Economy and economics as a topic is being discussed in board rooms , bored halls and bedrooms alike

Economy and economics as a topic is being discussed in board rooms , bored halls and bedrooms alike. All are agreed on the consequential aspects of economy  like business losses, earnings erosion, customer defection , closures, lock-outs and retrenchment. The overall feeling of gloom and anxiety is the order of the day. Given this environment  how does one manage people on a day to day basis ?

Provide Parental leadership

With a supportive leadership environment , the shared success and failure is an outcome of collectivism and not individualism. ORPAT watch company a family owned enterprise has been successful in creating a business model where employees and employers have integrated their professional and personal lives seamlessly. All the factory employees are women. It is said that some of the major distributors of the company are from the same village  and are today nationally dispersed. The leaders provide a parental role to the highly committed workforce. Here is a company which has prospered, and survived using traditional management as a competitive advantage. The company has a strong market share in the country.

Believe in collaborative working – It is natural to us Indians as our heritage is based on collectivism.

In late eighties and early nineties Japan became a benchmark for Quality and quality management practices. At the root of the success lay total reliance on innovation, error free work processes and collaborative team working. Japan has a history  of family based entrepreneurship and hence collaborative working was a natural outcome. Post world war II and near total destruction ,the spirit of survival took precedence. They studied the western management practices closely and could easily adopt these practices with two notable exceptions :- a renewed vigour to better than the best and a collaborative yet competitive  team working . Sony Corporation’s rise to fame can be explained by the disruptive invention of the walkman where music became a personal experience. Toyota’s legendary performance is an example where they created global teams and yet maintained the Japanese ethos of people management. Closer home Maruti Suzuki entered India, and with it a new era of management practice evolved. Common denominator, in all these time tested companies, focus on issues and not people. Reward teams, rather than individuals and create incentives for success that can be shared and seen by all consistently.

Listen to team members – Nobody want’s to be a failure.

Most management reviews in a downturn environment tend to rely heavily on analytics and as a result risk mitigation acquires a disproportionate share of priority. The information is rational but has an overhead of irrational negative feeling on people. Several organizations struggle with the usual communications syndrome where information and announcements are meant to dispel anxiety and fear with little impact. Customer service managers learn to deal with data and with people feelings. This department thrives on challenges of the day with one exception. By force they are compelled to be innovative, and process compliant. Talking to an Elevator company service manager, threw up an interesting best practice. All the service reps and the managers meet once a week  to discuss people issues and each offers a suggestion for improvement. This is a grassroot practice where despite constraints people love challenges as opportunities of success.

Examples abound where organizations have emerged out of downturn conditions. Even after the dot com bust IT services business emerged . With  cross-pollination of people from FMCG industry  the Telecom industry scaled unprecedented growth. It is therefore a reasonable conclusion that while processes and technology help create value, people alone make it happen or else we end up wondering what happened.

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