Sunday, December 29, 2013

Feedback should not be like GSM

Feedback is crucial in development. Feedback improves your skills if given or taken properly.  It also helps us to make ourselves aware about our unknown self and reduce the blind spot. However feedback is always considered as critical. The person receiving the feedback does not like it, most of the times. However if it is given in proper way, it definitely helps to improve and can be taken as development area. During giving the feedback, you should not target the person, but his behavior. Receiver should get it as a support and help and he should sense your genuine interest in supporting the person. It should not be the criticism.      

It should not be like GSM. Yes. GSM

G: No generalized feedback.

Feedback should not be generalized. It should be specific and you should mentioned the event based on you would are giving the feedback. While receiving the feedback, insist on the event, occasion, based on feedback is being given.

S: No sensational feedback.

Feedback is for the improvement. You should not attach the sentiments to the feedback. If you do this, receiver may take it as a personal. While giving feedback, your intention should be clear. But it is upto the receiver how he takes. He should not feel offended and hence it should not be dramatic, however it can be sensitive.

M: No meaningless feedback.

Feedback should have some credibility. There are people who just give the feedback for the sake of giving feedback. Feedback should be supported with concrete examples. You should also see the benefits into it. If the behavior change doesn’t matter much to the person or the organization, why he would take it. Hence feedback should show some long term benefits to the person.
Person should think that feedback he received is reward for him and not his reproach.  

At the end of this year, take out this GSM from your mind and let’s make 2014 more positive, healthy and useful to the people, employees, relatives & friends by giving feedback as a reward.

Happy & wonderful New Year ahead…. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Husband’s love & the tiger's whisker

Once upon a time, a young wife named Rama Devi was at her wit's end. Her husband had always been a tender and loving soulmate before he had left for the wars but, ever since he returned home, he was cross, angry, and unpredictable. She was almost afraid to live with her own husband. Only in glancing moments did she catch a shadow of the husband she used to know and love.

When one ailment or another bothered people in her village, they would often rush for a cure to a hermit who lived deep in the mountains. Not Rama Devi. She always prided herself that she could heal her own troubles. But this time was different. She was desperate.

As Rama Devi approached the hermit's hut, she saw the door was open. The old man said without turning around: "I hear you. What's your problem?"

She explained the situation. His back still to her, he said, "Ah yes, it's often that way when soldiers return from the war. What do you expect me to do about it?"

"Make me a potion!" cried the young wife. "Or an amulet, a drink, whatever it takes to get my husband back the way he used to be."

The old man turned around. "Young woman, your request doesn't exactly fall into the same category as a broken bone or ear infection."

"I know", said she.

"It will take three days before I can even look into it. Come back then."

Three days later, Rama Devi returned to the hermit's hut. "Rama Devi", he greeted her with a smile, "I have good news. There is a potion that will restore your husband to the way he used to be, but you should know that it requires an unusual ingredient. You must bring me a whisker from a live tiger."

"What?" she gasped. "Such a thing is impossible!"

"I cannot make the potion without it!" he shouted, startling her. He turned his back. "There is nothing more to say. As you can see, I'm very busy."

That night Rama Devi tossed and turned. How could she get a whisker from a live tiger?

The next day before dawn, she crept out of the house with a bowl of rice covered with meat sauce. She went to a cave on the mountainside where a tiger was known to live. She clicked her tongue very softly as she crept up, her heart pounding, and carefully set the bowl on the grass. Then, trying to make as little noise as she could, she backed away.

The next day before dawn, she took another bowl of rice covered with meat sauce to the cave. She approached the same spot, clicking softly with her tongue. She saw that the bowl was empty, replaced the empty one with a fresh one, and again left, clicking softly and trying not to break twigs or rustle leaves, or do anything else to startle and unsettle the wild beast.

So it went, day after day, for several months. She never saw the tiger (thank goodness for that! she thought) though she knew from footprints on the ground that the tiger - and not a smaller mountain creature - had been eating her food. Then one day as she approached, she noticed the tiger's head poking out of its cave. Glancing downward, she stepped very carefully to the same spot and with as little noise as she could, set down the fresh bowl and, her heart pounding, picked up the one that was empty.

After a few weeks, she noticed the tiger would come out of its cave as it heard her footsteps, though it stayed a distance away (again, thank goodness! she thought, though she knew that someday, in order to get the whisker, she'd have to come closer to it).

Another month went by. Then the tiger would wait by the empty food bowl as it heard her approaching. As she picked up the old bowl and replaced it with a fresh one, she could smell its scent, as it could surely smell hers.

"Actually", she thought, remembering its almost playful look as she set down a fresh bowl, "it is a rather friendly creature, when you get to know it." The next time she visited, she glanced up at the tiger briefly and noticed what a lovely downturn of reddish fur it had from over one of its eyebrows to the next. Not a week later, the tiger allowed her to gently rub its head, and it purred and stretched like a house cat.

Then she knew the time had come. The next morning, very early, she brought with her a small knife. After she set down the fresh bowl and the tiger allowed her to pet its head, she said in a low voice: "Oh, my tiger, may I please have just one of your whiskers?" While petting the tiger with one hand, she held one whisker at its base and, with the other hand, in one quick stroke, she carved the whisker off. She stood up, speaking softly her thanks, and left, for the last time.

The next morning seemed endless. At last her husband left for the rice fields. She ran to the hermit's hut, clutching the precious whisker in her fist. Bursting in, she cried to the hermit: "I have it! I have the tiger's whisker!"

"You don't say?" he said, turning around. "From a live tiger?"

"Yes!" she said.

"Tell me", said the hermit, interested. "How did you do it?"

Rama Devi told the hermit how, for the last six months, she had earned the trust of the creature and it had finally permitted her to cut off one of its whiskers. With pride she handed him the whisker. The hermit examined it, satisfied himself that it was indeed a whisker from a live tiger, then flicked it into the fire where it sizzled and burned in an instant.

"Rama", the hermit said softly, "you no longer need the whisker. Tell me, is a man more vicious than a tiger? If a dangerous wild beast will respond to your gradual and patient care, do you think a man will respond any less willingly?"

Rama Devi stood speechless. Then she turned and stepped down the trail, turning over in her mind images of the tiger and of her husband, back and forth. She knew what she could do. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Power of appreciation

During my school days, Once, I was travelling with my teacher to the nearby district city for attending scholarship examination. It was almost 40-50 km travel by state transport (ST) bus. My teacher had taken the responsibility to guide us in preparations & to take us at the examination center. He took extra efforts on us for this exam.

Anyway, the bus was fully crowded. The conductor of the bus got irritated with people. This was his daily job to handle passengers mostly from villages, sometimes passengers without tickets. 
Conductor gets a sigh of relief after all passengers settle. My teachers leans towards the conductor and starts the conversation…

“It must be difficult to manage such crowd.”

“Yes, but what to do, this is the life for me.” Conductor responded.

“I must tell you; you are doing a great job, it is very difficult to handle this big crowd. It is very difficult job. After all, you also have to prepare the accurate account statement and reconcile your ticket sell. Though this is your routine job, you do it well. I appreciate you. ”

Conversation continued, however I decided to take a nap.

After getting down, I gave my unwarranted feedback to the teacher, “Sir, you were speaking with the conductor and I heard you were appreciating him. I thought, what he is doing is his job, what’s great in it?”

“Yes child, but you see the difference after that. He pull the bell to stop the bus at next stop, somebody at that stop must have needed to get in the bus to reach the office on time; he helped one old lady to get in the bus; next to that he was cool and cracking some jokes. His gestures has resulted into the chain of reaction, positive reactions. The person who needed to reach office on time will be on time in office, his boss would be happy. That old lady would be be happy. The atmosphere in the bus was happy. Further it must have positive impact on all. Just imagine the next positive reactions of people….”

“We should not forget the small gestures. I have not spend anything, only few words for appreciating that conductor, but I made his day, he made others’ day… see the difference” he continued.

In our traditional culture, we don’t appreciate frequently. Even in families and relations, we just ignore this appreciation. Our families do lot many things for us; they live for us, however we never say   “thanks you” to them. If you drop something on the floor and somebody helps you to get it back, we mechanically say, “thanks, thank you” to that somebody, who may be the stranger. 

However your wife daily makes food for you, give everything to you when you drop something, you would not say thanks to her. Parents give your everything, they work hard so that you get good education and be on your own in your future life, you don’t appreciate their efforts. Your children bring happiness in your life, still you don’t say, thanks to them.

We just assume that that is their duty. What’s the big deal in that. Not necessary you have to say it verbally, however do we recognize them through some gestures?

Appreciation has its own power. 

Appreciation has different meanings. Commonly it means recognition.

Dictionary meaning of appreciation is “recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something.” 

Another dictionary meaning of  appreciation means, “increase in monetary value.”

And both meanings are interrelated. By giving appreciation, you recognize good qualities, but you also increase value in relationship. It may not give the monetary benefits, but creates more value in relationships which has worth than monitory benefits.  

Everyone wants to feel appreciated and everyone values a simple ‘thank you,’. This doesn't happen enough in the workplace or in families, but showing simple forms of appreciation can really go a long way in motivating people to work harder and be more productive.

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them”. JKF Kennedy. 

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Students & their employability

Employability is the major issue in today’s world. There are (management & engineering) colleges which are below average quality. Students coming from those colleges have to struggle to get the jobs. If the student is struggler and has the fighting spirit, he may get the job. He then can build his career on this. However in those colleges, there are few students who really want to learn. Those few students are talented, good and really are in search of good opportunities. (Talented means, a recurring pattern of thought, feeling or behavior that can be productively applied.  When they get the opportunity, they value the job.) Unfortunately Industries tend to pick candidates from reputed institutes which is not wrong, but there is no point hiring the candidate from reputed institute with big cost for shop floor routine job and keeping the guy for only doing the routine job. I personally feel that these students should be really challenged and should be rotated through different functions and finally put them result oriented high level tasks. You really come to know the capabilities of the candidate.

Students from Tier 1 schools, in particular, are definitely more prepared, but when you talk about value for the money, and you talk about value per unit of money spent on a particular candidate or the efficiency level per unit of the money spent on a candidate, there is no major difference if you compare it other schools. When a new MBA comes in from one of the top institutes, “he has bought some level of premium tag”, but that does not mean this candidate will have the most or best practical knowledge.

Jobs like supervisor,  regular maintenance, logistics, , QA, regular production etc. where, there are routine jobs as per the standard operating procedures do not demand high level intelligence. however, they do require greater frustration tolerance, personal discipline, organization, management, and interpersonal skills than were required two decades and more ago. These are precisely the skills that many of the young people, who are in business schools today, as opposed to two decades ago, lack. 

India’s school and university-based education system doesn’t equip you with skills that employers look for.  While Indian graduates know something about the theoretical aspects, they lack domain skills, communication and professional (employability) skills. (see the exhibit)  Curriculum and pedagogy at teaching institutions are increasingly being set by people who do not understand what companies want. Most of the times, teachers’ quality is the major issues. Those teachers are the people, who fail to get good industrial and professional jobs. As the last option the teaching profession is accepted. There is not such passion of teaching.

Even the attitude of students is different. They spend big money for getting the degree certificate, sometimes they even don’t know why they are doing the particular degree. Their expectations is if they are spending such amount they would get the highly paid job with air-conditioned office. Third class management institutes made this totally business case to earn the money without any value addition.

Institutes should focus on following areas while preparing their students for industries. Otherwise all those institutes will perish one day.  

Skills :  Skill is the how part of the task and job. It is also capabilities that can be transferred from one person to another. This can be actually done by aligning with industries. Institutes need to take efforts to reach out to industries, understand the expectations and prepare the curriculum accordingly.

Knowledge: It is ‘what you are aware of .. Factual ( things you know) Can & should be taught. Experiential (understandings you have picked up along the way). Less Tangible and therefor much harder to teach

Talent: Recurring patterns of thought feeling behavior, that carve individual minds. If someone does not have the talent as part of his filter , then very difficult for others to inject it.
Now just look how many candidates have above capabilities. I think there is a long way to reach the goal.   


Saturday, November 30, 2013

Top HR Trends expected in 2014 & beyond…

Peter Drucker once stated, “The Future arrived when we weren't looking, so we’re still dealing with issues, ideas and programs that don’t fit the world’s new realities.”
We are still in the era of economic crisis. Growth expected is normal and not like what was there earlier. The challenge for business leaders is to create growth opportunities that far outstrip the potential of the global economy. All Business Leaders and functional managers  will have to think and act very differently -- the differences between “fast growth” which we witnessed in past  and “new era of business” conditions are not inconsequential.
HR trends are not also isolated from such changes. We need to think differently. We should change the way we are working today. The issue today is not the talent, you advertise the vacancy, you will get hundreds of CV in your inbox. The issues is for RIGHT talent, Right talent which grows the business. And this is also applicable to all HR practices.
Some trends I see in following years are as under.
HR Business Partnership:
Please read my earlier post on this on this link  HR professionals are expected to play the role of business partner. Every HR person should ask the question how his role or the function aligned to the number decided by the top management. How they can relate the consequences, impact of the actions of HR function on the overall business. Question is not related to the cost control, but how HR play the role to optimize the productivity, engagement and people cost, how people are aligned towards the organizational goals. HR professional are consultants for the business leaders and functional leaders on their people issues. HR is expected to play the role of Coach to managers on people issues.
Leaders Readiness and maturity for the new economic era:
How we are going to measure the readiness of leaders to new change, adapt and create new growth. This is not an easy task. It is easy to understand that outsized performance in an easy growth era will not automatically transfer the new economic era. Business leaders role here with the support of HR is raising awareness and providing clarity around changing expectations and supporting to create the right matrix for the growth.
At the other side, how our leaders are enough matured to come out from their conventional thinking and think the business in different perspective is also important. leadership maturity is an individual’s ability to operate effectively at the appropriate level of complexity, ambiguity and scale. HR is expected to act as a Coach, if required arrange development plan for leaders if required to cope up with the situation.  Leaders are those who come out from the comfort zone, challenge the status quo and operate in disruptive, turbulent and volatile market or situation with speed.
Off course HR is expected to identify issues, development needs and act proactively to take the leadership at next level.
 (RE)emergence of Industrial Relations Role:
You must have notice the turbulence in Industrial Relations during last few months. (Strike in Bajaj Auto Ltd, Murder of Maruti Manesar plant HR head etc.)  Maintaining good Industrial Relations is crucial now a days. Employee expectations are increasing day by day. They don’t have the moderate expectations. Due to speed, insecurity and fear, workmen are again coming together to go aggressive on their demands. Impact on the business is critical.
In such situation, IR role again has been (re) emerged as the important role. HR professional will have to update themselves on the trends in IR, keep an eye on the behaviour of workmen and roll out the IR risk assessment and mitigation plans.
No more (more) fresher:

We have also seen the mass recruitment in past. Recruitment from college campuses was common, the placements will still be there, but not for all. There are so many (engineering and management) colleges are shutting their shops due to less response from the industries for the placement. The main issue is employability skills of these students. Industries will be very choosy to recruit the candidates from colleges.     

Offloading HR transactional jobs:

If you are good in payroll, attendance, other HR operational jobs, better you upgrade your skills as a HR expert or HR generalist or HR business Partner. Most of the companies are eliminating HR transactional jobs and such jobs are outsourced to optimize the cost. Still you will be employed, but your growth will remain restricted.

More focus on building organizational capabilities (training & development):

“ Organizational Capability is a business’s ability to establish internal structures and processes that influence its members to create organization-specific competencies and thus enable the business to adapt to changing customer and strategic needs”. (D. Ulrich & D. Lake (1990). Organizational Capability).
What D. Ulrich & D Lake told in 1990 is still relevant. Perhaps the focus was still missing and people miss the opportunities. Now this has to be continued. Identifying and building right capabilities is the first priority to HR.  
There are certain issues with talent, one of the issues is RIGHT talent, another is their skills and competencies suitable with your company. You will not get the apple to backfill the apple. You have to hire good oranges. To convert them into apple, companies have to continue the focus on training and development of their staff.  

More focus on OD and Culture Change initiatives:

The business scenario is changing. Organizations have to tune their cultural bandwidth with the changing scenario. Management is expecting (from HR)  steering more organizational development initiatives. It is not the expert role now, you can still hire the consultants, but first stage, HR is expected to diagnose and act on the plan and devise the HR strategy. HR will have to play the role of deployment leaders of new initiates and measure the success of such initiatives.   

Recruitment through job referrals, networking & online platforms:

Recruitment (placement) agencies are now outdated. Everybody have the job portals with them. More jobs will be filled through internal job postings, referrals and through professional & social sites. Companies are tracking the candidates through LinkedIn, Facebook, Plaxo, Twitter etc. now a days virtual presence is must.    

Focus on HR technology and tools and reduce HR FTEs:

Instead of  relying on person, companies are automating their HR processes. Everything is online, If you don't swap your card, you get the sms intimating the same, your training history is online, your appraisals are online. Managers are not expected to go to HR for small issues. Managers will have their control on their team through Managers Self Service and Employee Self Service. HR is only here to advise and consult. No paper work and bureaucracy, however more face to face discussion is expected.  

Focus on Ethics, Code of Business Conduct and corporate governance.:

Companies are looking for sustainability and trust for shareholders. To build this, companies are advocating work ethics, code of business conduct and corporate governance.  HR is expected to train their employees on value system, ethics and create the positive work culture to foster the same. There is lot of awareness among the people about the same and they expect that they are well treated, respected, valued and follow the work ethics.

No hefty Compensation, but benefits can be more:

Today, there is no differentiation between  Software Engineer working in IT industry and Production Engineer working in Manufacturing industry.  Compensation percentile and compa ratios may be different in different segments, but there is not big gaps. Only compensation is also not the differentiation factor. There are no heavy increments unlike in past. You may hardly receive 8-10% increase in coming years. However right employees will be rewarded. They will get more salaries.    

HR Demographics and HR analytics

Do you know what is the employee cost against the revenue & sales? What is the contribution margin of the product? How HR cost has the impact on the product? DO we know the demography of our employee. How HR cost are trending and making the business impact? HR is expected to work on HR analytics and demography not only understand what that is, but to understand the business impact, analysis and make HR plans.  HR demographics help you to devise your customized HR strategy. 

This is the continual change and we should sense that…. 

“Change is the law of life, and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” John F. Kennedy. Let’s not miss the future.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Prevention of Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace....on the backdrop of Tehelka case....

Tarun Tejpal and his Tehelka is always in a news, however this time, they are in news for all wrong reasons. This is the case of workplace harassment and not only the harassment, but sexual harassment. It is also the case of intimidation and the example of how the women are unsafe in media. This is also the case of power and abuse of power where women are soft targets. This is also the example of how media companies who is the strong pillar of the democracy manipulate the law for their own benefits. The Managing Editor of Tehelka has tried to save the skin of Tejpal by not reporting this case properly. She was also unable to give the justice to the victim.

Recently the new Law (Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013) has been enacted with the objective of providing protection to women against sexual harassment at the workplace and for the prevention and redressal Sexual harassment is considered as a violation of the fundamental right of a woman to equality as guaranteed under Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution of India ("Constitution") and her right to life and to live with dignity as per Article 21 of the Constitution. It is also considered as a violation of a right to practice or to carry out any occupation, trade or business under Article 19(1) (g) of the Constitution, which includes a right to a safe environment free from harassment.

Surprisingly the internal aniti-sexual harassment committee (internal complaint committee) was also not established in the organization to address the issue. There are so many companies which failed to constitute such committee in their organization. This also shows the attitude of the employer towards women issues.

Let’s look what this Law is for?

What constitutes sexual harassment at workplace?
  • Following are main factors which constitutes sexual harassment,
  • Circumstances of promise (implied or explicit) of preferential treatment in employment;
  • Threat of detrimental treatment in employment;
  • Threat about employment (present or future);
  • Creating an intimidating or offensive or hostile work environment, or interference With work for the above;
  • Humiliating treatment that may affect the lady employee's health or safety
  • Unwelcome sexually determined behaviour (whether directly or by implication) contact and advances,
  • Demand or request for sexual favours, sexually coloured remarks, showing pornography,
  • Any other unwelcome physical verbal or non

In above case somebody may defend that the incident happened in the hotel and it is not the workplace harassment, however as per the Law “workplace” includes any place visited by the employee arising out of or during the course of employment including transportation provided by the employer for undertaking such journey. Therefore as per this definition eve employer such as office of clients, taxis, hotels etc… become a workplace. Therefore, during an official tour the place of stay (i.e. hotel), travel mode (i.e. taxi) and office of customers / clients are all included as workplace and the employer is liable if any incident happens with the woman employee.

Employer obligation is provide the safe and harassment free working place to the employee.  This also includes to protect the employee from the accused. Forming the internal complaint committee and  informing the issues to legal authorities is also on the employer.  

There are lot many cases, perhaps most of the cases are kept under the carpet. Most of the times, such cases are not reported. It the easy way to victim to change the job or keep silence, instead of taking it to the proper forum due to the insensitivity of authorities. 

Companies should come forward to protect women employees and provide them the safe workplace. At least now they can implement the new enacted Law. Labour Office should enforce the implementation of the Law in all companies.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Transactional Analysis:- Understanding & Managing Human Being...

In the last blog, I have given the analysis of personalities and their interaction, communication style of Bigg Boss, participants. This blog has got almost 500 hits in a day and there were different comments. I had to delete few of comments because of abusive language. This is also funny, how people respond, when something goes different from their expectations. I wanted to put the exact point of this theory here. I thought to explain what this theory is and how it works in our day to day life.

Transactional analysis or TA is a branch of psychotherapy developed by Eric Berne.  His definition of it is “a theory of personality and a systematic psychotherapy for personal growth and change”.  Based on this theory Thomas Anthony Harris had written a beautiful self-help book, “I am OK, You are OK.”   It is about how people interact with each other especially which ego state of the person is interacting with which ego state.

Knowing about TA can be very useful for improving our interaction/communication skills.  TA is about how people are structured psychologically and is both a theory of communication and a theory of child development.

The attached presentation will help you to understand more about this theory and model… 

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