Recently I had my first visit to India and my very first assignment as expert for Women on Wings, conducting workshops at two business partners: ROPE in Madurai and Siri in Mangalore.
I was warned: India is ‘too much’ of everything; too hot, too busy, too dirty, too chaotic, too little structured and very unpredictable. It all turned out to be true. But I loved every bit of it. It was a great experience, both personally and professionally.
Of course I had prepared myself extensively, mostly theoretically. But in practice everything was different. What I especially noticed is that it is important to listen well to the issues raised by people of the organization that you are working with. I could rely more on my gut feelings, knowledge and experience than on my extensive preparation. And I paid much more attention to the non-verbal communication than I would do in my natural working habitat in the Netherlands.
I was impressed by the high level of employee involvement at ROPE during the 2 day workshop in Madurai. We had some concerns before starting the workshop if the employees would dare to speak up in front of the management. But all female supervisors sat at the tips of their chairs and shared their ideas and experiences very openly with the managing director. Apparently it helped that we asked the right questions and took the time to have an open discussion. We could conclude the workshop with a number of concrete and supported action items, which were also positively adopted by the director and the management team.
At Siri in Mangalore, we were challenged by the setting of the 2 day workshop. We had to adjust our goals a couple of times, working with what was possible rather than what we had hoped for. Eventually it worked out all well; the Siri management agreed to an organizational structure which ensured issues like reliability of deliverables, workforce management and the realization of sales goals. This structure can serve as an example for all Siri’s other business units. We had planned to do more in the workshop, but given the challenges, we were happy with what we achieved. And the Siri management too, given their feedback.
It was a great experience, which also gave me a lot in return in my daily practice as HR professional. It was a real win-win situation. Also I very much enjoyed spending a few days in an everyday Indian work environment. Thank you Women on Wings, I will be back soon.
Joke Hartlief-de Vries
Picture: Joke at ROPE’s production unit, Madurai