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).
16 July 1984
ESCALATOR - CULTURE
A few days back I was going through the shops and talking to the Shop-Representatives and the Shop-Supervisors about the pressing need to raise the productivity.
"Let us all work harder - and smarter", I was telling them.
At one shop, the Unit Manager proudly introduced to me the Shop-Representitive and added, "This shop has an enviable record of improving the labour-productivity, both after the 1979 Agreement and the 1984 Agreement. On both occasions, the workmen have exceeded their productivity-targets".
I heartily congratulated the Shop-Representative for such an exemplary performance. I said I was very happy to hear about this.
It was the Shop-Representative's turn to say something.
He said, “but we are very unhappy".
When I composed myself, I asked.
"What for ?"
He said, "We are not getting promotion to a higher grade".
I did not argue much (shop-floor is not an ideal place to argue), but I asked him to carefully study the "job classifications" which have been recently revised under the new Agreement.
Whether the workmen of that shop (or for that matter, any worker anywhere in Powai), deserve to be promoted to the next higher grade depends upon three things:
1. Whether a higher grade exists in that particular "trade/ job", in a given area.
2. Whether a particular worker has already acquired sufficient proficiency in the specific "skills/capabilities" described in the job-classification of that higher grade.
3. Whether, in his shop, there is so much work of the higher classification that, for atleast 6 hours out of 8 hours, he can be expected to be doing such higher classification work.
Higher productivity (doing more in less time) must not be confused with higher "skills".
Everybody is capable of giving higher productivity. to produce more (in less time) is not merely a moral responsibility of all who are beneficiaries of the recent Settlement. It is equally a matter of saving our jobs - our very existence as a company.
On the other hand everyone is not capable to acquire higher skills and very often, higher "skills" are just not needed to perform certain tasks. So the "grade" simply has to stop there.
Unfortunately, some of us do not understand this difference whereas some others do not WANT to understand'. If you have any doubt about my statement, please read-on the following article of Bakul Tripathi.
Whether as an individual or as a company, if we want to get ahead of others, let us get rid of the "mental escalators!