The world is grappling with a crisis it has not seen before. And to steer the mass of humanity through this crisis, even the leadership has to reinvent itself. From being empathetic to communicating clearly to putting the greater good ahead of all other concerns, leaders have a responsibility to keep calm and try to maintain business as usual as much as possible while managing employee experience in such testing times.
In an exclusive interaction with People Matters, Rajendra Ghag, CHRO, Blue Dart Express Ltd. shares what are the key things a leader needs to focus on during this crisis and the importance of clarity on what the end goal and vision are.
What are key things for a leader to focus on while in a crisis?
The COVID-19 pandemic is causing disruptions across sectors and is turning out to be a critical leadership stress test. In this critical situation, having a concrete contingency plan and risk mitigation strategy will help us find an effective solution. Apart from this, having clarity on the key focus areas of the business helps provide team members with the precise role and responsibility expected from them during these challenging times. We need to motivate the team along with educating them about their health and safety needs. At Blue Dart, we stand by the team and create avenues to help them on and off -ground as we fight this crisis together.
What is the importance of adhering to the company values during an emergency?
I reckon that a company’s core values form the foundational blocks of the company itself. The core values set precedent for what employees in an organization must prioritize and motivates them to do their best.
At Blue Dart, our core values include Passion, Can Do, Right First Time and As One. These values help our Blue Darters stay focused in ensuring business continuity, especially in the current scenario.
These values tie in with our Group philosophy of ‘Respect and Result’ which signifies that we re-spect company values and focus on a holistic result. Over and above this, our 'People First Philosophy' has helped us align ourselves to be a great place to work and adhere to health and safety norms for the benefit of every Blue Darter.
Why is it important to put the greater good ahead of all other concerns?
In the face of a pandemic outbreak, we believe that it is important to prioritize the health and safety of our employees always. During this crisis, as senior management, we try to ensure that our front-line staff is safe even if that means speaking with our customers and collaborating to find an effective solution that does not put either party at risk.
How can leaders lead the conversation internally unambiguously and genuinely?
“As a leader, the most valuable thing you can do for your employees is have clarity on what the end goal and vision is.”
Providing your employees with a safe space where they can share their concerns and queries is an effective way to lead the conversation very genuinely.
At Blue Dart, our open-door policy allows for employees to share their thoughts and grievances with us. Smart leaders today, engage with employees in a way that resembles one-on-one personalized conversations rather than fostering an extremely hierarchical environment. Furthermore, they initiate practices and adopt cultural norms that instill a conversational sensibility throughout their organization.
What steps do leaders need to take to maintaining business as usual as much as possible while maintaining the employee experience?
In order to ensure business continuity, leaders must focus on their employees and key business areas. As the world changes under the crisis, employees need steady leadership now more than ever.
At Blue Dart, we have been a ‘People First’ company since our inception. We recognize that our Blue Darters are a key catalyst in driving forward overall company growth. Supporting our Blue Darters automatically means supporting our business. We believe in an open culture where employees express themselves and voice their grievances freely. This along with an assertive and motivating leader is what maintains business as usual.
What are some things leaders should definitely not do in a crisis?
“Crisis situations can be tough and pressurizing. I believe that a good leader will first and foremost think for the team.”
The key is to keep your priorities intact and then act on it. I believe a leader needs to avoid conflicts at all costs and promote coordination and team spirit amongst teams. At Blue Dart, we often encourage our ‘As One’ value to show teams that working together, as one is what boosts results. Leaders should have a clear communication approach. Vague and unclear communication only leads to confusion and panic, which should be avoided at all costs, especially now.
What has been your moment of truth during this crisis? What are some of the hard decisions Bluedart has taken to maintain business continuity?
I believe the entire pandemic has put to test a multitude of functions in every industry. At Blue Dart, I believe that our Business Continuity and Contingency Plan was set in motion with such smooth execution from every department, that it definitely was a moment of truth for us. Some measures that we are implementing to ensure business continuity would be executing Contact Less Delivery as well as educating all our front-line Blue Darters about practices to be followed during these challenging times, including social distancing to keep them and our customers safe and healthy.
Apart from following the guidelines by the Government of India, Blue Dart has also tied-up with a national fumigation service provider for reducing the chances of risks at our facilities in metro cities, and with local agencies for tier 2 and 3 cities. A commendable effort by our Blue Darters to respond wholeheartedly and participate in the service for the nation during this trying time is also being acknowledged. Because, as an organization, we believe in a ‘People First’ philosophy.