At the end of Day 1 of TechHR India 2019, an expert panel consisting of Ashutosh Garg, Founder of Guardian Pharmacy and Arvind Gupta, Co-Founder and Head, Digital India Foundation deliberated on the challenge of managing productivity and employee experience. The discussion was moderated by Pankaj Bansal, Co-founder and CEO, PeopleStrong.
The conversation centered around one key challenge area that companies face is the trade-off between productivity and the experience that users have to deal with.
“Can we have both experience and productivity as part of our technology solution? Why is that we get one right but not the other?” asked Pankaj.
In a multi-pronged discussion that touched on a number of aspects to get to the “AND” of technology, the discussants shared their own reflections of leading disruptive teams.
The role of leadership
Arvind spoke about the need for visionary leadership in order to see through successful technology adoption that addresses multiple goals.
Speaking about the ‘disruptive mindset’ that was necessary in Arvind’s work in the government, he noted that people needed to be able to see a desire to make a change – whether that was in delivering a unified payment interface, a citizen platform like MyGOV, or in Digital India – “It is the inspiration driven by the leadership and a desire to make change that is crucial” he said.
In a similar strain of thought, Ashutosh spoke about the leadership mindset that enabled Singapore to grow leaps and bounds in the early years of it’s formation, with the knowledge that any change will only be seen in a generation’s time.
Balancing stability and disruption
“There are companies that are at the forefront of disruption. They are the Ubers, OYOs and Olas of the world. But there are still others who are balancing stability and disruption,” Arvind said. Legacy companies that are making their way to the future are finding the right balance. They are those that have a vertical called ‘stability’ and a horizontal called ‘disruption’ – that’s helping them prepare for their next challenge.
“People are continuously doing things to disrupt,” Ashutosh said. “What’s really required is a set of motivated employees who are able to carry through with the idea of disruption,” he added.
Supporting the employee
As part of the conversation, an audience member asked the panelists if the employee is being taken for granted in the race for change?
“Every employee has to recognize that they are in a fast changing environment, and if they are not keeping pace, they will become obsolete,” Ashutosh said.
On the other hand – in the race for leveraging technology and balancing productivity and experience – there is a need to make sure employees understand the shifts, Arvind argued. If there is a shop floor worker or a construction worker who is given a VR machine to train, they will need to be explained the “why and how” of the process, they need to be able to buy into the vision, he added.
Summarizing the employee perspective, Pankaj noted that “if the experience is right, productivity will automatically go up but as Ashutosh mentioned, productivity is the responsibility of the employee.”
The problem of shifting goals
In response to an audience question on the trickle-down effect of management priorities – where decision makers have moved to new “fads” before the employee has adjusted, Arvind felt that the trickle down process must be done away with.
“Break the waterfall model of communication” he said. And make sure the leadership is directly addressing the employee. He also noted that in order to solve big problems – the problem needs to be broken down to smaller problems.
In summary, regardless of the challenges that employees deal with whether it’s do with leveraging technology or driving productivity and experience, employees need to be empowered to make the right decisions. And technology should support them in the process, not serve as a hindrance.