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'People love change', says Vinod Kumar in his Leadership Series EDGE webinar

Published on January 09, 2019

Vinod Kumar, MD and Group CEO, Tata Communications, interacted with Tata employees through a Leadership Series EDGE webinar. Talking on the theme of ‘Leading through Change’, Mr Kumar took participants through how his company has undergone transformation, and highlighted that contrary to popular opinion, people love change.

According to Mr Kumar, in hyper competitive industries, change is inevitable every few years, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to handle it. “If done in the right way, you can get people not to shirk from change, but to approach it with a much more positive approach and to move them from fear to actually a state of loving change,” he asserted.

Mr Kumar then went on to share his insights for successfully leading through change. Some of them were:

Communicate regarding the change
Communicating why the change is required is key for employees to love the change rather than resisting it. A leader also needs to be completely transparent and invite open discussions from people on what the change in question means for them in terms of the company, their function, their growth, and as individuals. Set short-term and long-term goals, milestones and the method of executing the change, getting the buy-ins from employees. This consultative approach instead of top-down will create faith in the leadership and alignment of the employees with the organisation’s goals.

Change the unit of measurement
Rather than looking at small incremental changes or percentage changes on a year-on-year basis, look at measuring success in smaller measures. So if a process is going to take one month, don’t change that to half, but instead strive to get the process right for just a second to begin with. This promotes a new way of thinking, which can create excitement, and unleash creativity.

Humility, Alignment and Agility
In order to ensure that the change in question is well accepted and successfully rolled out across the organisation, humilty on part of the leader and individuals, alignment of the entire team to the change, and agility to adopt the change is critical. Also, it is important to provide the right amount of time to carry out the change transformation, and conduct reviews of change initiatives in a very different way from regular business reviews, by involving others, and engaging in more insightful conversations.

Align individual and professional purposes
Through active dialogue, see if employees can have some part of their personal purpose aligned with the organisation’s purpose. This is the way to create change believers, champions and evangelists within the organisation.

Experiment without fear or failure
Leaders need to promote a culture of experimenting without the fear of failure, with employees seeking out the learnings from failure rather than shunning it. In fact, failure should be celebrated, as it offers learnings.

Create controlled environments with known customers
Introduce new products or services in a controlled environment, where known customers can test them and help improve them. Then introduce these improved products and services amongst a larger group which will further help improvise them. This process of being very agile and remaining in beta or DevOps mode is extremely important for any change initiative.

Key takeaways

  • Communication is very important
  • Change the unit of measurement
  • Work with humility
  • Pre-empt the change
  • Budget for adequate time
  • Align individual and professional purposes
  • Experiment, fail, learn and move on
  • Introduce change in controlled environments