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).
1 Jan 1987
FREEDOM AT MIDNIGHT
It tells the history of our country's freedom-struggle and the role played by such eminent persons like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel, etc. etc.
It tells how the sacrifices (of even life) made by thousands of Indian Patriots finally led to our country becoming an independent nation on the midnight of August 14, 1947.
This was nearly 40 years ago - and a large number of our Powai-employees were not even born by that time.
So I can understand that they neither know nor appreciate why thousands sacrificed their lives for this freedom.!
A few days back, a couple of foremen made a "surprise-visit" of a department at night.
And what did they find ?
7 workmen' were playing cards.
2 workmen were sitting in the cloak -room
1 worker was sleeping in the cloak-room.
All during working-hours !
But there were also 10 other self-disciplined workmen who were continuing to work at their work-place ! - In the same department .!
And then there were 500 other workmen all over Powai in that second-shift who were also working - and trying to earn their bread honestly.'
Apparently the 7+2+1 workmen had found a new, young-generation meaning of
I am not going to reveal the names of these workmen or the name of their department, but your friends will tell you when you are eating in the canteen or travelling in the bus.
By now, some of you must be itching to ask me,
"What was the department-supervisor doing all this time ?"
But some or you will never ask me this question !
Because you were asking me a different question when I met you at the last Worker Education Class, or at the Lonavala Shibir on Dec. 20, 1986. You were asking me,
"Sir, why do we need so many shop-supervisors ? Our worker-strength is coming down but shop-supervisor strength is going up. Are they making any contribution to production?"
Although I knew the answer, I told you to raise this question with your Managers.
But now you know the answer !
- We don't need them .full-time for production.
- But we do need them for policing !
That night, the shop-supervisor had left the shop on some urgent work - so in fact, there was no one to do the policing.
So what happens ?
Promptly, 10 out of 20 workmen stop working !
No wonder, during the 3 year period (April 81 - April 84),
- whereas worker-strength went up by only 23 persons (3676 ——> 3699)
- In 1981, we needed one supervisor to supervise 12.60 workers
- In 1984, we needed one supervisor to supervise 11.07 workers.
If only employees would keep working for the eight-hours whether anybody is watching or not, we could manage with half the number of Shop-Supervisor—!!
And if 160 supervisors could be spared from the shops, they could do much more productive work like,
- Planning production.
- Getting materials/components.
- Designing tools.
- Making process-sheets.
- Conducting method-studies.
- Selecting machineries.
- Laying-down assembly-lines, etc.
Let me tell you one thing in case you don't know.
No shop-supervisor likes (let alone enjoy !) to waste his time looking for missing-from-the-workplace workmen in the toilets and cloak-rooms !
If anything, they hate such work ! It is an unpleasant work. But if it is forced onto them, the will do it.
The purpose of this letter is not to find fault with certain individuals. For that, management has the normal methods of show-cause, charge-sheet, domestic-inquiry, punishment, etc.
The purpose is to find fault with our behaviour and our attitudes. Will we behave properly only when someone is watching us from behind or, from above ?
If that helps, I would like to remind all my colleagues -whether working in shops or offices, whether in first shift, second shift or third shift, that if they are to look-around, they will find nearby somewhere, a picture of the God, watching them from above !
"Work is Worship and I am Watching YOU all the time !"