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Preparing for the Millennial Workforce

The workplace has changed. The work has changed. But the most importantly, the worker has changed. And more change in coming our way in the near future.

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The industry is fast filling with Millennials, a new breed of humans who are super-savvy, socially advanced & so smart that they pick up new technologies with the same ease of picking up new drinks at their many pub escapades.

Amidst learning to grapple with these new age work changes, news of layoffs & the looming threat of AI automation, I got a chance to speak one of the industry veterans, about “Change” in the industry, ironically in the same place where change is constant.

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Parthasarathy Namakkal , Co-founder of Mindtree, in his illustrious career of 32 years, has seen it all. He started in 1985, before I was even born, and built a company that has become a stalwart in the Indian IT landscape.

 I ask him his opinion on this “change”.

He says, earlier, Indians were not so bold. We couldn’t thump our fists on the table and say I can do it. But that’s not how it is anymore - the employees who come just out of college, are confident, sometimes to the point of being overconfident. They are not necessarily in for the long haul, and their priorities are totally different. BUT, it is this supreme confidence along with proper guidance, which is going to take the Indian IT industry to new heights that no one ever dared to dream of earlier, he firmly believes.

Knowing the go-getter nature of these youngsters, isn’t it a challenge to engage & retain them? How does Mindtree keep these millennial employees engaged? I ask.

Old school methods don’t work anymore, he agrees. As a leader, he believes, it is his role to make sure that they are mindful of the changing landscape, and are well-prepared to deal with it.

Prepare for the Future NOW

One such initiative is Mindtree Kalinga,  the Global Learning Centre for Mindtree, which will create the Engineers of tomorrow. He says there are no classrooms & they are experimenting with practical & experiential learning.

Kalinga, he says, places emphasis on skills needed to create, communicate, cooperate and collaborate; the ability to manage one’s own self, colleagues and customers.

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His eyes brim with pride as he speaks about Kalinga. 

Success or failure in corporate life rarely depends on technical prowess alone but also on practical abilities such as taking responsibility, making decisions and solving problems, he says.

Decentralize Engagement

Mindtree also conducts regular leadership coaching sessions to mid-level employees, who would then go on to become “Ambassadors” of their Culture & take it to other employees, all around the world. He also vouches for smaller groups & town halls, which allow people to engage in active discussions – All in an attempt to bring a closely-knit feel to a fast-growing organization.  

Another thing that stands out, is one of his goals – Hold your breath – He plans to meet every employee who joins Mindtree personally at least once. In a company that has more than 16,000 employees - this is a great ambition. And he is serious about it.

He laughs at my amateurish question of “Won’t it be hard?”

Balance between High Touch & High Tech (H2T2)

He says that to be effective, employee engagement needs to strike a fine balance between H2T2. High touch, is not scalable. And High Tech is too impersonal – nobody wants to be seen venting out to a bot, he says. I agree too, after having a disastrous experience with Google Allo.

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Finally, if any organization cracks this H2T2 balance, that is the eureka moment, he exclaims, when I ask what would be an ideal world for him.

When I reflect upon this talk, I think its imperative we understand that generation gap not only happens in our families but also in the workplace. People like Partha who have realized this, and are working to bridge it, will be more successful leaders, just like progressive parents.

At Hyphen too, we strive to do this daily. Our product enables the missing connect between organization leaders and their employees, keeps a constant channel of communication, enables better work relationships while making sure it remains somewhere on the acceptable spectrum of H2T2.

But we are watching the beginning of a new wave. Any solution is just an attempt. Like they say, we are just scratching the tip of the iceberg.

 Any thoughts?