Teams need to stay joined up during this tough period and for that, timely and ongoing communication is very important: Group COO India, Deutsche Bank

Khurshed Dordi

Khurshed Dordi is a seasoned and accomplished Leader with about 3 decades of diverse and extensive experience in all areas of Financial Services across multifarious cultural environments.

He is recognised for execution, emotional intelligence, strategic leadership & ability to anticipate, envision, maintain flexibility and provide direction & inspiration to create & sustain an organization while simplifying challenging business relationships & setting up teams for success.

In an exclusive conversation with CPO Innovation, Khurshed Dordi, Group COO India, Deutsche Bank shares his views on some of the biggest challenges leaders are facing in this unprecedented time of Covid-19, the importance of effective communication among teams and how Deutsche Bank is supporting its local communities to navigate this tough time.

Here are the excerpts of the interview.

CPO Innovation: What do you see as the biggest challenges for leaders in times of crisis, like the current one?

Khurshed Dordi: During a crisis, the primary concern for a leader would be the health, safety and well-being of employees, clients, stakeholders and other business partners as well as ensuring that the business continues to operate productively with minimal disruption. However, in dealing with a crisis such as Covid-19, the likes of which none of us has experienced, we’ve all seen the need to go much further. A new way of working has been imposed upon all of us and while some of us may have been able to adapt well to our new work arrangements, many have not been able to do so. It is important for managers to understand and address the various requirements, concerns and anxieties of their teams in a timely manner. This will eventually improve motivation levels, leading to increased productivity. During this period, it is equally important that honest and open lines of communication be maintained with colleagues. Transparency is important, as is consistency of messaging and follow up with actions.

CPO Innovation: What are some of the larger changes you’ve made to your day-to-day operations in the last few weeks/months because of the covid19 pandemic?

Khurshed Dordi: The most obvious change for us at Deutsche Bank has of course been moving close to 13,000 of our colleagues to a work-from-home set-up and providing them with the requisite infrastructure support in order for them to be able to efficiently work from home. As a bank, we continue to have some of our staff in essential functions coming into office every day. In order to ensure their health and safety, we have arranged private transport; our offices have been remodelled for social distancing, testing of all visitors and are regularly deep-cleaned.

For our staff working from home, we are constantly looking at ways by which we can extend them our fullest support such as broadband connectivity, laptops, ergonomic furniture, etc. We have extended our Employee Assistance Programme to family members of employees as well which allows them to avail of independent and confidential work-life coaching and professional counselling services. We’ve also revamped our medical support policies for Covid-19 testing and treatment. Despite the environment, we are in Deutsche Bank, continues to hire to support its growth in India. Between January and June this year, we welcomed close to 1,300 new joiners into the bank and nearly 100 interns have done a virtual internship with us.

CPO Innovation: It seems to be a time when there’s going to be an intense focus on every leader’s actions. How can you be sure to communicate effectively at times like these?

Khurshed Dordi: While maintaining honest and open lines of communication is a prerequisite for any successful organisation even during normal times, the pandemic has reminded us all of just how important an aspect this is for every manager. The expectation of employees during a crisis is that they are communicated to in a credible and consistent manner. The timelines of such communications are also very important. The last thing any employee would want is to hear about their own organisation from someone on the outside. Open and honest communication from managers tends to encourage employees to open up and provide constructive feedback that helps build a better workplace. We have recently ramped up employee engagement video activities also to include families and particularly children. These range from storytelling, fitness & health videos, talent contests to virtual training.

CPO Innovation: At a time such as the present, with the ongoing pandemic and its effect on businesses and the need to work from home, what are some top tips you would like to share when it comes to tracking remote teams and a distributed workforce?

Khurshed Dordi: In the current environment, leaders need to understand that everyone is yet to get used to a new way of working. Some adapt well but there may be some who will take longer to adapt. It’s important for us to understand the different circumstances in which our teams work. Some may have young children at home, others may have elderly family members at home and there may be still others who live in a city by themselves with no family support. It is important that we become sensitive to their situations. The infrastructure made available to employees to do their jobs during this time is critical.

Again, to what extent you empower individuals to take decisions is important for quick and smooth execution. Teams need to stay joined up during this period and for that, timely and ongoing communication is very important. We need to frequently communicate what’s happening at the organisational and business level to employees because being away from the workplace may give them a feeling of being far removed. During this period, more than ever, we have stepped up our engagement with staff and are constantly seeking feedback from them on how we can create an environment for them that makes them feel more involved with the workplace, considering, as they are, working from home. We’re addressing this challenge through many more employee engagement activities for staff and are also creating virtual volunteering opportunities for staff along with our NGO partners.

CPO Innovation: What according to you will the immediate future of work look like post-pandemic?

Khurshed Dordi: It’s not yet entirely clear as to what the precise face of the future workplace or the future of work will look like. But over the past few months, we have heard industry captains across the world, more particularly in the technology sector, comment on the need for less office space in future as more and more employees opt to work from home. Various industries have seen the pandemic impact them in different ways. While the medical and health services sector is expected to benefit in a big way as we come out of this crisis, other industries that are benefitting from the current environment are online retail, online education.

Consumption and user behaviour is also expected to change in the post-pandemic environment, all of which will have a linkage to the future of work. While some of these changes are already visible, some others may play out over the longer term. In the near term, however, what you are going to see is significantly higher health and safety standards being adopted, not to mention strict social distancing norms at the workplace.

CPO Innovation: With the pandemic having impacted the livelihoods of millions of people across the country, what is an organisation like yours doing to support local communities?

Khurshed Dordi: Over the last four months, through our partnership with NGOs like Apollo Foundation, Akshaya Patra, Swades, Smile, Goonj and Taj Trust we have touched the lives of over 200,000 people who have been impacted by the pandemic. Our partnership with these NGOs has provided support to displaced migrant workers and also dry rations and meals to people in rural areas. We have also contributed to the installation of ventilators in municipal hospitals and to the setting up of Covid-19 isolation centres as well as supporting doctors and other health workers battling the pandemic on the frontlines. Our employees have also played their part by making voluntary contributions to this cause that have been match-funded by Deutsche Bank. In addition to the monetary support we provide to our NGO partners, we also extend technical expertise to them on strengthening their reporting systems, soft skills training, etc.