Article (April-2017)


To bring change, reinforce trust among employees

Mihir Gosalia

Designation : -  

Organization : -  Mumbai


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1. How would you characterize the two sets of changes made at Sea? Which set of change is really modernization?
The first change process initiated by Executive VP Subodh Marwah should be perceived as modernization. He made numerous changes to modernize the management systems and processes through a slew of measures including reworking on company's mission statement, new international ventures and markets. He even recruited a new team to give him new ideas and perspectives to support the growth plans. All of this showed in the results as the company added 100 million rupees to its revenues and posted record profits.

However, it seems that the employees weren't able to keep pace with the rapid growth rate of Sea Side.  The employees were not prepared for this rapid change management process that was happening and could not keep up pace with it. This resulted into them being unhappy with the current scenario at work and thus disengaged.

The board led by Shantanu Das saw that the company was moving away from its core philosophy of taking care of its employees and customers. So they asked Subodh Marwah to resign and fired VP - HR Verma citing lack of confidence in the direction the company was heading and need to return to company's basic philosophy.

The Board hired a new chief executive Vikash Sen who immediately began dismantling and reorganizing most of what the previous team had done and focusing on past excellence history of the company .However, much to his and company's dismay, things did not work out as planned.

It seems that there was no planned strategy in place by Sen. He was just following the mandate given to him by the board of returning to the company's basic philosophy. It is fine that one should stick to its core value or philosophy of what it is good at but this should be regularly revisited in tune with the changing internal & external business environment or context or issues. One cannot keep on doing the same things repeatedly and expect to grow. Change takes time.

2. How did the change processes differ?
The first change process initiated by Marwah failed to understand properly the needs and expectations of important stakeholder groups like the board headed by Das and key employee concerns. If that were in place as a preventive action measure in terms of what is likely to go wrong if not addressed or fulfilled, then the resultant reactive measures that occurred later could have been nullified or reduced to some extent.

Also it needs to be pondered as to whether the leaders understood as to what is expected of them as leaders of organizational change and making sure that their actions and words support the change management initiative.

The next round of change process set off by Sen was typical that of a new person in helm of affairs would do things his way or follow instructions of his boss just because the earlier person failed to live up to expectations and causes disarray in the organization. He went about dismantling, reorganizing things set in motion by his predecessors and bringing in his own viewpoints which he felt will bring in the desired results that the company wanted in first place itself. Sen should have instead used the opportunity given to him firstly to realise as to what exactly went wrong.

3. How do you think employees will view future attempts to implement change at Sea Side?
Employees will think that continuous change is not important. It will not be taken seriously. Employees will think that all this will keep on happening at top level. We just keep on continuing with our daily routine work as usual. This also implies that any major announcement by the top leadership at Sea Side will not be viewed in the usual serious manner as it should have perceived to be. Because employees cannot see continuity in what is being said and what is happening in reality or in actual practice.

An organization's success depends increasingly on an engaged workforce that benefits from meaningful work, clear organizational direction, and performance accountability and that has a safe, trusting and cooperative environment. By asking the CEO to resign and firing VP HR citing lack of confidence in direction in which the company was headed, employees down the line will begin to ponder as to what exactly is happening in the organization. The rumblings at the top level will undoubtedly have a cascading effect down the line as is seen by three other executives also leaving shortly.

All in all the employees will not view seriously the change management attempts at Sea unless it is leadership top driven and there is stability and continuity in the initiatives.