Jose Thomas

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FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD
Tuesday 17th April, 2012



     

 

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Dear Friends,

All my Malayali friends, let me wish you all a very Happy Vishu My overseas friends may wonder what Vishu is? The State I live in,Kerala celebrates Vishu as the first day of the Hindu calendar. This is the day when families get together and as they wake up in the morning, they gear up to set their eyes on what are considered as auspicious things and expect to hear nothing but good news. They also get gifts, generally money from elders. Once again, I hope my Kerala friends have a great Vishu.

I just got back from a hill resort near Cochin, the city I live in. I took 23 of my senior and middle level managers for my annual strategy meeting. For the past so many years, I had my annual meeting at Cochin at my Head Quarters. As I write this, as usual my mind goes into a nostalgic mode, the situation that I always remember.

When I was a high flying individual going through my flamboyant days of starting an Airline, I used to have my strategy meeting and quarterly meetings with my Executives and Consultants at certain hand-picked locations. People must have wondered if I was crazy in conducting the meeting in the middle of a forest. Those meetings in the wilderness kept us away from all distractions. We were able to finish the meeting in about three days and get back to work to execute the decisions made.

In those days there were no cell phones or any of the gadgets that we all carry today to get information at the click of a button. But there I was doing my strategy meeting in the most conventional manner, sitting together with my executives analyzing the previous year's performance and making plans for the following year, analyzing pit falls and making major decisions including policies, to ensure that we didn?t repeat the same mistakes and so on. Those were the best of my days because during those meetings we assembled at 8.30 in the morning all dressed up in our corporate uniform even though the meeting was conducted on a week end. A lot of creative thinking went into this meeting, great ideas were imparted and at times I used to even get angry and walk out of those meetings since some of the team members could not give me convincing solutions. Those meetings were very helpful and I believe were the foundation and the contributory factor for the growth of my business empire that I lead today. My meetings did continue at our Headquarters even though we stopped going to outstation locations due to various cost cutting measures. I knew for a fact that these meetings were not that effective as; being in your home town you have all distractions especially after the invention of cell phones, which even today I consider as a nuisance!

The last financial year has been something that really made me and my organization happy. Great performance: the simple result of hard work and planned approach of conducting one?s business. I really worked hard and I was not surprised when my Auditors brought me the Financial Report for signature on the 7th of April 2012. There is a Wow factor here because even large companies who close their books on March 31st do not come out with the audited and signed accounts this early. I started to plan because I knew the result would be great and I had to put measures to ensure that I had this accomplished during the 1st week of April itself.

As I signed the financials, a quick thought crossed my mind. We have done so well so why don't we go back and do our annual review the way we used to earlier. I immediately set my mind on this and started to check around to find a place where I could take my team for the annual review. A good friend of mine recommended a hill resort and this was the place we picked for having our meeting. Accordingly this resort was exclusively booked for us. I came to this place with my whole team and the moment I stepped into this place, I started to get the vibes. Here was I back with our conventional practice of holding the meeting at an outside location with no disturbance whatsoever.

We were a couple of hours behind schedule, but we assembled in this make-shift conference room, everyone as usual in their white shirts, blue trousers and black shoes. I addressed the gathering thanking everyone for the great job they had done. I explained the following- The Wow factor - I told my colleagues, that if anyone did his job well I would never say, "Well done". I would say, "Job done". However, if someone exceeded my expectation, he would get an opportunity to sit down with me and negotiate his future and this was my Wow factor. Employers and employees need to grow. Now what is growth? Growth is nothing but performance and this whole meeting revolved around this.

The next thing I shared with them was my belief in doing things the positive way compared to many. I remember when I was deep in debt I did not have the fear of losing money or investing money or even spending money because I knew I had a whole lot of problems. I told my employees during the meeting that we were in a great envious position today due to our strong financial position. This simply means that when you have money in hand, you need to be extremely cautious of your moves because you don?t want to land up doing anything stupid.

The meeting concluded with great plans for the next year 2012-2013 and we partied all night. It was good to see some of my employees who had their inhibitions in talking to me, singing and dancing with me. This was nothing but the initiative taken in bringing all colleagues more closely for making our plan work.

Friends, what do you learn from this? Conventional thinking and practices, especially with proven track record will never fail you; I will continue to have our meetings the way we used to have in the past.

Friends, let me know if you know of a location where our husbands and wives cannot reach us, as that is where I would like to hold my meetings? Far from the madding crowd!

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