Organisation development through people initiatives

Organisation development through people initiatives

No organisation can grow without facilitating the growth of its people. Renuka Vembu finds out the OD initiatives undertaken by pharma companies, who are adopting and implementing evolved people processes

Need for OD

Organisation development means that the organisation is developing into a much bigger and better entity, with an increased set of clients and an improved business model. The presence of such an ambience reflects a reasonably satisfied force comprising the company’s internal customers i.e. employees working with the organisation. A happy and motivated workforce would imply that the company is fostering the growth of individuals associated with them by implementing people processes and employee focused initiatives, regularly and religiously. These can range from fundamentals like talent acquisition and retention, process training, quality checks and assessments, aligning individual needs to organisational goals, to the much stressed upon communication, soft skills, leadership, mentoring and succession planning, performance appraisal, to the more rigorous and tough tasks involving change management, conflict resolution, SWOT analysis, employee satisfaction surveys, etc.

“OD interventions ensure a focused and dedicated cross functional team responsible to drive the interventions with a clear mandate for leadership team”

– Malika C Amin Whole Time Director

Alembic Limited

Malika C Amin, Whole Time Director, Alembic Limited, explains, “Economic boom in the country and growth of employment opportunities for skilled workforce have led to the war for talent among companies, cutting across industries. Pharma being a knowledge based sector has been severely impacted by this employees’ market as they are the key business drivers and value creators for the company.” She further says, “With ever static influx of talents in the resource pool, it has become very competitive, as demand far outstrips the supply of critical resource. With the challenge of attracting and retaining the talented and skilled manpower, OD interventions have become critical for an organisation. It enables the company to align employees’ contribution towards the business objectives, and thereby, enhances overall efficiency through output.”

“While implementing OD policy, we focus on performance and achievement at one level and relationships across levels, and organisation culture at another level”

– Ashwin Thacker CMD

Flamingo Pharmaceuticals Ltd

Ashwin Thacker, CMD, Flamingo Pharmaceuticals, was of the opinion that with the vibrant environment globally, pharma companies have grown by pull of opportunities, but employees may have got stagnated in their roles with job specialisation rather than acquiring organisational perspective, thus functional interface remains limited. “Increased competition from environment and high standards of excellence demands that employees acquire new organisational orientation to respond to the internal and external challenges and opportunities for growth. Therefore, OD initiatives are required to organise process intervention through which we can address issues that aid employees within the organisation relate with each other. OD is also required in pharma companies to synchronise the skills, systems, and structures with the strategy and organisational vision and values,” said Thacker.

Implementing OD

Not only proposing and coming up with a scheme, but more importantly, implementing, monitoring, amending and fine-tuning the line of difference, is a task in itself. OD initiatives not only provide direction in times of crisis, they but are a route to efficient organisational functioning. Identifying loopholes in the system, improving discipline, enhancing industry best practices, delegating job roles, business planning and development, role mapping, are some of the few things OD initiatives help tracking.

S C Sehgal, CMD, Ozone Pharmaceutical, mentioned about the steps taken by his company in the direction of OD, “There is a need to adopt a holistic and systematic view on innovation in the corporate policy. We have focused on technological and organisational innovations alike, besides keeping a balance between the ‘new’ and ‘old’ business models, instead of seeing ‘modernisation’ primarily as the development of new cutting edge technologies. Heritage is important to us, so are valuable people who have worked with us for a long time. At the same time, we like to infuse young, energetic, qualified and ambitious professionals to help us radically transform the organisation. Further, to improve efficiency, productivity and satisfaction, the organisation has to be system driven. Every individual can contribute in forming and improving the system and it should be firmly be comp-lied with by one and all.”

Thacker explained on the plan espoused by Flamingo, “While implementing an OD policy, we focus on performance and achievement at one level and relationships across levels and organisation culture at another level. We start with a scientific diagnostic study of the organisation for its holistic understanding and new processes to be initiated to build a new work culture. We review our past learnings and history, evolved structure, work culture, people profiles and core competencies, SWOT, inter-functional interactions, managing change, creating synergy in teamwork, leadership and impact of structure and culture on performance.” He adds, “We classify our observations at institutional, organisational, functional, inter-functional, team, task and employee levels. Based on the action plans, we conduct institutional building workshops, team building, managerial effectiveness and structural and systems renewal trainings. We redesign our processes, even invent newer ones to suite our business needs. We re-look at our benchmarks, redefine inter-organisational linkages and redefine roles and relationship patterns.”

“Every function has a feeling that the success of the organisation is due to their functional capabilities and thus they operate in isolation; but integration of all functions is necessary”

– K M Ramchandran
General Manager (HR) Torrent Pharma

K M Ramchandran, General Manager (HR), Torrent Pharma presented a completely different set of views on the challenges posed by the outside environment on pharma companies, and their strategies to counter it. He said that the government policy on globalisation, taxation, entry of MNC companies, competition in the future, demand and supply of manpower amongst others, directly affected the growth of the organisation. He added, “Government policy on SEZ invited many employers to set up their facilities in rural areas of the country demanding the need for skilled and unskilled manpower, resulting in high rate of attrition. In this scenario, we have implemented well structured recruitment solutions and employee satisfaction urveys. Based on that, we have worked out competitive compensation packages, employee retention plans, etc.”

Many benefits

Every step or action taken has its host of benefits or repercussions—either they are fruitful rewards or mistakes which prove to be learning experiences. Thacker says, “OD initiatives contribute to evolving a shared understan-ding and action choices to facilitate organisation to become dynamic and identify those processes which contribute to the stagnation of organisation as whole or in parts of organisation like its function, department, divisions or group of people at different levels. It facilitates initiation of those organisation processes across levels for shared understanding of vision, mission, values, structure, policies and strategies so that the employee and the organisation can be revitalised, renewed and reenergised.” He pointed out that OD assists employees to acknowledge personal space in organisational lifecycle and helps create rhythmic interface so that fulfilment and achievement is experienced by individuals and systems simultaneously. It also helps in building a new legacy and heritage where institution, organisation and individuals can discover newer horizons.

Host of challenges

Amin mentioned, “OD interventions have defined process steps and expected outcomes within a specific period of time. It ensures a focused and dedicated cross functional team responsible to drive the interventions with a clear mandate for leadership team.” She also highlighted the business challenges that are three folds:

1. Shifting business priorities—It is difficult to receive commitment of leadership team for the entire duration of intervention because of shifting business priority.

2. Sustaining the efforts and involvement of employees for the entire duration—As with the passage of time, the efforts fizzle out before the desire results are achieved.

3. Managing employee expectations—The interventions are planned and introduced based on certain expectations from employee and leadership team, however with the changing business scenario, the desired outcome of the interventions also keep on changing.

Ramchandran felt that most of the times, it is observed that every function in an organisation has a feeling that the success of the organisation is due to their functional capabilities only and thus they operate in isolation; but integration of all functions is necessary. “Secondly, while implementing change, some level of resistance is always observed to adopt change because employee mindsets are not open to accepting change easily. They are more concerned about the security of their career and the comfort level,” added Ramchandran.

Thacker asserted that any OD intervention raises a lot of hopes in people for dramatic transformation to occur immediately, “If it is not implemented in a methodical manner or does not address key issues, it may have a negative impact on people, leading to unresolved problems, low performance and high employee issues. The challenge lies in understanding and interpreting new environment, developing newer approaches, willingness to unlearn outdated processes and learn newer ones, giving up past practices and accepting approaches which are not “our way of doing things,” building newer competencies, dealing with uncertainty and addressing changing power equations due to newer functional linkages. If OD is not tied to a strategy, it may be seen as fad or quick fix. The challenge is to have a balance in short and long term perspective, building flexible change designs, having persistent leadership for development, having measurable and tangible results and mobilising commitment to sustained change.”


From drawing out an approach encompassing the complete gamut of people involved with it, to benefiting from its outcome in its entirety, OD realisation is a lengthy process, inclusive of efforts from every corner of the organisation. Ramchandran said, “Most of the organisations are strongly hierarchy driven, and therefore, HR has to first explain the need for change, what is to be changed and how it is going to be beneficial to the organisation in the long run. Change process is always messy and therefore it requires clarity about the ultimate change goal and identification with where the organisation is heading.”

“When we direct and manage in excessive measures, we may create professionals who are likely to be our inferior clones. This process can lead to a management drought and erosion in the organisation’s assets. Instead, stress should be on creation of an environment where people learn the art of learning. We should endeavour to create youngsters who get to be bigger than us. In the process, we will be able to create a management of ‘giants’ where, with the passing of time or with changed hands, the organisation would have people with far sharper skills,” concluded Sehgal.