How do your people feel when you are away from office?

In a company one day, an employee repeatedly called reception from his intercom at his desk. After 6-7 calls, the reception got irritated and told him “I have already told you SIX times he is not coming to office today. Why are you calling again and again asking whether boss has come to office or not?”

The person said, “I am sorry to bother you, but it sounds so pleasant to hear that the boss is not coming to office today. Sun ke bahot achchha lagta hai… Baar baar sun ne ko man karta hai…!!!”

Is this what your people feel when you are away from work? Are they relieved when you are absent? Is it a day of celebration for them when you do not go to office?

If answer to any of the above questions is “Yes”, something is seriously wrong with your leadership. There is a disconnect between you and your people. In such a situation, they working wholeheartedly towards common goals is less likely. Your presence is causing a sense of fear or resentment among them. Under the dark shadow of such negative feelings, how can they work cheerfully and wholeheartedly?

People must feel inspired when you are around. They must feel motivated when they find you among them. This is possible when they are happy in your presence and they are not afraid, when they do not dread your presence. In fact, your presence gives them tremendous morale boost and they feel empowered, encouraged and free when you are around.

People were afraid of Hitler. But they did not like or love him. They hated him. Due to his power, they obeyed his orders, although unwillingly, but they were always yearning to get away from him. People hate Hitlers.

Hitler-like, arrogant, rascal, idiot Hari Sadu always gets it back as soon as people hear from somebody like They joyfully leave as soon as they get a chance elsewhere. It may be fashionable to like to be called a Hitler, but Hitler did not build a lasting organization. By his arrogance and high-handedness, he destroyed whatever was there.

Other than holding their salary, do something positive such that people miss you when you do not go to office. Then, along with hands, their hearts also will join to help you achieve your dreams.

What your office cleanliness speaks about your business?

At first, it may sound funny or may appear insignificant, but the level of cleanliness in work place reflects a lot of important things about the organization.

A lot of work goes in keeping all parts of an office neat and clean during the busy day. In spite of that, some offices meticulously maintain the cleanliness. There is somebody who is assigned the responsibility to regularly wipe the place clean. This reflects the owner’s attitude of tidiness and cleanliness. The attention given to ensure good upkeep of the office tells about their overall healthy approach towards the business.

I was surprised at a gentleman’s insistence to visit toilet of every office that he visited. He told me that he checks the toilets to check the owners’ attitude. The condition of the toilet told him a lot about the owners and the future of the business. Only if the toilets are well maintained and clean, he will think positively about the business, he said. If the toilets are stinking, so is the business, he opined. Why else the owner would choose to ignore the stink and not do anything about it?

In a city like Mumbai, businesses sometimes do not have a choice to have separate toilets, when they have the premises within a co-operative society or an industrial estate. But still, within that shared facility, some action can be jointly taken by heralding support from other occupants.

In a seminar conducted by Radhakrishnan Pillai about application of Chanakya’s principles in business, he pointed out that Chanakya always strongly recommended good maintenance of the fort of the state, which corresponds to the office in business. One must give extra attention, make special arrangement and investment to ensure that the office is always kept clean.

Employees love to work in a clean work place. Their productivity and enthusiasm surely improve. Visitors also like to visit such places. The image of the organization gets a boost. Overall, a clean work place is a highly essential and profitable proposition for long term growth of the organization.

Check out the dirt, garbage, litter and stink around your work place. Before your employees, vendors, customers get repulsed by it, take steps to get it cleaned up. Make sure that the toilets in the work place do not stink and are maintained clean. Some visitor, very important for your business, may be noticing that, too…!

Remember, finally it is our work place. And as they say, work should be done like worship. A place of worship must be kept clean. Otherwise, the Gods will get angry…!

Here is why HDFC Bank is doing better

Because they serve their customers very well. In contrast to that, the service at Nationalized banks is nothing to be proud of.

Last Monday, I had first hand experience of the indifferent and non-cooperative attitude of Bank Of India, a nationalized bank, and caring and helpful approach of HDFC Bank employees.

We had reached at Vidyanagari Branch (Pune)  of Bank Of India at 2.29 to make fees payment. The shutter was being closed and the person doing that violently told us to go away. On request, he had to say “Time is till 2.30. All have already left for lunch. Go to Swargate branch if you want to make the payment.”

The Swargate branch, two kilometers away, had lunch time from 2.30 to 3.00 pm. When reopened, they refused to accept DD, as they did not know how to process the DD payment of fees. Finally, after a lot of convincing, they relented. But, immediately, the lady at the counter discovered that my DD (issued by HDFC Bank, Malad-East branch) had no signature…! This could be happening in one of the million cases, but then it did happen with us…! She sent me back, rudely saying “Pehle DD pe sign lekar aao… Our bank closes at 4 pm”.

Shocked, I called up Mr Ronak Parekh, my relationship manager at HDFC Bank. He was also shocked to know that the DD had no sign. He assured me that it will be sorted out soon, and told me to go to any nearby HDFC Bank branch saying they will authorize and sign it. I reached HDFC Bank’s Sahkar Nagar branch at 3.35 pm and informed them about the DD without sign. The person told me to wait for 10 minutes till he gets e-mail confirmation from my RM. I told him I did not have that much time. He promptly got up and went to his manager, Mr Sunil Bagade. The manager called up the RM, took his employee number, instructed him to send the email and signed the cheque. I was out in 3 minutes, flat…! I could reach Bank Of India well before the closing time of 4 pm.

It was only due to the prompt service of the branch manager Mr Sunil Bagade, that saved one full day for us. As long as people like him are there, HDFC will keep its customers happy in spite of some human error of unsigned DDs slipping out of the system. Such positive gestures can turn the errors into an opportunity to delight the customers. This is why private banks are scoring over public ones.

We all should try to ensure that all our employees are empowered and motivated enough  to give such caring and prompt service to our customers.

Are you focusing on the bigger picture of your business?

Rakesh had inherited a small 200 sq feet provision shop from his father. Then he bought two adjoining shops and grew it to 1000 sq ft size. His store was very famous in the neighborhood and people used to flock it to buy things from there. He gave a lot of personal attention to the store decor, cleanliness, inventory control etc. He checked these things himself. He spent his whole day at the store. He was very happy with his own progress.

His cousin, Nimesh also had inherited a similar shop, but today, Nimesh owned a chain of around 50 stores across the country and was aiming at 300 stores in next 5 years. Nimesh’s stores were also very famous for their quality, variety, cleanliness and service. Rakesh wondered at the 50 times higher growth of his cousin. He was curious to know what he should do to grow that big. Once, he asked Nimesh about this.

Nimesh told him his simple secret. “You and I both have 24 hours in a day, just like anybody else. What activities do we focus on during these 24 hours makes all the difference. We may focus all our time on doing the daily routine things or we can also focus on building our teams to take care of the routine things. I spend time on developing people and processes. First, I standardized my routine activities. Then, I multiplied my hands by finding good people and training them to help me doing routine things. I went on handing over responsibilities to them, which they were capable and willing to do. Today, in 24 hours, I can manage 50 shops, without sitting at any one of them.”

What Nimesh looked at was the bigger picture. We may get busy in developing our small business so much that we forget to prepare to scale it up. For scaling up, we need people and good processes. If we spend all our time in micro managing the things, the business will continue growing at linear rate, but it cannot multiply. For multiplication, we need to focus on bigger picture. For that, we need to get some free time. We need to develop and train our people. We need to develop our own self. We need to learn new things about our business. We need to meet new people.

All this is not possible if we are too busy micro managing. By doing so, we may be able to plug some petty expense, but we may be missing on some huge opportunity. The opportunities exist outside the four walls of our business and for identifying them, we need to keep in touch with that outer world.

Remember Nimesh’s words. We all have 24 hours. We may choose to spend it counting small change in our cash counter or focus on thinking ideas for multiplying our business and stores. The cash counter can be managed by some technology, but thinking cannot be outsourced to technology. The deadly disease of micro managing must be cured before it eats our growth potential. The Titanic sank because the captain focused too much on internal things and could not see the iceberg approaching in the foggy sea of uncertainties. The captain must focus on the bigger picture. Internal tasks can be delegated. Strategy is the captain’s job. That is the bigger picture.