Friday, November 27, 2009

Meeting Mania

If you want to kill the time, call meeting, is the famous saying. There are millions of meetings held every hour in corporate world. Even attending meeting is the status symbol. It is also an excuse for intentionally avoiding somebody. If you don’t call somebody for the meeting, the person interprets that he has been sidelined.

It is observed that most of the meetings conducted by companies have little positive impact on the performance of the company. Too many meetings and too long meetings have negative impact and can be detrimental to the interest of the company.

Most of the times bosses or seniors are responsible for this. They don’t care about the other’s time schedule. The issues are discussed without action plans and action responsibilities. Some meetings are the platform for others to show their talent and expertise on each and every subject. Some meetings are just like the classroom, where seniors just speak.

We can classify these meetings as under:

1) Meeting Class or lecture meeting: Such meetings are called by the people who have never performed in their career. They are in the organization just because owners like them. These are senior people designated as directors of special functions. It can be new projects, new initiatives, planning or any two-three alphabets. Employees always surprised about their role in the organization. Even they also don’t know their role in the organization. But they have their presence everywhere. As they are successful to create the impression that they are close to the management, employees pretend to respect them. Most of the times these people are kicked out as they tried to involve in everything and don’t permit others to do the work. They are very social people. They always call the meetings on small issues. The meetings are like classroom or training hall or sometimes philosophy class. Employees attend these meetings just to show the respect to the person. At the end of the meeting, employees get more confused and frustrated. If these meetings are continuously held, the employee may decide to quit the organization.

2) Meetings for enjoyment: Nobody bothers who called such meeting. Snacks are the attractions in these meetings. Participants attend theses meeting to listen poor jokes. Employees have to laugh on the jokes otherwise this can go against the person.

3) Waahaa Waahaa meetings: These meetings are called for just doing the waahaa waahaa of bosses and seniors. Employee sends sms to their bosses after his presentation. Everyday speaks well about everything. It is good to invite new employees for such meetings.

4) Concentration Camp meetings: These are typically review meetings. The employee who is stronger wins such meetings. The blame game is the only agenda of the meeting.

However it is upto the person who calls the meeting. Above meetings can be avoided. The willpower of the person is important for good meetings.

In my early career, there were two senior managers. When first manager was calling the meeting, it would last hours and hours without any fruitful result. Another manager’s meeting would last for 30 minutes, maximum 1 hour sometimes. But very effective. Once I asked the second person, how he manages meetings.

He replied, “Everybody prepares minutes of meeting after the meeting. I do it differently. I prepare minutes of meeting in my mind before entering the meeting hall. It works.”

Friday, November 20, 2009

I know but I won’t write. I won’t write because I don’t want to commit.

I encountered with the new marketing head of one of the new business verticals, “We need to finalize the KRAs of your team.” I suggested him.

“We don’t need KRAs. If we design the KRAs, they will not do other work. They will focus only on KRAs and not routine work which we need to do everyday” He replied.

“What? You don’t need KRAs, then how your team members will be aware about their deliverable.” I told him. He preferred to keep silent.

“KRAs are the end result of your job/activities you performed, they comes from your job itself my dear friend.” I told him.

Most of the time, people are careless about setting the goals for their team members. They said it is already there but not willing to write on the paper.

Once I asked to one advertisement manager about his department targets. He told me the sales figure. I asked, “What about receivables?” He was unable to reply. I asked if he had any written target. "No It is on our mind", he replied.

Then I asked about the team targets. “We don’t have the targets for team.” How can the organization run without defining deliverables?

I asked to write the goals on paper. “No, we don’t do this” was the answer.

Then I realized that though he was doing well, he was not willing to write because when you write something, then you give the commitment of the written goals and nobody wants to give the commitment.

It was very hard to push them for writing KRAs and targets, Managers were not happy, but team was happy with this. They shared, “Boss was just asking us to generate the business daily, monthly, but our life was depend upon him. We did not know what is our destination at the end of year.”

After six months when we sat to review the process, I realized that team members were more happy as they were aware about clear-cut expectations from the bosses.

“Earlier, we did not know where to go; today at least we know what the basis of our evaluation is”, they responded.

The people were more focused and committed to their goals.

People don’t achieve what they wish because they don’t commit themselves. If you don’t write your goals, the goals will be dreams only.

Write down your goals. Write down daily, monthly, yearly objectives. Writing means committing something yourself. If you commit, you achieve. It is applicable in your personal life also.

Friday, November 13, 2009


When I took the responsibility of HR function in my earlier organization, one person entered into my office. He started, “Great, you join here. You are the only person who can bring the change in this organization.” I surprised to learn my influencing power. I though, oh I am so famous in this world that this guy knows about me and is so confident about me?

After few days, lot of people visited me and the interaction was moreover same. Everybody was signing in same tune. Then I realized that those people were not my well wishers, they had their own agenda and definitely those people were not productive in the organization. Those all were cheerleaders. These cheerleaders know everything about you, your likes, dislikes, your habits, everything about you. They will not forget to wish you everyday and praise your shirt and your style. They will laugh on your poor jokes and also praise you always in public and private. They will appreciate your sense of humour and also they will give you the gift if they receive increment.

You can find the breed of cheerleaders everywhere. They will always appreciate you. They will never speak about their goals, objectives and results. They are the first who smell the change in authority and power in organization and you will not surprise to know that the person appreciating you yesterday will speak against you today.

As a leader/manager, you should be always aware and careful of this breed. If you are surrounded by such people you will never know the reality.

One of my senior in my earlier organization was always surrounded by such guys. He was working in the organization for more than 20 years and he himself perceived that he is expert in everything. It was his luck that he was there for so many years without any professional qualities. The only suitable profession for him was a teacher in philosophy or history classes. He used to give the example of history of the organization always.

Once I was travelling with him and he was sharing his experiences, how the people in organization respect (!) him. The examples were of typical cheerleaders who were always in touch with this guy. They were communicating everything to him like if somebody buys the cell phone, they use to give him a call, like, I just bought new cell phone, I though to speak with you first from this new cell etc etc.

Most of the cheerleaders managed to get good positions and salary raise in his regime. However they were not the right fit. After few days, recession started and business started to collapse. If everything is good nobody will ask you, but when business gets affected, then everybody questions you. At the end of the day, he was given the responsibility of another function which had no existence in the organization and was created to accommodate him.

This person was put aside by the organization; nobody was willing to see him. The dimensions changed, the trust also changed. Once his office was full with cheerleaders, people were waiting outside his office only to say, hi and hallo to him. When he was nobody, he had only designation, nobody was in his office. The tragedy was he uses to call the people and speak with them.

Identify the cheerleaders, make their list and be aware. Most of the cheerleaders are non productive. They should be managed properly.

PS: After writing this article, I heard the news that the above person has taken an early retirement. It is a still question whether it is retirement or forced retirement. However people celebrated his exit and cheerleaders also participated in celebrations.

Monday, November 09, 2009

My Shanghai Visit

I was in Shaghai in first week of November, full week and enjoyed a lot except food. It was a business trip for one week.

We landed on 2nd Nov on Pudong airport. The security is very good and Chinese government is still scare about swine flue.

My company had already booked a hotel for us. Ibis has the worldwide chain of economy hotel. I realised that it so economy that even they do not bother about basic requirements. The hotel is close to our office as compare to other hotels. As it is chain of worldwide hotels, we were expecting good services. We enter into the hotel at 8.00 am. Front office staff was so busy in their work; they had not time for us. We interrupted them. The girl just saw us and told, wait for ½ hours. After ½ hour we asked about the room offered to us. “Oh, we don’t have the housekeeping staff available, they come at 9.00 am, you will get the rooms at 9.30 am.” the girl told us in her broken English.

We tried to speak their manager, but in vain. At last we got the rooms at 9.30 am. They even don’t know the basics of hospitality industry. May be our experience is unique, but Ibis must have train their staff. They don’t understand the English, they can’t speak proper English, and besides this they do not have proper training to handle the customers.

With taxi driver, first day, we moved a lot and got the taxi, while going back, oh, they are same as in our Pune, at least 5 taxi drivers refused to drop us at Hotel. The reasons were same as our Pune, Mumbai taxi and auto-rickshaw drivers give.

First two days, we were charged 36 rmb, on one day one driver charged us 29 rmb and another day 49 rmb, off course they give the bills. Same as our Indian drivers do. We can fight with our drivers, but here we can not even communicate. One driver was speaking with me about whether in his own language. Very funny.

The Shanghai is very beautifully developed city. We can only think to convert the Mumbai into Shanghai. When I compare, the China and India, one thing is sure, the people are same everywhere. They have same emotions. They work for money and they are greedy. The attitude is moreover same. When I was discussing few people about the governing system, they seem to be not happy. They do not speak or they follow the rules & orders do not mean that they are satisfied with the system there. In India, we have a democracy. They say, every system has some advantage and disadvantage. No system is perfect. But the result can be made perfect. This is shown by China. They are far ahead from us. Good roads, systems, transports, facilities, areas for leisure everything. But they do not have many news channels.

Indian political parties need to think really badly.

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