Article (July-2020)


Leadership must evaluate option cautiously

Mihir Gosalia

Designation : -  

Organization : -  Mumbai


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1-Himanshu was looking at things from an operational and business and profitability perspective. He was looking at how new revenue streams for the organisation and how the existing one's can be optimized by way of cutting costs and thus increase the EBITDA and overall profitability. Whereas Vinay being from HR function, looked at the current scenario from a people perspective, the hardships faced by them, difficulty in adapting to the changed work scenario and the disengagement factors in this difficult and changing times. I totally agree with Vinay that the current scenario was done under compulsion given the fact that there was no other alternative and that continuity of teaching was the utmost need of all students at present. Faculties and employees were also aware that it was for a short period and they performed keeping in mind their survival. Hence Vinay had every right to be aggrieved by the point raised by Himanshu of making WFH at larger level. The needs and expectations of the employees also need to be considered & factored in before arriving at any major organizational decision.

2-It would be foolhardy for Mayank to ignore Vinay's apprehensions and go along with Himanshu's opinion. It would be akin to trying to solve the problems with short-term fixes. Mayank must realise that no one in a position of authority, none of them including himself has been in this situation before. Therefore, depending solely on two senior directors and other personnel like Finance to deal with this challenge will not be free from risk failure. And that risk increases if wrong conclusions are drawn. Himanshu may probably be looking at shaking up the organisation by commenting to Mayank as being too cautious, read writing on the wall, time for change, etc. These comments don't make sense. The process of change is at least as much a process of conservation as it is of reinvention.

Also nobody still knows quite where they are headed as they look at bringing change and adaptability. Hence it's prudent to avoid grand and detailed strategic plans.

3-One thing it is agreed with Mayank that in the changed business environment after covid-19, when the economy recovers, things won't return to normal. A different mode of leadership will be required. Getting the institute to adapt to changes is this environment will not be easy.

Targeted modifications in specific functions of the organisation will make the critical difference instead. Some parts of the organisation will have to die, the one's that may no longer be relevant given the current changing scenarios, e.g. the back office employees or support staff. Also some jobs and familiar ways of working will have to be eliminated e.g. sitting late in library and doing research for content to be developed. New competencies will have to be developed in the faculties and other employees to adapt to the new way of working.

Mayank as the founder of the coaching institute will have to lead by example by demonstrating empathetic leadership for success of the strategic decisions made because he will need the employee's enthusiastic help as they follow him and the institute on path to the future. This changed phase requires new leadership practices with the rethinking of traditional practices.

Vinay was concerned that the excellent work culture and environment built and nurtured in the institute over a period of time must not be destroyed overnight. He feared that if the entire†organizational change management process was not evaluated 360 degrees before implementation, it would result in high attrition. So the onus will be on the Leadership to keeping the employees in a state that creates enough discomfort to induce change but not so much that they fight, flee, or freeze. This can be achieved by giving employees at all levels of the organization the opportunity to lead experiments that will help it adapt to changing times.

Mayank and his leadership team won't achieve their aims if they sacrifice the employees by neglecting their needs. Mayank must also realise that an executive team on its own can't find the best solutions. Rather he can look at mobilizing everyone to generate innovative solutions. So this way, even the employees will be engaged during the change management process.