Leveraging people potential is not merely a philosophical or theoretical buzzword,
it has been proven by the Japanese resurrection after the end of the Second World
War. The Japanese have been able to leverage their people’s potential to engineer
their country’s economic renaissance, and improving the quality of life of their
people.
ENABLING AND ENHANCING SELF-ESTEEM
Research has conclusively proved that customers’ delight with products and
services is linked to how sincerely the employees identity themselves with the
organization. Involved, satisfied and empowered employees anticipate and exceed
customer expectations. The output of people’s activities is qualitatively very high
if they are driven by intrinsic motivation (as classified by psychologists), induced
by interest, enjoyment, satisfaction, and the challenge of the endeavour itself.
In his classic 1943 work Theory of Human Motivation, Abraham Maslow put for-
ward the concept of a hierarchy of needs.
8
According to Maslow, after one’s basic
needs—physiological needs, need for safety and belonging—are reasonably met,
the need for self-esteem crops up. The Indian philosopher Rajasekhara (c.
880–920) in his work Kavyamimamsa had classified recognition (respect) from oth-
ers, as one of man’s distinct needs. Then there is higher need for self-esteem which
lead up to the ultimate need of self-actualization. In other words, man is born with
an instinctive need to strive towards self-actualization, the path to which initially
runs through the satisfaction of a series of hierarchical needs. The humans look to
go beyond the satisfaction of their physiological needs and crave for the satisfaction
of their psychological needs, which induce the intrinsic motivation to excel (see
Figure 8.1).
The Greek philosopher Aristotle had said that it is as natural for a human being
to achieve his full potential as it is for an acorn to grow into a mighty oak tree. He
also mentioned that the most essential prerequisite to realizing human potential is
a ‘conducive’ environment—just as an acorn requires the right physical conditions
like soil, heat and moisture for its growth. Many top management who still prac-
tice feudal and traditional ways of management, treat employees, both within the
management and general category, as commodity—expendable as per the whims
of the top management, and this perverted culture has negative repercussions on
the psychological frame of all categories of employees affecting their sense of
belonging, involvement, and performance. Pride is an important source of self-
esteem. In the words of Dr Deming, it is important to ‘Remove barriers that rob
the hourly worker of his right to pride of workmanship. Regrettably, many top
managers do not realize that poor performance can easily be induced by manage-
ment systems and procedures such as defective upstream processes, too much
dependence on inspections, focus on short-term goals and compromises on qual-
ity despite there being written quality policies. All these act as barriers to pride
and self-esteem. If an employee is patted on the back for quantitative results
instead of quality (as is quite often the case), the system really tramples his sense
of self-esteem.
252 MACRO STRATEGY
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The management cadre, when confronted with declining market shares,
increasing costs, falling profits and declining quarterly dividends, spend long hours
worrying about cost cutting, neglecting the problems of people and processes. In
these times of crisis, suggestions are rarely sought from employees, rather the various
initiatives designed to involve employee like quality teams, suggestion schemes,
training programs, etc. are suspended giving the impression that they were only
used as smoke screens. The employees get disillusioned, frustrated and hurt.
It is essential to understand the inner meaning and relevance of the two facets
of ‘people orientation”—a key strategic thrust for deployment of TQM philoso-
phy. See fig. 8.2.
Unfortunately management often fails to comprehend the ramifications of
neglecting human psychology and hierarchical needs. Most traditional manage-
ment practices, despite their pro-people packaging, try to control people instead
of giving them space to pursue self-actualisation. The effect of these practices on
a human being has been portrayed with tragic irony in the Charlie Chaplin movie
Modern Times. The system may have worked efficiently in the days of monopoly
PEOPLE ORIENTATION 253
Figure 8.1: The Mechanism of Intrinsic Motivation
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Quality of P
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SAFETY
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RECOGNITION
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PRESTIGE
SELF-ESTEEM
Basic
Hierarchical
Needs

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