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How Maruti plans to sell 1 mn cars
Shamni Pande in Mumbai | September 14, 2006
"Our people are the only thing we can rely on to unfold our aspiration. We started preparing the ground for this internal change in 2003," explains S Y Siddiqui, MUL's chief general manager, HR, who isn't sparing anyone from the exercise.
"After all, change has to come from the very top," he says, adding that managing director Jagdish Khattar himself is an evangelist as far as this initiative is concerned.
"We realise that the Indian auto market will soon reach a situation similar to the one Europe found itself in some years ago. Fighting purely on product differentiation will be tough. People and the quality of leadership are going to make the key difference," says Siddiqui.
Towards this end, Maruti has already put in place a change initiative developed with the help of Dr Pritam Singh and Dr Asha Bhandarkar of Management Development Institute, Gurgaon. Two distinct groups of people were looked at for this initiative.
At the junior- and mid-management level, the focus was on functional competence and self-development. The second, more critical group involved senior and top management (going up to board level).
For the top management, the exercise has been split into three phases - an 'outbound' phase, followed by a 'global exposure' initiative, and finally a stage involving 'test batteries' for self-assessment.
To begin with, project heads were taken to JP Greens, Noida for a three-day session. The trip involved group discussions, activities, games and role-playing. All of it was recorded and Siddiqui, Dr Singh and Dr Bhandarkar did the analysis.
People were shown how they assessed themselves and how their peer group viewed them. This was transparent, as each was shown the videotape as well as an assessment of how the individual was perceived within the group on their respective capabilities.
In the next stage, the entire team was taken on a 12-day tour of Europe during which, without their knowledge, they were assessed on parameters such as how they interacted when exposed to a foreign culture, their response to various travel conditions, situations at various eat-outs, how they sought information and assessed various businesses.
"We had packed in visits to various places such as department stores, auto and finance companies, the aviation industry, etc," explains Siddiqui.
"At the end of these, we would discuss the situations with people. Finally, we spent time using proven tests such as FIRO-B and MBTI to give us an exact profile of each person," he says.
Individuals with low scores were termed 'maintenance managers,' i.e. those who were good at getting things done. Those with progressively better scores were, successively, 'evolving leaders' and 'leaders in the making', while those with still higher scores were 'almost ready to take on leadership', as they were seen to be good team players, had good perspective, flexibility and vision.
The best were those who were 'change masters'- individuals with mature leadership traits and those who were capable of influencing and bringing change. The effort has been replicated for MUL's directors as well.
"This exercise is now undertaken twice every year, so that it becomes internalised and part of an active work ethos. We revisit the learning and see how people are progressing from their previous assessment. This will be followed by a 360-degree perspective now, where we are looking at short-listing an agency which can provide us with an IT-based
application," says Siddiqui.
The plan is to have a person assessed by a few seniors, peers and juniors in a manner where the identities of those doing the assessment will not be revealed to anyone. This will be undertaken by a third-party initiative, whose IT application will take in information and give out answers. "Even I will not know who has assessed me at which level, so that absolute objectivity prevails," he says.
Has all this borne fruit? "People are being aligned to roles that best suit their capabilities. But the encouraging fact is that we see improvement on past performance and the leadership from the very top is fired by this initiative," says Siddiqui.