HRL went through a very bad phase,product problems post indiginisation,the run away success of Xerox who built an 80% market share and the increasing impatience of the HCL Senior management of which HRL was an integral part,lead to the sales team being over hauled. Mahesh Mahajan moved out to PCL and so did many of the sales team, Seetharaman moved to the Communication Division, and PSV was no longer in charge. The old management team was disbanded.I,as head of Reprographics customer service reported into PK Asija in a different division called Customer Service Division.Wing Commander Verma was made in charge of the Reprographics team of HCL.
The HCL Senior management team was in many ways different from the HRL team.There was much less cohesion, more power centres and more tendency to shift blame around rather than take collective responsibility.The style and management culture was quite different from HRL and as HRL was seen to be loss making it was swamped by the new org culture prevailing in HCL. The service team under PK Asija grew from strength to strength as a unified division and had the support of Mr Nadar.However many forces within the sales team took regular potshots at the service team and soon the Customer Service Division was disbanded and all of us returned to our respective divisions. Asija faced a big come down in stature and went through bad times.I returned to the Reprographics team under Wing Commander Verma and soon found myself completely at odds with his way of working.The stick that the Service Team had taken from Mr Nadar only encouraged the likes of Wingco to do as they pleased.Most systems and processes were given the go by and haphazard decisions at the whims and fancy of certain sales managers or Wingco became the order of the day.From the systematic and structured way we had built the service team this was difficult to accept for me as well as our team mates .
What was I to do?Perhaps the best thing would have been to sit down and talk to Wingco and arrive at an agreement on how we could work together. Maybe we could have found common ground and I could have gained his confidence over time. Maybe I would have failed because styles and value systems were so different however I didn’t give it a serious shot. I came to the conclusion that that was no possibility for an understanding on how we could work together. I was upset and emotional and even sought an interview with Mr Nadar,he heard me with patience but wanted me to find a working solution with Wingco. He even asked Wingco to take me out for a drink and sort it out. The drink happened but nothing much got sorted out; the differences in approach was too wide to reconcile.
At round this time my old classmate from IIMB,R Shekar who was the Head of Quality in Xerox rang me up and asked if I wanted a change.This was followed up by meetings with Arvind Agarwal ,the HR Head,Nanani, the Sales Head and eventually Karl Kummer, the German head of operations.I was enamoured by the process orientation and structured approach of Xerox and being feed up with the un-structured ways at HCL I accepted the Xerox offer to join as Service Head for the Special Business Division, a start up operation for Xerox.
So what were the lessons I didn’t learn? These are best capture in the journal entry of a dairy I maintain around that time
In ’88 I should have made the following changes in my style and functioning
–Increase assertiveness and dominance
— Position my self as an industry all rounder with ability to effectively lead a sales team
— Stay connected with the sales effort and make positive contributions in all important forums
—Gain acceptance of sales managers across the country and pave the way for decentralisation
—Position my self as ahead of sales managers in terms of industry knowledge
—Reach out more to important stake holders of the company
In short the lessons of that time was to gradually move away from a predominant operational focus to a strategic senior management focus.I didn’t make this change in Xerox as I concentrated on settling in,absorbing the new environment and learning the ways of an MNC. The organisation culture in Xerox was completely different from HCL and it took me some time to adjust to it. I liked the environment and over time established myself in the new company.