Author: tbtdfadmin

24 Dec 2015

Get Off Your Backside

The New Smoking: sedentary living is the new killer disease

A White Paper from Digital Fibre 30th September 2015

One of the biggest challenges facing this country – how can we afford the ever-increasing costs of healthcare – is fast moving into the workplace. The best way to solve this problem of course is for us not to get ill in the first place. And one of the easiest ways for the government to encourage behaviours that will make this more likely is to shift the onus onto employers. In much the same way that the UK government is rolling out workplace pensions, employers will soon need to address their employees’ healthy living too.

To download complete white paper, fill out the below form:

15 Dec 2015
Close up Businessman Putting Small Piece of Wood with Mentoring Text to his Front Pocket. Retro Filter Effect.

The attitudinal advantage

Attitudinal and behavioural changes can drive profitability and growth

Today’s workforce competes within itself, primarily because of its age mix. It’s common knowledge that age, position in the hierarchy, family commitments, financial comfort or lack of it all these issues and more, influence the level of involvement of an employee with their joborganisation. It is important to identify young adults and others who are more focused; result-oriented and in constant need of an adrenalin fix. Their immediate goal is to be successful at the job but they are more susceptible to being adversely affected by workplace issues; and morale and productivity take a beating. They may not be finicky but their enthusiasm can go awry if the required

Behaviour and attitude may not be the same thing, but are related in important ways. While attitude is an inner thought or belief you hold about the world around you, behaviour is the physical manifestation of your attitudes. Attitudes can be positive, negative, or neutral regarding people, places and things. Change in attitude is followed by behavioural changes, since one influences the other significantly. support doesn’t exist in their immediate environment. So, how do corporates channel this untapped energy and use it to infect the whole organisation?

Companies that nail employee engagement understand that motivating high performance and aligning talent with business strategy requires getting to the heart of what matters to employees. It can’t be only about cold hard figures; though that will be the result of such efforts. Dealing with all age groups in an organisation is a huge challenge. The urgency to introduce programmes that deal with individuals rather than groups of people is becoming a reality. The need for a cohesive work environment is now being understood. Disengaged employees can drag down others and impact everything from customer service to sales, quality, productivity, retention and other critical business areas.

At the top of the agenda is retaining good talent and companies are forthcoming in providing adequate support for career path development. Programmes can’t just monitor performance but must motivate progress at various stages.

Timely intervention to streamline roadblocks between line managers and employees helps to reduce attrition and fosters a healthy work environment. While line managers can better themselves with programmes that assist in raising the bar, the new generations are far more focused and result-oriented and need the same programme to recognise and motivate them at all times. The line manager is a nodal point in any organisation. As long as the thought process falls in line with what the line manager has in mind, there is less friction amongst employees. On the contrary, if the line manager sees no value in a specific programme, execution of that programme becomes cumbersome.

Managing a workforce that has different levels of productivity is a major concern. Most organisations would like to work towards achieving maximum productivity across the workforce, deploying productivity-measurement tools is the need of the hour. It will help them assess productivity and allocate resources appropriately to facilitate better understanding and work arrangement. It combats the need for better employee practices for transparency at work and drives a high-performance employee culture.
Successful change comes from a real understanding of people, their habits and their motivations. Companies are constantly researching the attitudes and needs of people and using tools and research to promote behavioural change.

Mentoring is a career development method whereby less experienced employees are matched with more experienced colleagues for guidance either through formal or informal programmes. A good mentoring programme facilitates commitment to the relationship, confidentiality and clear, open, two-way communication. Employees (mentees) pair with more experienced co-workers (mentors) in order to gain knowledge, skills, experience, information and advice.

Anyone at any job level may participate and benefit from a mentoring relationship. Given the generational gap and skills sets, it is beneficial to have a mentoring programme to develop independent thinking and also to get acclimatised to the work environment. The three critical elements for a good and effective engagement are respect, trust and listening skills.

When these elements fall into place, colleagues will be more receptive and open to making a change to drive business growth and profitability.

15 Dec 2015
Man Working with Computer Let's Get Social

Social recognition has now come of age

“Social recognition creates a transparent organisation. One that allows top management to get a sense of how the organisation is working, how people react to situations”

One of the most prominent developments in the rewards space this year has been the change in the way companies look at their employees. It is not just enough to know if individuals are performing but the levels of his/her motivation, peer interaction, innovation and engagement with the organization. This key new trend has companies looking at transforming a very mechanical evaluation mechanism into an interactive and real time platform. Unfortunately, even today one still witnesses HR departments working in isolation and their initiatives unable to percolate down to the last man.

HR and corporate heads should take a leaf out of current marketing think tanks’ method: A single window view of customer life cycle. Imagine the huge benefits of a single window view of each and every employee? This holistic reality helps the organization understand what makes individuals tick. A deeper understanding of softer issues that keep people happy can actually assist the organizations in creating tailor-made reward & recognition offerings targeted at deriving better results.

R&R is no longer restricted to tangible gifts and incentives. Social recognition is the order of the day and is rapidly gaining prominence with companies working to include a complete online system. Social recognition creates a transparent organization. One that allows top management to get a sense of how the organization is working, how people react to situations and peer-to-peer collaboration or the lack of it. But most importantly, it helps to create a conducive environment, allowing for both high performers and mediocre to co-exist and operate at their optimum within their comfort zones.

Within Grass Roots itself, we have implemented a global platform called the Bubble for our employees. Being spread across 16 different countries with varied time zones, interaction is difficult yet important. The Bubble acts as an open user blog where conversations can be continued across time zones. It is a great platform for social interaction between people working in offices and increases a sense of camaraderie. We followed it up with Buzz, a global online recognition program. This acts as an instant recognition platform where achievements can be shared on a social recognition platform. This forms a great part of our rewards and recognition program as it acts as a 360 degree spotlight on employee comfort and performance. The system has some built-in rewards that are automatically triggered when an employee reaches a given goal post. But a large percentage of rewards are personally communicated and delivered, while the whole organization is aware of what is happening, almost real time.

The future is heading for a revolution in the work environment. The focus on a conducive work climate will actually become the central focus and an extremely important differentiator; what with the pay package wars reaching fever pitch and the constantly climbing attrition rates. Employers will fight pitch battles to attract and retain better talent. Hence, the struggle to keep the young and restless happy and content, with one eye on the equally important experienced and older generation will become one of the prime KPIs for HR. While IT and such will be the first movers, the manufacturing and other core sectors that will decipher the writing on the wall. Remember in such sectors, work defines the environment. A loosening up of controlled and rigid reporting lines will blur as individual responsibility increases manifold. With the onus now on individual, rather than solely on ‘the manager’ or ‘department head’, it will be more about correct alignment of person with job profile. To be able to extract greater value, the spotlight will be on freedom in the work place and in certain job profiles freedom of work location.

We now have three generations of people working together. It is a nightmare to contend with three different sets of aspirations, goals and objectives. This will force a change in the outlook from minute to minute reporting to an output point of view, without ignoring processes. It will have to change: high lighting individual contribution and celebrating team efforts. The expectations for the outcome of a task will differ from team member to team member but the unity of team work will not be dismantled. It’s going to be a tough ride for head honchos and HR alike; as the human touch will have to travel all the way to the last man/woman down the line.

15 Dec 2015
Leadership Authenticity (1)

Leadership authenticity: The power of the front line manager

Because of their unique positioning, they are best placed to communicate with the employees and address their concerns

Front line managers may be called by different designations: They could be supervisors, leaders of R&D or sales teams, project leaders, team leaders, shop-floor leads, managers, etc. However, as the name suggests, frontline managers are the very first level of management across a company’s business operations and functions.

Frontline managers form that level of management that directly oversees a company’s primary finance, production and market facing activities and are often regarded as the voice of management on the front line. Because of their unique positioning, they are best placed to communicate with the employees, address their concerns, counsel and coach them as well as ensure their commitment to the business and that people meet set targets. It is the frontline managers who must encourage and bolster the morale of people who eventually get the job done—those who design, make, and sell the products or deliver services to customers. Front-line managers form an integral and critical part of the people and the performance causal chain since they are the ones who can create effective team functioning.


Frontline managers are often not provided robust training and development programs to meet the rising job demands. In most cases, leadership development programs for this level tend to be ad hoc, sporadic, or too brief to adequately cover all the responsibilities that are within the purview of their role in an organization.

Businesses expect frontline managers to cover a lot of complicated areas in the working of an organization, typically in contexts where we cannot easily monitor their performance. The execution of business strategy often rests on how they perform those tasks. Therefore, if one undervalues and underinvests in these areas, the organization is sure to pay the price. In order to avoid such a scenario, it is important for the management to evaluate whether the front line managers have the tools they need to learn important leadership skills or the time required to grow and learn on the job. These questions have to be answered in order to ensure organizational alignment.  In this regard, it helps to provide them a clear picture of how their responsibilities and the responsibilities of those who report to them are related to the organization’s long-term vision and strategic plan.

Companies that succeed in redefining the role of frontline managers in their organization can improve their performance remarkably. Successful approaches can be applied across many industries. The Hotel Industry in India is still hit by a case of over supply yet there are examples of successful hotel chains who have done a great job on the frontline managers making them lift the bottom line in a difficult market scenario.


The key lies in shifting to frontline managers who have the time—and the ability—to address the unique circumstances of their specific area of operations; to foresee trouble and nip it in the bud; and to encourage workers to cash-in on opportunities for self-improvement. In difficult economic times, making employees more productive is even more crucial. When a leader taps into the enormous latent power of the company’s frontline managers, the payoff is a more resilient and more successful organization.

Some organisations have actually been able to douse the flames of conflict and even production loss by empowering front line managers to take on the spot decisions so as to circumvent a short fuse situation. Empowered frontline managers have proven that because they are closest to the fire they actually understand the pulse of a given situation and take that astounding good decision to turn a situation around, saving the organisation both time and money.

11 Dec 2015
Emotional maturity

Emotional Maturity, what’s that?

What is emotional maturity ? you may ask. Its a characteristic that sticks to some who are in a rush to get to the ‘top’; the ones who jump jobs or push hard for quick promotions in order to beat the traffic. In this process they lose out on the opportunities to experience the building of lasting relationships, handling compromise and firmly managing emotions when situations call for calm thinking and decisive action.

Promote such “performers” at your own risk. Its far more sensible to let such people move on and fathom their own equilibrium. They will reach a point (usually very quickly) when their inability to carry the team along leads to a severe break down in business process.

Emotional maturity doesn’t come automatically, and is a learnt process that builds character, strength and patience to help maneuver the intricacies of today’s narrow business lanes and alleyways.

The majority of senior executives reach a plateau primarily because they are too sure of themselves to listen to peers or other’s advice and frankly aren’t able to control emotions in stressful situations. They are simply unable to understand the need for that fundamental shift in self awareness, because it required diligent practice, something they ignored thus far.

There are ways out , if companies acknowledge and implement peer to peer recognition, in-line training and skill set tutorials. Remember its not extravagance to invest in such initiatives, it certainly lowers attrition, helps stabilise mature growth of good managers and most importantly leaves little to chance.

11 Dec 2015
Get off yout @& butt, Now !

Get off your @#& butt, Now !

Most people believe that somehow tomorrow will be better. Hey if you don’t do anything about tomorrow, today …. nothing’s going to happen… Ant and the Cricket? So get off your @#& butt, Now! Sometimes your deceiving imagination can lull you into a state of comatose. In a lay person’s dialect, it’s called “plateauing”. It happens to people, products and brands.

Plan, execute, monitor, and react, adjust, rejig unsuccessful plans, go back to the drawing board if you have to. Move, move, move…Everything in today’s India demands constant action so we must be in a perpetual state of readiness to anticipate & respond with a sense of urgency. If you’re incapable, there’s someone or something else that will push you off the rail and jump into position. Gone are the days when long work tenures with growth at one miserly step a time, was a sign of success. Brands held sway for generations without bothering to invest in any innovation. Today if you want to stay ahead of the game, both products and people require constant repackaging, improvements, value additions, learning, skill upgrades, motivation, etc .

Often time one’s told to hang on, wait for market reaction to campaigns, or let the consumer settle down with the idea…Time…truth is there’s little of that expensive stuff around. You have to find or invent ways for WIP interventions, to study the effects of plans and implementations. Look for people and processes that can help you plan and execute & give you real-time feedback on success or failure. If you think I’m nuts for suggesting such a high degree of urgency, take a look at some facts. Up to October this year, there were over 4,200, start ups according Nasscom’s latest report, 9 out of 10 will fail (Forbes).

In a recent study it was revealed that up to 80 percent of new products launched in the consumer (FMCG) industry fail. What was also highlighted was the fact that only a tiny tiny fraction, less than 1% , of consumers are actually responsible for the success of new products. It means that an average shopper ignores 99 % of products inside a store.

The fact that success in any form comes in such low percentages, means to succeed one requires to put in inordinate effort. More than any earlier time, today this cliche is most relevant – working smarter is better than working harder. To keep your nose ahead you must therefore deploy every facet of skill, knowledge, use of systems and programs that can give you that extra edge. It doesn’t matter if you are a Marketing Manager or HR professional or CEO, the ride just got a lot faster, sharper with more turns and hairpin bends.

The Brainstrust’s menu of systems, processes coupled with experience and understanding of the ever changing Indian market place offer a set of tools that provide individuals and organisations with the desired nimbleness to face the daunting future. It’s up to you to enquire, just send me an email.

11 Dec 2015

R u a GREAT planner? & a TERRIBLE doer?

We can get so caught up with a great plan, that we lean back in admiration of our wonderful artistry and so procrastinate on putting the plan to action. Don’t let that beautiful multicolour PPT cajole you into settling for half measures. It generally means you are waiting for the apple to fall on your head not in your hand. You can’t be a professional at planning and an amateur at getting to the objective.

The EVERYDAY question must be: Am I doing my best to execute my plan?

Like any discipline your plan is not going to take care of itself, you need to attend to it daily. Like Dick Biggs says “the greatest gap in life is the one between knowing and doing”. The common excuse – “I am a planner, he/she is the doer!” That simple won’t cut. Planning and doing are two sides to the same coin. You are in-charge even though you may need to influence a number of people to achieve the final objective.

We’re not referring to Strategic Corporate planning, but team planning.

It’s important therefore for managers not to throw planning at one member and execution at another. The power of a ‘team’ is when the planner and executor are one and the same person. This might sound paradoxical. So for clarity’s sake: the planner needs to be the owner, and an owner is one who drives the idea, who waters it, speaks to it, nurtures and encourages it, even intervenes to course correct and move it along, yet allows for members of the team to contribute their part in the execution.

When a manager inherits his/her component of the corporate goal, he/she is entrusted to plan and execute. But how a manager is involved in the entire process is hugely important, I repeat involvement and not micro-management. Do read my previous Post “Managers!! One is…..” This, put simply, implies that managers cannot wash their hands off a plan, once the ideation process is completed. They, at the end of the day, are responsible for the final outcome and can’t pass blame for failure.

We have developed structured programs to assist managers, guide and oversee the progress of department or SBU plans.

03 Dec 2015

Managers !! One is too small a number to achieve true success

This is one occasion when the power of ONE, doesn’t hold true. It can’t be achieved alone; as a matter of fact it shouldn’t be attempted alone. You can be the initiator even the driver but not the entire body of effort.

No matter how good a person is at the job, one has to grow beyond natural talent to achieve outstanding success. The key area that will afford you the opportunity is the application of trust. Try trusting your team and sharing responsibilities; don’t fear the possibility of losing credit for success, it’s very unlikely to be lost especially if you throw selfishness out the window. In fact team members tend to place more faith in such leaders and will even go out on a limb to get tasks completed in the desired manner. On the other hand senior leadership tend to rely more on subordinates who involve team members. Follow this rule and it’s unlikely you’ll ever encounter the proverbial Crab mentality. Well let’s say it’s highly unlikely.

Take a step back, let’s start with how committed you are to succeeding within the organisation; if your current placement is a stepping stone; stop reading this right now it will make no sense.

Teams within a department, an SBU or specific function; all ‘teams’ need leaders who are personally committed to succeed within the organisation. To individually and collectively contribute to the eventual goal, each leader in turn needs to lean on team members who are as motivated.

We often read of the successes of CEOs, COOs or other top of the pyramid leaders, but much less about the middle and lower level leaders. And yet it is they who actually make it happen. Place the pyramid on its head… now take a look at who’s important in the scheme of things; the funny thing is that whichever way you turn the pyramid, team leaders always stay in the middle, in the thick of the things.

Top management need to pay close attention this cadre; on the flip side these team leaders need to constantly introspect and tweak their thinking, actions and motivations.

There are a number of great programs to assist skill set upgradation, which simultaneously build on team’s emotional quotient. These powerful enablers build upward from the grass roots and lay emphasis on team leadership’s propensity to push forward the global goals and objectives of the organisation.

03 Dec 2015
Blest are those

Blest are those who expect nothing for they shall receive it.*

Low expectations = inability to visualise possible achievements; the surest route to failure and worse, dead-end thinking. That may be understandable though unforgivable for an individual; but both reprehensible and unforgivable for an organisation.

It’s a mortal sin to regularly explain away a corporate’s inability to achieve business mile stones. Unlike our ruling political dispensation, companies cannot claim ‘shared’ responsibility. At the end of the day individuals are responsible for the state of an organisation.

Given the harsh reality of our fast paced environment – every investor wants their investment to grow consistently no more accepting future possibilities but tangible bottom line growth – Even Startups, E-commerce chaps and the like, have begun to fall in line.

Success maybe led by a brilliant CEO but it’s always due to a group of individuals. Hidden in the Hierarchal structure are the real heroes, mid-level managers, the backbone, ambassadors and evangelists of the leadership’s strategy. It is this group that translates vision and objectives into hard currency. If these men and women don’t perform, the organisation will struggle to achieve targets and often even miss by a mile.

These ‘force multipliers’ activate the doers across the rest of the organisation. If they did not, senior management would end up micromanaging. Given their importance in the scheme of things, I have always advocated ‘RUE’ – a three point program that keeps this force in top condition, fighting fit at all times.

Recognition:A recognition program that tells their story across the organisation.
Up-gradation: Institution of continuous up-gradation of skill sets, with the least interference in their daily routine.
Empowerment to be real managers and not executors for managers.
If you expect nothing from your mid-levels, you will receive nothing. They are simply too important to neglect, too critical in the scheme of things. If you haven’t till now, get cracking immediately.

* taking liberties with Ben Franklin.

03 Dec 2015
Subordinate leadership

Is your subordinate leadership material?

Actually if he or she isn’t, it’s your fault.

Surprised eh? Don’t be. No successful team has ever been developed without a leader who nurtures little leaders. It’s a question of the proportion of decision making you entrust them with. Failure normally stems from one of two factors; first, managers want clones and so create “zombies” – artificial styles inconsistent with the individual’s personality; second some managers are afraid of competition and so allow the underlings to remain partly uninformed.

And you wonder why development programs don’t work well?

Everyone in an organisation needs to be a leader or at least have leadership potential… down to the office assistant. How many times have you lost your temper when a job is left incomplete? More because the person entrusted could have done it if he/she demonstrated a bit of initiative. They probably would have if they knew the scope of their responsibility, which in turn comes with the individual’s understanding of the scope of their authority.

Everyone needs to exercise authority commensurate with their role in an organisation. The knowledge and scope of which needs to be clearly articulated by team leads. This works on a pyramid model so it eventually goes all the way to the top. This isn’t the exclusive domain of HR, but its every manager, supervisor, and smaller group leaders down to the last man.

Building ‘team’ culture ought to be an intrinsic component of an organisation’s DNA. Because individuals will only be committed to team goals if they are empowered, not ordered to do so. The disseminating of such “learning” needs to be a continuous year round process using an open platform. This allows cross pollination of ideas and techniques for mentoring, attitudinal perspectives and importantly maturing of managerial behaviours.

Using a closed loop social recognition platform encompasses all this and more for the benefit of people within an organisation and the organisation as a whole.