M M Bagali, PhD, HR, HRM, Research, Management, India, Empowerment Strategies, SHRM, Projects, OD, OB, Doctorate, …….
email@example.com 1Mr. Suresh B HundreChairman and Managing DirectorPolyhydron Pvt Ltd.As part of PhD program of Dr MM Bagali, India, interviewwith Shri Suresh Hundre, CMD, PPLAn Experiment to understand the Experienceof practicing EmpowermentPolyhydron Private LimitedAddress: 78-80, Vishweshwariah Industrial Park, Machhe Industrail Estate, Machhe, Belgaum,Karnataka 590014
firstname.lastname@example.org 2CEO views"We will nurture an ethically managed organisation.We will not exploit our customers, employees,supplies, government, society and the nature".(CMD, 1/1/1995)21stCentury Corporations will find it hard to survive,let alone flourish unless they get better work from theiremployees. This does not necessarily mean harder work or morework. What it does necessarily mean is that employees who havelearned to take active responsibility for their work behavior,develop and grow organisation and are the one’s who survive inthe present days’ business. The rules must change because thegame has changed. Listen to the people in truly greatcompanies talk about their achievements, you will hear littleabout earnings per share and loud about proud to associatewith the organisation. Companies that enjoy enduring successhave high value for HR and its development and an aptleadership (Teerlink 2000; Goleman, et al 2001; Peter’s 2001;Kotter 2002).PPL, a twenty-year-old organisation, manufactureseconomical hydraulic system and components conforming toInternational standards, such as ISO, CETOP, DIN, SAE. Radicalpiston pumps, hand operated DVC, Pressure switches, Pressurerelief values, Pressure control values and Cartridge valuesare among many other range of products. Sri Suresh B Hundre,CEO & MD, a Mechanical Engineer turned Entrepreneur, hascreated PPL as the Best-managed organisation on EthicalPrinciples. Coming from a humble family with the father in asmall time work, PPL is today a successful organisation for
email@example.com 3its innovative human resources practices. JIT, Quality, Highvalue to Human, Vision based approach by creating an Island ofexcellence through focus on customer, employee EMPOWERMENT andcontinuous improvements has been the hallmark of theorganisation. The organisation has already targets for 2005-2006 and is marching towards building a World ClassOrganisation and High Performing Work Force. Firmly believingin clean and professional practices, honesty, transparency, nogive and take of bribe, committed work force, quality productsand high-empowered employees is what has made PPL known inBusiness field. Success for hard work is reflected inPresident Awards for Entrepreneurship, 1984, Nacosi Sima Awardfor Excellence in Management, 1992, Rotary Club Vocationalstandards in Vocation, 1993-94,Delight Tax Payer Award inRecognition by Dept of Commercial Tax, 1998, Honored byInstitute of Engineers for excellence achieved and outstandingservice rendered in field of Engineering, 1998, all speak loudabout organisation and the leadership at PPL. Nevertheless,high standard of integrity, fairness, hard working, high valueto human, let each grow, quality in all the work are the primemotive and the way of life practiced by all and no exceptionwith CEO & MD. As part of the study, an enquiry was done toknow the strategies and practices adopted in creating such anexcellent organisation and work force. It may be noted thatseveral angles of enquiry at CEO level were identified and putto test. The responses are verbatim presented through variousdiscussion held. Few enquiry areas at CEO includes: What is your definition of Empowerment? What type of culture required for empowermentpractices?
firstname.lastname@example.org 4 What are the traits that need to be developed inemployees? How to create an Empowerment culture and strategiesin Organisation (the steps involved)? The area (scope) of Empowerment practices (theboundaries to be defined) What is the out-come of Empowerment (How to measurethe after-math of such practices)? What is not Empowerment? How should the CEO and the leadership be, viz: style,traits and characteristics? What should be the policies of organisation? How committed are your employees What are the training and development programme inarea of Empowerment subject be focused (Can trainingbe given to understand the system, if so, how)? Does Empowerment in organisation have any relationbetween atmosphere at home? Is there a co-relationbetween work place empowerment practices andatmosphere at home? What should be the degree of freedom in an empoweredorganisation? What is open door policy and how is it practiced inPPL? What type of leadership exists in PPL, whichreflect empowerment practices? What are Ethical Management and the relation withEmpowerment (share the experience at PPL)? How to develop Human Resources and Organisation inthe present Millennium through Employee Empowerment,per se?
email@example.com 5When put to test to know what empowerment is, the CEOreplied: Empowerment is to give full power, to use one’s ownintellect, own ideas while accepting responsibility. It is notmerely doing the job as is said. In an organisation, allowingeach to use his freedom to work to his fullest extent andallowing the employees to use their creative blend towardsorganisational development is what Empowerment is.When put to test in knowing the areas of Empowermentpractices, CEO opinions that: there is no one particular areaone can start or work out for empowerment to practice. But,for such a practice one can see as to how to go about inprioritizing the factors. You can priorities the practices,and the experience says that initially one could be givenfreedom with constant watch on employees at work place.Supervision, direction and guidance are prime areas to work atfor a few initial days. Once, when employees understand theconcept in its full spirit, then other areas like totaltransparency, complete faith, believing the actions, givingresponsibility, making accountable for one’s action, fullfreedom to decide work-place issues, involving employees indecision making area at specific point, asking open feed back,working and building teams and the like can be practiced.These are the areas, but they need to be practiced step bystep but , if you don’t have faith (faith is not completelydeveloped), you can’t have transparency. If you practicetransparency and freedom, without faith and matured thinking,you usually cant have the system to work properly. Unlesseach is not aware of his responsibility, you cant make himaccountable. If you want one to be accountable, you should betransparent, open in communication and objective in all your
firstname.lastname@example.org 6actions. If one is not clear about the objectives of theorganisation, you can’t know towards what mission one has towork. These are a few interlinked systems, practices &priority areas to be focused.While an enquiry was also put to test in knowing how tocreate Empowerment system in Organisation. The CEO opinesthat, if one is working to create an empowered organisation,it has to be systematically worked out at length. The firststep is, employees should be ready to accept such a type ofwork system and culture. They need to be educated in theareas of what is empowerment, why it has been practiced, howit has to be worked-out and what are the benefits for oneselfand organisation as a whole. If one is not clear about theseissues, mere practicing will some-times send wrong signals andleads everyone into chaos. While sharing initial experience atPPL, a series of discussion, educative class and continuouscommunication was undertaken in telling each employee why andhow such a system is practiced and why it is needed. Each wastold about the merits of the system, per se.An enquiry was also done to know and understand the workculture that is required & how it should be developed? The CEOopinions that Culture paradigm is important for anyorganisation to excel. That culture which is progressive,developmental, free from unnecessary hurdles is the need fororganisation to excel and empowerment to work. Culture, suchas freedom to do work in ones own way, no supervision orforemen on you, direct contact with anyone in organisationwithout bureaucracy are a few important areas of development.In fact, all the above systems are in practice at lengthin PPL and have seen long standing benefits. Such systems
email@example.com 7like: high value to human, sharing common rooms, no one spiesyou, gossip is not allowed, everyone is trusted for hisaction, each is encouraged to do job in their own way, noformal reporting system and the like are the areas practicedat length. One need to have certain traits peculiar toempowered way of managing, and traits such as positivethinking, goal oriented, intellectual integrity, humanresource oriented, ethical approach are qualities, which areessentially necessary for empowered organisation and empoweredleaders to lead. The foremost is openness in all transactions,transparent dealing, positive approach, no particular mind-set, supporting all, empathy towards the feelings, free frombias, no scape-goat approach and the like are the essentialtraits .An enquiry was also undertaken to know and understand whatis not empowerment? The CEO opines that, what is notempowerment is difficult to understand. If one says, I haveempowered my employees by being transparent, it may not be sofrom the receiving end. In fact, only by distributing power,sharing it, giving & taking responsibility, you cant promoteor propagate empowerment practices. In one single word, as CEOopines all those strategies which are not in line with globalHRD practices, do not follow transparent approach, sharingresponsibility, no shared delegated work, no value to human,no trustworthiness may be considered as non-empowered workplace practices.The outcomes of empowerment are several and CEO opinesthat the out come of empowerment are far-reaching andpositive. You can’t expect returns to come very soon. As Ihave been in this field for over three decades, the returns on
firstname.lastname@example.org 8HR are always late, but fruitful. The investment in HRdevelopment is not a sudden phenomenon while sharingexperience in PPL organisation, the outcomes have been goodand are visible after days of practicing and instituting longback. High productivity, consistent growth, generatingrevenue, nil employee turnover, high level of satisfaction onjob, no problem of absenteeism, no conflicts and disputes,good Industrial relations, never a single strike… are theoutcomes of empowering employees in organisation. In fact, theorganisation does not have any committee and councils dealingwith dispute settlements, conflict resolution, and the like.This is what is the out-come of empowering employees. Thegreat satisfaction also lies in the proud ness feeling of theemployees to be with organisation as well as in seeing thehappy faces return to work each day. These are the indicatorsof such employees in PPL. In fact, some out-comes are direct &some indirect.Enquiry was also put to test in knowing the policies andcode of conduct formulated at PPL. The policies and practicesof organisation are important and communicate the veryfoundation of what organisation is looking for and stands on.While citing all the policies followed at PPL, the core policyincludes:“Honesty is not the Best policy. It is the policy.We are honest; we are transparent; we do not pay Bribe.(CMD, 2 Oct 1998)"We will nurture an ethically managed organisation.We will not exploit our customers, employees,supplies, government, society and the nature".(CMD, 1/1/1995)
email@example.com 9To recognize our responsibility as individual anddevote ourselves for further development of healthyIndustrial culture.Thus, the foreword for ethical management at PPL is …. ‘each of our employees is responsible for both theintegrity and consequences of his own actions. Thehighest standard of honesty, integrity and fairnesswill be followed and no illegal or immoral activitywill be practiced.CEO further opines that this is not a single man’s policynor has been done by management. All are a party to it andcollectively been formulated and practiced. While citing thework place practices, there are no supervisors above you, nohierarachy, no interference of anyone at work-place, all areowners or the owner is not like an owner, no work is forced,no restrictions for new inventions, flat work system whereanyone can report to any person, scapegoat is not done whileeveryone is responsible, no one is victimized, direct relationand reporting to boss, can learn what he likes ….. are the fewconcrete practical practices as part of PPL work place policy.The PPL quality policy is ….. ‘We at PPL strive to achieveQUALITY by increasing the rate of improvement better than therise in customers expectations’.But, on the other hand, the question as to, how thepolicies have to be? CEO cites that the economic activitiesand rapid change in economy, have affected all activities inIndustrial work. The age-old style of management, i.e.resistance to change, bureaucracy, red-tapsim does not work.The right answer for running organisation and developing HRare very many, but the essence is how best you manage to getbest out of your employees should be part of your policy. Allthis has only one answer…empowering employees and developing
firstname.lastname@example.org 10an ownership culture. All policy and systems need to be inline with this because there is always a relation betweencause-effect equations.Further enquiry was put to understanding the Managementstyle of CEO. There is difference between empowered and non-empowered organisation, which can be seen straight. Based onthe experience, a few unique characteristics of PPLorganisation’s management styles are reflected in employeesbeing: more committed, continuous improvement, more degree ofjob satisfaction, formulating realistic goals and the like arethe characteristics of PPL organisations work force.Practicing high value for people, faith and trusting all,vision based management and means are important to reach theends, ethical approach, honest in all dealings, core set ofwell articulated values, involvement of all in organisationaffairs are the areas worked out by top Management at PPL.These can be achieved through ethically based Managementstyle.Further, culture building has to start from top. The topperson can change the very face of an organisation leading torapid growth, development and generating customers. The CEOshould follow a particular style of management. The practiceswhat are followed at PPL include: value based approach,respect all, no compromise on quality, work as well as personis important, give them the chance to perform, listen to newideas, dont develop a particular mind set in dealing work-place issues, see things as they are, dont interfere too muchin others activity, be patient, some need to be told more thansome only once, understand employees, communicate regularlyand systematically, ethical way of dealing work issues, be
email@example.com 11honest, have set principles followed and objectives set, valueyour time and that of others,…..are few characteristics thatthe top man should practices and are reflected at PPL. PPLbelieves in developing people and all those system andpractices for these are worked-out, because, if HR isdeveloped, then organisation develops. But, all thesequalities are pre-requisite, and at the same time, they haveto be practiced continuously by the top man as well as others.Fig No 01: The Model of Motivation adopted at PPL by CEONeed 100% Need 50% Need 0%Further, it was put to test in sharing some uniqueempowered features of PPL. The CEO opinions that anyorganisation management style and organisational health can beseen in its leader (Top Man) functioning. At PPL, they followcertain practices which can be put-forth as follows:a) There exists flat organisational hierarchy structure.Any one can use any place and work; subject that theMotivation Inspiration RealizationGuidance/Direction
firstname.lastname@example.org 12work pertains to growth of organisation. There is noseparate department, officer, peon or supervisor(indicating the work place chart). There are nosecurity people to check you and you are free to moveout.b) There is minimum (infact Nil) administrativeinterference and bureaucracy. No one need to takepermission for trying new things; just information willdo for record purpose. Everyone is free to work in hisown way and can have his own work standards.c) Creativity and innovation have been given primefocus. Employees have developed several products withemphasis on total quality . The policy at PPL is to seethat new ideas do not get easily killed. As onebelieve, the language of creativity is direct - allow itand the organisation will surely grow.d) Employees have full freedom to fail-out. There is nopunishment for one who fails. Everyone is encouraged fortaking new activity and if one is planning for newactivity, he need not take anyone’s permission. He canwork in his own way and no bureaucracy permission isneeded. Interference is nil. It is only for the officialrecords that information has to be communicated.e) All the necessary resources are made available fornew initiations. At no point of time, one iscrosschecked and examined, and anytime ever spying isdone. R & D is given full free hand to develop anddesign products. These are few of the management styleand unique practices at PPL.
email@example.com 13An enquiry was also held to know the degree of freedomin an empowered organisation? The success of empowerment atthe Macro level depends on the degree of freedom. The degreeof freedom depends largely on the degree of employee’smaturity. Employees should have sound thinking, understandthe very purpose of business and to a larger extent,understand the concept of empowerment and employee ownershipculture. Only once when the top person is convinced aboutemployees taking independent responsibility, then you can freethem completely. Initially, PPL CEO also did not freeemployees, but, now they are free to decide all work-placeissues and improvement areas concerning growth oforganisation. The degree of freedom to be given, as one cansee, depends on the degree of employee’s maturity, thinking,perception, attitudes, logical approach to understand one’sresponsibility and above all, should be clear about thesystem, per se.Adding to this, the CEO opinions on the Open Door policyfollowed at PPL. There are no sign boards stating ‘ knock andcome’, ‘no admission without permission’ and the like. This iswhat everyone practice at PPL. The organisation does not havesecrecy and confidentiality. Everything is transparent & opento all. They didn’t not have anything that can be termed asclosed affairs at PPL.While citing the practices at PPL, CEO shares anotherexample: If any customer or guest comes to PPL in CEO’sabsence, any member in organisation feels he can deal withcustomer guest, can sit and discuss business plans. Any onecan come in at any time and discuss business plans with anycustomer or CEO. In fact, a guest to one is a guest to all and
firstname.lastname@example.org 14a guest to all is guest to everyone. They (employees) can come,sit and discuss any issues. One need not take formalpermission. One can even watch the proceedings of discussion.This is what is open door policy and every thing here is open &negotiable.The question - Is education necessary for employees tounderstand the system? was also put to test. Education is animportant factor to be considered before practicing andempowering work force. The only difficulty is, the mis-matchbetween what you practice and communicate, and theunderstanding on other side. Initially, the CEO also faced afew difficulties while creating such a work culture. Later,each was told about the system and why such a system has beenworked out and the benefits, per se. Educating employees inthis area is crucial for long-term success and functioning ofempowerment system. Now at PPL, all have understood thesystem, and each is crystal clear about the objective andmission of PPL. The system has been deep rooted in allemployees at PPL and one finds no difficulty about runningthis system in the days to come. Maturity of employees alsodecides the success of the system and through education youcan make the system work more effectively.Further, the CEO opines on the unique traits found inempowered employees.High commitment towards work, transparent andopen while communicating, practical in approach, disciplined,confident in handling work, trustworthy, seeks ideas throughsharing, does not follow set pattern or norms, developmentoriented, visionary and the like. In fact, they seek outrightresponsibility, go in for new ways of doing / seeing things,
email@example.com 15contributory towards organisation, learning and high value forwork, people and the organisation.Other observations that CEO puts in this regard are:more assertive behavior, needs no supervision, highlymotivated, more energetic, loves what one does, does what heloves, enjoys work, assumes outright responsibility (seen at95% here at PPL), looking for new challenges, loyal toorganisation, truthful and the like. One thing is sure, thebehavior, perception, attitudes, thinking are all toodifferent at PPL, which can be seen overtly, and there issharp difference in the satisfaction level of empowered andnon-empowered employees.The CEO cites several examples of trustworthiness whenput to test. In the organisation, they dont have guards,peon, any person who supervises other employee work. The CEOhas never closed (locked) or opened the doors of theorganisation. This practice has been for past several years.It’s like an ownership culture, where, each is owner and eachhas the same degree of responsibility and authority likeanyone . Everyone in organisation has equal rights andresponsibility to run the organisation. This practice wouldsuffice the trust and faith level that works in theorganisation. As also, no cupboards are locked. All filesand papers are kept open and are easily accessible andeveryone can see and refer them. While back after duty, thereis no person who checks at security. No single person everhas been checked while going back home after duty hours.Infact, there are (is) no security guard. They can go onleave without top mans permission and just need to write iton the board meant for this. No cross checking ever is done
firstname.lastname@example.org 16and no spying of any absentee person is there. For recordpurpose, one has to communicate the message to CEO. At PPL,spying, crosschecking, other sources of knowing things are notpart of PPL culture and practices.The difficulties and hurdles faced while practicing sucha system were also put to test. While citing one recentexample, the question - of how sometimes there is wrongperception was put to test. As Local Municipal elections areon, CEO puts a notice:All the eligible candidates can please vote and be back by11.00 am(2 hours off from work)The problem was (a) What one has to do, who doesn’t havevoting power or not been in electorate list;(b) Should 2hours as OT be given for those who were regular towork;(c) Should 2 hours wages be cut for those who camelate and didn’t had voting power; (d) There was noproduction for 2 hours, and should be paid for two hours;(e) Since shift starts at 7.00 am, they would have votedbetween 7-9.00 am and be back by 9.00 am in such case, noone did it and most employees came at 11.00 am.These are a few instances of such difficulties faced.But, if you are looking at far reaching out-comes, somedifficult times do come and one should not bother. But, at thesame time, one should not neglect and over-look small things.CEO further goes to express his feelings of employee’s takingundue-advantage of the system.There were a few instances of taking undue advantage ofthe system by some employees. This is bound to happen andwhen a timely well-taught educative programme was held at PPL,the problems were not seen. This area of empowerment cultureis very delicate to understand and involves high level of riskwhile practicing. A constant study of ones pattern ofthinking, perception, attitudes held from time to time have to
email@example.com 17be undertaken. Difficulties are bound to crop up and eachdifficulty should be a direction for further improvement andlooking back at the system per se. What one feels is that eachdifficulty was taken as an oppournity for further improvement.A final enquiry was held to know how PPL was differentfrom any other organisation. Each organisation has pros &cons and each organisation is right in its own way. PPLorganisation is different from most organisations. Theculture, the work-place systems, Management style, the ethosfollowed, policy adopted, the programme and the like aredifferent from conventional organisations. The present value(asset) of organisation is more than 4-5 crores. Crores andlakhs of rupees in India is a huge amount. This is how CEOwould put it:Table No 40: The CEO definition on Work place of PPLConventional PPLo Do what is told Do what is requiredo Liberty misused Liberty made use to fullestextento Not my job attitude Its everyones jobo Commitment level low High commitment due tosystemo Less ethical High ethical standardso Lack of scope for improvement High scope for improvemento Various committees / councils Never a designated committee /councilso Less trust Trust is coreo Supervised work No Supervisiono Freedom restricted More freeo Restricted behavior Transparentbehavior