Innovative Practices in Industrial Relations Part 4

[This write up was prepared for my speech on Nov 4, 2014 at the HR Meet of Hindalco. It is in four parts. This is the fourth and the concluding part.]

Part 4: Building Trust

Books on Organisational Behaviour tell us that when you trust somebody you are making yourself vulnerable. Perhaps this could be one of the reasons why we do not trust people easily.

It is quite common for people in Mumbai to leave their house keys with neighbours. The maid collects it from them and cleans the house, sometimes makes their dinner ready. The situation is such in which people make themselves very vulnerable to theft, but it rarely happens. This example tells us the vulnerability, but it also tells us that trusting others is inevitable part of working together. In many instances this is done out of necessity. Building trust proactively shows a very different mindset, and perhaps an evolved philosophy of managing people.

Mr Rajesh Shah, MD of Arihant Industrial Corporation has taken proactive steps in building trust. One of them is that if an employee is hospitalised, a staff member visits him immediately and hands over Rupees fifty thousand. The staff is instructed not to wait for sanctions and bureaucratic procedures, they are asked to do it without delay. They do not look up the sick person’s attendance record, or loan outstanding or any such information.

While many organisations create systems and procedures to provide sickness benefits by providing insurance covers, none matches the trust building potential of Arihant’s action. Why? Perhaps because employees also realise that the action of handing over Rupees fifty thousand without any question or condition makes Arihant vulnerable, unlike coverage by insurance.  

There are many instances when employees have trusted organisations. In Arihant itself employees undertook a pay cut when the going was not good. [When the financial status improved Arihant paid back all of them]. Arihant Industrial Corporation is an SME which faced big ups and downs in the business in the early part of their journey. What made employees of Arihant whose income was nothing to boast about take this unusual step?

At Pune another SME called Vanaz Engineers Ltd. has such credentials in building trust that we should write a case study on it. Vanaz was in deep financial crisis and no bank would give it a loan. So a few hundred workers obtained personal loans from co-operative banks and handed over the money to Vanaz to run the company.

At Pune, there is an emerging story of a union taking initiative to restore trust and confidence against all odds. But let us wait and watch the developments.

I am not talking just about building trust. I am talking about unusual decisions made spontaneously yet thoughtfully on a difficult path, yet based on cherished values and in spite of personal risks.

Summing Up

Our subject was ‘Innovative Practices in Employee Relations.’ Let us understand the words first:

Innovative means ‘introducing new ideas; original and creative in thinking.’ Practice means ‘the customary, habitual, or expected procedure or way of doing of something.’ So let us understand that the phrase Innovative Practices is an oxymoron!

The verb ‘relate’ means ‘To feel empathy or identify with.’ And the word ‘relationship’ means ‘the mutual feelings that exist between two parties.’  

Now try following a practice to foster relationship. Try telling your wife ‘I love you’ every morning, for instance. It will feel nice initially, then it will not be noticed and if you continue to do it, there will be enough occasions when it will be disbelieved!

I would submit that building relations has much to do with spontaneity and a response tailor made for that occasion, which means the response must be different on every occasion. Yet it must be based on sound values like trust. The prerequisite for this is confidence in one’s own abilites, not so much as the character of the other party.

And finally I would present this statement by Milton Mayeroff. It is my favourite one:

“Through caring for certain others, by serving them through caring, a man lives the meaning of his own life. In the sense in which a man can ever be said to be at home in the world, he is at home not through dominating, or explaining, or appreciating, but through caring and being cared for.”

True caring comes when you understand feelings, more so when both the parties involved understand feelings. And relationships whether with individuals or groups are all about empathy and feelings.

There are of relationships of a different kind. As Osho says

Relationship may be just out of fear….. Relationship may be just a kind of security – financial or something else. ….. Relationship is a substitute.

And he goes on to say “Relationship is beautiful because it is a mirror. But there are stupid people – they see their face in the mirror and they see it is ugly so they destroy the mirror. The logic is apparent: this mirror is making them ugly, so destroy the mirror and then they are beautiful.”

Relationship is a mirror, it mirrors our persona. It tells people what we stand for and what we do not stand for. It tells people whether we are timid or strong. It tells people whether we are men of conviction and beliefs. And it tells people whether we are sincere in building relationship – with groups and with individuals.

Vivek S Patwardhan
"What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others."
             

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