Synopsis: Communication For Productivity
Letters written to some 7500 Workers / Managers / Union Leaders, following a period of strike / Go slow / Murders (1979 - 1987), at Mumbai factory of Larsen & Toubro Ltd. This direct / open / honest communication led to a remarkable atmosphere of trust between Workers and Management, which, in turn, increased productivity at 3% per year (ave).
Ideas ............. Yes
Rumours ............. No
A few days back a worker met me and said,
"Sir, is it true .that company is going to stop the long-service award as part of the economy-drive? We are hearing all kinds of rumours".
I asked him,
"What other rumours have you been hearing?
"Sir there all all kinds of rumours - such as,
- Company is going to stop the sports-club, cancel annual social gathering, stop the picnic assistance, reduce worker-education classes and so many things like that".
For a few seconds, I tried to read his mind. I wondered,
- Has this worker really heard these things from someone else?
- These 'are his own "Ideas" and he is trying to only find out what are my
views on these subjects?
There was only one way to find out - by asking him.
"Are these your ideas or have you really heard these from
I slowly walked away wondering whether these were the ideas of Mr. XYZ or whether he too had heard these from Mr.ABC! "
If people have ideas on economy-drive, why don't they come and tell me or send me a note? - as 23 employees have already done? - even if it means saying "farewell to welfare!"
First thing I will do is to immediately acknowledge that I have received your thoughts.
Then I will try to calculate the money it will save - which is very difficult to estimate in some cases. But in any case, I will discuss the idea with several people individually and in groups. And if we decide to implement your idea, will you want me to tell everyone that it was your idea ?
Or do you prefer to remain anonymous and do not wish people to know that it was your idea because it is likely to be an "unpopular" idea and because some employees may even dislike you for suggesting that?
And is that why you start a rumour - by telling someone else - hoping that somehow it will finally reach me and may even get implemented - without anyone knowing that it was your idea?
If you do not want people to know that such-and-such was your idea, we will keep your name a secret. But why start a rumour?
One thing is clear. And if it is not clear to some, let me make it clear.
Economy drive will require making sacrifices - all kinds of sacrificies.
And obviously people affected by such actions may not like it. It is natural to feel that way.
But whereas I can appreciate that some people will feel unhappy at the withdrawal of facilities and benefits, I don't think anyone of us will appreciate that the company's profitability should continue to remain at its present low level !
This is not the time to feel disgruntled. This is not the time to behave like cowards. This is not the time for mischief (even innocent).
This is time for Sacrifices.
This is time for Hard-work.
This is time for ideas - brave ideas.
P:S: In view of the Economy Drive, I am not sending individual copies. If you get a chance to read this on the Notice-Board, please tell others.