Enabling teams to improve productivity & The nitty gritties of team dynamics
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A candid interview with Nilesh Shah, CIO of Symphony Limited, a 600+ employee company; hosted by Prasanjit Das.

This Interview is an effort to understand the Objective side of Productivity and how to enable Teams achieve higher productivity by setting & tracking relevant goals.

Well, welcome back to the 3rd Interview (You can find the first two here & here) of ‘Man Vs Time’, and we have with us Mr. Nilesh Shah.

About Nilesh:


Entrepreneur over 2 decades of experience in Information Technologies, Nilesh possesses a unique combination of Tech, commercial and marketing abilities.

He currently Leads the IT & Operational Planning at Symphony Limited (a joint stock and publicly held company listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange, 600+ employees, 60 Countries)

Recognised for his successful leadership among Senior Management, Nilesh has established an impeccable track record selling concepts, professional services, products and software solutions.

Nilesh’s few achievements in Sr. Management Roles include 100% successful Project Execution with 100% Client Retention for his tenure of 3.5 years, And achieving 70% Revenue Growth compared to previous financial year.

Nilesh’s philosophy of Leadership is ‘Management through Higher Consciousness’ and he highly credits his success to it.

Prasanjit Das Q1: 2 Decades of Professional experience in Information Technologies. So many people, organisations, technologies, teams, clients, challenges. How has been the experience, Sir?

Nilesh Shah: 25 years with so many different people, more than 2500 clients, from DOS technology to Cloud & Analytics today; I feel very lucky to have gained an experience with both my colleagues and clients through the years.


What I have learnt in these 25 years is that as Leaders, we need to be very personal with our Team. We have to give them the space and freedom to work towards our expectations, and as a return get the expected output and a new high on Productivity.

Always remember, ‘Time and bonding are very important’.
The more they are bound individually with you and your organisation, the more value they will hold for the time spent working with your team and organisation.

PD Q2: Yes, this is what the focus is today. People, their time, their productivity and how to enable them. Yes we can talk about organisation culture, but that is very subjective! What is your take on making it Objective? How do you enable Teams or Organisations to achieve Productivity?

NS: What is Productivity? ‘A Value’ that you can increase, more than what you are achieving now! The Increased Output! In short Productivity becomes Performance!

For that we need to convey the parameters to the Team. Parameters which are measurable. If they are unaware of the parameters whose output they are expected to increase, then how can they work on improving them? They have to be conveyed their KRA’s, so they are aware of their work and code of conduct. But, what is their KPI? Their performance parameters have to be clarified from their induction itself, so the person knows how much he/she has to perform and how much will he/she be incentivised for it. And it has to be measurable, it cannot be subjective; and then you give them the freedom, proper infrastructure and tools or solutions to achieve it.

Psychology also matters here.

The way we expect from the Team, similarly they too have expectations from us.


We have to listen to them, like having public forums where they can share their experience, tell us about some good books they have read, or movies they have seen, share their common problems and success stories. We can acknowledge them during these forums. We can have monthly meetings to get their feedback and give our feedbacks. Thus you build the personal relationship with the Team. A Oneness between the Team. So then, they will try that the whole Team performs and eventually the whole Organisation will perform.

**PD Q3: Ah, TeamWork & Productivity is all about being aware & informed about your responsibilities and being enabled to achieve them by being organised & being One. Could you quote an example to our audience?

NS**: Oh, Let me quote Two very important ones.

First, was when I introduced Performance based incentives in the Organisation which included 60% for individual performance, 20% for the department performance & 20% for the company performance. And then enabled them with Sales CRM & Project Management Tools, plus the KPI & performance measurement systems; resulting into increased productivity & outputs. This also instilled a Culture of Collaborative success in the Team and somewhat a fear of not being the under performer due to whom the whole Team couldn’t succeed.

Result! 70% increase in sales compared to previous year.

Second, when in one of the IT Offshore development firm, I joined and found a gap between the deliverables and the responsibility takers. So I introduced monthly performance ratings. I created KPI for each role with multiple critical indicators and introduced a monthly score card depending on his/her profile. The monthly scoring had to be done by both, the individual and his/her lead. So we don’t have to wait for the whole year to identify what’s wrong and take the corrective steps on time. In tandem we started to build a culture of Client First. Every step, every effort, every task, every question, every debate was about the Client.

Result! 100% client retention in 3.5 years of my stay with the organisation.


PD Q4: Nilesh, I was wondering and I have faced the same issue myself; How does the Top Management accept the change? How do the employees react, then accept and then adapt to the change? In short the whole cycle of intervention, to identification, to suggestion, to introduction and implementation?

NS: Well, 17 years of my own experience of being an Entrepreneur has led other Entrepreneurs to accept my thoughts and suggestions. Once, you face a problem, you have to go to the root cause, which might be technical or behavioural. In any case the root cause has to be resolved and so the problem would be resolved.

Now as you see, when we know the real problem, it is easy to convince the management for accepting the change required to resolve the problem.

Practice ‘Management by Purpose’ and not ‘Management by Rules’; and your employees will surely back you.

My all ideas and all processes are eventually for the benefit of people. But then they have to be a part of conception to accept the outcome as their baby.


Don’t be a boss! Be a leader. A leader makes sure that the team is working ‘with’ him and not ‘for’ him.

Have you ever heard of a Cabin’s Leader?

Come out of your cabin, talk to your Team, hear them, listen to their problems, show them the real problems, introduce the solutions, take their feedbacks for the solutions and then introduce the change. Be a People’s Leader! I bet it would be accepted.

Remember, the processes shouldn’t be a burden to follow. The ease of following process should always trump it’s pain.

PD Q5: Oh wow, that really struck a cord. So Nilesh, have there been times when the suggestions flow bottom up? Like few individuals or a small team starts using a tool or a process, and then suggests it to the Organisation; and then it is adopted.

NS: Many times.

A person working on the floor always knows more than the person sitting in the cabin

A process or a solution or tool is introduced by two ways.

  • In need of a problem resolution and
  • By an intent of doing better than what is being done.

Remember, some might tell explicitly, some might not. As Management & as Leaders, you have to listen carefully. Let the voices be heard and ideas be flown.

PD Q6: Okay! That was a cool statement. What kind of tools have you used to enable Productivity?

NS: Oh many. Mostly I have custom developed most of the tools I have used to solve very specific purposes. Have integrated many to come up with collaborative facts and figures at one place. I have come across many PLM, HRMS, ERP, Collaboration tools like MPP Professional, SAP, Google for Work, Basecamp, Sales Force, Microsoft Dynamics and now Gridle for Collaboration.

PD: Nilesh, I just wish you start your Blog soon and share your thoughts with others. Any closing statement from you?

NS: Well, I just wish my thoughts spread across and others benefit from it. I would be glad to connect with more people, add value to their work-lives and learn from them too.

PD: So here we are, at the end of a Great Interview with Mr. Nilesh Shah. All thanks to him for spending some time with us.

Conclusion: Enable your Teams’ Productivity by Purpose & Personalisation, and help them track their progress with systems & tools at place.

Do follow Nilesh on his Twitter Handle @Nilesh_Shah and follow us on our Official Gridle Blog

Hope you have enjoyed the read as much I have enjoyed taking the interview. Until next time, it’s a ‘See Ya’ from your host Prasanjit.

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