How to work and live efficiently

Santosh Kenkre places great importance on good business communication for smooth functioning of enterprises

In our first year B.Com studies, we had a subject, Business Communication having 100 marks. I used to wonder whether this subject was necessary and worth 100 marks. After 37 years of practice, I realise that proper communication is vital for businesses as well as in personal life.

The mantra is three ways. Communication comprises of three limbs – In time, Complete and Qualitative.

The first limb ‘In time’: This means that the message etc. should be passed on well within time, i.e. not last minute nor in a delayed manner e.g. sourcing of raw materials should be told at least a few weeks in advance and not a few days prior. The other person should be left with enough time to fulfil the request.

The second limb is ‘Complete’: Communication should be 100% complete e.g. If only 75% of the desired message is conveyed, the other person may be left confused and may mess up the work. All aspects of the matter should be communicated.

The third limb is ‘qualitative’: Let us assume that a message is timely and complete but is incomprehensive for the receiver. Some parts of the communication have more than one interpretation. The finer points and nuances have not been explained. What exactly is expected from the receiver of the message is not clarified. In all such circumstances, the communication may be ineffective (at least partly) and the work may remain incomplete or half done.

Effective communication ensures good relationships and enhance efficiency of a company as well as a family. I have seen number of families and organisations face ruin with improper communication.

Jack Welch was of the firm opinion that in companies, communication should be ‘candid’. A sugar-coated communication leads to waste of time, money, and efforts as per him “call a spade, a spade.” For instance, if an investment proposal is under consideration and the boss favours it. But others feel it is too risky; they should be candid and tell the boss so. Else, if the proposal is implemented, the company will suffer losses, and the boss may get upset with these others who did not tell him candidly.

Innovate, Improvise, Update: Always find a better way of implementing production, trading, providing service, etc. Do this before your competitors trump you. Your constant lookout should be how to reduce cost and increase income. I know of a big factory in Goa, which doubled its production by improving upon the method of production. Lastly, keep your knowledge of your business, ‘up to date.’ Training/re-skilling should be ongoing processes. All these will reduce your cost and increase margins. Reliance (RIL) had an innovation council headed by scientist Dr. Raghunath Mashelkar. Every company should offer cash awards to staff for good suggestions. In Walmart, reportedly, the best suggestions come from its lower staff. I had visited the Toyota car factory in Karnataka, where the prize winner used to generate one suggestion every hour! Such is the magic of cash awards for suggestions.

Procuring Machines: Be it in office or factory or shop or at home, make sure that you buy the best quality machines/equipment with the latest technology. Technology gets outdated within months or years, hence buy the latest. Often, there is a temptation to buy a second hand machine (mostly for manufacturing). Kindly consider why the seller is disposing the machine off? Has he misused it? Is it due for heavy repairs? Is the technology outdated (most likely)? Will it be useful and help in production of competitive products for at least 3 to 5 years? Be mindful of these. Decades back, a senior CA had advised me not to buy a second hand car, lest I spend lot of time, money, and effort in repairing the same.

Appointments and yet inform: In my view, one should never visit anyone (including relatives) without taking an appointment. Else, you may end up wasting your time (if s/he is absent) or their time (if s/he is busy otherwise). Even, if you have an appointment, it is advisable that you phone them and only then set of your for the meeting. This is because some people forget the appointments given. But this phoning has to be done selectively unless you end up irritating the other person. I know of a top dentist, whose staff phones and reminds the patients of their appointments.

Most difficult aspect first: Jack Welch says that, whilst negotiating, most difficult part of the deal should be discussed first. Else, it leads to massive waste of time, money, and effort. For example, if a customer is expecting 25% discount and you are willing to give only 5% discount, please negotiate this issue first. If you discuss everything else and come to the discount finally, the deal with fall through leading to loss of time and effort. However, this idea has to be very skilfully executed.

Follow-up and Review: It is universally known that lest a task is followed up or reviewed periodically, chances are that it will remain incomplete! Our Chief Minister Pramod Sawant is good at follow up meetings. Getting reports about the progress of the work also serves the purpose. I remember Dr. Dubhashi, former Vice Chancellor of Goa University used to have review meetings, which kept everyone on their toes.

‘Open and Objective Mind.’ This mantra will really help youngsters for a lifetime. Many people have prejudices, fixed mind-set, rigid ideas; hence they lose out on good opportunities in life. They don’t like certain people or certain ways of doing things because of certain beliefs. Thus they don’t lead a contented and peaceful life.
If you open up your mind slightly and keep it objective, you can accommodate the world. You can see the other person’s view point, which will be correct at least 50% of the time.

PO-PO: First ‘PO’ means being Positive and second ‘PO’ means being Polite.
Positive: In life, one needs to be positive. There will be number of problems, issues at home or at work. One should face these bravely and overcome them with a positive attitude. You can even change the circumstances if you are positive.

Polite: I have seen countless examples of people who are polite and humble and hence scale huge heights by developing massive networks and well wishers. I have also seen the opposite – arrogant people who get rejected or avoided by people who they come across. Arrogance repels people whereas politeness captivates people. If you want to be successful, one of the major differentiating factors will be how you come across your bosses, subordinates, colleagues, customers, suppliers, friends, family etc. By being polite, you can win the world.

The columnist is a senior chartered accountant. He is Chairman of Indo-American Chamber of Commerce, Goa; and Director of EDC, Goa. Email:



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