Article (June-2020)


Time to reinvent and look automation

Mihir Gosalia

Designation : -  

Organization : -  Mumbai


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1-The CMD is purely business oriented or rather profits oriented. As per him, if no business is happening due to nationwide lockdown and covid-19 scenario and the company is not earning money or making profits, then it makes no sense for him to pay monthly salary to the employees irrespective of the ground reality or emergency scenario outside. Although the CMD tried to get relief measures by lobbying with the government & political parties and also held a press conference lauding the government's efforts and also in it, reiterated the company's commitment to the employees wellbeing & safety, it was merely a PR and brand building exercise to help his organisation gain business prominence. The ground reality, one could all see. These are all short term tactics for the organisation to survive and sustain itself in a highly competitive environment that it operates itself in. However, it will lose itself out in the long run as the employees will come to know of the reality, they will lose trust in the organisation and in words of the senior leadership as it is not practising what it is saying. Once the employees lose trust in the organisation or in the people they are working under with, it become difficult to work, to give hundred percent attention and commitment and also for the organisation to thrive and grow.

2-No, the CEO was not right in his approach of sending the mail before scheduled meeting of the vertical heads. This was an impulsive decision. Email should have been used strategically to inform and share. A phone call could have also helped. In times of crises like this, communication and meetings, whether face to face or virtual, helps as compared to just writing an email. As by doing it that way, one is able to convey empathy and buy trust, confidence and support of the people around you. By having these meetings, by taking into consideration views of all the people who would have been affected, before just sending the mail, the CEO could have also handled or rather confronted all the issues of the vertical heads. By having positive talks in times of crises like this, he could have handled the situation better. Writing an email and just clicking on the send button sitting on your desk is the easiest thing to do and thereby avoiding confrontation with others. Yes, it is understandable that the CEO could be under pressure from CMD to send the email. He may be merely following the orders from the chairman. However, it is also the responsibility of the CEO to take care of his team and the people around him. Leadership traits of the CEO also come out in times of crisis like this.

3-Mukund can try talking to CMD but without any expectations or hope as he would have known by now that the mail from CEO had come only on instructions from CMD who is the de-facto person driving the organisation. And if the instructions have come from top, nothing is going to change much. However Mukund can emphatize with the CMD that the key solution here is balancing business priorities with employee needs in time of crisis. The employee needs have to be considered. Mukund can convey to the CMD as to how the organisation needs to step up and provide much needed leadership like offering variety of vehicles to keep employees updated on the crisis and what's being done about it, by providing information that's specific to the company, as well as relevant government information. There has to be transparency in communication. Atleast this way Mukund will have conveyed to CMD what he felt was the right thing to do.

4-"When the going gets tough, the tough reinvent". The need of the hour is to sit back and rethink options and solutions. Going forward, the following steps should be taken to achieve a balance between business reality and employees interests. Technology should step up and help close the gaps in remote collaboration, facilitating seamless interface and enabling bright outcomes. One of the proposals would be to digitally transform the company that would enable it to manage better. The mantra of grow revenue, grow profits and cutting costs is possible with the digital transformation.

Artifical Intelligence (AI) and automation could be looked into for routine processes in the manufacturing facilities that heavily depend on temporary/contractual workforce at PTM Corporation. Deployment of these tools will also help improve product quality. Also worker density will be decreased throughout the operations.

Since PTM Corporation has six facilities all over India, it should consider virtual collaboration by using tools like Microsoft Teams, Slack, Google Hangout Meet. Remote working should be introduced. Meetings should be fully remote. This will ensure business continuity even though at reduced levels as compared to normal, however business/work continuity will be there.

Mukund as VP-HR from the employees' perspective and the need to protect them should propose mobility policies to encourage remote working, where possible and necessary. Propose change management and flexible work arrangements. Expect a learning curve at PTM Corporation, as it looks at devising new ways of working that involve more remote workers and automation at the manufacturing facilities, propose strategies and plans to retain and deploy the workforce during the lockdown.

Lastly, Outsource functions that can trim operating costs.