taj hotel

taj hotel
Read the case study that i will upload it later then answer the below question.
What are the strengths and weaknesses of each system? Why would Kumar launch such an extensive reform?

Taj Hotel Group
Subir Bhowmick waited outside the office of R.K. Krishna Kumar, managing director and head of
the Taj Hotel Group. Bhowmick wanted to ask Krishna Kumar to reexamine what the company was
trying to accomplish by assigning a particular manager to run the Taj Kumarakom, a smaller
property in a highly competitive market. Since assuming management responsibility for the Taj
Group in 1997, Krishna Kumar had introduced many changes, the most conspicuous being a new
performance management system that represented the first time that promotion and pay had been
determined by a formal review and evaluation process.
Krishna Kumar had also introduced a formal career development process whereby employees
were tracked and groomed for key positions throughout the Taj system. But Bhowmick worried that
these systematized assessments might not always identify the right person for a particular job. He
knew the candidate who had been selected for the general manager position at the Taj Kumarakom.
He also knew some of the other candidates well; indeed, he had had another manager in mind for the
Bhowmick had been in the hotel business his entire life and was practically a legend within the
Taj. As chief operating officer of the luxury hotel division, he was in charge of properties that brought
in more than 60% of the company’s profits. He had successfully identified and groomed leaders for
the Taj Hotel Group throughout his career. Bhowmick was going to ask Krishna Kumar to reconsider
his choice.
History and Origins
The Taj Hotel Group was begun by one of India’s greatest industrialists, Jamsetji Tata. In 1874
Tata was managing one textile mill; by the turn of the century he was envisioning creating a
conglomerate of companies to bring industrial modernization to India. From textiles, the Tata group
branched into steel, cement, chemicals, electronics, and multiple other business areas perceived to be
central to nation building. Throughout the century the Tata family advised India’s political leaders
and businessmen how to shape the growth of the country’s economy.
Why Tata had entered the hotel business was the subject of a variety of stories; the most often told
was that he had been denied entry into a British-run Bombay hotel whose board barred Indians and
dogs. Another story suggested that he had become defensive when a visitor to Bombay complained
Do Not Copy or Post
This document is authorized for use only by Paschal Anosike at University of Wolverhampton until April 2014.
Copying or posting is an infringement of copyright. Permissions@hbsp.harvard.edu or 617.783.7860.
403-004 Taj Hotel Group
that there were no good hotels in India. Whatever the impetus, Tata clearly perceived his first hotel as
more than a commercial venture, taking great pride in making the facility first class in every way. The
hotel, located in Bombay and called the Taj Mahal Bombay, came to be known simply as the Taj.
The Taj had its own electric power plant, a back-up system of gas lights, a carbon dioxide icemaking
plant, a soda water bottling factory, and interior furnishings handpicked by Tata on trips
throughout Europe. As sole shareholder of Indian Hotels Company (IHC), the holding company for
the Taj, Tata’s investment was estimated at 2.6 million rupees, more than US$30 million in today’s
currency. News of Tata’s death was received just as the hotel’s lights were to be switched on for the
first time in May 1904. Tata’s cousin’s son, J.R.D. Tata, was named head of the Tata Companies, and
Tata’s youngest son, Ratanji, the chairman of IHC, a duty he performed in rotation with his older
brother and an uncle.
From 1903 until 1973 the company consisted only of this original Bombay property, which,
overlooking the Gateway of India, became a tourist attraction. Indians felt great affection for and
possessive of the Taj, protesting when the management wanted to change the color of the carpets or
the brand of coffee served in the dining room, writing letters beseeching the chairman or general
manager to protect tradition. Over the last three decades the Taj Group had expanded rapidly,
building or buying properties throughout India and a few overseas. At one point the Taj Group
owned more than 80 properties. Often new acquisitions, such as an ancient palace that came on the
market or a new beach that seemed destined to become a trendy venue, amounted to real estate land
grabs. With competing luxury hotel chains as well as lower-priced hotels often following it to new
cities, the Taj was at one point effectively creating new markets and then taking the lead in those
Most growth occurred under the lengthy tenure of Ajit Kerkar, who led the Taj Group from April
1970 through August 1997. Although IHC was part of the Tata conglomerate, Kerkar led for so long
that many people thought him the sole voice of authority. Handpicked by J. R. D. Tata, he had been
given considerable autonomy, enabling him to operate IHC without interference from Tata corporate
Many, both inside and outside the Taj Group, characterized Kerkar as a man who had “hotels in
his blood.” Apart from his passion for hotels, he was also a classical entrepreneur and builder.
Remarked one senior executive: “Kerkar had a nose for ferreting out who would be a good leader,
and he could effectively groom them. A single man’s vision was behind our growth, and your success
here was determined by your proximity to Kerkar.” Kerkar had bred great loyalty among his staff;
the opportunity to develop under his eye and be part of his vision for the company’s future
motivated them to join and stay at the Taj. Salaries were estimated to average 15%–20% below
market, and some positions were even 30% below. Reflected another senior executive: “Kerkar might
see an assistant food and beverages manager once in six months and say thanks for a great job, and
that would be enough to motivate the manager for the next year. But the biggest problem with a
charismatic leader who runs the organization based on personal relationships is that he doesn’t know
where he ends and the company begins.”
Toward the end of Kerkar’s tenure, although the Taj was thriving financially, concerns were
raised at Bombay House, Tata headquarters, that the Taj Group was not meeting the ethical standards
of the Tata Companies. There was agitation to bring in a new leader who had more concern for
corporate governance.
In August 1997 Ratan Tata, who had succeeded J.R.D. Tata as chairman of the Tata conglomerate,
announced that Kerkar would be replaced by Krishna Kumar, currently head of Tata Tea. But
Krishna Kumar’s start at IHC was clouded by government investigations into his stewardship of Tata
Do Not Copy or Post
This document is authorized for use only by Paschal Anosike at University of Wolverhampton until April 2014.
Copying or posting is an infringement of copyright. Permissions@hbsp.harvard.edu or 617.783.7860.
Taj Hotel Group 403-004
Tea and accusations that Tata Tea had protected militant terrorists in the state of Assam. But Tata
steadfastly supported his longtime trusted colleague throughout the investigation. When Krishna
Kumar was finally cleared of wrongdoing, he turned his attention to the Taj Group.
A New Era
Anxious to redress the inattention to corporate governance that had been cited when Kerkar had
been dismissed, Krishna Kumar set about putting in place new people and new systems. Some senior
executives left, and among those who remained there was concern that their loyalty and expertise
would not be valued. But for senior executives who had been outside Kerkar’s coterie, there was
opportunity and hope that the new order would be fair and judicious. Voluntary early-retirement
packages widely acknowledged to be generous were offered to executives and staff throughout the
Taj system. Of 15,000 employees, 265 executives and 1,697 staff members accepted the packages.
Krishna Kumar subsequently raised salaries across the board to be more in line with market rates.
The Taj real estate empire was rationalized down to 60 properties, and some of the international
ventures, in particular a foray into New York, were shut down, both because they had not been
financially successful and because they were deemed inconsistent with the Taj brand. The Taj Group
did retain its property in London, The St. James, deciding to renovate the facility and appoint
management directed to raise customer service to meet Taj standards. A management structure
segmented by region was replaced with one segmented by product area, resulting in three divisions:
luxury hotels, business hotels, and the final division, comprised of leisure hotels, International Hotels
and Air Catering.
Performance Systems
After years without formal processes for evaluating, developing, and tracking people, the human
resources department adopted “the Taj people philosophy.” New systems that enunciated the
importance of people to the organization included a performance-management process linked to
long-term company goals through a mechanism termed the “balanced scorecard” and the creation of
individual incentive plans that tied rewards to performance for professionals. Employee-satisfaction
tracking systems and Taj-focused training interventions driven through centers of excellence were
also introduced. These practices were outlined explicitly in an executive handbook intended to
motivate new behavior and the ascendancy of uniformity over local freedom.
The new performance-appraisal system was to be based 75% on objective results and 25% on
judgmental review. Goals and objectives, called key result areas (KRAs), were laid out at the
beginning of each year, and progress against them was tracked and measured. “It was a big change,”
observed one executive, “to have people asking, ‘Where are you on your KRAs,’ not ‘How close are
you to Krishna Kumar?’” After one year, promotions and increments (pay increases) were awarded
under the auspices of the performance-appraisal system. In 1998 Bernard Martyris was brought in
from the Taj’s prime competitor, the Oberoi, to head human resources and manage these systems.
“As in most organizations” remarked Martyris, “the tool of performance appraisal was first
implemented in order to fairly evaluate people. But we also needed to find ways either through the
performance appraisal or other tools to develop our people.”
To determine who should be “fast tracked,” Taj established potential assessment centers (PACs) to
which individuals identified by their managers as high performers were sent for four days of
evaluation and analysis. Selected professionals attended an intensive, externally run, mini-MBA
Do Not Copy or Post
This document is authorized for use only by Paschal Anosike at University of Wolverhampton until April 2014.
Copying or posting is an infringement of copyright. Permissions@hbsp.harvard.edu or 617.783.7860.
403-004 Taj Hotel Group
program that cross-trained them outside their area of work experience and prepared them for future
general management positions.
The first experience with the PACs was a bit rocky. Of 40 people sent by senior executives to one
of the centers for evaluation, 18 were enrolled in a short, tailored MBA program at the Indian
Institute of Management in Bangalore. One executive recalled:
We were in such a rush to get a new set of leaders that we didn’t think beyond the 18
people we sent to the program that the other 22 are really great performers also, and now they
were demoralized. After the initial PAC adventure, we learned to give the others who weren’t
selected guidance and also offer them specific coursework so that in a year they could be
assessed again and could still enter the fast track. The name of the potential assessment center
was also changed to the potential development center, implying . . . that the objective was
developmental and not “selection or rejection of people” for top management slots.
The new systems generated other concerns as well. Many executives worried that the greater
transparency introduced into the organization came at great cost. “We don’t want to give up the
family orientation,” lamented one executive. “Young people like the openness of being told they are
on the fast track; they like the opportunity for growth. But what about an executive assistant manager
who isn’t on the fast track and doesn’t want to be general manager in five years, but is very good at
what he does? Why are we measuring him against the others as if this is a race?”
There was also concern about how to achieve a correctly staffed company beyond the voluntary
retirement option. The executive continued:
The world benchmark is at one guest to 2.5 attendants and we are at one guest to 3.2
attendants, so we are still overstaffed. But when we want to move people out we can’t give
them three month’s notice and pay when they have been here for 10 years, and especially
when the company also shares the responsibility for whether this person has developed any
new skills or understands new technology.
Others were concerned not that these systems went too far, but that they did not go far enough.
“We were offering luxury hotels before India knew what that meant,” observed one executive. “But
in the 1980s and 1990s, although our workforce was very strong, we missed a step when other hotels
invested in IT, infrastructure, and so forth. We have made a big push to invest in technology, but now
we have to get the workforce to catch up.” The Taj’s strong ties with its workforce had been at
different times a burden and a benefit. Taj professionals pointed out proudly that when the newly
renovated Taj Mumbai lobby was inaugurated the party included retired people, people who had
resigned to work for other companies, and even those who had been asked to leave. The Taj did not
want to destroy the goodwill it had accrued over the years.
External Forces and Strategic Issues: Competition Circling
With India’s recent entry into the World Trade Organization, many executives, worried that the
Ritz Carlton and the Four Seasons would soon pose serious threats to the Taj, believed that the
workforce needed to be readied. ”Sixty-to-seventy percent of the customer base for luxury hotels is
from outside India,” explained director of strategic planning K.R.S. Jamwal. “Luxury hotels provide
50%–55% of our revenue and 70%–75% of our profits. With these top international chains coming
here we have to offer not just equal service but better service because the global competitors have the
benefit of global marketing and customer loyalty programs.” Added another executive: “It’s a
combination of morale and costs that prevents us from having more expatriates working in India at
Do Not Copy or Post
This document is authorized for use only by Paschal Anosike at University of Wolverhampton until April 2014.
Copying or posting is an infringement of copyright. Permissions@hbsp.harvard.edu or 617.783.7860.
Taj Hotel Group 403-004
our hotels. We need people from the outside. We need to see what world-class service and standards
of excellence look like.”
Krishna Kumar agreed that the Taj needed to focus on delivering a level of service quality that
met global standards. “Here in our domestic market,” he observed, “our chief competitor, Oberoi,
saw Taj move away from a quality focus to a scale focus in the 1980s and 1990s, and Oberoi seized the
quality niche in the 1990s. Now we are trying to seize it back from them in time to be ready for the
outside world.” Krishna Kumar had transferred more than 40 senior managers, many of whom had
been performing quite successfully, to new properties throughout the country because he wanted to
break up fiefdoms and expose managers to new environments. Recalled one executive: “Our general
manager in Delhi had been there for 15 or 20 years and was doing a great job and had great
relationships with guests. He could recognize George Harrison and hang out in his suite and play the
guitar with him. But he was no longer exposed to the outside world so he wasn’t learning new and
better ways to run the business.”
The ability to precipitate and manage change needed to be balanced against the value of deep
relationships and local knowledge. For example, owing to the Taj Mumbai’s healthy relationship with
its independent union, its employees chose to maintain that union rather than merge it into one of the
large unions affiliated with the major political parties, which would have generated considerably
more strife for management. Saher, the head of the Taj union, had suffered a stab wound from one of
the radicals representing the labor unions that wanted entry into the Taj. Taj workers respected Saher
and trusted him to represent them to management. “Because of my poor family, I have not studied
much,” he reflected, “but I know what hardship is, and I know what difficulty is. That is why I work
for the people here at the Taj, so there is some justice.” Although he acknowledged that there were
ongoing negotiations over a union trust fund, Saher supported the Taj management. “The Taj hotel is
my temple,” he avowed. “I will give my blood for it. It is everything.” Krishna Kumar had to be
careful not to disrupt the delicate balance of labor-management relations. It was less likely that an
expatriate manager would be as sensitive to the complex history of the hotel and Indian labor and
political situations as someone who had been in the system for a long time.
Selling properties had created what Krishna Kumar called “a war chest for growth”; he hoped
soon to make some key international acquisitions. Considerable discussion revolved around how to
successfully staff an international expansion and best satisfy Krishna Kumar’s vision for “a hotel with
the service philosophy of the Indian world and the technological underpinnings of the Western
But some executives worried that Krishna Kumar’s belief in the importance of internationalizing
management might create a glass ceiling for Indian managers. Ambitious Indian managers who
perceived running properties overseas as plum assignments might be demoralized if such jobs
always went to non-Indians. Some who perceived the Taj brand to be synonymous with Indian
culture believed that an Indian staff, Indian décor and design, and Indian-inflected service offerings
would be attractive anywhere in the world, in fact, would be the Taj’s distinguishing advantage.
Other executives disagreed. “Indianness doesn’t sell well,” remarked one. “One day maybe ‘Made in
India’ could mean five star, but right now when we buy a hotel overseas we should keep its original
name and run it with the best manager we can find in that country.”
Developing Managers: The Past
The luxury hotel division’s chief operating officer had not intended to go into the hotel business;
Bhowmick had wanted to be an architect, but his father knew the chef at one of Delhi’s first luxury
Do Not Copy or Post
This document is authorized for use only by Paschal Anosike at University of Wolverhampton until April 2014.
Copying or posting is an infringement of copyright. Permissions@hbsp.harvard.edu or 617.783.7860.
403-004 Taj Hotel Group
hotels, the Ashoka. Convinced by the chef that tourism and the hotel business would boom in India,
his father, Bhowmick recalled, decided: “I have two sons, so I will put one in this business and see.”
Bhowmick continued:
My father pushed me into hotel management school in Delhi in the first year it opened.
Two or three times I ran away from school. I kept thinking, ”What is wrong with my father? I
am in school learning how to make beds, how to do flower arrangements. I don’t want to do all
this.” Then he sent me to see the chef at the Ashoka, and the chef took me all around and
introduced me to the manager and showed me all the many areas that the manager is in charge
of. And the manager stopped talking to me at one point to tell one of the housekeepers that the
angle of the flowers she was arranging was not right. It inspired me. I went for training while I
was still in school to the Ashoka and was pretty sure that I would work there after graduation.
But when Taj was interviewing they were offering first-class train fares to come to Bombay to
interview and I had never been to Bombay so I just wanted the trip. In 1967 I became a
management trainee at the Taj and never left.
Maintained Bhowmick: “Taj doesn’t hire managers; it develops managers. Taj Bombay is my
Harvard University. I didn’t know how to speak well, dress properly, and manage people. I learned
at Taj Bombay.” Bhowmick’s responsibilities grew rapidly, paralleling the rapid expansion promoted
by Kerkar. “Kerkar was a true hotelier,” Bhowmick recalled, “and he had a big appetite. From 1973 to
1987 we opened two new hotels a year. I was often the one that moved to be in charge of opening a
key new property.”
Recognizing that his career would involve moving to new properties, Bhowmick was diligent
about developing at each property managers who would be prepared to replace him. Developing
strong subordinates was particularly challenging when general managers wanted to stay at a
property and to feel needed and not threatened by others’ abilities.
Bhowmick reflected on the aggressive expansion under Kerkar: “With that rate of expansion,
service quality was not maintained. But business was still so good it was hard to convince managers
to see the need for improving.” Krishna Kumar’s focus on creating systems and standards for
operations and service quality when he arrived in 1997 had resulted in Bhowmick’s being assigned to
the Corporate Operations Standards Group. Once standards had been established, he was named
chief operating officer for the luxury hotel division, which consisted of nine properties. “I will not say
that under Kerkar we did not have systems,” Bhowmick said, “but we did not have structured
systems. We also did not measure ourselves by the outside world, partly because we were creating
the whole industry in India at the beginning. Now we have to measure ourselves against the quality
of our competitors.” Bhowmick believed the transparency of the new systems to be a source of
difficulty but also to be valuable. He said:
We all have more information. For example, the 360-degree feedback gave me more
information about my management style. I thought I treated everyone in the same manner. But
my feedback showed that people feel that I have favorites. I believe often I have favorites
because they are in fact high performers, but still I realize that if some of my managers are
weaker I should give them feedback and attention so they can improve.
But Bhowmick also recognized that the new systems did not capture all aspects of being a
successful manager. Emphasizing the importance of personality and resourcefulness, he maintained:
People don’t become great managers because they always follow procedure. I can still
remember when I was at the Taj Palace in Delhi and we were bidding against the Oberoi to
have the Young Presidents Organization hold their convention at our hotel. There were 1,200
Do Not Copy or Post
This document is authorized for use only by Paschal Anosike at University of Wolverhampton until April 2014.
Copying or posting is an infringement of copyright. Permissions@hbsp.harvard.edu or 617.783.7860.
Taj Hotel Group 403-004
guests coming and we were proposing an outdoor party. . . . The YPO was excited about
everything except that they felt it would take too long to move 1,200 people from the poolside
party area to the banquet room because we only had one escalator and one grand staircase. I
promised them I would solve this problem if we held the convention at the Taj, so they gave us
the business. I had 10 days time and I commandeered some steel that had been ordered to
build flight kitchens in Delhi for our flight catering business. . . . I had staff build stairs to
cover the 200-foot climb from the pool area to the hotel banquet hall. We covered the stairs
with jasmine, and we put dancers on the parapets so guests could watch them appear over the
summit as they climbed the stairs. The YPO was thrilled. How do we promote and develop
these qualities in our future managers, the ability to thrill your guests, the ability to say yes
and say you will find a solution and then find one?
Prabhat Varma, general manager of the Taj Malabar, had worked for the Taj for 11 years and
considered Bhowmick one of his primary mentors. “Developing managers cannot be systematized,”
Varma insisted. “You can have systems and procedures for the back office, certainly, but not for
testing and identifying leadership material.” Varma recalled his own entry into the Taj in 1990,
straight out of hotel management school in Calcutta. “There were 11 of us in the management
training program, and Mr. Kerkar knew all of us. He made us feel big, taught us that we represent the
Taj at all times in everything we do.”
Varma remembered performing many menial tasks as a management trainee but knew that it was
part of learning the business. He also knew he was under the watchful eye of the general manager of
his property as well as Kerkar. After rotating through Taj Bengal, Bombay, Hyderabad, Bangalore,
Calcutta, and Delhi, Varma returned to the Taj Bombay in September 1992 as assistant manager of
room service. He became manager of The Coffee Shop, the Taj Mumbai’s highest-revenue restaurant,
in 1994. “We had been told during training we could be general managers in 8 to 10 years,” Varma
recalled. “I was starting to realize it would probably really take 12 to 15 years. Not because the
company fooled me, but because there was so much to know.”
Varma had been cautioned by one of several mentors that “we will mentor you, but you have to
come out of our shadow in the end and stand on your own.” He worried for the first time about
being promoted to something he could not handle and no longer being perceived as a star when he
was appointed banquet manager in 1994. “One and a half months into it I was told I was not
mastering the job quickly enough,” Varma recalled. “They wanted to transfer me. I asked for six more
months.” He eventually mastered the role and, in 1998–1999, was made assistant food manager. This
was a significant distinction in grade level, enabling Varma for the first time to shed a uniform and
don a suit. “At the time,” he recollected, “the big dream was to soon sit down at the table as a full
food and beverage manager. Being general manager was still hazy and far away.” Varma chose the
night shift, saying: “The key attraction of working at night was that my boss, the food and beverage
manager, was at home sleeping, so you get to be the manager!”
Bhowmick helped Varma at several key turning points in his career. “Although sometimes,”
Varma reflected, “it was ‘tough love.’ We used to call Mr. Bhowmick a tiger. He would stay in your
hotel and prowl around and in the morning catch hold of people and tell you what problems he had
Coming under a new boss in 1999 discomfited Varma. He remembered feeling that “I am a big
gun, but now I have a new boss who I have to prove myself to again and I didn’t like it. I approached
Bhowmick, who was the general manager in Bombay at that time, and told him this and he told me to
be bigger in my approach. He told me, ‘Manage your guests, not your boss.’” Varma tried to learn to
do this, but he was growing restless. Rather than have a senior position at the largest hotel in the
Do Not Copy or Post
This document is authorized for use only by Paschal Anosike at University of Wolverhampton until April 2014.
Copying or posting is an infringement of copyright. Permissions@hbsp.harvard.edu or 617.783.7860.
403-004 Taj Hotel Group
chain, he preferred to be general manager even at a small hotel. He wanted room to be
Bhowmick eventually recommended Varma for the general manager position at the Taj Chiplun, a
37-room property between Bombay and Goa. Revenue for the entire hotel was one-twentieth the
revenue of just the banqueting division of the Taj Mumbai. Varma recalled the admonition that
accompanied Bhowmick’s announcement of the job offer: “You are going as my boy from Bombay. If
you sink, then stay out of my face. But if you do well, I’ll send you from Chiplun to a good property.”
Varma had done well at Chiplun and was now manager of Taj Malabar, a premier leisure
property in the south. He was developing managers at this property and wanted leeway to advise
them and help shape their careers as his mentors had shaped his. Anything more formal in terms of
leadership training would ruin what he considered the values of the Taj. He pointed out that “at
other hotels, like the Oberoi, they hand you a manual and they say this is the way to do it. Here at the
Taj, we say this is the goal, now you figure out how to do it. This is how we create leaders.”
Varma did acknowledge in the systems Krishna Kumar had implemented value outside of
leadership development. “Because we report our revenues to central management and have to
explain them,” he observed, “we cannot portray something that is not true anymore. A general
manager used to be a lord; now he is a manager.” Varma also liked the leverage customer data
provided in interactions with managers. “A guest tells me what to do to make this place better, and
now I can fight for that with my boss,” he explained. The employee-satisfaction tracking system and
360-degree feedback were valuable too, although sometimes disillusioning, according to Varma. “We
feel like we are going through an X-ray machine,” he remarked. Varma also shared more financial
and operating data with his employees than had been the custom under Kerkar. He said, “I used to
lock my office in Chiplun; now I don’t lock my office. So what if employees see my papers. This
should be more of an open house.”
Developing Managers: The Future
In the past managers had followed one of three routes. Some had come through the Tata
Administrative Service (TAS), a prestigious corporate training program modeled on the British Civil
Service that shaped leaders for all of the Tata companies. TAS officers rotated into the IHC at seniorlevel
positions without industry knowledge of hotels but with functional or management and
systems expertise. Although TAS officers, being inclined to make their careers with Tata, tended to
adopt a long-term outlook, they often took a short-term perspective with respect to their tenure
within hotels. Often they came with a specific developmental objective in mind or to master a certain
level of management and be promoted and subsequently transferred to another Tata company. TAS
had produced many of India’s most prominent businessmen. It was a living reminder, emphasized
one executive, that “long before Jack Welch, Mr. J.R.D. Tata was in the business of creating leaders.”
But bringing TAS officers into Taj was sometimes perceived as creating a glass ceiling for non-TAS
A second route was through the Taj’s own management trainee program. Taj rotated graduates of
the country’s best hotel management schools through multiple properties and multiple functions.
Trainees chose a specific function in which to specialize in order to climb through the ranks, but the
aim was for them to be conversant in all areas of the business so that eventually they might qualify to
be a general manager of a property.
Do Not Copy or Post
This document is authorized for use only by Paschal Anosike at University of Wolverhampton until April 2014.
Copying or posting is an infringement of copyright. Permissions@hbsp.harvard.edu or 617.783.7860.
Taj Hotel Group 403-004
Finally, some managers simply rose up through the ranks, being promoted to management after
excelling as staff workers for many years. This last route, although it had produced many great
general managers in earlier decades and was both democratic and meritocratic, was now more rarely
taken because operating the business had become more complex and more technologically
Career Development Committee
The Career Development Committee (CDC) met to discuss high-level openings and how to groom
senior managers for those jobs. Many senior executives were unaware of the existence of this
committee, but most affirmed that they believed that Krishna Kumar had, even if he did not share it,
“a game plan” for them. Some senior executives added that they had their own plans for what they
wanted to accomplish within the next 10 years, but there was no explicit channel through which these
parallel plans for the future might be reconciled. Remarked one executive: “The company has treated
me well. I have never demanded anything. If you have to demand it it’s not worth it. If I am good I
will be recognized.”
Another executive added:
We operated with a lot of intrinsic faith. It was the Tata way. The senior people were
respected people and they shaped our careers and we trusted that they wouldn’t let us down.
It might have taken longer; you might have gotten paid less—for at a least a decade I had a
lesser title and salary than my peers from business school—but Tata wouldn’t let you down.
The faith was there because of the people who ran the company, not because there was an
efficient system in place.
The new, systems-based approach was not a substitute for personal guidance from managers.
Observed one executive: “I would do anything for my boss if he would just meet with me one hour a
week, but he doesn’t seem to realize that.”
One of the main objectives of the CDC was to value the contributions and help shape the careers
of solid performers as well as the high performers who had always received extra attention even
under the old informal system. A major discussion point among committee members was how to
decide, when desirable positions opened up, whether to give solid performers an opportunity to
grow and develop or always send in a star performer to minimize risk and maximize the likelihood
of success. Some committee members believed that even though it might be desirable to allow other
managers opportunities to develop, if star performers became resentful that they were not always
given the best of the available openings they might become restless and think about moving to
Talking the Talk
Krishna Kumar’s secretary ushered Bhowmick into the managing director’s stately office. Krishna
Kumar listened as Bhowmick explained why his handpicked candidate was a better choice for the
general manager opening than the one designated by the CDC after it had analyzed test results and
evaluations. Krishna Kumar pondered what to tell Bhowmick. He knew that most people in
organizations had experience with processes that no one took seriously. But he also knew that the
committee had spent days selecting candidates for positions at various properties and that
considerable thought had gone into the decisions. He considered the implications if the committee
Do Not Copy or Post
This document is authorized for use only by Paschal Anosike at University of Wolverhampton until April 2014.
Copying or posting is an infringement of copyright. Permissions@hbsp.harvard.edu or 617.783.7860.
403-004 Taj Hotel Group
members’ selections were not respected. Krishna Kumar was also aware a self-fulfilling prophecy
might be unfolding, in that Bhowmick could help the person he chose to succeed but might not help
the person selected by the system. Bhowmick made the case that if protocol were always followed
there would be a regression to the mean and numbers would win over good judgment. Bhowmick
believed that exceptions needed to be made. What would Krishna Kumar decide?
Do Not Copy or Post
This document is authorized for use only by Paschal Anosike at University of Wolverhampton until April 2014.
Copying or posting is an infringement of copyright. Permissions@hbsp.harvard.edu or 617.783.7860.
Taj Hotel Group 403-004
Exhibit 1 Taj Hotels Worldwide
Taj Luxury Hotels Taj Cultural-Centre Hotels
The Taj Westend (Bangalore) Taj View Hotel (Agra)
Taj Bengal (Calcutta/Kolkata) Taj Ganges (Benares)
Taj Coromandel (Chennai) Taj Malabar (Cochin)
Taj Krishna (Hyderabad) Taj Hari Mahal (Jodhpur)
The Taj Mahal Hotel (Mumbai) Hotel Chandela (Khajuraho)
The Taj Mahal Hotel (New Delhi)
Taj Palace Hotel (New Delhi)
Taj Other Hotels
Taj Business Hotels
Taj Kutteram (Bangalore)
Taj Residency Ummed (Ahmedabad) City Inn (Baramati)
Taj Residency (Aurangabad) Ramgarh Lodge (Jaipur)
Taj Residency (Calicut) Manjarun Hotel (Mangalore)
Taj Connemara (Chennai) The Ambassador Hotel (New Delhi)
Taj Residency (Ernakulam) Savoy Hotel (Ooty)
Taj Banjara (Hyderbad) The Gir Lodge (Sasan Gir)
Taj Residency (Hyderbad) The Sawai Madhopur Lodge (Madhopur)
Taj Residency (Indore)
Taj Residency (Lucknow) The Gateway Hotels
Taj President (Mumbai)
Taj Residency (Nashik) Gateway Hotel on Residency Road (Bangalore)
Blue Diamond (Pune) Gateway Riverview Lodge (Chiplun)
Taj Residency (Visakhapatnam)
Taj International Hotels
Taj Palace Hotels
Taj Coral Reef Resort (Maldives)
Jai Mahal Palace (Jaipur) Taj Exotica Resort and Spa (Maldives)
Rambagh Palace (Jaipur) Hotel de L’Annapurna (Kathmandu, Nepal)
Lake Palace (Udaipur) Sohar Beach Hotel (Sohar, Oman)
Taj Exotica (Bentota, Sri Lanka)
Taj Resort Hotels Airport Garden Hotel (Colombo, Sri Lanka)
Taj Samudra (Colombo, Sri Lanka)
Fisherman’s Cove (Chennai) Taj Palace Hotel (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
For Aguada Beach Resort (Goa) 51 Buckingham Gate (London, United Kingdom)
The Aguada Hermitage (Goa) Crowne Plaza St. James (London, United Kingdom)
Taj Exotica (Goa) Taj Sheba Hotel (Sana’a, Yemen)
Taj Holiday Village (Goa) Taj Pamodzi Hotel (Lusaka, Zambia)
Taj Garden Retreats
Taj Garden Retreat (Chikmagalur)
Taj Garden Retreat (Coonoor)
Taj Garden Retreat (Kumarakom)
Taj Garden Retreat (Madurai)
Taj Garden Retreat (Thekkady)
Taj Garden Retreat (Varkala)
Source: Company documents.

find the cost of your paper