Part 2….The Time To Develop The Right Work Ethic Is Now!

This is the second part of my speech made at the HR Meet of a reputed organisation. Await the third and the last part which will be published two days later.

The second point I wish to talk about is that the time to develop the right work ethic is now.

After we set up a factory near Hyderabad in eighties, sometime passed when we came to know that our employees have met one Mr. Basi Reddy who was considered a naxalite and who was usually underground. But he was leading unions in many companies and was known to be a union leader who did not hesitate to resort to violence. We then took an unusual step. We invited Basi Reddy to our factory. This unusual step actually surprised him. He was expecting resistance from us. We explained our people management policies to him and also told him that we practised productivity bargaining. The result was creation of an atmosphere of trust and confidence.

The trouble with industrial relations is that we approach it with fear instead of hope. Actually the best part about working in HR or IR is that it allows us to experiment. You do that when you act out of hope. Many companies have carried out various experiments and with rich dividends.

How to create good work ethic is a question that has always stayed in my mind. Long back I invited GN Sapre to conduct a session on work ethic for our workers. What he spoke, left a mark on me. Much later he wrote a book on work ethic in Marathi. It is perhaps the best book on the subject I have ever read. One mill owner from Dhule got an edition printed for him and distributed it free to his thousand workers.

I happen to attend the publication ceremony of the book. The chief guest was Dr. Sarojini Vaidya. Dr. Sarojini Vaidya who died recently, was one of the highly respected people in the field of Marathi literature. She has authored research on various authors and their work. She was the head of Mumbai University’s Marathi Department. Dr. Vaidya spoke for one and a half hour on work ethic on that day. It was a speech full of insights and held the audience spell bound.

I went home asking myself how could she have developed so much insight on a subject like work ethic? Moreover it wasn’t her subject. The answer was, in my opinion, that she was given to reflecting on how people led their lives and why. This as we know is a favourite subject of reflection among authors. Dr. Vaidya has written volumes on life and letters of various authors. The making of a person is what you consider in such cases. That gives you insight in various areas including work ethic.

I have always felt that by not reading good Indian literature we are denying ourselves a great source of learning. The advantage your generation has is that it is given to seeing more than reading. So people talk of Lagaan and draw lessons out of that movie. Now they have done it with three idiots too. My personal opinion is that watching a film does not force you adequately to stop and think. That’s precisely where a book scores over a video.

Coming back to our issue of work ethic, the point I am making is that if we wish to develop good work ethic, we need to reflect on our daily experiences, our life.

In Mumbai it is quite common for working couples to leave a house key with their maid servant. Thousands have experienced that it is safe to do, nothing is ever lost. Nobody will dare to do this in Delhi. Why? What makes the difference? What makes Mumbai develop such work ethic? If we do not find out the critical factor chances are that we will not reinforce it.

In an atmosphere that is conducive to developing good relations, we must focus on developing work ethic.

It was a pleasant surprise to find that Godrej group has done some wonderful work with GN Sapre and has called him Guru Sapre on their web site. If you type GN Sapre and work ethic you will land up on the web page of Change issue of 2002 that shows Sapre’s felicitation at Godrej.

This is the second part of my speech made at the HR Meet of a reputed organisation. Await the third and the last part which will be published two days later.