Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Captivity of Negativity

An hour of watching news on TV will leave you with a feeling of resentment; there is very little to cheer it would appear.  Why even , the ardent Indian cricket fan's shoulders have sagged after a dismal show recently. Throw in the news of the  mysterious disappearance of the  Boeing 777 and you have a motley of well..."Breaking News" to choose from.

No surprise then, that along with the e-commerce, TV news consumption is growing at breakneck speed while the brakes have been put on economic progress of the country. There is an air of despondency just about everywhere.Without a shadow of doubt, one of the chief reasons for the slowdown is the structural impediments in the form of infrastructure(the lack of it). That notwithstanding, the problem of low productivity of the employed work force cannot be understated.  Gallup recently conducted a survey in India measuring the job satisfaction of Indians; level of stickiness they call it and the results showed that over the last ten years, the level of dissatisfaction has gone up by close to 10 times. While dissatisfaction stemming from lack of jobs is understandable, the manifold increase in dissatisfaction levels of those with jobs is disconcerting.

It is also worth observing that India's engaged workforce as a percentage of total workforce at 9% is less than half of the engaged workforce percentage in  developed markets. What is more worrying is that the percentage of highly disenchanted workforce in India is as high as 31%, higher than developed nations as well as emerging nations.

India’s Employee Engagement Challenge

Those enlightened souls who do not believe in stats can look at their friend groups transcending companies/sectors. I am confident the results will concur to a large extent with the above findings.

So now that the hypothesis has been corroborated, let us delve further. There could be various reasons for the prevailing disillusionment. It would be fair to not paint every disenchanted soul with the same brush. For some it could be an issue with work being assigned to which does not match up to his/her expectation. For some other, working style might not be in sync with the boss or the company. For another, it may be a feeling that his/her effort is not appreciated, given the constraints. There are many other reasons.

Most of the reasons have one thing in common -a lack of leadership. Unfortunately, the chasm between the superior and the subordinate is deeply rooted in our culture. While some would point to benefits for the organization from this chasm, there is a notion that a lack of communication stems from this distance. This lack of communication between the boss and his/her subordinate, if it exists,can be detrimental to the organization. We see several instances of strategists at the top coming out with great strategies, only to see nothing or very little  happening on the ground. Why? It is the disconnect between the planner and the doer, the strategist and the implementer, the boss and the subordinate. Companies with strong leadership do not allow such scenarios to develop. Pareto's principle is applicable here as well -80% of the organization's value add is done by 20% of its workforce( you can make it 70-30  or 65-35 but the point stands) While it is not possible to derive the same output from every employee, it is worth making an effort. That is what managers are there for, are n't they? Ask yourself this, is your boss adding value to you? If the answer is yes, you are lucky. If the answer is no, you ought to be looking for a change.

To conclude, I quote a statement which I felt was very simple yet powerful -

The difference between a manager and a leader  : A manager gets people to do what needs to be done while a leader gets people to want to do what needs to be done. Managers push. Leaders pull. Managers command. Leaders communicate.' - Warren Bennis.

We need leaders, NOW!


devesh said...

I completely endorse the thoughts of the author. What India lags in the corporate stage is Managers who can Also be leaders. Its a captivating read that one can associate with straight away. Its ingrained in Indian style of working I believe, where managers are considered to have least interest in skill development of the resource given their KRAs. Aspirational individuals are considered as headaches. In western countries they are even not called managers, they are referred to as people leaders and that explains the hardly visible attrition in western countries.

Atmdeo said...

@ Devesh

You have hit the nail on the head!As organizations, as individuals, we need to introspect and see how we can improve. Unfortunately, the one-on-one meetings between the boss and the subordinate are mere formailities as part of KRA process. We need to cut down the formalities and work on getting the will to work

Anonymous said...

To be a leader one needs to have a perspective. To have a perspective is to think what is the right thing to do and to trust what you think is right. In India people spend a lot of time telling why the other is wrong that what is right. Look at the time we spend on constructive criticism and constructive talks.
The managers who have perspective and are willing to stand by that will win in long run.
Also one more thing - Indian mentality is win lose. If i win you lose and if i lose then you must have won. We need to have a win win mindset. There are situations where you can win and i can win. :)

Atmdeo said...

@ Anonymous

Yes! " My Way or the Highway"! :)

As you rightly said, perspective is very much the need of the hour. We require discussions/debates on points/issues and not people

Anshuman said...

Very well written. Being in the middle management, I totally relate to this. The problem is "volumes". The whole notion of India being a service industry and thousands of employees working for "clients", we have managed to somehow reduce our own worth in our minds. We are not ADDING VALUE, we are just fixing stuff that broke elsewhere :). If the organization is not adding value, you cannot grow, and what you get is designations which don't mean or change anything.

Atmdeo said...

@ Anshuman

Yes! I concur!
I would go on to say that the "work" we do for our bosses often doesn't translate into working for the company if you get my drift. Working for the company and working for the boss should be the same, but as we all know it is n't. For some the latter is the exception while for some others it is the norm.