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People Productivity

People Productivity (11)

People Productivity is one big issue in The Indian Manufacturing! Blue collar and White collar, both need a lot of improvement! A change in mindset is needed in the The Indian Manufacturing and you can Double your Productivities! 

Monday, 04 February 2019 00:00

Performance Management or Popularity Management?

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Ram is having his Performance Appraisal letter in his hand and he is feeling terrible! He got an ‘Average’ rating and he was expecting an ‘Outstanding’ rating and a Promotion too. The general mood in the office is reflecting a ‘Home in mourning’. People who got ‘Outstanding’ were unhappy that they did not get Promotion. People who got ‘Outstanding’ rating and ‘Promotion’ feel they did not get enough increment to go with the new position. There does not seem to be anyone who is happy ! That is making Ram’s mood even more mournful! Ram’s Boss had been giving him very good feedback through out the year. Ram had been asking his Boss for feedback and generally Boss always gave a Positive feedback that Ram is doing quite well. He would mention some issues in overall performance of the Company. But, always ended saying Ram is doing very well. Now, at the end of the year Ram is having a big Surprise ! Ram’s Boss blamed it on the ‘Normalisation’ and kept saying ‘I recommended better rating for you, HR did not allow it’. Ram does not know what to do. When he enquires with HR, they say ‘We go by your Boss’s rating’. Ram is stuck between a ‘Rock’ and a ‘Hard Place’. 

Sounds familiar ? 

When I look at the ‘Performance Management’ in companies, this is the normal situation in most of the Companies. Those days when the Performance appraisal letters are given, generally mourning feeling is pervasive in the Company. The Supervisors / Bosses who give rating are busy bad mouthing the ‘System’. The same Supervisors / Bosses never give constructive feedback to the team members during the year. 

My observation is that the Supervisors / Bosses usually do not have the conviction and courage to look in to the eyes of their team member and tell him/her what is going well and what is not going well. They never clearly tell them where the Team members have to improve. They give some general remarks ! 

Why are the Supervisors / Bosses behaving this way? I find that it has several reasons. But, one of the important one is to do with the urge of the Supervisors / Bosses to be ‘Popular’ with their Team. But, this is only one surface level symptom. The root cause lies much deeper. It is to do with an absence of ‘Performance Culture’ in the Company. 

Essentials for a Good Performance Culture

It is essential for a Company to have a Culture where Good Performance is valued and the definition for Good Performance is clearly defined and understood by everyone concerned. 

01.  Sharp and Clear Targets:The foundation for a good Performance Culture is ‘Clear Targets’ at all levels in the Company. There are many companies who have Clear targets at the Top and ‘Unclear or No Targets’ at every other level. This creates a situation where the Supervisors / Bosses are not clear about what to expect from their teams. So, everything is okay. Even the Supervisor / Boss who is serious about Performance will not know how to make his Team members accountable. Not to talk about the ‘Popular Leaders’. A Target Deployment system has to be implemented.

02.  Critical Business Reviews: Even if the Targets are deployed properly, if the Bosses are not reviewing periodically, the Performance culture will not be there. A good Business Review needs to follow a certain process. The Business Reviews have to happen at ALL levels and not just by Senior people. Conducting a review is equivalent to the concerned Boss taking responsibility to get results from his team. If only senior people are reviewing, then responsibility lies only with senior people. The Bosses have to give Critical feedback to the team. This is very important. If they soft pedal, then they are not helping the team.

03.  Regular Feedback to the team members: Other than the Business Reviews, each of the Team member has to be given Personal feedback about his/her performance. I would recommend a Quarterly feedback. The feedback has to be critical, acknowledging the good things and where the person has to improve. If there are good discussions / debates, it is very good.

04.  Train the Bosses / Supervisors: Every company should have a written down Performance Management System and all those involved should be trained formally in the System. It is worth having a KPI for all the Leaders about his/her effectiveness on Performance Management System. Companies need to create a discussion around the Performance Management System within the Company. 

05.  Promote a Self-Improvement Culture:  Every Company can do this by encouraging the Leaders to take a 360 Degree feed back (Co-ordinated by an outside agency is better) and creating an ‘Individual Development Plan’ for every Leader.  This has to start from the Top. A Company that can successfully create a Self-Improvement Culture can be successful on creating a Performance Culture as everyone would be reconciled that it is okay to be ‘Not Perfect’ on just about everything and it is okay to say that ‘I need to improve in this area’. 

There can be more elements. But, these are absolutely essential. Companies need to acknowledge that it is not very easy to maintain ‘Performance Culture’ and have enough focus on this Vital aspect of Business. 



Monday, 12 February 2018 00:00

Cost Reduction

Written by
Alexander Kutappan is a seasoned HR professional. He is an MSW and an MBA. During his 15 years plus experience in the Industry, Alex specialised on Self Managed Work Teams. He dealt with this subject and contributed to its’ success in Elgi Equipments Limited and Dr.Reddy’s Laboratories.  In this series of articles on the Self Managed Work Teams, Alex is presenting the fundamentals about the SMWTs and sharing his experience about making these teams a success.



SELF MANAGED WORK TEAM (SMWT)– Implementation and Reflection (Part-3)




Phased implementation


After designing Self-Managed Work Team (SMWT) pillars, these pillars need to be implemented in a phased manner depending on the maturity of the teams and readiness of the organization. Broadly implementation of Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWTs) can be divided into Preparatory, Implementation and Sustenance phases.


Preparatory Phase:

·         Designing Self-Managed Work Teams’ (SMWTs’) Pillars is the most important stage, wherein Top management team needs to be involved in finalizing them.


·         Designing the Teams, Defining Members / STAR selection process, Shift Assembly Meeting process, Designing of Team Score card, Review mechanism, Rewards and recognition process, Training etc. will be worked out by the middle management that needs to be duly approved by the Top Management.

Implementation Phase:

It is advisable to implement it in a pilot area and to horizontally deploy it across the organization, because the learning from each organization is unique. Top management needs to motivate Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWTs) constantly and objectively by way of reviewing them periodically.

Sustenance Phase:

Once implemented across the organization the link should be made in such a way that Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWTs) way of working sustains by itself through Reviews, Rewards, Performance pay, Career growth etc.


Pros and Cons of Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWTs)



·         Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWTs) facilitates motivated, flexible, learning, participative work force who contribute not only to Productivity, Quality, Delivery of products but also in solving day to day problems and making improvements in Products and Processes.



·         Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWTs) implementation often leads to high expectation from the management that every problem in the organization would be solved only by these teams. Top management needs to be realistic.

·         Work force often has high expectation as they are promised and pampered by the management as though they are the only one who contributes to the organization. This leads unending dissatisfaction. These teams need to be treated respectfully and when required sternly, but fairly.



Challenges in implementation


At times top management decides to implement Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWTs) as it looks ‘attractive’ and ‘novel’ but often expect instant results and lose sight of focus after a year or two.

For Middle management Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWTs) implementation becomes one more initiative to be implemented. They miss human element involved in the process. Implementation happens whether they are convinced of benefits from Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWTs) or not as it is pushed by the Top management.

Supervisory cadre need to have paradigm shift in their role, Supervisors to Mentors. They need to work hard in preparatory phase and act as mentors in implementation phase and need to give way for the team leaders to take up their role. Often ego massage is required.

In green field it is relatively easy to implement than in brown field, where they are accustomed to work in a traditional manner. Convincing unions takes time but works.

Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWTs) are not the solution for all problems in an organization.


Stories to Cherish


“I used to spend my entire time in shop floor, but today Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWTs) are taking care of daily production, I’m called only if there is a problem. I spend hardly 10% of my time focusing on routine activities; I’m able to focus on improvement activities”. Supervisor from ATS – ELGI, Coimbatore

“With the help of Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWTs), last 18 months we have made products without Safety or Quality incidents” – Area Head – CTO VI, Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd., Vizag

“Daily operations are entirely taken care by these teams. Seniors have grown into managerial levels in other functions. Organization structure is lean with only three layers in the Operations.” – Plant Head – FTO 6, Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd., Himachal.


Stories to Learn

In an organization, where Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWTs) are implemented for more than 5 years, today literally there is no focus on Team way of working but everybody focuses on it for Performance pay and Career growth, as it was promised to the workforce. I’m not sure, whether these teams serve the real purpose for which they were created.

In another process industry, top management wanted to implement Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWTs) to address their on-going struggle with unions. Though they never mentioned about it, everybody in the organization knew about it, including new team members. Even after couple of years of implementation, forming unions is always on the minds of team members and middle management is always thinking of ways and means to avoid forming of unions by workmen. Struggle goes on without understanding the root-cause of their problems.


Some of the lessons I have learned in implementing Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWTs) are summarized below:

Not every organization needs or is ready to implement Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWTs). When we force fit, it leaves bad taste in the mouth for everyone. Hence, considerable time needs to be spent before deciding to implement.

If it is decided to implement, entire organization needs to participate in Preparatory phase. Everyone’s buy in is critical to the entire process. Often HR department initiates the process with the help of consultants and it is always considered as a HR Baby. It is bound to fail! Production team should own up the implementation and HR team should support dedicatedly in all phases, if you want it to succeed.

If Preparatory phase is adequate, implementation phase needs to be taken one step at a time. Need to restrain from seeking immediate results, that too by speedingup the process of implementation. Before implementing it across the organization, it needs to be implemented in a pilot area to learn the lesson and do course correction as needed. Instead of spending more time in making reports about Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWTs), HR team and Supervisors / mentors should spend more time with employees who go through group dynamics to help them overcome their struggle.

To ensure Sustenance of the initiative, carefully devised Rewards Program, On-going Learning, Performance Pay, Career Growth, Management Reviews and it should be part of Performance measures of all concerned.


Monday, 06 October 2014 00:00


Written by

Alexander Kutappan is a seasoned HR professional. He is an MSW and an MBA. During his 15 years plus experience in the Industry, Alex specialised on Self Managed Work Teams. He dealt with this subject and contributed to its’ success in Elgi Equipments Limited and Dr.Reddy’s Laboratories.  In this series of articles on the Self Managed Work Teams, Alex is presenting the fundamentals about the SMWTs and sharing his experience about making these teams a success.







Top management needs to be committed to implementation of Self-Managed Work Team way of working and understand that it takes minimum 2 years to experience it as a way of life. And it is a cultural change. Top management needs to focus on it very closely at initial stages and to watch over it for its sustenance.

It is always advisable that prior to implementing  Self-Managed Work Team (SMWT), to implement those systems that would help in improving production like  TPM, 5 S, Lean, TQM etc. so that maintaining those systems will be the responsibility of these teams.

It goes without saying,stable work force is needed to make them work as Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWTs).

Organizational Values need to be in sync with Self-Managed Work Team culture. If an organization has the autocratic culture, it is difficult to implement Self-Managed Work Team (SMWT) concept. Unless the team culture is prevalent among executives and senior team, it will be an uphill task. Similarly Transparency and Credibility of the organization plays critical role. In Self-Managed Work Team culture, one can expect ALL types of questions about the business, practices, values etc. from the Empowered Teams.


Process of implementation


Diagnostic study

Detailed diagnostic study is required to decide need and possibility of implementing Self-Managed Work Teams in an organization. If the company is not in competitive business, it is not required, as it involves investment and focus. Sometimes, it may happen that organization may not be ready for Self-Managed Work Team implementation as mentioned above.


Self-Managed Work Team Pillars Design

Though broad principles and philosophy is common in implementing Self-Managed Work Teamsbut this needs to be tailor made to suit the organizational need.


      Team Design:

o   Normally a team is consist of 8-12 members

o   Team is responsible for end-to-end process

o   Team functioning will start from preparing their Team Charter 

o   There will be rotational STARs (leaders) like Production STAR, Quality STAR, Safety STAR, Maintenance STAR, Stores STAR, HR STAR etc.


·         Selection:

o   To bring in SELF MANAGED WORK TEAM (SMWT)(SMWT)(SMWT) culture, in the context of green field projects, even before they are hired, they should be screened at various level to suit the requirement to assess their Attitude, Skills and Knowledge

o   Aptitude tests, Psychometric tests, Competency based interview etc. are some of them.

o   In the context of brown field, where employees have been working in a traditional way, it is more difficult but it is possible.


·         On-going Learning:

o   Learning is the best way to motivate, especially if they are young.

o   This would include Class room trainings on required Engineering knowledge, On-the Job Training for skill improvement, Behavioral Training to improve their Attitude and Team work


·         Home Away Home:

o   This pillar is applicable, only if employees are young and if they have to stay in hostels.

o   Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWTs) culture is instilled in their community living hostels also by way of empowering them to manage their hostel with required committees, helping them to cross learn from each other too.


·         Discipline Committee:

o   To make them responsible for their behavior, Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWTs) are facilitated to form a Discipline Committee.

o   This Committee will get input from the members and form Guidelines for motivating good behaviors and punishing inappropriate behaviors.


·         Continuous Communication:

o   Communication is the life-line of Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWTs)

o   There is Daily Communication through Shift Assembly Meetings

o   Weekly Communication through Weekly Review by the Head of the Department

o   Monthly Review by the Head of the Organization

o   Monthly Open House Meeting will be conducted to update organization’s performance, Department performance, facilitate Good performers and to address their grievances.



·         Performance Score card:

o   Though everything can’t be measured in life, at least in performance what can’t be measured, can’t be improved. Each Self-Managed Work Team (SMWT) will have a Performance Score card with Parameters, Targets and Weightages aligning to organizational business goal.

o   Each month they will have their Scores out of 100 based on their performance. This can be a tool for Rewards, Recognition, Differentiation, Performance pay and partially for Career growth.


·         Rewards and Recognition:

o   To motivate Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWTs) there will be Rewards and Recognition based on their Performance like The Best Self-Managed Work Team (SMWT) of the Month, The Best STAR of the Month etc.


·         Skill Based Progression:

o   Acquiring new skills is the motivator in itself. Nobody likes to do routine jobs.

o   There will be road map for skill definitions, acquiring skills, skill assessments and skill progression.

o   Based on skill acquisition, suitability and availability, team members can grow horizontally and vertically.


·         Business Improvements:

o   The purpose of Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWTs) is the business improvements.

o   Productivity Improvements, Quality Improvements, Cost Reduction, Delivery Improvements, 5 S, Zero Accidents etc. will be monitored team wise and individual wise and rewarded suitably.


·         Organizational Design:

o   If Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWTs) are performing well then Organization can be re-structured so that there are only minimum layers to speed up the decision making process and to empower the Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWTs).

o   If it is a green field project, organizational design will be the first step to start with.


Implementation of Self-Managed Work Team (SMWT) is not EASY, especially in our culture. And it has its own design, processes, challenges and risks. The biggest challenge comes to its sustenance. These points will be discussed in forth-coming articles.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014 00:00

Self Managed Work Team (SMWT)

Written by

Alexander Kutappan is a seasoned HR professional. He is an MSW and an MBA. During his 15 years plus experience in the Industry, Alex specialised on Self Managed Work Teams. He dealt with this subject and contributed to its’ success in Elgi Equipments Limited and Dr.Reddy’s Laboratories.  In this series of articles on the Self Managed Work Teams, Alex is presenting the fundamentals about the SMWTs and sharing his experience about making these teams a success.



“Not finance. Not technology. Not strategy. It is team work that remains the ultimate competitive advantage, both because it is so powerful and so rare”(p. vii) This is the way Patrick Lencioni opened his best- selling book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team (2002)

The increase in global competition has created situation for firms to become more innovative and incorporate ideas that increase employee motivation and productivity while decreasing costs. One method that has had great success is the use of Self-Managed Work Team (SMWT). William Passmore reports in his article, "Developing Self-Managing Work Teams: An Approach to Successful Integration.", that Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWTs) are increasing in their popularity and many U.S. firms are using different forms of these teams to help increase production, streamline the organizational process, and maintain a higher level of commitment and motivation among employees.

Self-Managed Work Team (SMWT)is “a group of employees who are accountable for their deliverables as a team and managing end to end process by themselves with no / minimum supervision”


In traditional setting, for every 10-15 shop floor employees there is a supervisor who ensures that day to day activities are carried out by them. For every 3-4 supervisors there is a manager who manages supervisors directly and shop floor employees indirectly. These managers are in turn managed by Department Head. Probably assumption is that all the shop floor employees have no brain to use towards contributing to the organization, will have to be supervised very closely to make them work, will not take responsibility, will not contribute to improvements, will not learn new skills etc. Often shop floor employees will not disappoint them and will reflect these assumptions in their behavior.Result is wastage of human resources.


‘Self-Managed Work Teams’ (SMWTs’) way of working assumes that every shop floor employee can contribute not only by their hands but also by their brains to implement improvements, can learn new skills, does not require supervision to carry out their routine activities, can take higher responsibility of Production, Quality, Cost, Delivery, Safety and Morale.Good news is that ‘it WORKS’. Though initially it started in Western world as a concept and developed outside India successfully, it works in India too. For example in Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Limited, an Indian multi-national pharmaceutical company implemented Self-Managed Work Teams concepts almost a decade ago. It was the first pharmaceutical company to implement it in the world. These team members have grown to the status of Managers!


In 2008 I started implementing the same in the name of Self-Managed Team (SELF MANAGED WORK TEAM (SMWT)) in ELGI Equipments Ltd, an Indian multinational manufacturing Compressors. I have seen operators sitting and chatting during their shift time. When enquired, they said that materials for production had not come and their supervisor was following with different departments to get it at the earliest. The same employees after implementing Self-Managed Team (SELF MANAGED WORK TEAM (SMWT)) philosophy, would ensure  availability of materials the previous day. If material is not available at the line, they would follow it up with stores through their ‘Thaeni( Meaning ‘Honey bee’ in Tamil. Material Coordinator from their team) STAR’ and if material was not available in stores, sometimes the ‘Thaeni’ used to follow it up with Purchase department and in some instances, their follow up trail went up to Supplier himself. Whether they need to follow up it with Stores, Purchase and Suppliers is debatable, but the point is that they had taken the responsibility for the on-time production and took pride in achieving it.


Self-Managed Work Team (SMWT) implementation mainly focuses on shop floor employees. However, the changes affect every function that interacts directly with the shop floor and at every level. At a broad level, it brings changes in every function.


Implementation of Self-Managed Work Team (SMWT) is not EASY, especially in our culture. It has its own challenges and risks. The biggest challenge is about its’ sustenance. These points will be discussed in forth-coming articles.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014 00:00

Wellness of Employees

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 How to contribute to the wellness of employees and therefore to the performance of the Company?

Wellness of employees is believed to contribute to the wellness of the Company. The Indian spoke to Ms.Mahalakshmi, Director of Ru Education Private Limited who is an experienced trainer and is pioneering the wellness concept in many Indian and foreign companies. Following is the transcript of the interview.

TIM (The Indian :How do you define wellness of an employee or rather that of a human being?

Mahalakshmi:Wellness is holistic wellbeing which includes, good health of the body, mind and soul.

TIM:How can wellness of an Employee contribute to the progress of a Company?

Mahalakshmi:A healthy employee is a happy employee and a happy employee is a productive employee. He is much more anchored in the self and starts contributing with passion.  And when people’s actions are backed-up with passion it takes the organisation to the next level effortlessly.

TIM: What are the Indian ways in which we can contribute to the wellness of employees?

Mahalakshmi:India always has had a holistic approach to wellness. For example  take the Panchashudhhi model. It talks about purification of the body (Sharirashudhhi), Purification of the speech (Vaakshudhhi), Purification of the emotions (BhaavaShudhhi), Purification of the thoughts (VichaaraShudhhi) and Purification of the self (AathmaShudhhi).  Even the Ashtaanga Yoga model talks of the holistic approach to wellness which leads to enlightenment.

TIM:What role can the leader of the organization play in promoting the wellness of employees?

Mahalakshmi: The leader of an organisation should have a far-sighted approach towards the wellness of the employees. I am reminded of the old tamil poem which says “When the ridge to contain the water in the fields goes up the water level goes up; when the water level goes up the paddy crop produce goes up; when the produce goes up the citizens’ well-being is heightened & when the citizens’ well-being is heightened, the king becomes supreme”.

The leader’s role is to provide a conducive environment in the systems, hierarchical practices and organisational procedures of the organisation to promote wellness of the constituents. Alongside awareness training should be conducted by competent facilitators to raise the awareness levels.

TIM:Can you give some examples of companies where this concept is championed and how they would have got benefited ?

Mahalakshmi:  ELGI Equipments ltd is a pioneer in this region. They have conducted a series of training programs to bring-in overall awareness of well-being at the body, mind & soul level. Various initiatives like yogasanas, deep-breathing techniques, meditation, etc are taught to them and also 15 minutes time is given to all where-in a daily energiser routine is followed by them. In this 15 minutes, 5 minutes is allocated for physical exercise (physical well-being),  5 minutes for deep-breathing exercises (for high energy levels)  and 5 minutes for meditation (mental well-being). They have also spent over 50 lakhs in a wellness centre, where series of initiatives like lectures and programs are organised with the help of competent faculty to raise the awareness levels.

ITC, Thekkampatti is also one more organisation who has instilled this awareness by including yoga as a part of their training. Also Pricol has taken special interest in this aspect.

I have just mentioned a few Coimbatore-based companies here.

The result is a generation of employees who have heightened awareness towards wellness. This results in better industrial relations and general value-addition to quality of life all around. This will also go a long way in fulfilling the Corporate Social Responsibility..

TIM: Is this concept only for big companies ? Is it expensive to really focus on wellness of employees?

Mahalakshmi:Not at all. It should be and can be followed by all irrespective the size of the company. Its not expensive and all it needs is “Value for wellness”.

The ROI in terms of the effectiveness and efficiency of the employees is so high that the amount spent is just a fraction of the benefits derived.

TIM:If the relationship between Management and Workmen is not good right now, is it a good time to start focus on wellness?

Mahalakshmi: In such cases, this in fact is the best time to focus on wellness. When the employees see the selfless contribution of the employer towards his wellness the environment becomes much more conducive for a better relationship.

As  thegenuineness  of this effort is seen by the employees,  it results into immediate diffusion of animosity and hostility and results into better IR.

TIM:How do you energize the employees on a daily basis using some simple concepts?

Mahalakshmi:A minimum 15 minutes focus should be given for this aspect. Simple exercises, pranayams and meditation should be the routine.

TIM: How can Yoga help in improving the Business of a Company?

Mahalakshmi:The root word of yoga in Sanskrit is “Yuj”, which means “to join”. When you have a work-force who are joined or anchored in the self, who are much more centred& emotionally balanced, time is not wasted in negative activities. The energy can be positively channelized towards growing of the business.

TIM:How can your organization help in improving the Wellness of employees in a company?

Mahalakshmi:Ru Education has developed unique training programs under the name “The complete Secret of Personal Effectiveness Programs”. These programs focus on training and equipping the employees to handle all the levels of their existence which includes their body, communication, Emotions, mind and spiritual. Also Asanas, Pranaayams& Meditation are taught as a part of our programs as we believe in self-management leading to external work-place management. We have taken the best of Spiritual techniques from the eastern world and the management techniques from the western world. When transformation happens at the core level, attitudes will change and there will be a longer-lasting behavioural change. We have a very strong expertise in this field, with proven track-record of having conducted over 800 programs for leading companies in India and overseas.

More details can be had by clicking on this link