Working in unison

Ravi Shankar (Executive Vice-President & Chief People Officer, Mindtree Ltd.) on the importance of increasing productivity by putting diverse HR functions and roles together into a team

77-7Building and managing teams across cultures and boundaries
People are the fulcrum of an enterprise. They form the base of a great business strategy. Earlier companies would use numbers and statistics to measure the development and sustainability of success. Today, they know better. They understand that individuals and teams can alter an organisation’s climate and operational performance. Modern enterprises unanimously agree that to be successful, a business needs multi-talented and multi-cultural teams to work in tandem across different regions. This provides myriad viewpoints and more productive bandwidth, backed by invaluable multi-cultural experiences.

Building value through globally integrated teams
Enterprises help clients succeed and create value for customers. In the process, they build expertise and earn multiple, sustainable and long-term benefits. To do this, they need a holistic view of potential possibilities in any given business situation. And, along with that a capable and experienced team that delivers the goods. For global delivery and to climb up the value chain, enterprises are increasingly relying on ‘virtual global teams’. Forrester Consulting’s recent report on virtual work environments in a post-recession era finds that today 40 per cent of employees work in virtual teams and 56 per cent employees expect the trend of virtual global teams to increase in the next one to three years.

Virtual global teams are not purely outcome-driven. They are an emerging trend in workflow and process engineering. These teams do not just come together to deliver a particular product or service, but, they present a way of working. In the process, they tend to create a global, cohesive and expertise-oriented enterprise.

For instance, take an enterprise based in India that develops solutions for a business process outsourcing company in Africa. It needs a full view of the customer company’s business domain, specific business tasks, competitor strategies and the larger economic environment of the region, apart from the other details. A view, which can only be gained through teams that are working at different locations but are connected virtually.

Shaping enterprises with people and possibilities
Enterprises undergo many phases of change and progression while combating economic transitions. To build an enterprise and sustain profitability through such change is an uphill task. In a growing trend, competitive advantage has shifted from financial to technology resources and now to human capital. Now, the success does not depend primarily on the budget size or the product supporting technologies. It really depends on employees’ attitude, competencies, skills and the ability to generate commitment and trust. It is fair to say that employees play an integral role in shaping an enterprise’s culture and brand.

Keeping lines of communication open
Creating and maintaining an open line of communication between enterprises and employees is crucial for a successful business. People are genuinely happier and more committed when they feel they are a part of the enterprises’s ‘big picture’. Nothing works better than the feeling of participation. This is especially true if you need to keep teams across geographies motivated and aligned to the overall strategy and vision.

Today, there are several innovative tools that can help. Critical information is collected through the internet and distributed through specialised communication channels. Discussions are held over video conferences, past project experience is analysed and transferred over the web and subject matter experts are consulted. The end result is manifested in one seamlessly integrated team, backed by real world knowledge and experience and committed to delivering great results.

Aligning the workforce through training
Training is an essential process in any successful business. It helps employees acquire the capabilities to perform their jobs, which is linked to employee performance and retention. Employees reach full potential and achieve higher levels of productivity when adequately trained. Overall, training impacts organisational competitiveness, revenue and performance. It is thus essential for developing talent, optimising performance and building the right attitude. It keeps their mind agile, injects energy and enthusiasm and inculcates a spirit and belief that everything is possible.

People strategy works
People are the pillars of any enterprise, so it is essential that they are in sync with the organisation’s vision and growth model. Enterprises, therefore, should build on people’s enthusiasm and loyalty and constantly raise the bar. This can happen by aligning everybody to a clearly articulated vision and mission. The healthy environment encourages teams to build on their individual expertise and pushes the company to greater success. Training people across different regions and cultures creates a work culture that is in line with the enterprise’s growth model.