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Indai A Great place to Work

A typical morning at an Multi National Corporation (MNC) located in India: the teams are getting ready to close on the deliverables that were committed on the conference call last night. Expecting to circle back with their counterparts in Europe and North America, some of the commitments made are really difficult and hard to keep. It is just that someone on the ‘concall’ in India, knew but couldn’t gather the resolve to say it upfront. All are scrambling to ensure that we keep the commitment ‘somehow’.

Doesn’t this sound very familiar in today’s life, where ‘get it done, somehow’ is still worshipped as the best approach and has become the core to sustain business and grow? Those who would dare to be realistic are still an outcast and threat to the business.

Work places in India whether big, medium or small, have mostly become part of global business groups, which allow people to work across borders. The talent in India is no less than anywhere in the world. There is no known case of an MNC or a company which has stopped working with India, due to lack of talent or non availability of talent. However, what worries them the most are factors like changing tax structures, government policies, ethics and red tape, political instability, etc. All of them feel that talent in India is competent, committed, passionate, and emotionally connected to the company. The culture of doing more than what is said in the job description and running that extra mile is natural at a work place in India.

It’s time that India is seen as a great place to work. If ‘Make in India’ is a dream, it calls for having a global mindset. The competition is global and products have to be of high quality and compete with other brands across the world.

More and more companies in India will move towards creating a competitive, innovative and compelling work place. Those days of treating India as a back office or sweat shop will not hold water anymore. Those organisations will ultimately become extinct in the market place, if they don’t move up the value chain. Competition will eat them for breakfast and customers will dump them.

The only way to survive is to create the right talent and an environment that is very compelling, following all the right standards and practices that promote growth, trust and leadership at the market place. The transformation is taking place in many organizations.

The family run organisations are becoming more professional and bringing in more experts in their leadership. Young generations in family businesses are well educated and exposed to global markets and standards. They are keen to make their organisation look professional, gain trust and respect, and be more transparent.

The multinationals have started looking at the talent in India, and are beginning to leverage their intellectual horsepower in moving their core activities, development and R&D. There are lots of expats moving to India, as part of their development; as it turns out, India is amongst the few countries across the globe which has high growth and potential to surpass all expectations.

What made great corporations create a great work places? Their ‘purpose’ and ‘principles’ played a great part in creating a great organisation, that employees had pride to work for and felt proud telling their colleagues, peers and their customers, how great their work place is, and how different they are from the rest.

The employees and customers made the company look good. They created all the ingredients required to make it special and different. Take examples of organisations that are rated as great places to work in today’s world and those that have become institutions themselves from the past, are known for what they stand for, and not merely their profitability or revenue size. No one in the street remembers the business parameters of the company. What they stand for is what all understand and remember. This is what we need to create more and more in India.

There are a few things we can do to create, promote and develop talent in India:

1. Innovation as a Culture – Fund and encourage innovators, and create a career track for innovation. Today there is no specific career track for innovators within an organisation. This can help us move away from being a sweat shop to innovative and value creation;

2. Entrepreneurial Talent – It is a myth that entrepreneurs are meant to run their own businesses. It is more required within an organisation. Most of the today’s managers in line and staff function, don’t manage their own budgets to start with. They feel it is somebody else’s job to do. They don’t even watch the numbers for their own business. We need to make a start with making them responsible to run their business as their own, make budgets, manage and grow with those;

3. Leadership Bench – We keep talking about 20 percent buy and 80 percent build as part of the strategy for talent building in the company. Is it truly tracked and practiced? The answer is no and a big NO. It’s time that every company focuses on creating those who can lead. There are several cookie cutter programs and so called leadership development programs. Did they truly develop enough leaders in the organisation? Why are we still looking outside? In my opinion, what worked well is experiential learning and leadership development comes from the risk an organisation is willing to take by betting on talent. This includes encouraging them to take compelling assignments, allowing them to fail, and not victimise them if they failed trying hard;

4. Diversity & Inclusion – Today in India, diversity is about hiring more women and bragging the percentage of women in the company. The most important is not ‘what comes into the door but what we do with it’. How included are they in the business: are they key players in the organisation; are they allowed to participate actively? It goes beyond male-female ratio. We are a country of fantastic diversity. Are we creating a diverse workforce in the company? A cosmopolitan, not only physical diversity, but diversity in thinking, and how inclusive and accepting are we, is the key. It is important to keep in mind that a country like USA is successful because they have mandated diversity and it has helped them to bring the best talent from different countries.

One big win for us as a country and our corporations, is when we get to a situation where we are in a position to hire the best talent, anywhere in the world and bring them to the country to work for us. It is important to create the right environment, acceptability, and culture which will help our internal talent, while benefitting business at the same time.

Developed countries like US, UK and others in Europe, and Japan etc, became strong and their corporations have created compelling products in the world. The reason being that they were able to get the best talent across the world, allowed them to stay in their country, and leveraged their talent. It is merely the people from different countries who have created the best organizations in their countries.

It’s time that India, as part of ‘Make in India’ create “Opportunities in India’ for the best talent and create an environment that the best talent is nurtured and they do not have to look elsewhere to create a niche for themselves.

By Mukund Menon

Director – HR & Communications, International Paper India 

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