How to build high performing teams while creating a delightful work culture

We’re teaming up with Dr. Gundu Rao - a leadership coach who trains executives at Fortune 500 companies like Honda, Microsoft, Cisco, Sony, Nestle to be better leaders.

In this episode, you’re going to learn: 

  • how to build high performing teams while creating a delightful work culture, turn reactive employees into proactive ones, on staying relevant in your organization, balancing work with life, and much more.

Read the transcript

Intro: In fact, there is research which says if you coach an employee for 4 hours a week the productivity will double. Wow, that's a fascinating piece of input for leaders. That's a lot. Yeah that's good ROI as well. Oh, yes, certainly. I'm Shiva and welcome to A Job Well done. A podcast where we dive into the journeys of successful business leaders to find out what it takes to rise to the top If you see clarity on choosing the carrier getting a promotion Landing a dream job or simply being the best at what you do. This is the podcast for you. I met Dr. Gundu Rao at the Economic Times Young Leadership Workshop a few weeks ago like most workshops. I thought this one was going to be more theoretical than practical. And I honestly didn't have a lot of expectations going in. However, I was taken by a pleasant surprise when Dr. Gundu Rao came to the stage and started speaking his advice on how to be a better leader and rise to the top was practical and could be easily implemented in our busy professional lives when he's not coaching professionals to become better leaders. Dr. Gundu Rao conducts workshops for organizations enabling them to build High performing teams while maintaining a culture that delights and retains employees He's worked with the likes of Honda Microsoft Cisco Sony and other Fortune 500 companies. He comes with four decades of experience in leadership roles. And he's a treasure trove of insights on how all of us could be better at our jobs and lead better lives. You're listening to part 2 of a conversation with Dr. Gundu Rao. If you haven't listened to part one, I highly recommend you check it out. We speak about how you can identify your passions and choose a line of work that keeps you engaged. On how leadership has evolved over the past decades on what makes a good leader today and how you can become one. In this episode, we're going to learn how to turn reactive employees into proactive ones, on staying relevant in your organization balancing work with life and much more

Shiva: Now moving on to the next question. I noticed a quote on your website and you said all people have unlimited potential. It's only how you mind and hold these capabilities to benefit the organization that is a key. Now as a manager. How can one channel the capabilities of the team and push the team to work harder smarter without coming across as too pushy

Dr. Gundu Rao: When you look at the performance of an individual typically what we do is you are expected to achieve hundred at the end of the period you achieved 80 and we say you are performance is 80% of what you agreed that you would deliver and then we kind of reward the employee based on that. Now my point is this if you want to develop the capability of people you need to go one step beyond that. That means you need to componentize the performance. I have got an equation for you for that. I say P(performance) = A(ability)*M(motivation)*E(effort)*D(direction) now ability is the knowledge skills and experience of the individual motivation is the motivation level of the individual the willingness of that individual and the third one is the effort how much effort the individual is putting into the job and the fourth one is about the direction whether the individual is aligning own work with the big picture of the organization. Leader has five people reporting into that individual if you stopped short of looking at only the performance. You don't know how to develop the individual the individual could be lacking in ability. The individual could be lacking in motivation, effort or direction. The leader can provide customized coaching. So this is one way of looking at the individual and developing that individual. As a leader one must remember the individual performance matters to you if the individual performs well it's added to your performance, right? You can go upstairs and say hey my team has done well, and if the individuals don't perform you are the sufferer. So one thing you must recognize developing people is a primary responsibility of viewers one is from the perspective of the employee you are adding value to that employee. But also from your own perspective you are being selfish and say if I develop if I put enough time and effort on that individual and if I develop my team members together their performance matters to me, so I perform better in the eyes of my manager. So there is a selfish interest as well as a team interest that is playing over here. And then whatever it is, we may even if for one is highly selfish and focus on the self to develop the team members, so be it let the team members get developed and once the team members develop then the team members grow and once they grow they value the leader and when they value the leader their longevity in the organization will be much longer and their contribution to the organization will be much more

Shiva: Got it. I think as you said the devil always lies in the details. So don't just evaluate an employee on one parameter performance, but dive into the the detail look at how he is performing his ability his motivation and effort you are putting as a manager and he's putting and then figure out where things are going wrong and then you address that problem

Dr. Gundu Rao: Yeah. One of the things I recommend to people is coaching your employees is a key aspect of a leader's work. The coaching has to be done consciously. It has to be a scheduled event. It cannot be an adhoc event that that leader sometimes takes. In fact, there is research which says if you coach an employee for 4 hours a week the productivity will double.

Shiva: Wow

Dr. Gundu Rao: That's a fascinating piece of input for leaders doubling the productivity if you can coach an individual for four hours in a week

Shiva: That's a lot. Yeah. And that's a good ROI as well. Oh, yes.

Dr. Gundu Rao: Yes certainly.

Shiva: In the previous conversation you mentioned the electrician and the ladder analogy. I really liked it, can you mention it again?

Dr. Gundu Rao: Yeah when this is about the D part of it, the direction part of it. There is a fascinating book called alignment. It talks about what percentage of work that is done in the organization is aligned with the larger picture of the organization. And they come up with a very extremely small number aligned with the organizational big picture. Now, how do we increase the alignment? If everybody works in the same direction, obviously, the organization will achieve its vision faster. Now for that, first thing the individual should be aware of the the vision the direction the organization is taking. Yeah, got it. And for that what is the first thing that the manager has to do is show what the employee is doing? How is it linked to the big picture of the organization. A typical analogy that comes to my mind is you call a electrician home to change the bulb and then you give him a ladder and the electrician has the ability to climb ladder has the motivation to climb the ladder makes efforts to climb the ladder and reaches the top rung of the ladder. Suddenly to realize you realize hey, but that is not the bulb you have to replace, this is the bulb you have to replace. Look at the ability is wasted motivation is wasted and therefore it is wasted and within the same time and work is not done which is useful to the organization. So therefore one of the key things that the leader must recognize is make everyone aware of how the work that you do matters to the organization how it is aligned to the organization. And in fact research clearly says it's a highly motivational aspect when you tell your employee that the work that you do. How is it related to the big picture if I show you your high school group photograph? What? What is the first question you will ask?

Shiva: I don't know

Dr. Gundu Rao: Where am way don't you ask the question? Where am I here? Where am I here? Yeah. And moment I show this is you, you feel so good about it.

Shiva: Certainly.

Dr. Gundu Rao: So similarly in organizations, the member keeps asking where's the answer for that question. Where am I in this wonderful big picture of this organization? And that's the job the leader has to do

Shiva: Got it. Now I'm going to focus on one variable in the equation that's motivation. Yeah, now how can a manager motivate a reactive employee to become a proactive one

Dr. Gundu Rao: Okay, we are so focused on the leader. We need to spare a thought about the follower who the leader leads if there is no follower. We don't need a leader. Yeah. So therefore I was trying to look at a model if there is a model available in literature about the followers and fortunately there is a wonderful model that is available. And this model is based on the level of engagement of the employees within the organization starting with zero level of engagement to a hundred percent engagement. There are four types of followers: Isolate, bystander, catalyst and diehard. Who is an isolate? An isolate is like a furniture piece of furniture in the organization as piece of furniture does not get engaged in what is happening in the house. It just stays there. No engagement. No involvement. They just do the work just enough to survive in the organization. The second level as the level of engagement increases is a bystander slightly better than more alive than an isolate. The third level is a catalyst gets fully engaged with the organization and the leader and the fourth level is a die-hard who is willing to give his or her life to the lead. Now the startling discovery is isolate and bystander their productivity is zilch. zero, okay. The productivity of the catalyst is much higher and die hard is obviously hundred percent. More than 60 percent of the people belong to the isolate and bystander group

Shiva: That's shocking

Dr. Gundu Rao: 60 percent of the employees in that organization were either isolates are bystanders. Obviously die Hard percentage was about 1% or 2% you can guess why because they are so passionate about the the leader. So if the isolate plus bystander is 60% just imagine what kind of output you can expect from that team. Yeah, you need to kind of spare a thought and then ask yourself the question why is an isolate an isolate who made that employee an isolate who made the employee a bystander and probably the answer lies within you probably it's the leader who has made these two classes of employees an isolate and a bystander. The first thing that the leader has to do is identify in your team. How many are isolates? How many are by standards? etc . Step number two has a dialogue with the isolates and has a dialogue with bystanders to understand why they have disengaged from the organization. What is the reasons for their disengagement and then if possible the leader must address those issues and see if you can remove those issues the  isolates and bystanders are facing so that you can move them and isolate should be moved to the bystanders and then hopefully to the catalyst if you can get a 10 percent conversion. Guess you would have doubled your productivity. There are two types of motivation: one is what is called intrinsic motivation that the employee is intrinsically motivated does not need any external stimulus to do work. The second type of motivation is extrinsic motivation, like the salary you give you various other extrinsic rewards recognition etc. In that workforce people who are truly intrinsically motivated may not be more than 10% the balance 90% are driven by extrinsic motivational methods and techniques. So the leader must use those extrinsic motivation aspects to motivate their employees. Right? And one of the things people talk about is what motivates an individual at the workplace. The research is very clear and this is connected to what I said earlier coaching is a great motivational tool the leader can use to motivate its employees great motivational tool because the employees think the leader is taking interest in me. So therefore it's important for the leader to do coaching mentoring assigning challenging tasks and jobs to the employees to enhance their extrinsic motivational aspects

Shiva: Well doctor, I think it's a very comprehensive way to look at how to motivate employees. Thanks a lot for that. So moving on to the next question now every field of work is evolving and changing faster than ever. So how can a professional be ready for change individually, how can a leader ready their team to embrace change and look at it as a positive force?

Dr. Gundu Rao: There's a nice video which is called Who Moved My Cheese in that there are four characters two mice and two little people. The mice change faster than the two little people. And the reason why the mice change faster is because they smell the cheese to find out if there are any differences any deterioration and then based on their assessment they make plans for the future. Whereas the two little people they don't do any of these things. They think things are going to be the same and they don't prepare themselves for the future. We had a small library in recurrent coleman and in that library among in apart from the journals, we used to get the business magazines as well. People would come and read those magazines during lunch break etc. And then we would leave the magazines there and go off. Now I observed something unusual in those magazines and that observation was at the end of the magazine you see those classified advertisements for jobs and some of them I would observe a pencil tick mark against them. I was wondering why who is putting all those marks and I realized it's not any one of us. I realized it must be my boss. So you would put a tick condition correctly would kind of apply for those jobs. Now moment I realize that this is happening. That the boss is looking for jobs. Then I was actually smelling the cheese at that point of time and I realized that there is likely to be a major change in the organization and that actually happened the basic point that I'm making is It's important that you keep your eyes ears open so that you notice the change once you smell the cheese it's important that you kind of equip yourself for the impending change, develop yourself in areas that are related to what you do and for the team members pretty similar thing works equip your team members on the latest aspects make them more marketable by adding value to them through coaching etc. And basically putting in their head change is likely to happen and change can pull the rug out of their feet. So it works at two levels one is attitude level and the other at the preparation level where you get change ready

Shiva: now moving on to work life balance. What's your take on this especially with the ramp into overworked and burnout that's happening all around?

Dr. Gundu Rao: As far as work-life balance is concerned as you accept conflict as inevitable as you accept change as inevitable, I accept work-life imbalance or lack of it as inevitable. Even the modern world given the expectations the employers have on employees and the hookah world we mentioned given all that and our own ambitions our own aspiration certain amount of work-life imbalance is something that one needs to accept. Fortunately for us we have technology that provides opportunities for us to work from home. So to a great extent if in your organization, you have that facility of working from home, you can opt for that option. So that's one way of enhancing that or improving that work-life balance. And to me one thing I have noticed in the people that I work with is prioritization of work is a big challenge for many if you have ten jobs on your hand. It's important for you to recognize which one should be done first. Not all 10 jobs will have the same priority so through a mechanism you need to identify which are the top three priority areas for you and concentrate on them. So prioritization of work is something that we need to learn and get better at. The second thing that one needs to do is delegation. We tend to do everything ourselves and that may not be the ideal solution. If you do everything yourself, you are not likely to go home at all. You might say I don't have anybody to delegate we have a flat organization even if it is in a flat organization, you have people who work around you not necessarily they will be reporting it to you. They will work around you and see if you can delegate work to those people the other key aspect that I have observed in organizations that really derails work-life balance is our inability to say no. For example a manager walks up to you. It's already 6 p.m you are packing up to go home and the manager says please prepare a PPT deck for me. So I have a presentation in the morning to make and then what do you say because he is the manager and our Indian culture we say yes and when you say yes, so what do you do? You have to deliver it and the manager would have given you a 10 p.m. deadline for you to send the PPT deck to him or her and now you sit spend the next three hours preparing the deck and you send the deck to the manager. At 10 p.m. the manager calls back and says I don't know why you spend so much time. I wanted only the top view of the project not in such detail. So the point I'm trying to make is when somebody higher up makes a request for work. The first thing that we need to do is ask. Ask before you do ask about the scope of work how much needs to be done? What kind of details should go into it. This to a great extent term helps you to balance your work life also enhances the satisfaction of your manager

Shiva: Got it, I think those pointers are quite useful. We're trying to balance work and life and I think the core thing here is to accept the imbalance. That they're going to be faces in your life we're working is going to take over. Yeah and other phases where you'll be able to have a relaxed time with your family. Yeah, and run with it

Dr. Gundu Rao: Yeah One of the things that I always recommend to young people is work life in balance is some imperative when it's going to happen. So therefore it's important for you to look at mechanisms that should to de-stress yourself. Distressing can be done using yoga, meditation, morning walk whatever works for you. So I have a mechanism to de-stress yourself. Thanks a lot for that doctor

Shiva: Now moving on to another change that I've seen so, you know, there's been a dramatic shift in ways that companies treat senior experienced employees once respected and revered for their experience their being cast to be for younger more aggressive folk. What's your take on this?

Dr. Gundu Rao: In my view tenure has no meaning simply because one is senior that person should get the respect. I don't accept that. What is important for me is what is the value that individual brings to the table whether it is senior or Junior? The key factor for consideration is the value the individual brings to the table now as one gets older in the organization in terms of tenure there is a possibility of the complacency setting in the requirements are changing, the customer expectations are changing but this individual is not changing because he stuck to the old ways of doing things. So the complacency is something that will reduce the value of that individual at the workplace. Now that individual has to project to the skill set that this is relevant and useful to the organization so I don't fall back on my age, but I fall back on my skill set

Shiva: Got it, now know you spoke so much about change and how people should educate themselves. So now let's say somebody wants to educate themselves on becoming good leaders and being relevant as good leader. What are some of the books that you would recommend that you read?

Dr. Gundu Rao: You know, I can recommend the authors one of the authors that comes to my mind straight away is a gentleman by name John Maxwell other authors one could do look out would be Jim Collins Stephen Covey. There are many books one can read it. To me more than reading books, I have learnt by observing people. In your own organization you will have great leaders as poor leaders. Yeah, any organization will have a mix of these two types of leaders observe them learn from great leaders. What kind of behaviors you should repeat and look at the behaviors that the poor leaders use and you must be conscious for avoiding such behaviors day-to-day observations will give you lots of learning

Shiva: So moving on to the two final questions. So doctor What would you tell yourself if you're starting off now?

Dr. Gundu Rao: Have a vision, have a personal vision and keep reinventing myself and there is no substitute for hard work. The most important aspect is hard work

Shiva: Got it and what's the best piece of advice you received?

Dr. Gundu Rao: I had a wonderful lady leader Pat Barone and she told me once that when you take up a job as soon as you kind of take up that job you start preparing for the next role and what she actually meant was the same thing as I said earlier. Keep reinventing yourself

Shiva: Got it, I think that's very good advice. Yep. All right, I think we're done here. Thanks a lot doctor for coming in and sharing your valuable insights

Dr. Gundu Rao: Thank you

Shiva: If you want to reach Dr. Gundu Rao, you can write to him on and you can find him on LinkedIn as well. I hope you found today's episode helpful. I like to thank Dr. Gundu Rao for joining me today and to vtiger for partnering with us to make the show possible. If you like what we're doing, please subscribe to a podcast so that you're notified when we launch a new episode. Also, it would be awesome if you could support us by sharing this episode with a friend or colleague who might find this useful. See you soon. This is Shiva signing off from A Job Well Done.