IntroductionThe latest external environment challenge of every Indian Manager has come in the form of the on-going trade war between the USA and China, which is now affecting the Indian organizations in one way or the other. There are certain issues to be solved, in the post-GST scenario as well. Some of these and allied challenges are discussed with reference to a) uncertain markets and challenges thereof b) the influence of technology c) the human resource challenges d) the finance-related challenges and e) challenges related to multitasking of Indian Managers.
Uncertain markets and challenges thereofThere are uncertain markets everywhere in India. The increasing petrol and diesel costs have increased freight costs. This single development is likely to affect the demand for every single product. When fresh jobs are not so easily created, the situation is likely to affect the growth of so many markets.
In particular, the real estate market is likely to be affected. There has been some revival in this vital sector of the economy. However, of late, in the past two months, the increasing petrol prices, has changed the situation. Increasing freight costs will push up the prices of every single commodity that we eat. The branded products are likely to increase too. The housing loans and the car loans have become costly again. Only those with good cash flow and with assured sources of income will be able to tide over this crisis. When demand comes down, there will be a slowdown in so many markets and agriculture is also likely to be affected.
It should be noted that one big market can pull down the demand in some many other markets. Slow growth of the real estate markets will mean reduced demand for steel, cement, tiles, electronic goods and so on. Consequently, there will be less manpower everywhere. For the Indian Manager, this becomes a big problem. Once the demand picks up, the new jobs will not be created so easily. The threat of unemployment will lead to fresh pressures and so on. The Finance Managers will a very tough time too. Since the cash flow will be affected, there will a huge pressure on them to reduce costs at every stage of the production process. This will bring the production people into the picture. The suppliers will be told to supply on even tougher terms with increased credit periods. This will make the life for all managers even tougher, as disgruntled suppliers will have quality control problems. The chain reaction everywhere will bring in more problems.
The influence of technologyRobots have already made a big impact in many organizations. The trade unions and the workers are now a worried lot. There is always a big pressure on managers to cut down on manpower costs. This trend will continue and will give sleepless nights to most managers.
For the trade unions, it will mean reduced manpower. This is not one situation that they will so quickly accept. However, when they see the advantages of advanced technology, they are also expected to agree to increased automation. Individual managers will be charged with the additional responsibility of constantly communicating to all workmen, by involving them at every stage. Another bigger challenge is to train all personnel on the use of advanced technology, including robots. There will be complications when this task is being accomplished. This is one more challenge for the Indian Manager.
Marketing and Supply Chain Management will become more complex and will start giving more trouble to Indian Managers.
The human resource challengesWhen one faces a situation where the number of contract personnel in the form of diploma holders and graduate engineers of various disciplines increases to double the normal strength, the challenge for the Indian Manager is even more complex. These people do know that their future is uncertain. The only option for the Indian Manager is to convince each and every individual employee in this category that hard work, will fetch them far better jobs outside.
The emotional issues are complex too. Since there is uncertainty in their lives, such personnel keep on searching for better opportunities and jump the moment they find one. In remote locations, finding suitable replacements is a big challenge that takes more time. In the interim period, the manager has to manage with existing staff,
There are other challenges, like maintaining a warm relationship, and the vital "personal touch", within limits. The world has changed and it is important that the poor soul on the contract is kept as happy as possible.
There are some organizations of the TVS group, for example, where the contract labour are trained so well. These contract personnel easily find jobs at Maruti, Toyota and Ford among others and get into regular jobs and roles. In fact, most TVS group managers stress this point in their communication with contract labour, even if the task is time-consuming.
The finance-related challengesIndian organizations in many sectors, particularly the customer-facing sectors are put to huge problems. For example, if the television sets do not sell, the dealers would not stock them. The discount sales will mean reduced margins for everybody. The organization needs huge working capital to carry on. This increases the cost of capital. The net effect on people and everywhere down the chain is understandable. The Indian Finance Manager has to manage all the cash flow problems. He or she will continuously seek avenues for reducing cost and this will bring in some resistance from line managers. The latter will have to live with very little resources. which will include fewer spares. This will mean very effective and efficient operations. The luxury of break-downs will no more be applicable.
Given such complications, the Finance Manager will do well to constantly communicate cost-wise goals for each and every item of expenditure. With the co-operation of people, he or she can easily achieve reduced cost. In fact, most Indian organizations have regular meetings where the different parameters of cost-cutting are explained in greater detail.
However, the Indian markets are likely to grow. This growth may not be less than normal, but there will be some growth. Indian Managers have to contend with this new reality and take on the specific challenges.
Challenges related to multi-tasking of Indian ManagersAs already mentioned, the advent of robots and the most advanced Information Technology, is a huge challenge. Acquiring the MBA degree is another. This cannot be through distance education, from say, Annamalai University. Such degrees will not take the individual manager forward at all.
It has to come from the weekend AICTE, and UGC recognized PGDM course. This will mean an additional burden on the Indian manager, as he or she will have to work overtime to complete organizational tasks. The sixteen-hour workdays will leave very little time for families, and this will have its own problems. The manager will himself or herself, go through stress and strain, affecting his or her health.
Regular meditation for fifteen minutes is a must. So is the ability to remain calm. This is easier said than done. Anger ventilated on someone like a neighbor can cause more damage too. So, Indian Managers have to understand the new realities and act accordingly.
There is no escape from the rat race. The present trends will continue and even become more complex. Maintaining a dairy, taking notes, getting to talk more and more with individual employees, and spend quality time with family members on Sundays, are all challenges that will take the life out of Indian Managers.
It has to be done. There is no other choice.
ConclusionThe Indian Manager, has to relate to challenges at the Individual level, the family level and at the society level. Even when he is successful in training the contract labour, for example, he is interacting with the society, since the contract labour come from the society and go back after training to the same society. At the family level, lack of time would really mean, increased tension and health-related problems. These are real problems. But since one cannot run away from such problems, he or she needs to understand the various challenges and the "how" of managing those challenges, some dimensions of which have been explained above.
It is a huge challenge. But it can be easily done with a bit of tact and patience.