Sunday, January 30, 2011

Why the cat crosses your way?

“If cat crosses your way, it is bad.” Our mind is conditioned with this superstition. There was one family staying in small village. The family had a lovely cat. The only son in the family got married. It was the time to bring bride at home. Mother thought that it is not good if cat crosses the bride on first day. She takes the cat and hides it under a big container. Due to suffocation cat dies. Mother realized that something is wrong. She notices that cat has stop crying. She checks it. When she sees died cat, she scares. It is even worse to have died cat in home, when bride comes. She takes the cat and goes out hurriedly to through it away. Exactly barat comes; bride sees that her mother-in-law is throwing the dies cat. She thinks that it must be the tradition of family to welcome the bride with dead cat.

After few years, it was a time for daughter in law. When her son gets married, she kills the cat and welcomes the bride.

We are like this daughter in law. There so many things in life we do blindly without understanding the logic. There are lots of practices in the organization which are carried forward without any question. When you ask the reason for doing something, they do not have answers. They say, “We do it in this way only.” There are many practices and customs which are not even relevant in modern days, but still that are there. Nobody knows why they are following that.
It is like government official asking the certificate from pensioner endorsing that pensioner is alive.  
“Because we need it?”
“But, why?”
“It is a Rule”

The main reason may be we do not ask the question, “why”. Why you follow it? What is the logic? What is the outcome? If we do not follow the same, what will be consequences?
I have seen in one organization the out door duty approval process. There were two- page form with approval of supervisor (Recommended by), line manager (Sanctioned by), functional manager (Approved by), HR manager (Noted) and finally accounts manager (for expense payment).

“Why do you require so many approvals? Supervisor and HR signature is enough.”
 “This is a practice.” I got the answer. The reason was everybody wanted to show their power by signing the document.

We, HR professionals are very expert in designing different procedures, forms. Can we just ask the question? “Why do we need it? Is this process adding some value? Can we make it online and save the non-value added time?
The question is who will ties the bell to the cat? (You know, after all most of the things happen around are for showing the importance and power)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

How you transfer the knowledge?

Our parents went to the school to get the information and subsequent knowledge. They had limited access to the information. We also went to the school to access the knowledge from our teachers. We had better access to the knowledge in libraries. Today, my son studying in standard II has the access to the knowledge on his figure tip. In knowledge society, we have computer and laptops at every home; in schools definitely. Internet and google have made the revolution in knowledge and learning. Everything is available on your fingertip. Just type what you want and you get it.

Some people forget that they are living in knowledge society. The knowledge which is easily available to them is also available to others. The same is applicable in organizations also. As a manager, if you do not coach and train your team, they will anyhow get it from somewhere, but then you will loose the respect. If you delegate the job to the trainer; then trainers should be equivalent competent. The job of trainers also is critical. The days have gone, when trainer would show slides, conduct different games and transfer the knowledge to the participants. What they show is already on internet.    

Once, we invited one trainer, he was supposed to speak on life skills. After the session he asked the feedback from participants. “We were expecting something new, we already know this stuff.” One participant bluntly told. “Yes, we know this, but it was refreshing for us.” Second participant was more gentle.

I personally feel that this knowledge revolution has made the trainer’s job more challenging. They actually have to innovate, create new material and find out new methodologies to engage participants.

And even as a manager also, you actually need to be coach and mentor for your team in a innovative way.   

Best luck.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Self Awareness

At what extent we are aware about ourselves. It can be related from everything, how you talk, how you walk, how you behave and more importantly, how you are within as a human being. We must have different perceptions about ourselves. I know one person who was working in largest media house. He perceived himself as the most eligible CEO candidate. His major perception was that the organization can not run without him well. Whatsoever organization is doing, all is due to his leadership efforts. In fact organization is doing much better after his exit.
You must have seen the similar people in world who have exorbitant views about themselves. Everybody, including successful executives has blind spots; however we do not wish to check these blind spots. We create positive or negative impressions on the community due to these blind spots. Most of the times, it is negative, due to unawareness about the SELF.  

We do not want to be taught or learn when it comes to our personality. This is more difficult to the seniors. I had interacted one senior person to whom I had given the feedback that he was extra perfectionist resulting delay in decisions. He had lot of justifications like history & dynamics of the organization. (Afterwards, I came to know that that was a tactic to delay decisions and save his skin. We call such people, oily wrestler) He was not aware about this at all. He perceived this as his great leadership style.      

We normally learn to identify our strengths and weaknesses. But I am not sure, how we try to focus on development areas. When I interview candidate, most of candidates speak about their strengths, but when ask about their weaknesses, it goes very difficult to them to answer. We never try to actually identify these areas.

I personally think that making aware about SELF is the journey within you. This is very difficult and off course long journey. But at least, we can take small step and try to improve developmental areas. For example improving on body language, eating habits, communication styles etc etc. The better way to do it have a feedback from well wishers, friends, colleagues and family members.  You can expand the known area and reduce the blind spot.    

Self awareness includes, knowing your emotions, your personality types, your overall disposition, your behavioural pattern and everything which is known as soft skills. In totality how you are as the person. If you don’t remove the blind spot, you will not be able to develop yourself as a human being and even professional.

(Please refer Johari Window to understand the blind spot available on Google.)

Friday, January 07, 2011

Operator’s absenteeism: Misconduct, but why?

“I would have terminated this person immediately if I had not visited his home. I think we should give him some time for improvement.” I was referring the chronic absenteeism case with other management team members in the organization. It was year 2001 and union was very strong in unit. I had no problem to take serious actions against irritant employees and handle the IR issues consequent to that; but this case was totally different. The employee in question was working as an operator. He used to remain absent very often. Even he never worked 240 days in previous year. The operator was good in his work and even his attitude was not an issue.

I decided to go in detail. During the counseling session, I came to know about his family obligations and problems he was facing. I decided to visit his home. When I went at his home the scene was very horrible.

His father was on bed. His wife was suffering from chronic asthma. Mother could not do any work due joint pains. As his father was on bed, he could not focus on his farm. His two kids were kicked out by the school because of their poor attendance and non payment of school fees.

I decided to give a try. I asked company doctor to attend his parents and wife. They needed extra care so were hospitalized. Along with the operator I met school headmistress and requested her to reconsider the case of his children. We sanctioned the special loan for his school fees and medical care of his family. He also was able to pay the electricity cess; electricity in his farm was restored. We granted special leave of again 8 days for settling. Slowly everything came in line.

This operator bagged the best attendance award in next year.

You also must have encountered with such cases. We always make our opinion on first hand information and take a decision on this. Perhaps I would have taken the disciplinary action against this operator if I would have not gone in detail. During the hard time nobody comes for the help, neither union nor his colleagues tried to represent his case in right perspective. Union office bearers were using this issue as one of the issues to fight with the management. They never tried to help this particular operator.

I am sure that if we would have terminated this person, union must have made the issue for their benefit and other side, I would have lost my control. I didn’t want to give the credit of the same to the union. At another side, I was able to gain the confidence of other operators also.    

I am not sure whether the approach which I used in above case will work always, but at least we can have detail analysis of the case and take a call on such cases.

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