Saturday, February 27, 2010

Communication Blunder

Most of the times we assume that people understand us. When we communicate we feel that next person is receiving our thought.

There are two stories I would like to share with you. These are small stories with big impact. Though I am expecting that “so called” corporate professionals read my blog, this blog is not for who are not open to new thought. We should be open for some learning from small things.

Atharva, my son represents the next level generation. He is in 1st standard. He knows everything from gaming to internet. He is fond of reading cartoon books, comics and children magazines. He also likes to enjoy in any amusement park.

Once we decided to go at amusement park near Pune. Atharva was so excited to tell this to everyone, his friends in school and colony including his teachers, “We are going to amusement park on this Saturday.”

It was a weekend. People in Pune were not sacred about swine flue and bomb blast; hence there was big crowd at amusement park. Atharva was excited to reach there and asking us questions. He was just speaking till we enter the amusement park. We parked the vehicle and enter into the park. He was walking holding my hand. As he saw the crowd, he became quiet. I surprised. The kid who was so excited to go in the park was very cool and quiet. I saw him and bent down to speak with him. As I bent down, I saw only legs of the crowd. He confused and pointed towards the legs of crowd.

I understood his problem. It was my mistake to ask him to walk. I got him on my shoulder. Next to that it was fun for him.

Learning for me is: We have to either bend down or go to the level of recipient. We just assume that the next person is getting everything what we are communicating. Going at his level and understanding him are keys in effective communication.

I started my career as management trainee in Indian Steel in 1997 at Nashik. I was located at plant reporting to HR head of the factory. Our Managing Director used to visit plant sometimes. When MD used to come, it was my responsibility to assist him for documentation. Once he gave me a call through intercom and asked in Marathi, “Vinod, Ashokstambh varun shimpi la bolavun ghe. – (Please call Shimpi, from Ashokstambh)” We had the office of our sister concern at Ashokstambh. I recollected that there was one person whose surname is Shimpi in the office at Ashokstambh and MD must be calling him only. I called at that office and asked for “Shimpi”. I came to understand that Shimpi, had left the organization six months back.

I reported back. “Sir, Shimpi has left the organization.”

“What? Left the office? His shop is near our office only. I have to give the measurement for my suit. He is our regular tailor. In Marathi “Shimpi.” He laughed.

Believe me. This is true story.

Learning for me: You can not assume in communication. MD spoke with me in Marathi, however in Marathi also we normally use the term TAILOR and not SHIMPI. One person name Shimpi was already working with the company, hence instructions should have been very clear. Even I also did not ask him clearly to whom he would like to call. If we do not understand, we should ask the questions frequently.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Mind your behaviour

I had a notorious union office bearer in my one earlier company. The union was affiliated with powerful political party in Maharashtra. If you have a union, you have to involve in every small matters. The union office bearers will be in your office to discuss the size of wada given in the canteen. Anyway, I think now a days our young generation in HR is missing this beautiful and funny interaction with union.

The said notorious union office bearer was also active in local politics and had been corporator of Municipal Corporation. He used to take petty issues with management and always fight on the same. Off course, his behavior was rude with everybody. In each sentence he has XXXXX. (You understand what I mean).

Once he felt sick and was admitted in Hospital. Due to some reasons his heath got complicated and was admitted in ICU. All employees started to visit him.

Doctors could treat him and almost he survived. After 2 months, he resumed duties. He met me and I was surprised to know that he had totally changed.

“Sir, I have decided to change my language and do the work which will add value to me, organization and society”, he spoke.

“Come on, you are a union leader, ex-corporator, you are doing something for other”, I laughed and spoke sarcastically.

“You are making a fun, but sir, my illness taught me a lot”

“Thanks to god, you are back, but tell me what you have learnt?”

“I was almost gone, but today, I am back because of the wishes of all people like you. My behaviour with everybody was so rude, that everybody was trying to avoid me, but still they visited me”, He started “My wife asked me after I came at home, “See, you are back now, see the joy on the face of children and your friends, what don’t you change your behaviour? Don’t you try to speak in good and sober language?” he laughed and told me” Sir, first time in life my wife scolded me, and I decided to change”

Listening to this, I was very happy, thinking that he made my job easier while dealing with union office bearers. We enjoyed a good relationship. He left the union activities for giving the opportunities to others. Once he visited to my home with her daughter and requested me to guide her on career. This may be an unique example where the union office bearer trusted someone.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Hiiiiiii, these interviews!!!!!!!

Interviews can be fun. Giving interviews and even taking interviews. I have given interviews for getting jobs. I am also taking interviews for selecting candidates. I have recruited almost 1,000 employees in different companies during last 4 years. Selecting these 1,000 candidates, I must have interviewed minimum 5,000 candidates. Interviewing somebody is also great learning. I interviewed professionals like management, HR, Finance, Engineers and from Executive to COO. In one company I got the opportunity to interview my boss also. Of course, it was an informal chat with the candidate who was called for an interview for CHRO. I gave my inputs to the interviewer.

Every interview taught me the different aspects of each profession. It is not just recommending the person for the position, but looking for the future leader in the candidate.

Once we conducted campus selection process for the company, I along-with my team visited almost 6 management institutes. Before that I trained the panel members on how to assess the candidates during group discussions, how to conduct interviews, etc. We conducted group discussion rounds and interviews for almost 500 students. Unfortunately we got only 14 management students from different institutes. The more frustrating thing was the attitude of the students. Few institutes normally train the students how to face such selection processes. Some institutes even don’t bother while admitting students.

Once in one institute, the group was so prepared for group discussion that everything was planned. I broke the group discussion in between and gave the different assignment. I use this technique in different institutes after that. Students were so prepared for group discussion and all of sudden we declared the live assignment like presentation or live case studies for the evaluation. It went difficult for the students. In such incidences students have to perform lively.

In one institute, during group discussion, one student could not speak anything, he said, “Pass”.

Interviews with experienced professionals taught me a lot. The functional knowledge, new aspects of the business, everything.

I also understand when the person who writes many things in his CV, has not necessarily done the things written. There are honest candidates, dishonest candidates. Once I asked to one candidate,”Do you know the circumstances, where the occupier can be sued?”

“I don’t know, but if you hire me, such circumstances will not be there.” He replied.

Some candidate try to take the hold of an interview, diplomatically we have to channelize him towards main points. Some candidate prepared for an interview. Some candidate just come and sees your patience. Evaluating the candidate within 30-45 minutes is difficult. But you can understand the different personalities through their style, language, body language etc. Sometime such clues can also be fake. The experience person can assess the person by understanding such clues.

Sometimes your recruitment coordinator makes mistake and calls the candidate who is very senior for the position. In such situation you need to take care of the situation itself by not giving the wrong impression about your company.

One candidate’s name was Girish Oak. Dr. Girish Oak is the famous Marathi actor. I welcome the candidate by saying, “Oh Girish Oak, name of famous actor.” The candidate replied, “I am more famous than him”.

There are predictable personalities. While interviewing you expect the response and based on the response their behaviour. There are unpredictable personalities and are very difficult to assess. One good thing is you can at least understand who is predictable and who is not. There are spontaneous personalities.

Some candidates bring their egos. Interviewing the journalist was very difficult task for me while working in one Media Company. Journalists interview people. They do not like to be interviewed. One lady who was the editor and Director (?) of one local newspaper in Chembur, Mumbai wanted to be in largest media company. When she sat in front of me, she was not willing to express herself. She was asking me when she can meet the director-editor for further interview. Of course, she was regretted for the position in the organization. I never use the word reject, because who are we to reject somebody? Every individual is unique and suitable in particular job. He can be fit or unfit of the job. You can not reject anybody. You can assess the person for the position for which you are interviewing the person.

Once I was interviewing the person for the position of HR Executive. I asked a candidate if there was anything he did not like to do, expecting an answer related to the different HR functions. After much debate, she answered, "I don't like to speak with my in-laws."

Once I was screening the CVs for the position of HR manager in my earlier company. I saw one CV. It was seen somewhere. When I checked, it was my own CV. Only the name was different.

Saturday, February 06, 2010


“You are forcing me to go out,” he replied back. I received the resignation from one employee. He mentioned that he should be relieved immediately. As per the employment contract he was suppose to give three months notice. He was asking to relieve immediately. Before sending the resignation through e mail, he claimed his all reimbursements, leave encashment. His salary credited to his bank accounts on 1st. He calculated everything and sent the resignation after claiming everything.

I called him, “We are relieving you immediately, come in office, hand over everything, give the company car, laptop. I will ask to do the full & final settlement with three month notice period recovery.”

“Three months notice recovery? It will be burden on me. It means my performance bonus will also go if you relieved me immediately. How can you treat me like this?” He asked. We had the policy if employee is in employment on 31st Dec; he is entitled for the performance bonus for that year.

“Yes. You send your resignation; you put the ball in company court. Now it is up to the company to relieve you. We are relieving you immediately.”

“You are forcing me to go early sir, this is not professional.” He spoke.

I laughed loudly. Same like Krishna laughed when Karna says to Krishna and Arjun on Kurushetra, “Wheel of my chariot has gone, I am weaponless now, and you are killing the weaponless warrior, this is not Dharma (ethical) Krishna.”

Krishna laughed and replied back, “When Pandavas were sent to forest, when Draupadi was insulated in court, where was your Dharma (ethics) Karna?”

“Karna, when you were spoiling the culture by gossiping, when you were doing your personal work during office hours, when you were not giving at your best to the company and you put the papers without serving notice period where was your dharma?” I asked him. He had no answer.

If company forces its rules it is unprofessional, if employee breach the contract it is not unprofessional.

The definition of the professionalism is always subjective.

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