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Old 22nd May 2011, 12:46   #1
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Default Tata comments on British Work Ethics ! But what of Work-Life balance ?

Ratan Tata has yesterday criticised the work ethics of the British :

British work-ethic condemned by Indian tycoon - Telegraph


Personally, I feel the work life balance situation is much better in countries such as Britain, USA, Australia and so on, on account of having a long weekend, during which we can recharge our batteries and get back fresh to work on Monday, with better ideas and energy levels, which is good for the individual and the company in the long run.

Whereas in many companies in India, burning midnight oil is often encouraged, throwing personal life schedules haywire, not even allowing one to plan weekend getaways with friends and family, in advance.

So, is Ratan Tata right ?

I feel not.

What about you ?
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Old 22nd May 2011, 12:53   #2
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Default re: Tata comments on British Work Ethics ! But what of Work-Life balance ?

Most Indian companies are shocked about work life balance. Esp the big ones. I mean if your AC told you it won't work on weekends, you would be shocked too, right?
In such companies the employee is like a home appliance, and is needed to work 24x7.
Some Employees are like TV and constantly make noise while working, while others are like refrigerators, who hum on quietly.
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Old 22nd May 2011, 12:57   #3
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Default re: Tata comments on British Work Ethics ! But what of Work-Life balance ?

Good thread.

After reading the article, i think Ratan Tata's anger is centered towards middle management of the company and not to the frontline. One of the most tricky level of management is the middle level, where the thin line between power and responsibility are often confused.

I have been a workaholic all my life, and have gone for months without a single day leave (working including on weekends) do i have regrets, yes i do. I could have been there for my family more number of times than i actually did.

Flipping it around, on the rare occasion when i was on vacation do i regret not being in office? Definitely not.

Work life balance is definitely important and critical for a healthy lifestyle. But for the people who blame their complacency on Work life balance, definitely not acceptable.

Last edited by azeemhafiz : 22nd May 2011 at 12:58.
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Old 22nd May 2011, 13:30   #4
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Default re: Tata comments on British Work Ethics ! But what of Work-Life balance ?

IMO, Ratan Tata's jibe at the British work culture exposes the very fact of globalization. In very simple terms, India (and China, and Mexico, and Thailand and Poland) emerged as an outsourcing destination because of this difference in work ethics. We are willing to work more for much much less.

In terms of corporate strategy, these differences translate to very funky words - cost advantage (cheap labor), time-zone leverage ('we-(in the West) can-go-home-earlier, and-things-will-still-get-done').

However, I also read somewhere that an average Indian IT employee (male, unmarried) works for 11-13 hours. But a major portion of it is utilized in personal activities (checking personal mails, surfing the net, etc.). And another reason quoted in the same survey was that people preferred to stay in office, because of AC, free food, and because 'there is nothing better to do back home.' I have personally seen colleagues coming to office on Saturdays because, 'Who the hell will cook lunch at home, when you get free food in office!'

What I feel is the crux of the matter is that, we, as different cultures, are tuned to work very differently. Our psyches are different and time to us has different meaning.
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Old 22nd May 2011, 13:31   #5
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Default re: Tata comments on British Work Ethics ! But what of Work-Life balance ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
Some Employees are like TV and constantly make noise while working, while others are like refrigerators, who hum on quietly.
Nice, just to let you know....i might quote this somewhere!
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Old 22nd May 2011, 13:58   #6
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Default re: Tata comments on British Work Ethics ! But what of Work-Life balance ?

I think what Mr. Tata was pointing out is that is that at times, when the company is in a tough situation, everybody should pitch in some extra hours, and be ready to go the extra mile to get the company back on track.

Having worked in a Tata company for a short while, and having a few relatives in Tata companies, I can tell you work life balance is given very high importance.

But work life balance does not mean a rigid job structure, especially in management. Sometimes, your boss will push you a wee bit harder for a specific reason. But of course does not mean that you are expected to work unlimited hours.

I think what Ratan Tata was implying that, at times companies in the west which have had it comparatively easy for the last few decades are finding it tough to adjust and are not always willing to push and beat the companies from India, China, Thailand, Korea etc etc.
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Old 22nd May 2011, 14:04   #7
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Default re: Tata comments on British Work Ethics ! But what of Work-Life balance ?

Well, its easy for us to say they have a work life balance etc etc at this point in time. But those countries are richer than us and they can go back earlier because they can afford to buy the services of people like us who dont.
When we as a nation get to that level of economic prosperity, I am sure we will be no different. I am sure I would go back home, after I type in instructions about whats to be done in how much time to my team, say, in Botswana.
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Old 22nd May 2011, 14:21   #8
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Default re: Tata comments on British Work Ethics ! But what of Work-Life balance ?

I agree with Julu. When the com is trying for a turn around, some extra effort might be required for some time. He is hinting more at complacency of the middle management.

But I'm surprised how Mr Tata has suddenly became so outspoken. Criticising "British work ethics" could be taken as an insult. Wonder how this will be taken by media, leaders and general public there. IMO he shouldn't have criticised his team publicly.

He has also taken a dig at Mukesh Ambani.
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Old 22nd May 2011, 14:25   #9
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Default re: Tata comments on British Work Ethics ! But what of Work-Life balance ?

I think he's rather mixed up.
"It's a work-ethic issue. In my experience, in both Corus and JLR, nobody is willing to go the extra mile, nobody"
--- I wonder what happened the last time he tried to get "an extra mile" out of one his Indicab drivers, without paying for it?
""I feel if you have come from Bombay to have a meeting and the meeting goes till 6pm, I would expect that you won't, at 5 o'clock, say, 'Sorry, I have my train to catch. I have to go home.'"
--- I feel that he should have caught an earlier flight. Other people have lives too.
Friday, from 3.30pm, you can't find anybody in their office.---

---Then he employs some lousy managers, and he should recognise that management ethics starts at the top, not at the bottom, of the tree.
If you are in a crisis, if it means working to midnight, you would do it. "The worker in JLR seems to be willing to do that; the management is not," he said.

--- As a systems manager, if my systems were down, I worked until midnight, and longer, if needbe. I was paid enough; it was the terms of the job. Non-management staff would, and should, get a nice chunk of overtime (before promotion, I once worked 32 hours over a weekend: it paid very nicely indeed). I did, however, make it clear that, if this stuff happened, the company wouldnot be seeing me 'till lunchtime the next day!
"The new management team has put an end to that. They call meetings at 5 o'clock," he said.
---Work during working hours, and do not expect others to work outside them. In emergency, fine, otherwise not fine at all. If meetings are part of the job, they fit into the hours of the job.

Errr... yes... I was pretty bolshy as an employee but hey, I did have a sense of responsibility, and I did get the job done and somehow (it surprised me sometimes) managed to remain quite popular with the senior management of a Japanese company!

Excuse me, it's my lunch time...

Last edited by Thad E Ginathom : 22nd May 2011 at 14:26.
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Old 22nd May 2011, 15:46   #10
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Default re: Tata comments on British Work Ethics ! But what of Work-Life balance ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thad E Ginathom View Post
Excuse me, it's my lunch time...
Har har! I just finished mine so can continue typing

I think Mr Tata is being conveniently quoted out of context in the headline.

"
Mr Tata, who is a member of the Prime Minister's Business Advisory Group, and co-chairman of the UK-India CEO Forum, described his surprise at the attitudes of bosses at steel maker Corus and car manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), which he bought in 2006 and 2008 respectively.

He told The Times: "It's a work-ethic issue. In my experience, in both Corus and JLR, nobody is willing to go the extra mile, nobody.

"I feel if you have come from Bombay to have a meeting and the meeting goes till 6pm, I would expect that you won't, at 5 o'clock, say, 'Sorry, I have my train to catch. I have to go home.'

"Friday, from 3.30pm, you can't find anybody in their office."

Mr Tata said that things are different in his native India. "If you are in a crisis, if it means working to midnight, you would do it.
"The worker in JLR seems to be willing to do that; the management is not," he said.
"

He is clearly questioning workethics in his own companies. The issue is being used by media to play upon along with a hot topic of loss of jobs for people. Sheesh.

I remember reading an article in papers on bullyish management styles of CEOs. Steve Jobs is reported to have said that you can give an excuse for not doing a job as a janitor but not as a VP. Somewhere between janitor and VP, reasons for not doing a job stop mattering.

It can be observed that only successful CEOs are quoted in this manner. What use would be a CEO's work-life balance if his company fails to profit? He would be left with a life and no work.

But hey it's Sunday and I already lunch too...
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Old 22nd May 2011, 16:55   #11
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Default re: Tata comments on British Work Ethics ! But what of Work-Life balance ?



Yes, you are right, I see that his rant was against the bosses, although it is a two-way thing. Even as a manager, by the way, my lunch was sacrosanct, and I refused to ever eat at my desk (luckily, the Japanese actually don't like this).
Quote:
The issue is being used by media to play upon along with a hot topic of loss of jobs for people. Sheesh.
This is The Daily Telegraph. it's a right-wing, thatcherite rag. No, protesting job losses would not be high on their agenda!
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Old 22nd May 2011, 17:37   #12
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Default re: Tata comments on British Work Ethics ! But what of Work-Life balance ?

Work life balance ? Well, even in companies that "encourage" work life balance, the managers ask you to stretch. I am yet to see points given for maintaining such a balance. Instead, it's more about stretch assignments, and how much you will do over and above your regular quota of projects & work.

There is some logic to the statement that if the company is in problems, then people need to go the extra mile. One who takes the initiative would be the rewarded one.

Personally, I feel that article is trying to blow up the whole thing by publishing just those specific lines. Let's all read the full article and then comment.
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Old 22nd May 2011, 17:51   #13
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Default re: Tata comments on British Work Ethics ! But what of Work-Life balance ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gooney View Post

However, I also read somewhere that an average Indian IT employee (male, unmarried) works for 11-13 hours. But a major portion of it is utilized in personal activities (checking personal mails, surfing the net, etc.). And another reason quoted in the same survey was that people preferred to stay in office, because of AC, free food, and because 'there is nothing better to do back home.' I have personally seen colleagues coming to office on Saturdays because, 'Who the hell will cook lunch at home, when you get free food in office!'
Seen this in so many software companies in India.
The unmarried male spends a lot of time at the workplace (not necessarily working).

The reasons
- Office is air-conditioned, home is not.
- Canteen is in the campus - reasonably priced, so no need to go searching for restaurants.
- Free Unlimited internet connection & computer at the workplace. Can download songs, movies, whatever
- Free coffee/tea
- Table Tennis tables, pool tables, Foosball, sometimes even an XBox/PS.
- Free Gym

If there were bunks in the office campus, then a lot of people wouldn't go home at all.
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Old 22nd May 2011, 18:59   #14
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Reports of Tata's comments on Mukesh Ambani incorrect: Tatas

Rubbishing media reports on Tata group chief Ratan Tata's comments on the 27-storey residence of Reliance Industries Limited's chairman Mukesh Ambani, a statement issued by the company Sunday said the story was ''out of context and factually incorrect''.

"This is with reference to stories in the Indian media today. The stories are based on an interaction of Mr Tata with Times UK. The news item is misleading and mischievous. At the onset we would like convey our disappointment at the attempt to sensationalise and replay conversations out of context," the statement by a company spokesperson said.

"We would also like to clarify on stories in Indian media regarding Mr Ambani's home. The report is out of context and factually incorrect," the statement said.

The Times Saturday quoted Tata as saying: "It makes me wonder why someone would do that," in reference to Ambani's multi-storeyed residence Antilla in south Mumbai.

"The person who lives in there should be concerned about what he sees around him and can he make a difference," the paper quoted Tata as saying.

The report further cited him as saying: "If he is not, then it is sad because India needs people to allocate some of their enormous wealth to finding ways to mitigate the hardship that people have."

"We are doing so little about the disparity. We are allowing it to be there and wishing it away," the newspaper report added.

The Tata spokesperson said that Ratan Tata's comments on wealth were in the larger context of the growing disparity in the society and the "comments seem to have been deliberately sensationalised".

"There have been words, individuals and statements that have not been mentioned by Mr. Tata during the course of the interaction which are being attributed to him. We have already registered our protest with the concerned publication and will continue to pursue measures against the incorrect impressions being sought to be created," the statement added.

Reliance Industries Limited, however, declined to comment on the issue. Contacted, a company official said that the company will not commenting on the same.

In the statement, the company also denied Ratan Tata had calling the British employees as "lazy" in the reference to Tata-owned companies like Corus and Jaguar Landrover there.

"We wish to make clear The Times claims' that Mr Tata said British managers were 'lazy' is misrepresentation. At no stage in the interview did Mr Tata make this comment."

"In the interview, Mr Tata speaks about the management ethos of Corus and Jaguar Landrover at the time of acquisition. He says that managers' work ethic at that time was not to 'go the extra mile' and to leave early on Friday afternoons," the statement said.

"The comments were not about the company managers today and Mr Tata makes clear in the interview that new management at Corus and Jaguar Land Rover has eliminated those practices," it clarified.

The Tata group took over steel maker Corus in 2006 and car maker Jaguar Land Rover in 2008 to become the biggest manufacturing employer in Britain.

...........................

"I was wondering since beginning as Mr. Tata is not known to give such interviews attacking people or companies"

Source

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/...sh-ambani.html

Last edited by Vid6639 : 22nd May 2011 at 22:45. Reason: merged posts.
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Old 22nd May 2011, 21:38   #15
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Default re: Tata comments on British Work Ethics ! But what of Work-Life balance ?

It seems very likely that Mr. Ratan Tata is being quoted completely out of context; his is never known to make personal attachs, so I doubt the veracity of the comments about Mr. Mukesh Ambani; secondly, he mentions that nobody is willing to go extra mile during a 'crisis', he definitely doesn't mean that working till midnight should be the daily way of life. And as correctly pointed out by some, if you're in higher positions, and earning huige pay packets to own those swanky villas and super cars, then you have to sacrifice some part of your personal life - take a look at the lives of some of the top CEOs in the western world.

When we were students, didn't we burn the midnight oil before exams? Was it our regular way of life? How is it different from working as a professional for an organizations which pays you?

Having said all that, I do think that some Indian companies, primarily into IT, have made this into an unhealthy regular work culture, when 90% of the times it is completely unnecessary! And not that all of them pay very well.
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