Wednesday, 12 July 2017

How to develop employee engagement culture in SME organizations?

Employee engagement culture can be understood by the way all the employees involve themselves on an organizational day to day processes, interaction with each other, to customers and other stakeholders, continuously improving the technical, functional, managerial process and continuously contributing to the organizational objectives like profitability, growth. In an engaged culture, the focus of the organization would be on "solutions" rather than on the problems, fixing people, complaining and firefighting mode of working.

Bringing the people together towards a single goal and working together is a real challenge in most of the small, emerging medium size organizations and it requires the sustained commitment and hard work from the head of the organization as well as from the team.

In some organization, as long as they are small, engagement is positive under the close supervision or interaction of the business head. When the organization grows big, the employee engagement becomes complex as increased size of people, the quantum of interaction and communication, different priorities make the engagement as a challenge.

Even then the employee engagement challenge can be managed with a long-term focus, driven by top management, well-defined process, and consistency in execution.This execution must be visible in day to day management, in the quality of interaction between all the stakeholders.

To bring the employee engagement, business head or leadership team must inculcate the fundamental principles in place as follows

1.Respect the individual and accept the diversity
2. Treating people as ASSETS rather than COMMODITY
3.Differentiate performer and non-performer
4.Learning and development as lifelong process


Factors facilitate the employee engagement

There are many factors affecting the engagement irrespective of product lines, business nature; those factors can be categorized into two factors namely

1.Physical Environment inside the organization

2.Structured Management Process & Consistency in Execution

The importance of physical environment on employee engagement 

Environment triggers the positive or negative behavior in people and in- turn as action.When the environment is conducive, it will trigger positive, learning behavior whereas if the environment is not conducive, it triggers only negative, low-level activity among the people.

For example, when we visit a temple or library, our behaviors to silent are different than when we visit a local vegetable market.The environment triggers our behavior, in turn, our actions.

Similarly, some of the physical environmental factors inside the organization drive positive behavior and actions like

1.Uniform that promotes equality among employees

2. Basic amenities like washrooms, drinking water facilities

3. Good ventilation and lightings

3. Facilities for eating foods

5.Good housekeeping and safety layouts

6.Visuals promoting positive thinking and teamwork

The list looks like soft issues or infrastructure and those are all considered as expenses.However, their presence makes an invisible impact on the behavior and actions of the people as we have witnessed in many organizations.

The importance of structured management process & consistency in execution:

In some organizations, we are witnessing that employee engagement programmes are initiated with great enthusiasm by having inauguration event, motivational lectures, and celebrations, etc. However, over a period, the momentum fades. The reason could be the process of administrating the engagement process, engagement framework, assigning responsibility, consistent recognition methods and events are not being thought out and articulated.

Some of the management process that enables employee engagement in a consistent manner

1. Setting the targets for the organization/ functions/ cells

2. Clear Communication to the team

3. Expectation set and articulated

4. Periodic review forums to see the progress

5. Recognizing the talent and visibility of the improvements 

6. Standard operating procedure with details on communication, engagement process, rewarding and recognizing methodology and people responsibility.

Since the organization consists of people from different educational / work experience and different motivational needs, different engagement programmes must be created to cater to different levels and needs.

The general framework for employee engagement programmes/initiatives for different levels of people inside the organization is given below




As said, Engaging the people towards organizational objectives and working towards solutions and growth requires a long time focus and commitment from senior leadership team and all employees. This is a difficult process, but once you establish and sustain the positive engagement culture, your organization will survive any external challenges.The positive, winning mindset culture will become a competitive edge and can not be copied by anyone.Are you ready to invest your time, energy on the long-term asset building?

Monday, 26 June 2017

How to evaluate the plant layout options ?


One of the management challenges is to decide right plant layout given the many options.Even though Engineers are trained to design the plant layout considering the material, process, communication flow using a different set of techniques, taking a decision is cumbersome since one layout options may give a set of advantages, time, drawbacks and some other layout options may give a set of advantages and drawbacks.

Most of the time, a making .wrong decision might have taken by team depends on who is influencing the layout options or go by subjective decision making.

To avoid this mistake and consciously take the decision without much bias, Pugh Matrix with Evaluation Criteria will help.

Some of the Evaluation criteria for best plant layout

1. Shortest material flow route
2. Minimal or zero criss-cross movements
3. Ease of communication
4. Flexibility for expansion
5. Cost of layout
6. Ease of Maintenance 
7. Faciliating safety aspects
8. Ease of planning
9. Floor Space Utilization
10. People Utilization 
11. Aesthetics

Each of the above criteria can be given some weight depending upon your industry / organization/type of layout changes, and against that criteria, each layout options can be scored on the 0-5 scale. The overall multiplication of score against weight will give the FINAL score for each layout options.

You can objectively select the layout options with HIGH SCORE as it considers all the parameters with weights.

This techniques Pugh matrix evaluation removes bias to some extent while evaluating and choosing the right layout options.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Ease of managing business with seven fundamental principles

istock.com

        The central challenge for business is to generate profit in a sustainable manner irrespective of external factors like competition, macroeconomic condition, supply demand balance, etc.

         While large companies are capable of handling any adverse economic climate, the most affected business segment is SMALL and MEDIUM businesses. The reason could be their business management process is not robust enough to handle the adverse situation.

         Irrespective of the economic environment and competition, it is possible to make SUSTAINED PROFIT if the business head conducts the business in line with the following seven principles.


  1. Drive business with numbers
  2. Communicate business target to team
  3. Delegate and Review  key performance indicators (KPI) 
  4. Keep the cost structure lean
  5. Invest in People 
  6. Focus on big picture  &  be flexible
  7. Process Innovation mindset


Principle 1: Drive business with numbers 

          The renowned management guru Peter F Drucker said: “What is measured improves”. You cannot manage what you do not measure. In business, any outcome can be quantified and measured. For example, you can measure your entire year effort regarding sales achieved or the profits achieved. Setting a business goal with numbers brings the following benefits.

•You are mindful of what exactly you require
•It drives your behavior and action
•You can always measure your performance against the target set  at any point of time and take corrective action

We have observed that almost all business owner or leadership team have the top line and bottom-line target for the business every year. But that alone does not drive the organizational action to achieve the result. You need to have target measurements for all the supporting functions like manufacturing, purchase, quality, service, new developments, sales, and marketing. If you have goals for each function with clear quantification in line with your top line and bottom-line, it will bring more focus down the line in the organization.

The point is that it is not only sufficient to have measured at top line and bottom-line and you need to have measurable across the functions and the activities. Once you start to look at your entire organizational performance regarding measurement, you become aware of the direction it is going and you can able to take action at the earliest.

Principle 2: Communicate business target to team

          Communication to all stakeholders is very vital to the business profitability.It may look strange or soft issue, but from our experience with small and medium business houses, we have found that lack of communication or poor communication process within and outside the organization affects the daily deliverables.

 When we refer the term communication, it ranges from sharing business targets to the routine day-to-day sharing of key information within a team. We have witnessed in most of the SME‘s the day to day functional information is held up with a few people and never communicated to the relevant people. Any held up information or delayed communication only makes confusion, speculation and in turn low work performance.

 Most of the SME’s Business owners are not communicating their goals, business aspiration to their second level and down the level. Also, top management is not showing enough interest or effort to communicate the business challenges, past performances, etc. to the team. One of the reasons could be their inner fear about sharing the goals or not having awareness about the power of shared goals. 

The advantage of shared goal and challenges is that it will bring the possibility of achieving faster than if they do not. The benefits of having regular, systematic communication process are as follows

1. It brings top and first line people together, and it increases  relationship
2. When people are involved, engagement increases.
3. There is scope of idea generation to meet the business challenges 

Depending on the organizational size and structure, communication process needs to be structurally designed at each level.That can be regular meeting forums, reviews, and reporting.Management should also ensure the communication process through regular, systematic reviews, suggestion scheme, cross-functional activities, personal touch, etc.

Principle 3: Delegate and Review Key Performance Indicators (KPI) 

           In most of the SME business, the business owner or top management team will be performing all the work even though they have second level support.The reasons could be a lack of delegation skill, the tendency of doing all by self. This attitude will affect the growth and the engagement of people.Even management delegates the responsibility to down the level, but they will be lacking on monitoring the progress with key performance indicators. Both delegation and tracking people performance through KPI reviews should work hand in hand. Delegating responsibility without measurement or measurement tracking without people ownership does not serve the organization to accomplish business ends. 

As we have discussed in principle one on driving the business with numbers, each function, activities, and person in the organization must be measured with key indicators. Management must review the key performance indicators (KPI) against the target.

As we said in Principle 2, through the effective communication process, those KPI ‘s can be reviewed. In the absence of measured KPI  and delegation, meetings become one-way communication.

The benefits of tracking and reviewing KPI’s

•It  reflects  the status of the organizational performance at any point of time
•Brings people together on common goals and enhances engagement
•Allows the management to take counteraction on time to bring back the performance 

Principle 4: Keep the cost structure lean 

          One of the key reasons, the business struggles with profitability or loss is its inability to keep the cost structure lean. Lean cost structure means that incurring the expenses that are essentially required and eliminating unnecessary cost elements or low return expenses. Each expense in the organization must have a reasonable rate of returns. Waste or unnecessary expenses make the cost structure very fat, and overall product cost becomes uncompetitive in the market especially in the buyer’s market.

Approaches to keep the cost structure lean as follows.

1.Track the each expense 
2.Get convinced about each expense and its  return on investment
3.Set the cost efficiency target for each cost element  
4.Continually look for waste elimination  opportunities through lean system thinking

One of the trap most of the SME business slips is an increasing overhead due to asset acquisition and utilization. From our experience with hundreds of business owners, they are very enthusiastic in going for expansion when they see the light of opportunities. When there is an indication for new business or incremental volume, the tendency of business owners is to add the capacity even at the cost of borrowing.While it may be logical to go for investment when the opportunity comes in, but the hidden fact that the existing equipment or facilities are not even effectively utilized 85 % as a rule of thumb for capacity utilization in manufacturing industries. 

Without effectively utilizing the current asset and adding new assets with the same efficiency loss, the business overhead would become fat. When the business environment is flourishing, the cost can be absorbed, but if the business is in recession or even the competition is aggressive on pricing, the business cost structure will not be attractive in the market. You will be losing the opportunity as well your internal cost will go up. 

So next time, when you think about investment in capacity or facility, think twice, ensure that you are effectively utilizing the existing asset.

Principle 5: Invest in People

           One of the highest return on investment is investing in people. Competition can copy your technology, process, cost structure, marketing strategy and it cannot copy your organizational culture. The positive, winning culture is cultivated only by people working in the organization. Investing in people consists of four components viz

1.Recruit right people  for the position at best cost 
2.Develop the person's competency on technical, managerial and behavioral skill 
3.Engage them through aspirational organizational targets 
4.Empower them for extraordinary performance 

It is common in many  SME, to recruit people of any background just to fill the short-term need. This creates an imbalance in organizational requirement and people capability which will affect business profitability. While recruiting people, do the double check that job requirements match with person ‘s potential, past performance to deliver the result. Enhance your standard of expectation from people and your affordability to better pay to attract the best talents.

Most of the SME‘s owners have the wrong belief that providing training and education make the people leave the organization for a better job opportunity. Remember that if you are not spending your energy., money, time to develop your people on technical up gradation, managerial skill development, and positive behavioral aspects, people anyhow stay in the organization and deliver lower performance.

One of the research findings on people engagement reveals that people like challenging environment and looks for new learnings from work. People are leaving the organization when they feel that there is less scope for learning and less challenging environment, even though the pay and perks are relatively better. Engage your team through shared organizational aspirational goal and empower each one doing their job with freedom and accountability.

Compared to any physical assets, the only human asset is not depreciating as years go by and this is the only asset brings more returns on investment and profitability to the business. Invest in it…!

Principle 6: Focus on big picture & be flexible

            Most of the small, medium business remain in the same category for a longer duration due to the leader’s mindset and their focus on daily routine management.As business owners are pride about their core skill competency and they enjoy spending their most of the time in micro management.Managing a business is all about balancing all aspects of marketing, development, manufacturing, people, sales and finance management. As business owners, you must overview all aspects of business management and ensure that you are taking the organization to the next level with your big picture perspective rather than behaving as functional experts.

A simple rule to remember that LEARN TO UNLEARN and do not forget that the micro-management, which brought you to this level may not guarantee you for next level growth. Hence, focus on business development, exploring new opportunities, people development, and finance management rather than managing your core functional expertise.

Also, be flexible and open enough to accept the latest trends in technology, marketing techniques, customer’s expectation, manufacturing, and quality assurance systems. Change your management practices in line with market expectation rather than only cherishing on legacy, which may not guarantee profitability and growth. Valuing legacy with futuristic thinking does your business fit.

Principle 7: Process Innovation mindset:

      While the organization is small, it is manageable with "SOMEHOW" mentality. But it is difficult to manage all the cross-functional deliverables without PROCESS BASED APPROACH while the organization is emerging into big. Even in a small organization for sustaining the profitability, consistency of process is essential. The process can be manufacturing, customer quality, internal quality assurance,  recruitment, development, order fulfillment, etc. Establishing standard processes, educating the people in the process, ensuring process adherence is the prime responsibility of business owners for achieving sustainable profitability and taking the organization to next level growth.

Bringing process excellence approach may take time and energy, but the result is significant and enables you to think about principle 6, big picture thinking, and taking your business to next level growth...!

Friday, 2 June 2017

Why is Ergonomics application not given much importance in SME organization?

Even though Ergonomics can be used as a micro productivity tool in shopfloor to improve the productivity, safety aspects, most of the small, medium size organizations are not fully leveraging ergonomics application in process design.

Some of the misconceptions prevail among manufacturing professionals as we have gathered through our interactions

1.Ergonomics for product design not for process
2.Ergonomics can be applied in large organization
3.Ergonomics study can be done by scholars or external consultants 
4.Difficult to teach to shopfloor people 
5.Ergonomics is more related to Safety, health and environment  and nothing to do with people morale and productivity

In fact, with a simple checklist and little bit awareness on ergonomics principles, shopfloor operators, supervisors, managers can apply and identify the fatigue risk areas and implement simple solutions as we have witnessed in many SME manufacturing organizations.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Importance of Key performance indicators (KPI’s) for organizational transformation and the role of business head


As renowned management guru Peter Ducker says “what gets measured gets improved.”

In an organization, there are so many interactions, activities, transactions are happening across the functions or value chain.At the end of the day, only a few activities result in performance. The performance could be productivity improvement, profitability increase, sales increase, morale improvement etc.Some performances are not negotiable, vital for organizational profitability and growth and those performances are called Key performance indicators (KPI's). That means those performance indicators measure the organizational health. 

Even though key performance indicators will vary industry to industry and organization-specific, but most of the KPI’s fall under the broad categories of productivity, quality, cost, delivery aspects only.

Why is Key performance Indicators (KPI's) required?

Identifying and setting the KPI targets helps the organization 
1. To focus on the important deliverables
2. To bring the people together towards one goal
3. To improve the accountability
4. To improve the communication among the stakeholders
5. To know the reality against the desirables target at any point in time
6. To take course correction based on the reality vs target

How to implement Key performance Indicators or performance management for the organization?

Even though KPI and target setting can be done at the business level, functional level and individual level, the organization (especially SME organization) can start with business level .Once the organization becomes familiar with the business level performance management system, they can further deploy down to functional and individual level.

Assuming that SME organization like to implement the Performance management system at the organization level, the following steps would be useful.

1. Identify the Criteria under which key performance indicators (KPI’s) are measured. For example, SME organization can classify the business objectives into criteria like Productivity, Quality, Cost, Delivery, and Engagement.
2. In each criterion, identify the key performance measurements which are important to the business. For example, under productivity, one of the key performance indicators could be OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) or sales per employee.
3. For each of the KPI’s, realistic target can be fixed.This target can be arrived based on historical performance or futuristic aspirations.
4. For each KPI's, people responsibility can be assigned 
5. Once target is fixed for all key performance indicators in each category, it can be tracked every month against the reality or actual performance

Role of Business head or CEO in performance management 

Setting the business goals and showing the direction is one of the prime responsibilities of the business head or CEO.While setting the target, the head must have done his homework and set the target with conviction. The target should not be too much aspiration and unrealistic, it must be achievable by the team in a given time, resource and capability. Also, the target should not be too lenient with incremental increase as this may not be too much motivation for the team to work upon.

In most of SME’s as we use to observe that the CEO or business head himself not convinced about the target, but would like to push the team by giving too much unrealistic target and sometimes he is also pessimistic about the target achievement and set very low. In both cases, CEO or business head’s communication tone, body language would reflect his uncertainty mindset to the team.

If CEO or business head set the target with conviction, he would be more certain about the target and he would drive them by any means to achieve the target. In addition, his conviction would help to grab the opportunity to meet the target. In addition, the team gets motivated when they are working for real, aspirational goals under the visionary leadership.

For example, in one of our SME client organization, the business head set the production target as 10 T / day with conviction and taking into the confidence of his entire team.In the mid of the financial year, when uncertainty happened in the existing customer's demand, his business plan got disturbed.Since he was very firm and convinced about the production KPI of 10 T / day, he went ahead with a different approach with his new customer in a short time to achieve the target of 10 T/ day.That achievement increased his confidence as well as improved the morale of his team.

       Eventually, Performance management helps to build an organization culture with the winning mindset towards solutions, performance and this will become a competitive advantage to the organization.


Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Business (Head ) Transformation - New Book

https://read.amazon.in/kp/embed?asin=B01N8S1F70&preview=newtab&linkCode=kpe&ref_=cm_sw_r_kb_dp_QfK2ybBT4XVCE

Saturday, 25 March 2017

How to develop problem-solving competency inside the organization?

Irrespective of industry and size of the organization, one of the common scenarios we observe in most of the organization is the inability to converge into the solutions approach for the chronic problems. Alternatively, we can say that most of the organizations lack on the problem-solving competency. When we say competency, it encompasses the knowledge of recognizing the problem, analyzing the causes from the reliable data, proposing the actions plan, implementing the measures and ensuring the problem does not recur.

Organization differs on the level of competency steps. If the senior management brings this one competency across levels and functions, then the organization sails through any business challenges.

In most of the organizations, we observe that lack of problem-solving competency prevails not due to lack of awareness on the problem-solving methodologies or tools and techniques. In fact, most of the organizations are aware of structured problem-solving methodologies like QC tools and its applications, 8D approach, A3 approach, six sigma methodologies, etc.

In my opinion, the inculcating problem-solving competency is more of mindset and culture building issues rather than on awareness issue. It is due to the lack of conducive environment or winning mindset culture as developed by the senior leadership team.

Clarity on the term “problem.”




Any gap between the target or desired status and reality or current status is a problem. The problem can be into tangible targets vs. actual as in sales turnover, profitability, launch timeline, etc. or in intangible areas like people expectations and the reality.

Whatever may be the gap or problem case, people across the functions and levels of hierarchy in the organization must have the mindset, competency to solve the problem. But in reality, in most of the organizations, senior leadership team struggles to bring the culture of continuous problem solving inside the organization.

Reason for not able to create the problem-solving culture

Some of the factors or behaviors of senior leadership team do not allow the people to get into structured problem-solving mindset.

1.    Not realizing the problem or trend 
2.    No structured, authentic data 
3.    Culture of jumping to quick solutions, once problem is identified
4.    Busy in firefighting and “somehow” resolving issues
5.    Hesitate to conclude the solutions approach or options
6.    No facilitation on arriving solutions approach
7.    No risk taking or rewarding risk takers

Solutions approach to create problem-solving mindset and culture inside the organization 

Obviously, the people have to be given education exposure to different problem-solving methodologies, tools, and techniques. Assuming that education or awareness part is taken care, the senior leadership team has more responsibility to create a conducive environment or demonstrate consistent behavior towards solving problems. The following solutions approaches are recommended

1. Building an environment to collect authentic, consistent data from source
2. Encouraging discussion based on facts rather than opinions.
3. Creating a routine forum or reviews to discuss the problems and solutions approach
4. Encouraging open debate and idea generation by keeping ego aside
5. Allowing others to talk and listen more for insights
6. Encouraging people to take risk and experiment with solutions approach
7. Differentiating and recognizing problem solvers 

In today’s competitive environment, one of the differentiators and competitive edge for the organization is to create more problem solvers and to create a culture of problem-solving mindset across levels and functions!