Motivation and Organisation in Satyam Computers


A part of Mahindra Group, Satyam Computers Services Ltd., was brought into Mahindra & Mahindra family buying its 30% shares, saving the turmoil hit ship from more injuries and destructions of big fiscal scandal. Mahindra Satyam is an ICT (Information, Communication and Technology) company having major business and market share created by providing services to most of the fortune 500 companies in 11 major countries of the world (Mahindra Satyam, 2010). Mahindra Satyam, formerly and popularly known as Satyam Computers Services Ltd., was one of top five multinational companies of India, represented by an acronym SWITCH (Satyam, Wipro, Infosys, Tata Consultancy Services, Cognizant and HTC Technologies). In spite of availability of the global leaders such as IBM, EDS, Accenture and HP, the SWITCH companies were at an annual average growth rate of 42.4 per cent in the year 2006 (The Hindu Business Line, 2007). Mahindra Satyam Computers Services Ltd., one of the pioneers in providing IT services to the big corporations in developed countries, headquartered in Hyderabad, India, has strength of around 30,000 employees spread across different nations (Mahindra Satyam, 2010). Recently acquired company is functioning under the large umbrella of $7.1 billion Mahindra Group, Mahindra & Mahindra has a prominent position in the markets of automotive products, aviation components, farm equipments, financial services, hospitality, information technology, logistics, real estate and retail (Mahindra Satyam, 2010).

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Individual's desires and needs both have a substantial amount of impact on the behavioural outcome; motivation is based on the interconnection between emotional and practical achievements (Rabideau S.T, 2005). One important thing which should always be considered in the work scenario is that, even if the person is able to perform some task by applying his knowledge and skills without the motivational driving force, the process of completion will always contain stressful conditions or it may even lead to failure (Robinson. C, 2010).

In explaining the motivation in context of Mahindra Satyam, I would like to explore two sides of motivational impact on individuals of organisation, considering the different time frames of flourishing and most unpleasant financial conditions.

Herzberg's two factor theory talks about the difference between the impact of motivators and hygiene factors on the individual's performance in the organisation. Out of these two factors, hygiene factor plays a vital role in keeping the employee happy externally, this mainly constitutes the facilities and benefits such as salary, working conditions, quality of supervision, company policies and administration which an employer provides in exchange of the services received. Another factor of motivators is all about the employee's good feelings that come from inside and all because of contribution of the attributes such as recognition in society, sense of achievement, responsibility, suitable nature of work, progress in the career path and other such similar aspects of work.

Robinson (2010) categorically, with the help of following points explains the precedence of hygiene factor over the intrinsic factor of motivators;

Attractive monetary gains might override the idea of liking or disliking the job assigned at the work place

Organisation policies forcing an employee to either progress in the current team or leave the company

Employees with non-belligerent nature might end up doing same job for long time because they don't know how to say no to others

Lack of knowledge of inner strengths may lead to a situation of poor job fit

The leaders in an organisation might misinterpret the goals set by an employee because of which he or she might land on the wrong career path

Herzberg's theory is mostly applicable to the organisation under the normal industrial conditions, internal as well as external, but in order to discuss the impact of motivation on the organisation's employees under the situation of crisis, I would like to use the concept of Affiliation Needs and Super Ordinate Goals.

Affiliation needs, as discussed by Maslow (1954) in the needs theory are the outcome of the human's social behaviour, people get satisfied by having a social interaction and also they like to be accompanied by a group of friends. This leads to the motivation of getting associated with some social group and forming a strong support structure in the organisation. Adding a perspective to this kind of ideology, getting affiliated to the different parts of the organisation is also one kind of motivation, the motivational source can be from the healthy interaction with fellow employees or inspiring and praising words from the superior employee. Smith (2009) explains about the level of affiliation motivation in individuals, scoring it as high level or low level, he concludes that people with high score tend to socialise more, they are likely to be found interacting with some or the other person in the organisation constantly, they are extremely co-operative in the environment where there is a need to adjust but in competitive environment and requirement of matching to the skill set of experts such people are poor performers. This theory of affiliation is internally related to the goal setting process, because if an individual is affiliated and accepted in the organisation he or she will inherit the vision of the organisation and thus will feel motivated to work rather than feeling isolated or dismayed.

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Although Mahindra Satyam is a well established brand in the international arena of Information Technology Industry, it abides by the Indian beliefs and principles. I was working on project which was strengthening both, the financial and status quo part of the company, because this was the only project in the company running simultaneously in the three different locations of the country, it was given highest priority amongst all the other projects. The application which was to be made for the client was built from the scratch, understanding all the needs and requirements of the client in detail, clearing all the discrepancies and doubts from the on-site co-ordinators, this task was the initial phase of the project. Later on, the development of the application was developed using the latest of all the technologies available in the market, for that also, the senior software engineers were indulged in lots of highly paid trainings. After this, the development was reviewed by client on regular basis, either by inviting the team to the onsite location or by flying down to the development centres in India. The life cycle of the project, on one hand, included various goal setting meetings, internal and external review presentations, integration at regional level amongst the development done at various locations in India and finally presenting it through a video conferencing session, on the other hand, it also included various celebration parties on successful implementation of desired functionalities, lunch party at module level (module being one of the part of the whole project), project parties at expensive restaurants, two day events organised at some out station few miles away from the city, also different award ceremonies where good performing employees were given awards, birthday parties of the employees were also organised on monthly basis (commonly celebrating birthdays of the employees whose birthday fall in the particular month at the end of the month), there were also surprises in the form of chocolate boxes kept on the desks of the employees which were given either from the organisation or from the client side, last but not the least, being a multinational company, the pay packages and perks given to the employees were also in a better shape.

Here company was in its prosperous stage, that is, it was getting good projects from the new customers and considering the efforts at work, clients who were already connected with the company were also happy with the organisation, so here, Herzberg's motivational factors were used by the organisation to motivate employees. Dissecting the above mentioned life cycle of the project, the hygiene factors and the motivators are apparently visible. The motivators in the project were as follows:

Involving employees in various decision making processes like goal setting

Sending them onsite to collect functional information so as to implement it in the project application

Responsibly presenting and transferring the knowledge gained from the onsite visit

Opportunity to update the skill set by working on latest technologies

They were asked to undergo various trainings which would have been very costly to attend on their own

The hygiene factors, which were more alluring than motivators, which compelled most of the employees to forget their will to take a break from the corporate life to complete higher education or to change their career path, are as follows:

Good salaries and perks with appraisals in salary structure given on yearly basis

Regular awards of recognition containing cash prizes

Being an Indian company, it shared an emotional bond with the employees, thus employees having less chance of losing job

In order to maintain the status of multinational company, good working conditions were provided by the company, such as coffee vending machines, high quality of food in canteen, latest technology for internal as well as external communication and all such similar facilities

Employees were given a chance to rejuvenate from their daily routine by organising regular parties and outbound events including their families as well

New task was assigned upon completion of the older one avoiding the scenario of stacking more work at once and hence giving less work pressure or work overload

But as rightly criticized by Rollinson (2010), it is not so simple to classify the motivation factors into two types and the complexity lies in the ideology of hygiene factor for one person can be a motivator for other and vice versa. Even Herzberg (1959), along with co-authors, poses a question about the motivation of people in doing their jobs, and in the process of finding the answer they have discussed about the job attitudes, which are different for individuals from various backgrounds. This concept is explained beautifully by Hofstede (1980), stating the importance of the word individualism from the context of culture, he mentions the differences in the individuals according to the surroundings they born and brought up in, going even deeper into the concept of individual he has also considered the difference in sexuality, that is, masculinity and femininity.

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Adding to the criticism of Herzberg's theory, the perspective of company's growth can also be considered, individual's behaviour towards company changes with outcome displayed by the company. When the company shows a positive growth, there is a strong trust factor built with the organisation but if the organisation is not doing well, it gets vetoed by its own employees. Similar situation was faced by Mahindra Satyam at the time when it was put in the tornado of financial crisis by one of its co-founder who was criminated for not justifying the difference between the actual numbers and artificial numbers available in the company's books, which went on increasing over the span of six years starting from the year 2002 (Sekhar, 2009). Under such situation in order to motivate employees, human resource management used the affiliation motive in the following way:

Employees were given the direct affiliation with the vertical hierarchy, which is the seniors and superiors, the system was made extremely transparent and seniors were directly approachable, so an employee could raise an issue immediately with any of the superior and an appropriate action was taken immediately, thus motivating an employee by respecting his voice raised against any issue.

They were given the liberty to shift to the projects where their friends were working, so using the horizontal affiliation, company tried to increase the efficiency at work.

More and more employees were given the responsibility to work directly with clients, clients being the associates from the fortune 500 companies, affiliation with such employees motivated most of the employees to work

After the crisis, the company was taken over by Mahindra Group, and a new brand was introduced to the market. Employees were motivated by giving the corporate affiliation, sharing with them the vision of the novice brand, promising them that the market position will be regained and the brand will make its position amongst the other bigger brands and then the affiliation with such brand will create substantial value of the individual in the market.

Conclusion Motivation:

Thus it can be concluded that the Herzberg's two factors theory was effectively used by Mahindra Satyam at the time when it was going through its good phase, but when in down turn and in bad shape, it was difficult to use the same methodology for motivating the employees, so company had to change the pattern of motivating people, but in order to have the best results in all time I would like to suggest that the company could have implemented the affiliation motive, instead of using the motivators and hygiene factors, because it is very difficult to differentiate and classify into two types, the needs of each and every individual. It can also be inferred that while implementing affiliation motive in motivating the employees of the organisation, the management had to make the process of communication completely transparent, they also had to make sure that the process was two ways with complete involvement of individuals at each level of the hierarchy, so that the problems are addressed effectively, following such methodology might lead to an efficient outcome with all the employees motivated to work for the organisation.

Organisation Structure:


Organisation structure helps in creating a bond between the employee and organisation, without the proper structure implemented in the company, the employee might not have the feeling of belongingness which might lead to putting less effort at work. The notion of "we are one family" and the name of the family is the name of the company, comes from the strong organisation structure, where amalgamations of various factors such as goals, objectives and mission statements comes into picture.

The matrix structure is designed by taking advantages of both the functional as well as product based structure and minimising the setbacks faced in handling the customers as well as market (Rollinson, 2010:509). This structure helps the company to cater the requirement of optimum utilisation of resources, dividing the organisation according to the core competencies and assigning the leaders to the same, projects would fall under each core competency, thus avoiding the occurrences of same work done by different employees in various departments, (Rollinson, 2010:509). In the fast moving market, it is evident that firms are required to be able to change their size dynamically, thus (Rollinson, 2010:518) suggests that the company should be able to numerically flexible, that it, the strength of the company should be adjustable, it should be able to either reduce or increase the number of employees engaged in certain projects or tasks as per the requirement of the client or market. For explaining the flexibility (Rollinson, 2010:518) has taken help of Atkinson and Meager's (1986) model of 'core-periphery', according to this theory, the company should keep the highly skilled employees at the core and the part-timers and the other such employees in the next encircled periphery of the structure, the work force at the core should be flexible in such a way that they should be easily moved to the upper layer. As presented by (Rollinson, 2010:324), Tuckman's integrative model (1965), is the mixture of various stages brought together to deliver a required product or service, it comprises of logical development of process leading to an achievement of ultimate goal, this involves,

Creating a team as per the required skill set

Giving the team members a platform to raise their voice and contribute in the plan of development

Team zeroing down to the addressing of minute details required to complete the task

Team being more cohesive and effectively working on the bigger task giving shape to the desired results

Finally the team members move on and get disconnected with the current group in order to associate to some new task or group

Team's in an organisation aim at producing the best results and this is achieved by setting practical and achievable goals. The most common theory for setting the goals is the top - down methodology, this contains the assigning of targets to the employees from the superiors working at a level just above (Rollinson, 2010:478). But the disadvantages of top - down theory such as, person who is setting the goal might be unaware of the actual efforts or practical difficulties faced while achieving the goals and as the goals are created and propagated by the top management, the lower level employees who are involved in achieving those goals might lack in commitment (Rollinson, 2010:478). This has given rise to the development of interactive model of setting goals, according to which, instead of passing down of targets to the lower levels, the goals are set by proper negotiation and discussion with the subordinates to reach an agreement (Rollinson, 2010:480).

However, the final outcome of the goal setting process should be yielding positive results for the company. This is achieved by defining effectiveness and according to (Rollinson, 2010:488) it is nothing but doing of right things. There are different ways of estimating effectiveness for the organisation; the system based approach is the one that suits the best to Mahindra Satyam, where Cunningham (1978) has put forward effectiveness as a tool used by an organisation to understand the environmental factors properly and based on that, utilise the available resources (Rollinson, 2010:490). The environmental factor is also better understood by introspecting the contingency factor of organisation's environment and also the dimensions of the organisation structure such as centralisation and specialisation. An environment constitutes of parameters which indirectly affect the structure of the organisation and such parameters cannot be manipulated by an organisation, so the only option left is to understand them properly and take measures to succeed under any environmental circumstances (Rollinson, 2010:536). This understanding leads to company choosing either of the ways of controlling or administering the work force, that is, either in a mechanistic way or in an organic way.

The mechanistic approach is applied to the organisation where growth is constant and the particular market is stable, here the work is more precise and divided in an appropriate manner, the hierarchy is rigid and is designed sticking to stipulated rules and regulations as per the industry standards, the employees at the managerial positions are bound to follow certain stringent principles like propagating abidance to loyalty and respect for seniors, employees at lower level are bound to follow the instructions given by the superiors and maintain complete consistency in the firm by sticking to the provided modus operandi or plan (Rollinson, 2010:537). The organic type of industry is completely dynamic and flexible to the current requirements of the industry; it promotes creativity in the organisation so as to provide the solutions with differentiated approach, it also gives importance to individual's opinion and mostly solutions are derived by exchanging information and advice and not by insisting on following certain ways of doing things (Rollinson, 2010:537).

Considering the software development life cycle adapted in creating a software applications in the information technology industry, technology is an important contingency factor influencing the structure of an organisation, because this gives an idea that there is an implementation of sequential interdependence in the process and (Rollinson, 2010:544) according to Woodward (1965) this industry falls under the category of low technical complexity for the reason that, most of the applications are developed only when there is demand from the client.

The specialisation and centralisation are the dimensions explaining about the differentiating factor of the organisation and the type of authority practiced in the organisation respectively, that is, it tells about the expertise available with the organisation and the way in which it is exercised or used in accomplishing its goals. Specialisation is the division of labour according to the bigger tasks and smaller tasks, for example, the specialisation is low at universities because one professor might be involved in handling different subjects, at the same time, the specialisation is high at the assembly line because the person has to do same kind of work for long duration of time (Suhomlinova, 2010:Lecture6). Decision making power and place determines the centralisation in the organisation for example the catholic church have high level of centralisation, that is, the individual has no decision making power, whereas, when the centralisation level is low there is great decision taking power at individual level executing the processes in the organisations faster (Suhomlinova, 2010:Lecture6).


Satyam, now known as Mahindra Satyam, in the year it started, was a small company with a mere strength of 100 employees, when it became a big organisation with a large size of 40000 employees, it was time to give up the entrepreneurial way of doing things and adapt to more rule based and organised pattern. The company, on its way up on the ladder of success was converted from an organic to a mechanistic organisation; here company introduced the concept of FLCB (Full Life Cycle Business) and FLCL (Full Life Cycle Leader). Whole company was divided according to the type of business and each FLCB was handled by the FLCL. The FLCL was given the authority and accountability of the whole business execution cycle, ranging from smaller projects to the regional level projects, the FLCL of each FLCB was expected to play the role equivalent to that of the CEO or an entrepreneur. The FLCB consisted of Horizontal Competency Unit (HCU), Vertical Business Unit (VBU), Regional Business Unit (RBU) and Strategic Support Unit (SSU) all these units constituted a Matrix Structure of the company, because the FLCLs were given the responsibility to handle the management level functionalities of the respective unit, and also were expected to look after the progress of projects falling under a particular unit. This division on the basis of different units clearly displays that the company had a structure different from the standard services company in respect of both nature of responsibility given to an individual and the kind of inspirational behaviour which is expected to display at work.

At project level, the company truly displayed the implementation of business functionalities using the Tuckman's integration model. Our project was divided into small teams according to the number of modules which were expected to integrate and deliver. Each module comprised of five to seven members, before the start of the development work, all the members were asked to sit in a conference room on daily basis to discuss and understand the business functions of the project application, everyone in the team was given a chance to express his or her view on the basis of understanding grasped from the user requirement document and final consensus about the implementation were reached. After this, based on the knowledge gained, each module was assigned the work and in the module, each person was given a responsibility of small chunk of development. Completion of development at individual module level lead to the stage of integrating different modules, where many conflicts and discrepancies related to functional issues were resolved. Rigorous testing and regression testing was done after the stage of successful integration; the project application was tested against various different scenarios, so as to confirm its robust and flexible behaviour as per the requirement of the client. Finally, the project application was tested and delivered to the client with implementing the change request functionalities as per the amendments discussed with the clients.

Like every other projects our project had targets and deadlines to meet, so every individual was made aware of the same on regular basis by sending e-mails and discussing with him or her in the regularly conducted status meetings. Making sure that the targets are in synchronisation with the project level goals, they were set at module level; this interactive goal setting methodology was implemented after the company suffered a fiasco that happened in the month of January, at the time when the attrition level was at its peak. Initially the company was implementing the top down approach of goal setting, so even at the project level, the managers and team leads used to decide about the work and the developers and the senior software engineers were simply allocated the work without taking views or ideas from the subordinates.

At the time of crisis the company's prime concern was to retain its most important assets, which were available in the form of employees well versed with technological skills set. So it had to switch to system based approach while setting goals or making project level decisions. The company had to understand the necessity of the market at that time, although the company was going through its worst phase the market was also facing the situation of recession and low gains, so taking advantage of the same, the company promoted the idea of loyalty and increased the ease at work for the employees, bringing the concept of fun at work and total transparency about the strategic moves, company tried to involve as many employees as possible in the form of representatives from the various departments of the organisation and selected employees were also given a compensation plan asking them to sign a bond for the span of one and half years.

As the management of Satyam was adopting a mechanistic approach of working, it was bound to get more formal and lay down rules which would make the structure of the organisation more standard and abiding to certain regulations. At the same time, it had to concentrate on training and making its employees equipped with the latest technologies, as per the required standards in the market; this high level of specialisation was maintained by keeping its employees regularly updated by providing webinars and training sessions. But, when the company was facing a situation of financial instability, it had to reduce the level of formalisation that was implemented in the organisation, in order to retain its employees, the company provided many facilities to its valuable employees, such as freedom to work from home, flexibility to adjust the working hours according to the work load and other similar provisions.


In this way, the organisation structure of Mahindra Satyam, like most of the Software Industry companies is in a matrix form and falls in the category of numerically flexible firms and zeroing down to the project level, most of the development projects in the company used the Tuckman'(1965) integrative model. Because of the economic down turn and fiasco the company had to make changes in the goal setting theory, that is, it had to adopt interactive model instead of top - down goal setting theory. The company also focused in doing the right thing in order to increase the effectiveness. It had to use the system based approach in managing the resources at the time of crisis. The management of the company mainly focused on dimensions such as formalisation and specialisation. Contingency factors that influenced the changing of structure at Mahindra Satyam were the software industry's environment, size of the organisation and also the technological requirements. The company's financial problem was a real wave of astonishment that it faced, so whatever steps it took for changing the structure were appropriate and according to me were the best possible decisions taken in order to keep the work going on under such troublesome situations.