Saturday, January 30, 2010

Share thy knowledge

Sharing is good. Sharing relieves your stress. It helps you to know many things which you don’t know. Sharing makes you aware with many things in the world. Sharing makes your thought process more strong and gets different insights. You can actually get good tips to make your life better. Lots of incidents happened around us. But do we care? Do we learn from these incidences? I doubt. Sharing relieves your stress and gives you the strength to survive. Sharing improves the communication. It improves interpersonal relations. Sharing is sometimes draining and making mind empty for new thought.

There are people who do not share. They just block everything with them. If you are sharing with your parents or wife, you are relieving and getting something from them. Somebody proudly says, “I don’t share small things with my wife”. Share makes the relations more strong. Fear restricts sharing. Fear of getting fired, fear of losing knowledge, fear of making somebody more strong. “If I shared my knowledge with somebody, then who will ask me”. Is the major fear people have. Insecurity of losing something is the major problem.

Off course, sharing is two way process.

In one company, I had a big team of HR professionals. One of my colleagues was very resourceful person. I recruited him for supporting me to implement Balanced Score Card in the organization. When he joined he took one initiative. When all HR colleagues come to the office, we would extend the morning meeting for 15 minutes and everybody would share any incident, professional, personal, which impacted his life. The incident could be anything. After one month few team members were not ready at all to stay for these sharing giving different excuses. What can be the reason?

Why to share personal issues? Somebody may say. Right, one should not share personal matters unless the person is trustworthy. After completion my degree, I attended one workshop. During the workshop one person who was a senior administrator shared his personal story with the group when the trainer asked to share experiences with group. After the class, few members were making the fun of that story.

We had one senior in my earlier organization. He used to conduct long meetings in the organization without any results. Once he asked to share personal experiences to every team member on decision making. On another occasion, he asked to share the incident which make member tough. He insisted that the sharing should be from personal life. All team members were reluctant to share their personal experiences. They were ok with professional experience. Most of the members cooked good stories and shared. This guy was more interested to become personal by asking such sharing. His intention was to identify the weak points of the person and use them when required.

Professional companies encourage the knowledge sharing. Knowledge Management and Learning Organizations are the need of new era. Every professional can contribute by way of sharing actual cases he handled.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Hire, don’t fire

“I have told almost 300 employees to go home.” one senior guy was proudly telling us in our regular meeting. This person was known in the company for his wise conversation skills. While speaking with the employees he uses to catch employees in words. He was also known for politicizing issues.

It is very difficult to hire a good employee. It is very easy to sack somebody. You should be proud for hiring good people. If you are sacking somebody and so frequently, it means your hiring is very bad.

“Sir, I hired almost 1000 employees in my career and they all are doing well. They still call me and ask my advice on the issues they face in life.” I replied, “I have fired very few people in my career. I am not proud to say this.” I replied, “However the companies are also doing well where they are working.”

Identifying the talent in the market is very critical. I also sacked employees in my career. This is one of unpleasant jobs; we HR professionals have to do. But the option should be exercised as a last option in respective cases. In one big company, where I was heading the Plant HR & IR function, we had given the charge sheet to almost 20 employees for their habitual absenteeism; few were for abetting to strike. Few cases were suspension pending enquiry. The cases and misconducts were very grave. We completed the enquiry. All found guilty and we were justified to terminate these employees. However on the request of union and considering their family situation, we agreed to get the personal bond for good conduct. In industrial relations, there is no right or wrong decision. You have to analyze the situation before any decision. I personally counseled them in presence of union office bearers and plant head. “You should be present for all working days in a year in the company. Your one day, absence may warrant your termination. We had enquiry reports with us, we had already issued the show causes to your on the finding of enquiry report and you have given the good conduct bond. Now ball is in your court.” I explained. Sometimes you should be blunt to tell the fact during counseling.

After two months union called one day flash strike. It means above employees did not report to work. They are technically absent on duties. As pressure tact, we decided to terminate some employees who had committed grave misconducts. I made the letters and put for the sign of plant head as he was the authorized to sign such papers. “These are my first terminations in my life and I am not proud to do this.” He said to me before signing the papers.

Above cases were the isolated cases of Industrial relations. Sometimes you have few options in such scenario. As a part of my profession, I had to do this unpleasant work.

Termination of white collar employees is totally different task. In fact very easy as compare to blue collar terminations. In isolated cases it is again very easy, but I always see the reason why we need to terminate somebody. These are improvement areas. Why I need to sack the person? Performance issues? Discipline? Behaviors ? what are reasons?

Bad hiring, no proper feedback or HR system can be the root cause of all these.

During recession, we all must have dealt with this. The terminologies like Manpower Planning, HR planning has no meaning sometimes. Companies hired the employees without any future projections. If you need 5 people, management was ready to give you 7 without much justifications. But then recession brought them on the ground. There are companies who exercised the downsizing as a last option. But in business, “you have no any other option” is the last statement.

One day top boss of the company call me and bluntly told me, “I think Mr. X is creating more problems now and you need to seriously tell him to go home. If he is not ready to put the papers, just terminate him.” He was referring about the same senior person who once told me that he had asked almost 300 guys and girls to go home. One circle completed. I believe intention matters. His intention was different, my intention is different.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Salesperson in Shopping Malls

We all visit shopping malls like big bazaar, d-mart, central, shopper stop, reliance fresh etc etc. Did you observe one common thing? All these shopping malls hire salespersons, some companies call them customer care or support personnel. Who are those personnel? They all are from low income families. The salary range of these people is between Rs. 7500 to 10,000/-. Salary may be based on their experience and communication skills.

At another side, the customers of these malls are from higher middle class to high income group. They have the capacity to spend equal to the earning of these employees.

Now see the difference, at one side the one class who has the daily spending power equivalent to the monthly earning power of the second class. Imagine the feelings of these people. If you are interested to learn the human behaviour, I suggest to visit the mall and just observe the interaction, body language of the customer and sales personnel. Just observe how they are treated by the customers. You will be surprised to learn that most of us do not notice them.

Sales person greets the customer. Customer even does not bother to reciprocate. Total ignorance, who are they?? Salesgirl? Oh no, why should I waste my smile?

Now understand the gap. What they must be feeling about the customers? What can be the consequences, jealousy? I earn what they spend in one day. Social Gap widens. Recently one Assistant Manager of one shopping mall - call center was kidnapped by one terminated employee and demanded the huge ransom. Reason? He was terminated because of his poor performance. Performance was measured on customer satisfaction index.

I visited reliance fresh on last Sunday. The attitude and behaviour of staff was totally different. Who are the customers? Go to hell. They were silently telling that we also know how to reciprocate the gestures. Nobody was engaged. The reason may be the social gap.

I heard that Big Bazar imparts special training to these sales personnel. Big Bazar recognizes this gap and organize ethical and value based training for the staff. But don’t you think that as a responsible citizen, we should recognize these sales personnel with at least reciprocating the gestures?

We spend money for buying luxury items; smile costs nothing.
I am sharing what 'I Saw and I Learnt' at in association with

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Ranks & Grades

The grades and ranks always created the problem in the world. It is literally in the mind of people. They forget that the ranks and grades are for the position and not for the person. In private sectors, we are trapped into the same structure. Some companies are making the structure more flat to make the interactions more effective and productive.

Once, one of the friends told me that he is promoted as a Sr. Manager. I asked him, “Congratulations, what will be your new role?”, “Role? What is this, I will be doing same job as earlier doing.”

“Oh, you are re-designated.” I should not have said this bluntly. After all it is psychological satisfaction for the person.

“My husband is made executive now.” One lady was telling to another lady. “Who was he earlier?” another lady asked. “He was an engineer.” Lady replied. Organization decided to restructure the designations. There was no change in role. However it was a social status for wife. We are governed by our egos. Some people just create the different perception in the organization based on the grades and ranks.

“That stupid guard came to me yesterday and told me, Sir, this is civil life. It is totally different from the defence. You can not expect me everyday to come in your office and salute you. We all are human creatures. We all are at same level here. Unfortunately we can not sack that guard” Newly joined Sr. Manager – Administration was telling me when we were travelling from plant to colony together. This person is a retired colonel. The referred guard was also from the military. “Some colonel must have harassed him while in commission.” I laughed and replied back. Colonel was a really good human being. He was flexible and open minded. This is the reason why he could survive in corporate world. He has done a good job and he retired from the company after completing 60 years. Now he is in Pune and enjoying with his grandsons.

When I was doing my management, some defence personnel were also doing the course. One was Captain, another was major, and other two were from lower ranks. Our Director shared this incidence with us. In exams, lower rank personnel scored more marks than the senior level person. He went to the director and asked him the reasons. “In my class you are not the captain or sepoy, you are the student. If one student scores more, he has done well in studies. No further discussion on your grades.” Director blasted.

In one organization, while addressing to the seniors, employees had to write “Shree or Mr.”, then “Name”, then “Sir or Madam”. They were probably not aware that respect should be earned by your influencing power and not by such labels. Employees are also clever. They sometimes make the fun out of this. One of seniors name was Sahebrao. Employee wrote, “Shree Sahebraosaheb Patil.”

While discussing one security vendor, he went into arguing phase, somehow phone got disconnected. Somebody from his organization again called and said me,”Sir, please speak with him. He is from air force.” I asked, “Is it his privilege? I am his customer and he should listen my expectations.”

When you buy vegetables, vegetable vendor does not recognize you as Manager or General Manager of XYZ Company. When you go for shopping, salesgirl does not recognize you as colonel or captain. For all these people you are just customer who has the spending power.

In our housing society, we have retired Superintended of Jails. One fine morning, he was waiting for rickshaw with gas cylinder for 20 minutes. “I am trying to adjust my new life after retirement now. But it is going very difficult to my wife to adjust such life. We were just giving the orders, and everything would be at our home.”

The problem is inflexibility created in the mind due to ranking and grade systems. I have seen one offer letter of one big media company. One clause of the offer letter was really funny. “This company believes on the equality. Bowing, greeting, salutes are not encouraged. Politeness should be seen in behaviour.” {Another clause was,”The senior employees are always occupied in the business. Please do not expect them for the farewell parties. We believe that employee is not leaving the company permanently. The left employees are generally welcome back if they found further suitable for the job.”}

The worst thing is people do not understand that position is for time being. You do not know how many enemies you create by enforcing your rank to your juniors. When your position goes due to any reasons, nobody asks you. The internal conflict created due to this is more frustrating. Humility is the long lasting.

“Vinod, my and my family’s needs are very small. I will be retiring after 3 years. I know that once position goes, nobody will ask me. That is the reason I am not creating any problem to you people. After retirement at least I can call and speak with you.” Mr. Kajale was sharing with me. He was Assistant Commissioner of Labour at Panvel that time. Have you seen government officer giving the gift to anybody? On my request he visited the factory and surprisingly brought gifts for me and my team. Rare example!

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