All Operations Committee Meeting Members
PRODUCTIVITY - A LOOK: BACKWARD AND FORWARD
The subject of productivity was last reviewed nearly II months ago - in Policy Review Committee meeting dated March 18, 1980.
In that meeting I had traced the history of the Productivity movement at Powai,' beginning with the appointment of a Committee in 1975 with MR. G. Ramakrishna as the Convener. The Committee submitted its report in November 1976 and its recommendations were discussed with the GMs and the Corporate Management. Most of the recommendations were accepted by the Management but there has been no subsequent formal audit (to the best of my knowledge) with regard to their implementation.
After signing a four year agreement with the Union in January 1979, a formal dialogue with the union on the subject of raising our Productivity level was initiated around September 1979. A three-tier structure of Productivity Committee was devised and regular meetings are being held at Powai level and the Unit/Shop levels.
Almost the entire emphasis during the past 18 months has been on "Communication". In dozens of meetings (involving Managers, Union Office-bearers, Shop representatives. Shop Supervisors and in some cases ordinary workmen), graphs/charts/tabulations have been projected to give all concerned an idea of the ups and downs of shop wise labour efficiency.
All that can be said for this intense effort is that now at least there is an awareness of how Productivity is measured and where each shop stands.
By and large, however, there is no evidence of motivation -an urge (individual or collective) to do something to raise the Productivity level.
Although we have succeeded in breaking the "communication barrier" (there is considerable openness and honesty - of -purpose in various meetings), we have, so far, not made any dent in the "motivation - barrier".
This, I consider, to be Phase II of our battle.
And why are employees holding back, from getting emotionally involved in the Productivity drive? Is it that individuals interests are conflicting with the organisational interest?
Is there a "what-is-in-it-for-me" attitude? Is it that what an employee expects from his job is different from what the organisation is prepared to offer him?
Answers to some of these questions are apparent in the minutes of the last Powai level Committee meeting.
To find out more, a "brain-storm" meeting was arranged. Some six Union Office-bearers and four Managers participated. The meeting came out with some 200 suggestions on how to go about improving Productivity. Of course, some were similar/identical, as is usual with brain-storm meetings. The list does, however, provide some clues to what would "actuate" people.
The one recurring theme is "worker participation and involvement".
There just does not seem any other way of motivating employees. What apparently works at the senior Manager level also seems to work at the blue-collar worker level.
The rate at which the wage-levels have risen in the last three/four years and the rate at which these could be expected to rise in the near future (under the existing CPI linked D.A. system), material rewards have perhaps already ceased to be motivating factor.
If blue-collar 'wages cannot be held down, but can be safely assumed to overtake those of the Managers in not too distant future, the only sensible thing to attempt is to raise the "responsibility consciousness - level" of the workmen to that of the Managers!
And, no person feels more "responsible" than when he is taking a "decision" - or participating in "decision-making" process. He becomes actually conscious of the "social consequences" of the decision and the repurcussion it can have on his own image and social prestige.
In L&T, for all its years of existence, we have practiced a traditional hierarchical type of organisation with the decision-making responsibility and authority rising with each level of hierarchy - not unlike situations in thousands of organisations around the world.
But rapidly changing technology over the last 30 years has also made decision-making process quite complex.
With increasing complexity of business environment, each level of hierarchy finds itself presented with new and difficult challenges every passing day. Society's own expectations of Corporate bodies are for ever increasing.
If we have to have any time to deal with "tomorrow", we can only do so by delegating some of our "today's" decisions to our subordinates - right down the line up to the shop-floor workmen. .
Let us this morning debate whether
will lead to
will lead to
greater "responsibility consciousness level"
will lead to
greater individual motivation
will lead to
greater all-round productivity
And, if the answer is "YES", where and how do we begin a change in our own attitudes?