Friday, December 24, 2021

Do you know how things work?

Mental Models 

There are issues, mysteries, and questions around us. On the other side there are solutions, resolutions and answers for everything. However managing those and finding appropriate solutions is the critical job. Everyone does this depending upon her/his experience and wisdom earned through the learnings and reflections. If you know how things can work in the real world, possibly you may find solutions fast. This is possible when you have some image in your mind on how to approach any situation. You are able to connect the dots and create the blueprint to reach the solution. 

Some examples of mental models are, understanding how demand can impact on the supply, how training can  positively impact on productivity, etc. or even addressing some issues, improving something, understanding behaviour of people and understanding some patterns etc etc. Mental models are how we understand the world. They shape what we think and how we understand. They shape the connections and opportunities that we see. By using mental models we simplify complexity, understand the logical sequence. To be accurate, of course we also need to understand the behaviour of others while preparing the model. 

Solutions can be products, services or simple answers addressed to something. The main function of mental models is to organize the area specific knowledge in order to lend subjective plausible phenomena and give them meaning. Processes of conceptual changes are postulated based on analogical thinking and strategies of successive model construction and completion. There are already ample mental models available in business, psychology, personality, science and so on. You can use those for handling the problems, however you can also define your mental models. 

It is a simple but effective tool to check how things work and implement the logical thought process while working on any initiative.

Process of creating mental models.

Process of creating Mental Model

  1. Identify the problem and scope,
  2. Collect the data through surveys, focused group discussions, interviews, or asking the experience of others. You can use your own experiences earned over a period of time. 
  3. Summarize and synthesize the data,
  4. Make interpretations and assess the results,
  5. Finally visualize the outcome and design the model based on the outcome.  

I recently created the “Industrial Relations Framework” based on the model and study, however I extensively used the research methodology. Please click here to read Industrial Relations Strategy Framework

(Opinions are purely personal & does not represent my organizations, current or past) 

Author's book are available on AmazonFlipkartPothi and BookGanga. Income from books is used for social cause. 

Wish you all a happy X-mas and happy new year!

Saturday, December 18, 2021

How to create a sense of belonging?

Belonging is the sense or feeling of being included in the team, group, organisation, society etc. It is a basic psychological need, everybody wishes to be a part of something. The feeling of the sense that you belong somewhere is always amazing. Most of the time, people feel that the sense of belonging is based on the behaviour of others. They search for it everywhere in the arms of kin, on familiar streets, among friends with similar beliefs. Yet, people experience loneliness. With the competitive world having a lot of expectations, loneliness is leading to frustrations, disappointments and finally depression. The solution is to create a sense of belonging.
Image: BMC Blog
At different levels we should work to create a sense of belonging. If you are in management, leader in any organisation, think how you can create that sense of belonging in your employees and team. If you are facing some challenges and lacking the sense of belonging personally, think, reflect, and try to understand what those reasons are. Sometimes the behaviour of others irritates us, some experiences hurt resulting in going into the capsule and feeling of loneliness. Belonging has psychological and health benefits.

We are, after all, surrounded by many others to link with. We have a lot of opportunities to connect with each other. Yet, most of us know the agony of non-belonging. It is like a music chair, like turning around during a “game of musical chairs” and finding no place to sit.  In the brain, the social pain of severed belonging shares neural substrates with physical pain, while in body and mind it can leave a trail of adverse consequences.

How do you increase the sense of belonging?

There are four elements where you can foster the feeling of belonging. As part of our dynamic social systems, those elements interact and influence each other throughout our lifespans. (Kelly-Ann Allen who is an expert in society and professor in Monash University along with his team, wrote the article based on his research, “Belonging: a review of conceptual issues, an integrative framework, and directions for future research.”

The good news, according to Kelly-Ann, is that a sense of belonging can be nurtured and strengthened. We can develop our social, emotional, and cultural skills. We can become more self-aware. We can learn to regulate our emotions more constructively and communicate more effectively. We can align with our values more authentically and connect better to people, places, and our surrounding systems. 

Those elements are,

Competencies: This starts with the question; do we have the right skills and capabilities needed to relate with others. Other skills and competencies are about your ability to resolve conflict, regulate your emotions, and utilise your psychological assets like empathy and kindness can go a long way toward building relationships. These social and emotional competencies are core skills when it comes to building belonging.

Opportunities: It means how you are finding common interest areas and interest to join the groups and platforms. Are you engaging with others online (during the pandemic) and offline?

Motivations: We all have the need to belong, however the motivation to fulfil this need can vary from person to person. Are you truly motivated to belong, to connect with others, and to feel like a part of the surrounding systems? If the answer is a resounding yes, then you’ll more likely seek opportunities for connection.

Perceptions: People observe us and based on our experiences; we create perceptions about each other. Perceptions about belonging can influence how we feel and behave. Behaviours that we demonstrate are crucial in creating perceptions. Understand those behaviours and reflect what those behaviours are, we need to demonstrate so that people include you. Also think that are those factors which make you feel included, accepted, and valued?
"Sense of belonging is important in our life. It keeps us connected to others, however mindfulness is understanding how we are connected with ourselves. The better connection is being connected with the inner self. When you relate to your inner self, you find the purpose and then a sense of belonging comes naturally."  

(Opinions are purely personal & does not represent my organizations, current or past) 

Author's book are available on AmazonFlipkartPothi and BookGanga. Income from books is used for social cause. 

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Don’t shy away from your failures

In any event or situation, success and failure are two possible outcomes. We become happy when we achieve success. We plan for success, we desire success, and we design our all efforts to get the success, however failures are also a part of life. We never plan for failures; we never imagine that something may go wrong.  In spite of putting our best efforts, we may fail. Falling flat on the face is not recognized and accepted easily. People assume that failures mean losing something. The fear of failure kills a lot of dreams. People don’t dare to take the risk. Once upon a time, failing was the routine for me. I was trying hard but then I was not getting desired results. When I started reflecting, I realized that I learnt a lot many things only because of failures. I understood the philosophy that there are no regrets in life, there are only lessons.  

It is natural to feel bad when you are unsuccessful in spite of putting your best efforts. We are human beings, and we should recognize those feelings. I learnt a lot as I grew up. I use the following tactics to overcome the situation.


Recognize: Sometimes we have the tendency to justify the outcome by equalizing efforts to success. We feel bad and get disappointed. I look at this as one of the events in life and recognize the failures or issues.

Accept: Once you are clear that there is learning from such events, it is very easy to accept it.

Respond: After accepting, the situation, response is different. Instead of disappointment, frustrations, panics etc, the reaction can be converted into a positive response. For example: looking for the silver lining. There is always some learning. I believe that there are no regrets, only lessons.

Reflect: Taking the stock of the situation and reflecting on lessons learnt. It is always good to reflect and understand how we can do better next time.

Learn: Finally understanding what I learnt and development areas for me.

Never let success get to your head; never let failure get to your heart

(Opinions are purely personal & does not represent my organizations, current or past) 

Author's book are available on AmazonFlipkartPothi and BookGanga. Income from books is used for social cause. 

Sunday, December 05, 2021

Compassion and Empathy

Almost 70-80 employees were sitting and agitating against the company for their pending dues which the company could not pay on time. 

Those workmen were given the golden shake hand by the company before entering the joint venture with one of the reputed MNC. The workmen were given quite handsome severance package along with lifelong pension, medical cover for self and family. Once upon a time this company was a blue chip company, however company was not doing good. Company had applied to BIFR. One of the measures was to sell few businesses or have the JV with some good company. The MNC wanted to enter India, and it was a great opportunity for them to enter through the JV with majority stakes. It was a great opportunity for both. The main condition was new JV would hire only required employees with new employment conditions. It was clear that redundant employees would loss the job.

I was the HR Head of a newly joint venture organization. This issue was supposed to be handled by the minority company as they had an agreement with the workmen. 

What should we do in such a situation? It was a common gate for new JV company and another plant which they retained. The separation and integration plan were in the process. Few activities were as per the plan, but this agitation has put the hold on everything.

I had a discussion with the HR Head of that company who was operating from their corporate office. From the discussion, I got the impression that he was least interested to visit the plant and speak with the workmen. Our management was constantly in touch with the top management who was the ex-employer of agitating workmen. It was almost 3-4 days, workmen were sitting In front of the gate. Me and our plant head had a discussion and I suggested that why not speak with them and explain to them that they can take alternate actions instead of agitating In front of the company? We had a discussion with our CEO and he allowed us to go ahead. 

We visited the site to have a discussion with the workmen and a few leaders. Everybody started speaking and we just listened to them. We had a candid discussion with them, explaining that there is no point agitating in front of the gate as it is a totally different company, we also assured them that we will arrange their meeting with their ex-employer. I realized they were really struggling to meet the livelihood, because the financial issues, however nothing was in our hand. It was a hot summer. I asked the admin team to arrange the temporary pandal, fans and water arrangement for them. We also arranged snacks and tea for them every evening. It was a small gesture, but it helped to break the ice.

After two days, the managing director of the company visited the factory. He explained in detail why the payment got delayed. He was a good man; however, he was also struggling to arrange the funds to run the show. Finally, workmen agreed to take back their agitations on the assurance of their pay out by the managing director.   

This incident was a big learning experience for me. You may face situations for which you are neither responsible nor accountable, still you have to face those situations and help to solve the problem. This is the most difficult task when you don’t have any control on the situation, however you can face such incidents, with care and showing empathy. 

I started the conversation, listened to them for almost an hour. I was compassionate with them, however at the same time, I was non-committal and firm on our stand that their fight is not with us but the company where they were employed earlier. I was empathic and my small gesture of arranging smaller things helped to break the ice. Somebody may say that's why we should arrange fans and tea for them. This may not be possible in every situation, but they were humans and loyal workmen of the company for so many years and they needed to be treated with respect. 

I encountered similar or more serious situations in professional life. During all situations, the first thing I do, and that is to understand the context of the situation and give empathic listening to the people who are affected. I may not agree with them, but I always put myself in their shoes and try to understand their thought process. Another benefit by thinking like them is, I can predict what can be their next action. 

(Opinions are purely personal & does not represent my organizations, current or past) 

Author's book are available on AmazonFlipkartPothi and BookGanga. Income from books is used for social cause. 

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