“Evolving communication”- 28 October 2014.

As per General Manager Anisha’s analysis of why the company did not rise up to its potential, it had not evolved a culture that fostered internal communication in a healthy manner. So, in order to make a start, she abandoned the high perch of her well-appointed chamber and “moved inward”, in her own words. That started paying dividends in a short while and workforce, whose abilities were proven but never actually used, started responding to the call of duty from time to time.

So, in her own way, the GM had sorted out the issue fairly well and amicably. That also gave her a higher personal popularity count within the organisation. Yet, the problem was only half-solved. For, other seniors did not agree with the new GM’s way of working and mingling with the workforce at lower levels. They did not appreciate Anisha taking her lunch at the company canteen with common employees, nor did they like her coffee table chats with others. Without actually voicing their opposition, the senior executives started ignoring her advice. They did not leave their chambers and did not join the common ranks of staff for lunch or coffee.
Anisha was watching every development. She realised that she still had a problem at hand to be tackled. How would she sort this out? — she wondered. After some agonising days thinking of a probable solution to the new twist to the situation, Anisha thought of another approach. One afternoon at lunch time, she walked into the chamber of her second-in-command and sat across him at his big table. She smiled, picked up the intercom and asked the canteen manager to deliver her platter in that chamber. The Number Two was all confused. But Anisha was all smiles. Within minutes, her platter came from the canteen and she urged the occupant of the haloed chamber not to mind her intrusion. “Of course, not Madam,” he said.
What followed was an open conversation on every subject under the Sun except work. Anisha’s deputy was absolutely clueless as to what the lady wished. But as minutes passed, he felt assured that it was only a goodwill visit, which both seemed to enjoy. Once this stage was reached, things became easier. With more such regular visits to the seniors’ chambers in the next few weeks, Anisha was able to break the resistance from those ranks. Her tenuous effort led to some seniors asking junior staff to join for coffee at the canteen. Culture was changing, and the good effect also started becoming visible in a few months.
All this appears cosy and rosy at this stage when the demons have been pushed into submission, but when she was actually doing things, Anisha found going really difficult. But she also knew the cliched adage: When going gets tough, the tough get going. She followed that wisdom. She believed in a certain philosophy, and she was determined to see things through. She believed that one of the mantras of success in an organisation was to build a cohesive and communicative culture that binds people together. As Chinese master Lao Tzu said, Anisha used the people’s attitude instead of action. She allowed her people to become her partners in her effort. Everybody was encouraged to be the part of it, first unobtrusively and later openly.
Of course, any such effort is time-consuming, and energy-sapping. For Anisha, that was the prime task, beyond higher production and greater profitability. For, she knew that once better internal communication is achieved, other things like production and profits follow automatically. But this belief did not come up all by itself. To have it rise to that level of steadfastness, Anisha had to work hard in her earlier assignments — not on the shop floor but on the intellectual plane. She had to buttress her belief by reading the masters and by assimilating age-old wisdom of the superstars elsewhere. But then, who says that a leader becomes leader just because somebody names her to be so. She has to earn the spurs after she has earned the name.


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