Friday, August 27, 2010

Do you create clerks?

Most of the managers create clerks. They do not want to develop their team members. They want to be on the top of the situation which we should appreciate, but they underestimate the power of empowerment and delegation. If you ask team members to take some decision, they will tell you lot of reasons for avoiding the decision. But this is not only about the decision. One of the senior managers was always telling me that every decision is taken by an employee, but the organization has assigned the responsibility to somebody as a signing authority, it goes to that authority for validation; hence your decision should be effective enough but what he was preaching was not always practicing. If somebody had taken the decision, he would criticize on and always would challenge the decision. At the end of the day employee would be frustrated. After that he would not take any decision and would go to him for everything.

What normally managers expect from their team? Just have a look on any employee. There is big hierarchy in most of the organizations. General Managers, Dy. General Managers, Chief Managers, Sr. Managers, Managers, Executives etc etc. for each functions. Everybody in the team wants to take the decision, General Managers speaks about delegation and empowerment, and it is push to the DGM, to Sr. Managers. Everything comes on the table of Executive. Poor executive does everything, but he has to struggle to run from his line manager who asks him to wait so that he would take the matter to his line manager and likewise goes on to the General Manager. General Manager would give the big lecture on personal productivity, accountability and empowerment. This is all philosophical only for preaching. Next day if somebody takes the decision, he would ask lot of questions and will challenge the credibility of that decision.

Micro management is another issue most of the professionals suffer (!). One of the directors, (such designations are always fancy in India, actually this guy was a purely head clerk) I have seen wanted to know everything what’s happening in the organization. He wanted to control the managers. Managers won't feel internally committed if someone always controlling them from the top down. In such cases accountability doesn’t come.

We always live the world of paradoxes. We speak about delegation and empowerment, but we don’t pass the authority and still we expect the accountability and ownership. It doesn’t take much if you start the empowerment. It is an engagement issue. For example you must have seen the HR Head signing each and every paper even including provident fund nomination forms, returns, etc. Unless you do not empower the person to sign the documents, his commitment and accountability will not be at expected level. I have seen the case where HR director went on a business tour for 15 days, in his absence; he has not nominated his manager to sign the documents. All the documents would go to another director for signing. How you can expect that the manager would exhibit the ownership in this case. Philosophically yes, he should show, but real world is not the philosophy. It is individual and commitment driven.
The million dollar question is how to bring this internal commitment from both sides?

Friday, August 20, 2010

What type of employee are you?

Have you seen any employee always with long face roaming around? You must have also seen people gossiping in cafeteria and socializing with each other. Don’t they have the work? Or somebody sincere, doing his work always but on same position for long period.
After investing almost 13 years in HR in different organizations, I can easily label employees in different categories.

These are employees who do the good work; they are recognized for their work and able to get the respect for what they are doing. But when it comes to their career growth, they stuck up. They struggle for the organization but when it comes for getting something for them, they can not take the stand. They are unable to pursue the management that they are really doing good work and they should get what they deserve.

An Imperceptible Man: An imperceptible man does the job with due care and he performs well. The unfortunate thing is that nobody knows what this guy is doing? These people work for other by giving the credit of their achievement. In fact others can easily take the credit and these people remain unnoticed.

Bulldogs: You must have encountered with bulldogs that are very aggressive, always ready to bite others. When these employees are around they just create the tension in work area. Nobody likes them. They may be good workers, but they do not gain much as they are dislike by other employees and even bosses.

Day dreamers: These people are always in a dream. You don’t know what they are doing. They will always speak about big plans, but they do not have the control on any situation. When some adverse situation comes, they back out.

Just gossiping and complaining nature. Ab intio, they do not like anything in the organization, but still they don’t resign. They expect that other should redress and change the situation. They will not take any initiative. They do nothing to affect the change themselves, no matter how much taking decisive actions would help remedy their complaints.

Speechless: They never speak in spite having problems. They take everything that’s given, whether they like it or not, and their passivity makes them over-worked and stressed. People take undue advantage of these guys.

Employees in all above category may have personality issues. They are either very aggressive or very passive. Identify where you are from and then make plan for improving.

PS: There are employees who have 20 years of experience, 1 year experience repeated 20 years. There are another set of employees who have actually 20 years of experience, every year new experience. Under which category you are?

Friday, August 13, 2010


I came across to the story about Mr. Ratan Tata. I do not know the real source, but I received it from my boss.

Story goes that a team of senior managers from Nelco was driving to Nasik along with Mr. Tata. Halfway into the journey, the car had a flat tyre, and as the driver pulled up, the occupants - including Mr. Tata - got off for a comfort break, leaving the driver to replace the tyre.

Some of the managers welcomed the forced break, as it allowed them a much-needed chance to light up a cigarette. Some used the opportunity to stretch, and smile, and share a joke. And then, one of them suddenly noticed that Mr. Tata was not to be seen, and wondered aloud where Ratan Tata might have vanished.

While his colleagues were taking a break, Ratan Tata was busy helping the driver change tyres. Sleeves rolled up, tie swatted away over the shoulder, the hands expertly working the jack and the spanner, bouncing the spare tyre to check if the tyre pressure was ok. Droplets of sweat on the brow, and a smile on the face.

In that moment, the managers accompanying Ratan Tata got a master class in leadership they haven't forgotten.

And that's a moment that the driver of that car probably hasn't forgotten either.

In our personal and professional life de we exhibit such humility? As the person grows, he should be more humble; but what is the real picture? Most of us have the egos, we are successful, we are highly qualified, but truly speaking we do not have the culture of humbleness. People forget that position, money and success are relative terms. If you go outside, shopkeeper, next to the door will not recognize you as the person holding specific position in the organization.
If you see somebody with lot of ego and arrogance on the face, you will also not like to deal with that guy. That guy also doesn’t know that his success, the money he is getting is for short term. One thing is sure such people are not cultured and conditioned right by their parents. You are the role model for your subordinates, at home you are the role model for your children.

Mahatma Gandhiji rightly said that if you want to assess the character of the person, just see how he speaks with his servants.

Humility will take you towards the success. As a parent we should be role model to our children and should teach them the essence of humbleness. As you grow, you should be more humble. As you learn more, you should learn the humility.

Friday, August 06, 2010

We know everything, but we don’t do anything!

You go anywhere, in any company, in any meeting, people talk about everything. They talk and show the expertise they have. They talk about strategy, they talk about tactical planning, they talk about business plans and they talk about everything except execution. The person who talks more in the meeting is assumed the expert in his profession. Off course they are professional having knowledge in their respective domain. They know “what”, they know “how”, but still they don’t do.

The person who talks less is considered dumb. If somebody talks with big presentations, in excellent language skills and with lot of technical jargons gets more attention. However the problem is with “execution, doing”. There is a big gap in “knowing and doing.” They know, they plan, they talk and sometimes they colloquy, but they do not do and act. I have seen so many examples. They had lot of business plans and expansions. They hired renowned consultants, but all the projects miserably failed. The reason was “knowing doing gap”.

Organizations should form the opinion about employees based on their performance and their contributions is the organization and not what they talk. The reality is they form the impressions based on how smart they seem. Being critical to the ideas of others is another way to project oneself as a smart. The reason why such smart talk is appreciated because the quantity and quality of talk is assessed immediately but quality of leadership and managerial capabilities can be assessed with a large time lag. One manager to whom I know was promoted on senior level position only because he appeared to be the smart to the managing director while co-coordinating one business summit. Being critical is not always good but being critical for everything and exhibiting the knowledge on every subject is the problem.

When there is an expansion plan, every manager tries to get enough workforce. Putting people first is easy job, buy delegating and empowering them is very difficult to implement. Knowledge transfer is also the issue. Certain things are just assumed.

Success of the organization depends upon the executing what is already known. I always ask the question, if you know so many things, then why you don’t implement it.

As rightly said by Stanford professors Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton, it is important to convert the knowledge into actions than only knowing and exhibiting your wisdom.

“Why knowledge of what needs to be done frequently fails to result in action or behavior consistent with that knowledge…we came to call this the knowing-doing problem—the challenge of turning knowledge about how to enhance organizational performance into actions consistent with that knowledge.” Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton

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