Sunday, December 18, 2011

Inspired by Chetan Bhagat

Chetan wrote in TOI today about 'Nerds' and coined a term 'Lerds' for fellow men who study arts, liberal or literal. He beautifully wrote about the real Nerds or absolute nerds, who are devoted to learning and pursue it for it's scientific justifications. Many a times so logically correct that it leads to another set of formula, that gives birth to next set of mathematical equations for arriving at another seminal theory and then lots of nerds follow it at IIScs, IITs, MITs of the world. When as a common man I visit science exhibitions or science centres, I am amused to see lots of abstract products, projects, modules on the table in the form of 'Prototypes' that will reinvent the way, we stored grains at FCI godowns, with 50% less airconditioning cost to generating electricity with Garbage (read rich garbage, that may require some import custom duty exemption and excise subsidy). I am really thankful to the nerds, who gave us $50 tablet PC (Aakash by Datawind, Canada) or $15 water filter (Unilever) that even our Bolangir and Palamu district brothers could afford through subsidised PDS. A nerd changing option from potable water of lerds to safe water,to the bottom rung of our society. We need more and more such Nerds who help us get over the hurdles, approaching a solution, less obvious and seemingly impossible. They take the challenge on their own or together with their closely-held group of nerds, who collaborate with odds and even and also manage strings of bureaucracy created by Lerds who build policies which still reminds us British Raj. Our Indian Contract Act is 1872 and IPC 1860 and we made 94 Amendments to our Constitution. Great job lerds, now we know while lerds are experts or workaround, Nerds come up with Innovation.

Mix of Nerds and Lerds are required to take an objective view out of subjective framework to arrive at solution using the application focus and keeping pontification at bay. For pontification, Lerds can save energy and inertia to deliver at TV talk shows, debates, seminars, etc.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Why this bond?

I am really pained to see independent India still stinking of slavery. The bond, the bonded, the indentured labourers, the cyber-coolies and all that we have heard and accepted for the sake of a JOB. The end result at the end of the month is salary.

I am unable to understand, why we are allowing companies to use this shackles of slavery. Is there no PIL in the court of law questioning this? Most of the fresher students are forced to sign the bond for 2 years or more for as disproportionate amount as 2 lacs, 3 lacs, while they are paid 2 or 3 lacs a year.

Has anyone thought, for any such reasons, if one has to break the bond within 1 year, will with inflated economy a new employee will have 2 or 3 lacs to payback? Will any bank give you loan to repay this burden?
Does your employer pay you 2 or 3 lacs when you served the bond period?
How come in Independent and free India, we have allowed companies to serve us with this INJUSTICE?

Why colleges do not question this when they allow for campus interviews? Why parents do not raise a voice against this draconian practice?

As if education loan repayment was less @12% interest, that you run the risk of paying a bond back if is you want to walk-out one day from the company, for reasons as valid.

Though we all know these bonds are illegal and do not stand any jurisprudence, we have allowed it to flourish like, slavery, dowry, sati-pratha, female infanticide, bride burning.

I see this bond as CHILD-ABUSE!

Help me stop this. Campaign for it and ban all such companies from campus hiring!
You are precious, company needs you as much as you need the job.


Save your soul, save your pride!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Great, Good and Gone

A few days back, Times of India, Bangalore edition reported, Britannia firing 40 employees in one-go while following thier new "Mantra"
 called "GREAT,GOOD AND GONE“

Jim Colins mentioned in his book Good to Great, that, "Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice.”


What such decisions, as one taken by Britannia, entail that Level 5 leadership instinct came to play.


What is level 5 ledership is not style but a phenomena. Welcome move Britannia, well done!

LEVEL 5 LEADER DEFINED

PROFESSIONAL WILL

Creates superb results, a clear catalyst in the transition from good to great.
Demonstrates an unwavering resolve to do whatever must be done to produce the best long-term results, no matter how difficult.
Sets the standard of building an enduring great company; will settle for nothing less.
Looks in the mirror, not out the window, to apportion responsibility for poor results, never blaming other people, external factors, or bad luck.

PERSONAL HUMILITY



Demonstrates a compelling modesty, shunning public adulation; never boastful.
Acts with quiet, calm determination; relies principally on inspired standards, not inspiring charisma, to motivate.
Channels ambition into the company, not the self; sets up successors for even greater success in the next generation.
Looks out the window, not in the mirror, to apportion credit for the success of the company—to other people, external factors, and good luck.

The only way to deliver to the people who are achieving is to not burden them with the people who are not achieving.  

Practical principles:

1. When in doubt don’t hire, keep looking.

2. When you know you need to make a people change, act.

3. Put your best people on your biggest opportunities, not on your biggest problems.

Creating a climate where truth is heard:

1. Lead with questions, not answers.
2. Engage in dialogue and debate, not coercion.
3. Conduct autopsies, without blame.
4. Build “red flag” mechanisms.


Manager’s self assessment Toolkit

SUPERVISOR COMPETENCY


SELF-ASSESSMENT INVENTORY

SUPERVISOR COMPETENCY SELF-ASSESSMENT INVENTORY

Name: ______________________________________

Date: ______________________________________

Purpose: This Self-Assessment Inventory outlines the major areas of competence an effective supervisor must have. The competency areas are sub-divided into categories which correspond to the major functions supervisors perform.

This Inventory can also be used as a guide to curriculum development for Supervisory Training, using the components as the basis for a needs assessment exercise.

Note: The scale below does not represent a test. There is no formal scoring involved.

To assess yourself using this form, put the number corresponding to your level of competence (as indicated on the scale below) in the appropriate column next to each competency listed.

Scale: 4 = Very competent (capable of performing and practice this function regularly)

3 = Competent (capable of performing but don’t practice this function regularly)

2 = Competency needs improvement (little experience performing)

1 = No competency (no experience)

Area of Competency

I. Gain Acceptance as a Supervisor: You must gain the respect of your work group in order to be a successful supervisor.

1. Know the educational and professional background and interests of the people you supervise

2. Communicate your background, philosophy, and general expectations about performance to staff

3. Listen, be open to the concerns of people

4. Know the job descriptions and work plans of staff members

5. Communicate the organizational and unit goals with people you supervise

6. Regularly communicate relevant information from upper management

7. Advocate for your staff if appropriate (e.g., appropriate salaries, resources, training opportunities)

8. Actively attempt to solve problems

9. Treat people fairly and consistently

10. Respect staff and their contributions

Reflections on Part I:

II. Develop Individual Employee Work Plans: Meeting with each individual you supervise to jointly develop his or her performance objectives for a specified period of time such as 6 or 12 months.

1. Meet with each person you supervise to develop a work plan

2. Review their job description and update if necessary

3. Agree on the employee’s major areas of responsibility (e.g., financial management, program coordination)

4. Jointly develop work objectives for a specified period of time that are specific, realistic, measurable, and time bound

5. Agree on performance standards with the employee such as quantity, quality, timeliness, and/or cost, related to accomplishing work objectives

6. Provide adequate resources, according to your ability, for person to succeed

Reflections on Part II:


III. Maintain High Level of Performance: Strategies you use on a regular basis to motivate employees to achieve their best work every day.


1. Publicly acknowledge individual accomplishments

2. Talk informally with staff on a routine basis

3. Take staff ideas, suggestions, and wishes into account whenever possible

4. Provide opportunities for challenging assignments

5. Pass on reports of “good work” to the higher levels in the organization

6. Provide opportunities for training when this is appropriate to the goals of individuals and the organization

7. Invite people to submit agenda items for formal meetings

8. Promote opportunities for staff learning and career advancement

Reflections on Part III:



IV. Conduct Formal Performance Review Meetings: Meet with each staff member on a scheduled basis, generally every 6 months, to review their work plan and assess their performance.

1. Establish a schedule for performance reviews

2. Arrange for time and location, notify employee

3. Control interruptions

4. Review employee’s work plan in advance

5. Discuss employee’s performance with other managers if relevant

6. At meeting, jointly review with employee their work plan and progress

7. Provide positive and constructive feedback, negative if necessary

8. Jointly develop work plan for next designated time period

9. Jointly develop an action plan for any education, training, or in-service activities for employee

10. Incorporate the employee’s comments into the performance review

Reflections on Part IV:


V. Dealing with Performance Problems: Being a supervisor means dealing with performance problems and in some cases, disciplinary action or discharge.

1. Describe the problem objectively in terms of work consequences

2. Don’t assign blame for the problem

3. Know who else may be involved

4. Review job descriptions and specific tasks/instructions with employee(s) to clarify expectations as soon as possible

5. Diagnose all possible causes by collecting objective information

6. Assess whether additional training may be needed for skill deficiency

7. Assess other causes, e.g., personal problems, lack of challenge

8. Establish action plan jointly to solve problem

9. Give close supervision for a specified period known by the supervisee

10. Understand your organization’s procedures for taking formal corrective action, e.g., documentation, discipline, layoff, discharge

11. Consult with your manager, presenting a detailed and documented description of the problem

12. Take action, if required, to dismiss and replace the employee



Reflections on Part V:



VI. Managing Conflict Between Employees: This is often one of the most difficult areas for supervisors to deal with.



1. Keep an open mind about the problem and the causes

2. Interview each person separately

3. Concentrate on the fact, not personalities

4. Ask each individual for advice on how the problem can be resolved

5. Encourage reconciliation if agreement can be reached

6. If no agreement, establish ground rules for future behavior, roles

7. Emphasize benefits of cooperation and the consequences of none

8. Establish and inform employees of procedures for any further grievances



Reflections on Part VI:



Area of Competency



VII. Counseling a Troubled Employee: People sometimes need special assistance in dealing with a particular difficulty/life crisis.



1. Offer assistance when known problems interfere with job performance

2. Listen, guide, encourage employee to solve his/her own problems

3. Let employee express him/herself

4. Assure employee of privacy and confidentiality, but also adhere to the established employee policies in your organization

5. Provide flexibility, support for work as much as you can reasonably do

6. Refer to outside resource, such as rehabilitation services for substance abuse, if appropriate



Reflections on Part VII:



VIII. Time Management: A common complaint among supervisors is that there is not enough time to perform the supervisory function adequately.



1. Prioritize your own work responsibilities, review task list periodically

2. Plan your daily, weekly, monthly schedule to allow time for the most important tasks, group similar tasks together as much as possible

3. Allow time for unexpected demands

4. Allocate time for creative, project development work and not only to respond to crisis

5. Schedule time for your own learning and professional development

6. Delegate tasks wherever possible

8. Discourage unnecessary interruptions

9. Ask your supervisor for advice when you have too much work and no one to delegate to



Reflections on Part VIII:



INDIVIDUAL SUPERVISOR DEVELOPMENT PLAN



Based on the above, complete the following and develop a self-improvement plan. Your plan may include a request for formal training, increased meetings with a supervisor to analyze issues and improve diagnostic skills, team meetings with other supervisors to discuss common issues, and/or a renewed approach to daily supervisory practice.



1. My strengths as a supervisor:

2. Areas where I need improvement:

3. My individual objectives for the next 6 months:

4. My plan to achieve objectives:

Saturday, December 3, 2011

WHY THIS 'ZILLA veri di? SiliconIndia Strategic HR Summit, Bangalore: the heinous bias!

WHY THIS 'ZILLA veri di? SiliconIndia Strategic HR Summit, Bangalore, Dec 1, 2011

I attended SiliconIndia's Strategic HR session at Bangalore in 2011 on Dec 1.
Sessions were very average and dull and boring. No excitement. No flavor of leadership or passion of an HR evangelist, so to say.
There were many panel discussions and some solo presentations by tired (read re-tired) HR folks, who are at the top of HR hierarchy in their organisations.

Read my observations--

Observations-

Observation#1

With due respects to all communities, including mine, if I have one. Yet to figure out as I am so shocked. Unfortunate reality of modern day corporate India! They were presenting at the summit.

A Malayali dominated company has a Malayali HR head
A Tamil dominated company has a Tamil HR head
A Bengali dominated company has a Bengali HR head
A UP/North Indian dominated  company has UP/North Indian HR head
A Telugu dominated company has a Telugu HR head
A Kannadiga dominated company has a Kannadiga HR head
A Marathi dominated company has a Marathi HR head

SiliconIndia can give you names if you approach them.

Is this just a coincidence or a purposefully designed linguistic/regional colonialism? Shamefully prejudicial and biased.
Surprisingly all these companies claim global outlook, global clients and " an equal opportunity employer" tag like EC for European Compliant.

You will wonder, why do I say, it is a Bengali company or a Malayali company?


I say it as it's MD/CEO/India Head/Founder is a Bengali or Malayali or majority of top management is having such affiliation, affection or infection. Who says, culture is not injected? Bad cultures are certainly injected!

Observation#2

In the audience, there was a serious dearth of senior HR folks and especially large companies abstain from such low profile summits. They just come to present there but do not send their HR teams to attend them. Hypocrisy!

Are these HR heads who present at these summits not just publicity hungry? Do they not keep such summits only for themselves and not for their teams? Is this not a bourgeois and colonial mind set?

Observation#3

All these HR heads, talk through their presentations, what is their co's best practice or policy as far as topic is concerned and keep justifying it. While the expectations are that, they talk about what are the leading practices in the industry and how they are trying to emulate them and what challenges they face while trying to do so. What they present through slides could be done by any Senior HR exec. It does not require a Head HR if it is just a sales pitch.

Observation#4

A new bunch of HR heads, particularly the women folk have exhibited very different characters. I define them as WORKING HOUSEWIVES! 

1. While presenting, One Head HR gives examples of her son when she talks about 'connecting' aspect in developing leaders. A few mins later she gives example of her 4 year old daughter, when she talks about 'contacts'. I believe these housewife HR heads have a serious job at home than at work.

2.Another HR lady head comes very close to be called a 'Drama Queen' while inflating simple facts as too dramatic and subtly positioning herself as a Game changer in some strategic decisions that their company management took in sending one cocooned R&D Manager for 3 months sabbatical and other newly hired Sales honcho to 3 months in Europe to know business closely.
Are these not very obvious and routine steps that senior management of a company will take when they position a person for a global role. Best aspect is that the lady HR head dramatized these action items in super-similar EKTA KAPOOR Soaps. I believe these housewife HR heads can be better used for TV serial script writing rather than strategy formulations for companies.

2. One more lady HR Head appears more like a business or operations person PASTED into HR role and for her every basic level HR experiences and surprises that she faces today and shared at hiring and managing attrition, seem like she holds better secrets than Julian Asange's wiki leaks. With these kind of pasted HR leaders, it is a struggle of not resolving critical HR issues but in packaging and presenting the basic HR issue findings for top management. Leave HR to HR experts, don't experiment with non-HR trade people. HR has more important tasks at hand today than helping someone establish as an HR leader who just has facade that gets uncovered so often. 

Observation#5

A company who had their HR head presenting at a panel discussion has a Ph.D from XLRI and throughout the discussion he talked about how he brought Dave Ulrich to his office for "free". His comment on Kasturirangan was uncalled for as he tried questioning matters of personal religious faith in PUBLIC. Not worthy of a Ph.D, if not s an HR leader. I saw the risk of hiring a Ph.D for HR leader role as it is a great fix for them to talk simple versus talk big names and big books. At the end of such presentations it looks like yet another session at Aastha channel, a PRAVACHAN session. Please talk facts and we do not need you as poster boys of HR, you have to be a solution guy for fundamental HR issues and just not keep projecting that you have a Ph.D and so we all acknowledge it and do a SHASTAANG DANDWAT Sir.

Over all an eye opener (read shocking) day!

Learning that I got? You are kidding me!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

In lighter vein: Public sector vs private sector-who is more fair and transparent

Liberalisation opened gates for large number of private sector businesses and along came loads of jobs. Jobs came fast and furious. With so many hired, has there been a system that can be called fair and transparent in private sectors? Not sure as they do not hire like PSUs do. PSUs advertise, call for test, at  each stage publish results and best out of the whole lot are hired. Clear and transparent. In private sector hiring happens through local systems that a company may choose to adopt. Advertise on different job boards, media, website, internal hiring campaign, or sometimes even without advertising. That's called liberalisation. But does that ensure, we have followed fair and transparent process? Probably not. As there is no audit or accountability to any government body or cell to publish, how fair and transparent their system has been in hiring till promotions, reviews and rewards. Liberaliation, while has opened gates for privatisation but it appears it has made people and system within the company management a little like unbridled rulers.Lack of proper accountability may have promoted lose systems and whims and fancies in decision making and thereby affecting the fairness and transparency.
My experience of having got offers from PSUs and other government services gives me more confidence in the system than in private sectors.
Private sector hiring in most of the cases, except for campus hiring is not so well planned as PSU hirings are.
Even selection of campus have been quite questionable many a times in private sector hiring. But that's the liberalisation code that we agreed to and it has helped a lot in growth but the question is not questioning growth but questioning, the fairness and transparency of the system.

While appearing for a government competitive examination and interview, I experienced that my performance will lead to result with much higher probability than I experienced in the private sector, where, even if score 100/100 at all stages, things may not turn in your favor as selection in private sector is not most driven by a formula that is established or can be explained and understood, but by hunches, gut feel, culture-fit, focus fit, long-term, short-term planning fit, etc.

When majority of jobs are there in the private sector, an uncertain system of hiring and growth of job or ucertain job market and hiring trends mayy derail lots of lives which will in turn affect lots of growth plans.
Housing loan is one such threat that has made people think twice before buying a flat or house, as uncertainty is unsettling lots of boats.
Hope things turn out and shape up for better.

Friday, May 6, 2011

The threat of HR shrinking as a function


Largely HR is considered to be a support function to business or enterprise and has been growing as a function much guided by the business than it's own pattern of evolving as a multi-tier or multi-layer function. I see traditional HR has a definite form of statutory or compliance keeper in forms of maintaining employee records, history of employee life-cycle while following statutory compliance as the rule of the land or state stipulates.
Modern day HR as all of you know is a catalyst to the organization's change management efforts, organisational development planner and agent, people effectiveness coach, coordinator for capability building framework design team, total rewards expert, champions of people issues, aspirations and career progression frame-work builder ; advisor, Leadership pipeline builder, keeper of people's faith in organization's fair and transparent review, reward and recognition system, keeper of people's faith in being heard, taken care of and resolver of issues with a surgeon's precision, excellent trainer and organiser of real stuff in training to ensure people's success in the organisation and beyond, etc, etc..

On top of the list of jobs or roles that HR has added to it's armoury, there are everyday challenges that industry, competion, market and people keep throwing that relates to people comes to HR first, before it gets filtered out or routed to other functions or people, outside HR. Agree to all of the specialist hats that HR can don, but the bigger and little worrying question is: Have we really made it large in HR to establish as HR specialist, as strongly as acadmicians and HR evangelists, great universitty professors and researchers have established these glofiying terms, conceppts and models and matrices? Probably not that much as we would have expected to..
The bigger worry is not there....the bigger worry is for the existence of the HR folks in future with HR professionals in many-many companies have not been able to establish the sense of worth and importance of each lateral function within HR to the company management and it's people, to the extent that each company to get the optimum benefit out of the HR's specialist functions.
Unfortunately, HR people are not able to sell thee specialist functions within HR to their curent company that results in too many HR people doing more of generalist function and not many in specialist functions.
I am not telling generalist is not a great skill, rather it is a great combination called 'Jack of all trades' but equally true is the other part of the adage...
Time to sell more of specialist HR roles within the organisation, so that you get to specislist role or rotate to various specilist roles, by adding key skills required for thoe roles or hire from the market.

If HR people do not do this today, they will always ask, what should be best employee number to HR member ratio?
We need to get ahead from here ASAP and establish HR as a specialist function with great sets of weapons or offerings to organisattion and people. Let's all take a task to grow HR function or else we will keep reading such ideas in HBRs, and great HR books and will hardly know anything beyond a 10 yrs junior HR student who comes out of his college and gets a next seat to us.

More so, for HR's sake and for sake of large pool of HR students at the gates waiting to enter your company..

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Thinking Course by Edward DeBono

Lateral Thinking










The quickest and the most reliable way to be rewarded for intelligence is to prove someone else wrong. Such a strategy gives you an immediate result and also establishes your superiority. Being constructive is much less rewarding. It may take years to show that a new idea works. Further more you have to depend on the listener liking your idea. So it is obvious that being critical and destructive is much more appealing use of intelligence. This is made even worse by the absurd western notion that ‘critical thinking’ is enough.
Analysis, judgement and argument are not enough.

Critical destruction has never produced a better one. It is creativity that produces the better hypothesis.

Perception is how we look at the world.

Professor David Perkins at Harvard has shown that almost all the errors of thinking are errors of perception. In real life logical errors quite rare. Yet we persist in believing that thinking is all a matter of avoiding logical errors.

If your perception is limited then flawless logic will give you an incorrect answer.

Perception works as a ‘self-organising information system.’

The tool method is much easier and more effective than other methods of teaching.

Teaching people to avoid mistake is very limited. You could avoid all mistakes in driving by leaving the car in the garage.

The PMI tool-

Exhorting people to take a balanced view is not very effective.

P stands for Plus or the good points

M stands for Minus or the bad points

I stands for Interesting or the interesting points.


PMI is an attention directing tool.

PMI is the first of CORT lessons. CORT stands for Cognitive Research Trust.

The PMI sets the mood of objectivity and scanning. The ‘I’ encourages he deliberate habit of exploring the matter outside the judgement framework. Another aspect of ‘I’ is to see if the idea leads to another idea. I trains the mind to react to the interest inherent in a idea and not just to judgement things about the idea. A thinker should be able to say: ‘ I do not like your idea but there are these interesting aspects to it..’.

As a habit of mind the PMI is specifically designed to force us to scan in those situations where otherwise, we should deem scanning unnecessary.
The PMI is useful because it is more oblique than direct disagreement or confrontation.

The APC tool-

A stands for Alternatives

P stands for Possibilities

C stands for Choices

Contentment with an adequate solution or approach is the biggest block there is to any search for a better alternative.

Proof may be no more than lack of imagination.

Through APC anything can be simplified or made more effective or productive.

1. Do an APC (review style) on the packaging of chocolate bars

2. Do an APC on the design of a telephone

I am told that there is an old Jewish saying which states that if there are two courses of action, you should always take the third.

Sir Robert Watson-Watt, the father of radar, had a saying, you get an idea today, you get a better idea tomorrow, you get the best idea never..

There is a need of practical cut-offs and deadlines and the freezing of designs.

But is you never generate alternatives you never have a choice.

Generating alternatives opens up possibilities.

We need it even more because the patterning nature of the mind seeks certainty-not alternatives.

What is the main purpose of thinking? The main purpose of thinking is to abolish thinking.

--Lumpers are those people who tend to group thinking together by focusing on common features.
--Splitters are those people who tend to separate thinking out by focusing on points of difference.


Edward De Bono first brought the term Lateral Thinking during an interview in 1967.

Lateral thinking is both an attitude of mind and also a number of defined methods.

The attitude of mind involves the willingness to try to look at things in different ways. It involves the appreciation that any way of looking at things is only one amongst many possible ways.


General use of lateral thinking-
The three methods: ‘stepping stone’, ‘escape’ and ‘random stimulation’.

Stepping stone method-for its movement value instead of its judgement value.
Escape method-willing to improve them or escape from them.
Random simulation method we open ourselves to influences other than those we directly look for.
Two other tools, CAF (consider all factors) and C&S (consequences and sequel). These tools were designed to counter the tendency for thinking to be ego-centric and very short-term.
In doing CAF, emphasis is on ‘what has been left out?’ and ‘what ought to be considered?’

Thinking is almost always short-term because the attraction or repulsion of a course of action is immediate.

Dense reading and dense listening.

Very few people are good listeners. A good listener listens slowly to what is being said. He does not jump ahead nor does he rush to judge nor does he sit there formulating his reply. He focuses directly on what is being said. He listens to more than being said. He extracts the maximum information from what hears by looking in between the words used and wondering why something has been expressed in a particular way. Dense reading is like dense listening. Dense reading involves a lot of thinking.

Questions-

Questions fall into two categories-Shooting question (SQ) in which we know what we are aiming to get, yes or no, etc. Fishing question (FQ) we dangle the bait in the water and wait for what we can get.

FI-FO- in-formation-in, in- formation-out
There should be as much consciousness of the information that is not available as there is of the information that is available.

Exlectics seek to lead out or pull-out of the situation, what is of value –no matter on which side it is to be found. With exlectics emphasis would be on ‘designing forward’ rather than on judgement at each stage.

EBS stands for examine both sides. ADI stands for Agreement, Disagreement and Irrelevance.
OPV stands for other people’s views.
THERE IS LOT MORE TO LEARN AND PRACTICE FROM DeBono's Lateral thinking course.

Retention is an issue that haunts HR folks!

Agility Mission Consulting
Thinking of retention risks: Focus on people finding their “sense of worth” before “sense of growth”
Retention is an issue that haunts HR folks much more than any other evil. Reasons are galore, that makes people think of moving out..one is "urge to get out of here" and the other could be "to get in there". Though it is just a trigger.


Someone's loss is someone's gain. The devil emerges, many a times, when a team becomes dysfunctional for any reason out of few given here; from losing a juicy project to a dictatorial manager to the poor review, etc. Much of the reasons for people choosing to move out are sectoral technology change, seasonal recessionary trends, making business sick and people have no clue on when company returns to pink. Let others participate and not leve it just to people in HR functions to do the loud and clear thinking and build a robust plan to retain the stars and others, respectfully called the 'B' players, as they hold the organization with their consistent performance and lesser threatening demands than the 'A' players.

Retention is a strategic game as it aims at averting the crisis due to the "War for talents" scenario. Skill building takes much longer time than buying it. Money makes the bull move. Titles, ESOPs, On-site opportunity, 7 star training, exposure and hefty sign-on bonus play a deal-maker trick. Here we have a capitalist mind-set, who says, 'WHO PAYS WINS' and rest of the lot say in chorus, 'let's re-build our long-term strategic retention rod-map'. The war has begun.

Surprisingly, while building war strategy to protect business, we often ignore what we are made of is just not people, who can be bought and sold, we have intelligent people, who keep searching for their 'sense of worth', much more valuable than the "market-rate".

Let's start talking to people heart-to-heart and you will find them having all the solutions that can make you think beyond the hell-imposed "survival strategy". People are there to grow with a sense of achievement, sense of belongingness, recognised, consulted, rewarded & respected. Share your concern if any, with them. "When in doubt, disclose" is what NRN says. What does not work is, "when in doubt, cut it out". Solutions are in-sight and easy.

Many a times, we have done statistical regression to the mean modeling of all employee exit data in an attempt to figure out what might have gone wrong in managing people and you get so very different reasons that you start doubting the authenticity of exit interview and people's diplomacy.

Retention actually starts from the date of hiring. You need to be aware of the personal reason as well beyond professional reasons for which one joins your organization and those have to mapped to ensure that they are taken care of, or fulfilled or else, disillusionment starts building. And mostly churn is not due to one-morning, one thought of quitting.

Remember, people look for their 'sense of worth' to the organization much before they start thinking of sense of growth. Ensure that a new employee finds her sense of worth very quickly and settles very well.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Brahmanism of hiring: Corporate's helpless dilemma

Recruiting managers or HR Managers who do the hiring or sourcing as it is called in the mean world of procurement of human resources
No, not really, candidates or applicants or aspirants get the dime-a-dozen treatment when they are hired through an agency, who is a detached or not-connected sourcing agent/a contractor or a vendor , be it a company sourcing guy or an outsider.
I seriously believe, it is high time when we all started implementing the learning's that we got from the top leaders like Jack Welch and Larry Bossidy and others with similar stature, who told, "nothing that you do is more important than hiring and developing a top talent" and "you must never delegate hiring".
If there is any element of truth into what these statements here, then we must look back and ask all hiring Managers, for whose team and business the hiring goals are set to review the whole hiring process , which includes sourcing, posting, marketing, branding, screening, evaluating, invitation for meetings with protocol or professional essentials , etc. To review the whole plan and do proper adjustments accordingly. Leaving hiring like critical decision to sourcing or recruiting managers is no less risky than risking a 'wrong hire'.
Most easy excuse for letting HR/Recruiting/sourcing function do the most part of recruiting in the name of not having much time with the hiring manager is like inviting for failure.
Sourcing/Recruiting department, for whom , sourcing is a task devoid of real intangibles called 'hiring for success' is like establishing a 'caste-system' in the organisation and that too with very defining dominance or high-leaning of a Brahmanism.
Hiring managers must be given more than a dip-stick idea and overview of the whole hiring plan and cycle, the typicality much before the hiring manager decides to delegate certain parts of activity for certain time with certain specialists from sourcing/recruiting department.
My experience says that hiring, strongly managed by Hiring Manager herself, has been the fastest and solid in terms of quality, cost and time-scale than when it was summarily given to sourcing department. If hiring manager treats hires as sourcing goods, she can imagine the results and team-spirit and bonding and the culture-fit.
Hiring managers need to get direct-hand involved in hiring and use HR as a supporting hand.
I have seen some recruiters who very much talk the language of a passionate hiring manager in words and spirit, that impresses. Hiring is not a number game or else purchase department could do it better..
Save spirit of hiring in the name of building a sustainably successful organisation!
Watch-out for labels of 'caste-system' and 'brahmanical shades'.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The 'Alpha Male'

{ First who.....then what. Those who build great organisations make sure, they have the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the key seats before they figure out where to drive the bus. They always think first about "who" then about 'what."}-Jim Collins In their paper coaching the Alpha Male, HBR, May 2004, Kate Luderman and Eddie Erlandson define the regularly encountered subject of their treatise as "highly intelligent, confident and successful people who are not happy unless they are the top dogs...Natural leaders, they willingly take independent and action-oriented, Alphas take extraordinary levels of performance for granted...they think very fast and, as a consequence, don't listen to others who don't communicate in Alpha-speak". These are managers who have opinion about everything, believe that their insights are unique and right, and so tend to focus on the flaws in other's arguments and decisions. Sounds familiar? A key factor in the research was that, the more such dynamic, go-getting people achieve and expperince the pressures of excercising senior executive authority, the more pronounced become their faults and weaknesses. Effective at middle manager level and at overseeing processes , they lack the key talents needed to inspire, mobilize and lead people. As the researchers found, most organisations are not very sucessful at developing their talents and channelling the Alphas' potential to help in their transition into more senior, essentially leadership roles. Luderman and Erlandson suggest that, in the US, the figure of Alpha types could be as high as 70% of senior executives. Other opinions that matter while you are reading about Alpha male type. "Alphaness seems to be a characteristic of an interval rather than an ordinal nature. That is, one more possess a little of it, or more of it" To quote Jim Collins, some Alphas are in the wrong seats on the bus and some shouldn't be on the bus in the first place.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Empower the trainer-Give her wings and a few claws too!

"It's not whether you get knocked down, it's whether you get up." -Vince Lombardi http://www.vincelombardi.com/ I have often seen that training is trainer's baby and it her onus to prove the legitimacy of her baby! Others are there to suggest DNA tests! Trainers who are real trainers spend 5 to 20 times more time and effort pondering and preparing, against the training duration of that program. While the trainer shall be quite sensible and sensitive about the title and the profile of the audience, she must get rights to decide the ground rules and provide objective feedback to participants in general and in particular to individuals who did not or could not sync up with the objectives of the training by acting and behaving in a way absolutely against the motion, ethics and integral values of the program. Training is a test of a trainer and equally it is a test of the participants to wrest the best out of the training, trainer and cumulative experience of the audience. Unfortunately training either becomes a high pedestal preaching or a low level arm-wrestling arena. Giving a few wings to the trainer is the encouragement and support that she might need from the participants in the form of being inquisitive, assertive and participative in the session. While wings set the learning environment in a symbiotic set-up, claws control the behavior and the mind-set of up-setting and rocking the boat. In all cases, a constructive feedback form given to participants as well as the trainer will help management get the big-picture perspective, that shall help decide the wave of change and collective learning. Please take the survey pasted below to help me design the best possible Trainer's feedback form that trainer will fill. http://www.zoomerang.com/Survey/WEB22C67NYNN3T/

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Feedfront Way...

Regressive or progressive, diagnostic or developmental, critiquing or coaching, dumping or delegating, discoursing or driving, record-keeping or rewarding, what's your style?
If 7 or more out of 10 times, you chose (as you do or believe in), the second word (italicized), you are a 'LEADER'. Congratulations!
Feedback or Feedfront is almost like the pair-words with same pair like corollary or connotation.
What do you choose, is the big call?

Feedback is a passive word.
Why?
Feedback is asked for; it remains prerogative or privilege of the person who asks for it.
You will agree, it takes 'heroic courage' and 'emotional fortitude' to ask for a feedback or provide one.
(Very few are really interested and most of us try to avoid it unless it becomes life-saving scenario or you are reaching mid-life.)

Feedfront is an active word.
Why?
It comes to you when you asked for it and even when you did not expect it or did not really want to hear it, for it may have caused you, the orgasmic disharmony and I blamed someone with breaching professional hygiene by hurling it on you. Most of the times, feedback looks like a stigma, a burden and an unwanted child.

Feedfront is a giver’s prerogative, privilege or right to be heard, the way and/or, in the shape and form, quantum and intensity that the giver decides to share it with. Giver is in control of affairs here and is not restricted by the misleading and mischievous feedback forms only.
Feedback forms are like a defense lawyer’s discovery questions, where you are given to answer in the way it appears, everything is working fine and any feedback that you give appears like developmental opportunity or futuristic and wishful thinking.


I am attempting not to appear cynical here as have learnt; “it’s good to be a skeptic but not a cynic.
The best part about Feedfront is its being so much in my face, which I can only act not agreeing to but I cannot defy it. It’s like, you love it or hate it, but you can’t ignore it.
Like Feedback, Feedfront is also having all colors, the colors of appreciation, accolades, glory, gratitude, pride, tough comments and suggestions for change, a few brickbats.


The only difference between feedback and Feedfront that differentiates them so widely and distinctly is that Feedfront does not mince words, does not mix professionalism and personal biases or favoritism. It bares it all and shares with you the realistic state of affairs.
'Realism' is a big word in leadership today. Most of the times, when a leader fails, it’s because she could not face realistic situations and always was afraid of this hornet’s nest, though, every night before she went to sleep, she though, she will have a date with realism next morning, everything else shall wait.
But with not only her, it’s largely with most of leaders, that with sun that morning does help evaporate that condensed conviction to face realism.
While feedback is like collecting all the information from the back door though some channel, I am not aware of or the recipient always is so clueless or suspicious about. Feedback is always suspected and taken as a surprise element.
Feedfront is Open and two-way communication channel.
Feedbacks are normally one-way communication and appear to be delivered like a gospel from 30,000 ft.
Feedback, whether manipulated or selectively chosen, not sure as like I do not have eyes on my back, I do not have a mouth on my back. So, how are you feeding me?
While feedbacking is an administrative chore, feedfront is a trust-building excercise that has serious and positive intent.
Feedbacks are documented and kept in lockers. Feedfronts are pasted on the wall and a recepient holds it with pride and conviction to achive the expected change.
Feedback saves Supervisor's ass in the eyes of the management, feedfront saves supervisor's soul and pride in the eyes of his reports and herself.

Feedfront will prepare you for realism both the cases; when you are feedfronting others and when you are getting feedfronted.

Wish me luck and pray that I face feedfronts and give feedfronts without fear of face-offs, inhibitions of losing relationships, guilt of telling the truth or fear of losing my Ass!





Saturday, March 5, 2011

A proud day with the Indian Army, March 5, 2011

Subedar Rakesh with 13 years in army has got his duty done for the nation. I cannot imagine sharing a better space and breathing the same air around him, together..Salute to you Sir.. Subedar Rakesh, it was a great occasion meeting you and even more heartening was, when you asked, "Thandha (cool drink) ho jayye sir?" , I was honored. Thank you Rakesh for being so hospitable.


Subedar Ram Singh, me, wearing your cap that you readily offered, was a medal for me. Thank you for honoring. The touch of pride that my head got through your cap is no less than the
greatest fragrance for my life. Thnak you Sir for the honor and courtesy..Ram zindabad!










Macro Environment in India to Remain Challenging...

On India, Emil Wolter, head of regional strategy at RBS said the macro-economic environment will continue to remain challenging for sometime. Even if broadbased value were to emerge, he does not see it likely to result in immediate upsides. "We are advising clients across the region to remain undeweight on the Indian market for the time being", said the RBS strategist while presenting his report at a media briefing in Mumbai on Mar 4, 2011. Mr.Wolter is of the view that the cyclical indicators for the global economy are bottoming. He believes growth in the first half may surprise on the upside, particularly in the US.
"On the other, bond yields are likely to have hit a low in 2010 and are under threat from a move higher due either to credit concerns or higher inflation/better growth. Yet the debt spiral in Europe is unresolved and we question if the global economy can grow robustly with significantly higher interest rates."
"All the easy money is leading regional inflation higher, supporting earning growth (in aggregate) and forcing savings awayfrom cash towards finacial assets.
With bonds expensive and property having massively outperformed, equities are obvious destination."
M.Wolter warned that bubble is forming in the Asian equities and expects 15-30% returns from this asset class over the next 12-18 months.
The RBS reginal strategist believes the 30 year bull marketin government bonds is possibly over.

What I understand out of Wolter's strategic intent is that India would pursue equity market in absence of any other asset valuation not being trustfully building invertor's confidence.
The bubble that he spoke about looks like a good short-term bet to capitalise upon but the challenge is 12-18 months time frame is still cyclical and you never know which spiral of this cycle you get your returns. Timing still is a big play..

I liked Wolter's view point on push fund leading to easy money and that leading to inflation and that leading to growth and that falling to the unresolved debt trap...who is willing to loose, banks or investors or the debters?
Everybody has their their question and only they have to find their own answers.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Venturing out at the cool Bor dam!


























Bor dam called 'dharan'in local language is 36 kms form Nagpur city on Wardha road. Great sprawaling lake reigns over 12 km stretch covering 5 villages. Has crystal clean water with lovely aquatic life, rocking small fishing boats lying lazy for a stealy night hunt for the golden, silver and platin fishes. Green looking stones through splashing waters on the bunds have their own music, emerging out of soft careses, that only S D Burman could have scripted in tunes of 'manjhi khte jaao re.'., once again.
Mohan, the fisherman shared with us the details of the lake, it's depth, it's reserves and the fishing tax rates, that applied per boat and also per sack of catch. The telapia, rohus, katla and smaller little known fishes all you find here. The smoked telapia costs you 200 per kg, a good rohu 120 to 200 per kg. The smoked small fishes turn golden and they invite you for a divine bite.

Have a look at some of those real moments..The Bor dam, Mohan, the fisherman, my friends and the boats...
Yogesh, Jai and I made lots of attempts hitting the water meter pole from good 50 yard distance and after some 200 stone thows to hit it and only a few hit, we all started respecting Jhonty Rhodes of this world with bowed heads!
Put together, it was a great time.
-Mrinall...

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Trip to "Haji Ali", Mumbai

Defining moment in my life. It's a personal realisation time. I thank God, he blessed me with this gift of realisation early in my life.
I got my answer and that is good enough for this life.

Haji Ali, Mumbai, Feb 19, 2011.