Thresholds of Motivation

Someone asked me a few days back. What has been your single most important takeaway from ISB? Cliched as it may sound, but nevertheless a very important question. I replied that it had to be the Organizational Behaviour subjects - Management of Organizations and Managing Teams and the experience of running the Business Technology Club. I think that these two are related. Organizational Behaviour (OB) is one of the most neglected subjects at a B school. Wannabe Consultants find it non-analytical, finance people find it too vague and the general management enthusiasts think that they have managed enough teams to learn more about it. In this process, a lot of students miss out on these subjects (dealing with the softer side of management - people). Having worked for almost 6 years, the one thing I have realized is that as a manager, your functional skills are implied. What really sets you apart from a not-so-good manager is your people skills, your ability to empathize, ability to motivate, ability to be calm under duress and ability to modify company policies for the betterment of you staff.

I was listening to Mr. OP Bhatt, CMD of SBI who was speaking at the CLIC conference here at ISB and his topic of talk was the organizational transformation of SBI in the last 1.5 years in his charge. I listened in amazement at the way he went about rejuvinating the organization - a public sector behemoth. Many of the things we learnt in OB in class were put to use and with spectacular results. Just as an example, he talked about how he motivated peons at the SBI branches to take up additional responsibility and thus improve the productivity and response time at the bank. He had them trained to operate the basics of the computer and printer and how to update the pass books of the bank customers. With this, their additional role was to update the passbooks of the customers, thus taking the load away from the teller. This was a phenomenal success. The peons got so motivated that they were not only proficient, they asked for more responsibility. And the amazing part of this was that the labour unions did not even ask for a pay hike. This is a classic example of intrinsic motivation as we study in OB. The peons whose only work was to transfer files from desk to desk at times and just sit in some obscure corner smoking a bidi was all of a suddena very important person in the bank. Customers queued up to him and requested him to update their passbook. This gave him recognition, pride and a sense of belongingness.

OK so why have I started on this seemingly boring intellectual post early on a sleepy cold November morning? Well the thing is I have been reading Managing Teams for my exams this week and these thoughts kept going round in my head. Anyways as for the campus update, a lot is going on. Placement fever has set in and some international companies have started coming in. We have our Term 5 exams this week. Another tem just whizzed past. 3 more to go...Wish me luck with everything