Monday, April 30, 2012


Your reward should be based on
the outcome.
When my son got first appreciation in his school, I bought Cadbury for him. He was happy and excited to get both. Next time, when same thing repeated, he was happy about the appreciation, but not for the Cadbury. I realized that only same reward is not always work. My wife is more smart in this. She told him during his final exam preparations that he would get his favourite Bumblebee transformer if he works hard to score the numbers and he did that. She has defined the (unwritten) reward policy for him and it works well. The range of rewards includes viewing favourite “Doreman show” to toy and most of the time good and motivating words. Human being is same and rewards have to be defined considering this human dimension in mind.  

Once the newly nominated COO declared that the company is not taking enough efforts to reward their employees. He insisted that the company should start some good practices of rewards like certificates for employee of the months, smileys and thank you notes for doing good job etc. etc. For few months it went well, but then real problem started. Employees were not excited to receive certificates. It just became the ritual to identify the employees for the reward. Getting certificates for everything was not at all motivating for them. The real problem was not in the reward schemes. The motivation is always a subjective terms. You don’t know how employees perceive motivation. And when it comes to the organization, employees most of the time expect the reward which is associated to their pay.

The old way isn’t always working. We continue to reward the same behaviors we have rewarded in the past while expecting different results. We profess interest in really doing things differently but settle into routines that are comfortable and safe.

What motivates one person may not necessarily motivate other. Off course, “I have done this, me, me, me” is the primary response. But in larger perceptive, we should understand the human nature and every human is different. Hence their motivation level is different and also expectations about rewards. In manufacturing industries, especially in automobile industries, they implement Kaizen and Kaizen is not associated with any monitory rewards. It is the way of leaving there and hence just appreciation certificates are given to employees who participate in Kaizen. However, this is branded as a way of leaving there.

Before introducing any reward system, we should understand what behaviour we want to reward. Then the reward should be associated with some results. If you are rewarding your project team who had given you the saving of 5 crores, mere certificate may motivate them for first time, but next time, they may not passionately participate in the project.

My suggestion is not to just copy reward schemes from somewhere and make the mess with whole philosophy. Just think how your people get motivated.      

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Throw thy labels….

When I was kid, different guests used to visit our home. Most of the guests used to interact with me. They used to ask me different questions and would give me money for candies and chocolates. They would tell my parents that I am smart boy… In school, I was, off course, first -bencher and reasonably good in academics. Once during our examination, some students were caught while copying the answers from cheats, they had bought. Teacher scolded those students and pointed towards me, saying, “See that student, he studies, works hard and gets numbers and you…? Learn from him…”

My parents, relatives, friends, teacher and people in society labeled me, smart boy, good boy, intelligent boy etc. etc…. These positive labels given by different people, made me more positive and responsible. This also helped me to create my positive “self image.” This does not mean that I was always perceived good boy. I was also naughty, sometimes made blunders; I also tried to be bad boy in schools along with other friends. In seventh, we demanded that that school should allow students to wear trousers instead of short pants. However our PT teacher and headmaster were not in favour of the same. During this, I also protested against the headmaster and was out of the school for two days. Next day my class -teacher complained to my parents. I still remember the punishment which I don’t want to reveal now.

But these bad experiences neither made me bad nor people labeled me bad. Positive labels were more prominent than negative labels.
Your self image plays imperative role in your success. Self image is your own opinion about yourself. This is created based on your understanding of perceptions of different people about you. I am very happy and feel lucky that these positives made my personality positive and helped me to build my positive “self image.”      

However, there are incidences where people, teacher, patents are more negative towards their children. They pressurize the children to do lot many things and if they fail, label them negatively. Our personality is the “shop” of these different labels and tags. If Raju, does not win the running race, his friends would label him that he is looser. Recently one of the parents of student studying in class 3rd was summoned by the teacher and was told that their kid is slow learner. How teacher can decide and label the child is slow learner? Parents told teacher, “look, my kid had done well in his earlier school, if he is not picking fast; it is your teaching problem and at home we have not seen any issues with his learning.” Parent may be over protective, but their explanation was right; because the comments of parents would have been more important to the kid. This positive statement would have been helped him to create the positive self image.

People make perceptions about you and they tag you based on their understanding. Their perception may not be necessarily right and hence you should not worry about their tag. This happens in home, schools and even offices. Your seniors may have their own understanding about you, sometimes negative and really you should focus on positive perception to build the good self image.

The need here is to keep good labels and throw all thy negative labels.  

Friday, April 13, 2012

Weighted criteria assessment in decision making

The Weighted Criteria Assessment is a method designed to support decision making where there are different alternatives. Fro example you want to change the job and you are in dilemma to change or not. This is based on your analysis and priority of the alternatives and different factors which are considered. As the title suggests, these criteria are 'weighted' based on their importance to the decision. The idea is to provide an objective assessment of a decision (which can be a job change or decision required to take a new house). Any number of attributes, factors or decisions can be compared.

There are essentially three steps to completing the Assessment Matrix:

1) Identify Criteria: A list of relevant criteria or dimensions needs to be created, it is often useful to group these criteria under general headings to faciliate communication and to also ensure that one heading with many criteria does not dominate the entire decision process (e.g. ten items under the heading “location” (in case of taking a new home) might dominate one item under the heading “distance” even both location and distance might have the same overall weighting for the decision).

2) Determine Weightings: Each criterion must be assigned a 'weighting'. In the matrix the weightings can be on a scale of 1 – 5. It is also possible to use a "Low, Medium, High" form of rating. You can either use an overall fixed weighting system (a total value for all critieria not to exceed 100 for example) or you can simply add as many critieria with their respective weightings as you wish. It is often valuable to enter a percentage at the grouping level to illustrate the importance of the grouping to the overall decision.

3) Ranking Decisions: With the criteria and their weightings determined, the next step is to put 'rankings' for how each decision variable fits the criteria. In this matrix, the rankings are on a scale of 1 - 5 although once again any scale could be used. After applying the rankings the matrix has to calculate a total weighted assessment and will 'recommend' one of the decisions automatically for you.

One of the benefits is you have a strong case on your decision and is based on the objective data.
It also helps in the decision making process and is an effective tool for communicating to other stakeholders the criteria and how they relate to the decision being made. This develops consensus on the criteria and weightings used and is a relatively quick way to get input from stakeholders.

Take an example of comparing two companies while changing the job.
While changing the job, you need to take the decision based on objective dimensions. Mostly the candidate sees the CTC and job profile, but if you only depend upon these two dimensions, you may end up in different area altogether. Hence other factors also need to be considered. In the example I have prepared some factors which should be taken care off. However you need to take a call for job change based on your priorities in your life. For example you may weight salary more against the company culture or vice versa.

As a final suggestion, it is often important to have a companion document that explains each criterion in enough detail that it is clear what the criteria represent.

Please download this file and follow the discussion on employee attrition on

Friday, April 06, 2012

Some leadership rudiments...

Leadership and leadership development is the hot and extensively discussed topic. There are different theories on leadership. People learn these theories during Leadership Workshops and training programmes and try to implement in their day to day life. I have also written a lot on leadership on this blog. Sometimes leaders are recognized when they are successful. The common phenomenon of recognition is “success is after all success.”

Most of the HR professionals, CEOs, trainers and so called coaches claim their initiatives on leadership development. Every organizations focuses on leadership however fundamental question on leadership still remains valid, “Are leaders born or made?”

“Leadership inputs” to be effective professional will always help, however it is continuous process and no single theory is effective. Leaders are expected to act as per the situation. However most of the time it is as per the perception of team members. If you speak with the team they have the perception that they are doing their job and due to their job the organization is running.  There is even a growing voice to the idea of organizations without leader with cross-functional steering committee. However the fact is people want to be lead. Here we need to view the leadership differently and should ask some fundamental questions. It is like back to basics.

How to view the leadership differently?

The leader needs to ask the question himself about his different orientation about the leadership skills.

Am I natural? The beahviour of the leader should be natural and honest. If you come from the leadership workshop or coaching session and learned few good tools, philosophies of leadership. If you want to practice those tools, the behaviour here should be natural.  People should perceive your behaviour as a natural outcome.  I have seen the managers who always perceived as phony because their output was not honest and natural. Your body language, gesture, eyes should complement with what you are talking.

Do I see the future? Leaders are expected to be visionaries and they should be. If you focus only tomorrow and not day after tomorrow, you are focusing only on tasks. A vision comes when you have the strategic thinking. The business leaders come from some functional areas and most of the times from sales function. Their focus remains on ASR, sales target, sales revenue and tactical issues. This is valid for other functional leaders as well.

Am I trapped in organization chart? Once the person is hired to lead the specific role, function or the business, he starts preparing and putting organization structure in place. This structure is moreover like “command and control” type of structure. First he hires personal secretary, then executive assistant and then other managers to support him. Sometimes he focuses on replacing existing one with new and conformable one. Here he restricts his direct influence on the people. Once the structure is build; he does not go beyond the organization structure. The question is how to build the passionate, skilled and committed team and not mere the organization structure.    

Once you are clear what you want from you, then it is very easy to brand you as a leader…

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