It’s always interesting to learn from Business Leaders who have been there and done that. Gurcharan Das brings out very relevant thoughts and principles in his book “India Unbound”.
“Oddly enough, I learned the most valuable lessons about effectiveness in business from Kamble” says GD(Gurcharan Das) as he talks about a secretary guard at Richardson Hindustan where he worked. Here it goes from GD
“How Kamble brought to his attention of a lost envelope which was not addressed properly. The envelope was of an important tape which was to be delivered to the ad agency and did not reach because of the faulty address. Kamble had done a lot of “saving situations” which made him indispensible in a lot of ways. He had learned to operate the telephone switchboard on his own initiative, learned to use a complicated photocopying machine, send faxes and a fixing a lot of other things. He knew who was staying late, who was traveling, how to reach anyone’s home. It had got so that if anything was needed after hours, our reaction was “Where’s Kamble?”
Also when a telephone operator went on maternity leave, kamble offered to take her place for 6 weeks. Gurcharand and his team soon discovered that their telphone service had improved dramatically. The business associates used to ask what had happened. For years, they had complained that phones would ring and ring, and they had resigned themselves to a long wait. Now to their surprise, the telephones were answered on the second ring.
I asked kamble. “Well there might be a customer at the other end” he replied and “we might lose an order”. Kamble did not know that their business did not generally come over the telephone but its the ATTITUDE that mattered.
How does one get ordinary employees to care for the business as though they are owners, and do EXTRAORDINARY THINGS.
The irony is that company makes all its money outside the company – when the customer buys the product – but the employees spend all the time inside, usually arguing over turf.
The answer was clear – we had to take our employees closer to the customers.
The point of this is to drive home a point that ‘one exists because of one’s customers.
Kamble was a product of the absence of rigid rules in our small company. The more rules there are, the less people will do on their own, and the more effort they will spend in getting around the rules.
Who really knows the source of human creativity? If you worry too much about appearances, you end up with employees who will give you good appearances, you end up with employees who will give you good appearances. If you only care about results, then employees will give you good results.
If one trusts people and makes them feel trusted, they will respond. People behave according to the way they are treated. It is vital that all employees share the company’s mission and objectives. Most companies tend to be secretive and fear that competitors will steal their secrets. Thus they avoid telling employees the most basic things.
In a large organization people desperately need to feel that there is meaning to their work.
Good Managers, I have found do very few things, but they make sure that these are the right things. Then they execute them brilliantly. They also seem to have fun doing them.
Ofcourse ‘India Unbound’ has a lot more to offer. It is one of the best books written about India’s economic policies and reforms in last 60 years. From the English Babus of pre-independent India to the babes in the call centers of today’s India it covers all.(well ofcourse not actually about the babes but the policies which brought them out to work..)