Friday, July 30, 2010

To decide or not to decide – Decision dilemma

Decision making is the accountability of the role. The person can be senior or junior; he has to take decisions in his life, small or big, good or bad, simple or complex. However they do not take decisions. To decide or not to decide is the dilemma. Everybody prefers to be in this dilemma. There are certain managers who even do not encourage their people to take decisions. Juniors can not take decisions and senior don’t give the decisions. At the end of the day, every paper and every issue is tabled at higher authority. He pushes it to his higher authority and so on. If somebody wants to take the decision, his manager will ask him hundred questions so that the person will confuse well.

I have seen one senior level confused manager who never wanted to make any decision. If any employee would go to him, he would ask proposal, lot of data, and lot of information. He would sit on this information for days and month for the incubation. Time is the best solution on any issue was his principle. After some days, problem would resolve automatically. Still the issue persists; he would put the unique remark on proposal, “Principally agreed”. He spent almost 20 years in the organization without taking any decisions and only “agreeing principally”! Principally agreed! The word itself connotes “shrinking the accountability of decision making”. I was amazed when this guy conducted one workshop on decision making.

Such type of people normally escape from the decision making process but at the other hand want to know everything to save the skin. It is used to avoid actually making a decision or even to create a false choice so as not to have to make a decision. They also can be categorized in “Play it safe” which involves making the choice is the least amount of risk.

Such managers forget that a decision is a commitment to act. In commitment you have to take the responsibility of decisions.

The reason for such decision making can be the uncertainty. Many decisions that managers deal with every day involve at least some degree of uncertainty and require non-programmed decision making. But it is not wide to categorize all the decision on the play it safe category.

There are different ways to take the decision. Most of the times, decisions are mostly impulsive. Sometimes the actual issue is different and the decision is taken on prima facie issue. In short decisions are taken based on the symptoms and not on actual problems.

Right or wrong, simple or complex, good or bad, people should learn to take decisions. It requires courage. How courageous are you?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Follow the process, quality will follow you. Oh is it so?

Follow the process, quality will follow you. I read this somewhere outside the factory in industrial area. The statement is very true. If you follow the process, definitely the results will be as defined in the process. There are process experts and process engineers who define and develop the process. But sometimes, this process gets extra attention and people give the excuse of process for their non competence.

When the process is defined and is required to complete the cycle, you can not overlook the process parameters. If you overlook the process parameters then chances (!) of failure are more. However one should not overlook the theory of constraints. There are lots of constraints mapped in the process itself sometimes due to ignorance or just for the sake of putting the process in place.

In manufacturing and mostly in processes where the cycle time is sinew, the process has to follow. There are certain so called process experts who try to define the process in each and every function. Most of the times it creates the bureaucracy and is a common excuse for skipping the accountability and putting the monkey on another head.

I encountered with such so called expert (self proclaimed). He was deployment leader for six- sigma, senior member of steering committee and had a say in everything in the organization. I don’t know why but he was with obfuscated always on issues. There was one issue related to right recruitment. After lot of discussion and studying the procedure he designed the process for recruitment function; right from manpower requisition to placement of the employee on the job. I am the HR professional and respect the process. I am also a firm believer of following the process, if the process gives the desired result. But I also challenge the process on how are you going to ensure the result of quality, hence any process should be designed or amended considering the quality in mind. Our recruitment team was unable to work with the process to give the result as there was more attention on bureaucratic way of working, more focus on format filling, writing everything on the paper and documenting each and every steps recruiter, interviewer taken. If recruiter would go with the process, he would not be able to recruit the desired numbers in a month. However his main problem was, he never was holding himself accountable for the results.

The purpose of documenting the process is defeated if the process is not rightly documented and in common man language. I have seen SoP on Anti Sexual Harassment Process and it was 10 pages long with different legal jargons.

Any procedure and process should be very simple; common man should understand it. The designer/writer of the process should be clear for whom he is designing the process.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Personal Character and An Organization…

“He has lot of affairs; he was sacked by his earlier employer and has a separate arrangement for enjoying his infra dig life which very few people know in this organization.” One employee was speaking about the senior manager. “He has everything bad in him.”

“He is arrogant; he gossips a lot; he goes at racecourse on every Thursday.”

“So what? It is his personal life, does it matter you?” I asked him.

“It does not matter me, but it matters the organization. Due to his behaviour, organization’s image can be spoiled.” He said.

I always wonder that there are certain people in organizations, typically in Indian companies, who have everything bad in them, but still they survive in the organization.

It is depend upon the values of the organization. The organization values and employees’ values should match. In fact while recruiting, the integrity, character, his behaviour, his past record should be scrutinized. This is more applicable in senior level positions. Junior employees have the valid reason to object the wrong behaviour of senior employees. They always observe the behaviour and character of senior employees. This gives the room for scuttlebutt which can affect the culture of the organization.

Sometimes, organizations don’t bother what the employees are doing in their personal life, but when it comes to the organizational values and conflicts happens, then management wakes up. Once I was discussing with Managing Director on one company on certain values. She was referring the wrong recruitment of one senior level manager. There are certain practices in the Industry which may be usual for them, but her organization does not encourage such practices. Here the MD is clear on the expectations from her employees.

Employees at senior level can not differentiate their personal life with professional life. As rightly said by Peter Drucker, the spirit of an organization is created from the top, I will say it is created by all managers. Evaluate the character of all employees when considering a job offer. Align yourself with people who have integrity.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Boss, tell me what do you expect from me and be clear always.

Dilip Mate is an old employee working in IT department for last 15 years in the company. He started his career as a trainee in IT department and grown as IT head of one location. His responsibilities include IT support to all vertical of the company. The company is largest regional media company with newspapers, television, web, magazines etc. Dilip has seen almost 12-14 different bosses in his 15 years of career and surprisingly he managed to work with all bosses. Definitely few bosses were nuts and were there due to their loyalty with the owners. Their only qualification was they were in good books of the directors.

Dilip is straight forwards and is not at all political and diplomatic.

“So Dilip, how you manage these different bosses?” once I asked him.

“Oh, it is clear, working 15 years in one department and in same organization, I gained enough knowledge about the organization and working style of the people.”

“So what exactly you do.”

“When any new boss comes here, I am the first person going in his cabin and asking clear expectation from him.”

“What exactly you do?”

“I go and tell, Sir I am working here for 15 years and worked with different superiors with different personalities. I don’t know your management style. But let me know clearly how I should report you? Do you expect me to come your cabin every morning and evening to report about the work? You style may be either democratic, autocratic or mix of both, but it is always better to clarify everything now”

“What is the reaction of boss?”

“He surprises; perhaps I am the only person to ask such stupid questions. But after sometimes he comes out from the shock.” He told, “Bosses have unique expectations from their subordinates and if boss does not understand, then we should go to them ask them what are their priorities?”

“This is too much; bosses are bosses and they have the authority.”

“Yes, but they should clarify the expectations from their reportees.”

“Agreed, but always it is not possible.” As the boss of somebody I told him.

“Most of the time, they can be unreasonable, can expect everything, can give very little space for decisions. Hence as a subordinate, I go to them and clarify everything. It helps me perform better. Professionals like you may not like my style. But I enjoy this.” He smiled.

I could not comment on his response. What do you think?

You may also like these.. please read