Indian Express – CEO’s Internal Email (Leaked)

This is actually a rather old story but it must have been one of those days when i was totally spaced out and missed hearing or reading about it at all , and it was subsequently mentioned by a few people at a dinner i attended on Saturday…… needless to say , i was pretty interested on getting my hands on it considering i did a stint there.

 The mail can be found on this link.  The mail essentially talks about the problems being faced by the company and the financial mess they are in currently and tries to define a lot of reasons and solutions to fixing the same.

Shekhar explains that Sr. Management is taking the rap this time, that until performance improves he will not accept his total compensation , wage freezes on Sr. Management , removal of “communities” within departments , open door policy….most things which even start up’s enforce right from the start and continue to work on it.

 The problem with Indian Express is that firstly the company tends to be more reactive with respect to the market than pro active. A lot of Sr. managers told me during my stint, that “market reach” is not important to them , they have a brand and that is more important. Advertising is not the end all , quality of content is more important.

It’s a typical situation where a company tends to rest on past laurels and forget achieving , but not even try for new one’s. This would not have been such a problem if they have a dedicated community of readers , but that is also something which competition has started to chip away. 5 of my relatives changed to Times of India this month. The local newspaper guy told me that subscriptions to IE decline every month. Needless to say i am not surprised , IE’s  excellent content helped it survive and maintain the readership it had but content is becoming less and less of a distinguishing factor now because content, across publications are coming to the same level , and once it does then what differentiator or excuse can IE quote.

The second problem is people. Shekhar points out this in his email –  that necessary action would be taken against those who are not adding value. While this is good, what will in all eventuality happen is that only 20-30% of this population will be thrown out. The rest will remain because they have been given another chance, are close to Sr. Management or simply cannot be discovered….. thus improving relations within the organization by meagre amount. This problem is further exaggerated by having one of the worst HR departments i have ever interacted with.How can a company expect to improve it’s workforce when the head HR herself is in complete ignorance of the market conditions , the overall vision and strategy and herself unable to understand or relate to the employees.

The  best of the breed at Express is the younger lot , but kept restricted by Sr. Managers whose knowledge base is nothing short of obsolete and comprised solely of arrogance and ignorance now. I can name 5 people from the top of my head right now who ,fed up with their bosses , approached HR and were duly humiliated , lectured and turned back – “If you can’t work with your boss we would suggest you leave” , ” I will not take your word over your seniors”  Fortunately the did and are now doing very well for themselves.

Some of them have even suggested that the problem with Express lies in the middle-senior management level only. That its  like a false ceiling, which exists, and keeps Sr. management from the actual going on’s within the company , one of the leading support pillars for this divider being HR itself. I will leave you to form , or if you have worked, your own opinion on this but i will not be surprised if i see a lot of hands being raised in agreement on this. Sr. Management cannot look below it and executives, Jr and Middle managers can’t look over it.

I hope it work’s out for  but ,Shekar, i would suggest that as a strategic step in discovering the loop hole’s within the company which you in your position might not see , is to call all your previous employees over the last few years and ask them what made them leave. You will discover enough skeletons and clearing just those out might make you see a noticeable difference.

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