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Tips from top: “Understanding Organizational Health: An HR Perspective”- By Mr Mahipal Nair, Chief HR Officer for South Asia- Nielsen

It was our privilege to invite Mr Mahipal Nair, Chief Human Resource (South Asia/India) – Nielsen, for a guest lecture on Organizational health at MBA IIT Kanpur on 3rd August 2019. Mr Nair has been associated with Nielsen since 2006 in various HR roles of increasing responsibilities. He is responsible for all people processes including leadership & talent development, transformation & change management.

Mr Nair commenced the lecture by drawing a parallel between organizational health and human health. He extended the discussion by defining the factors, which affect human health, after bifurcating them as internal and external factors. Internal factors being psychology, beliefs etc. whereas external factors being climate, demography etc. This comparison served as a base point for further lecture.

He then moved the focus of lecture to analyze the qualities of a successful organization by discussing over the best team we could remember and then he made his point clear by citing the example of Indian Cricket Team. According to him, a successful organization is smart (Sharp Strategy, Clever Marketing) and healthy (minimal politics, high morale). An organization can be smart by procuring useful resources, acquiring quality talent, so it is simple for an organization to be smart but it is harder to be healthy as it takes time and effort to inculcate high morale in an organization. He gave the example of Southwest Airlines which has been successful in maintaining itself as a healthy organization.

 The lecture then advanced to defining disciplines of a healthy organization. There are four disciplines of a healthy organization as per Mr Nair. To build a healthy organization, it needs to build a cohesive leadership team, create clarity of views and processes, reinforce clarity and over-communicate clarity of thoughts and procedure.
In order to build a cohesive leadership, he mentioned about five dysfunctions in a team that hinder cohesive leadership represented as several sections of a pyramid. Major dysfunctions (bottom part of the pyramid) being “Absence of trust”, followed by “Fear of conflict”, “Lack of commitment”, “Avoidance of Accountability” and “Inattention of result” (Top part of the pyramid). An organization needs to tackle these five dysfunctions in order to build a cohesive leadership team. The clarity in the organization means the clarity of alignment, that is, everyone in organization must have a clear understanding of the procedure and the task they need to do. There should be an emphasis on clarity, not on certainty or best. In this way, alignment can be clarified. Key methods to reinforce clarity according to Mr Nair were- Repetition (Repeating the clarification process again and again), multiple methods (Using various techniques to tell about alignments), multiple sources (Different sources must be used to clarify thoughts and processes) and repeating the methods (People need to be reminded not instructed). To over-communicate clarity, the same the procedure needs to be followed again and again.

He then gave a general method to make an organization a better place to work, which is as follows- “Where there is purpose, brand and culture there will be belongingness, growth, teamwork, connection and commitment“. Finally, he concluded the seminar by describing the hiring, planning and reward system followed in Nielsen as an action of reinforcement to create a healthy organization.


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