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L.Srikumar Pai
B.Sc( Engg.), MIE, MIWWA, MICI
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Mrs Margaret was running to the factory gate after leaving her 5 children to the school and taking care of here unhealthy husband. She was stopped by the security officer at the gate and informed her that the factory is under layoff.

It was a tremendous blow to her and to the family because she was the only bread winner in the  family. This has happened in the suburbs of California. At that time, President elect Bark Obama condemned the issue.

This is not only in California but throughout the world similar cases are reported.

Why this lay offs? What is the reason for a factory to be closed? Who is to be blamed? Employees, top management or the prevailing system? No owner can run the factory under loss and at the same time owner doesn't want his factory to be closed for unwanted reasons. If the policies and the demand for the product are not questionable, then the responsibility lies with the management and people down the line. In the beginning, the factory functions fantastically, but in due course the employee productivity is drastically reduced, there is less enthusiasm among workers and then started the down fall.

Here the government took control over the issue, and the top management was instructed to fix the issue within a specific time. Directors pooled in and decided to open the factory. But the situation did not improve; it worsened day by day because it was running with a highly de-motivated team. The management decided to appoint a trainer to counsel the employees. Mrs Peggy Sinclair took the responsibility to revamp the enthusiasm of the employees. She visited each department and had personal interview with each individual. She was shocked to know that everyone was least bothered of the company. All of them were worried about their position & benefit. Nobody respected each other, were highly self centred, and there were no role models with positive attitude. She was in a dilemma where to start. Her grandfather came for her rescue. He advised her to bring the smallest of the two department staffs to his farm house. Their idea was to study from the nature.

Both the teams were given different assignments. First team was asked to observe the behaviour of Squirrels. The team watched squirrels running, again and again to a feeder, stuffing their cheeks with sunflower seeds and taking them back to the forest. Why are they working very hard? Because they are motivated. What motivates them? If they didn't collect food all the squirrels would die of hunger, now that winter was coming. They had to stock food for the future. This is the reason they were working very hard.

The spirit of the squirrels can be instilled in people, by focusing on their job. There are three secrets. First, people should know that they are contributing towards making the world a better place. Seldom we analyze others work and look at the end results. Because everyone should understand that they perform important work. This will happen when information is shared with each other.

Secondly everyone needs to work toward a shared goal. Managers can initiate goals, but unless they generate commitment from the people who accomplish them, the goals will become meaningless.

The third aspect of the Spirit of Squirrel is values. In fact values guide plans, decisions and actions. Without a sense of purpose and positive attitude, when working toward goals, you risk running an organization where self-interest rules. The spirit of squirrel is all about the visionary role of leadership.

Ok , let’s go back to our trainer, second team was asked to watch the Beavers repairing the dam which had been damaged by a flood. Each beaver swam back and forth with branches, and anchored them to the dam. There was no boss beaver telling the other beaver what size of branch to bring, where to place and so on. If they want to work at one end, fine. If they want to bring small branches, great. They exercise their own best judgement. This principle is applied to people by giving them control over how the goal is achieved. The role of the leader is to establish the framework through setting the key goals and values. You set the field, set rules how to play, what position they have to play, then get off the field. Allow the players to perform. They should know that as long as the ball is in the field, you will keep off the field. Production expectation should be within the reach, but challenging peoples’ best. It is demeaning to expect far less than what people are capable of producing. They want to do fair work for fair pay.

Now the trainer asked both the teams to watch the geese. The flock of geese were flying towards south for the winter. As the geese flew by in their V formation, they were honking each other. When they landed on the pond they honked a storm. When they took off - honking again. What were they honking about? They were cheering each other on. This principle is given to people by complimenting and celebrating on an ongoing basis. Not only the big wins but the small one also. We should not feel shy to congratulate a person, only thing is that it must be sincere.

A good example of geese is toast master club. Here, we cheer each other with enthusiasm, honesty and sprit.

The factory which Peggy was assigned to revamp gave a good result by the end of the year. The reason was team performance. All the employees are keeping high values, work culture and cheering each other untiringly.

 I would like to compile my thoughts as

keep up values”,

set goals”,

set the play field”,

determine the role players and roles”, we will be improving our productivity in work as well as in life

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