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Recruitment | 8 Min Read

Building a Leadership Bench With a Long Term Focus

Webinar By:

Devarshi Deb

Devarshi Deblinkedin icon

Cheif Human Resources Officer, Asahi India Glass Limited

This webinar will address the following questions:

How to define current organizational hiring structure to identify gaps
How to align talent planning with a 3-5 years growth horizon
Ensure a competency-gap driven sustainable and measurable training program.

Join Devarshi Deb (CHRO Asahi India Glass Limited) in conversation with Mettl, India’s most prolific talent measurement organization, on how Asahi India, India’s largest integrated glass manufacturer, successfully evolved their talent acquisition and succession planning keeping a long term horizon in perspective.

Discover strategies to create a strong leadership pipeline with a long term planning horizon.

Recorded on: 18 May, 2016     Duration: 70 min

Last Updated: August 16, 2016

Dev: Good afternoon everyone. This is Dev, and [00:00:09] go through my presentation, and I have a list of questions that were left with me. So I’ll try to cover as much as possible, but due to [00:00:20] it may not be possible to properly answer all the questions. But I have my email id, which I’m sure Javier would share with everyone in case you wish to connect later, have an email anytime for any discussion anyone would prefer to have.

Right, so now if we go to slide number one. That’s the mission [00:00:50] and vision that has seen more. What basically does it means is that we as an organization believe in transparency, glass being a transparent product. We believe that we have to be transparent in our approach is whatever way we do, so this is the organization’s philosophy. Coming to the… hello.

Moderator: Yes, yes, yes.

Dev: Yeah, this yeah. So now coming to the organization, we are planning into two large businesses. One is the automobile ancillary, which is a pretty fast growing industry in India. And the second one is the real estate or the commercial housing. While that was once a booming industry, but right now it’s going through their trough phase, so things are not so good for any of the companies in the specific sector now. But it’s cyclical kind of way in the industry, and we hope we’ll come out of it shortly. So these are the two large businesses we are in.

And just to give you an idea about how we are structured, it’s a joint venture company between three large entities. One is a side glass company, which is a Japanese organization and it’s one of the largest glass companies in the world. And along with that, you have [00:02:16] Suzuki as a stakeholder. And then you have the [00:02:20] family. So that’s how the organization is currently structured.

Now coming to slide number four, you will see that how our organization has old business in it. Out of that, the two larger ones are auto glass, and architecture. We have a small business call solar glass, but frankly it’s a very nascent stage, and I think it’ll take a long time before we really become big in this. The solar glass industry has not been a really very… I won’t say only the solar glass, the entire solar industry itself has faced a lot of Chinese dumping and has been an issue with the lagging the industry now. With the present government, things do [00:03:10] look at lot better.

So if you go to slide number five, it just gives you an overview of the company’s achievements, so if you look at our client list, you’ll see that virtually everyone who was in India in the auto sector is covered, right from [00:03:30], to Hyundai, to Volkswagen, to [00:03:33], to Fiat, Hyundai, anyone and everyone. So in fact, we have 74% market share in the glass industry, which is a very, very rare kind of, I’d say, even because in auto ancillary space, given the high stakes, normally you would have three or four suppliers for any specific product. But being a specialized industry, we are clearly the market leader, and we have a 74% market share.

So we are an integrated company, so right from sand, we go right up to the window, so it means making [00:04:15] glass, then processing the glass, then finally we ensure that the final product, the windows or glass products, or whatever’s required, is made and supplied to the consumer.

So we are fairly spread out. If you look at our locations, we are spread right from Babel [SP], which is our mother plant. And we set up our factory in Babel, because in the heydays of auto ancillary, most of the ancillary units were set up in [00:04:50]. Data obviously there were lots of other new entrants in south and west, and gradually we also expanded, and we moved out to places like the [00:05:03] which is not in Mumbai, [00:05:06] and then also [00:05:07]. So this is how we are spread out.

Just a small slide on, just one sentence slide on, if you look at slide number 18 on our company performance. We’re a public listed company, so you can see that there have been a lot of ups and downs. Now the reason why I am [00:05:30] this is that there’s a direct connection with how the [00:05:40] management [00:05:43] some of the, you know, the improvements. It’ll be foolish to say that everything was brought only by [00:05:52] market upload.

So things are better technically on an improving trend right from 2013 onwards. But HR played a significant role and I’ll come to that later.

Now if you look at our slide number nine, this is just to give you an idea about how we sort of progress from 1987 to 2003. At first, a family one single location company. So we had one factory in Babel, and we had large customer, [00:06:34]. So we had a set of people that at a shop load level who were stable, trained, and they were fairly skilled. The junior management was also pretty good. We had a set of shop floor supervisors, engineers, who headed to Japan. They had been trained. So we had a good layer of junior managers. The middle management was also tenured and they were matured enough. And the senior management was very, very capable. So this is how it was. It was a simple structure. It was at one location structure, and it worked very well for us.

Then, if you move to slide number 10, the 2004 was a changing point for us because from one single location, we moved into multiple locations. Now somewhere, and all this time, people went a bit complacent because they felt that there was very limited attrition happening, things were really okay. So focus from HR somewhere was diluted. And many practices were stopped or they were put on hold. And during the campus, improvement processes were put on hold. The focus was more on the technical and the financial aspects to start up new factories, new locations. No one looked at, or it would be incorrect on my part to say that no one looked at it, but probably the focus was not so much for the people to really man these locations and factories. So the process, the HR processes were not standardized. There were many, many issues were probably could have been better planned.

Now if you look at slide number 11, you’ll see that the transition started happening. We moved to four units and slide number 12 tells us how the changes happen. So in 2009, we had four units. And then if you look at this, we started also facing attrition at various levels. Now senior management because they were tenured and they were mostly stable, but we did have some attrition, but it was still pretty okay. We managed pretty okay as far as the senior management is concerned. But the weak link was our middle manager. We lost a lot of good managers. And junior management moved up to fill in that gap. And there was probably not I’d say a very comprehensive assessment done.

Now if you look at slide number 13, it gives you some idea about what we faced as a problem. To bridge that gap of people moving out, or sudden movement of people in different locations, we started hiring from outside. And when we hired from outside, most of it was done not through a very, very structured, scientific hiring process. The junior management also was promoted to senior management without someone checking their competence to handle a completely new role or building up a support system to help them transition to this role. So there was an issue. We had a problem there.

Now slide number 14 tells you what was the problem. Now the senior management has started getting pulled into activities which ideally should have been focused by the middle management and the junior management. And as a result, the work which should have been working for the senior management…

Moderator: So sorry to interrupt, but [00:10:35]. Yes! so sorry to interrupt, but if you could just push the slides to full screen view because the audience…

Dev: Yeah, sure, sure, sure, sure. I understand, yeah. Does it help? Rightly so, is it visible? Like I’ve made it full screen and on slide 15 if, you know, on the 15th slide.

Moderator: It is.

Dev: So if you look at the slide, you can see ideally we, senior management. So you can see that various layers, we have made it so like its multi-tiered. Ideally, it should be just top management, senior management, and middle management, and your junior management. But in our scheme of things, the operators are also really responsible for many things. So ideally the operators and the supervisors should have focused more on retainment of whatever has been achieved. So their focus should be on daily work management, ensuring that things are stable and we build on that.

The middle management ideally should be focusing less on retainment, but more on the improvement part, so incremental improvements which are required. That should be, ideally, the focus of the middle management. And the senior management ideally should be focusing more on breakthrough ideas, just to, they should be scanning the horizon looking at what is the next big thing happening, and trying to get in first before you lose that competitive edge. So ideally that is how the management process should work. But that was the ideal situation.

The next slide shows you what was the actual situation. The actual situation was due to a weak junior management, that’s middle management was pulled into many activities. But since then, they were probably not ready for the role because the industry had expanded. We pushed many people into that role, which probably they were not yet ready. And we also hired a set of people who had very little understanding of our culture. So the senior management started getting into activities, which should have been ideally done by the middle and the junior management. So breakthrough went for a toss, improvement areas were implemented, and it was firefighting and daily, you’re meeting the targets, which became a very, very important thing.

So manpower related activities, trainings, skill development, looking at best practices, benchmarking, you know, those things were diluted and we really were not able to focus on that. So that led to a drop in yield, productivity, profitability. Attrition was high. There was a problem in the organization. So that’s the time when our managing director who also is, I’d say, one of the key shareholders in this organization, decided that the focus needs to be now on the human resource aspect, because he felt that unless we have the right people, and we have the right climate, organizational climate, the organization cannot really look forward and grow.

So that’s where we started focusing on the HR part of things. So we started looking at many things there. One part was how do you really assess your people? So instead of just going by those traditional performance appraisal kind of systems… now, just to give you an idea, the organization was in a very bad shape because we were a highly [00:14:33] company and then 2008, everyone must be aware that things were really bad. So the auto industry went on. Ancillary companies had a very bad time. And during those prime time, performance appraisal, if I look at our own organization, it seemed that almost 60% of the people were rated as highly meets expectation or exceeds expectation.

So there was some mismatch, you know? People probably, they’re not fixing the objectivity. There were issues with how people were getting rated down the line. So we felt that first of all, we need to really assess do we have the right people at the right place? So we started looking at the systems as one of the means to identify the people. And along with the assessment center, we also did some kind of a 360 degree appraisal. So initially we tried to do it one to one with everyone, but then it became very cumbersome and difficult. So we used technology to get inputs from various people. And also the performance appraisal was one of the criteria.

After that, we plotted them on our nine box matrix to identify who were the people we should be looking for the long run. So that’s where we were. Then we had some categories. It was a very, I’d say, the rule of “thumb kind of a thing”, but we came out with some categories like technical skills, aptitude, and technical, and leadership skills.

So if the person had good leadership skills and his intellect and IQ was very okay, and his technical skills were pretty sound, we considered him as a person to be moved up within and given higher responsibility. Where we found that the intellect was average and the technical skills were poor, we used them more as coordinators of people who probably could be deployed to manage the basic shop floor related activity or where you have group activities, cross functional activities. Then we had people with sound leadership skills, aptitude pretty good, but technical skills were suspect. And this was primarily people who came from other industries that we hired. Now many of them did or did not have a complete understanding of the auto ancillary industry. Second, glass being a very specialized product, their knowledge of the glass process was very weak. So that’s one area we identified that we have to technically upgrade and skin up these people, and the education and make a plan for that.

Then there was a category where you have people at low leadership skills, their aptitude was good, and good technical skills. So we identified these people for a specialize role. And then wherever we had low leadership skills, low technical skills, and aptitude was kind of a question mark, we started looking at risk management of managing of someone who was [00:18:03] for the role.

So now we looked at, if you look at slide number 21, you see that we sort of made some buckets where trainings were slotted. One was one system process orientation because we are in a very, very structured industry because the customer expects a very high quality level. So it’s in BPM and now it’s almost zero [00:18:28]. So it’s very important that for the people we hire should have an understanding of the [00:18:36]. So how we use the daily work management and [00:18:42]. Policy deployment, where there something similar to what you have as a balance [00:18:51]. How do you through the value stream mapping?

So these are some of the things which we had, everyone has to be aware of and obviously the levels decide what level of training you need to undergo. Then the problem solving statistical tools, so that’s another bucket. The leadership training where we heard that one of the reasons why we probably landed up in a difficult situation was that the coaching and mentoring was something which was kind of weak in our system. So we brought a lot of focus on that part, along with other things, like personal effectiveness, how do you conduct a meeting effectively. Sometimes meetings can stretch for three hours and then the next meeting has started, no one even visiting [00:19:40] of the previous meeting, or the minutes of the previous meeting.

So some of those things we’ve tried to streamline and get it into something more effective. So this is how we went out, and with the technical training, we had complete training identified in various parts related to the technical departments. And there was a complete training made for them.

So now I come to, the rest of the slides were fairly okay. Now if you look at slide number [00:20:17], we identified the internal trainers wherever we could. This was timely because we felt that the internet trainer would be someone who understands our culture. To train the trainer, we developed some of the people with writing capability, and we used them wherever it was possible, especially for technical training and procurement and problem solving tools. We also got some external people, primarily from Japan for the procurement initiatives.

The leadership training, and coaching, and mentorship, we used a [00:21:02]. We looked at what would be the corrective measures and what would be the preventative measures. So the corrective measures, we felt that the technical training, on the job training, and project based learning as a start. So we started looking at that 10, 20 [00:21:20] you get 10 people, classroom training, and then you have a 20 person focus on any project or being a part of a 6 year peer kind of learning. And 70 people, these people has to himself practiced and come up.

So this is what we did. Second, we also look at leveraging the people management capabilities of existing [00:21:46]. Previous slide, we had those categories. People with good leadership skills, but probably average aptitude and not so great technical skills, we started identifying people who are good shop floor connects, and the ability to manage people. So we started focusing on putting a set of people where it was required to manage a set of mature workers. And then we looked at our retention plan for our GETs because that was a concern area. We started the GET hiring, but initially we had some challenges because we made a mistake of going to primarily colleges which were in NCR. [00:22:27] based or [00:22:29] based colleges, or Mumbai based colleges. Now what we quickly understood was that the aspirations of people there was very, very different.

So number one, we decided that we should consciously, probably not have more than 10% of the GETs from the large cities. And second, we started looking at identifying why these people are quitting. So one reason was that there was a compensation because after getting the training, they were in huge demand. And some of them actually went with almost 100% jump. So we tried to put in retention bonus. I won’t say that was a huge retention bonus, but we tried to manage something which was closer to what the industry pays for a GET with some of the experience. And so… Sorry.

Moderator: [00:23:25] I’m kind of collaborating, but you have said here when it comes to GET attrition because, I mean, and just, we did an extensive assignment within guest leading automobile manufacturers, since we are  on a contract, or we contracted their name. GET attrition was huge. I was on the lines of 57%. And compensation, I mean, it might, it was a factor, but it was not one of the top five factors. The bigger factor we saw that it was, the GETs not being able to work on any homegrown technologies because it was all bottle technology, yeah? So this had a huge [00:24:02]. Did you find anything like that in lines of a site because will consider that you are also Ancillaries, this something which makes you look…

Dev: Right, see, this was something even when we first started out, we were clear that we’re not working with [00:24:18] because it makes no sense to go to a college where the expedition will be absolutely very different from the reality of a shop floor, working in a place with Babel, which is 70 kilometers from [00:24:35] if you go through a straight route. The places are very, very isolated, so getting people from there would, have been a challenge. We targeted NITs, and a good private engineering institutions or colleges. See, we didn’t face so much of an issue with technology, but we definitely faced was that, one, people were not very, very comfortable working on the shop floor. That’s something which we understood very clearly, that many of them had aspirations to avoid abroad or do in tech from somewhere or do a, you know, some kind of a higher study, or getting into some government job. So these are things which are coming out, because our selection process was fairly stringent. We hired people with communication skills. We hired people with high aptitude. We hired people who were extracurricular activities. Now these were very smart people. Now when they joined our company, there was first a bit of a culture shock because the kind of people we had at the junior management level, some of them were probably not, not some, quite a few were not really even close to what the GDs are. So there was this first level shock.

Second, the way we inducted them we later realized was not the correct way. So for six months, we thought that we we’ll give them classroom training with a mix of project, going to different departments. But we quickly realized was that since they were there for a short tenure, maybe a month or so, the departments were not taking them very seriously. They were probably not so much engaged. And somewhere that, I think, led to some problems later.

Later we changed that entire way. We first planned that they, after they go into a safety training, they need to first go and work on the shop floor and go and come in shifts. So once you set the expectation right, [00:26:33] putting them in a classroom training, than just having projects. Somewhere, I think they get disconnected from the shop floor.

Moderator: Hello?

Dev: Are you there?

Moderator: We are losing your voice in patches, Devarshi. I had a question [00:27:18]. We lost you for quite a bit actually.

Dev: Okay, fine, so I’ll just repeat whatever I said. So our major concern was that we, I don’t think the technical part was the issue. Most of them probably came from a background which was very, very strong. They had a very, very good background, and their aspirations, later we realized, was to go for higher studies or for government jobs, or something which was not really shop floor oriented. So that’s something we corrected later. Even now we have attrition, but I would say that it’s been a problem significantly less. We have attrition where somewhere around 25%, which I think is acceptable given the current industry standard. We are trying to bring down further the attrition.

Moderator: Oh yes, oh yes, Devarshi. Clients would take that figure. They would embrace that figure. Hello? Devarshi, we are losing you. We’re losing you for quite a bit now.

Dev: Okay.

Moderator: Yeah, so I was saying my client, the client I was talking here about in current text would take that figure with eyes closed, because I mean, they’ve been facing quite a lot of trouble. [00:28:44]

So ladies and gentlemen, I think Devarshi’s internet connection has given way. And since we just started off the discussion without me lending a context, I’ll quickly come about as to why this webinar, what is the context of was that we felt that it’s important that we discuss a lack of how come we should build a leadership, I think. So because it’s the most insurmountable challenge. I mean, you can treat the entire realm of HR problems. We consistently came across that. Building a leadership biplane was one challenge, which very few companies have been able to amount. I mean, at any given point of time, there are at least five odd job functions in any company that they have not been able to identify who is going to lead this vertical. And I mean, it’s not take, for every move I did to an organization’s longevity, than the choice of its huge leaders, we have had a lot of examples where botched up decisions broke at least…

Dev: Sorry, I got disconnected.

Moderator: Oh, you’re here. Yes, yes, I was just trying to enlighten the audience as to why did we even this is important.

Dev: [00:31:16] Yes, sorry, could you come again?

Moderator: In the meanwhile, I was just trying to enlighten the audience…

Dev: Could you please repeat? I am sorry I lost you.

Moderator: I was saying I was just trying to enlighten the audience as to why we felt that there’s a need to discuss this topic. I mean, I was talking about a couple of examples. So the most legendary example being at of Douglas Ivester, the CFO of Coke, who took after the Roberto Goizueta’s dead man. I mean, the CFO para excellence and knew his numbers better than anybody else, but he had to resign [00:31:56] because the serious slide in the company’s share price and some bad PR moves, and his poor handling of product contamination’s scared Europe. So I mean, other than that, have you considered Mettl, just [00:32:11] who’s a master market dealer, but when she began the CEO, she just did not give any insight into, shared no insights in the financial and strategic aspects of running a large corporation. It aligns with what you are talking, how to have the right people at the right place, and identifying what competencies are there, and assessments. I mean, I wanna go back to the slide where you are talking about assessments, that you started using assessments and entire assessment center with a lot of [00:32:41]. So does in process? I mean, I am far more interested in that because we are an assessment company ourselves. So what was the methodology behind curating and having a…

Dev: What we… Right, what we understood was that [00:33:06]

Moderator: Devarshi, we cannot make out a word because I think it’s a really bad connection again.

Hi, it seems that Devarshi has again into a poor network, so I apologize for this experience. We never intended it to be this way, but I mean, that’s the peril of living in a country with low internet bandwidth. I’d request the audience to start dropping in questions at least, so that once Devarshi gets back with us on an internet connection, we can start asking him questions. In the meanwhile, we have got certain questions already came from us, for which we send out after if he make happen regarding a webinar. I am forwarding it to Devarshi so that he could start typing in answers at least. And if the audience has any suggestions for the kind of topics they still want to have a greater understanding about in the next few webinars, I’d love to read through those too.

So you have the handle from which you can shoot out questions. Please use it to suggest future topics as well.

So we just got an update on Devarshi. He’s going to join us through his telephone, and not through a laptop, so that should make things better for all of us here. Just give us two minutes, please. Thank you.

Dev: And for communicability like the aptitude, we combined it with aptitude based as well as a psychometric test to understand what those needs, basic personality. So we didn’t just measure it with psychometric tests because no test field can give you a complete understanding of a person. So we had the behavioral part getting captured through these games, as well as case studies, role play, group discussions. And we also look at the psychometric tests. So this is how we did it because through the exercises. So initially there was a resistance that pulling people out as a challenge, and making them go through it. But once they went through it, there was a lot of, I think, credibility built around this. And we really achieved success because when we made some changes at a senior management, not at a senior management level, but I would say, the upper part of the middle management, there was a [00:39:54] the data we had, the objective data we had from would be a 360 degree as well as the assistance inter-data points. And we moved one of the manufacturing heads to the level of a management from one of the plants. And the transformation was, I would say, lost from being the worst performing plant six months back, it became the best performing plant. Because him in question was probably a wrong fit for the role and we moved him back into a specialist function, which he should have been, I believe, working in.

And in certain cases, the choice is not so easy because you may not have people internally available. So one of the businesses, small business, was not doing well. We identified the competency, then we felt that probably we don’t have a person internally at the level. And we hired a person externally. Now that really worked well again for us. I won’t say that transformation was that drastic, like in that case at [00:41:07], but here again there’s a clear movement upward. So when you place the success of the business and I’d say the operation teams then start relying more on this data, and you have a lot of traction that way. So that’s how it has been.


Moderator: Devarshi, I have follow up questions for that. So you said that…

Dev: Sure.

Moderator: Sure, right?

Dev: Yeah, your voice is tracking, could you list them again?

Moderator: So Devarshi, you said that in 2008, the industry went through a period of [00:41:48]

Dev: Yeah.

Moderator: Yeah, and I’m very curious to know that what changes, I mean, I’m sure this cannot happen overnight, but what is to the competency metric, what part about after the period of churn. I mean, business entities might have changed and did a quite a lot of [00:42:09] as you. So how did the team go about understanding relevant competencies at that point of time with respect with [00:42:18] a very legacy prone. A company comes in and creates some metrics, then they remain untouched for the next [00:42:30]. These are very [00:42:31] times. I mean, [00:42:34] maybe tomorrow. So in that case, how did you understand what is relevant for you then?

Dev: Right, so sometimes, when you get into too many books, and you were into too much competence, you tend to lose sight of what is the actual requirement. So we looked at what is really required. We looked at a set of competencies which was related to the people part, a person at a planted level, or a business site level should have. So that’s a must to have. Now a man who is weak on assertiveness or the man who is weak on reviews, follow up, we’ll have a challenge. So there is a certain set of competencies which a plant head ideally should be having. So we looked at does that man have those set of competencies?

Then comes the part which is related to the general management capability. A man might have been into a new model designing, and now you made him a commercial contract. Now, did he get the support or the mentoring just sending him to a  monetary to non-monetary does not work. It does not give that man the complete insights. So did that man really got the hand holding for that, or does he even have that commercial acumen?

Now that can be really just by some case studies, you get to understand the person’s basic aptitude for number, the ability to think from a PNL perspective. So these are some of the things we look at, and the easy part was the technical part because that is something where you can have a simple questionnaire or you can have a technical interview. You get that. So we looked at what was required for that current role, and then we made some changes. And luckily for us, it worked. So that’s how it is. See, there’s no guarantee even after going through an assessment center with a proper 360 degree or a succession plan. You’ll always strike gold, were really some centers where you really don’t come up with a…

We had some instances where people came out very well in assessment center, but when we looked at the actual performance, they were not so great. So we, and there’s a will factor to it also. And we are understood that there could be a set of people who have that intellectual bandwidth, who have that capability, but somewhere they lack the drive or probably are just in the wrong role. So for them, we had a career counseling discussion and we looked at how probably they can be moved into something which is more suitable for their skills. So that’s how we went about it.

Moderator: Devarshi, I think some slides were still, I mean, when we did it, had broken the…

Dev: Yeah.

Moderator: I think I didn’t find what still…I mean…

Dev: Yeah, yeah. You’re right. I’ll just go to… I think I was in slide 25 if I remember correctly, yeah. Probably it was slide 25.

Now if you look at that slide, we had, we identified two measures. One is you look at what you have to correct immediately, and then you look at what other things you can do to ensure that again, you don’t line up enough…so you look at preventative measures through designing your systems to ensure that you don’t have to again get into corrective measures. So one area which we identified was that there has to be a technical training which should go beyond just the classroom part, and it has to be more [00:46:17] and project based learning.

Then we looked at the retention plan of the GDs, leveraging people’s capabilities, and training identified for all [00:46:28]. So we started having, even for our very senior management, a little different students, you know, we were having it every month and they felt they probably need to base it out a bit. So we started having at longer intervals. But the training culture was built in and I think that helped a lot. Along with the part which was related to coaching, which we felt was required to be built in. The coaching part, let me also add, that it’s not been a complete unqualified success. Sorry, it has not been a complete success for us because we had many issues, even after the training given on how to coach. They found there were resistance to get them to actually put it down in black and white how the coaching plan is progressing and all that. But yeah, I think the direction has definitely improved. People have now started focusing on that even if some of them are not putting in black and white. The meetings are happening so we have yet to fine tune it, but I’d say we have made a lot of progress on that.

We also looked at higher education since we understood that many of them are planning to move for higher studies. We started looking at sponsoring students, so either their MBA knowledge is very close to our development area, or with [00:48:15] some other college, whatever they felt. So we have started looking in that part. It’s just that you get them focused before they start applying to get further college. Because once they have done that part, then it becomes very difficult to retain them.

Induction of GETs, I think I’ve already touched that. Competent assessment has been also been touched. And we have started hiring people with the proper assessment sheet with the competencies mentioned. And so the hiring needs to be happen, it needs to be the [00:48:51] unstructured questions around that individual and we used to have the person onboard. But now we have at least ability to affect the competencies which are required for the role, and we actually infused on the hiring manager, along with the talent acquisition person, to get that properly curated, and that becomes a base for the mentoring for that person. So to know that out of the 10 skills, he’s good at 6 and he is not so good at 3, then the mentor or mentors of the coach’s responsibility that in the next 3 months he should be focusing, improving at least on those 3 competencies. So that’s how we have tried to build this.

So with all this, I think one thing we have done, the next slide talks about GET hiring, you know, was in fits and starts, so we have made it a fairly structured process now. And there was a lack of manpower planning of the three or five year horizon. It used to be certainly you have an expansion happening, you need three department heads. Now you cannot prepare three department heads out of the [00:50:10]. They are not going to just materialize. So you have to have a plan to identify the people and they need to be put in some kind of a project. They need to have that learning. They need to have that [00:50:21] experience before you move them. So that kind of activity has started. I won’t say we are masters in it. We are still struggling and we are trying fine tune it, but there is now a lot better manpower planning behind declaring a pipeline for the future manager department.

So competent assessment has been also made a part of promotion policy. If a person has clearly issues with, if there are question marks in the assessment, their entire assessment, then we have a way clear cut and center that the person has to first cover those gaps before we can think of moving them up.

Then in the past, we used technical training where people used to go to Japan and there are rigorous shop floor floating and mentoring. So we brought an education and training plan where we have covered deeper TQM and TPS data philosophy, how to engage people on the shop floor, so [00:51:29]

We also started looking at training on commercial acumen. So we started having these trainings, like supply chain for non-supply chain, then QA, quality for non-quality, then we had designed and developed for non-designing. So we started having these two days training program to sensitize the others better and helped them understand that why it’s important to do certain things as a customer or as a supplier to the next person in the line. So that really helped. So this is how is was, and with this, I come to the end of my presentation. So if any questions, I’d be happy to address them.

Moderator: As usual, the first on this comes from me. So when you said, let’s talk about TQM and its implementation. I mean, this is one thing which is standing out in manufacturing. And my conversations with [00:52:34] manufacture tells me that TQM is not more of a process, but more of a mindset bottleneck. And if there are leaders who have to handle plants on their own and have to align TQM with each and every vertical of a plan, then the process is not clear to them, or that sufficient training has been provided to them. It’s more a mindset issue. Is this your experience too?

Dev: We, yeah, I think partially you are right. But a lot depends upon how these senior management looks in the process. Now I’ll give you an example. We wanted [00:53:16] in 2007 and there are very few companies in India [00:53:20]. So we had processes, but then those processes fell apart. People were not focusing on them. If you look at the TQM metadata, it’s no different from any other management philosophy. It talks about having a policy deployment on the next matrix to which you cascade the KPIs right down to the shop floor, and to every other department where there’s a [00:53:45] management which has to be monitored. And then there’s some checkpoints which have to be looked at. So the question is did the review happen to those checkpoints? Did the daily work management actually happen?

Now it might have been there on paper, but on paper, it has been probably to show the auditors and all that, but in reality hasn’t been practiced. Now that could be [00:54:10] Now a lot depends on manufacturing plant. How he involves himself on the shop floor and how he views his team makes a lot of difference. So I think that was the difference where we had some really imminent Japanese experts like [00:54:33] and others who came and taught the philosophy to us. But I think a lot depends upon how you execute. So if you know the concepts but no one actually practices them, then obviously you are not going to get any return out of it.

Moderator: And then it comes to the current context as in context on 18th of this month, which is today. What do you think is your mentorship challenge? Where are you, I’m sure with every process, there’s certain strings which are taught and there are certain strings which are not. What is your string which you think needs a little bit of toughness and still has a lot more to be done when it comes to building a…

Dev: Right, so you look at our organization today, we are an ancillary industry. Now in ancillary, cost is a big, I’d say, in the element on how to be a successful and competitive worker because you always may not be able to pass on that cost to your customer because your customers are large players. You have players who are probably having that power to not allow you to infuse the cost even if there’s an inflationary trend. So how well you control the cost is very important there.

Now when you look at the cost part, there are many things which are not in your control. You cannot do much because if the minimum wage is increased overnight by [00:56:16] then that’s a given, which will definitely have an impact. But that is easier. The more difficult part is the union part. Now if the union is not under control and they have you by the throat every time you have a disagreement, you will have it difficult. So you need to have cordial industry relations, maintain cordial industry relations, you need a set of strong shop floor supervisors and shop floor managers. For that you need a proper total employee involvement where there’s a proper engagement practice and you need some strong disciplinary action, because end of the day, you need to balance employee engagement with strong hierarchy capability. That is what is important. And if you ask me, my challenge is that hires has to be one of the idea where we have to work on.

Second I would say that we also have to ensure that the set of people we have [00:57:19] they’re really smart. We need to now create the space when it comes to probably, you know, we follow that ethnic cultures so we don’t really believe in hire and fire kind of focus. But for more, well, you know that the person lacks the competence. The decision is not so easy because many people feel that the person has been loyal, we should be giving him more time. But yes, we have to somewhere start creating that path for these people to also move up, else it becomes difficult here. There has to be some action backing the commitments have been given. So that part I think we have moved quite a bit, but there is a lot to be done with that part.

Moderator: I see, what you’re saying is absolutely bang on the point because a lot many times now that you have an I asked I had a policy, and to keep things in place, and to maintain that camaraderie, it often acts contrary to employee engagement policies you have. I mean, the more open you want it to be, the [00:58:42] the union, which I mean, they should not, but they take over. They are not kind of cognizant, to the fact that these employee engagement initiatives are not, they should be not used as a token to get your things done your way. And in that sense, it becomes contrary. And so is this a challenge you’re also facing?

Dev: Yeah, but at the same time, you need to very clear. Like you need to be fair, you need to be transparent, everything is given. But you need to also, there is a quality you have to be firm, and you have to be really, you know, assertive. Otherwise, you can land up in a situation where you become completely non-competitive. One of the reasons why we have a 34% market share is that we are pretty competitive. If we slip somewhere, then, there are entire organizations which are gone. And if you look at GM, General Motors, one of the reasons why they were not so competitive are the Japanese [00:59:48] companies are that they are a huge, you know, back a lot of pensions and other [00:59:56] benefits that you are given. And one of the reasons why they were not competitive is that the costs were so high, the fixed cost was so high.

So you need to be balanced. You have to be competitive. You need to be aware that it’s a capital intensive industry. You need to generate the cash to invest in your future expansions and technology. If you give everything to by just appeasing employer, you sort of got your roots. That’s something we have to be very clear that you have to fair, but at the same, you have to be firm.

Moderator: And so now we will dive into the questions which the audience is asking because we have a huge amount of questions coming. [01:00:46] Is the 70/20/10 difference in today’s time when you need people to move up but with minimal time to learn the things on the job.

Dev: See, I think 70/20/10, there’s no hard coding around it, but I think it’s a good way to structure your learning because as you move into middle management or senior management level, I think classroom training has very limited purpose. We have tried that and my experience has been that it is very, very limited in terms of the benefits you get out of it, whether you send to [01:01:23] or you send them to wherever it is, it’s not really going to help. What works a lot better is you do some kind of executive coaching, but executive coaching is frightfully expensive. So you can’t have a set of experts coming in doing executive coaching. You can do it, you can pick and choose, maybe technical, or your sales and marketing head, or your chief operating officer, but that’s a very limited segment unless you have deep pockets and you have clearly the money to splurge.

So what really works is that you have to give them assignments. You have to give assignments in areas where you want them to acquire knowledge, or you have to put them in some cross functionality team where they have to work with a set of people, and then they need to probably acquire the knowledge. And certain things which I think everyone, it’s a mandatory for everyone to understand, is how you do some basic problem solving exercises. I think that’s something which they need to be exposed to.

So I think there’s no short cutting to learning. We have come to grief whenever we try to push people too fast. If some were new, set them up for failure unless you have a strong coach to guide them or you have given the exposure before you move them to a role. A person who has been, say, a section head in a production department, now you move him into a production head position where he knows only 25% in that of the complete production process. That becomes a challenge. And similarly, later you further move them into a manufacturing head role. Now he has to now understand about maintenance, what electrical and mechanical. First. He has to handle various part of production, it becomes a tough challenge for them.

So I think we should not push people too fast. We should give them the proper hand holding, and then we should guide them into the role if we believe in making them successful.

Moderator: Nicki asks us how do you review the progress and effectiveness of on the job leaning? Any specific tricks you have [01:03:43]?

Dev: Yeah, on the job, the best way is that when you make them part of the project, like there could a PDC project which is whatever you call that, whether it’s like build project or a PDC project, or any cross functional team project, you give them some specific assignments, so as part of that project management, you get to see that how well he is being able to, the project manager, the person how then gives you idea of how well is he coming up with those competencies. Second, you also have a succession planning kind of discussion where one of the activities in that IDP would be that in usual development panel would be that he has to do an X number of projects in a specific area. And certain behavioral traits, which he has to… So you push them into it. Like, say total employee involvement. So you make him part of a sports committee or you make him a part of the welfare committee. So from being this isolated guy who was been probably just doing the technical part, he has to now get into a role where he has to attract more people.

So I think by designing, you need to create those situations where he is now forced to try out new things, and then you assess that as a part of his individual development plan progress, that’s how well is he doing that. So that’s the way we have been doing it.

Moderator: Sure, just one second. There’s this interesting question coming through. [01:05:19], he asks us why do you think that the culture outside, because you’re talking about culture, that your rating from a point of time, and what are the symptoms? I mean, how should a company identify the symptoms of culture breaking down? And I mean, the reasons and the symptoms. Maybe then you would be able to find and draw some parallels from [01:05:43] and apply this from a… or any friends you might know, or even your colleagues. So the broader being that you know that the culture is deteriorating. You can sense it. You have this universal feeling that people are not drawn into the larger organizational context and climate. These are symptoms which obviously are very apparent and in your face. But beyond the obvious, are there any other specific ways to understand that provide reasons for this?

Dev: Right, so yeah, I think normally the culture part is known to most of the people at a senior management level because when they review, they get to see that where the gaps are and how things have to change. But I think it always helps people for a climate survey. We went through GPW climate survey, not because we didn’t know where the gaps were, but because we felt that when you get it done through an external agency, it always helps because it’s objective data and that really supports that data.

We also did a workshop internally where we identified what was the top concerns, how do we address that, and then we made the cross functional teams were in the [01:07:03] to address those issues. Now the [01:07:06] seriously. We could see that engagement in a lot of activities improved drastically in terms of their morale and other things. Where they didn’t take it so seriously because they were too much caught in firefighting, the same story.

So I won’t say that we changed the entire organization, but we changed almost 60% to 70% of the organization. There are still problems, but yeah, since we’re not a hire and fire company, we are going a bit slow and we are trying to change people. But at this time, the easier thing would be to change a few people. That would often, things work a lot faster that way. But that also has [01:07:45]. So that’s how we have moved.

Moderator: Sure, Devarshi. We have already crossed the cutoff time by 14 odd minutes. There were a couple of [01:07:58] lags between too. So what I’ll do is I would now wrap the session because there a lot of questions which have come a bit to so there’s an end to the question handled here. What we can do send across those questions to you, Devarshi, and with the questions you can take time on your busy schedule to answer them because the audience has also been very patient through this.

Dev: Sure, sure, sure, sure.

Moderator: With this, I’ll wrap the session. Ladies and gentlemen, there’s more vital to an organization’s longevity than the choice of its leaders. And yet, by comparison, maintain a list of candidates who could at a moment ‘s notice going step into the shoes of a key executive and alarming number of newly implemented leaders fail spectacularly. That’s when they might not be able [01:08:45] to do the jobs for which they’ve been groomed, but they might just not have the competencies in the first place. I mean, Devarshi gave us a very farsighted view on a company like Asahi, which has broken down the silos and has developed a process that should ideally be called succession management. You’ve been drawing a lot on Devarshi’s insights, and the points which he has come across with the [01:09:11] for setting up such a system in place.

Devarshi, thank you so much for taking time out. It was a lovely session. Any parting notes you might have for the audiences?

Dev: No, thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to speak to the audience, and I’m extremely sorry for that technical glitch we had. My only one takeaway for everyone would be that don’t go by, you know, copy paste system. First, you have to have to identify what is the code requirement in our own organization. And then you need to work towards first addressing the big problem, and then go and get some quick wins. That’s the most important thing. Trying to do too many things, trying to change too many things simultaneously is a recipe for disaster. So that’s what [01:10:03]. Thanks again.

Moderator: So much.

Originally published March 30 2018, Updated June 16 2020


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