I was patiently sitting in the car with my family on 29th August 2017 in Mumbai. It was almost over three hours and we had moved may be about 1 Km. Water logging was everywhere and the tough life of that indomitable metro was getting tougher by the moment. It was not the first time this was happening to me – no I was not in Mumbai during infamous floods of 26th July 2005 but on 20th August 1997, I had taken 11 hours to cover a distance on 13 Kms – perhaps it was not so much talked about as perhaps social media was yet to arrive! I remember my good old sturdy Premier Padmini car holding ground to take me home. 20 years and 9 days later I was perhaps driving a much better car but nothing had changed on the road – yes – nothing really – same traffic jam, same dirty water all around and yes that spirit of Mumbai – common person on the street was doing everything in his/her capacity to help those who stranded!!
When I hear about this spirit of Mumbai, I have a mixed feeling! While I appreciate the spirit of those souls on the road, I hate thinking about inaction of those at the top. When after a gap of 20 long years we need heroes for exactly the same reason, there is something serious.
Sitting there in my car, rather than thinking about the subjects that I have least understanding of (like role of Municipality Vs State Government), I decided to apply the learning to whatever subject I know little of. Best way to keep calm when you can’t do much is to practice some learning – it helps!
Let’s take this incident to the corporate life. When we celebrate heroes who do something spectacular, we need to ponder whether we are celebrating the victory or celebrating something which should have been avoided in the first place.
The person on the street has meagre resources but he knows how to fight and helping someone in natural calamities comes natural to him/her. Motivating him/her more is never going to give any result significantly different. What about those sitting at the top who should create an infrastructure in the first place to ensure that system can handle troubles and it is not left to the last person standing on the road? Why is leadership more about bombastic statements and motivating speeches and very little action at the systemic level?
Similarly, I find many of the engagement initiatives in organizations are targeted towards junior and middle management. By default most of them are competing hard for their careers and naturally better engaged with their careers of not companies. Why energy is then pumped in motivating them? How much delta result these so called ‘engagement interventions’ would yield. I think engagement initiatives should be more focused on leaders for them to ensure that they create a robust infrastructure for organization so that the potential of high-energy young professionals is not wasted on handling the crisis more effectively!
Why can’t engagement follow a more holistic approach where appropriate energy is spent on creating systems and processes? By systems and processes I do not mean only technology but how about putting a robust infrastructure for the “hire-to-retire” cycle – may be, just may be it would give quite a dramatic results on engagement scores. In case you want to check out how strong is your organization infrastructure, check it out against the components mentioned below – engagement is much more than jingoism and periodic pep-talks to motivate people! While the evolved organizations understand it today, it is interesting to see how much mindshare of leadership is occupied by this vis-à-vis the standard culprits of revenues, profits and market capitalization!