Sunday, March 28, 2010


Once, one senior management professional was working for Indian company. He was a highly educated man with a long tail of degrees after his name. He got the positions and designation by virtue of luck; but with a little experience of real life. Owners used him as a pet person to communicate their agenda. In the organization one management trainee joined in HR. Every evening the trainee would visit the cabin of this professional to listen to him and hold forth on many different subjects. He was very impressed with the learning of the professional.

One evening as the trainee was about to leave the cabin after several hours of conversion, the professional asked, “Young man, have you studied, Industrial Psychology?”

“There was one subject during the course sir, but I do not remember details now.”

“What? You don’t know the science of understanding people? You are going to make your career in HR and you don’t remember that, you have wasted your two years which you spent to get the degree.” Trainee was good and polite person, he thought, it must be true to know and remember this. He thought, “I really wasted two years and I will go home today and will learn all theories of Industrial Psychology”.

Next week as the trainee once again was about to leave the cabin, the professional ask, “Young man, have you studied, Philosophy?”

“No sir, I was a commerce student.”

“It doesn’t matter from which stream you are; you should learn Philosophy, as you are in HR. When you deal with employees, sometimes Philosophy helps. Not doing so you have wasted your half life. Young man life is based on Philosophy.”

“You are learned person sir, you must be true.” The young man decided to visit Crossword and decided to purchase some Philosophy books.

One day, the trainee went to him to discuss one issue.

“Do you know history?” He asked

“What sir, History?” trainee asked.

“Yes, History! Before bringing any issue to me, you should know the history of this organization. In every issue there is a History. First learn the history of this organization, if you want to learn more, please come to me, I will teach you the History. I know everything here about this organization.” Learned professional replied.

It happened with every meeting. Young trainee was learning different aspects of different “ologies”.

He was very frustrated and unhappy. If such senior level person is saying so, I must have wasted my education and college life, he thought. His training period was extended.

Year passed. As the professional was very busy in educating people on different ologies, other practical part of life got ignored. All HR professional were busy studying different ologies, putting impractical policies based on those ologies in place and increasing bureaucracy in the organization.

One fine morning, blue collar workmen formed a union.

After six months, it was the turn of young trainee. He came running in the cabin of learned professional. “Sir, have you studied FIGHTOLOGY or SAVEALIFELOGY?”

“What? What are these?”

“Sir, you have wasted your full life, our employees got furious on COD (Charter of Demands). They stopped work, union leaders instigated these innocent workers and they are coming to beat you, you have only two options, - Fight with them, FIGHTOLOGY or run from back side for saving you life,- SAVEALIFEOLOGY and think about your future and not the HISTORY.”

You may study all the ologies of the world, but if you do not learn both these ologies- practical aspect of life, all your studies are useless.

The said professional is now independent HR consultant.

(I believe that theory supports the practice and all different ologies are helpful in life. However one should not be extreme on this. We should also see the practicability of these ologies before implementing them in our own life or organization.)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Politics, power and game

“There is lot of politics in this organization.” During my initial periods, I use to hear this statement in every organization on my first day with those organizations. As you grow in your career, you come to know about politics and then nobody says it to you. You yourself try to understand the organization from your own perspective.

Power and politics are ever-present and necessary features of organizational life. Without them, much of what gets done in organizations could never be accomplished. However, power can also be abused, and personal or political goals can overshadow organizational ones.

It involves the pursuit of individual agendas and self-interest in an organization without regard to their effect on the organization's efforts to achieve its goals. Everybody has his own agenda. Most of the time insecurity plays important role in politics. In one of my earlier organizations, I had a senior person who was very political. He was working in the organization for almost 20 years. He used to call employees, mostly female employees on odd times for getting the information about colleagues. His way of working was extra-constitutional. In fact he was able to create the image of saviour in the organization, in reality he was not. He had created the network of moles and messengers in the organization. Off course all were cheerleaders. He tried to spoil the career of many talented people. This can be the extreme example how the politics should not be. I started to challenge him on his decisions.

Organizations are not rational systems. Rather, organizations are coalitions composed of varied individuals and interest groups that engage in on-going contests for control. Here one thing is sure that "objective facts," are interpreted by employees who view things from their own perspective.

However by this way of working, employees become manipulative and it affects the culture. Culture is created by such interpretations. You can call it dirty politics where an individual forces his own agenda and ignores organizational benefit. People suffers and he gains, everything power and position, but not for long time. The end is here only.

However politics is not a grubby word. Such people made it grubby. When we can not live without it, we should learn to live with it. Whenever I joined new organization, I learnt the different aspects of politics in organizations. Every human being is political. He is not strength forward. He knows where to act and where to react.

When the politics is for the benefit of the organization and masses, it can not be bad. After all you need to be diplomatic. However it is very difficult for others to make the judgment on political scale. It is very subjective and there is thin line between politics and diplomatic (or dirty politics and politics). It is purely the intention of the person in command. People sometimes get the power due to politics. Such people then play a major role in creating worst culture in the organizations. However when the harmful politics comes into the picture, it is the role of HR to kill it. Sometimes most of the HR professionals themselves are the part of politics.

Do we, HR professionals dare to challenge this dirty politics? Do we have courage to go to the top boss and tell him about this?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Chalta Hain Yaar

“I can not match your expectations sometimes; you are very perfectionist”, one of my colleagues was giving me the feedback during interactive session. His statement was contradictory to the statement of my wife,” you are messy, you can’t be perfectionist.” She may be right at home.

“I expect the corrected data, I expect no errors, blunders, I expect organized work, I expect you follow the system properly. Is this perfection? This is just basic requirement of the job. You are good in concepts but then what’s about the process. If I ask you to keep the communication right, if I ask you timely feedback, if I ask you to document the process which is mandatory for legal and legacy purpose, am I expecting more from you?” I asked so many questions to him. I am not crazy to be so perfectionist. I can not afford to be that. I insist we should not exhibit “Chalta Hain” attitude.

“Chalta hain” attitude is the problem. Last week I was at Singapore and Shanghai. These are great cities designed with perfection. On Mumbai airport there were tiles with no match. Just different shades put in between. It was not even by design. The contractor must have taken the liberty to put those tiles due to shortage in shades.

It is everywhere in our world (I mean in India). I always surprise how they maintain the roads and landscape with symmetry in whole Shanghai city. Singapore airport is the busiest airport; still they manage the beauty and perfection in design.

How they manage it? They are also human beings. In fact we Indians are more creative and talented. The only hurdle is this Chalta Hain attitude.

Messy files, bad housekeeping, spilled trays and bins are the examples in offices. I have seen the people who even do not bother to classify the details as per the logical sequence. Expecting the data with logical sequence, date wise, name wise, designation wise, customer wise (to give some examples) is not the perfection. Discipline, quality work is the perquisite of job.

Can’t we go ahead with little bit analytical and be passionate about the job we do?

Saturday, March 06, 2010

If God can get us through this……..

It was mid August. We were at Big Bazar. She had been shopping with her Mom in Big Bazar. She must have been 6 years old, this beautiful long haired, freckle faced image of innocence. It was pouring outside. The kind of rain that gushes over the top of rain gutters, so much in a hurry to hit the earth it has no time to flow down the spout. We all stood there under the awning of the Big Bazar. We waited, some patiently, others irritated because nature messed up their hurried day.

I am always mesmerized by rainfall. I got lost in the sound and sight of the heavens washing away the dirt and dust of the world. Memories of running, splashing so carefree as a child come pouring in as a welcome reprieve from the worries of my day.

Her voice was so sweet as it broke the hypnotic trance we were all caught in. "Mom, let's run through the rain," she said.
"What?" Mom asked.
"Let's run through the rain!" She repeated.
"No, beta. We'll wait until it slows down a bit," Mom replied.
This young child waited about another minute and repeated: "Mom, let's run through the rain."
"We'll get soaked if we do," Mom said.
"No, we won't, Mom. That's not what you said this morning," the young girl said as she tugged at her Mom's arm. "This morning? When did I say we could run through the rain and not get wet?" "Don't you remember? When you were talking to Daddy about his cancer, you said, 'If God can get us through this, he can get us through anything!"
The entire crowd stopped dead silent. I swear you couldn't hear anything but the rain. We all stood silently. No one came or left in the next few minutes. Mom paused and thought for a moment about what she would say. Now some would laugh it off and scold her for being silly. Some might even ignore what was said. But this was a moment of affirmation in a young child's life.

A time when innocent trust can be nurtured so that it will bloom into faith. "beta, you are absolutely right. Let's run through the rain. If GOD let's us get wet, well maybe we just needed washing," Mom said. Then off they ran. We all stood watching, smiling and laughing as they darted past the cars and yes, through the puddles. They held their shopping bags over their heads just in case. They got soaked. But they were followed by a few who screamed and laughed like children all the way to their cars. And yes, we did. We ran. We got wet. We needed washing. Circumstances or people can take away your material possessions, they can take away your money, and they can take away your health. But no one can ever take away your precious memories...

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