Dealing with redundancy in Indian corporates

Redundancies in Corporates are very hard to tackle. I for one feel that this is going to be a huge issue in the Indian corporate sector in the coming years. What makes the issue even more difficult is that there are different kinds of redundancies each having its own unique features. One has to deal with technical redundancy and marketing redundancy. Then one has redundancy at the top management and middle level management. Yet another category is among the old,trusted people who become redundant as against the fresh guys who are redundant. Even more intriguing is the case of consultants who become redundant. I dealt with nearly all types during my long career and had varying degrees of success.
Each redundancy requires a sensitive handling and in certain cases one has to simply live with redundancy! Considering such complexities I am always amazed as to how the IT companies are dealing with this problem in such huge numbers.
Let us take the case of technical redundancy. This is the most common type which is caused due to people not updating themselves with technical skills relevant to the organization. I have seen companies in the manufacturing sector change their emphasis from commodities to specialty products over a period of time while the company’s technical and marketing personnel are ill-equipped to cope with the change.
Very often the organization is also guilty of making their manpower irrelevant for new challenges as they do not spend money on training their key personnel on the new skill sets needed. This can lead to large scale redundancy which is very dangerous.

I will recount my specific experiences with regard to redundancy.
This happened a few years back when I inducted a young and well qualified guy into our team with a specific role of aggressively commercializing the research output of certain experienced researchers. I did everything possible to make him successful. However,as it turned out,he could never get the cooperation from the senior guys reporting to him. It didn’t help matters that he was new to that field of work and had to cover a lot of ground to pick up and be on par with the rest of the guys. In India as well as elsewhere,technical knowledge is always respected and therefore,the guy soon became redundant as he was deficient in the same. Having taken personal efforts to bring him into into our team,I found it very difficult to tell him that his position was superfluous in the absence of his ability to pick up the technical nuances of the field. Fortunately for me,the guy saved me the embarrassment by offering to resign himself.

The case of a consultant who became redundant due to negative attitude is even more intriguing:
The consultant whom our organization hired was a retired guy with a lot of experience in his field. However,he proved to be a liability purely because of his poor attitude. Due to a feeling of insecurity perhaps, he was not forthcoming with all the necessary information and was found to be deliberately suppressing facts and figures. Not surprisingly,he became redundant due to his own negative attitude. Organizations are always in a hurry to achieve results and will not tolerate deliberate slow down. He brought about his own downfall. I had absolutely no difficulty or embarrassment in getting rid of him.

There was another case of redundancy somewhat similar in the sense that this was brought about by the guy’s deliberate misrepresentation of his skill sets. He projected himself as a chap with technical marketing skills whereas he was a mere technical guy. Misrepresentation of his skills might have landed him onto a good job but the joy was short-lived. He soon paid the penalty by being fired without any sense of compunction on the part of the management.

In one of the organizations I served there was a very peculiar case of redundancy created with the full knowledge of every one concerned! The company is a family driven organization being managed by second generation entrepreneurs. The company was founded by a highly respected first generation entrepreneur who gathered around himself a set of loyalists. These people stood out more by their personal loyalty to the founder-chairman than professional skills. Somehow the business grew over the years thanks to the hard work of the entrepreneur. As the second generation family members took over,it became very difficult to retire the old and trusted loyalists,although a new and younger management took over.
This is accepted by many in the organization although it does look very awkward. The awkwardness arises from the fact that a small group of old and loyal employees keep attending office everyday contributing virtually nothing! One can easily see the cost (to the organization)in terms of erosion of cultural,moral and ethical values.

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Published in: on August 20, 2009 at 5:20 pm  Leave a Comment  
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