The lockdown is the time which I am using to watch some of my favourite movies. One such movie which I watched recently was released in the year I was born. The Great Escape. For those who may not have seen the movie, the synopsis is given below (courtesy internet): In 1942, the Germans have built what they consider an escape-proof P.O.W. camp, where they plan to house all the problem P.O.W.s (those that have made multiple escape attempts in the past). What the Germans don’t realize is that they’ve put all the best escape minds in one location. If they can’t escape, these P.O.W.s believe it is their military duty to make the enemy place as much effort into their confinement as possible to divert them from other war-related pursuits. Royal Air Force Squadron Leader Bartlett plans not just a one or two man escape at a time like most escape attempts in the past have been, but a massive escape of two hundred fifty men through a series of tunnels. If one tunnel is found, they can focus on the others. Each escapee will be provided with a complete set of forged documents and standard clothing. With their reputations preceding them, each P.O.W. is assigned a specific task in carrying out the plan. Somewhat outside of the plot are Captain Hilts and Flying Officer Ives, who have spent their first thirty days in camp in the cooler together. They are unofficially assigned as the decoys who will make more rudimentary escape attempts. Beyond basic logistical problems and the Germans finding out what is going on, they have potential problems in certain P.O.W.s who may become liabilities dealing with their own personal issues. I have highlighted two sentences in the above paragraph. To me these two sentences are the crux of what we need to do as businesses to recover from this pandemic. Human ‘will’ is the only arsenal to overcome any crisis. The will to fight the crisis; the will to strategize; and the will to undertake calculated risks is key to surviving and emerging winner out of any crisis. The will creates the belief. Conviction follows. I had concluded in my previous article that human motivation is key to overcoming this crisis. I want to elaborate on that further. First and foremost, I want to define the word ‘motivation’. To me, motivation is the reason that any person gives to himself/herself to act or behave in the manner that he/she decides to. This decision making could be at subconscious, unconscious, or heightened level of consciousness. The greater the criticality of the action, the higher is the level of consciousness. That is why in all murder mystery stories that we have read, the detective wants to ascertain the motive behind the murder at the start of the investigation for identifying the murderer. When we ‘motivate someone’ then our reason for a behaviour or action becomes the reason for that person. This is important for getting the best out of the person. Compulsion may help one achieve compliance. However, a motivated individual adds his/her own value to the behaviour that you expect of the person. Therefore, creating the will to succeed in the new world order amongst employees is the foremost leadership task for any business. In any business I have witnessed lot being said and discussed regarding motivating employees. I have been fortunate to work with organizations which genuinely believe in employee motivation and do not restrict it to a mere lip service. And, believe me, it is not about money or promotions only. I strongly believe the way leaders in different organisations are dealing with their manpower during this crisis will be the cause for motivation or otherwise for the workforce once life limps back to normal. In my experience, employee motivation is greatly influenced by the trust which the employee has on the organisation. And the ‘organisation’ is the leadership team which runs the organisation. Family members in family run organisations and paid professionals in professionally managed organisations. We have discovered that the way any organisation is designing its manpower strategy at this moment is totally influenced by the leadership team’s attitude to people. Transparency is playing the most pivotal role in this trust building exercise. Every employee knows, understands, and appreciates that this is not normal situation. However, every employee expects the organisation should treat employees with dignity and respect. Especially sentimental are those employees who have spent a large part of their working career in the current organisation. As life limps back to a new normal and we need to think of the life ahead with the presence of the virus, organisation’s ability to motivate its employees will be the key to business revival and profitable growth. The customer journey of the business may have undergone a change due to this pandemic and therefore employees need to be reskilled to cater to the needs and expectations of customers who are likely to have become digitally more sensitive. Organisations who want to emerge stronger out of this crisis are investing in capacity building during this period of lockdown through online training of different levels of employees. Similarly, many organisations are using this opportunity for right sizing themselves. I keep asking the same question- would this have been done if there was no virus? The answers which I have received from many business leaders are not very convincing. Nevertheless, those who survive the right sizing will feel fortunate to have their jobs intact. However, what the organisation does to get the ‘best’ out of the employee is what I am going to observe keenly. Application of simple concepts like JD (Job Description), KPI (Key Performance Indicators) & KRA (Key Result Areas) leaves much to be desired even in large professionally managed organisations with whom I have interacted. The concepts are not aligned to the declared business goals of the organisation and often they are expressed in a non-measurable, cumbersome manner. Family run organisations have not yet been able to understand the importance of such clarity amongst employees. Even in organisations who have embraced these concepts better than many others, the appraisal systems are not based on these declared concepts and remains subjective to the appraiser. This is the time for all organisations irrespective of size and industry in which they operate to embrace JD, KPI, KRA and use the concepts to motivate employees. The idea is to get more out of the employees whom one has retained. This will work because every employee who is retained would like to be sure that the person is delivering and performing as per the expectations of the employer. Clarity will also foster and encourage teamwork, especially between departmental teams. This is a major area of concern that we have observed with several organisations with whom we have consulted. Do you realise why I have highlighted two sentences in the synopsis of the movie-The Great Escape. Next set of human beings who need to be motivated are the people who form your business ecosystem and the customers. Essentially, the employees, customers and the business ecosystem are the only set of human beings who need to be motivated for any business to grow profitably. The ‘will’ of every business owner to motivate human beings who are relevant to business is the only way to profitable business growth before, during or after corona. I will discuss about these and a new paradigm that we have developed for business strategizing in the next article.

Leave a Comment

Managing Conflicts at Workplace