Articles & Blogs

Let's get emotional!

06 July 2007
Vineet Nayar

I have often felt that some of our losses in today's lifestyle tend to outweigh the gains when we look at the larger picture. That, to me, puts a whole new spin on the perception of progress. Take the IT industry for instance. The proverbial fly perching on the wall where a major project is in full swing, might well be forgiven for thinking that work was not about people at all. Think about it. People are not individuals any more. They are resources. Their time is measured in man-hours quantified as being worth so many dollars. Life within the organisation is defined by KRAs and KPIs for the individual; without the organisation it tends to be hedged around with Service Level Agreements.

If the IT industry then suffers from high attrition rates as a worldwide phenomenon, we have only ourselves to blame. And when this kind of commoditisation happens in a culture that is marked for its traditionally high "emotional intelligence", a term popularized by Daniel Goleman aeons after it was first practised on the subcontinent, one can only call it a crying shame. Indians have unknowingly practised a very high order of emotional intelligence because it has been imbibed through the social and cultural environment. And it is safe to say that every thinking individual craves a level of emotional satisfaction. As a result, a body-shopping culture can only be imposed externally - it does not have the makings of something that is organic and intrinsic to human nature.

One might justifiably wonder about what the point of this actually is and whether it has any value beyond pop-philosophy dressed up as corporate-speak. Take the case of India. Having progressed way beyond the base level of the IT pyramid to a point where intelligent solutions are looked for, the prime driver of the industry - its people - need to be geared for the shift towards delivering more exacting results.

And that is hardly going to happen in a situation where individuals and teams operate like automatons, mindlessly executing whatever instructions are given to them. An intelligent team member needs to be able to push back when you push him or her. And that in turn, requires an environment which can nurture, encourage and challenge the individual rather than just a faceless collation of human beings.

The change needs to come from the top. It is only then that it can percolate through the organisation. So what do we have (apart from the obvious - a happy, satisfied and productive team player)? A satisfied end-user. Stability. And ultimately, a sustainable growth model.

While this does not mean that the housekeeping departments suddenly place extra orders for Kleenex, it is definitely indicative of a basic human need that we all tend to overlook and demands a fresh perspective.

Oh, and the next time you meet a colleague or associate while hurrying to your next meeting, just smile. Remember that a man is a collection of many emotions gathered over the years. So let's get emotional