robert, 2006).

Many studies have established that the performance of an organization has a strong correlation with employee engagement. The more enhanced the engagement levels of the employee, the better the organization’s performance will be in terms of customer satisfaction,

revenues, profits, productivity and retention. Fully engaged employees deliver higher levels of performance that may be critical for business survival. In the long- term they may help companies not only to weather tough times, but when business conditions improve, to ensure that they are stronger and better placed to take advantage of future opportunities.

A successful employee engagement

strategy helps create a community at the workplace and not just a workforce. When employees are effectively and positively engaged with their organization, they form an emotional connection with the company. This affects their attitude towards both their colleagues and the company’s clients and improves customer satisfaction and service levels.

In the context of emerging human resources challenges and opportunity, this article attempts to bring out an overall understanding and definition of the theme ‘employee engagement’. It also makes an attempt to propose strategies for the success of employee engagement initiatives. With a view to augmenting the understanding of the concept, this paper also highlights certain employee engagement strategies that have been initiated in POWERGRID.

2. Employee engagement – A way of building ownership.

The relationship between employees and

employers is fast changing. Organizations

are no more in a position to offer the kind

of job security and career paths that they used to offer in earlier days. In today’s competitive global business environment,

the traditional loyalty relationship is fading

away and is being replaced by greater emphasis on the manner in which the employee is treated. Since can no longer count on their members’ loyalty, they have

to continuously compete for talent. They have to focus on attracting and hiring the most talented people and retaining their critical existing talent. In order to do this, they must utilize approaches to management that are advantageous to them and their employees, and which can lead to higher and higher levels of performance.

The quest to find the best way to retain employees has taken HR experts through concepts such as employee reviews, employee satisfaction, and employee delight, etc. The latest idea is employee engagement, a concept that states that the degree to which an employee is emotionally bonded to his organization and passionate about his work is what really matters. The term “employee engagement” represents an alignment of maximum job satisfaction with maximum job contribution. A highly engaged employee is proud of his/her organization and develops a sense of belongingness and ownership.

It is the need of the hour that organizations should increasingly convert from traditionalism to contemporary employee management. With growing opportunities and greater flow of information, employees today want to be in the best workplaces, handling the responsibilities they are best suited for, and also want to enjoy greater autonomy. Therefore, engaging the employees to work as per their competency level must occupy centre stage not only for the HR department, but also in other areas.

Engaged employees are the key to a company’s ability to grow and prosper and have a positive impact on the customer experience. This is particularly so in today’s economy, where attraction and retention of experienced, skilled, and creative employees can make the difference

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between success and failure. There is clear evidence to suggest that what employees

look for in their work is a mixture of both tangible and intangible elements that create

a stimulating environment where their

contribution is recognized and appropriately rewarded. In fact, emotional

factors play a much more important role in shaping attitudes and behavior than previously thought. They contribute significantly to the perception that the employees also have a stake in the company.

A number of recent studies from the Gallup

Organization, Corporate Leadership Council and Towers Perrin HR Consultancy have shown that, in a typical organization, 20% of employees at any one period are actively disengaged from the organization, while a further 60% are only moderately engaged – they turn up for work, perform their duties and then go home, without being prepared to go the extra mile for the company. As a consequence, only 20% of the workforce is actively engaged with the organization and its objectives.

Studies also reveal that people higher up in the organization experience a higher level of engagement as they are closer to the centers of decision making, have more say in the direction in which the organization is progressing and presumably were promoted, at least partly, on the basis of their ability to deliver in tune with the organization’s goals. Significantly studies also point to the fact that engagement level in the government sector is relatively low in all countries.

Satisfaction of employees is evidently a very important factor for engaging them

in organizations. In a survey conducted in

POWERGRID, on the factors responsible for employee satisfaction, it was found that there are eight major factors that contribute


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to employee satisfaction. These factors, in order of priority given by employees, are:

Training and Learning opportunities

Positive environment

Job security

Compensation and Incentives

Job content

Work life balance

Stress free life

Encouragement for higher education

3. Review of literature:

According to Rafferty and others (2005, 2007) employee engagement has become one of the most popular HR concerns these days and a lot of research has been undertaken on the topic by academicians and practitioners. The concept is relatively new for HRM and appeared in the literatures only during the past two decades. In engagement, people employ and express themselves physically, cognitively and emotionally during role performance. William A. Kahn (1990) conceptualized engagement at work as the ‘harnessing of organizational members’ selves to their work roles.’ The term employee engagement, in its present usage, was coined by the Gallup organization, as a result of 25 years of interviewing and surveying employees and managers. Employee engagement indicates the extent to which an employee is willing to put in extra effort in terms of extra time, energy and brain power to get the job done. In fact engagement is one step ahead of commitment.

The second related construct to engagement in organizational behaviour is the notion of flow advanced by Csikszentmihalyi (1975, 1990).

Csikzentmihalyi (1975) defines flow as the ‘holistic sensation’ that people feel when they act with total involvement. Flow is the state in which there is little distinction between the self and environment. When individuals are in Flow State, little conscious control is necessary for their actions. Employee engagement therefore, is the extent to which workforce commitment, both emotional and intellectual, exists relative to accomplishing the work, mission, and

vision of the organization. It can be seen as

a heightened level of ownership where

employees want to do whatever he or she can for the benefit of their internal and external customers, and for the success of the organization as a whole.

Various authors and researchers have given




Perrin’s Global workforce study (2003) defines it as the “employees’ willingness and ability to help their company succeed,

largely by providing discretionary effort on

a sustainable basis.”

Robinson et al. (2004) define employee engagement as “ a positive attitude held by the employee towards the organization and its value.” An engaged employee is aware of business context, and works with colleagues to improve performance within the job for the benefit of the organization. The organization must work to develop and nurture engagement, which requires a two-way relationship between an employer and an employee.

The Gallup organization defines employee engagement as “the involvement with and enthusiasm for work.” Gallup as cited by Dernovsek (2008) likens employee engagement to an employee’s positive emotional attachment and level of commitment.



However, Robinson et al., (2004) have revealed that an engaged employee will generally demonstrate behaviour such as:

belief in organization, desire to work to make things better, understanding of business context and the bigger picture, respect and helpfulness towards colleagues, willingness to go the extra mile and keeping up to date with developments in the field.

An ‘engaged employee’ is one who is fully involved in and enthusiastic about his or her work and thus will act in a way that furthers their organization’s interests. Thus engagement is distinctively different from satisfaction, motivation, culture, climate and opinion.

In an attempt to highlight the relationship between employee engagement and employee ownership, it was found that an engaged employee becomes emotionally attached to the organization and starts putting all his energy, efforts, mind and soul into the work. According to Gallup: “Organizations using emotional engagement automatically record high growth and very low attrition.” Unless organizations realize that employees have emotional baggage and they deserve the same emotional logic and rationale that management adopts with its own relationships, companies will always complain about high attrition. As Fernandez (2007) points out, “Employee engagement is required for retention of employees.”




4.1. Employee induction programme:

Effective recruitment and orientation programs are the first building blocks to be laid on the very first day the new employee joins. Unique induction programs contribute toward engagement




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of employees. Most Public sector enterprises like POWERGRID, NTPC, BHEL etc., organize excellent induction programmes for their newly recruited employees to make them feel comfortable and proud of their company, thereby building ownership. Other organisations like Marriot International have an exclusive induction program called “VOYAGE” for all new recruits, while NIIT begins with SEED (School for employee education and development) at New Delhi.

4.2 Leadership commitment:

Many innovative organisations see youth as a source of innovative ideas and as such encourage the young employees in the company to come out with creative ideas and also strengthen the leadership of the company.

N.R. Narayana Murthy, Founder, Infosys, remarked, “It is important that you give challenging engagements to deserving people, whether they are young or new in the organization. Youth and empowerment are the keys to scalability and longevity.” The POWERGRID leadership explicitly demonstrates its work culture by being accessible at all times, by interacting frequently with employees, especially with new, young entrants to the organization and by adopting a transparent policy towards employee welfare.

Unless the people at the top believe in it, own it, and pass it down to managers and employees, “employee engagement will never be more than just a “corporate fad” or “another HR concept”.

4.3. Equal and satisfactory opportunity

for learning and development.

Employees see learning and development within companies as a big opportunity not


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only for developing themselves but also a way of contribution to the growth of the organization. POWERGRID provides innumerable opportunities for training. It has a mandate of providing atleast 6 person-days of training in a year. Despite a busy work schedule, employees are often sent for training in their respective areas. Apart from this, they are readily encouraged with incentive schemes to increase their work related qualifications, either in India or abroad, as and when required. This helps employees to update their knowledge and skills through appropriate training.

4.4. Performance Management:

Companies need to develop a performance management system that holds employees accountable for the level of engagement they have shown. Conducting a regular survey of employee engagement levels helps to determine factors that keep employees engaged. The results of such a survey can be circulated amongst the employees and also become the source of information, which forms the basis of major HR decisions. Opportunities for personal development through well planned growth of knowledge, skill and aptitude, and integrating the same with their career can keep employees engaged.

A pragmatic model depicting strategy for people engagement is given below:

4.5 Pay and benefits: The company should have a proper compensation system so that the employees are motivated to work in the organization. In order to boost his or her engagement levels, the employee should also be provided with appropriate benefits and perquisites. Research indicates that engagement levels are low if the employee does not feel secure while working. Therefore, every organization needs to adopt appropriate methods and systems to

Fig. 1. Building ownership through employee engagement - pragmatic model. ensure the health and safety
Fig. 1. Building ownership through employee engagement - pragmatic model. ensure the health and safety
Fig. 1. Building ownership through employee engagement - pragmatic model. ensure the health and safety
Fig. 1. Building ownership through employee engagement - pragmatic model. ensure the health and safety
Fig. 1. Building ownership through employee engagement - pragmatic model. ensure the health and safety

Fig. 1. Building ownership through employee engagement - pragmatic model.

ensure the health and safety of their employees. Innovative schemes to recognize their talents and also devising appropriate pay and perks would be a great motivating factor.

6. Employee engagement initiatives – The POWERGRID experience:

I) Regular Communication with Employees: POWERGRID believes in openness and regular interaction. There are open house sessions where the Chairman of the organization regularly interacts with senior executives and other employees through video conferencing and other modes of communication. This enables everyone to resolve any apprehensions about new changes and policies. It helps inculcate a feeling of togetherness in the organization. The Chairman and other members of the Board

of Directors are accessible to all sections of employees in the organization and share their experiences with the employees and seek suggestions.

ii) Employee Suggestion Scheme: This is an integral part of the employee involvement process. An employee who suggests a policy or scheme or valuable

input is suitably rewarded. It enhances the individual concern for the well being

of the organization. It also promotes the

feeling of ownership in the organization.

A well-placed employee suggestion

scheme is always a key to organizational success and people empowerment. Once his/her suggestion is recognized or

implemented, the employee feels proud to

be a part of the organization.

iii) Online web forum: The departmental web portal is an innovative way of keeping

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the employees engaged in their functional areas. This enables every one in the department to deliberate and discuss the

key issues in the decision making process.

In a way, it keeps everyone updated with

the latest changes in the organization.

Function specific questions can be posted

to various people in the department and

the solutions can be acquired from

all before a final decision is taken. POWERGRID has a well-established intra net system reaching out to all sections of employees.

iv) Bilateral forum: If the employee’s grievances are listened to properly, half of the grievances can be settled at the initial stage itself. The best way is to encourage people to become active players

in bilateral forums such as the

POWERGRID National Bi-partite committee (PNBC). Similarly at the regional and local levels, a forum of employees helps them to deliberate and settle their local issues in the organization. Forums like these infuse a sense of belongingness because all queries and demands are met at the initial stages. This results in building ownership in the organization.

v) Innovative career plans: Fair evaluation of an employee’s performance is an important criterion for determining

the level of employee engagement.

A that follows an appropriate

performance appraisal technique (which is transparent and not biased) will encourage employees to stay on in the organization and develop a bond with the organization. When career opportunities are high and equal, people feel proud to be part of the organizational team. Schemes like accelerated career growth opens up channels from one grade to another in a

short span of time.


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vi) Employee participation in culture building: Employees role in culture building is encouraged. There is active participation of employees in cultural and social meets, Foundation Day, Independence Day, Safety Day and Women’s Day, etc. Such celebrations are a testimony to the diversity and wide geographical footprint of the company. These celebrations in the organization also develop a sense of belongingness among the employees. The company provides sufficient contribution in financial terms so that the celebration and participation of employees is encouraged. Employees are readily encouraged to participate in sports and games so that their talents are recognized. During social occasions, the family members of the employees are also brought into the limelight. This encourages team spirit and provides a feeling of oneness in the organization. In order to encourage feelings of happiness and contentment, POWERGRID also arranges regular spiritual talks by prominent spiritual leaders and speakers.

vi) Employees involvement in CSR activities: Corporate Social responsibility has become one of the important subsystems of HR. In the recent past, companies have been allocating a substantial portion of their budget towards the social cause. POWERGRID, for instance, has allocated 1% of its net profit for CSR activities across all the regions of the company. These activities cover an entire gamut of social issues like education, health, environment, employability and disaster management. POWERGRID encourages its employees at the field level, to take part in all the numerous CSR initiatives that the company sponsors in various areas of social development.

Participation in such social development activities enhances the employees’

interaction with the disadvantaged strata of society and also creates a sense of satisfaction and pride and ownership towards their organization. It encourages the perception that they belong to a company that has concern not only for products, services and profits, but also towards people and society.

7. Conclusion:

How to engage an employee has become a big challenge? If an organization takes appropriate steps to keep its employees engaged, they will feel good about their work, contribute whole-heartedly to

the organization and tend to remain loyal to it. Organizations are struggling hard to retain their best employees. Only innovative employee engagement strategies will help an organization to keep its team together. It has been established beyond doubt that there is a direct linkage between employee engagement initiatives and improvement in productivity and reduction in attrition rate. The strategies mentioned above are of course not exhaustive, but they bear testimony to what has been happening in organizations in this era of globalised economy where attrition rate is quite high.


1. Brad Shuck and Karen Wollard (2010), Employee Engagement and HRD: a Seminal Review of the Foundations, Human Resource Development Review, Sage Publications, Page. 89

2. Robert J Vance (2006), Employee engagement and commitment, - A guide to understanding, measuring and increasing engagement in your organization, A SHRM Foundation publication

3. Robinson D, Perryman S, Hayday (April 2004), Report 408, Institute for Employment Studies,

4. Sandeep K, Mark Gatenby, Chris Rees, Emma Soane, Katie Truss, Employee Engagement: A Literature Review

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About the Author

Ramkumar, Executive Director on the Board of ICICI Bank is responsible for Customer Service and Human Resource functions.

Ramkumar is a PGDM from Madras School of Social Work and a BSc in Chemistry.

Prior to joining ICICI Bank Ramkumar had over 16 years of

experience in companies such as Hindustan Aeronautics, Brookebond Lipton India Limited (now Hindustan Unilever Limited) and ICI India


At ICICI Bank Mr. Ramkumar has been responsible for Human Resource function, initially for the Bank and then for all the companies in the ICICI Group.

He has joined the Board of Directors with effect from February 1, 2009.

and then for all the companies in the ICICI Group. He has joined the Board of

M ost social organizations including commercial organizations, approach

the themes of culture, communication and engagement with its constituent members, in a compartmentalized manner. We cognitively understand that these three are intricately linked and they impact each other. However, when we operationalize these, we seldom conceptualize, plan and implement them in unison. This leads most social institutions to resort to platitudes and pedantic positions.

I have chosen to examine this integrated theme from a point of view not often chosen. Let us examine 3 core aspects of this integrated theme viz Transparency, Feedback and Freedom of expression. All three are cultural, communication and engagement levers.

At the outset, we should differentiate the usage of these terms in the context of


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financials/regulations/policy articulation and cultural engagement. In this article we are largely dealing with socio-cultural nuances, more so when applied to commercial organizations.

Transparency and openness:

Have we ever come across a social institution which says that it will not be transparent or admits that it may not be transparent with respect to all aspects of its functioning? There will hardly be any difference in the utterances of national leaders, political leaders or CEOs when you engage them on the theme of transparency. All would eulogize the virtue of transparency and claim that they and their organizations are the paragons of this virtue.

Let us examine this deeply. The unit of most trustworthy social institution is the family.

Can we dispute that the trust dynamics of an average family of say 6 to 8 people, should be far less complex than say any social institution of 100 people? Can we dispute that the physical, emotional and material interdependence of family as a unit ought to be far more entwined than any social institution? If we agree to this basic premise, then we should ask the controversial question, “How transparent and open is the culture within a family on economic & psychological issues, personal judgment each member have of the other, strength of relationship, mutual expectations etc.?” How transparent are spouses to each other about their assessment of each other’s characteristics? How transparent are parents and adult children to each other, on the impact of each other’s expectations and behaviour? How transparent are adult siblings to each other, on their differences, economic or otherwise, and how willing are they in adopting transparent and open ways of sorting them out? An honest answer will be strong and near ideal some times and with some members, but tense, imperfect and often clumsy at most times.

If this is even partially true, then why is it that so many of us advocate and even claim to have, the virtue of transparency in culture, communication and engagement, in an almost near perfect standard or demand it be so? Speak to one of the apostles of seven steps to heaven, they will immediately project on the screen a two by two grid which would elucidate the seven steps to the transparency heaven. They would even show you case studies of organizations, which have adopted these steps, of course with the ubiquitous change agent and created the “Promised Land of Transparency”. Now if we choose to be irreverent and then proceed forward, we will agree that the virtue of “Transparency is contextual, relative and calibrated” as Yudhisthra found out in Mahabaratha about

“His Dharma in engaging Dhrona or Bhishma”. Now I can hear the readers screaming at me and wanting to know “THE answer” as we have been conditioned by

our education. This is where the problem

arises. We confuse general tenets with

application guides and then like cook book recipes rush to try it out in our organizational kitchens. And there are always the ever obliging purveyors of best practices ready to sell them to us. Rarely do we want to use the tenets as a broad percept


choose to explore the right touch and


for our constitution.

The truth is some organizational

engagements and processes can be “open and transparent” and some will not be. Many of us including our senior leaders


afraid to say this and thereby violate


principle, which they claim to be

upholding. We confuse honesty with

openness and transparency. By saying that we cannot be transparent on all aspects of running a social institution, we will be honest. On the other hand, by proclaiming transparency as a non-negotiable culture of engagement, the leader will be dishonest

and be forced to be non-transparent.


Now let us examine the other holy cow of culture, communication and stakeholder engagement – “Candid and Direct feedback”. This is the holy cow of managing performance, inspiring teams, managing collaboration and sensitivity. You will also see the connect between

transparency, openness and feedback. You

will note that these are also the proclaimed

culture anchors of most organizations. As

always you can throw this paper into the

dustbin and rush for the “How to Guides”

and the “Seven steps to heaven” gospels

or pause and deliberate.

If giving and receiving – “Candid and Direct feedback” is so natural and

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inevitable aspect of social life, why do humans struggle to display it even when they are well past into their adulthood? If this is all about calling or walking into someone’s presence and engaging in an open and transparent manner about one’s intent, behaviour and its impact on someone or some institution, why is there so much fuss about it? When was the last time one of us, engaged our spouse, parent, adult child or sibling with a “Candid and Direct feedback” on how their intent or behaviour is impacting us or someone else? When was it that we walked up to one of this inner core trust group called family and asked for a “Candid and Direct feedback” of our intent or behaviour and its impact on them or someone else? How often do we do this? Once a week, month, year (as we are told is a must) or a decade! Or, most of it is very often indirect, subtle and even obfuscating. Yet we very often sense it and respond to it with a multitude of responses such as hurt, corrective actions, defiance, counter feedback, explanations, conditional acceptance, relief, etc. So what is this that makes us expect not an “indirect and subtle feedback”, but a “Candid and Direct feedback” in low intimacy and thereby lower trust oriented secondary social institutions? Years of propaganda by the purveyors of the “Seven steps to Heaven” apostles!

Let us delve deeper into this “Candid and Direct feedback” manna. It is not sufficient to be candid and direct, we have been told that we have to be objective and evidence based in these engagements. Let us take the case of a strained relationship at home between say your spouse and your parents. Is this not the most common collaboration, sensitivity and relationship-destroying issue at most homes? So here comes the “Dr. Benjamin Spook’s” bringing up a child gospel. Be candid, direct, objective and evidence based – lo and behold the issue is


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sorted out and the family as a unit is now strife free. Now why is it that our critical acclaim rejects this every day occurrence at millions of households and believes the gospel of management fiction writers as the truth? When was the last time any spouse was candid, direct, objective and evidence based on the partner’s conjugal performance? This question I know is embarrassing to our closet culture, but if this is so touchy, how can more touchy issues at secondary social institutions be handled in the manner we have been told

it should be and that many are doing it

consistently well? Let us take an even more mundane performance issue. How candid, direct, objective and evidence based are we, when we choose to give feedback to our

adult children on their performance, with their careers or other goals they have? In case of serious power imbalance say with

a child, we do not give feedback, but we

pronounce judgments. In most power imbalance engagements, we masquerade judgments as feedback even in social institutions and posture in public forums.

The truth is human relationships and engagements are complex and emotionally sensitive. Hence to load on it unreal expectations of conduct or engagement rules, leaves people chasing a mirage and large parts of the constituents unhappy and frustrated. In some relationships and at sometimes the exalted ideal of candid, direct, objective and evidence based feed back is possible. But most of the times and in most contexts it will be indirect, suggestive, subtle and feebly evidence based. Largely the emotions of the giver and the receiver will interfere with objective perception. Can you visualize, how rude and shorn of warmth and sensitivity will be a “Candid, Direct, Objective and evidence based feedback”? The story of Harishchandra is a testimony for it. It will sound like a high court judgment or a high priest’s preaching from

the pulpit. The receiver will be hit by the full blast of un-deniability and a sense of finality. We should never forget that feedback, what ever its tone and tenor, will always be perceived by the receiver

as a judgment on his / her intent or

behaviour. However measured, objective and evidence based it may be, it first tickles the emotional part of the human brain and not the rational part. That is why more candid, direct, objective and evidence based the feedback, more shock and anger it instantly creates – How can you see me like this? Not you! Now let me tell you why your “perception” is wrong? Do you see how quickly the receiver has debunked the feedback as “your” perception?

The argument here is not that feedback is not possible or that it cannot be candid, direct, objective and evidence based. The proposition is that, it is very complex, difficult and not a natural state of things. Nor is it something anyone can display in


engagements, in all contexts and with


people. It is an imperfect endeavour,

which humanity will struggle with in their social institutions for all its existence.

Freedom of Expression:

Openness and transparency provides the

holding environment, feed back functions as the socio-cultural thermostat and freedom to express becomes the very heart

of meaningful membership in any social

institution. These three shape and regulate and breathe life into the culture and thereby

the quality of engagement in a community.

Thomas Jefferson the founding father of the US Constitution once said,”I will defend with my life the right of expression of anyone and so will I the right of another

to disagree with him.” This sums up the

third and most sought after culture, communication and engagement ideal.

A social institution, which stifles its

member’s voice, will almost always end up having to deal with “a Tahrir square or a Tiananmen square”. However most of us confuse repression with the much needed restraint of any civilized set up. No set of people, however upright and well meaning they may be and however just their cause may be, can choose in the name of freedom of expression, and hold systemic organs of any social institution to ransom. The French revolution is a testimony to it. Unbridled and maniacal right abrogation by members of an institution, led the very own protagonists of this movement to death either through murder (Marat) or on the guillotine (Robespierre).

Egged on by the hype of management fiction and the apostles of culture, most of us enter institutions with a mind set, that we will consider something to be true freedom of expression, only if we are permitted to throw stones at the authority figures or lambast policies and systems and rile the leaders. We confuse the right to critique or advice or suggest, with the right of determination or forcing the issue on our terms. The leaders or the establishment are expected to passively listen, not even present a counter point or challenge the flaws in these propositions, lest they will be engulfed by the lynch mob. The very fact that one has a voice only in a non-repressive system is quickly forgotten, the stakes are raised so high that the demand becomes one of accept my proposition or I will damn you as repressive and authoritarian.

Pause for a moment and only focus on the processes of a non-repressive and non- abusive social set up. Ask the question, where does my right for free expression start and where does my duty to be a responsible dissenter commence? Is it not facile and mischievous to expect that a person with no responsibility or accountability in a system, be given unrestrained power to overturn a non-

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repressive social institution, merely because the current order is not beneficial to him/her? (Do not confuse these arguments with the current movement against corruption or any other movement against state or systemic repression). Imagine a social system that provides such rights to its members. Then every day any set of individuals, who are aggrieved by some norm, law, rule or policy, will demand that this be changed. Now assume that this rule, law, norm has been in the first place instituted through a proper governance process. How does the system engage with this set of aggrieved individuals? Accession to their demand will get a new set of people to demand a change and non-accession will lead to the leaders being charged as authoritarian.

Hence as Thomas Jefferson stated, all that a free social institution can guarantee is the freedom to state one’s view in a civilized, non rebellious and non disruptive manner and thereafter reserve the right to express its disagreement in an equally civil and non repressive manner. Is this not the very essence of a civilized dialogue or debate? This is the purpose for which social institutions create appropriate forums, protected by proper governance structures, where the constituent members are provided, structured and normed opportunities to enter into a dialogue or debate. An institution that does not understand this ends up promising freedom of expression without a social structure and norm and then gets pushed into reneging on it.

The nascent social net forums run the risk of becoming a wailing web wall or an electronic graffiti wall, if the constituent members do not bring in order and some personal dignity protection norms. The culture of presenting one’s view with pseudo names, misusing the freedom of expression to malign and defame individuals and institutions and not for a


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moment going beyond saying what is wrong to how it can be corrected or what will I do to correct it, will lead to serious social illness. My case is not against the freedom to express, but it is about having the personal responsibility to do so, with one’s identity and not standing at street corners behind a mask and throwing stones. This may be inevitable, in an abusive or repressive regime, where someone’s personal safety and the security of loved ones is at stake. In free societies, we should not celebrate and eulogize these behaviours, as the new “in thing” and give license to juvenile instincts, which I am afraid is happening, in the name of freedom of expression.

So to put a skin around this debate, let me conclude that freedom to express in a free institution with governance structures cannot be without norms and structures. It also cannot be let loose without demanding and holding its constituent members to responsible expression and accountability for the consequences.

To conclude, in this article I have tried to connect culture, communication and engagement into one fabric. These three entwined levers, impact aspects such as collaboration, sensitivity, relationships, dignity and order. If we understand this well, then we will design culture attributes that are realistic, communicate them clearly and manage constituent engagements in a responsible and productive manner. The essence of culture is civilized conduct. The imperative for civilized conduct is not swinging to idealism or extremes. Civilization is a product of subtleties, constituent members’ rights, responsibilities and accountabilities, benign use of authority under a prudent governance structure and above all trade offs for the preservation of order, so that the institution’s basic purpose is carried out in line with the intent of the original charter.



About the Author

Vineet Kaul is the Chief People Officer, Hindalco—a $14 Bn global Metals major with 32,000 employees. Earlier, Kaul was Vice President (HR) - Indian Subcontinent and an Executive Director on the Board of Philips Electronics India Limited. His career as an HR Professional spreads over 34 years of enriching experience in the Manufacturing, FMCG, Consumer Durables, IT and Technology sectors. After obtaining a Masters Degree in

Social Work from MS University, Baroda. Kaul started his career as a Management Trainee with Tata Motors, worked with Birla Yamaha and Eicher Motors before joining Philips. Kaul has served on the CII National Committee for HR and IR and is a Past President of the Mumbai Chapter of the National HRD Network. Professional Awards he received include “Best HR Professional” Award from Centre for Industrial Relations and Social Development, Baroda and from Mid-Day in Association with DAKS, London.

from Centre for Industrial Relations and Social Development, Baroda and from Mid-Day in Association with DAKS,

“An Empowered organization is one in which individuals have the knowledge, skill, desire, and opportunity to personally succeed in a way that leads to collective organizational success.”

– Stephen Covey.

D uring my initial years, I worked for a large manufacturing plant and one of

the assignments handled by me was in ‘Welfare.’ As a part of the Welfare function,

we had set up Co-operative Societies of the wives of the workers. The activities taken up by around 800 of these women were in Tailoring, preparing food items, as also assembling and supplying various electronic items to the Materials Department of this large factory. All these women were from humble backgrounds and most of them had not even completed their Higher school education. However, they got drawn into a “Welfare Programme” and joined like-minded women to run these Industrial Co- operatives. The women were their own

shareholders, they planned their activities, decided on the team / workgroups, managed the purchasing, production scheduling, supplied in time to the plant and also managed inventories. The products that were supplied to the plant were subject to all terms and standards as applicable to any vendors. They wrote their Accounts – off course sought help from outside on few expertise areas. They also regularly conducted their Committee elections, Audits, as well as distributed salaries and dividends to members as required. They never let down their customer schedules despite all odds that they faced. This entire experience was a great learning, especially because what was set up as a Welfare programme beginning with 15 volunteers crossed to thousand, soon. At best, we had planned that these activities would also serve its purpose of “Proactive IR / ER”, as the family would also have a stake in the smooth running of the Plant. I had not heard of the term

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Empowerment” at all – but when I look back, was it not “Empowerment”? These simple, less educated womenfolk participated in an enterprise much better than what most of us struggle to. On top of everything – they all enjoyed what they were doing and also broke through various “social” and patterned norms of the 70’s in running the Co-operatives. As one of them once told me – My self-esteem has gone up and I feel proud to supplement the family income. Now, that is what to me was “Empowerment”.

Employee Empowerment” is a strategy and philosophy that enables employees to own their work and take responsibility for their results. Empowerment is a panacea for organizations ills, when implemented with care. Employee involvement and participative management are often used to mean Empowerment and are not interchangeable. Employee Empowerment provides a continuum for leadership and involvement that includes an increasing role for employees and a somewhat ‘decreasing’ role for Supervisors in the decision process.

Empowerment is the process of enabling or authorizing an individual to think, behave, take action and control work and decision-making in autonomous ways. It is the state of feeling self-empowered to take control of one’s own destiny.

When thinking about empowerment in Human Relations terms, try to avoid thinking of it as something that one individual does for another. This is one of the problems organizations have experienced with the concept of Empowerment. People think that someone, usually the Manager, has to bestow Empowerment on the People who report to him. Consequently, the team members wait for the bestowing of empowerment, and the Manager asks why people won’t act in Empowered ways. This led to a


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general unhappiness, with the concept of Empowerment in many organizations. Think of Empowerment, instead, as the process of an individual enabling himself to take action and control work and decision-making in autonomous ways. Empowerment comes from the individual.

The organization has the responsibility to create a work environment that helps foster the ability and desire of Employees to act in empowered ways. The work organization has the responsibility to remove barriers that limit the ability of employees to act in empowered ways. Empowerment is a desirable management and organizational style that enables employees to practice autonomy, control their own jobs, and use their skills and abilities to benefit both their organization and themselves.

In the 80’s, the Japanese Automotive industry was the learning ground for Quality Management and I also got an opportunity to visit few manufacturing plants there. I recall the visit to a large vehicle assembly line wherein the speed of work, as well as the team work and flexibility of operations left me spell bound. Whilst being briefed, the Manager on the line also mentioned that Quality was the hallmark and any Operator (180 on that line in a shift) who felt that a bad product was getting through, could stop the line. The Operator did not need to take permission of his Supervisor before taking this step. I was thinking that in my Unit back home, to go to the washroom, the Supervisor has to be informed by the worker or else he gets upset. However, here for such an important decision, it is left to an Operator! No wonder the Operators in Japan took ownership, thought and also behaved differently than many employees across the world. Off course, there have been major strides and learnings in our organizations in India thereafter. This example shows us how the Japanese

managed superior products and services with Employee “Empowerment”, whereas in those days, on many other matters it was

a ‘seniority based’ culture. The incidence

of a quality issue or an unsafe act was rare

– perhaps only once in 6 months – however,

the spirit behind this “Empowerment” was great. Such and similar practices, helped the Japanese Auto Industry take the Leadership in their products & services from well-entrenched stalwarts.

So how does one work towards Empowerment? I personally feel nothing happens on its own, and we need to strive for it. The model below is a good one that can be adapted as per the need:

The three levels of Empowerment are:


Encouraging employees to play a more active role in their work and trust them to do the right thing.

2. Involving employees in taking

responsibility for improving the way things are done. Employee involvement is neither the goal, nor a tool, but is a Management and Leadership philosophy about how people are most enabled to contribute to continuous improvement and the ongoing success of their work in the organization.

3. Enabling employees to make more and bigger decisions on their own initiative, without interference of someone more senior. Empowerment is the process of enabling or authorizing an individual to think, behave, take action and control work.

Why Empowerment does not happen? Employee Empowerment is a business necessity and not just a HR process. Improved motivation and morale is an excellent outcome to deliver superior performance and results. Moreover, productivity gains add to the bottom line.

performance and results. Moreover, productivity gains add to the bottom line. July | 2011 NHRD Network

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With so much awareness and understanding on the subject – why is that “Empowerment” does not happen the way we would like it to be: -

1. Managers pay lip service to Employee Empowerment, but do not really believe in its power. As with all management and business buzz words, Employee Empowerment can seem like a “good” thing to do. After all, well-respected management books recommend that you Empower Employees.

When you Empower Employees, they grow their skills and your organization benefits from their Empowerment. Right. Employees know when you are serious about Employee Empowerment and when you understand and walk your talk. Half- hearted or unbelievable Employee Empowerment efforts will fail. Frequently communicating that we are committed to Empowerment will always be tested with ground realities.

2. Managers don’t really understand what Employee Empowerment means. They have a vague notion that Employee Empowerment means you start a few teams that address workplace employee morale or safety issues. You ask people what they think about something at a meeting. You allow employees to help plan the company picnic. Wrong. Employee Empowerment is a philosophy or strategy enables people to make decisions about their job.

3. Managers fail to establish boundaries for Employees Empowerment. In your absence, what decisions can be made by the employee group? What decisions can employees make day-by- day that they do not need to have permission or oversight to make?


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These boundaries must be defined or else Employee Empowerment efforts will fail. Again, this also needs to be communicated well so that efforts made by employees are not questioned. Cold-shouldering initiatives taken by employees can be a setback and hence derail the process.

Managers have defined the decision- making authority and boundaries with the team, but still micromanage the work of employees. This is usually because managers don’t trust their people to make good decisions. Often employees know this and either craftily make a decision on their own and hide their results or they come to the manager for everything because they don’t know what they really can control.

A good test is the number of signatures for applying / forwarding a particular request. These can become milestones in the process. The paperwork is buried for days, but employees cannot proceed without the necessary signatures. Do employees make mistakes? Certainly, but often our procedures and legacy of work processes – creates the doubt and mistrust.

5. Second-guess the decisions of employees you have given the authority to make a decision. Employees can help to make good decisions by coaching, training, and providing necessary information. You can even model good decision making, but, what you cannot do, unless a serious complication will result, is undermine or change the decision you had empowered a colleague to make. Teach the employee to make a better decision the next time. But don’t undermine their faith in their personal competence and in your trust and


support. You discourage Employee Empowerment for the future. The colleagues will play ‘safe’ and avoid taking decisions or always ask you what is to be done.

6. Managers need to provide growth and challenging opportunities and goals that employees can aim for and achieve. Failure to provide a strategic and structured framework imperils the opportunity for empowered behaviour. Employees need direction to know how to practice Empowerment. The employees are keen to also relate to the larger picture – more often than not we feel that at best they understand only their work area. However, I have experienced that their connect with the larger canvas is rewarding and you will see real ‘strategic’ thinking and output coming from them.

7. If managers fail to provide the information and access to information, training and learning opportunities needed to make good decision, don’t complain when Employee Empowerment efforts fall short. The organization has the responsibility to create a work environment that helps foster the ability and desire of employees to act in Empowered ways. Information is the key to successful Employee Empowerment. I recall an example of development – an expatriate CEO sharing an example of developing and growing mushrooms. “You keep them in the dark always, feed them filth and when they grow – cut them off”. Lets avoid this mushroom syndrome.

8. Managers abdicate all responsibility and accountability for decision- making. When colleagues are blamed or punished for failures, mistakes, and

less than optimum results, your employees will flee from Employee Empowerment. Or, they ‘ll publicly identify reasons why failure was your fault, or the other team’s fault. Failing to publicly support decisions and stand behind your employees will make them feel deserted. You can make Employee Empowerment fail in sixty seconds. Have we not often heard the statement “who the hell authorized you to take this step / act on the subject matter? Now I will have to bail you out.”

9. Allow barriers to impede the ability of employees to practice Empowered behaviour. The work organization has the responsibility to remove barriers that limit the ability of employees to act in empowered ways. These barriers can include time, tools, training, access to meetings and teams, financial resources, support from other staff members, and effective coaching. The Q12, which we are familiar with, at its base level, very clearly asks the employee if he/she has the resources to do the job.

10. When employees feel under- compensated, under-titled for the responsibilities they take on, under- noticed, under-praised, and under- appreciated; don’t expect results from Employee Empowerment. The basic needs of employees must be met for employees to give you their discretionary energy, the extra effort that people voluntarily invest in work. It has to be clearly linked with the Rewards & Recognition program. We will reap what we sow. Employees are exhorted on how good Empowerment is, it is essential for the organization, etc – however, this is no where reflected in the Rewards Program, which does

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not motivate at all employees who run the extra mile.

Few Learnings for Effective Empowerment:

1. Believe in the employees’ abilities to deliver: The same employee whom we see at workplace, manages a family, household expenses, gets his children educated, married and also discharges various obligations in the society. If he/she can manage all these responsibilities very well – why not in the workplace? Hence, my confidence that the abilities are there to deliver.

2. Build Trust: Easier said than done. My own experience is that 9 out of 10 cases live upto the trust we repose in them. Yes, it also does take time to build trust, but finally ‘Trust begets Trust.’

3. Involvement is the key: Sharing of information is essential and always expected by the employee group. It institutes a sense of belonging and ownership. Companies that have set up an institutionalized processes of communication gain by effective teamwork and better levels of productivity. Higher the involvement, more the initiatives and creative inputs from employees. The attention that we give to employee feedback and suggestion makes them contribute further.

4. Provide direction and support: In the initial period, employees look for direction and also often for support. Time spent by managers in nurturing and caring for the employees helps draw them into the main stream.


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Proper resources as well as timely intervention also help in removing road blocks to Empowerment. This also sends a positive signal to the various teams to go beyond their call of duty.

5. Focus on the Goal / Results: This works as a powerful medium and catalyst. We all have experienced groups of employees rising to this occasion. The Goal / Objectives binds teams to the accomplishment of the Mission. I have often sensed high energy and initiative coupled with commitment in delivering the results.

6. Reward & Recognition: It is a very important element for building a strong foundation for Empowerment. Positive behaviour gets reinforced when recognized and rewarded appropriately. The DNA of the organization gets developed, often influenced by what is recognized and rewarded by the manager. When the reward mechanism is at cross- purpose to the culture that we want, it becomes an uphill task to motivate people for change.

To conclude, the benefits of Empowerment are excellent and at the same time we can achieve wonders with the contribution of employees. It has been aptly put

“Never tell people how to do a thing. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity”

– General George Smith Patton, Jr.



About the Author

Dr. Yasho V. Verma, COO LGEIL has been associated with LG India right from its inception in the country. He joined LGEIL as VP (HR & MS) and was elevated to Director HRMS and again elevated as COO, LG India.

He started his career with TATA Steel in Jamshedpur.

An Honorary Fellow of All India Management Association, he

has authored a Book “Passion - The untold Story of LG Electronics” and is also the Honorary Editor for Journal of Projective Psychology

& Mental Health by Anchorage USA.

He is also the President of Consumer Electronics and Appliances Manufacturers Association (CEAMA).

by Anchorage USA. He is also the President of Consumer Electronics and Appliances Manufacturers Association (CEAMA).

A headline in a newspaper says, “Niche job portals new campus for hiring

freshers.” The article goes on to say that considering knowledge-based businesses

alone make up 70% of hiring at these freshers’ job portals, campus placements are no more confined to campus visits.

For a labour-intensive country like India, jobs mean numbers, and human resource management goes beyond the process of bringing people and organizations together so that each other’s goals are met. With a change in the market place and the changing world of work, the role of HR manager is of one who affects change, through resources. She (HE??) has effectively shifted from being a protector and screener to a planner.

With outsourcing and international mobility, the work scenario is vastly determined by the Personnel director. He/ She is the new corporate hero on whom

rests the responsibility to have personnel relations in order, without which a good financial and operative report in a business would be quite an uphill task.

What adds to the challenge are the new labour laws, limitations on the talent available, shifting demographics, socio- economic imperatives where dominant businesses and social trends must meet, and above all, the game-changer called globalization.

The changing employment

As Thomas Freidman said in his book, The World is Flat, the environment that we live in is primed for constant change. Customers are becoming tougher and varied in their choices, and competition springs out of nowhere. You never know where and when a new, innovative startup emerges to snuff out your very existence in the market. This new ‘kid on the block’

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has the potential to give you a run for your money, pushing you to speed up and become more agile, quick- and light-footed.

It is a well-known fact that if we fail to continue to learn new things on a regular basis we become stagnant, and professional growth dies a slow but definite death. Not adapting to change not only limits our personal growth, promotion, earning potential, but also ebbs our ability to foresee and expect a brighter tomorrow. This has never been so true as in businesses.

Even in India, some ‘old’ skills are dying and some skills are growing. Over the years, highly skilled and knowledge based jobs are increasing, while low skilled jobs are decreasing.

By this very fact, exhibiting entrepreneurship has become an imperative for managers who think like they own the business, even if they are front-line employees. For them, it is imperative to constantly seek out ways to grow and learn more, and become more successful at a steadier and brisk pace.

In fact the ‘entrepreneurial worker’ has been a determining factor in where, how and for who people work, thus transforming company structures and cultures.

As this shows, again, a good and progressive business environment is all about the people involved. Companies have realised that a successful business depends on how you design and implement a people strategy that is properly aligned with and supports the business strategy – HR leaders are under pressure to demonstrate results from their workforce practices and policies.

HR is increasingly now being seen as a strategic linchpin – one that needs to work closely with operations, finance and other


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functions to help drive business strategy and success. This, in effect, has taken over the Indian organizations at a very nimble pace indeed, given the never-ending change in systems, management cultures and philosophy, particularly because of the global alignment of Indian organizations.

What’s needed?

So we need to strategize on the ground, need to streamline people’s relationship with the companies they serve, so as to continually stay in the forefront.

Therefore, if on the one hand, careful evaluation must be done in selecting employees, on the other, training and development must extend beyond information and orientation training, to include sensitivity training and field experiences that will enable the manager to understand cultural differences better.

It also rests with companies to ensure that managers are protected from career development risks, re-entry problems and culture shocks, while performance evaluations should take into account the inherent socio-economic conditions. Companies also must ensure that while compensation supports the overall strategic intent of the organization, the packages should be customized for local conditions.


1) Companies should ensure quality manpower and keep the bar raised by creating a competitive people’s advantage.

2) Companies must have a capability- development system in place. Busy does not always mean high productivity, and too much work in process destroys the ability to be actually productive. So, confidence must be elicited in the personnel to do

what he / she does best, in the best possible way.

3) Companies must accelerate value creation, including in areas like process quality, in-time cycle, on-time delivery, customer service and innovation.

It is also crucial to instill people strategy in line management. There are those who strategize content with the facts that they have, but are surprised that their labour has not borne fruit. There are also those who focus on firm operations and its efficiency and sincerely believe that they are implementing a strategy. Then there are companies who are caught unaware by the poor implementation of the strategies they have painstakingly devised. There are also those precious few who work out a strategic plan, implementing and reviewing it as per the conditions they encounter in the environment.


In all the above, the precious few are the clear winners, considering that they take into account the ground realities. And one of the realities on the ground is to make all the stakeholders understand and aware of the strategies they have formulated. This is what constitutes ‘people strategy’, for it is with them.

5) Leadership capability development:

Change being constant in the current world, leadership too has shifted significantly over the turn of the Millennium, and will continue to change at an increasing pace. The challenge of leadership capability today, as it is said, is the War for Talent, Leadership Capability, Emotional Intelligence and Talent Management. Organizations do their best to attract, develop and retain those people who demonstrate talent and leadership. Yet they find themselves quite lost when

faced with the question as to whether they have the right people, the ability to acquire them, or to grow their own.

6) In this innovative world of today, there is hardly a place for standard processes and systems. Constant change shuffles up things and customers are at the forefront of this revolution like never before. Added to this is a technology- driven environment, where products and services become out of date within months. Every company wants to be the first one to catch the fancy of the consumer, be it with new products, marketing initiatives, brands or delivery channels.

Therefore, the capabilities of an effective leadership hinges on adapting both internal and external customers, and working across disparate functions to make things happen with extreme speed and efficiency.

The leader must ensure that people and resources constantly add value as the stakes become higher.

Creating competitive advantage through people

“Human, not financial, capital must be starting point and ongoing foundation of a successful strategy”

– Sumantra Ghoshal (1948–2004)

What the late founding Dean of the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad, and co-author of Managing Across Borders:

The Transnational Solution says makes most sense in the growth-infused, labour- intensive country like India.

According to a Goldman Sachs projection, India’s labour force may rise by 110 million this decade. The report goes on to say the key demographic trends driving the labour force are urbanization, more women in the workforce, and a large increase in the 30-49

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age group, and that demographics alone may contribute about 4 percentage points of annual GDP growth over the next decade.

The exhaustive projections also say demographics will affect consumer spending patterns while spending on services such as health care and education may increase five-fold by 2020. India’s manufacturing sector has the potential to create the necessary jobs, it adds.

To stay on this most encouraging scenario,

it must be mentioned that the working

population has to embrace the new global rules of the game. Their skillsets and capabilities must match the need for speed and flexibility. Further, the winners in this ‘game’ would be the continuous self renewal demand ‘players’ who are positive, passionate and stay connected with the organizational goals.

This, the HR managers must remember, requires an efficient talent acquisition, development and management process. For, only then, organizational capability will be built through continuous upgrading of skills in line with current and future business needs.

Building organizational value through people

Putting people first for organization success is, perhaps the only way, for continuous growth projection.


people-oriented organization is one that


of values. If you value and care about

the people in your organization, you will pay for their well being, apart from the compensation packages, provide regular raises and bonuses for dedicated staff. If you value equality and a sense of family, physical trappings of power, status, and inequality will automatically disappear. There’s onus on each one to perform to the best of their ability.


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Thus, engaging employees in pursuing the organizational goals by identifying what they care about – uniquely and individually — and then developing the overlap between individual and corporate priorities becomes one instrument of excellence and success.

Along with it, given the matrix of constant change, developing and encouraging employees who understand the emerging business context and are capable of constantly delivering value through innovations, responsiveness and prompt service, also add to the value chain.

It is imperative to note here that organizational sustainability depends on the continuous ability to create higher value products and services drawing on new skills and innovation.

Instill people strategy in line managers

As we have seen, nurturing and encouraging people is the only way to achieve organizational goals. By this very fact, the HR department has the onerous task in involving and partner with line managers to ensure a trickle-down effect of best people practices, down to the lowest level.

Such streamlining and determined domino-effect of best practices not only accelerate decision making, but also enhance quality of decisions taken, facilitate effective resolution of workplace problems and also bring in pathbreaking management ideas to the table.

By channelizing responsibility for HR issues by a process of responsibility transfer or delegation, line managers are provided with an opportunity to engage in day-to-day people management decision-making. Simultaneously, HR specialists are able to work on achieving closer alignment of an organization’s

systems and processes with the corporate objectives, while remaining sensitive to external environmental changes.

We must consider that the most significant element in a worker’s relationship with his organization is the relationship he has with his / her manager. He / she turns to the manager for information, guidance and feedback. By devolving responsibility, HR strengthens and fosters that bond. A HR - line manager partnership ensures managers become the face of HR policy and procedures to their teams.

At the same time, to make line managers effective in this role, HR needs to provide the systems and tools, and develop the policies that help line managers succeed as managers of people. Training and building the support systems are imperatives for managers to become people managers. An organization’s leadership too can help out to set the tone and climate within which this activity takes place.

Building leadership capability for organizational sustenance and growth

Prospering in a dynamically competitive environment is linked to the nature and context the leadership is able to relay to the rest of the organization.

Building competitive sustainable advantage requires a growth that is balanced and inclusive. The onus lies on companies to recognize that they can drive business continuity primarily by addressing people development within. Thus, the need of the hour is to capitalize on people competencies, with the HR and

the leadership team working together towards a performance and development- driven culture.

Therefore, the emerging crucial drivers of business growth include creation of a leadership pipeline and managing the High Potential Employees or the HiPos. In terms of HiPo management, organizations must have tools in place to improve and measure manager effectiveness and identify high-potential employees through performance management processes.

For sustainable growth, building leadership at all levels of an organization and identifying few vital leadership requirements that will drive the business strategy, even making it a part of the CEO’s agenda, are some other enhancements required in businesses.

Although the central focus being the people themselves and drawing the leaders among them for progressive growth, the challenges to attract, develop and retain the leaders of tomorrow have not changed. Again, call it a boon or bane; the speed of change makes any gaps in capability more evident, faster and starker than ever before. Creating, attracting and retaining tomorrow’s leaders requires a multi- faceted approach today to help deal with the demands placed on these individuals.

Undoubtedly, the knowledge economy and the services sector boom have made people the center of business. Hence, for any business turnaround to be effective, organizations must have the equal buy-in of all stakeholders in forwarding the people agenda.

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About the Author C. Mahalingam (Mali) is the Executive Vice President & Chief People Officer

About the Author

C. Mahalingam (Mali) is the Executive Vice President & Chief People Officer with Symphony Corporation. Prior to Symphony Services, Mali headed HR for IBM India, Hewlett-Packard India and for Royal Philips Software operations in India. He can be reached at

1.0 Introduction: Over the last two decades, no other people practice got discussed and debated as much as employee engagement. And this was for very good reasons. That is the good news! And the not so good news is that engagement of people continues to be elusive and enigmatic. You name any well-known consulting firm and I bet they will have a framework and model for employee engagement. Their research over a few decades informs uniformly that across geographies and corporations, employee engagement continues to remain elusive. There is a clear convergence that the percentage of fully employed workforce is no higher than 20%. And an equal percentage of people represent the other end of the continuum - fully disengaged. This leaves the significant chunk of well over 50% of employee population as “cat on the wall”- neither engaged, nor disengaged. Not surprisingly, the cost of disengaged workforce runs into hundreds of billions of dollars. There is, therefore, a clear case for leaders in organizations including those in the


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HR function to pay attention to this elusive phenomenon.

2.0 Welcome to the Experience Economy:

Many of us are still discussing and describing the current economy as “services economy” whereas the reality is that we have moved past the same to enter into what is known as “experience economy.” In its evolution, the economy acquires distinct characteristic based on the economic offerings. Commodities- dominated economy was known as ‘agrarian’, goods-dominated one was known as ‘industrial’ and services- dominated one came to be known as “service economy.” However, with services becoming highly commoditized over the last decade, winning over and retaining the customers became a matter of offering “experiences” that the customers will pay for. We describe this as the “experience economy.” That people will pay for high quality and memorable experience is evident from the fact that Café Coffee Day makes over Rs.20,000 out of a kilo of coffee

power that costs no more than Rs.200! People pay for the experience and ambience. This is true of why people go crazy and are both willing to wait in the queue and pay a high price for watching the recent craze, T-20! The logic is simple. In the agrarian economy, the nature of the offering was fungible; in industrial economy, the offering was tangible; and in the services economy, the offering became intangible. And hold your breath; in the present “experience economy,”the offering has become “memorable.”In the experience economy, customers are delighted by the ethereal experience that employees create for them. The argument therefore is that only highly engaged employees can transform the customer experience by offering them consistently ethereal experience. Employee engagement therefore has become a business imperative today much more than anytime before.

3.0 Understanding Engagement: There are as many definitions of engagement as there are consultants and consulting firms. In simple terms, employee engagement refers to a state of heightened sense of ownership and commitment to goals and plans of an organization. Engaged employees spend a lot of their discretionary energy in delivering performance. This discretionary energy is not something that organizations can mandate or demand. Not even the most inspiring leaders can get this, if employees choose not to offer. There lies the challenge for organizational leaders and human resource professionals. Engagement becomes a make or break phenomenon as without discretionary energy at work,

employees cannot create the ethereal experience for the customers so very critical for success in the experience economy. Engagement literature distinguishes between two types of engagement, viz. (a) rational engagement; and (b) emotional engagement. Rational engagement focuses on sharing the big picture, increasing the role efficacy & effectiveness, and enhancing the goal congruence and motivation. On the other hand, emotional engagement revolves around inspiring leadership at work, opportunities for self- actualization and high sense of being wanted and valued by the organization. Both the rational and emotional engagements are important to draw the discretionary efforts from people. Organizational interventions focused on only one side of the engagement coin often fall short of delivering results.

4.0 Lighter side of engagement: As a curious student of human behavior and HR, I have watched with interest how different organizations have approached employee engagement. Broadly speaking, communication, compensation, career and care have become the four key pillars of employee engagement. Myriad interventions deployed in different shapes and colours will fall under one or more of these four categories. However, I must also point out some hilarious practices that are prevalent:

• Supplementing free coffee and tea with NimbuPani (lime juice)& butter milk

• Introduction of dating allowance

• Opening of a marriage bureau at work

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• Stretching flexi time to a point where people just do not show up for work for days together

These are hilarious not because they are useless, but because they are touted as key engagement drivers. Ironically, the more successful a firm is financially, more of everything they do become touted as best practices. Not surprisingly, conferences and seminars on employee engagement where ‘so-called best practices’ are passionately presented often leave the unsuspecting and all the same curious-to-learn participants more confused than convinced!

5.0 The darker side of engagement:

Lighter side aside, let me spend a few minutes to discuss the darker side of employee engagement. This has got more to do with myopic approaches to employee engagement than the intention behind the engagement efforts per se. It is not uncommon to come across organizations where engagement interventions are designed and implemented using some of the accepted approaches. They include benchmarking best practices from other successful companies, lifting some practices from the published literature on the subject and picking up recommendations from thoughtfully-constituted internal task forces. On the face of it, all these are approaches that are in vogue and practiced widely. After zealous implementation for fairly long period of time, HR leaders are confounded when engagement has either not gone up or worse still has actually nosedived. In some cases, well- intentioned and fervently- implemented engagement drivers actually led to negative impact on the


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organizational results and performance. One does not have to look too far for understanding this. The key point to remember is that when engagement drivers are designed and implemented without validating them for their potential impact on organizational performance, surprises are bound to be in store. Look at the three examples below. These are real cases that I have noticed / case-studied in organizations:

• A 3000 people strong software company recognized ‘flexi time’ as a key engagement driver (untested assumption). And this was taken to an extreme where over the next 9 months post aggressive practicing of flexi time, they discovered that the productivity fell by over 60%. HR’s assessment was that reversing the flexi time would lead to even more negative consequences (another unvalidated assumption). The net result was loss of key customers in quick succession and once a dream company today it is struggling for survival.

• Another company with 1800 people and operations in 3 different locations in India in the IT space hired a consulting firm for their engagement offering. One of the key recommendations was to substantially increase the ‘employee advocacy’ factor as this is an important facet of engagement. The intervention / driver implemented was giving “employee referrals” a dramatic focus. When the initiative was launched, the employee referral constituted 15% or so and it soon

peaked to 65% in 12 months, given all the attention and awards associated with the referral program. As employee referrals started to reach for the sky, the inevitable let-up in hiring quality standards happened. Scorecards and reviews only worsened the matter. Result: many clients quit complaining that the quality of delivery was not acceptable. Not intended, but that is what happened. This company currently is in the ICU!

• One of the medium-sized subsidiaries of an MNC determined that aggressive retention bonus program will help increase retention and possibly employee engagement. The enthusiastic HR manager made a case of covering over 40% of the employees and was lucky enough to get away with budget for doing this. Retention bonus has effect when it is selectively implemented and not widely distributed. This program had exactly the opposite effect with more and more people leaving and feeling disillusioned.

While one may be tempted to conclude from the 3 real life case studies above that the HR leader made judgmental errors, there is more to it that meets the eye! The HR leader perhaps had the best of intention. The leadership team that endorsed these interventions and engagement drivers perhaps had the best of interests in mind. The missing link was examining some of these interventions as to whether at all and how much relevance these drivers had for organizational effectiveness / performance. The moral of the story

is simple and straightforward: Not all engagement drivers are necessarily the drivers of organizational performance. In fact, some of the engagement drivers can potentially become counter-productive as it was the case with the examples above.


HR Analytics is Key to determining Engagement drivers: HR analytics is still a nascent discipline in India. Unlike scorecards and metrics that we collect and analyze to make sense of what happened, analytics are future-focused. They give us insights on what will be the potential outcome of interventions and drivers we plan to implement. Measurement guru, Jac Fitz-Enzobserved: “Analytics is a mental framework, a logical progression first and a set of statistical tools second.” Dr. Jeffrey Pfeffer (of Stanford B-School) and Dr Robert Sutton (of Standford Engineering School) both said:

“If taken seriously, evidence-based management can change how every manager thinks and acts.” Therefore, HR leaders will do well to look at data and evidence, take a medium to long-term view and examine every single engagement intervention proposed with care. If analytics show clear trends of manager quality as reason for disengagement and turnover, there is no point in rushing head-on with interventions such as sabbaticals and bonuses.


Engaging the Millennial workforce:

Let us keep in mind that the millennial generation is entering our workforce in big numbers. And drivers that engaged successfully the earlier generations like baby boomers and

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Gen X will terribly fall short if implemented for Gen Y. We are clearly at cross roads, for we are yet to understand what drives and engages the millennials. Work by Danial Pink (Drive), Marshall Goldsmith (Mojo) and Lynda Gratton (Hot Spots) besides many other leading consulting firms could provide some pointers. Danial Pink in his New York Times best seller book, “Drive”offers extensive insights that hover around three key elements of motivation and engagement. They are: (a) Autonomy; (b) Mastery; and (c) Purpose. Let us examine these in some detail:

(A) Autonomy: Dr Pink cites the work by Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson, both former HR executives with Best Buy in USA known worldover as ROWE (Result-Oriented Work Environment). Fast catching up, this is a philosophy first and as such will qualify as a management innovation in the dictionary of Dr. Gary Hamel. This recognizes people as partners and not pawns in the production system! Dr Pink also cites a study by Cornell University of 320 small businesses, half of which granted autonomy to workers and other half practiced top-down direction. Those that provided autonomy grew at 4 times the rate of control- oriented firms and had one-third turnover! So much for the power of autonomy as a driver for engagement!

(B) Mastery: Dr Pink brings a great perspective on the subject of mastery whey he says that only fully engaged people can achieve mastery. And the process of


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achieving mastery has a furthering effect on the engagement itself. Pink calls for designing jobs that provide what he terms as “Goldilocks tasks”- challenges that are not too hot and not too cold, neither overly difficult nor overly simple. Since mastery is a mindset, what people believe shapes what people achieve. Interventions to promote mastery, be they learning & development intervention or coaching and mentoring interventions, can go a long way in creating this sense of mastery and consequently the engagement.

(C) Purpose: Organizations have long recognized the power of “creating a sense of purpose” as a driver of engagement, but not much of deep and sustained efforts has gone into it. Purpose has a balancing effect on the other two pillars of engagement, viz. Autonomy & Mastery. Purpose scores way higher than money for “as an emotional catalyst, wealth- creation lacks the power to fully mobilize human energies”, according Dr. Pink. According to him, “the secret to high performance is not our biological drive or our reward-punishment drive, but our third drive – our deep-seated desire to direct our own lives, to expand our abilities and to live a life of purpose!”


Conclusion: We recognize from the foregoing arguments the following key messages:

That we are moving away from service economy to experience economy

• That in the experience economy, what matters is creating an ethereal experience for the customers that only fully engagement employees can deliver

• That engagement therefore is a key organizational capability that will provide a lasting competitive advantage

• That not paying attention to designing engagement interventions will lead to frittering of precious resources and end up

frustrating organizational leaders and their efforts

• That Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose seem to deliver far better engagement effect than most mundane and monetary drivers

HR leaders should do well to benefit from the recent researches and insights and leverage the science of analytics to design and deliver the engagement interventions. There lies the key to creating, sustaining and getting the most out of employee engagement.


1. Joseph Pine II.B & James H Gilmore (1999), The Experience Economy; Harvard Business School Press, Boston

2. Daniel H Pink,(2009), Drive; Riverhead Books (Penguin Group), New York

3. Jac Fitz-Enz, (2010). The New HR Analytics: Predicting the Economic Value of Your Company’s Human Capital Investments; American Management Association

4. Jeffrey Pfeffer& Robert Sutton (2006) Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths and Total Nonsense: Profiting from Evidence-based Management; Harvard Business School Press, Boston

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About the Author

Dr Arun Kumar Jain, a strategy scholar has taught at leading Universities in USA, UK, Greece, France, Germany, and Singapore. He holds honorary chairs as Distinguished Professor of Corporate Governance and Strategy at SP Jain Center for Management (Singapore), and Affiliated Professor of Strategy, International Business and Corporate Governance at EM Strasbourg School of Business, Strasbourg (France’s largest University). He was previously Research Chair Professor at German Graduate School of Business and Law (Germany) and Chairman & President of Center for Accelerated Learning, Innovation, and Competitiveness (Germany).

Learning, Innovation, and Competitiveness (Germany). Dr Jain’s publications are in international journals

Dr Jain’s publications are in international journals including Harvard Business Review (The Elephant Dances). He authored books like Competitive Excellence; Corporate Excellence; and Managing Global Competition. He has addressed Council of Europe (Strasbourg), Global Corporate Governance Forum at Washington, World Bank/IFC, Bundesbank (Germany), Global Forum for International Investment (Paris), OECD at Paris and Copenhagen, UNCTAD, MITI (Japan), European Union (Brussels), Commonwealth Secretariat (UK), India-Germany Business Forum (Germany), Academy of Management, Academy of International Business, etc.

He can be reached at

V oltaire had said long ago, ‘If you wish to converse with me, define the terms’.

Before we even attempt writing a framework for talent management strategies and people-led initiatives, it is important to understand the context for this discussion.


Some years ago, at one of the annual management international conferences in


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India, a well-known corporate manager mentioned how the HR paradigm had shifted in the country. According to him, earlier it used to be ‘a 321 model’; now it has been successfully turned on its head and reshaped into ‘a 123 model’. What was this? He continued - ‘321 means we used to hire 3 persons, pay them the salary of 2, and they would give the output of 1 person. Now we hire 1 person, pay him the salary of 2, and take an output of at least three

persons’. There was much clapping in the audience - perhaps they liked the play of words rather than understanding the implications of such inflictions on employees.

Probably the model is more efficient in terms of office space management, but is it sustainable for the individual and the hiring organization? Does it lead to voluntary contributions and increased motivation? It is true that industry contexts, spatial and time dimensions for businesses and strategies are different and therefore difficult to generalize the critical success factors for any firm. Yet there are certain transitions that must be understood well if companies are to survive and excel in the new paradigm.

The corporate world of 21st century is quite different from that of 20th century. The manner in which organizations and people from different geographies relate, collaborate and share their individual and collective aspirations, and the level of information available in real-time has a profound impact on the governance and management of companies. I sometimes watch in amazement how the young generation in India today has global and all-conquering ambitions (often unbridled and unsupported by ground realties and work ethics). Similarly, corporations now realize that they have no choice but to compete with global companies whether ‘here or there’.

We are now seeing a new social order where individuals acting independently yet coordinated by a strange attractor can cause upheavals in global orders using widely available

technology platforms. Two major upheavals in recent times are strong pointers to this emerging paradigm, which has sharp implications on governance, management, and organizational structures.

The first is what can be termed as the ‘Assange phenomenon’. One single maverick can challenge the world’s biggest economic and military power and reveal its darkest secrets to the world. The latter can only watch helplessly as its best-kept state secrets tumbled out in mass media. US administration could only attempt to block the funds-flow to Wikileaks to constrict it out of business. Visa, Mastercard, Paypal, etc. became part of the effort. But something profound happened instead – as a mark of protest, anonymous global individuals jammed the entire services of these payment gateways.

The second event is equally breathtaking. The spontaneous organization of peaceful crowds at small notice in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, and many other parts of West Asia has thrown out old, entrenched dictatorships. Once again, the new combination of social networks such as Twitter, Blackberry, Facebook, YouTube, Al Jazeera, Google, etc. have played a major role in providing real-time information to individuals located far and wide. Here too the governments seem unable to block the crowds from gathering, despite switching off access to Web, or blocking social networking sites in their countries.

What do these events mean to companies in commercial space? In order to connect

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the dots and visualize any patterns, we need to look at a few more pointers.

For instance, before the end of last millennium, we had witnessed the coming of ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) age. Ten years down the time line, fresh sets of convergences are creating a change of a different order and magnitude. Companies (and technologies) such as Cisco, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Smartphones, Tablet- iPads, Web-enabled high-definition TV, cloud computing, etc. are changing the way voice, graphics, and other forms of information are processed, shared and consumed.

The sudden surrender of once-market leader Nokia in the mobile operating system (OS) space is dramatic by all standards. Stephen Elop, the embattled CEO of Nokia, could only tell his employees that that their platform was burning and there was little the firm could do to catch up with iPhone and Android OS. Its market share was dwindling since less people were writing applications for Symbian! Nokia has chosen Microsoft as a strategic partner to offer Windows 7 mobile platform to its customers.

The convergence of Internet, video, and cloud (IVC) technologies has rendered a whole meaning to global collaboration and delivery models. MNC’s have offices across the world with employees working round the clock and staying in touch seamlessly and in real time. Much of the work follows a Global Delivery Model with parts of a project being executed at different places and which then are collated and delivered.


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Cisco has completely transformed itself in line with the trends. The erstwhile manufacturer of routers, switches, and telephony is now a market leader in collaborative technologies such as pervasive video conferencing and personal tele-presence, enabling travel- less meetings.

We are not far from the days when most of the mobiles, computing, and consumer electronics devices will be connected to one another. The new sensors will change the manner in which we seek professional help. Qualcomm is working on technologies in collaboration with automobile and construction industries for providing remote assistance and operational controls. DoCoMo is working on simultaneous translation of languages that would enable managers in a foreign country, even while meeting face-to-face, to talk on mobile devices to overcome the language barrier.

Mobile telephony is just one area where the erstwhile new technologies become the basic platforms for future innovations. There are many other simultaneous divergences and convergences happening around that are reshaping the world. We can clearly see a new social order implying major upheavals for corporations and HR practices.


Table 1 encapsulates the corporate transitions on structural, operational, strategic, and mindset levels on some key dimensions in the last ten years. This shall lead us to an actionable and practical framework for managers.




20th Century Economy

21st Century Economy


• Cut-throat; Companies fighting for market share, top-line growth and profits.

• Competition will come from small, lesser-known companies such as, Facebook and Groupon, which are posing big

threats now to giants such as Google and Microsoft.

• Companies aware of major competitive forces.


• Disruptive networks, technologies and dynamic business models will outshine the static and stable ones.


• Mostly limited to genes or people with money or political contacts.

• Startups and companies that invest in ideas leading to network effects and knowledge entrepreneurs.

Perspective &

• Mostly reactive with some exceptions.


Marketing approach

• Mostly traditional marketing with experiments in online and digital space

Organizational design • Many employees with increased focus on lean management and automation.

• Companies will be forced to be proactive on all fronts in order to survive and excel.

• Digital information sharing will be the dominant design.

• ‘Word of mouth’ over the Internet will make or break the companies.

• Fewer employees – each one multifaceted and highly talented.

Usual Employee

• Reactive and presumptive


Risk taking

• Risk averse, conservative

• Stable, lifetime job

• Proactive and self-starters

• Entrepreneurial instincts.

• Risk-taking encouraged

• More experimental in nature

• Easily bored with status quo


20th Century Economy

21st Century Economy


• Standardized with growing focus on customization

• Mostly customized with flexible facilities to match sudden changes in customer behaviour

Customer tastes

• Mostly standardized

• Difficult to say; Can change rapidly with changing values

and behaviour

Corporate strategic motives & Values

• Profits + stakeholder value

• Profits + stakeholder value + Social Value + Environmental Value

Relationship with

• Transactional/Long term

• Focus on long term and getting new customers will be difficult.

• Seamless integration



• Structured

• Unstructured and unanticipated


Cultural and

• Low and negligible in most companies

• Companies will be forced to adopt ethical and socially aligned practices

Ethical Issues

Innovation Resources

• Mostly in-house; Closed systems

• Open and distributed; Can be sourced all over the world


• Internal orientation

• External orientation


• Tactical (local)

• Strategic (entrepreneurial)

The above Table clearly indicates that the working environment for the corporation in the 21st century is substantially different from the one even ten years ago. For top management and HR people above 40 years age, it may be difficult to keep communication pace with the younger employees entering the workforce if they saw corporate transformations purely from the lenses of lessons learnt in the bygone century.

Clearly organizational and competitive excellence will come only when employees


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are self-driven, and are able to work in an environment that promotes sharing of information. The critical success factors for retaining talent and creating teams that push innovation in a firm has to be customized and dovetailed to the vision and strategy. A fresh approach is necessary.


The emerging leadership framework shows an alternative way of governance, people management and conduct of

business. It is a complex interplay of autonomy, vision, communication, and social ethical responsibility in an information busting and knowledge paradigm. Superior and sustainable corporate performance comes from a holistic approach of engage, enable, expand, experiment, and exploit. In that sense, we need to extend the People Power – Draw, Drive & Deliver approach (the theme of this issue).

An easily digestible and practical form of the framework looks as in Figure 1:



1 LEADERSHIP FRAMEWORK FOR INNOVATIVE TALENT MANAGEMENT An example of path-breaking innovations by self-driven,

An example of path-breaking innovations by self-driven, small, a diverse background team comes from the manufacturing sector operating in a relatively stable power equipment industry. It is well known that knowledge and skilled plant operators are responsible for running and maintenance of complex heavy-duty machines such as Gas turbines in a power plant. Their experience in operating complex machines

builds upon ‘tacit knowledge’, which makes it difficult to document and transfer to other new operators. A key to their success is their quick ability to analyze current operating conditions while sitting inside the control room and accordingly respond. This is vital for 24 hours non-stop continuous operations power supply management.

As a result, such employees become a scarce knowledge resource of a company. At one of the plants in Gujarat at Hazira, a power plant operator approached its principal equipment supplier Alstom- Switzerland to suggest and come up with an innovative solution to overcome the shortage of knowledge-owning plant operators.

The real problem of the customer was that all the ‘senior’ operators who had experience in operating complex machines had either left the company or moved on to a higher position and thus no longer able to continuously remain inside the power plant. The fresh batch of operators was still not trained enough.

The Swiss visitor remembered the ubiquitous presence of mobile phones in India when he saw the Plant Manager talking on his mobile phone. He came out with a solution that important data could be transmitted from the control room on real-time basis to the mobile phones of senior managers (who were previously operators). This way, irrespective of their location, the senior managers could scan through data and suggest possible solutions.

This idea was further refined subsequently in the R&D labs of the company in Switzerland and a patented technology was developed.

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The example show that ideas and operational solutions can come from most unexpected sources and from different industries. It is important for the front-line managers to be always alert to new possibilities and to never underestimate even the smallest complaint/request from the customer, no matter how crazy it sounds. It demonstrates powerfully that the most significant source of innovation does not come from the headquarters or R&D laboratories, but from collaborative networks that can leverage resources and capabilities across multiple organizations or individuals. In this case, a technical


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expert of one company, commercial managers and plant operation managers of

a second company, and a mobile company

teamed up together to come up with an out-of-box solution that has fundamentally altered the technology paradigm in power plant management.

Socrates had said ‘I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think’.

This is sole purpose of the article – I hope

it gives managers something to think in the

new directions. Long-lasting companies have the ability to align to the emerging trends.



About the Author

Sourav Daspatnaik is Director Human Resources and Strategy Apeejay Group. He is an alumnus of the Birla Instit