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Leadership (28)

With changing landscapes and blurring borders between countries, the landscape of Leadership is forever changing. A good Leader is one who is able to become better by the minute in sync with the environment that he is operating in. Read the views of some seasoned Executives on leadership in this section.

Sunday, 24 March 2019 00:00

Leader’s Ego

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I have seen many Leaders who thrive only on their Authority and not really display Leadership Qualities. These Leaders typically want to be the author of every success around them. Somehow they would feel insecure when someone from their team comes up with a suggestion that is not thought out by themselves. 


The characteristics of these Leaders are:

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-      They have a misconception that as Leaders they have to bear the responsibility for every success of their team and only they have to do it. 

-      These Leaders feel they are losing out when their team members are actually stepping up and starting to flower. 

-      As they feel they have to come up with the Best ideas, they do not think any idea of their team member is a good one. 

-      They try to look for ways to appropriate the credit for the good work of their team members as they feel as Leaders, only they should be coming up with all great ideas. 

-      They would like to get rid of all those who are not ‘falling in line’ with their thinking as they feel these team members are disturbing the ‘team work’. 

-      These Leaders typically complain that their Team members are not stepping up and they are passing on everything to the Leader..


The effects of this type of Leadership are:


-      A close up of a person

Description automatically generatedTeam members will be endorsing every idea of the Leader.

-      Those Team members who feel uncomfortable will leave the team. 

-      The progress of this company gets limited by its’ y leader. Over a period of time, only those who are better than the Leader, leave the Company. Even those who stay ‘learn’ how to not mess with the Leader.



A good proportion of the Leaders that I see fall in to this category. This is generally a ‘Disabling Leadership’. There are very few leaders who can scale up / scale down their own Leadership based on the situation on the ground.


I heard one definition of Leadership from my ex- Boss which stuck to my mind. ‘A Leader should be  like a missing piece in a puzzle. Any piece can be missing at a given point of time. A Leader has to constantly modify himself to become that missing piece of puzzle’. So that the team always succeeds.


A Leader needs guts to adapt this Leadership Style. 


This Leadership Style is defined by the following:






01.  Longer Term Objectives: This Leader is not worried about the short-term results and he is always looking to achieve the longer-term objective. This Leader is not worried about his own contribution. He wants whatever is required to achieve the longer- term objectives to be done. He looks at himself as an enabler of these actions and not necessarily as a person who has to do everything. This is a higher point of view.

02.  A close up of a flower

Description automatically generatedTolerance to Diversity: This Leader is tolerant to diverse opinions. His only Objective is to ensure progress towards goals. He is so Goal focused that he can ignore himself in the process. He gets alerted when he hears drastically different ideas. He looks at them as opportunities to find new ways to the goals of the organisation. 

03.  Confidence in own abilities: This Leader is absolutely confident of his own abilities. He knows he can raise over anything to give a good direction to his team. He knows he can transform himself in to that missing puzzle piece to complete the puzzle. 

04.  Ability to learn on his feet: One very important quality of this type of Leader is that he can learn very actively on his feet. He is capable of Learning continuously towards the Goals of the Company. 

05.  Basic trust in Human ability: This type of Leader adapts a Growth Mindset. He believes that People around him are capable and if they do not know something they A person riding on the back of a hill

Description automatically generatedcan learn. He enables them to learn and succeed. As he believes in their abilities, they deliver with their abilities. 


I call this an ‘Enabling Leadership’ style. Leaders need to raise up to this Leadership Style. Leaders normally evolve in to this type of Leadership Style over a period of time. 


For the journey to begin, one has to know and accept that this higher plane of Leadership that exists. Then the creative tension may set in. 



Ram is the Head – Sales & Marketing for the company and he is in the Weekly review with Manufacturing head. The other functional heads are also there in the meeting. Ram is struggling to get the commitment from Manufacturing head for the deliveries that need to happen in the next week. 


Individual Problems and Collective Suffering


The Problems of the Manufacturing Head seems to be unending. There are several Part shortages on a daily basis as the Customer demand is going up without notice. There are Quality problems in the New Products introduced and the Process is not yet stabilized for a big number of Products introduced in to the Manufacturing in the past 6 months. The Machines are having higher break down hours as the Preventive Maintenance is not happening regularly. The list is long. 



The Quality Head, Materials Head, Engineering Head spoke about their own problems. All the Problems sound genuine. No one seems to have a good solution with some time lines to implement. The Weekly meeting ended with a few arguments, blaming each other and without a proper solution to the problems on hand. 


This is a very common situation in many Manufacturing Companies that I have seen. These weekly meetings go on without end and normally gives the same output as explained above. 


What is the solution?


How to ensure a good team work happens in the company and the Customer is serviced much better?


I think the Root cause lies in the way the Manufacturing Companies are Operating. We seem to be pushing the Functional teams away from each other and this is resulting in lack of team work and lack of respect to the internal Customers and bad service to the external customers. 


There are five essentials to ensuring good Customer orientation in the company and promote Team work in the company.

01.  Stabilize the Routine: If the Routine is well defined and stable, the teams will have less flash points. The Routine in each function has to be defined in terms of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). This is a continuous journey for Indian Companies as the growth is higher in our companies and things keep changing on the ground every day. A Company should recognize this need and put effort on stabilizing the routine. 


02.  CFT Culture: The Cross functional Team culture has to be promoted in the Company. Some critical elements in the CFT Culture :

a.     Goal deployment: Goals that have to be achieved together have to be deployed to ALL the relevant team members across the functions. 


b.     Working methodology: The CFTs should have a strong Work ethic and methodology. The methodology should promote a systematic achievement of Goals.

c.     Peer assessment: The team members have to be assessed by the Peers in addition to the Bosses. Peer assessment is very powerful and a Group assessment technique has to be used for this purpose.  

d.     Internal Customer rating: The company can promote the culture of rating by Internal Customers for all the Internal suppliers. This way the Internal Suppliers will get periodic feedback from the Internal Customers and they will have to act upon it. 

e.     Process based teams: It would be good to seat the teams as per the Process. For example, the team that fulfills the orders of the Customers can sit together in one place. This team may consist of members from Sales, Purchase , Stores, Dispatch etc. This will ensure that the team understands each other and gets formed as a ‘real team’. 

03.  Functional orientation of Senior Leaders: The Senior Leaders are one of the main reasons why the Silos gets built up in the Companies. The attachment of the Senior Leaders to their teams and to their own Functional Points of view is a big issue. Functional point of view is important. But, the administrative point of view is a daily issue in any company without which the result will not happen. The role of the Senior leaders is to build Functional Competence in the Company. They should allow their team members to work along with the other Functional team members freely. The Senior Leaders should play a subtle role at the back ground to build the Functional excellence. The teams are more than capable of achieving the goals of the Company. If they play their teams too close to their chest, they would be doing a disservice to the company. 


The Leaders of the Company have to build this work culture in the Company. The Senior Leaders may need some help in this aspect. 


04.  Training as teams: If the Cross Functional Teams have to stick together and work together, they have to be treated as teams in every sense. They have to be trained in Leadership skills together as a team. While they may learn Functional skills individually, they have to be brought together as a team for teaching Leadership Skills. This would help in building them as a team. The Training should encourage talking about the working methodology of the team.



05.  Assessment and Rewards: The Cross Functional Teams should get assessed as Teams and a good part of the reward has to be given as a team. This would push the team members together. They earn as a team or lose as a team. 


A company has to learn the art of getting results from their teams. They can speed up their learning if they go about it in a systematic manner as explained.





Wednesday, 13 March 2019 00:00

What is wrong with being Judgmental

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How I used to be highly Judgmental..

The ‘Professor’ got up and went to the Board to make his point. I and my colleagues exchanged glances and our eyes smiled at each other without being obvious to the ‘Chamchas’ around. The scene was our regular Monthly Performance review meeting and the ‘Professor’ was our Boss who was going to the Board to make his point by drawing some pictures / models on the board. He loved illustrating his point with a model. So, I labelled him as ‘Professor’ and enjoyed making fun him behind his back. Not a very harmful fun. But, I labeled him anyway. You would have noticed that I have labeled a certain others in the meeting as ‘Chamchas’ too. 

I was preparing to meet ‘My enemy’ for a short review meeting. I was expecting to hear a lot of objections from him for my proposals and was getting ready as to how I can ‘take him on’. This ‘My enemy’ was again my Boss in another setting and I always expect trouble from him as he ‘does not like me’. I always used to go to him with a lot of preparation. But, somehow I always used to lose the battle/s. 

I was very happy I have ‘My big supporter’ in the coming meeting. I know he is going to back me up on the few targets that I have not achieved. The meeting started and I started presenting my KPIs. When I reached the failed KPIs, I expected a word of encouragement from ‘My big supporter’. What I got was a cautious ‘you should better and you should do it fast’. But, still I felt ‘My big supporter’ is my only hope in this company with a lot of ‘enemies’. 

I just came home from office and was getting down from my car. The ‘Pain in the a***’ neighbor wished me and wanted to know how my day was. I wished him with a brief hi and ran in side the home as I ‘knew’ he was going to drill me on my opinion about several happenings in our residential community and try to enlist my support to his views. 

The list can be long and unending. I always used to have an opinion about everyone and everything around me and the list of ‘good’ people and ‘bad’ people was always growing. 

What is wrong with being Judgmental?

Looking back, I realise that I was being highly critical of the world around me. I was suffering some consequences of my behavior which I may not have realized at all. I would have taken all these as ‘normal’.

01.  Missing the other point of view: By filtering what is ‘good’ and what is ‘bad’ for me, I would have lost the opportunity of listening to the other point of view. I was limiting myself in to a cocoon and missing out several Learning opportunities.

02.  Limiting my world: By defining what was my world, I excluded a lot of people from it. Probably lost out the opportunity to make many more good friends. 

03.  Making it tough for myself: I always was thinking about the ways and means of tackling the ‘other guys’. Putting a lot of strain on myself. I was actively contributing to more similar behavior from everyone around as I have put filters and not accepting anything else. 

04.  Making it difficult for my Bosses: I had been a consistently good performer wherever I worked. My Bosses were having a tough time with one of their Stars being highly judgmental about the people around and hence dividing the organization in to pro and anti. 

How not to be Judgmental?

Over years, I have realized that I can be non-judgmental.  

01.  Be in the present moment: Look at what is happening now around you and deal with it. Try not to put the color of ‘your experience’ on everything around you. While I would have ‘certain experience’ in the past, that does not mean it would repeat every time. By responding to the moment genuinely with current facts, I am not punishing people for something from the past or giving them credit in the current situation for something from the past. 

02.  Look at the issue and not the person: Many a times I used to associate the person with some behavior. I learned how to look at the issue and not the person. This helped me in being in the present moment too. Others were more convinced that I was responding on the situation and not picking on them. 

03.  Chase what is right:One needs to go for what is right and not what either I or the other person likes/ dislikes. This requires a skill to look at the issue from a distance. You have to imagine yourself to be out of the situation and not part of the situation. To solve a problem, you should not become part of the problem. 

04.  Express your opinion nicely:I still remember how one of my ex-bosses told me not to be ‘disagreeable’, but encouraged me to ‘disagree’. You can disagree with someone. But, by being ‘disagreeable’ you are alienating yourself from the person. 

05.  Resist your ‘Urge to Control’:Very often one acts from the urge to control the situation and thus take away the control from others. You would feel if you have to ‘win’ the other guy has to ‘lose’. You are not happy unless you see the feeling of ‘having lost’ on the other person’s face! You need to have confidence in yourself that you are chasing ‘what is right’ and not ‘what you want’. This will result in a discussion with the issue on the table. Otherwise the issue will be either in your lap or in the lap of the other person. It is almost like two children fighting for a Toy. 

06.  Welcome Learning opportunities:You need to accept that there is lot to learn for you in the world and when someone presents a different point of view or does not agree with you, it is a learning opportunity. 

How does it help ‘Being Not Judgmental’? 

01.  Liberation: It liberates you from the need to look at how to defeat the others. You no longer are tense getting in to meetings with your ‘enemies’. You may start enjoying your interaction with others. You will be much more ‘at peace’ with everything around you. 

02.  Learning: You would start learning much more as your world has suddenly expanded and you are able to expand your friend circle. You would become receptive to much more learning from the universe. 

03.  Problem solver: You would turn out to be a much better Problem Solver as you are able to connect up to many more people and look at things as they are. 

04.  Better Leader: You would become a much more accepted Leader as everyone around you start experiencing you as much more ‘fair’ and a ‘respectable leader’. 

If you are non judgmental, Your Life can become a much better Learning  and enjoyable journey. I think that is a good incentive to become non judgmental!!



Wednesday, 13 March 2019 00:00

A case for managing your Self-Improvement Journey

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I have been on a Self-improvement journey for as long as I can remember and I believe it is so with most of the people around us. As an Executive Coach, I had the opportunity to work with many leaders and I enjoyed my interactions with them as every story is a beautiful one and many of the improvements that they do inspire me to do something in my own sphere. Very often, I used to fret over my Improvement journey and then look at others and say that they are not improving much. I have observed this behavior with many others too. We feel we are improving so much that we look at others and wonder how lazy they are and how they are not changing at all. 

Improve on your own Scale

As part of my Coaching a number of Senior leaders, I coached the MD of a Company. I kept feeling that this person was not improving much. I kept getting frustrated. I felt the person is not responding to me very well. But, the Coachee had been seting up the meetings for Coaching and attending all of them sincerely. I expressed to him that there is no point in engaging if there is no improvement happening. What he then said opened my eyes to different dimensions and possibilities. He listed out a number of improvements that he had achieved over the past few months and expressed a lot of gratitude that I have been able to help him a lot.  When you look at the changes that he was claiming, they were all genuine. But, in my view they were all very small improvements that do not merit even a mention. 

But, who I am I to set the scale for him? He is improving on his own scale. That is what actually matters. This tendency to continuously improve is important. I can not say it is a smaller scale or inferior scale. It is a different scale. We all have different scales. From then on I learned to measure the improvement of people around me on their own scale. It is another matter that they should take feedback about their improvement journey. But, I can not say they are not improving on the basis of my own Scale and my own perceptions. 

Who will feel the improvement?

While we feel we are improving, the improvement will be felt by people in different circles around you.

01.  People in the outermost circle: If we are trying to improve in a particular area, the people who hardly know us will be the first to feel the benefit of that improvement. If we are trying to be more pleasant with people, we are most likely to try out this new behavior with people who are not known to us or those whom we just know very superficially. The reason is that we do not have much activity with them and therefore we do not have any ‘flash points’ with them.

02.  People in the Second circle: If we are trying to improve ourselves, the people at the office (other than Boss and close colleagues) may be the next level people who may feel the improvement in our behavior. It will take some time to reach this situation. But, when you persist with your improvement journey you would notice that the people who are at office / people whom you meet regularly may feel the difference.

03.  People in the Third circle: These are typically Family members / Boss at office. When we persist with our improvement journey and keep pushing ourselves for next level improvement, we will break thru to the next circle. We may start becoming more comfortable with our Boss and Brother/ Father at home. They may start seeing some improvement in you.

04.  The loner in the Fourth circle: As you progress further, you would start being good to your Spouse! Somehow you may always feel that you can take that liberty with your spouse, you can vent with your spouse and so on. It takes quite a bit of effort to improve yourself in the eyes of your Spouse. 

05.  Your ‘Self’ in the Fifth circle: If your spouse starts noticing improvement in you, then after some more persistence you may feel ‘genuinely’ improving yourself ! This is because even though your spouse may be very close to you, he/she is still another person. When YOU feel genuinely improving yourself, then the real deep improvement starts happening. Very often we know ‘BEST’ about ourselves. Isn’t it ? 

Essentials for Self-Improvement

If you want to genuinely improve yourself, there are are five essentials that you need to pay attention to:

01.  Importance of Feedback: Marshall Goldsmith the celebrated International Coach says that Leaders who take feedback tend to improve much more than those leaders who do not take Feedback. While we have to improve on our own scale, we need to understand the effect that we are having on people around us and improve ourselves in a way in which we can generate better outcomes together. After all as Leaders we have to work with people around us to deliver some good outcomes. However good leader you may be, you can not do everything yourself.

02.  Partners in Progress: It is good to have a bunch of people around us who can give us straight feedback without a bias. You need to choose wisely as many of us do not have this skill of observation and the critical skill of giving feedback objectively. It would help to arrive at this small group over a period of time. 

03.  Take professional help as needed: I realized that using some techniques and using some professional help can really speed up the improvement and help you save on time. You may improve on your own. But, you may lose out on some opportunities as you are not ready. It makes commercial sense too to take professional help. 

04.  Planning your improvement can help: Planning about your goals and where you want to improve in next one year / next 6 months / next quarter / next month / next week / tomorrow will definitely help. The more detail you get in to, the more failures you can avoid. 

05.  Have a higher goal: Without a higher goal in your life and career, you can not get the full energy out of yourself. You will not work ‘full on’. I spoke about this in another article. 

While all of us have our own journeys of improvement, it would help to make it more planned and use good methodology and tools to get better results from same effort. 

Please share your learnings from your journey ! 

Wednesday, 13 March 2019 00:00

Dealing with low Profitability

Written by

Srinivas Rao K 

As I meet more CEOs across the Indian Manufacturing, one discussion that always happens is about the Profitability, how low it is and how it is becoming worse. The Best that I would have heard is ‘holding on to 3%’ for the past 5 years or something similar to that!! Clearly the Party is over for the Indian Manufacturing Companies when they would have made big profits and were high on big top line growth as well. 


But, when we look at the efficiencies at which we are working, I do not think we have hit the ceiling. The Labor Productivity in terms of USD of GDP per person employed for India in 1991 was 4789. By 2017 it rose to 17097 (as per World Bank report). During the same period the same parameter for USA improved from about 73000 to 113000. The same number for China rose from 2973 to 27842. We improved our Productivity by about 3.5 times. Chinese improved their Productivity by about 9.4 times. USA improved by about 55%. 

We have definitely improved. But, does not seem adequate and the good news is that there seems to be good room for improvement. Indian Manufacturing should take heart from this fact. We are no where near our peak Productivities. We do seem to be underachieving !

What is required is that we should reinvent ourselves and our Businesses. We should stop looking at small improvement like 15% , 20% and start looking for BIG improvements. How to double our Profitability, How to double our Productivity or improve it by 3 times and so on. There are opportunities available for everyone in the industry as our base is not the best one world over.

How do we do it? 

There can be a few steps in starting this Transformation journey.



01.  Big Targets: The Company should start believing that Big Targets can be achieved. It has to start with Leadership raising their expectations from their Team. The Leadership has to look around for the best performances in their field. If they can’t find any Better performances then, they have to go back to fundamentals and adapt a Zero based approach for every Cost. 

02.  Need for Change: My observation is that Indian Manufacturing is still in a zone where they think they have a lot of time to change and the need for change is not felt strongly at the Operating levels. A Company needs to have a way of convincing their teams that without change, they cannot survive. 

03.  Taking help: It is inevitable that the companies should use outside help in making Big changes happen. They would need extra energy to start this process and spread it to the whole company. Leaders should use outside help in a mature manner. 

04.  Use Technology : The Teams should be encouraged to use the Technology that is available today. The Ind 4.0 elements can come very handy in making change happen. Indian Manufacturing has to learn this skill.

05.  Model Area: Organization wide changes have to start small. They should be implemented in one model area. This model area should be chosen carefully. Initial success can energize the organization. 

06.  Task force: To ensure Model area succeeds, a full time Task force should be used comprising of Best people in the organization. If Best People are Busy in the regular work, then this initiative will not work. 

07.  Make it happen: The whole organization and leadership should focus on this model area and make it happen. There should be no options here. The result has to come. With this result, the Old Mindset of the Organization has to be broken.  

08.  Spread it to the Organization: The good result has to be spread to the entire organization. For this the Task force earlier formed should be responsible. This full time team is very essential for the success of the initiative. 

 The Leadership in all companies should start focusing on changing the mindset of the people in the company to start believing in BIG improvements. There can be more Change programs at this stage for the whole of the Organization. 

Few Examples

Recently when I was engaged with a company, I had a look at their Manufacturing operations and told them that they should aim at improving People Productivity by at least 2-3 times. There was general disbelief whether this could be done. We started with one Plant and worked with them on the Shop floor to transform couple of lines. We only had to slow down the Plant team and encouraged them to look at the inefficiencies on the shop floor closely. Then, we encouraged them to use some Lean Methodologies. With this help, they could transform these lines and more than doubled the Productivities. After this episode, we had to prove the concept on the shop floors of other plants too. Even the MD of the Company started believing in the BIG targets and started deploying bigger targets to his teams.

In another Company the Quality Losses were 15-20% on the Assembly lines. The target was taken to make it below 2% and ‘Here and Now’ approach was taken up to address the Quality losses immediately. The Senior team stood on the shop floor and the teams were encouraged to Push back the Rejections to the immediate suppliers (Internal or External) immediately. Then, the Root causes were determined and settled. Within about 2 days the Rework / Rejections on the lines came down to 2%. This was later sustained as the Root causes were solved. 

One more example of Quality losses reduction happened in a Foundry where the Losses were accepted at about 10-12% for a very long time. By adopting multiple approaches like Training the Team in Problem solving methodology, addressing the Mindset change and so on the Losses were brought to less than 5%. 

In few other cases, the Ind 4.0 elements were used to drive the efficiency of the Assembly lines and make them ‘Zero PPM’ lines. 

Today the hand held technology that is available can be used to make people in factories more productive. 

There are multiple examples of Drastic reduction of losses over a period of time. There are also examples of drastic increase in Top line. Every time the improvement will not happen overnight. But, it is quite clear that the improvements are possible! Are you game for it ?



Wednesday, 13 March 2019 00:00

Target Management in Companies

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While working with several companies in my career as an Employee and as a Consultant,  I have learned that it is very important to ensure  all employees across the Company are having Clear Targets for their work that hour, that day, that week, that Month, that Quarter and that year. As you look at the senior people, the targets for the Three year period too become very important. At each of these levels, the Process for achieving the Targets also has to be clear. 

Shop floor : Here and Now

If you look at the Shop floors of Manufacturing companies, you can understand this aspect very easily. 

If the Shop floor is using Lean concepts and the flow of Material is good, you can see that the target of each Worker is very clear and so is the Process of achieving it. He/She knows what work he/she has to do and how much he/she has to deliver each hour. Hence, the work moves at a brisk pace and production happens. When the work happens without break, the energy levels on the shop floor are really good. The Supervisor is happy the full Production is happening, the Worker is happy he/she has delivered what is expected of him/her. The Quality also in this situation will be at its’ best as there is a rhythm in the working of the whole Shop floor. The same Shop floor looks disorganized and without direction when the Production is getting stopped frequently due to the many reasons that the shops deal with. The Quantity suffers and also the Quality as there is no rhythm.

Recognise the potential ambiguity..

We are able to understand about the work on the Shop floor as the work there is visible and you can see the work happening / not happening clearly. But, the same concept is applicable to ALL the work in a company. The other work that happens in offices is not as clear as the one that happens on the Shop floor. This is the reason there can be more variables with reference to this work that the Staff does. The ambiguity increases as the work moves away from Shop floor. You would have noticed that the work that is done by ‘Strategy Function’ in your company is much more vague than the work that is done in .. say, Material Procurement function.

For your Employee to be Productive, the Target (What) has to be clear and he/she has to be clear about the Process of achieving the Target (How). Without the ‘What’ and ‘How’ being clear, none of the Companies can deliver what is expected. This ‘What’ and ‘How’ have to be clear at ALL levels of the Company. It is not enough if the Head of the Company is clear about his/her vision. This clarity has to go down to the last member in the Company. 

This is quite a simple concept. But, my experience is that these two elements are simply not clear in most of the Companies. Some companies do not have both the ‘What’ and ‘How’. Some may have the ‘What’ in some areas and not in other areas. Most of the Companies would be clear about how much Production has to happen as this is a physical activity visible on the Shop floor. They may not have clear Targets for anything else in the Company. Resultantly, only Production happens regularly. 

Essentials for a good Target based Work Management 

01.  Diagnosis: Every Company should start with understanding their current performance. For a Company having Financial year as Apr-March, they should do this Diagnosis sometime in January of the Year. They should Diagnose in every Function and as a Company, how well they have performed in the Current year. What did they do well and what they did not do well on the basis of data. They should draw out the Lessons from their performance in the past year. One needs to make this a very Structured exercise. 

02.  Fixing the Targets: After understanding the performance of the Company at various levels, the Targets have to be fixed for Various levels starting at the top. The head of the Company has to spell out the Big targets like Top line, Bottom line, Efficiency of various Business aspects etc. The Targets of the Head of the Company should reflect the ambition of the Company and it has to be in line with their Three year plan. 

03.  Cascading the Targets down the Organisation: The Targets have to be deployed to the last level in the Company using the Deployment methodology. The Organizational alignment in terms of Targets is important. We can’t have a situation of every one in the Company achieving their target and still the Company not achieving its’ targets. Usage of Technology is recommended here. A Good Target Deployment Software would be useful. 

04.  Break up the Targets: It is not enough to have Targets for the full year/ Quarter and so on. The Targets have to be broken up to Month / Week / Day. This is where the Quality of Leadership in a Company will be seen. How well can the Leadership help the employees to link the actions of today to the Targets. What should be done today to achieve the Target for the Week / Month etc. This is easy on the Shop floor and regarding Production. But, not very easy with reference to.. say Quality improvement / Cost reduction etc. 

05.  Ensure the Tightness of the Targets: I have seen that the Leaders in many Companies do not pay enough attention to this aspect. They feel their teams already working hard and can’t take big targets. This is a veiled populism and ‘Subsidy mindset’ ! This is one disease that can kill a company as it ensures the whole company under achieves. Teams will be able to achieve more if they are guided well. 

06.  Detail the ‘How’ part: The Targets will not be achieved, if you don’t encourage your team to detail the ‘How’ part. They need to understand the problems that they have in each of the areas and then put a detailed plan of ‘How they will achieve’ the Targets. Every company should spend good amount of time on this aspect. Every minute spent on this aspect is worthwhile. I see that a good number of companies do not pay attention to this and keep aiming at same target every year and failing regularly !! It is not enough for the Leaders to point out a ‘Pie in the Sky’ and leave it there. 

07.  Revisit the Targets every two months: The Target has to be just tight and right to each employee. If the Target is too easy, then the Company will not progress well and if the Target is too tight, the employee concerned will give up and again the Company will not progress well. The Leaders have to look out for this through a detailed process of ‘Target checking’ every two months. They have to be alerted if someone is easily achieving or not achieving at all. 

08.  Bigger Initiatives: Some times to achieve tight Targets in a function, one may have to start bigger Initiatives. Eg. If the Big Cost reduction target has to be achieved in the Company this year, the whole Staff may have to be trained in Cost reduction methodologies.  The Company should have BIG targets in a few areas and launch Broader Initiatives to help Teams to hit them. 

If a Company takes care of the above, then it is preparing the Company to achieve something superlative in the coming year ! 

How is Target Deployment in your company ?  Pl share.


Wednesday, 13 March 2019 00:00

Are you in a happening Company?

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We see that some companies have a great energy within them and they see improvements on a regular basis. These Companies continually grow and rediscover themselves. I call them ‘Happening Companies’. While ‘Happening companies’ is a small percentage, most of the Companies struggle to develop this internal ‘Positive Energy’ that helps the Company to keep improving and keep rediscovering itself.

The ‘Happening Companies’ may be growing aggressively. But, all companies growing aggressively are NOT ‘Happening Companies’. The Growth may come due to other reasons too. 

The ‘Happening Companies’ attract a lot of Talent for right reasons. The ‘Happenings’ make a good story for the Good Talent to come to this company. 

The Customers of the ‘Happening Companies’ would be able to see a high energy in engaging with them. 

The Suppliers of the ‘Happening Companies’ will be continuously pushed to Improve. But, these Suppliers would enjoy this pushing and for many of them the association with these ‘Happening Companies’ would give them life time learnings. 

The ‘Happening Companies’ would hit the maximum profitability of their life time during this phase.

The status of ‘Happening Companies’ may not be a permanent one. A Company may reach this stage and it may slip from it too. 

How do Organizations develop a ‘Positive Energy’ to Improve themselves continually? 

This requires a combination of factors.

01.  Growth orientation and Fire in the belly at Leadership level:The Leadership in the ‘Happening Companies’ would be highly Growth oriented. They believe that they can achieve a lot and keep pushing for improvements on a continuous basis. They would be having a restlessness in them and some people may call it as having ‘fire in the belly’. The Leaders would be able to transmit this fire to others in the organization. 

02.  Clear Goals for the Organization at all levels:The Employees at all levels would be having ‘CLEAR Goals’. There would be a certain purposefulness in the company. Everyone in the company would be walking around with a clear purpose. The connectivity between their goals and their actions would be very clear. As they are able to see results from their actions, they are continuously in a highly motivated status. 

03.  Freedom to the Important Players in the organization to create:No company was built or improved by one person. There would be a team of Senior people who would be working in a motivated manner. They would be having freedom to create in the ‘Happening Company’. The team would be working as a team and producing consistent results. The Leadership would be motivated to give more Freedom as they are able to see great results!! 

04.  Passion towards work: The BEST out of Human beings cannot come out unless they touch their emotions. In a ‘Happening Company’, the Employees would be involved in the work with Positive emotions. They take pride in working in the company. They do not mind going the extra mile for the company. This is the biggest factor in making a Company ‘Happening’. In most of the companies, it is a fashion statement to say that they are ‘Professional’ and no emotions. But, emotions is what makes the BEST come out of human beings. We should have emotions. But, we should not become emotional about results.  

05.  A full time Excellence team: Structure wise a full time Excellence team is a must to sustain the good work in the ‘Happening Company’. The Excellence team has to be owned by people at the top.  This is a very important piece in completing the puzzle of ‘Happening Company’. 

06.  Focus on People Development & Learning in the Company: The ‘Happening Company’ would have a high focus on Learning and People Development. The Development of People will not be done only by the HR Department. Every Senior person in the Company would own the Training and Development. There would be several events happening in the company that are for developing the employees. 

As earlier said, the ‘Happening Company’ tag is not a permanent one. A Company can lose its’ status when something slips from the above parameters. 

It is the responsibility of the Leadership to sustain this. To sustain this, a Leader has to go beyond his own limitations. For this, he has to know his limitations and acknowledge them. Once he/she acknowledges them, they can be addressed quite easily. 



Sunday, 10 March 2019 00:00

How good are you at Time management?

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Whenever I hear the term ‘Time management’, it comes to my mind that we cannot Manage time. It keeps slipping away whether we do something or not. We can only Manage our work better. But, let us keep with this popular term for this article. 


Image result for time management

Time Management is a serious problem for almost ALL Managers in the Indian Industry. Some would have realized it and many others may not even realize that they are not using their time well. The Managers that I have come across come in to the following few categories. 


Firefighters: These are the Managers who are forever putting off some fire. You can find many of them in Automotive industry. These Managers come early and go late (if they go home). Their Children see them rarely as they go to company even on a Sunday as they can ‘work peacefully’ on a Sunday. Many of them have got addicted to it. They keep telling whoever can listen that they are working for 18 hours a day and so on. The Firefighters do not even worry about Time Management. They have given up long back and now they just go with the wind. In most of the cases, their companies also have given up that ‘some Managers have to be dedicated to the fire fighting’. There is no fight back at all.


Minimalists: These are the Managers who may be in Discrete Manufacturing Companies. These Minimalists do not believe in taking up too much agenda on to their plate. Whatever is put on their plate by their Bosses will be handled forever. They are in no hurry to finish anything. They do not see any need for Time Management as they do not want to ‘hurry’ anything. Their Companies also have come to believe that nothing should be ‘hurried’. Whenever I took up this issue with these Managers, I have seen that their Managing Director defends them !! The belief that they should not ‘hurry’ is quite deep !! 


Trouble Shooters: These are the guys who love the adrenalin rush. Whenever there is trouble, these people are called. They are handling an emergency forever! If one emergency is over, they look for the next one. They feel Time Management is not for their type of work. 


Boss Pleaser: This Manager will do only things that are asked by the Boss. He will never take up any agenda without Boss asking him to do. They will complete it as the Boss asks them to. They are not managing their Time. Their Boss may be managing it, if at all. 


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Timid Manager: These are pushed around by just about everyone in the company. They are the people who would be going around with an expression of ‘carrying the world’. Always hunched and always under strain. They just don’t have time to manage time! 


There may be a very small percentage of Managers who are trying to manage their time and push a particular agenda of their own. I find this type of Managers to be a very small minority in the Industry.




What are the effects of not managing your time wisely?


When there is no concept of managing your work and managing time, only the Urgent and Important gets done. If you look at the Time Matrix, the First quadrant is the one that you would give attention to. By default you would wait for everything to come to First Quadrant to attend to it. 


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So, there is no proactive approach. You would become thoroughly reactive. You would be acting in the last minute for everything. If you are still keeping your Customers happy, then you would be spending disproportionate resources to keep your Customers happy. While the Business would be growing, your profit will become lesser and lesser as you are becoming more and more inefficient. 


An organization can loose Top line opportunities / Bottom line in this situation. But, very often there will be no awareness of this and many Indian Companies are accepting that this is a ‘normal Business situation’. This is more worrying factor !! 


What can be done?


Bad Time Management and Bad Work Management Is a Symptom and this is not the root cause. The Root cause lies in the way the Business Is run. The way the employees manage their Work. 


01.  Work Management System: Create an environment of Employees taking responsibility and are made accountable. When every Employee takes responsibility for his/her work, then the environment would be amenable for better Work Management / Time Management. This can be achieved by introducing a Work Management System (WMS) where the Organizational Goals would be deployed to the entire organization in a systematic manner and reviews are done in a systematic manner. Every employee is expected to take responsibility for his/her KPIs and they are expected to take Corrective and Preventive actions when they don’t meet targets. 


Addressing this overall environment issue is very much essential to ensure your team is managing their work diligently. Without addressing this Root cause, you can not solve the problem.


02.  Promote Planning: Once the goals are clearly given to the employees, the Company needs to promote Planning in the company. There have to be Annual Planning for achieving the goals. There has to be Quarterly Planning to make Annual Plan a reality. The Quarterly plans have to be translated in to Monthly / Weekly plans. Each week every Manager has to spend some time to review his last week and plan for the next week on a daily basis. There may be something that comes to everyone without planning. There will be Quadrant 1 activity. ‘Urgent and Important’. But, as you keep up with your Planning, the Quadrant 1 will reduce and Quadrant 2 will increase. The Planning should help us keep the focus on ‘what needs to be done’. Initially our success may be small. But, an Organization has to persist to help their Managers to get a hold on the Work Management / Time Management. 


03.  Measure your Time usage: To improve something, you need to measure it. You can measure your Time usage with two Metrics:


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a.     Proportion of time that you are able to plan: If you are at the work for 8 hours, are you able to plan for full 8 hours? I would recommend that you should try to plan as much proportion of your time as possible. If you want to keep yourself open to helping your colleagues, you don’t want to plan for sometime, then don’t push yourself to achieve 100%. But, try to take control of 100% of your time. 

b.     Success rate in sticking to the plan: You may be able to plan for 100% of your time. But, you may not be able to work as per plan. When you just start off the improvement effort, your success rate would be small. But, you have to persist to ensure you improve your Success rate. 


Every Manager should review these two Metrics every week. Every Boss should spend some time with his Team reviewing this and helping them to take more control of their work. 


Indian Companies are losing a lot of opportunities to improve their top line and bottom line as their Managers do not have control of their work/time. 


The first step to regaining control is to put a ‘Work Management System’ in place. 



Sunday, 24 February 2019 00:00

Managing ‘Old Timers’ in your organization

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Vithal is sitting near the table of his younger colleague Shyam for last half hour waiting for Shyam to finish the Power Point that Vithal would be presenting in the Monthly review. Vithal never managed to learn Power Point very well. He says he had been trying for the past few years. But, somehow not able to learn all the nuances needed to put out a good presentation. The frustrated Boss of Vithal put him on to Shyam- a youngster so that Vithal will not be an odd man out in the monthly review.  Vithal had been in the company for the past 22 years. 



You would have seen people like Vithal and with some similar qualities in your companies. People who had been there in the company for long long time and somehow fell behind in skill improvement and a few other areas. 


The Stagnant Water


Majority of ‘Vithals’ in the industry would have become ancient and stuck at a particular level in the organization without further promotions. Every year when the Performance appraisal comes in, the ‘Vithals’ are wonderful staple for the ‘Solid citizens / Meets Expectations’ category. Sometimes a frustrated Manager may push them to the ‘Below Expectations’ category too. But, somehow with their ‘connections’ in the company they will survive without being pushed out. 


It is not uncommon to see some of these ‘Vithals’ being asked to go too.


Many a times, the young Managers who come in to the Company find it very difficult to manage the ‘Vithals’. The age is a factor. Then, the ‘Vithals’ feel they have been in the company for a long time and the young Managers are ‘Bachas’ (Children) who don’t know what is what. 


Very often the ‘Vithals’ hold on to their knowledge, do not share it and use it as a weapon to proclaim their relevance in the organization. The Young Managers may find it difficult to fight them. So, very often they succumb to them and carry them on their shoulders. There may also be cases where the Young Managers struggle with them for some time and then manage to push them to another department and get rid of the trouble! 


Should we purge the ‘Old Timers’ ?


Should organizations get rid of the Old Timers? Should we prescribe a time limit for the people to stay in the organization? 


As I am talking about the Manufacturing Organizations right now, I feel it is very unwise to put a Time limit for people to stay in the organization or purge the old timers. 

The strength of a Manufacturing Organization is its’ people. People who had been in the organization for longer time would have accumulated a lot of experience in the organization and they are priceless if used properly. The Organizational experience in manufacturing the Products is invaluable. Companies become much better at their products with experience. They build great relationships with Customers over years. They give wonderful after sales service with the help of the experience. All this experience in most cases reside in the people in the Organization. 


How can we get rid of these people who are repositories of knowledge?


If we say these people have become outdated / worthless and a burden for the organization, then it reflects on the Organization. Not so much on the people who are products of the Organization. 


Developing the Old Timers


How do we prevent this from happening? How do we help the Old timers / Long Timers in the company to continually develop themselves?


A few essentials:


01.  Formulate Systems and don’t depend on the people: Periodically the Companies should formulate systems in each function and don’t just depend on the knowledge of the people in the function. This may sound counter to the argument that we should preserve the old timers. We should never let people get stuck in one area. Water should flow continuously. You know what happens when water does not flow and gets stagnated. It stinks!! Same thing happens to people who are stuck in one place for long time. When the organization is not dependent on the people, they will look to learning something new. Otherwise the Organization becomes comfortable in same people doing the same thing as they don’t have to teach anyone else. People become comfortable as they don’t have to learn anything new. Then, it starts stinking. Downloading the knowledge of people and making them in to systems periodically helps both the organization and the individual. 

02.  Rotate People periodically: Rotate the people in to different functions periodically after you build the Systems in each of the functions. If you do it without having strong systems, then the organization will get in to trouble as the new person will start doing things in his / her own way. 

03.  Grow the People in to new roles: How many companies have a strong system for growing people? Growth is a two way street. Employees should participate actively. But, I would put the onus on the organization to make this happen. There should be Developmental initiatives to grow people. I have not seen many companies focused on this. Some wonderful exceptions are there who focus on medium term development of people. 

04.  Expose the people to companies outside:You can do this by periodic visit to other Bench mark companies. You can take people to companies on a paid tour that are arranged by companies across the world. You can visit companies in Japan/ USA / Europe to show how World class companies work. Nothing better than actually looking at things working. 

05.  Have a growth agenda in the company:A company that is not having energy within  and not having an agenda for Growth will not be having people who are energetic! A Company should always have Growth Agenda and should create some energy in the Organization. 


A Company needs to have higher expectations from itself, from its’ people and enable Growth of the Company and the People. If People are becoming worthless by staying long in the Company, then it reflects on the Company and its’ Leadership ! 


While a Company can manage its ’Old timers’, how can the Young Managers manage the ‘Old Timers’ who are not highly skilled and who have become ‘heavy’ for them to carry them? 


The Old Timers have to be moved to start Learning something new. That is our objective. ‘A moving stream of water’ is  our objective. We don’t want water to stagnate and stink. 


01.  Look for what is good:When people stay in a company for a long time, they will accumulate something good. There may be something that you don’t like. But, what do the Old timers have that is good? Recognize it , Use it   and appreciate it. Only then you gain a right to point out to something that is not there. Many a times the old timers have good knowledge of the Products / Processes in the Company. You can ‘Down load’ it from them and make them in to ‘E-Learning’ Lessons that can be useful for the whole organization. The Old Timers can be the center piece for the Knowledge Management System in a company. 

02.  Give genuine respect:Experience is traditionally respected in our culture. We bow to people who are aged and experienced. Honor this tradition in your company genuinely. These are principles and should be followed strictly. 

03.  Expose them to new areas:The Old Timers can get a ‘New Comer’ feeling if they are put in an unfamiliar territory within the Organization. But, this should be tried only after you use their experience. Otherwise they would get a feeling that they are worthless and being shunted around.  We want people around to feel good about themselves. We don’t want them to feel they are worthless. A Mature Leader would agree with this approach. 

04.  Give them higher responsibility:Let them handle a few areas by themselves as they are experienced. They may fail. But ,that is the way to make them move. By putting your trust in them, you would be showing your good will. If they fail, they will ‘feel’ about it. A Creative tension would start within them to ‘Grow’. Put your Trust in the ‘human nature’.

05.  Earn their respect:The Young Manager should not look to bossing over the Old timer due to his/her designation only. The Young Manager should earn the respect of people around him/her with his/her work culture that may be biased towards action. 

06.  Team feedback:It would be good to let the team give the feedback to each other. If there are 10 people in a team, each person should get a feedback from the other 9 on Commitment, Coordination and Cooperation. Peer feedback is very powerful. If the person feels that only his/her boss is not happy with him/her, the Corrective action may not be strong. But, if he/she knows that 7 out of 9 people are asking him/her to change, then you have a better chance. 

07.  Don’t make it ‘we vs them’:Unknowingly ,the Managers may push the Old Timers in to one group making it more difficult to themselves. Partner with the Old Timers genuinely and as you may do with anyone else. Do not create groups in the organization with your actions. 



I feel the Old Timers in a Manufacturing Company are very valuable and every Company should manage them actively. 



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