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Excerpt | Switch

LiveMint logoLiveMint 18-05-2014 Sujaya Banerjee

Changing course: the Indian story

In 2012-13, not-for-profit society Learning and Organisation Development Roundtable launched a study to determine the “best change interventions” across Asia. It shortlisted companies based on criteria like creating urgency around a vision for change and operationalizing the change. A new book, Switch: How 12 Indian Companies Managed Change Successfully, by the Essar group chief talent officer and founder of the roundtable, Sujaya Banerjee, sifts through the results to highlight some Indian examples.

In the chapter, “Spreading Wings In the Winds Of Change”, Banerjee talks about GVK Mumbai International Airport Pvt. Ltd (Mial). She writes that employee resistance and protest against privatization of the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai had posed serious challenges for the hospitality-to-airports conglomerate from 2006. In this section, Banerjee culls some methods that the company leadership adopted to meet these challenges. Edited excerpts:

Overcoming Resistance And Building Momentum

Switch—How 12 India Companies Managed Change Successfully: By Sujaya Banerjee, Bloomsbury India, 184 pages, Rs 399As per the terms of MIAL’s agreement with the Government, initially it had to keep all erstwhile Government employees on rolls for a period of three years. In view of the hostility of this employee group to the entire privatization effort, GVK MIAL was quick to build up its own team, reducing dependence on the former, while ensuring that the approach was never combative. This conscious, overarching approach helped diffuse many difficult situations on the path to change.

Learning and Development was leveraged...to drive acceptance and adoption. ‘As-is’ training analysis was conducted on past training history to identify deficiencies...and possible measures to address the same. Learning Trips were conducted to various international airports for almost all employees. 110 Executives were taken through Mercer’s miLEAP Workshop, culminating in the identification of relevant developmental areas. Additionally, structured learning sessions (LEAD—Learn, Enrich, Align and Deploy) were conducted on various behavioural and functional subject areas.

Managing and taking the unions on board with respect to key aspects of the change was another important step in overcoming initial resistance. All pending labour disputes were analyzed and closely worked upon with the Legal Cell. Additionally, efforts were invested towards relationship building with HR counterparts from Airports Authority of India (AAI) and labour regulatory authorities.

Institutionalising the Change To Ensure It Sticks

Both the Leadership and HR at GVK MIAL were aware of the need to institutionalise desired changes...Rigorous follow-up and active senior leadership participation were sustained at every stage of the process. The deployment of new HR systems, such as Balanced Scorecard cascade, online Performance Management and Leave Management with Biometric Attendance among others, helped cement the change further. Additionally, a detailed Leadership System was designed and deployed to equip leaders to effectively lead the enterprise towards its vision.

Sustaining Change With a Culture Of Continuous Process Improvement

Transitioning from a government-run body to a lean, privatised, world-class entity, GVK MIAL was aware of the synergies that a Continuous Improvement program could lend to driving sustainable change. With this keen insight in mind, MIAL was certified to a series of management system standards including ISO9001:2008 (Quality Management System), ISO10002:2004 (Complaint Management System) and ISO14001:2004 (Environment Management System) among others.

The drive towards continuous improvement was further strengthened with the launch of SPARK, the Employee Suggestion Scheme aimed at providing an opportunity for employees to communicate ideas, promote participation and imbibe the spirit of co-operation and teamwork, and VALUE STAR, the Employee Recognition Scheme designed to appreciate MIALites for putting in best efforts in the pursuit of excellence.

Impact Achieved

A major benefit...was the strengthening of HR capabilities and processes, which form the foundation for successful change delivery.

Robust Talent Acquisition Process—Hire the Best!

Rapid technological changes, escalating labour costs, shifting job requirements, rising education and expectation levels among employees and high performance levels demanded by increasing competition have contributed to the need for manning an organisation with both suitable and competent manpower. The objective of the recruitment process at GVK MIAL is to provide a sufficiently large group of qualified and competent candidates to cater to the needs of organisation.

Effective Talent Management And Retention

GVK MIAL works with an astute awareness of the fact that people are its greatest strength and asset. There is a need felt to develop knowledge, skills and perspectives on a continuous basis to harness the innovative and differentiated talent of the workforce. Employee learning and development is therefore an integral part of the MIAL Human Resource Philosophy.

Continuous Improvement With Industry Benchmark Surveys

As part of the annual employee satisfaction survey, MIAL participates in the Great Place To Work® Survey to ascertain feedback/evaluation of its people practices and benchmark the same across the industry. Apart from this, MIAL also participates in various surveys on Compensation, Workforce Planning and others to continue to benchmark with the best and keep the momentum of its change journey, remaining focused on its vision of change.

Excerpted with permission from Bloomsbury India.

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