SriLankan Model for
Jayadeva de Silva. M.Sc,MBIM,FIPM,FITD
SriLanka being a Buddhist country, SriLankan way of thinking is largely
influenced by the teachings of Lord Buddha It is for that reason that we would
recommend a SriLankan model of management. Most of these teachings can be
found in the “Singalovada Sutra for any one who is interested in reading. Let
us begin with Buddha’s basics on being a good boss or employer which can be
adapted and used as follows:
-Assign work employees can manage. Make sure job requirements match the
employees’ skills and talents. Keep them challenged by assigning special
projects, cross training, or job rotation.
-Give employees free food and enough money. Productivity and health are
related. Pay them well and care for them, and they will pay you back with good
work and loyalty.
-Support them in sickness. Provide healthcare for all your employees.
-Share the bounty. Profit-sharing and other equitable means of sharing the
wealth will let your people know you appreciate their efforts.
-Grant leave when appropriate. People are not machines and should not be
treated as such. Maternity and paternity leaves, sabbaticals to “recharge the
batteries” and special days off for families are very important to increasing
productivity. Recharged workers make up for lost time after a refreshing
holiday with new ideas, more energy and less stress.
Buddha has not preached anything against making a profit. As far as lay life is
concerned. Just make sure you are making a profit while keeping the basic
principles of honesty, integrity, social responsibility, and right livelihood. Some
of the management practices based on Buddhist way of lay life are listed below
for your reflection and action
-Start small and tend to your business as you would a fire. Let it grow steadily
as you feed it. When writing a mission statement, consider your duty to make
your small part of the world a better place.
-Buddhists should disapprove of adversarial business language. We should use
words that emphasize collaboration and cooperation. Be conscious of the
words you use. “Business is war” and “Crush the competition” are not very
enlightened statements. Companies are very fond of using war as a team-
building theme. An enlightened workplace avoids the use of language that
connotes doing harm to other living things.
-An enterprise that builds partnerships with other businesses, treats employees
well, sees itself as a responsible member of the community, and shares its
resources will be an organization built to last.
The moment your organization ceases to evolve, (to change) it will die.
Your organizational structure should facilitate learning at all levels. Workspaces
should be designed for teamwork and learning, procedures and policies written
Never give money to those who would misuse it. Give it first to the
shareholders and employees who helped you make the profit. People
influenced by Buddhist way of life should use so called financial capital &
human capital (humantalents) in the following manner
-Never abandon what can still be useful. Repair it. Invest in quality well-made
furniture, floors and fixtures.
-Select and hire carefully. People must be cultivated for long-term, and not
dumped at the first sign of tough times.
-Be moderate in consuming resources. Recycle paper. Fly coach instead of first
class. Share office spaces and dining spaces.
-Real success depends on the virtue and character of leaders. No amount of
charm will make up for the lack of confidence people have in you.
One should think long-term. All endeavors yield fruits in their own time.
-Do not become attached to work processes. Let it all go. Everything changes.
-Stay current and overhaul processes regularly.
-Respect technology as a tool. It can be used for good or bad.
-“The Web site you seek cannot be located, but endless others exist.” This
anonymous saying reflects the way the Internet is forever changing, how
cyberspace is infinite and endless. Just remember that worldly pleasures, will
not last for ever. Everything is in a state of flux
-Take the case of telecommuting. A good employee will do her work wherever
she is. Many employees simply try to look busy at the office. People who work
from home may tend to be even more productive.
-Do not cling to the latest guru or consultant. Think for yourself. (Situational
Leadership and contingency theory of management)
-Bad communication is gossip, idle chatter, and bad-mouthing. Good
communication is clear, effective, direct and honest.
-Do not analyze things too much. Decide on a course of action and take it.
Meetings tend to be unproductive when the group debates and analyzes for so
long that the window of opportunity for timely action closes.
-When hiring remember that appearances can be deceiving. People are hired
for their technical skills and get fired for poor interpersonal skills.
Job security is a thing of the past. One cannot cling to a job or a career. Things
change. That is the only constant. .We are responsible for our own
development as employees. We should not look to someone else to hone our
skills and develop our raw talent for us. Take the initiative and learn what you
need to for yourself.
Never put profit before people.
-Your organization should embrace diversity. We must not insist on a one-size-
fits all package.
-Diversity is based on the fundamental idea humans are all the same. We all
want fair pay for a fair day’s work. We all want respect. We all want to do
meaningful work. We want kindness from others.
-Buddhists are not sexist. Lord Buddha was 2,600 years ahead of his time by
allowing women to become nuns and by declaring that everyone could go on
the path to enlightenment. Do not sell yourself or anyone else short on account
of gender. Buddhist would teach his employees about sexual harassment laws
both the spirit of the law and the letter. He would say these laws are based on
basic respect for all individuals and the right for people to feel safe at work. He
would stop any harassment if he saw it going on. Any harassment affects all
If Buddha had spent his life playing it safe, he would never have become the
Buddha. Playing it safe never leads to greatness.
*The author obtained Master’s degree in Science from Russian Friendship University Moscow and
Diploma in Personnel Management from National Institute of Business Management (SriLanka). He
is a fellow of both the Institute of Personnel Management and Institute of Training & development.
He is also professionally qualified in training systems & curriculum design with an ILO fellowship.
A strong advocate of Human Talents Development, Jayadeva is the principal consultant of
humantalents unlimited, a professional practice that provides training & consultancy in Management.
Jayadeva has carried out several consultancy projects and conducted numerous management
development programs/strategic planning workshops, and has been trained in many modern
management and leadership concepts. He has contributed articles (over 50) and authored the trend
setting book ‘Human Talents Management’. He founded humantalents International and
HRSriLanka virtual learning Groups. Jayadeva de Silva has functioned as Group Manager (Human
Resources Development) of Hayleys Group of Companies a multi-billion-rupee public listed Group;
and Group Director–Human Resources of Brown & Co. a large public listed company. He also
serves as a resource person for professional and Post graduate courses primarily in the areas of HRM
& HRD at Post graduate Institute, University of Peradeniya, University of Ruhuna ,ICFAI
University(India),University of Southern Queensland (Institute of Chartered accountants SriLanaka,,
SriLanka Foundation Institute and Institute of Personnel Management. He was the president of
HRDGateway in the year 2007, an International organization of over 50,000 HR Professionals world
wide .He has been featured in the millennium registry of SriLankan personalities