Sunday, November 27, 2011

Speed, overtake and risk

It takes me 1/2 hour for going at the office. The road is always busy. Lot of vehicles on the road make the journey little bit slow. There are certain people who do not follow the discipline of the road and then creates bedlam on the road. Mondays become sometimes anxious due to this reason. There are telcons planned and I have to reach in the office at sharp 9.00 pm. Lot of mails and calls waiting on the laptops make the day demanding.  

There is a line of 4-wheelers running at the speed of 30-40 and I want it to run at the speed of at least 50-60. Long queue of vehicles and everybody is in the line.  I have two options, either to follow the next vehicle and follow the pace or just overtake and try to reach next to next to next vehicle. I choose second one. There are two possibilities if I opt for second option- I reach in front of all and be on time in the office or I am responsible for creating one more chaos on the road and take the blame from others for that.  I chose to be calculative. I see that pace is slow and all the vehicles are following the same pace. I don’t want to one of them but I should be careful. I increase the speed and overtake all and reach next to all. I got it.  Sometimes I have to make speace for me indicating another vehicle that I am planning in your line in front of you, be carful.

And one day, I enticed to compare the metaphor with our life. We have dreams and Goals in our life and definitely we want to achieve the same. Life is the journey and we want to reach at the destination. Sometimes we take speed and sometimes we just follow the line of vehicles.

Here are some of my takeaways from this:

1)      Don’t follow always: Sometimes, following somebody is beneficial, but not always. You need to decide your own action to achieve your goals. If you try to only follow, then there are near miss opportunities of success. Perhaps if you overtake them just by increasing your speed, you may get the key to success.                    
2)      Take calculative risks: I calculate the risk and as I told you I choose second option to increase the speed and overtake other vehicle. There are people who play the safe game and then blame their destiny. You yourself can decide your fate, destiny.  Playing safe is again sometimes beneficial and not always. You know that if you increase your speed, overtake others, or choose another way, further way can be risky. There are lots of risks in the life. Overcoming the fear and taking calculative risk creates the way for the success.
3)      Have the urgency: I always tell my team to imagine that if they don’t do the task on time, they would loose the job and the job what they are doing is the only job available in the market. Creating the need of urgency makes your job easy. Steve Jobs rightly asked to imagine that tomorrow you are going to die. When I commute to office, I have the urgency to go in the office, but this is not the urgency, I have lot many things to do and I have in mind that I have to finish all just today.
4)      Be alert and aware about the situation and check others movement: I increase the speed of my car on the road, but I also check the situation and movements of others. I know I can be careful but others may create the problem for me. There are others guys on the road, who must be thinking the same what I am thinking and this may lead to the major accident. To avoid this I am alert to understand the situation and try to make the safe space for me by taking the control on speed.

Life is like the same. Once you like this you will enjoy the way of making it more adventurous.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Involuntary Separations… How you handle?

Involuntary separations should be handled very carefully.
Involuntary Separations are very difficult to handle.  As a HR professional, you need to check the trend of separations in the department. You need to be more critical on finding out the reasons.  In one organization, there was a trend of involuntary separations in HR department itself. Employees were not at all responsible, but expectations by the line manager from these employees were totally weird.

There are only two reasons for involuntary separations, either you are not managing the performance well or your recruitment is wrong.

In most of the cases such separations are not handled properly. The blame is always on the employee. HR roles is just to communicate and handover the document to the person in most of the cases. When you are retrenching any employee, you need to be more empathetic to the person. You have clause of “termination without assigning the reason” in your appointment letter. But just going by the clause is not enough. After all you have to be more carful about the employer brand and once your image is tarnished, then you would not get the right talent when you need them.

One of the manager always give the justification, he told once to employee that he took only 1 hour interview to decide on the hiring. Six month probation period is enough to decide the separation. He was absolutely right, but then his hiring or interview skill must be very poor.

If you are retrenching employees as per the Industrial Dispute Act (not by the title/designation, but the definition mentioned in the Act), then you may be in trouble, if somebody challenges the termination.  Somebody told me that you (means managers) should be tough and ruthless in the business. True but this does not mean that you should be unfair to the people.

Certain tips will be useful to handle such cases.

1)      Check your hiring practices: If you are terminating anybody within the period of six months, or due to the mismatch or behaviour of the employee then this means, your hiring procedure is very bad and not professional. If this is happening more in the organizations, then you should question the ability of your HR and even hiring manager. Recruitment and selection is not just an activity, but it is the process, holistic process. From each stage of the process, you should have the proper checks. Unfortunately HR plays just coordinating role in most of the organizations. HR executive, who is coordinating the function, is even not aware or trained properly. Most of the HR executives make recruitment process, a mess.
2)      Make expectations clear: Do you have the proper assessment system in place? Line managers should make the expectations clear. HR has to see whether the Job Description is explained, targets are set and proper orientation is conducted.  
3)      Document: Most of the people think that documentation taxes their time. Is it so? They do not have the priorities decided, or they just are not aware about the consequences. Documentations of expectations, (in term of KRA sheet, JD etc) should be clear and should be signed by line manager and an employee. If there are meetings on issues, minute of meeting should be documented.  The letter on agreed action should be communicated to the employee on time.
4)      Address the issue at early stage: Most of the issues are addressed when the assessment is due. On the last date of assessment line managers communicates HR that the person is not doing well and require certain actions. Was he sleeping? Has he communicated employee on the issue? Has this been documented? Every issue should be addressed at the early stage, you are not only being unfair to the person, but you are unfair to the organization also.
5)      Don’t be unfair: Don’t push your personal agenda on people. Give time to people to think and acclimatize with the function, organization. Show empathy and always be fair with people. Believe on the law of attraction, you can not be unfair with people always; otherwise, you will be the next person.
6)      Don’t victimize: As a part of organizational polices, discrimination should be strictly no. Don’t victimize the person because he is not your cheerleader.  Grow up and be professional.

Involuntary separations are frustrating to employees and their families and sometimes can be financial death for them. Line Managers are the important key people to decide the fate of their subordinate. Hence the role of HR is very crucial in such cases. HR should be always the Gate Keeper for the process and see that the process is followed properly.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Drill down approach

Some information can be misleading sometimes. When you ask question, not necessary you will get the right information. If you rely on inappropriate information, then your decision may have the adverse consequences. You can actually go into the details and ask the questions until you are satisfied. You may call this technique as Drill down approach.   

What is Drill Down Approach?

The Drill Down Approach is the methodological tool to analyze the whole situation in specific conditions and situations. It is applicable everywhere in the life.

You can use this approach in HR to solve your day-to-day HR issues including employment interviews, exit interviews, employment conditions, compensation etc.

Drill Down Approach in professional life?

A) Interviews: when you hire any employee, you can use this tool to uncover his past performance by asking simple questions. Behavioural Interview Technique (BEI) is the effective method to do this. “Past performance in similar circumstances is the best prediction of future performance” is the principle used in BEI.

We have heard about Fake CVs and subsequent termination of these employees by top IT companies. Candidates can be drilled down on the information given in resume. This will uncover his achievements during first phase of the interview.   

B) Exit Interviews: You can apply same tool to uncover the facts.

C) Employee-Employer Relations: An IR person can easily comment on this issue. How horrible cases he has to handle in his day-to-day work. The approach can be used. When you have to investigate any misconduct or you are involved in any enquiry you can use this drill down approach to investigate the matter.

D) Management issues: Besides above you can use this approach everywhere in your life including market analysis.

Investigations done by police or other investigating agencies are based on this approach. But when you use this technique in your professional or personal life, we should be very careful about the style of investigations. You should be smart enough to get the information by drilling on the questions without using your position and power in the organization. Otherwise the information may be misleading.    

Friday, November 04, 2011

Do you consider your intuition while taking decisions?

Albert Einstein on Intuition

I had one manager in past who was very critical on the data and use to take time to take decisions. He would ask so many questions on the data. He was fully relied on the data. But it would take so much time and the issues would be solved by another person or would hang till somebody else would enter into the same.  He was neither an effective decision maker nor an effective leader.

In another case, the manager was taking fast decisions. He also would use the data but was more relied on actual fact and related gut feelings. In some cases you have huge data mined by your team for you and have a little time. How you would take a decision in such situation?

If you follow the rational and theoretical process of decision, then you would not be able to take half of the decision in day to day life due to time constraints.     

Imagine, you are walking on the road and suddenly stray dog comes in front you. You become consciously alert of the danger. Your mind acts accordingly and you try to avoid the stray dog by distancing yourself from the dog. What you do here? Your mind process the data and you take a decision. In decision making process, you find out the danger and then you take a decision depending on your intuition. When there is no data, or data is huge and you have a little time or just your data is not working, your intuition helps you. You need to develop your intuition. Great decisions by great industry leaders are taken. Take an example of Dhirubhai Ambani. The foundation of the Jamnagar refinery was decided by Dhirubhai and not by engineers. (Engineers had assured that time that Jamnagar was not the seismic region (based on the data).  You know the results, during earthquake, it remain safe.     

Successful professionals do not make a great many decisions. They concentrate on what is important. They try to make the few important decisions on the highest level of conceptual understanding. For this they need to be able to withdraw from within themselves intuitive, subjective information to help them in their decisions.

Intuition is the ability to tap your feelings to make better decisions. Throughout our formal education we receive instructions on how to follow guidelines. We learn methodologies and acquire information. This creates the basis for deductive reasoning.

The ultimate expression of deductive reasoning is intuition. Through reason we can make a decision based on numbers, however, logical reasoning is not enough in today’s complex world.
Intuition is what distinguishes the mature professional from just the manager. To do this effectively, professionals have to understand the substance of themselves and their rolls and that of the people under them. They must understand the essence of this work and visualize the future. Intuition is what enables them to do this.

But, how do we find intuition? One way to look for it is to follow our common sense, what feels right to us. Intuition occurs spontaneously. When executives are controlled by their egos or their intellect, they don’t let their minds free to use their intuition. Using your intuition is like having a sixth sense. It is like lighting up the mind to enable executives to make the best decisions.

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