Ask the Expert : V2 Issue 3

1. Our company is facing revenue, market, and cost pressures. Our stock price is down. There is a freeze on hiring and on raises. Motivation has never been a problem with my team members. But off late because of these developments, most of my team members are demotivated. How do I motivate my team in tough times like these?


It is natural for employees to feel low in the given circumstances. But over a period of time with the following steps you can improve and maintain the morale of your team.

  • Be transparent with company news: Be honest. Don’t hold back or play down information even if it is about the negative impact of the events on the company. Let them know what is happening and also what measures are being taken to counter each challenge.

  • Discuss and address fears and concerns: Your team members may be worried about job security, their compensation, and their ability to deliver in tough conditions. People typically need to talk more in such times. Be empathetic. Try and help them. For instance give extra support to the employees that are struggling to meet their job commitments or reassure them that their jobs are secure.

  • Highlight what is working: Has sales gone down, but company has bagged a couple of long term contracts? If so there is still cause to celebrate instead of just brooding. Veer discussions to the exciting possibilities that a downturn can bring in for your company and team, not just the gloom.

  • Give them something else to think about: Inspiring goals can energise and motivate people and help them get out of their depression. Help each of your team members set goals that they find inspiring. It could even be a personal goal like upgrading his/her skill set.

  • Help team remain focused on your team goals: It is easy to get distracted by what is happening and lose focus on the goals. Encourage and appreciate even the small achievements and short term goals met. And definitely reward those who meet their long term goals.

  • Thank them for their extra effort: In times like this every extra bit done to deliver results is helpful. Ensure you notice efforts like these and let each of your team members know how much you value their contribution.

In addition to the above, if you discharge your responsibilities of a leader calmly and confidently you are sure to regain the motivation of your team members.


2. I manage a small business unit. I am doing all I can to become lean and survive the economic slowdown. Unfortunately as one of cost cutting measures, I will have to layoff some of my staff. How can I do it as sensitively as possible?


Your objective during a layoff should be to treat the employees being laid off respectfully and minimize demoralization of your remaining staff.


Firstly be clear as to the business reasons for the need for a layoff. Then determine objective criteria like seniority, critical skills etc for selecting the people to be laid off. Having done this, prepare the relevant termination information like notification letter, salary continuation/termination date, benefits, outplacement, etc. It is also important to prepare yourself emotionally to handle the reactions of the employee. Now you are ready to have a meeting 


You should thank the employee for his or her contributions and explain how the layoff decision is economic rather than personal. Explain the criteria used for determining the people to be laid off. Allow the employee to respond. Listen patiently to what he he/she has to say but avoid getting into a debate or argument. Then explain the termination process. Some do's and don’ts….

  • Prepare a script for the key message so that you are clear as to what you are going to say.
  • Ensure there is consistency of message across all employees being laid off.
  • Keep the meeting as brief as possible.
  • Do not mix performance review with termination discussion.
  • Do not engage in small talk, use humor etc in an attempt to lighten up things.
  • Avoid discussing other employees

After meeting all the employees being laid off, immediately hold a meeting of all other employees to ward off rumors. In the meeting assure all of them that their jobs are secure and explain to them the rationale for the layoff and criteria used for the same. Let their managers once again reassure them about the security of their jobs in a one on one meeting.


3. I take care of HR for my company. I am very happy to see my leadership team trying to proactively do all it can to cope with the expected pressures of the economic slowdown. As the HR representative, I would like also to help. Typically what are the ways in which HR can contribute in such a scenario?


As always HR has to play an important role in ensuring business success by deploying appropriate people practices and processes.

Some steps which typically HR has taken, in companies that have come out of economic slowdowns as winners, are listed below.

  • Align with leadership team: Providing a proactive HR service in a downturn will become easy if you can work closely with the CEO and the leadership team. You will then be able to understand what is crucial to the business success. This in turn will help you align HR priorities to the organization priorities and develop robust plans.

  • Optimize Resources: These times can provide opportunities to hire some great talent otherwise not available to you easily. They may be available at a reasonable cost. Also transition or re-deploy non critical resources.

  • Communicate: Keep communication with employees flowing, about the true financial picture, about their jobs, about everything that can affect them through appropriate channels of communication.    You would be surprised at how often employees are willing to make changes even negative ones like a pay cut, when they understand the facts and are not worried based on rumours flying around the workplace.

  • Take care of your top talent: When you are busy fire fighting and stop paying attention to your top talent, they can become targets of poaching by other companies. It is critical you retain them not only for managing current business, but also for managing future business when things pick up. Keep them engaged by involving them in the initiatives taken to manage the impact of downturn.

  • Continue development efforts: Companies that continue their training efforts gain in the long term. It need not be expensive external training. It can be in the form of books, online training, mentoring, cross functional exposure etc.

  • Relook at your performance management: You may want to add some new dimensions to your performance parameters. In addition to the kind of results you would reward in a thriving economy reward the ones which help in tiding over challenges in a slow economy.

  • Preserve the core culture and values of the company: As the custodian of company culture and values, take steps to retain them. For instance don’t discourage ‘Research and Development’ efforts if company believes in leading the market through innovation.


These are challenging and hence also exciting times for HR professionals. If you truly want to add value to your company, I am sure you will rise to the occasion and find a way. All the best!

Career Management during Tough Times : Management Funda; V2 Issue 3

We spend 50% of our time working and some of us cannot stop thinking of work even during the remaining 50% of the time. Thus our work and career forms an integral part of our lives. It is important we manage this part effectively, so that whatever we desire from it, be it job satisfaction, monetary rewards or enriching experiences, come our way.  And it is important we manage our careers even more diligently when times are tough to ensure the good things continue coming our way.

Insulating your career

An economic slowdown may throw up some tough situations in our careers. While it may not be possible for us to avoid the negative impact, it is possible for us to minimize the impact by taking some of the steps listed below.

1. Adapt to changes: In the light of changed circumstances in the economy understand how your company’s current priorities have changed. Align your short term goals to the new focus areas of your organization in discussion with your boss so that you continue to contribute meaningfully.

2. Provide value to your employer: Double your efforts in being valuable to your company. All your good work is sure to not go unnoticed. Even if it is not part of your job description, help your company increase profit, retain customers, increase productivity or reduce expenses. Seize opportunities for your company that these turbulent times may throw up. It could be in the form of hiring talented people who are out of jobs or finding new service or product opportunities due to changes in the economy etc. If you are in a managerial position help and support your team members in coping with pressures of salary cuts, responsibilities to deliver in trying times  and in aligning their work to new priorities

3. Develop skills:  Focus on building skills that will help you remain current in your industry or make you much more marketable. If there has been a layoff and the company has done away with specialists who were too costly, see if you can develop part of those skills required by the company. You may not enjoy the rewards immediately but when things improve you can bet you will get a raise.Develop transferable skills, skills you can use in other industries and roles. That way you can apply to many more jobs when you need to.

4. Develop a clear career plan: This is a time to remain focused on your long term career goals to reach where you want to be. Develop your career plan if you haven’t done so already. Answers to two simple questions: "Where do I want to be?" and "How will I get there?" can help you here. While in the short term, you can take up roles which do not fit into your career plan to tide over financial difficulties, try getting back on course at the earliest.

5. Have a backup career plan: To expand your career possibilities create a second career plan , one which you can switch to if the first one is not working out for you. Get more creative and bold here and plan for career moves that will throw up exciting possibilities.Think of what new career would fit best into your old career? What industries could you transfer into? What are some of the recession proof jobs that you can take up?

6. Network:Finding time to interact with people directly not related to your work can be difficult. But the effort taken in this direction may seem like a boon one day when somebody from your network helps you with a job change.

7. Do not quit your current job unless you are really unhappy: In an economic slow down great jobs are hard to come by. Also new recruits especially people on probation maybe the first ones to be terminated incase there is a layoff. So, don’t even think of quitting if you are reasonably happy with the company but find the current job not exciting enough. Instead explore possibilities of an internal transfer by developing your skills for the identified role.

8. Save for a rainy day and invest carefully: An emergency fund in case you are faced with financial hardships will be useful. The more the better. So start early. Ensure you have a minimum of six months’ take home salary. This will give you adequate time to find a good job incase of a job loss. While investing ensure you also invest in those plans that will allow you access to cash instantly, instead of plans that involve a lock-in rule. You should be able to use the savings when you need it right?

9. Assess your finances and manage them judicially: Needless to say, you should cut down on any unnecessary recurring expenses. Watch your discretionary spending. Now is not the time to buy that home theatre you had dreamed about. Make a budget and stick to it.Health costs can be a financial drain. So take a health insurance for self and family. Clear most of your debts. Develop alternate sources of income like rent from a paying guest, additional income from freelancing or teaching, hobbies that can be lucrative etc.

10. Assess your current job situation: Understanding how secure your job is, will help you be better prepared for an eventuality like a layoff. Do a reality check of your industry. Don’t get taken in by the generalizations. Understand your company’s future prospects. Determine how your department is doing. When Microsoft was doing well, they announced a layoff of people in their floppy disk division. Now review yourself. How are your accomplishments? Does your manager recognize them and think you’re doing a great job? What about the region you are living and working in? Are there other regions in the country still prospering despite a slowdown? Is there a cheaper place to live in?


Most of all stay positive. Remember slowdowns don’t last forever. History will tell you that. Your efforts, resilience and confidence in your self can help you survive and even thrive in these times. It is possible that you may give up your goals and give up on your self when faced with hardships.  But you can also emerge tougher and stronger, having withstood challenges and exploited the various opportunities an economic slowdown threw up. What is it going to be? It is up to you to decide and make it happen.


  • C, T, “How to Survive a Recession”,
  • Rosner, B and Campbell, S, “Facing Your Economic Recession Fears - Career Survival Strategies”,
  • “Countering sudden loss of your job”,Oct 25, 2008,

Employee Speak: Saurabh Chandra, Co-Founder and CEO, Neev Technologies

1. According to NasscomIndia’s IT industry is insulated from the financial crisis that has hit many economies globally, and companies here have not stopped hiring either. According to you what will be the impact of the current economic slowdown on software services industry in India?

This economic slowdown is surely going to have an impact on the software services industry as with all industries. People who claim that the IT industry is not going to be affected are fooling themselves. Cost cutting is the order of the day. At the moment confidence is shaken in businesses and new projects are going on hold. A contrary view is that more outsourcing will happen since people want to save costs.


2. In what ways will the economic slowdown impact Neev Technologies?

There will be no immediate impact on Neev Technologies, as Neev is not highly US centric. The United States accounts for only a small chunk of Neev’s business. Neev has clients spread across Europe, the Middle East and India. Europe is not yet saturated in terms of outsourcing and businesses there are looking at outsourcing more work to cut costs on account of the recession.


3. What steps are you taking to minimize the economic impact to your business?

Neev too has taken a few measures proactively to minimise the impact of the recession. We are cutting costs aggressively and reducing overheads. For sales, we are shifting from the retainer model to a commission model. We have started sharing risks with our vendors and partners.

We are trying to become more efficient as a ‘Software Development’ organisation. The focus is now on increasing profitability, rather than increasing revenues.


4. What steps are you taking to minimize the impact on your employees?

At present, we do not see any direct impact on employees. The economic slowdown has not yet come to that level in India where individuals will get affected. I do not see a problem at an individual level in the near future. We are not looking at downsizing at the moment, but yes growth may be slower. We are still recruiting for a few positions.


5. How have your priorities changed on account of the downturn? Will you continue to focus on adding more client accounts and setting foot in newer geographies?

Yes, our focus has shifted from the top line to the bottom line. We are trying to increase our focus on every aspect of the business. We are focusing more on fewer geographies. We are paying more attention to our existing clients, to deliver more value for their money. We are also tapping our old clients for new projects. As always we are getting referrals from our clients.


6. There is a silver lining to every cloud. So while people are talking of the various negatives of this downturn, what do you feel are the positives of a downturn?

People will now realize the value of money, especially people in the IT industry. Earlier companies hired for numbers rather than quality. Correction was required in the mindset of people. People will now focus on performance. The quality of work will improve. Employees are becoming more conscious of their drawbacks and are looking at learning new skills, technologies etc.


7. What are some of the opportunities you foresee for players in your industry during a time like this?

This is a time when the genuinely strong companies will prove themselves, and emerge stronger. Weaker companies will perish. We, at Neev, see this as a time to excel and get ahead!

Guess the "Turnaround Company": Activity Corner; V2 Issue 3

Guess the ‘Turnaround Company’

There could well be a million ways that a company's profitability graph can take a down swing and it can fall in the red. The introduction of new competitors could change the commercial landscape. Fresh business processes mayhave bypassed standard industry operating procedures. Acquired units might have failed to integrate effectively. Executives could have been caught with their hands in the cookie jar. No matter the reason, the turnaround is a catch-all phrase that captures what usually happens next, a term that mostly signals that there is light at the end of the tunnel. A decent chance that corporate leaders can right past wrongs and brighten dim-looking futures.

Guess which ‘turnaround’ organisations are featured in the clues below:

  1. This Car Company's growth became stagnant and it moved into a low-market situation in 1982 after its Chairman’s departure. The turnaround centred on a four-year planning and production program for their "European-like" Taurus mid-market line of cars, which eventually won "car-of-the-year" accolades.

  2. Restructuring the company by laying off workers and eliminating management jobs, the CEO redirected the productive thrust from electrical manufacturing to high technology, eliminating or selling businesses such as house wares, developing such others as plastics, medical imaging and financial services, and seeking "integrated diversity" by acquiring companies, notably RCA in 1985 for $6.28 billion in cash.

  3. Since the 1880s, this organisation has been a name synonymous with photography. But in the 1980s this corporation faced unprecedented challenges from competitors. For the first time, they failed to meet their profit goals and faced a do-or-die situation. Team Zebra succeeded not through new technologies, but through a new commitment to their inner resources that unleashed creativity, risk-taking, teamwork, and excellence. It pulled off "the turnaround of the decade" and reminds us that the power to succeed lies within our people and the way in which they're inspired, motivated, and included.

  4. Exclusively patented copying machine fell monumentally behind world competition by early 1980. However due to it’s strong leadership and a successfully executed program of product and service quality, it became "the first major American company targeted by the Japanese to regain market share from them." A strategy that contributed to their resurrection was introducing quality based on customer satisfaction and an unusual manufacturing and marketing concept.  The company slashed assembly costs by almost 50% while doubling output and improving performance using innovative production techniques and greater receptivity to new ideas.

  5. The basic plank of the turnaround of this Indian public service transportation enterprise was its shift towards market orientation and customer focus.  Some of the strategies adoptedto control costs were retrenchment, improving efficiencies, outsourcing and technology upgradations, non-politicizing of the decision making process which turned around this organisation from loss to profitability.

  6. This Indian beverages company used debt restructuring to reduce interest costs and injected funds where possible to replace high cost debt.  It also acquired a firm with global retailing operations that were complementary to its domestic operations and therefore succeeded in steering the organisation towards profitability.

  7. Acquiring the commercial vehicles unit of a bankrupt Korean firm, and enhancing its product portfolio this Indian company’s net profit zoomed to 163% when it was able to profitably use Korea as a base for exports to the Asian markets.

  8. This Indian auto components maker acquired a loss making European re-manufactured engines firm and turned it around with better cost controls.  Its main aim was to get hold of order books and then shift production to India to bring about cost economies.


  1. Ford Motor Company
  2. General Electric Corporation
  3. Kodak
  4. Xerox
  5. Indian Railways
  6. Tata Tea (acquired Tetley)
  7. Tata Motors (acquired Daewoo commercial vehicles unit)
  8. Continental Engines (acquired ATK Vege Motors, Europe)

Managing in Turbulent Times: Book Review; V2 Issue 3

Title: Managing in Turbulent Times

Author: Peter F Drucker

Publication details: Harper Collins Publishers, 1980

Number of pages: 256 pages

After spending weeks looking for a relevant book Managers could use in these tough economic times I found this prophetic and seminal book ‘Managing in Turbulent Times’ by Peter F. Drucker, considered by many to be the most influential and widely read authority on management. Even after 25 years after its publication, the book is relevant because of its classic wisdom on running a business, in good times as well as bad times.

The book starts by asserting that in turbulent times the fundamentals have to be managed well. It explains what according to Drucker managing the fundamentals entails. An enterprise's figures should be adjusted to inflation, liquidity and financial strength must be put before earnings; the decline of productivities (of capital, time, knowledge, physical resources) must be reversed and the costs of staying in business tomorrow must be earned today, regardless of "record profits."

Drucker then provides actions and long term strategies that will ensure a company's capacity to survive a blow, to adapt to sudden change, and to avail itself of new opportunities. Strategies include concentrating resources on results by knowing the performing and productive resources; sloughing off (abandoning) of resource devouring and unproductive past; deciding how much to grow so that a company does not become marginal in its market; making existing companies especially large ones capable of innovation; and business strategies like being the right size or deciding when to diversify and how. Drucker recommends a scorecard for managers that assess performance in a)appropriating capital, b)people decisions, c)innovation and d)strategies versus performance.

The book then elaborates upon the realities of the new economic, social and political environment and how they can be managed. He discusses a range of topics including cheap imports, multinational corporations, technological change, employee participation, changing population demographics, and global markets. His commentary on recession throws up some interesting possibilities for managers to consider in current times of economic slowdown. For example he narrates how when American mass builders, thinking people cut back on housing during recession, in 1973-74 started making “basic home” without the frills, they did not sell at all. On the contrary spending on housing increased. Same was the case with eating out. He says this is because there is a new market segment that is linked to population dynamics rather than income. I like the way Drucker issues various challenges to managers throughout the book. He says, “The manager..will have to learn to create “issues”, to identify both the social concern and the solution to it, and to speak for producer interest in society as a whole rather than for special interest of “business”. 

The book is full of tips on how to implement the strategies recommended. “Any increase in volume that leads to reduced productivities…should be eliminated..”  He covers different economies - developed and developing; different companies; different periods to illustrate what is working and not working. Drucker has solutions to the challenges associated with each of his own prophecy. For instance about the workforce he predicted it becoming heterogeneous, knowledge workers seeking a second career in their sixties and seventies etc. He says as a step towards managing “labor forces” each with different needs and characteristics, acknowledge these differences in connection with work policies, training programs and benefits. So a woman whose husband’s company provides health insurance for family, may value benefits other than the health insurance benefit.

This book is not easy reading and you will need to budget couple of sittings to understand and assimilate the content. But then nothing worth having comes easy. It is relevant for managers grappling with various management issues and for management students aspiring to become managers.

Recession proofing your business – Going beyond Cost cutting : Feature Article; V2 Issue3

There is a dip in profits. Budgets are getting smaller. Company stock prices have plummeted. Recruitments are slowing down. Demand for goods and services are falling. Are we or are we not in a recession? While the debate is still on, business managers cannot afford to simply wait doing nothing. It’s prudent to start taking appropriate measures to recession proof your business at the earliest. Use this time to become a leaner, more cost-effective and more efficient operation.

Recession proofing your business must start with remaining a cost effective enterprise through the current downturn.  I am sure your company must be already on to cost management measures like conserving cash, minimizing inventories, monitoring cash flow, making purchases wisely etc. While it is important to manage your costs it is equally important to manage other areas of your business to outsmart your competitors in times like this. Let’s look at what you as a manager can do.

Beyond managing costs
Needless to say you must do all you can to effectively implement in the department, unit or team you are managing, the cost management plans developed by your finance team. But look beyond that to manage recession.

  • Adapt quickly: This is an obvious one. When conditions change you can survive only if you adapt to them. Review the area of business you are managing and see how you need to adapt it to it, not only to combat problems but also seize opportunities. You may have to modify your selling strategy or change your employee engagement plans or take a re-look at your sourcing channels.

  • Stick to your long-term vision: Your long term vision tells you the reason for your business’ or department’s existence. Reconnecting to that vision will help you stick to your long-term approach and keep you going even though you are tempted to adopt short term measures.

  • Sharpen focus on business plan: Your team will look to you for company, department or team priorities. A clear business plan, an appropriate team structure, streamlined processes, the right performance measures, accountability system and rewards are extremely important in times of uncertainty. Make adjustments to how you recognize people during these times. You need everyone to be focused on revenues and costs.

  • Get aggressive in the marketplace: Continue actively selling and marketing your product or service. Consider adding a salesperson or even an additional service to give you an edge over competition. Being in front of customers or vendors builds confidence that you are a long term player. You can gain market share from competitors unable to adjust to shifting market conditions. Similarly don’t stop recruiting altogether. Ensure company presence in the recruitment market by continuing recruiting. You would want to retain recall of your company among your prospective employees.

  • Provide quality service/products: The buying power or willingness to spend is lessened during tough economic times. So to build your customer base and induce current customers to raise revenues, it is importance to provide good service/product. Don’t compromise on service or product quality especially by being understaffed. Instead of hiring full time employees, explore other options like freelancers, consultants and part-time employees. This holds true for not only external customers, but also internal ones.

  • Keep your people engaged: Your most valuable assets are your team members and to get the best of them, you need to keep them engaged. Anxiety levels among them can be high in tough times. So make sure they understand that you are building a lasting and successful enterprise and that some of the cost cutting measures, including layoffs, are necessary for the health of the company. Make your people part of the solution by involving them in initiatives related to cost cutting etc. Avoid widespread cost cutting and layoffs that can undermine employee morale. Disengaged employees can weaken competitive position, endanger future profits and increase turnover inducing star performers to leave. And this is definitely a time when you need your stars to help you figure out things.

  • Train your team members: While you may think it is wise to cut down training expenses, experts say this is a good time to invest in training especially on-the-job and cross training. This will also engage employees and help you get ready to take on the market when conditions improve.

  • Improve productivity: Monitor and improve productivity levels. Get more out of your team by helping them focus on the right deliverables. Use technologies that enable you to eliminate inefficiencies and reduce costs.

  • Maintain strong relationships: While maintaining good relationships is important at all times, during a slowdown one may forget to do so. Don’t!

    • Customers –Did you know the costs of acquiring new customers are up to five times those of maintaining and selling to existing customers? Hence allocate resources to strengthen relationships with your best customers. Being close to them will also alert you incase competition is trying to acquire them as their customers.

    • Suppliers – Even though you may shop for cheaper sources of raw material etc, do not cut off all relationships with existing suppliers. Let them still fulfill part of your need. You do not want to antagonize them since you never know who you may need in future.

    • Banks – Banks are looking for business to boost their income, but are also trying to minimize risk. They are careful about what kind of loans they give. Assure them of your financial position so that they give you an ‘over draft’ facility when required etc. However, seeking additional credit during a recession is not advisable.

  • Be prepared for economic recovery: During the 1990 -1991 recession, Dell perfected its demand-pull production system, and Intel launched its “Intel Inside” branding campaign. Both companies emerged as stronger competitors and grabbed the largest share of profits in their industries over the following years. If you have viable business idea, invest in it, maybe conservatively, but do invest. This is the time to look out for talent, physical assets that were not available to you earlier. A friend of mine working in a financial company tells me every second day he gets a CV of a talented financial professional. This was unheard of in the past.
  • Think long term:  In every aspect of the business think long term. For instance though every rupee saved is a rupee earned, you should be careful while cost cutting. Very often we tend to focus on immediate, piece-meal remedies and ignore the long-term implications. But wise cost management is not only about reducing short-term costs but also achieving lasting competitive advantage. Your business must incur costs to remain competitive - costs of attracting and retaining talent, costs of research and development, costs of building your company’s brand and maintaining company infrastructure.

Doing things differently, some examples….
If you thought cost cutting, reducing reliance on financial sectors or US markets and layoffs are the only measures being undertaken by companies, you are wrong. This is a time to think afresh and get creative on running a business. Check out what some companies are doing or have done differently to manage recession.


Of course what may work for other companies may not work for your company. Figure out what does. What is important is that you take a holistic approach and manage all aspects of business effectively. That way your company will be better positioned to do well when the economic conditions improve or you may just find for example that when business picks up you have client orders, but no talented employees left to execute them. Also remember the lessons learnt during recession. They can be valuable to you even in good times. All the best!



1. Legge,B, ‘Managing During the Recession’,
2. ‘Survival Tips for Managing During an Economic Downturn’,
3. Sujan, S, ‘Ten Tips For Startups To Ride Out The Economic Slowdown’, October 27, 2008 ,
4. Radjou , N, ‘Recession-Hit Indian Firms Experiment with New Innovation Strategies’, November 7, 2008 ,
5. McGregor ,J, ‘Managing Employees in a Downturn’, November 3, 2008,
6. Kumar , D, S, ‘Economic Slowdown: Consumer durable companies put up a brave’, October 27, 2008,

Ask the Expert: V2 Issue2

1. My team members who belong to the twenty years plus age group just don’t take the initiative to get their work done. It is irritating to constantly tell them about the tasks they need to complete. They really don’t seem to have the work ethic that my older team members do. Please tell me how do I get them to show accountability for achieving their goals and objectives?

The work ethic of earlier generations was different. Typically, they were intrinsically motivated. They worked for work’s sake or because their self-image was based on their careers. The current generation has different work ethics. Most are not motivated by threats of punishment or firing. The good news is basically Gen Y is keen on performing. They have already been exposed to a performance culture. But they are used to their parents managing their schedules and activities. Getting them to drive their own performance will require guidance from you as their manager.

Spell out tasks to them clearly even the smallest of details. Do not expect them to understand what seems obvious to you. Demonstrate clearly to them the purpose of all tasks. Explain the business priorities, the big impact of what they are doing, especially for those tasks that may seem less interesting to them.  Regularly reiterate priorities since typically new and exciting projects grab their attention regardless of their priority status. Ensure there are easy systems in place for them to understand from you about their progress or for you to follow up with them. 

Get excited about the tasks with them to push them to take action. To ensure their energy stays high, keep up the excitement. Provide lots of performance feedback.  Coach them and provide them training and development opportunities to help them increase their expertise.What works with the current generation is setting short term goals with an end reward. Most importantly get to know them and their needs, even personal ones better. (Do read the article in this issue about understanding Gen Y.) Find out what is it that they are expecting to get out of their jobs? Link the benefit of doing a task with what they desire in a job.


2. In my team, I have people belonging to both Gen Y and earlier generations.  How do I get them to work together effectively with their diverse styles?

Conflicts between generations arise due to the perceptions they have of each other. For instance, older generations may think the youngsters in the workplace are lazy. While the Gen Y may think the older generations are too rigid. But there are ways to get people belonging to different generations to work together.



    • Encourage them to draw upon each other’s strength: Help your team members understand each other’s strengths. Then focus on leveraging those strengths for the team’s benefit rather than becoming unproductive as a team because of value differences. While allocating work, team up people from different generations who enjoy spending time together and learning from each other. So an experienced person can share his/her wisdom about the organization or the functional field with a Gen Y in exchange for knowledge on the latest in technology.

    • Build on the common values they share: All of them want a culture of empowerment, regular and constructive feedback, to be treated with respect, high commitment to the task from their colleagues and honesty in relationships. So create an environment which encourages these.

    • Focus on the team objectives: A great team is one which has great teamwork. Regardless of the generation each team member belongs to, get all of them to identify with the common team objectives and get them thinking on how is everyone going to work together successfully to achieve the same.

    • Allocate tasks based on what each generation likes:  So for example it may be good idea to give the “research on new things” part of the project to Gen Y while others focus on figuring it out how to practically implement it.

    • Have team norms but provide flexibiltiy on how each one wants to learn and work: Some generations are looking for handwritten notes. Others do not like to work independently, and they expect to have meetings any time, any place. Some generations will not entertain hearing about the project outside of work. And the Yers don’t want any meetings at all, they only communicate via voice mail and e-mail. Treat and manage them as per individual needs and not the same.


3. I am bright. So I am able to finish the tasks assigned to me fast. My other team members are slow and perhaps need to stay late beyond office hours. But not me. But my manager does not get it and expects me to be in office late? I am unable to meet my other commitments in my personal life because of this. What do I do?


I know how frustrated you must be feeling. If you think this is a temporary phenomenon then adjusting to this maybe the best thing to do. If not, talk to your manager. Maybe your manager has his reasons for expecting you to stay up late. Try and find out before you talk to him. Is the project running late because of which you need to put in extra effort for sometime. Have you not completed tasks assigned to you on time in the past? Is he the kind who thinks face time is equal to quality and quantity of work? Does he want you to be with the team and help them with their workload? Does he belong the generation for whom work is everything and who thinks it should be the same with others?

Also until one proves oneself it is difficult for anybody to assess your capability. Maybe your manager does not realize that you are smart. Why don’t you request for a review of the work done so far. Let him see the progress you have made. I think once you prove you can do good work in less time, he will not feel the need for you to work late. During the review ask him if he has anything else that he had in mind that he wanted you to complete.  Indicate to him the other commitments in your personal life and how you hope to meet them. Have a frank discussion with him/her on how they have been affected because of work.  I am sure he will be more understanding about your work hours thereafter.

In addition to getting an OK from your manager on leaving office once you finish your work, there is an important thing you must to do. If other team members are genuinely struggling with their work you should help them out. After all what are smart team members for?



  1. Burgess, P, “Leading Generation Y”,

Social Networking – Changing the Context of Doing Business: Management Funda; V2 Issue 2

You find a perfect candidate for the new role in your department. You get insight into the management philosophy of your competition. Your company gets publicity.  All with some clicks of your mouse! Without attending networking conferences or exchanging business cards! Welcome to the new form of networking - social networking!

How does social networking work?

In general this is how social networking works…

1. A website owner establishes the style of the network, provides the functionality, creates/imports content and sets the rules.

2. A friend or contact invites you to join the networking service or you join by visiting the site and signing up. With most services the initial signup is free.

3. You create a profile describing yourself/your company and your interests.

4. You connect to your friends/colleagues or clients/suppliers and their network.

5. You further expand your own network via message boards, emails, blogs and by connecting with members with similar interests.

The best part of a social networking site is that it enables you and your company to connect with people who may not be familiar with you, or with your organization. Because you already know someone who knows them, you can begin a relationship with more trust and warmth than with a total stranger. According to the Hitwise, the online intelligence service, internet visits to the top 20 social networking websites in 2007 accounted for 6.5 per cent of all internet visits. The popular Orkut and Facebook are some of the networking sites used for personal purposes. and are some of the networking sites used mainly for professional and business purposes.

Social Networking changing business context

But should you or your company be investng time on networking? Because though it is in the early stages, social networking along with other web 2.0 tools (blogging, wikis) is changing the way we do business.

  • New customer relationship management tool: Entrepreneurs and small businesses can expand their contact base easily since social networks connect people at low cost. These networks can act as a customer relationship management tool for selling products and services. Companies can advertise in the form of banners and text ads. For businesses operating globally, social networks can make it easier to keep in touch with contacts around the world. It helps in being more responsive to customers. Gerson Lehrman Group’s expert network connects customers to subject matter experts who can address their concerns etc.

  • Increased internal and external communication: Social networking tools are easy and simple to use.So more and more people are communicating things they would otherwise not have communicated. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)’s 200 or so disaster recovery specialists have invited people to join their networks so that post disasters, through communication with their contacts they can respond faster and more effectively.

  • Collaboration and better knowledge management: Individuals and organizations needing a capability or service that is not within their reach, use social networking to work together with other individuals, communities and organisations. Flowserve, an industrial manufacturer built an internal version of Facebook. Its employees spread across 55 locations could now develop relationships and communicate with each other to leverage on each other’s knowledgebase to solve common problems.       

  • Innovation: The collective intelligence of colleagues, peers in other companies, suppliers and customers can be tapped to develop innovative services and products. IBM India has seen that their social networking tools create healthy discussions around research and development thus contributing to the improvement of their products, processes and policies.

  • More transparency and accountability: With increased levels of communication comes greater tranparency and companies are becoming more accountable for their actions to their consumers and employees.

  • Hiring and working with people we know: Studies have found that those hired through social networks have a lower attrition rate and earn more than employees hired through other hiring methods.

  • More connected workforce: More than 300 Zappos (an online shoe retailer) employees use social networking to let friends, colleagues and customers know what they are doing at any given time in the day. This informal and frequent communciation keeps employees connected. In India TCS is developing an interactive corporate directory called My Site. Employees can create a buddy list and connect with others having similar interests thus increasing bonding among employees irrespective of hierarchy.

  • Increased C2C marketing: Messages being delivered from business to consumer (B2C) are being supplemented with consumer-to-consumer (C2C) messages about products and services through the social networks. So companies are finding ways to tap into them in order to be aware of them and influence them positively.

Looks like social networking will provide a new powerful way to get work done by making individuals and organizations more agile and efficient through better communications and sharing of expertise. Of course all this is possible if you use social networking effectively.

Using social networking effectively- few tips

  • Choose the networking sites wisely – those which suit your requirement rather than the ones people have sent you invites for or other companies are using.

  • Create a user friendly profile by ensuring it contains all the relevant details and gives the right impression about you or your company.

  • Extend invitations to connect to friends and people or in the case of a company, clients, suppliers who know you.  You don’t want to create spam for people who have not heard of you right. Also don’t be pushy. It may put off people.

  • When you make a request for connection clarify your intentions ie., is it to find a candidate, discuss common interests, get product improvement ideas etc.

  • Invest time in networking. Learn what works and does not work. Be clear what you are trying to accomplish through networking to use the time spent on it fruitfully.

  • Display networking etiquette like responding to requests promptly, being truthful about your employment status etc while connecting with people and by not connecting with people every time you have news about yourself /your company or need some help.

  • Aim for relationships rather than transactions. Help others before seeking help from them.


Is there a downside to social networking? Though networking sites are mindful of your privacy you cannot stop a person from writing to you or writing about your company. Maintaining your network will require taking out time from your already packed schedule. You may also feel emotionally disconnected with people you are in touch with only online. Valid concerns. But there are ways to take care of them. For instance you can talk to your contacts on phone or meet them in person to get a feel of the real people behind the emails.  And considering its various benefits it is worth making the effort. Soon social networking tools developed for use within organisations will be here (A McKinsey's survey found that 37 per cent of the executives interviewed were using or planned to use social networking functionality within their companies.) And when it does you and your organisation will be ready.


  1. Taylor,D,“The Business Blog at”,
  2. Hoffman, A, “Seven Tips for Social Networking Online”,
  3. Steckerl,S,“Start Networking Online”, Jan 2, 2007,
  4. Fitzgerald ,M, “Why Social Computing Aids Knowledge Management”,
  5. “The impact of social media on corporate culture”,
  7. Atchison, S, “Social Networking ROI: Measuring the Impact of C2C”, Jul 12, 2007,
  8. “Social network service”,

Employee Speak: Louie Fernandes. RaLpH, Chief Operating Officer, Optimystix: V2 Issue2

1. How is the entertainment industry getting influenced by the increase in percentage of the Gen Y viewers?

There has been an increase in the Gen Y viewership primarily in the English entertainment and music genres but not necessarily at the same rate in the GEC (General Entertainment Channels).  In the GEC, there has been an increase in viewership within the shoulder time bands (7-8PM and 10PM onwards) of the Gen Y viewers. With the penetration of internet and mobile, these are more attractive time spending options for Gen Y audiences and one can expect these media platforms to see a higher rate of growth in Gen Y audiences.

Broadcasters are now extending their content to mobile and web. With the introduction and subsequent proliferation of 3G and broadband, we see more cannibalization of content created for TV with mobile and internet.


2. When program formats are developed by Optimystix, are any particular elements included to attract and engage Gen Y viewers?

Yes in two ways.  The GEC channels have introduced an interactive element in the programmes like call-ins, SMS, India voting and download sections on their websites to attract younger audiences who believe in influencing the end result. Dancing and comedy genres have introduced content that is focused on competitions where the younger generation wants to play a role in deciding who the winner is.  Forays into mobile content typically attract Gen Y and humor/movie related new content is being created for mobile. You can have a look at some sample content on Expect to see more mobile content created by Optimystix on your mobile screen soon via your mobile operator.


3. According to you what kind of television programs are a hit among Gen Y viewers?


Genres of singing, dancing, comedy and spoofy shows like SET's Comedy Circus are a hit. On niche channels, MTV’s ‘Roadies’ is a show particularly focused towards attracting the young Gen Y audience.


4. How is the entertainment industry getting impacted by the influx of Gen Y workforce?

One would be on generating fresh creative output to meet the objective of different genres of programming. Their biggest impact would be on programs particularly targeted towards the youth, as against creative input they would bring to GEC, focussed on big shiny floor entertainment programs targeted for the entire family.

The impact of Gen Y workforce is significant when creating content targeting the youth itself – youth programming on music channels, gaming industry, mobile, internet and the likes.


5. What according to you is and will be the impact of Gen Y employees on the corporate culture?

The Gen Y workforce tends to focus more on the ‘end’ rather than the ‘means’ to reach an objective.  They also bring in a lot of movement, energy and diversity within the organisation.  At Optimystix we have a healthy mix of people.  Young talent is managed and supervised by experienced talent.  Today our middle management rung consists of young people who have grown in the organisation over the years and have integrated well to create a cohesive culture of the organisation which transcends youthful zeal and enthusiasm with the thoroughness and wisdom of experience.


6. What are the challenges in managing them at the workplace?

A major challenge in managing this hyperactive workforce is discipline and adherence to process.  Control is a challenge.  What works with selling the principles of discipline and process is persistence and presenting the benefits and values of adhering to processes and discipline via real life examples. This generation thinks more off the hip rather than the head.  They are more emotional than calculative and introspective. As managers we need to spend time with them to demonstrate the bigger/macro picture.  They tend to have a myopic view and believe more in shortcuts rather than hard work. With guidance and persistence, we can achieve the desired results.


7. They have global reach and trends across the world reach them in real time - Is their leaning towards India – the country lower therefore?

I wouldn’t say so.  They are globally aware but their connection to India is strong.


8. Any message you would like to share with our readers belonging to the Gen Y?

My message to them is that there is a lot of merit in hard work especially when it’s coupled with an intelligent approach to hard work.  Shortcuts don’t work all the time.  One should take the time to dot the ‘i’s and cross the ‘t’s. Focusing on details is important.

Emerging Trends: Activity Corner; V2 Issue 2

Are you keeping track of these emerging trends?

Listed below are descriptions of different products, services, technologies and practices that are representative of the different trends that we are seeing today. Some of them are in areas that can improve workplace effectiveness. See how many you can identify.

1. It is a free service that allows users to send "updates" text-based posts, up to 140 characters long. Updates are displayed on the user's profile page and instantly delivered to other users who have signed up to receive them. The sender can restrict delivery to those in his or her circle of friends.

2. This is a portable device for storing and playing audio files. It can hold anywhere from a few hundred to ten thousand songs.

3. Initiatives related to this help companies make profits without sacrificing the resources of its people, the community and the planet.

4. This device supports push e-mail, mobile telepone, text messaging, internet faxing, web browsing and other wireless information services. It has a built-in keyboard, optimized for "thumbing" (the use of only the thumbs to type).

5. This is a website, usually maintained by an individual, with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse chronological order. The ability for readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important aspect.

6. This is a collection of web pages designed to enable anyone who accesses it to contribute or modify content. They are often used to create collaborative websites and to power community websites.

7. These are web applications that draw upon content retrieved from external data sources to create entirely new and innovative services. They are popular because of the emphasis on interactive user participation and the manner in which they aggregate and stitch together third-party data.


1. Twitter. Media such as CNN use Twitter to break news. The American Red Cross uses Twitter to exchange minute-to-minute information about local disasters. In May 2007, there were 111 such "Twitter look-alikes" internationally. Most of these have emerged due to Twitter's success.

2. iPod. In addition to playing MP3 audio files, the iPod plays AAC (Advanced Audio Coding). AAC’s principle difference from MP3 is its ability to support Digital Rights Management (DRM). DRM is a response to the type of song sharing first enabled by websites like Napster. By encoding legally purchased songs with digital signatures, it increases the difficulty of sharing them inappropriately.

3. Sustainability or Being Green. Companies are doing this by developing greener products and services (designed to have less adverse effect on the environment), and by being more focused internally on operating with greater energy efficiency, cutting their own costs and reducing the "carbon footprint"(carbon emmissions) they leave.

4. Blackberry. It was first introduced in 1997 as a two-way pager. Today, they are popular with some businesses, where they are primarily used to provide e-mail access to roaming employees.

5. Blog. Political consultants, news services and policital candidates have began using them as tools for opinion forming.  The emergence of blogging has however also brought about legal liabilities and unforeseen consequences. In India, blogger Gaurav Sabnis resigned from IBM after his posts exposing the false claims of a management school, IIPM, led to management of IIPM threatening to burn their IBM laptops as a sign of protest against him. As of December 2007, blog search engine Technorati was tracking more than 112 million blogs.

6. Wiki. The collaborative encyclopedia Wikipedia is one of the best known wikis. Wikis are used in businesses to provide affordable and effective intranets and for knowledge management. The open philosophy of most wikis, allows anyone to edit content. Wikis tend to take a soft security approach to the problem of vandalism; making damage easy to undo rather than attempting to prevent damage.

7. Mashups.The Web site is an example. It mashes crime data from the Chicago Police Department's online database with cartography from Google Maps. Users can interact with the mashup site, such as instructing it to graphically display a map containing pushpins that reveal the details of all recent burglary crimes in an area.

So which category do you belong to?

a. You were not aware of them
b. You have heard of them
c. You knew about them
d. You use them