There was a news item recently in the press about Tata Consultancy Organization (TCS) planning to lay off 30,000 professionals accompanied by words on the ‘big corporate for-profit exploiter’ from some of those impacted or to-be guys for the human element in the story. The guys, it seems, are largely managers with 8 to 10 plus years of experience.
The company has denied it saying the annual weeding out exercise would be only to the extent of 2% to 3% of total strength as it has done in preceding years.
Let us assume for a moment the company is true to its word and there are no compelling reasons of business downturn warranting a bigger-than-usual axing.
While the development is certainly unfortunate especially for the affected, it is hardly surprising. And I’m sure it is neither sudden.
Why does this happen?
When it comes to weeding out, the organization looks at the value an employee brings to the operations in a series of assessments. This is even more significant at senior levels as these guys are pricier and hence most vulnerable.
The avenues available to a senior (a project lead or a manager) to enhance his contribution are essentially in two directions: a) He contributes to the project he is managing/involved or b) He contributes to some corporate objectives not linked to his project. In many organizations seniors are mandated to wear both the hats to get more out of their strengths and maturity.
As far as direct contribution to the project goes, opportunities are many:
1. Of direct and high impact for the organization of curse is to mine the project/account to increase the billing incrementally/strategically. Or, to wow the customer on scope,cost, time, performance or quality parameters of the project.
There are a number of other ways to step up the value (not in any order):
2. Reduce income leakage by handling the lost hours.
3. Increase productivity by using tools, cutting waste, streamlining processes, etc.
4. Flatten the cost pyramid by substituting more junior resources in place of seniors
5. Get the customer to sponsor an incentive plan and other recognition schemes for the team. While the costs incurred in these schemes are low the returns are manifold.
6. Develop it as a reference account/project by putting together, solution stories, application/technical notes, and other marketing/sales assets.
7. Get the customer to agree to site visits by prospects.
8. Get the customer to speak in the organization’s promotional events.
9. Generate newer views of the project by formulating imaginatively metrics to address his pain areas. For example, mapping the change-requests to physical pieces of code would be useful in pointing out which modules are hit by poor articulation of requirements, lack of coding skills or sheer business volatility.
10. Reduce the hassles of dealing with the team in some perceptible manner. For example, cut back on the communication load.
11. Alter some service parameter to customer’s advantage like coverage/turnaround times.
12. Engage the customer to gain a business perspective and his plans, to support mining efforts.
13. Harvest reusable/training assets.
14. Validate and refine quality assurance/productivity/staffing/estimation/methodology models/norms.
15. Groom junior resources in technical and soft skills. In one project, juniors took turns to be present when the lead reviews with the customer to improve their reviewing, communicating and objection handling skills.
16. Stand by him by going beyond the letter during his crisis time.
I’m sure you have a few other ideas too. The opportunities are many limited only by imagination.
So what is holding you back, friend?
If the project is a dead-end kind offering no scope for any initiative at all over an extended period of time, it’s time to move on to another project or even organization.