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The Indian - Items filtered by date: May 2020

COVID-19 is causing a lot of fear all around. Fear of infection is there for each one of us. But this is only one type of fear. The Businesses are suffering the fear of uncertainty. Where will the topline come from? How will we pay the Salaries and Wages of the Employees without proper top line? It seems even the famous Venkateshwara Temple in Tirupathi is going through these uncertain times. They are not having enough money to pay the huge contingent of employees that the Lord has in terms of TTD! I am sure the TTD will find a way. But the Businesses seem to have big problem at least in the immediate term. It is not just about big businesses. Even the small businesses right from Barber shop to a Management Consultant to a Trainer to a Recruiter are suffering a high anxiety level. 

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Employees are losing jobs. There are many messages in my Inbox about Good and competent people losing the jobs. Wonderful professionals otherwise losing their way temporarily. 

Fear is also an energy. A negative one. But it can be a great motivator if used well. 

Businesses and individuals should use the current situation to reenergize their Plans for Growth. They have to go to areas where they never even tried to go. This is the time to learn new Skills, new methodologies and challenge the fear. 

Let us look at one area in the Business in this article. The Top line. How do companies rediscover themselves in the area of whom they are serving and how they are serving. How do we find higher Topline in these times. 

I am not saying I have some magic wand. But one needs undying Positivity during these times. A belief in themselves that they can transform themselves as needed. The Positivity can be a magic wand. 

Clarify ‘Why’ you are doing what you are doing! 

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One also needs to link to the higher purpose of what one is doing. Do not run after the Top line alone for the sake of top line!! A Consultant will have to find out what really motivates him. Is it the money that the client gives or is it the Development of the Businesses that gives you a kick? Can you get motivated by building high performance teams in companies? Can you get motivated by Companies adapting new technology and going to the next level? Can you get motivated by Indian Manufacturing becoming world class? 

Looking at bigger Businesses, a Foundry can look at the higher purpose of utilizing less resources and taking care of environment while they are chasing turnover OR you make the ‘Environmentally friendly and efficient foundry’ as your goal. Then the Business will follow. A Textile company can chase the dream of becoming an efficient company that can serve the humanity with its’ technologically superior products in these Pandemic times. The whole humanity wants Clothes / Bedding products / Home textiles that are safe to use. That can protect them from the Virus. A wonderful opportunity for a right-thinking company. 

An Engineering Company that is producing Capital goods can look at making their Products World Beating products now if they are not. If they are able to diversify into Products that are in demand right now, that is quite good. We can see many companies that are venturing into producing Ventilators. 

This re-orientation is a must to survive this short-term fear and help yourself to propel into a higher orbit. 

Do not chase the Top line alone to take care of your Top line. Re-orient towards the ‘why’ part of what you are doing. Find a higher purpose of ‘Why’ you are doing what you are doing.

Having set the context, we can look at a few options in front of Businesses in these Pandemic times:

01.  Look at Adjacencies: A Recruiter should look at helping the Companies to redefine the Organization structures, he can look at Coaching the Senior people to become effective. A Trainer should look at turning to Video training. But training methods suitable for this type of engagement have to be adapted. 

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A Textile Company should look at diversifying into Hospital products. A Capital goods company can look at providing the Services of their products in place of their products. Your Clients may not be interested in buying your products. But they may be interested in it as a service. A

Compressor company can look at providing Compressed air as a solution in place of giving a Compressor. They can set up Compressed air stations and provide Compressed air to the Companies around the Center. This may require more technology than what they have. But that is the challenge. 

A Stone Crushing Plant manufacturer can look at providing the service to the clients by setting up his own Plants owned by the Company itself. 

An Engineering Company that had been ignoring its’ Spares business will find it the right time to enter into it. 

02.  Look at introducing New Products to suit the new situations: Bring out all your New Product Plans that you have been shelving as your team was not free. 

This is the time to bring out the family of products that are more efficient. Bring out the Products that your clients have been waiting for. 

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An Automotive Parts company can look at introducing parts with higher efficiency. A Textile company would bring out the Apparel that may include matching Face masks, Face shield. Products with Anti microbial / Anti viral coatings. Earlier only Hospitals were looking for Bed sheets with specialized coatings. Now even the Hotels would be looking for it. A huge opportunity for the right-thinking company. 

An Engineering Products company can come out with more energy efficient products. 

03.  New Markets: No company is operating in ALL markets. Not for ALL products. This is the time for going into new Markets for all your Products. 

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If you do not have enough Exports, then it is the time to get into the Export market. A tough time to do that. But remember the problem of not being able to travel is there even for your potential customers overseas. But they are looking at improving their efficiency as much as you are looking for your growth. 

Same thing will apply to the various markets within India. 

If you have been ruling out certain markets as you do not have products, now is the time to look at those markets. 

04.  Diversification: You had been planning the Diversification into a different Product for a long time. But you had been too busy to complete this Project. This is the time to bring the Project forward and complete it. 

A Trainer may have been planning to get into using E-Learning to enrich his offering. Now is the time to find the right partner for this and take it forward. 

An Engineering Products that had been planning into Medical Engineering Products will find the current situation more than welcome.

A Foundry or Machine shop that had been planning a Diversification into their Product can go ahead now. 

An FMCG company that had been building its Brand will find this situation apt for launching different products. People are at home now and are having more time now to take a look at the new products. More snacking is happening now than ever. This is a wonderful time for new products from a known Brand. 

A Consultant who can give solutions for Companies to rediscover themselves can be in demand. 

05.  E-Commerce: Everyone knows that now the E-Commerce is going to boom and Customers would look at going online for more products than they had been doing. Now, how can you modify your offerings to suit this preference of the Customer? 

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A Trainer has to become effective on Zoom and deliver results. 

A Consultant should be able to inspire his client’s team to go to the next level online! This is an entirely new level for most of the consultants. 

E-Commerce can be used effectively whether it is B2B, B2C or C2C. This is already happening in terms of Amazon, Flipkart and so on. 

The question is how do you get into this yourself? You need to draw up a Plan for a big push in this area. A Big Goal has to be set up in this area. 

The right talent has to be brought in and the Company has to start off the journey in a confident manner. 

If you have not been selling using the E-commerce platform, then it is a huge opportunity for you. You can look at selling your Products / Services using the E-Commerce platform. 

Virtual Customer Relationship Centers

Every Company should look at building closer relationships with their Customers. Currently it is difficult to be in touch with the Customers in person. Hence every Company should find its’ own way of building closer relationship with the Customers using the Digital platforms. Companies need to invest into Digital Customer Interaction centers. You can use Zoom and give them Presentations. But you can go much beyond these normal Presentations. 

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You can let the Customers much more into your Company and give them peek into your work and your factories. There is going to be much more invention in this area. How can you tie up a bigger relationship with your Customer? Earlier they were coming to your Company once in few months. Only a few people would come from your Customer or few people from your company would go there. But now you have opportunity to build relationship with a larger team at the Customer Company and in more regular manner. They are available to you every day if you can interest them. 

So, how are you going to grow this year and beyond? 

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Description automatically generatedManufacturing requires stable manpower. The Manufacturing process has to be learnt by the team that is working on the shop. This includes the Workmen as well as the Staff. This team would eventually learn the process so well that they would be able to produce high quality products. Over years, the skill of these employees would become an Asset for the Company. I still remember the Shop Employees who used to just look at the Product and tell about the status of Quality of the product. They did not need any Quality instruments to check the Quality of the Product! That comes with involvement and experience. The relations among the employees was always harmonious. This is how the traditional Manufacturing used to work. Workmen used to join a company and they retire from the same company. 


But in the past decade, the Companies started exercising various options of employing people that focused on keeping them for a temporary period and getting rid of them when the demand is low. The care for workmen started coming down. The Migrant labor has become a major part of the Employees for many types of organizations. Not just Manufacturing. Even if you go to a Restaurant in any City, you would see only Migrant Labor serving you. They are there in just about every industry. 


The Workmen/Employees also are not having a great attachment to the Company as they know that they will be fired whenever the Market demand goes down. In many of the South Indian Companies the Supervisors / Managers do not even know the Hindi language that the Migrant Labor speak. There is no ‘relationship’ between the Company and the Workmen. Workmen go off on holiday whenever they want. They do not even care to inform their Company as there is no ‘relationship’.


Earlier even the MD of the Company would come to shop floor and be in continuous touch with the Workmen. There is always an emotional bond between the Employees and the Company. Now it is still there in some companies with permanent workmen. But almost every Company is employing temporary workmen in some form or the other. The Company does not have any relationship with these workmen. Workmen return the favor! 


Our observation is that there is no winner in this game. Both sides are suffering. Let us see how.

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Companies: Companies do have the option of firing the employees when the demand goes down. But they also cannot get the employees when they need. When there is huge Market demand and pressure from Customers, the Companies are not able to serve the full demand. Companies lose production for every major festival. Our observation is that Companies are losing the opportunity to do about 15-20% higher Top line just because they are not able to mobilize the people when they want. This is applicable to every industry. As the Employees do not have great attachment to the Company, the Quality of their work is not the best. Companies lose on this count too. The Quality losses due to this reason are at least to an extent of 3-5%. As there is high attrition, the Productivity of the Workmen suffers. Employees take a long time to come to 100% output level. Companies are losing about 30-40% output due to this. The nature of employment is one of the biggest reasons for the low Productivity of the Indian Manufacturing! Companies seem to simply ignore this and focus on short term gains!! Are there any gains at all? Companies are losing on Topline, Bottom line. Most of the Companies are in a hurry to show the short-term results and ignoring this elephant in the room! 


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Description automatically generatedEmployees: Employees can jump from one company to the other at their will. They are able to find jobs. But they also lose them at the drop of a hat! When the Economy is down or when a calamity like the current one happens, the Employees are undergoing unimaginable suffering. The fate of Labor in the current COVID-19 Pandemic is pitiable and it troubles the collective conscience of the Nation. The People who are making the Country move are moving on their feet for 1000s of KMs to reach their homes! Many are losing their lives on the way! Even in the normal times the Employees do not have a longer-term idea of their status. They do not know when they would be stopped by their employer. They do not have an idea of how they will educate their children, nor they have an idea of how they will build a house of their own and so on. 


So, who is winning? No one! There is a need for a larger solution that will take care of the interests of everyone involved and help India to improve the Productivity in its’ manufacturing. 


Here, we are suggesting a Solution to this Problem. 


We are not claiming that the Solution that we are proposing is the Best one. But we are pushing for ‘A Solution’. If the Powers that decide these Policies hear our voice, we will be happy. The current Government is having the Leadership and the mandate that are needed to take some bold steps! As a Country that is trying to step up to be a Developed Country, we need to address this area that is begging for attention. COVID highlighted many problems in the World. The issue of Temporary Labor in India is one of them. 


National Employment Grid (NEG)

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Today there are laws about Minimum Wages for every type of Industry. These are serving well. Government is updating them in line with inflation. So, we will not talk about how much to be paid. The Minimum Wages can definitely serve as the basis.


A National Employment Grid (NEG) for workmen should be formulated. This should be a Cloud based Grid that will allow every able person to register themselves as ‘willing to work’. To begin with this, Grid may serve the Workmen in every industry. It may cover the employees below a certain level in I.T and ITES industries too. 


An Indian Citizen should be able to register himself/herself on this Grid with some documentation to prove their Citizenship. They can denote their preference for the Place of work. They may indicate their experience or Training credentials. There are several Skill Training centers across the Country. The qualifications that these Centers give and the basic Educational Qualifications that they have will be updated on to the Grid. The additional training / experience data will be automatically updated on to the Grid from the Companies / Training institutions. The Grid may use the Aadhar card and the Aadhar number as UID. 


The NEG will address the following critical elements:


01.  NEG is a must: Every Company wanting to engage Workmen have to go thru only the NEG. No Company can recruit Employees directly. 

02.  Mobility of Workmen: The Mobility of Workmen across the Companies is not discouraged. It is left to the free will of the Workmen. This will ensure that they are not tied to a Company and they will be able to choose the Company that they will work for in the region of their choice. 

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Description automatically generatedWages: The Minimum Wages serve as the minimum Safety net from government. But beyond this, the Wages are determined by Demand and Supply in the respective regions. 

04.  NEG Core fund: Every Company that wants to use the Labor from the Grid will contribute a certain amount to the Grid for the Welfare of the Employees every year. This fund will be utilized for a few purposes that will be detailed later in this article. The Private Limited and Limited companies that have to spend on CSR will be encouraged to contribute to this Fund. Government may allow this as ‘spent on CSR’. The amount that a Company has to contribute will depend on their Turnover. The Companies that fire the employees most will contribute more. Those Companies that do not fire their employees will be asked to pay only a minimum amount. They will be encouraged to contribute more as it would be eligible as a CSR spend. 

05.  Unemployment allowance: The Companies can discontinue the employees when they do not have demand. But the Workmen will be paid a certain percentage of their Wages as ‘Unemployment allowance’. The amount of allowance will be directly related to the number of years of experience and Performance. 

06.  Annual Leave: The employees will be able to choose when they want to take their annual Long leave that may coincide with any festival of their choice. This will ensure that every Employees goes home, and it is not a surprise to the employer. Employer can balance their employees by taking those that have different preferences to ensure many people do not go off on leave at a time. 

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Description automatically generatedRecord of Employees: The Performance record of every employee will be uploaded by the Company on to the Grid every Quarter. The performance may be measured on the basis of few indicators such as:

a.     Productivity

b.     Quality

c.     Attendance 

d.     Discipline

08.  Independent Auditors: Government may appoint Independent Auditors to audit the whole system from time to time. 

09.  Skill Building: Government will open Skill Development Centers in partnership with Private Players to train the Workmen in various activities required in the Companies in various industries. 

10.  Continuous Education: Employees will be encouraged to continuously equip themselves with better qualifications. Government will subsidize the education through Skill Development Council. This will ensure that the Employees are upskilled in line with higher automation that will happen in every industry. 

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Description automatically generatedHousing and Education: The Employees will be provided with subsidized Housing and support for the education of their children wherever they are working. These benefits will be applicable to those Employees who fit certain conditions:

a.     Those who have a good Performance Record across companies that they have worked for.

b.     Longevity of their Service

12.  Higher wages for a Company that Is not able to retain its’ employees. A Company that is firing its employees frequently or not able to retain its employees as they feel the working conditions are not good will have to pay a higher Wage to attract employees.  While partly the demand and supply will take care of Wages, the Government may penalize those companies that do not take care of their employees.


While the NEG will be supported by Government and the Industry, the critical factors of how long the employer will retain the employees, how long will an employee work at a Company will be decided by the larger forces at play. A Company will be able to retain Employees for longer time if they take care of their employees. If they are firing the employees too soon, they will have to pay higher wages, they have to contribute more to the NEG Core fund and they may not be able to attract the employees like they are able to do it now as the workmen will have a support structure to find alternate employment. 


Employees will be encouraged to stay with companies and give good performance as that will decide whether the employee will be eligible for the Housing and Education benefits. Also, the next employer will take him/her only if there is good performance. 


Funding: How will the NEG get funded? How will this be a feasible option? How can Millions of employees get Housing and Education for their employees? We believe the contributions from the Companies and Government can make it happen. Companies will gain from this A picture containing person, clock, woman, holding

Description automatically generatedsystem more than they contribute as there will be a stability in the Workmen. While workmen can leave and join another company, he will be encouraged to stay in one Company as he will become eligible for Housing and free education for his children if he puts up good performance in companies. If the Companies pay a competitive Wage, they can retain good employees. 


Companies would gain in Top line, Bottom line (Productivity, Quality) by making NEG a success. 


A Stability will come about for the Companies as well as the Employees. The Longer-term objectives of both parties will be addressed by a NEG. 


We are sure that this suggestion can be improved in many ways. But we should look at solving this problem once and for all. 


With the current situation of hiring and firing, no one is winning! 


Published in Leadership
Sunday, 03 May 2020 00:00

Time for You:2.0

COVID is influencing each one of us and the whole world. It is creating a huge change in our lives. 

For some of us who have got infected by it or a family member infected by it, the change is very deep and emotional. None of us would have heard about this Virus couple of months back. To get infected and suffering due to the Virus would have been a big shock. From what I heard; this Virus causes severe damage to the body. Luckily for many Indians, the virus was not at its’ virulent worst. But still if you got infected by it and survived, it is definitely the 2.0 Version of you right now in circulation. You would value the life even more; you would believe there is something more that you have to do in this life. 

Lockdown and its’ effect

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Due to the Lock down and the effect of it, there are many changes that are happening. What I am experiencing and what I am hearing are as follows:

-       Everyone is spending more time with the family that is bringing them together.

-       Many couples are resolving long pending issues.

-       Many are able to connect with the Nature in a wonderful manner. Able to appreciate the beauty of nature. 

-       Many are working physically for the first time in their life as the Domestic helps are not available. 

-       Some are bringing out their talent. Like this Face book friend of mine who is cooking a wonderful meal every day and sharing the Recipes with everyone.

-       Someone started teaching yoga online.

-       Someone is sharing the importance of natural remedies. 

-       I have relaunched my YouTube Channel.

-       I have launched IMA’s ‘Work Management Systems’ initiative online for the first time in a Company. We launched it in about 20 companies so far. But doing it online is for the first time.

-       Many people have become more aware of the need for physical exercise. 

-       Many are learning several skills online. 

-       Several Parents are able to teach their children the household chores in this time. 

The Virus has inflicted an unimaginable suffering on some sections of the society. Especially the Migrant Labor and the Daily wage earners. These are the vulnerable members of the society. It has exposed how important is a safety net for the Vulnerable part of our Society. There is a need to address this section of people immediately.

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It is also exposing  how weak is our Health Care System in the Country. The stories emerging from the Hospitals are showing the valor of our frontline warriors and it is also showing the weak nature of our Health care system. 

The Virus will cause some deep changes in our society and the way we are working. There are some Changes that have started in our Businesses that are now becoming Tectonic Changes. They are gathering speed now. 

The biggest change that is gathering speed is one of ‘Improvement in efficiency’. Every Company would look to improve their efficiency. This would give rise to dependence on Technology much more than what it is now. Every Company would look to more efficient use of Technology. 


Now, you have to discover the next version of yourself. The next version needs to have the following characteristics: 

-       Highly Skilled: If you do not have a specific skill, then your job would be at stake. The Skill that you have should be in demand. Eg. If you have been an Engineer who had been a Supervisor in a Manufacturing unit, then you need to learn specific skills like Lean Manufacturing, Industry 4.0, Data analytics and so on that can help you improve the efficiency of your Manufacturing.

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-       Ability to Develop a new Vision for your Business: If you have been carrying on your Business in a particular way and making a certain profit, now you have to rediscover your Business. You may have to refocus your Business on to new areas. You may have to rediscover the methods of doing Business. Eg. A Company that had been doing business in a certain way is trying to improve their Productivities 10X. They are trying to eliminate the problems in Operations so that they can focus on the Market. This will transform their Business. 

-       Tech Savvy: You have to learn more about technology if you want to be relevant. Some of us are not even knowing how to get on to a Zoom call. I notice that even youngsters are not familiar with simple Technology. Now you have to learn the Technology that is relevant to your Business. 

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-       Health conscious: You have to be highly health conscious. You need to start going to the Gym, take care of yourself, start doing yoga and stay healthy. If not Carona, the next virus may get you. You need to be fit enough to fight it off. 

-       Connect with Nature: Your activities have to be in alignment with the nature. There will be much more awareness about this post Covid. 

How should you make this happen?

While you may have intention to do it, you need to find a way to make this happen. We would suggest the following way:

a)     Formulate the Goals: Work out the Goals for your Transformation on the basis of the knowledge that you have right now. You may have to modify your goals as you go along. But you need to get the Directions of the Goals right. You can talk to appropriate people around you. 

b)    Recognize the Urgency: Unless you are fully convinced, the change will not happen. You need to recognize the urgency of this change. You need to think deep and relate this change to your Life goals. You need to get the need for change right. You need to relate this Transformation to some higher goal of your life. 

c)     Find new associations: If you are trying to Transform yourself, then you need to associate with appropriate people. Same old associations will not take you there. Try becoming part of Social Groups that have people whom you may not know. Here, the CEO Groups, TIE Cohorts are useful. 

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d)    Take Coaching help: It would be good to take the help of a Coach in this journey. A good Coach can help your Transformation to accelerate.  An experienced CEO Coach can make a big difference for you.

e)    Motivate yourself: You need to keep motivating yourself with the small progress that you may make on the way. It would be good to form a group of your friends who may have similar goals. 

You would find more ways to make it happen after you start the journey! 

Let the ‘You 2.0’ start to emerge !! 


Published in Leadership