Let’s take a leaf out of the lives of leaders who dared to make it big!
J.J. Irani knew before attending a quarterly Board meeting that there would be nothing regular about it. The agenda that had to be discussed signified bad news and he hated playing the messenger. Some of his employees were about to lose their jobs. This had never happened before at Tata Steel. It was a place where everyone felt secure and appreciated. People made sure their sons and daughters too earned their jobs at Tata Steel when they came of age.
But this was a dire situation that called for drastic action. The problem was huge. However, the solution that the company came up with, for this problem, was something that was totally crazy and irrational. Yet, it somehow proved to be a very wise and even a generous one in the realm of corporate culture and employee relations. As per this decision,
Employees under the age of forty were guaranteed full salary throughout their working lives.
In case of aged employees, an amount about 20 to 50 per cent greater than their actual salaries would be guaranteed based on their age. In case of death before the age of retirement, the families of those employees would receive full payments till they reached their retirement age.
Crazy, you say?
Not exactly. The workers who accepted the offer were assured of full salaries or more, yet, the amount remained constant until their 61 years of age – so inflation was not factored in this severance plan.
Yes, as Tata Steels eventually saved on payroll tax, inflation and contributing to their retirement funds.
In reality, this decision saved a whole lot of labor costs for Tata Steel. The number of employees in the workforce came down from 78,000 to 47,000 in 2004. This reduced 1/3rd of the company’s labour cost. A further investment of about $1 billion combined with these low labor costs, transformed Tata Steel into an extremely efficient and globally competitive organization.
It’s not a stroke of accident that leaders often come up with a decision that is game-changing for their business. Some decisions cast a long-shadow over the company’s fortunes for many years to come. But before that, they involve a whole lot of tension, doubt and drama.
I once met a client in her late twenties. She had stumbled upon some information that was about to sabotage an important deal that she was negotiating. Her partner was unavailable for advice and she had to choose between informing her client while risking the deal and keeping quiet till the contract was signed.
Guess what? Keeping her fingers crossed, she went with the first choice. By taking her client into confidence, she won the trust of both parties and could come up with a consensus. Finally, the deal did come through and in the interest of both parties.
Here are a few other global case studies:
Coming up with the right decision calls for big risks. It’s a path fraught with unforeseen dangers. But you can gain competitive edge in the market, only if you develop that kind of a risk appetite. Shed your fears and soldier on…..there could be light at the end of the long tunnel!