ACCOUNTABILITY and why it does not happen in a PSU? Do we need Unions?
We hear a lot about the Marxists Party CPI (M) and other union activities in areas untouched by unions so long. Like the recent HERO HONDA disturbance in Gurgaon. What are unions required for really? When so long these places have enjoyed without unions, why is it that they are finding gates open for them to enter? We hear about PSUs not performing efficiently whereas organizations like Infosys, Wipro, IBM, Reliance seem to attract people and retain them too. & they are even becoming Global Companies!! Why is it so? All this has to do with the ownership of an organization as well as the role of unions and collectives!! Do we need collectives? Let us analyse. Are PSUs efficient? We hear that Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) are inefficient. Management of these organisations will deny such allegations. I work in one. It is highly profitable and has a Private Sector like culture to some extent – the exposure and openness to new ideas, T&D, and so on. But still I beg to differ. I say PSUs are inefficient. They are mostly mediocre companies for mediocre people. And because I am mediocre I am here. Why is it so? The cause lies in the difference between a Govt Organisation and a Private One. What is that really? So I started analyzing and here are my conclusions… ,& here are my own answers to my own questions – though the pattern of questions are defintely a mixed one and touches everything at the same time, I am sure my thoughts are clearly coming out. Let us analyse logically step by step 1. Why do we need collectives at all? Ans: — to look after the people working in the organizations. Who runs an organization? ANS: Management. 2. What makes a person part of management? What is management? ANS: Those entrusted with the responsibility to run the organisation, implement and carry out the fiat of the owners -“the Govt of India” in the case of a PSU. In other words they are the owners’ representatives in this organisation. So anybody entrusted to do this job is part of Management. So by this logic the Board of Directors and Chairman are management, because they interact with the GOI. The HR dept is management because HR implements Policies and pay and deals with anything that affects the employees. Going by the same logic, anybody in this organisation when he has to carry out the instructions flowing down to him/ her w.r.t. organisational aspects- through the Delegation of Authority is also part of management. We are all part of management in some role or other. Hence the higher we rise by virtue of increased powers we become more of a management person and less of an ordinary employee. 3. Why do we need to have two groups: one named management and one named collectives? Ans:- Because it is perceived that if there is only management they will only think of the owners & the employees will suffer and if there are only collectives, then they will only think of the employees and the owners will suffer. So someone some day way back in History found the need to create a Union (because of owners suppressing their employees in some company in some foreign land — not India, probably Australia or UK I forget now) and so arrived the second group- “The Collectives” in organisations. So that there is a balance. That is what was supposed to be as History teaches us. It is another matter, however, that somewhere down the line the collectives forgot their own people in many organizations. 4. Why cannot we perform dual roles? Why cannnot a “management person” be a “collective” and why cannot a collective be part of management? – Ans: Because the catch is in the word “suffer” in my earlier reply. Because as an individual progresses up the ladder of the Organisation and metamorphosises from an ordinary ugly caterpillar called “Employee” to that wonderful beautiful creature called “Management Person” we transition ourselves from a demanding person into a denying person. From one who always felt he should get this and he should get that and this is not right and that is not right he becomes a person who thinks he should not allow this to happen and he should not allow that to happen, he should not give this and he should not give that.So he has now FINALLY ARRIVED – as the last Avataar of his life in this Organisation — in which role he weilds power. AND what fun is there in power if we do not deny? What power is there in strength if we do not subdue the opposition? What fun is there in being management if we do not think we own the company and not just representatives of the owners? And so we forget that the ultimate aim of the owners is NOT “no sufferance” BUT profits and growth of the company. And so we forget that to get profits and growth of the company, so that the owners become richer, it is absolutely necessary that we take care of the ordinary caterpillars too, and not just because they too will one day become “butterflies” like most but because a happy employee is a happy organisation- “happy” meaning successful. I said “we transition” implying that this attitudinal change is self inflicted to a great extent. [To a lesser extent it is forced upon us by our helplessness too.] We may hide behind the excuse that “we have to be like this because we are management”, “because the owner wants us to behave like this”, but it is not so really!! Because had it not been self inflicted than we would not have seen many great management people in History like Russi Modi (of TATA Steel) and and ownersthemselves like for eg Narayana Murthy and Charles Branson, who have thought of their people. How could they do it? Because they did not think THAT as “Management People” (in fact they were the OWNERS and higher than “management people”) their role was to deny all the time.Rather they proactively thought of improving the lot of their employees and did it. I feel it is wrong notion that there cannot be a dual role. I think a dual role is better as then one need not have collectives at all, If the management start thinking of the employees.What I have just said may seem like a paradox. I am saying that the same person can be a collective and also a management and yet I am saying that then there will be no need for collective. THINK PLEASE. I say it is self inflicted because every individual likes to be that management person one day and remain so till he dies. I say it is self inflicted because we love to be in power. And what is the outcome of this desire? Those who cannot be “the management person” soon enough seeks to attain power by becoming the office bearer of the collectives. What is the effect of this? I have said it below. 5. Why do the “management”people always think the “collectives” must first ask for something and then only they can consider giving it? Ans: Many progressive Companies do not have collectives at all. People work and get well paid/ taken care of for their hard work. 6. IS THAT possible in a PSU? Ans: — No perhaps, because more than 50% [My own guess estimate and not a quoted figure] of people in a PSU do not have that private company mindset of working hard and getting paid well for that. At the same time because the individuals who are in power do not want to relinquish that power and want to enjoy it forever they do what their roles demands them to do so that they remain in power:- A.) Since the owner of a PSU is Govt Of India who is not willing to give like Charles Branson or Narayana Murthy or TATA, the “Management People” deny everything mostly, are not proactive in employee care, do not want to give anything without somebody demanding anything, do not want to incur the wrath of the owners, lest they be removed from their posts. B.) So too the office bearers of collectives want to remain in power forever and to do that they have to listen to the majority of the 50% of people here and so will take forward only those demands to the Management which if all are met will not help the owner to become rich. And so both these groups of people do not do what actually should be done to create a WIN-WIN situation for everybody- the owners and the employees. They will rather WIN THEMSELVES. [The danger is when these two groups join hands for creating a win situation for ONLY themselves] 7. But the paradox of this situation here is explained in the question who is the owner?” A bunch of secretaries in DPE, The ministers who come and go? Who is Govt that owns this company? Who are the people who are in Govt? What is their stake? [Who are the owners? Those who own the company and stands to benefit from the gains by the Company. After all if it is your company you would like to earn something from that will you not?] Is it really not the country that owns this company? And will not the country gain if the PSUs flourish? But who is “Country” Nobody. The country is not a person. So in actuality the so-called owners- the GOI are not the actual owners. And so what interest can they have in the good of this company? When there is no REAL INDIVIDUAL WHO OWNS THIS COMPANY like we have in Private Concerns, how can we expect good to happen for the company through good to the employees or HOW CAN WE HAVE ACCOUNTABILITY?Everybody is thinking of themselves here. Even the pseudo owners themselves!! And so when there is no ACCOUNTABILITY in a PSU how can employees who want to be accountable and deliver by making an effect through their ideas can work and excel in a PSU? Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm……….. Look at the latest example of Sri Subir Raha of ONGC who dared to confront his masters (in Govt)