Source | Business Line : By Murali Gopalan
Tata Motors has decided to do away with the ‘no designations’ policy that was implemented early last month. As a result, all the original hierarchical tags, such as ‘manager’, ‘general manager’, ‘vice-president’ etc., will be back again within six weeks of change.
Widely perceived as a disruptive move that was intended to create a flat organisation, it now looks as if it did not yield the desired results.
In an emailed response, a company spokesperson said: “…it was earlier decided to do away with the designations of the employees, across the five management levels. However, given the current situation of a business turnaround and after reviewing the feedback received from employees across locations, we have decided to continue the designations … in the time being.”
The decision to knock off designations and replace them with the specific functions of employees was intended to make their performance tracking more transparent. By removing hierarchical barriers, it was also widely believed that performance would be enhanced.
Gajendra S Chandel, Chief Human Resources Officer, had then admitted that this was a challenging task and there was a lot of debate on how people within would react to the move. Yet, it was seen as an imperative for the company to go in for this kind of an overhaul, especially when it was banking on optimal employee productivity to meet the growing challenges in its commercial vehicle and car businesses.
Asked if the move would affect the overall Tata brand image of being a benevolent employer, Chandel had said the company could “still attract a different kind of talent, which is more competitive and can deliver”.
Disheartening for some
Yet, it is now pretty clear that not everyone was happy with the move and for a senior employee who wore his designation on his sleeve, the abrupt scaling down would have been quite disheartening.
In the Indian context, hierarchy is a big thing even though it may not be such a big deal in the West. Even while the Tata Motors initiative made news across industry circles, there were enough people who were not completely convinced that it would work. It is now crystal clear that the company has decided not to rock the boat. It is quite likely that employees were concerned about external perception and how other associates in the supply chain, such as dealers and suppliers, would gauge their standing in the new ‘designation-less’ regime.
“Cultural change is a journey and we will keep our pace with it. Our employees’ voice and their engagement is the most important topic under our action agenda currently and hence this decision,” added the company spokesperson.