Sunday, May 31, 2020

How should your new normal be? Covid19 diary

Government declared unlock 1.0 after the lockdown 4.0. People are calling this lockdown 5.0 but actually it is not the lockdown. This is the phase wise unlocking the restrictions. There will be lockdown in containment zones and may be at buffer zones as local administration deems fit. It is almost 2 months; we all are locked inside our homes. We need to understand that we can’t live like this locking inside because of the fear of Covid19 infection. The government also can’t restrict people to stay inside for a long time. Central government has taken decisive action to lock down the country 2 months back and efforts are paid off. 
"Considering the population, India is able to control the infection. Otherwise it would have been a disaster. However, let’s understand that the infection is at level 3 at community infection level. We need to learn to live with the covid19. That’s the new normal."
How should your new normal be?

Personal hygiene: Following personal hygiene is crucial to protect self. In normal courses, people were not that much aware about simple etiquettes like washing hands, not touching surfaces and taking care while sneezing, coughing etc. We were too careless in the past. Now everybody should be careful about their own health. Considering the pathetic health systems, it is better to prevent the infection than admitting for the cure. 
"Follow strict habits like using Sanitizer, Masks and following Social Distancing (SMS)." 
Improve the immunity: Follow good health habits like eating healthy food and drinking healthy drinks. Exercise regularly; Sleep well.  

Be positive: No no, don’t be corona positive, but keep yourselves positive. Find the silver lining from the situation. If you find out positives from the corona pandemic, you will have a lot many. Just make a list. We wanted to work from home for a long time, but it was not possible in the past, but now you work almost daily from home and stay with the family. Mothers were missing their kids, now they can see their kids daily. You can kiss and hug their loved ones. See the creativity shown by the people during the period. The humour, memes and different challenges made our life easy. Few people learn new skills. And the digitalization journey is accelerated.

Practice Mindfulness: During this period, be in the present. Don’t think about the past & future. Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment, through a gentle, nurturing lens. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune into what we're sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future. 
"Keep the inventory of what you have to do daily including personal care, hygiene etc. Take time out for yourself."     

It is personal distancing and not an emotional distancing: We need to understand that social distancing does not mean that you should distance people emotionally. Your friends are still your friends, your loved ones still love you. By distancing socially, you are taking care of themselves. 
"You have to find ways to be emotionally connected on video calls, phone and supporting them. Always, be connected with your friends, & family members."
Personal social responsibility: We also need to understand that there are a lot of people who lost their jobs because of Covid19. There are poor who don’t have anything to survive. Because of lock down, maids, drivers, vendors lost their income. Government can’t do everything. Whenever you see such people, please support them. If somebody needs a job, connect them to the right people. If somebody needs help, just do that. Believe on the law of attraction. 
"If you do good deeds, you will get something positive. Enjoy the joy of giving." 
Acceptance of the situation: You can be happy only when you accept the situation. There are few people who are asymptomatic, but fit and fine; however, when they are tested, they are positive. You don’t know perhaps somebody in your contact may be corona positive and perhaps you also may be asymptomatic. You can’t change the situation, but you can accept and finally deal with the same. Mere having corona positive doesn’t mean that there is an end. Recovery rate is very high and if you are strong, you will be fit & fine. Learn to deal with the situation instead of getting scared. If you found somebody positive, support them. 
"It is the time to get rid of social stigma associated with the corona virus infection."       
This whole situation taught us to follow new habits and behaviours. It is upto us how serious we are. Finally, we also need to understand that it is not the government or authorities that will protect you. They can only guide and instruct you what should not be done. You yourselves have to protect you & your family. Change habits & be safe.

(Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my organization.)

Please read the print replica of my latest book written for leaders on amazon kindle; Vitality in Human Resource

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Covid19 is a tough teacher: Covid19 Diary

Covid19 situation has taught us how to survive in critical situations. Initially everybody was panic with a lot of questions in mind. We were forced to act differently. We were not prepared. We were downplaying the situation till March 2020. Business was as usual but all of sudden within a week everything changed. The Honourable Prime Minister declared the national lockdown. People started getting worried about the future. They started rushing outside to buy groceries and essential things. Organizations were not clear how to manage the situation. All employees started working from. Human resources function got busy to support the business. There was confusion and only confusion. Slowly, people started getting used to the situation. Memes and humours took over fear, insecurities and confusion and people started enjoying the situation. Women started enjoying more with challenging friends and putting the status on WhatsApp. Everybody geared up to work in a new way and that’s the agility. Initially for a few days people struggled to adjust the new normal. Covid19 forced use of digital platforms. Companies were not willing to allow work from home just a few months back but now everybody is comfortable to work from home. People started to learn new life skills in their homes.

Digitalization is not new and organizations have the agenda of digitalization in their strategy presentations. We always used to talk about all this stuff like digitalization, artificial intelligence, Virtual reality and so on. However digital journey is always resisted. Sometimes management is not that much serious about the same and most of the time senior members of the organization don’t see the value. In fact, CEOs should be happy that the digitalization agenda is accelerated because of Covid19. Organizations and people are forced to use the digital platforms.
Few technology companies declared their intention increasing the percentage of employees who will work from home going forward. We don’t know what will happen. It is a good cost optimization tool. But how many companies ask their employees what they feel. There are benefits for both. Less travel time, not driving stress, no pollution and better work life balance. But what is the fact? People tend to work more while working from home. There is another group whose productivity may go down. There are social & relationship issues and organizations also need to think about the same. Further, it looks cool but not possible for all roles. Possibly employees will prefer to go to offices, interact with teams, have team meetings and work a few days in a week in the office. That may work perfectly fine as a win-win situation.
But we should not misinterpret digitalization journey with only using zooms, Skype and Microsoft teams for meetings and video conferencing. We also should not overestimate the communication tools and interactions, webinars, seminars online. This is very simple. We need to take a holistic view of what it means. I see here the big opportunity to create value to the business and to the customer. People are trying to be innovative in view of social distancing and trying to design some product in alignment to that. But digitalization is not limited to touchless interaction. It is more than that. We also need to understand the social needs of the human being. You can’t replace everything with digital technology. Digitalization and technology are not the replacement of human interaction and relationship. You have to integrate this aspect while mapping your digital journey. Further we also need to understand those millions of entrepreneurs, small vendors, shopkeepers who are a more important part of the economy. It will be pertinent to note what digitalization means for them. During the crucial period those small vegetable vendors and shopkeepers were the effective supply chain for us to live. We should not forget them and decide what digitalization means for them. Can this technology make their life simple?
There is another group of citizens, migrant labour, poor and people whose livelihood is on their daily earnings. Their struggle is painful. Sad part is that their contractors and organizations who were taking their services never thought about those poor labours. They were worried about their cost and finding reasons of not paying their wages. We should not call ourselves modern and successful where millions of people are starving and dying. We can’t be successful when the society fails. What are we doing to make their life good? Digitalization could have been a great help to track them, to manage their passes of travel and so on.
Of course, there are Good Samaritans who are doing good deeds, feeding to those poor. We should also recognize great souls in police, doctors, nurses and citizens who are supporting them.
I think Covid19 has taught us some lessons. Lessons on humanity and inhumanity. Lessons on change management, lessons on how to be agile, fast and flexible. Lessons on how to be happy and not to react.
During this period Human Resources professionals have shown courage to take a lead. They went the extra mile supporting business continuity and also employee safety.
(Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my organization.)

Please read the print replica of my latest book written for leaders on amazon kindle; Vitality in Human Resource

Saturday, May 16, 2020

You are “Framed”: Covid19 Diary

You are “Framed”:  Covid19 Diary
It is customary nowadays to speak about Covid19. If somebody calls, the discussion starts with the virus and consequences of the covid19. After the whole story which everybody knows, (thanks for the social media), then we come to the point. Few companies are trying to encash the situation to market their products. But sometimes it is too funny when a marketing guy tries to co-relate his/her product with a pandemic situation. Health & wellness is important but then there are memes and videos are shared where HR is doing this too much. Manipulation is at high level. 
Initially for a few days it was relevant. Slowly people started to cope up with the situation. They are trying to understand the threat; learnt how to deal with that. Normally in any situation, human beings perceive the threat. Threats can be physical, psychological or financial. Depending upon the perceptions, there will be reactions which can be positive or negative.
But do you know that every moment, every day you are “framed” by somebody? News on the mainstream media, forwards on social media or advertisements are generated and broadcasted to manipulate the people. Political leaders, some journalists, advertisement agencies are experts in “framing” common man. Nobody checks the authenticity of the source. Common tendency is to believe on that news without applying common sense. Common sense is uncommon now a days. So-called Intellectuals are pioneered in framing techniques. This is a special technique called as Farming technique.  
The theory was first put forth by Goffman, under the title of Frame Analysis.
Framing technique works as under:
Narrative is generated based on the agenda. Stories are cooked and created putting some element of benefits, happiness, sadness, fear, and some fake narration based on the agenda of the person. 
Information is created & presented based on the narrative to influence the people. Mainly such information is not full information but part of the information. (Political leaders, so called intellectuals & mainstream media are expert in this techniques)
Framing takes this a step further in the way in which the news or information is presented creates a frame for that information. This is usually a conscious choice by journalists, leaders who are communicating – in this case a frame refers to the way the media as gatekeepers organize and present the ideas, events, and topics they cover.
Such narration then influences the choices people. People decide how to process that information. Frames are abstractions that work to organize or structure message meaning.
All over the world such framing is happening. We are framed & manipulated by everybody. As far as the intention & purpose is right, then framing techniques have the positive outcome. But most of the time, it has a negative impact on society if used keeping the selfish motive behind. Today we are insecure, fragmented because of such manipulation and framing.
People are stressful, people are perceiving the threat, this is because of different and scary news broadcasted by the mainstream media and circulated by social media.
But then I realised we have already started to live with the situation. The newness of work from home now is not there and people want to go to offices desperately. There are few people who are still worried. However good organizations are gearing for the new normal & giving them confidence. 
As a common citizen, we need to keep our ears and eyes open and apply the logic. Understand the facts and figures, ask yourself questions, so that you are not “framed” and manipulated.
Can we use this technique positively? Yes. If you have the story which is based on the facts and inspires others. In such circumstances, leaders need to understand this and design the communication and frame the message so that people perceive the situation positively. Here literally corporate leaders can use the “framing techniques” in a positive way.
They can do it by understanding the issues, concern areas and setting an agenda. Once the agenda is set, they can create stories which are inspirational. Create an ethical frame where the message is clear, and people will not perceive differently. It is very difficult to manage such message. It is observed that ethical aspect is always ignored over benefits of power and money while framing. Simple example of this ignorance of ethical aspect is employees reporting late on duty. Most of the manufacturing companies in India had the policy of deduction of leave in case of employee reports late 3 or more times in a month. The reason behind this was that employees would come on time because of fear of losing leave. But in such cases, the situation hardly improved and employees continued to report late. Ethical aspect (being punctual) was replaced with right (after leave deduction). While framing this ethical aspect always should be considered and messages should be enforced accordingly.  
Person can view the situation as per his perceptions, but framing should give him realty of the ground and hopes that he can survive from the situation. During such pandemic, our Prime Minister and even Chief Minister are giving hopes, but unfortunately, few people are trying to manipulate us by just creating a narrative which has their own agenda and selfish motive.
Let’s take an example of Covid19.
With a lot of information about infections and death, everybody is scared. The mental frame is strong with the assumption that if we go out, we will die.
The frame is created as under:
Pandemic situation is because of a deadly virus, people are dying globally, there is no medicine and vaccine. If I get infected, society will view me differently, I will suffer, and my family will suffer. We will have a social stigma. I will also die, and I don’t know what will happen to my family.
This can be framed positively as under:
Pandemic situation is because of a deadly virus but people don’t die because of the virus. It is because of respiratory failure and if the infection is reported early, take a treatment, life can be saved very easily. People are infecting and dying but survival rate more than death and death cases are because of late reporting or people having some type of illness. However, I need to take care of me and my family and follow social distancing, wear a mask, keep personal hygiene and if I have symptoms, I should go immediately to the doctor. There are a lot of people who are fully cured and discharged.
You can also use facts & data while using the framing technique to make it more authentic.    
As a common man, we just can do one thing and that is use our brain. While watching any news, reading any social media post, use the lens of common sense. Best way is to ignore all news channel and social media post.      
(Ref: Frame analysis by Goffman, Framing techniques per Fairhurst and Sarr)
(Opinions are purely personal & does not represent my organization)
Please read the print replica of my latest book written for leaders on amazon kindle; Vitality in Human Resource

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Work from home: Covid19 Diary

Working from home is as good as working from the office for me now with a lot of calls and online interactions with the HR team, managers and employees. It is easy in offices when you see people around. You just drop in and speak with people; but you need extra efforts to connect and engage with the people when you are working from home. It is good, productive and saves a lot of travel time, but we human beings need social interaction which is missing nowadays. However, this is an opportunity to understand the perspective of your family members. You realized that they are doing more than you by supporting you in such a crucial period.
I have few learning while working from home:
Follow professionalism & discipline: While working from home, you need to be more disciplined and have professionalism so that you get the right results.
Effective use of time: Travel time saved, can be used for helping your spouse, playing with kids or pursuing your hobby, simple exercise,
Effective use of time: Travel time saved, can be used for helping your spouse, playing with kids or pursuing your hobby, simple exercise,
Leave your comfort zone: You have to take out time cautiously to connect with the team, other employees who are your friends at work. Keep connecting without any reasons. During this crucial period, we need moral support from each other.
Exercise: You may get bored and stressful, so take out some time to relax, stretch and spend time with your families,
Keep negative vibes away: Be in present, don’t be judgmental, don’t watch too much negative news, WhatsApp messages, observe your own and others’ feelings and try to be calm.
Be safe: Most importantly, stay at home and be safe.
We also need to understand that it is not possible for everybody to work from home and to be productive because of certain reasons. Jobs are different; and they need to be on the shop-floor and working in teams. I think all must be waiting to normalise this situation and looking forward to meeting each other face to face. That’s the way human beings are. Let’s hope for better and take care of yourself and your family members.

Sunday, May 03, 2020

Covid19 and new normal

Few years back when the central government amended the company law for CSR spend, there were a lot of NGOs started mushrooming to support corporate & help them to manage the CSR fund. Everybody wanted to support organizations without much having any competencies to manage projects under CSR. Few of the NGOs even didn’t have any knowledge about the spend. On the other side, few suppliers and consultants were trying to relate everything with CSR and approaching companies. I remember when one of the English language training institutes approached me about English speaking courses for villagers and people in rural areas. In another case, Children story book publisher approached me about selling books for kids in the school. These people were not aware about priorities of the societies and companies. There is another set of NGOs who are managed by designer social workers. Unfortunately, this is a social engineering business model. Somebody’s donation is somebody’s business. During the Covid19 situation, today those people on the ground supporting the poor are small foundations or social workers in a true sense. I have not seen any designer NGO working at ground level.

I remember this because of Covid19 situation. The Covid19 situation is the same, where everybody is trying to relate their actions with Covid19 situations. I have seen some products which are proposed to en-cash the moment. I get marketing mails where they are trying to relate everything to Covid19 situation. They are assuming that everything is because of Covid19, from payroll to training and health & wellness. Very few are adding value to our business and knowledge. 
Take an example of digitalization. We have been speaking about the digitilization & the new ways of working for the last few year. We already knew that automation, digitalization, artificial intelligence is part of life. Covid19 has given us the opportunity to test where we stand and how much we are prepared for this. There are companies which have already been working from home for the last few years. Surprisingly, companies which call themselves modern companies (IT) don’t have enough IT hardware to manage this situation. There are a lot of companies where employees are working from home either with their personal desktop or laptops are shared among them. But there are organizations who have all infrastructure ready & they were forced, they started to work from home with few hiccups and now it is well settled. 
But does it mean that in future everybody would like to work from home? Perhaps yes, perhaps no. totally depend upon the personal choice and organizational needs. Human beings are social animals; they have their psychological needs. Employees and organizations need to find ways to keep them engaged. Working from home for a few days is ok but working from home permanently has its own consequences. It is very fancy to say about it, but organizations need to devise futuristic policy how they will ensure engagement, productivity and also have right controls.
There is another fad nowadays and it is about expert comments on the consequences of Covid19. Do we really need to tell us that Covid19 will have a bad impact on the economy? It is common sense. Few years back, when MS office was launched, people were fascinated by making fancy presentations. There is one presentation on the SlideShare which speaks about “Death by PowerPoints''. It was too much. Slowly people got it habituated and matured enough to make sensible presentations for the audiences and they realized that presentations are just to compliment the speaker while presenting something to the audience. In extreme conditions if you face technical issues and your ppt doesn’t work, you should be able to speak without that. Today, it is the similar fad of using apps like Zoom for webinar. I will say that people will die because of webinars. There should be some sensible topics. I fully understand that such webinars are good to keep engaging people. It is also assumed that people don’t have anything to do hence it is a good opportunity to connect. But the problem is relating everybody as a consequence of Covid19. Few topics and of course I am also the culprit of speaking on one or two forums. Initially for a few days, it was OK to have some sessions, but I have seen few people speaking and giving their opinion which is not an expert opinion and doesn’t make any sense. They are not giving any new knowledge about the “how” part.  Covid19 will have a new normal which will be different from normal. That’s it. 
One thing which I like about this situation is that organizations are challenged and without much discussion everybody accepted the change of working from home & new way of working. In a normal situation, there would have been a lot of excuses for not doing it. Another change is mindset change. In a normal situation, it would have been the change management project with a big team and perhaps 1-2 years project. In this situation, it is just fast. What I feel is that this situation is extraordinary, a once in a decade event. We should enjoy this and find out some positives from this but don’t be carried away with what it means. Is it perfect? No. Still employees have a lot of challenges & organizations have to work on this. 
My take about this situation is as under:
Create an urgency & Just do it: During normal situations, we tend to discuss a lot and delay a lot of projects, ideas & decisions just because we are not sure about the same. Most of the time, it is just courage and confidence which lacks. Ideas are discussed, but not implemented because management doesn’t create the sense of urgency. During Covid19, this urgency is created by the situation and of course by the government.      
Digitalization is not because of Covid19. Covid19 just forced you to use this. Organizations can spend more on the infrastructure now.
Work from home is again not because of Covid19, most of the companies have their work from home policy. Companies like yahoo withdrew work from home policy in 2003. However, Covid19 just forced it and challenged organizations. It is a high time to invest into infrastructure to make it effective.
Work from home does not mean work life balance. Few employees tend to work more, and supervisors may take you for granted. Your availability is always expected.  In fact, work from home needs more professionalism and discipline. Organizations need to work on how to manage this.
Work from home is not always productive. Manufacturing companies can’t work from home and neither do their supervisors & managers. Lot of things happen on the shop floor.
Till we get the vaccine to fight the Covid19, we need to work on developing our immune system. We also need to change our habits and need to be more hygienic. Social distancing will be the new norm and naturally this will have the impact on few businesses. Possibly this will also increase the consumption of foods & consumables at home. People may use their own vehicles and it may help the economy to grow in 2021.
(Opinions are purely personal & does not represent my organization)
Please read the print replica of my latest book written for leaders on amazon kindle; Vitality in Human Resource

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