Message From MD March – 2020
02 March 2020
We are at a new workplace. A new environment. Under a new roof and on new grounds. Clearly we are more positive, more vibrant, more focussed and more responsible now. The month of March always keeps us engaged to achieve the yearly targets and compensate the shortfalls. But strategically, March should be clearly focussed on planning the future. Planning needs an ability to see the BIG picture. Again the plans need to be executable. Ambitious targets that are beyond conversion can make you desperate. The best way to plan the future is to encourage HONEST CONVERSATIONS.
Serious strategic errors can happen if the top management is reluctant to hear the voice of subordinates. Proper and absolute communication channels need to be built inside the organisation for transparent execution and wonderful results. We are going through an era of transformation. But many of the companies fail in their efforts to transform. Leaders often get stuck in ego prisons that merely reinforce their own ideas. Meanwhile lower-level employees are often fully aware of the problems that plague a company or the reasons a particular strategy won’t work, but they tend to remain silent, fearful that speaking up could put their careers at risk.
During the pre-budget meetings, I always feel that the top management is trying to execute a corporate strategy or a business plan which is not at all viable and everybody at the execution level knows it’s off the rails, but no one wants to be the bearer of bad news or be seen as a non-team player. So there’s this organizational silence where no one feels comfortable speaking truth to power. Michael Beer, Professor, Harvard Business School, in his new book ‘Fit to Compete’ says, ‘This silence is not only a morale-killer, it can also lead companies to make serious strategic mistakes’. He also adds, ‘mental weariness among employees can cause them to lose hope in their organization and become cynical and passive’. So according to me, we need to allow critical information to be shared freely from the bottom to the top which in turn will help us eradicate the cultural problems and the inability to perform. We can create a more effective organization too.
It is inevitable that power will corrupt and that absolute power will corrupt absolutely. It’s certainly the most likely outcome if leaders cannot overcome the organizational silence created by the power differentials that go with any hierarchy. Many management failures and scandals are rooted in the inability of senior leaders to learn the truth and respond effectively. Widespread adoption of this discipline must start with boards of directors. They must hold senior team members accountable for honest conversations and learning. Good leaders value the capabilities embedded in the organization’s people, assets, knowledge, and systems. Without such leadership, the company cannot develop sustained commitment and performance. Instead, cycles of high and low performance will destroy value for all stakeholders. And just as the director board needs to hold senior management team accountable for honest conversation, so must those people keep their department functional and hold all team members accountable.
Of course, honest conversations can be most uncomfortable to the Managing Director and the board members. But the stakes are too high not to do it. Let’s keep this in mind while we indulge ourselves in the preparation of next year’s business plans so that the voice of everyone is reflected and the goals are decided together with clear ownership. Let’s work hard to have a decent balance sheet for the current FY as well as to create ambitious and practical plans for the next FY.
The Festival of Responsibilities will be conducted on March 29th at Hotel Le Meridian. Our responsibility towards the society, customers, stakeholders, future and employees will be well exhibited and communicated in the programme. I take this opportunity to invite each and everyone to participate in the programme without fail.