Time to break free from the “Malik-Naukar” mindset
Globalization has been the buzzword for the last several years. Over the last decade, India’s tech sector in particular has benefitted substantially from the massive outsourcing of jobs to India from the US, Europe and other parts of the world. As a result, jobs that were previously done in these countries have now been transferred en masse to India and other developing countries. This post is not about the merits or de-merits of globalization. Instead, it focuses on how cultural aspects come in the way of “true” benefits of globalization. We pick and chose aspects of globalization to suit our needs. The bad news is that in this process, those that are often considered “good” business practices followed in western countries are often ignored due to our cultural differences with the west.
Let us look at how much these migration of jobs have carried with it fundamental attitudes and behaviors that are the norm when it comes to doing business in the western countries. For instance, in the west, when you are in the midst of negotiations for a contract with the customer, all the issues are often sorted out during this stage. There is complete transparency regarding who the decision makers are, the decision making process, the timelines involved, etc. During this process, the customer would haggle on costs, terms, fixed vs. variable costs, estimate, over-budget projections, legal language, etc., and the vendor is encouraged to ask questions. But at the end of the day, when the contract is signed and the handshake occurs, it’s an agreement that both parties fundamentally promise to live by. This written agreement carries with it an underlying sense of commitment and decency that both parties automatically adhere to. Most importantly, it’s a relationship of equals. Beyond this point, operational activities like invoicing and getting paid are considered routine and happen like clockwork. In fact, the customer will call the vendor to make sure that they were paid in a timely fashion. The vendor and the customer both strive to live up to their end of the bargain.
In India, on the other hand, there is often very little transparency with regard to who the ultimate decision maker is for a project. You might miraculously get a contract signed off but rather than serving as a watershed moment in your sales effort, it could just be the beginning of a nightmare that remains throughout the lifetime of the project. This realization dawns on you when you send in your first invoice. Instead of getting paid for a service that you have already delivered, you are at the mercy of your customer. It’s like a “malik-naukar” relationship. Despite having delivered your part of the service, you have to chase every single individual in the flow to finally get paid. Unfortunately, this happens to be true across a large swathe of our businesses. As a result, sales personnel not only have the difficult task of closing business but also the added responsibility of ensuring timely payments from clients.