No silver bullet in management

Aug 13, 2018-

Having worked for the multinational bank Barclays in the UK and several financial institutions in Nepal as well, Prakash Khatri believes that there is no one silver bullet that ensures efficiency and increased productivity at a workplace. Instead, he suggests that finding a balance between western efficiency and eastern amity might be the best way forward for Nepal’s burgeoning corporate sector. Currently the Deputy CEO at Jyoti Life Insurance, Khatri is also an evangelical for creating an environment of trust and ownership at an organisation in order to keep employees motivated. In this interview with the Post’s Alisha Sijapati, he talks about leadership, genuine customer service and his mantras for effective management. Excerpts:

Having worked for a multi-national company with over 115,000 employees around the world, how has your transition to working in Kathmandu been? What would you say are the key differences in the working culture?

Working with Barclays for two years was a tremendous experience—one that allowed me to grow personally and professionally in a very short span of time. In such a big organisation, the only way anything can possibly get done is through strict adherence to a set system that all employees abide by. While having such a system does streamline work, all the rules and regulations can lead to monotony. It was one of the factors behind me deciding to forgo a career abroad and return to Nepal.

Now having moved back, I think that in some ways I am still adjusting the working style here. One of the key differences that I have found is in the level of professionalism. I think that the working culture in Kathmandu is a lot more informal than in the West—it is easier to connect with people and to bond at the workplace. This can be seen both positively and negatively. On the one hand, the more casual workplace increases camaraderie and makes work fun, but on the other, it often also takes a toll on productivity. There, obviously, isn’t one right working culture and maybe finding a blend between western efficiency and eastern amity is one way to go about it.

In the service industry, providing impeccable customer service is absolutely key. What does your company do to ensure all-client facing employees share the same service values?

Working in a service-oriented business is really challenging. You can’t really have an off day in our line of work, and your attitude and your level of attention need to be on point at all times. There is a huge misconception in this sector where good service is equated to broad smiles and good vibes—this couldn’t be further from the truth. If the service you provide isn’t genuine, the customers can sense it from afar; and oftentimes it can have the opposite effect to what was intended. I firmly believe in not just providing good service, but providing service that is genuine and spontaneous. And the surest way to do this is by ensuring that your employees are happy, motivated and passionate, not by forcing them to smile at all times. If your employees feel fulfilled with their jobs, providing good service will come naturally to them.  

If having happy employees is the key to unlocking genuine customer service, how do you ensure that they stay motivated and productive?

There isn’t one tried-and-tested mantra for motivation—it is all rather subjective. Some people respond better to structured operations, others perform well if given freedom.

Some employees are looking for appreciation and recognition; others are motivated by monetary rewards. So, when you are working with multiple employees, it is crucial that you individuate motivation. Find out what makes an individual employee tick and use that to motivate them. But as a general rule of thumb, I think that trust plays an important role in elevating the working culture in any organisation. If you are able to instil this in an organisation, employees feel a sense of ownership and become invested in the work that they are doing.      

What trickle-down effect does good leadership have on employee motivation? What are some qualities that all good leaders have?

Having good leaders, not just at the top but throughout the organisation, is absolutely crucial for success. Good leaders moor employees to the organisation and ensure that everyone is working towards a collective goal. All good leaders are approachable and communicate efficiently. They are able to not just clearly layout their vision, but are also able to sell it to their team members. They are invested, passionate and are looking for innovative solution to problems. But above all, a leader needs to lead by example. If you yourself aren’t at the top of your game, how can you demand that from your team?

What are your personal mantras for being the best manager you possibly can be?

Efficient management, I believe, is all about clear delegation of roles and responsibilities. Everyone has to be on the same page about what is expected of them and why they are important in order for the organisation to achieve its goals. In order to create a productive and vibrant workplace, you need to foster an environment of trust, ownership and collaboration. Make your employees feel valued and they will in turn value the organisation.

Published: 13-08-2018 10:44

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