Donning multiple hats comes easily to Arun Maira, who has spent his career holding leadership positions in several private and public institutions. He also served as a member of the Planning Commission of India for five years till June 2014 and is an eminent author and thought leader. In a free-wheeling chat with Outlook Business’ Shruti Venkatesh, he talks about the importance of ‘human resource’, the reasons behind the floundering economy and the democratic way of doing business
What constitutes a great workplace?
We tend to measure corporations by how much wealth they produce. But, the idea of a great place to work was born out of the work of California-based Robert Levering in the 1990s. He found that what mattered to people was a sense of purpose, relationships that they had with each other at work and trust they placed in their colleagues or employers. So, he developed a trust index — the Levering Trust Index — an instrument to help businesses listen to employees and gauge their sentiment about the workplace.
Could you give us an example of a great workplace from your experience?
JRD Tata was always a people’s person who had wonderful ideas and management skills. He would listen to everyone — from the driver and the support staff to his employees. The Tatas have built a very ‘human’ organisation, and people like to work with them. Whenever JRD had to make a decision, he first thought about what would be good for India, and then what would be good for the Tatas. Invariably, what was good for the country turned out to be good for the company as well.