Tata Group focuses on creating new leaders and employees’ happiness

Tata Group to roll out fresh leadership competency model and in-house framework to ensure happiness at workplace for its 640,000 employees as part of the conglomerate’s Vision 2025


Cyrus P. Mistry is the chairman of Tata Sons Ltd. Photo: Hemant Mishra/Mint
Cyrus P. Mistry is the chairman of Tata Sons Ltd. Photo: Hemant Mishra/Mint

Mumbai: The 148-year old Tata Group is in the process of rolling out a fresh leadership competency model to develop a new set of leaders to face challenges of new emerging businesses and a proprietary Tata Quality of Life (TQoL) framework to ensure happiness at workplace at the salt-to-software conglomerate that collectively employ over 640,000 people. Through these programmes, Tata is trying to re-skill its workforce to meet its target of serving a quarter of the world’s population by 2025.

The chairman of Tata Sons Ltd Cyrus P. Mistry had addressed the $103 billion Tata group’s leadership and senior management at the Annual Group Leadership Conference (AGLC) held on 29 July 2016 with the theme—Leaders 2025. In his address, Mistry emphasized that “our people are at the heart of the group’s Vision 2025”.

“Chairman Mistry has outlined critical enablers which would help the group achieve its Vision 2025. These included a new leadership competency model, ‘Tata Leaders—what defines us’, outlining key competencies to identify and develop leaders and a proprietary TQoL framework, developed in-house, built on the foundation of happiness at work, reflecting the group’s long-standing commitment to employee well-being and fulfilment,” said N. S. Rajan, member group executive council and group chief human resources officer, Tata Sons, in an interview.

These two initiatives are critical for Tata Group, which has over 100 independent companies operating in more than 100 countries across six continents, as it faces the new challenges from emerging businesses such as e-commerce and several start-ups, triggering attrition.

The Tata Group had developed Tata Leadership Practices developed in 2002 by creating competency models. Regarding TQoL, Tata Group feels that as corporations grow larger and markets become more complex, there is a greater need to define a ‘way of life’ for the employees which creates a sense of well-being, higher purpose and mutual commitment.”

Kavil Ramachandran, executive director at Thomas Schmidheiny Centre for Family Enterprise, Indian School of Business, said these initiatives are very important for the group to strengthen their efforts to build the group as a lasting institution.

Rajan, who unveiled the TQoL framework, said the new concept is a radical, path-breaking concept, developed in-house and has universal applicability. It is proprietary to the Tata group and places the employee at the centre.

“The Tata Group over time has built a certain ethos that is ingrained in everything we do. There have been number of instances where our leaders have reaffirmed their commitment to people, the need to put people first and provide an environ, an ethos, a value system and combining it into a way of life,” Rajan said.

He said the group has realized the need for an in-house framework that on one hand captures what the company is as a group and on the other hand has the potential to touch the life of every one of its 640,000 employees.

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TQol

TQoL, which is built on the foundation of happiness at work, reflects this ethos of the conglomerate and serves as an enabler for Vision 2025.

At this year’s AGLC, Mistry spoke of his commitment to the quality of life of Tata employees, referring to the TQoL framework and urged all companies to adopt this framework. There are 29 publicly-listed Tata enterprises with a combined market capitalisation of about $116 billion as on 31 March 2016. Tata companies with significant scale include Tata Steel Ltd, Tata Motors Ltd, Tata Consultancy Services Ltd, Tata Power Co Ltd, Tata Chemicals Ltd, Tata Global Beverages Ltd, Tata Teleservices Ltd, Titan Ltd, Tata Communications Ltd and Indian Hotels Co. Ltd.

“The framework reflects the Tata group’s long standing commitment to employee well-being and fulfilment. It embraces four key perspectives—caring and inspiring organization, responsive people practices, empowered role and growth and personal fulfilment,” Rajan said.

“This is critical these days when employee- employer relationship has become transactional,” said Ramachandran. “A group that is built on organisational values and traditions need to revisit the process for achieving the same from time to time. Now that Mistry is going to steer the group for several years, it is the right time to undertake this exercise,” he said.

Tata Leadership Competencies

The second aspect of Tata group’s initiatives is Tata Leadership Competencies. “Competencies are underlying characteristics of an individual comprising ‘knowledge, skills, and attitude’, that separate superior performers from the average. These have been embraced by corporations as a fundamental cornerstone in their attempt to define employee potential and to enhance future performance by investing in them,” said Rajan, a Ph.D in strategic leadership competencies.

“The scientific process of competency modelling, measurement, and deployment pave the way for continually enhancing the collective capability by understanding individuals better. Competencies have indeed gained currency since they are valid, tender and convertible, a modern-day alchemy, perhaps,” Rajan said.

He said this model, which will be the bedrock of a comprehensive leadership development architecture for the group, has been developed internally based on in-depth interviews with a number of Tata chief executive officers and extensive research over a 12-month period.

“It has been defined keeping in view the increase in the extent of the global footprint as well as the size and complexity of businesses within the group. Built on the foundation of the group’s core values and mission statement, the model provides a blueprint for leadership behaviour articulated in the context of three levers that are critical for any Tata Leader—setting direction, driving results and inspiring stakeholders trust,” Rajan said.

Under these three levers are the eight competencies that make up the model for Tata Leaders—strategic clarity, entrepreneurial agility, performance orientation, collaborative outlook, pioneering mindset, customer centricity, people commitment and corporate citizenship.

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