The Continuum - For A More Conscious Firm

Posted in Human Resources Articles, Total Reads: 784 , Published on 05 October 2012

For any organization, the "human beings" are its most important assets & all investments & efforts are handicapped without a willing & productive workforce. The human component in a firm therefore needs a different treatment when compared to other resources. Human Resource Managers have been trying to address this idea since its inception. The incident at Maruti’s Manesar plant highlights the importance of the issue I am trying to bring to light. But it’s not the human resource department alone, that should be held responsible for what led to the bizarre situation. Although there might be many reasons that the enquiry shall reveal, but if we can just sit & think for a moment, we would at least be able to enlist the major reasons, since there were many time-bred factors that culminated into this murderous outcome.

I will now take you through what I have conceptualized as “The Continuum”. Well, though it would look like an unrelated to the current context, the fact is that, it is not! Since the idea originates from what we call the marketing mix of a company, it takes most of the ingredients from the same. As pointed out earlier, the shop floor workers are those who are responsible for transforming raw materials into finished products, through value addition, which are then sold in the market (that is where marketing comes into picture). The marketers are well equipped with various skills to understand the psychology & behavior of the people outside the organization, the outsiders, whom they broadly define as consumers/ customers. On the other side, human resource managers take care of the issues relating to the insiders, within the organization.

So, in a sense these two groups use the same tools, but to achieve diverged & rather disconnected outcomes (in a positive sense). Also, many organizations, in their relentless quest to satisfy the consumers, fail to get their shop floor workers onboard, thereby generating a divide & these start feeling as not being a part of the organizational ecosystem. This is where the issue of a detached worker, who does the job just for the sake of it, arises. And usually it is further bolstered by the unions. In the absence or lack of grievance redressal measures, this attitude starts getting a stronger foothold & widens the divide between the bosses & the workers and becomes increasingly detrimental to the organizational integrity.

This can be addressed through “intra organizational marketing” which aims to market the company’s values to the lowest level workforce so as to integrate them into the organizational system. Since these shop floor workers are the most important link in a company’s value chain, as they are responsible for converting company’s value proposition into market offering, they should be valued as partners rather than being seen as resources. Hence, from that perspective, the Partner Relationship Management tools & tactics can be employed to build a trust environment at the shop floor.

The effort is aimed at a delighted & prestige seeking worker, who takes pride in doing whatever he does for the organization and gels well with the organization’s vision & mission. Thus, the idea is to establish a relationship management Continuum, encompassing the shop-floor workers, management and the customers, so as to make each of these entities more responsive & mutually beneficial. In its equilibrium state, this continuum tends to achieve a state, similar to that of a normal, healthy & aware human body, wherein numerous processes occur instantaneously and simultaneously within the system in a mutually supportive manner in response to the external stimuli and vice versa. This results in a more connected work- marketplace, able to quickly respond & adjust to the changing business seasons. The outcome will be a more intelligent organizational environment, where the shop floor shall be able to adjust dynamically to the changing market needs with minimal interference from the management.

The ideal outcome of this effort would be the elimination of the trade unions, which were held as the major culprits for the Maruti fiasco. This is akin to a rehabilitation exercise that would in turn help in easing out the furore that the union system has created, in a phased manner. A psychological conditioning of these employees, on a substantial scale, would result in a de-stressed workplace environment that will ultimately manifest itself into reduced wastages, damages & higher productivity. This will help in a smoother flow of information from outside the organization, down to the shop floor level.

The organizational barriers for the information will cease to exist & will enable a better coordination of activities. The so called continuum will be established through an intuitive blend of the Marketing & Human Resource Methodologies, to instill organizational value system within this lowest stratum of organizational hierarchy. Especially the managers directly involved in the shop floor activities need to be trained in these diverse skills, so as to enable them to carve out effective behavioral tools to establish better & lasting relations with these partners, in a larger interest of the organization.  All in all, this simple effort will promote a culture of mutual understanding & co-existence within the respective organizational functional domains & will result in better bonded & more conscious rather than a fragmented organization.

This article has been authored by Anirudh Vats from IMI Delhi.

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