June 30, 2008

The 7 lessons I learnt this morning....


I was once asked by a senior proffesional that what proffesion I would have chosen if I was not an aspiring HR proffesional????????

My answer was simple and frank then and it's going to remain the same in future too. The answer was and is 'Indian Army'.

I must also add that my aspirations as a writer is mainly because I do not have any talent in painting.I regard painting as the most superior form of creativity and idea germination.However I try to extol my ideas and thoughts through words.

Well!!! let me come back to the topic.As a kid and a teenager my ambition was to serve the 'Indian Army'. Even now, whenever I meet someone from the Indian Army, my thoughts get transported back to my childhood and teen days when i aspired to join the army.I always admire the pride,ethics,patriotism,courage and dedication associated with the 'Indian Army'. I really wish I was also a part of it.

There were various reasons for not joining the army. No one in my family history had served the army and I am also my parent's single child.My parents never supported my decision to join the army and somewhere deep within I knew that I had the responsibility to take care of my parents in future.

Finally, I decided to not join the 'Indian Army'. I was partially confused, partially coward, partially scared,partially futuristic,partially wrong and may be partially right.

However, I feel blessed that I found utmost passion in Human Resource management and writing.It helped me to again align my thoughts and bring back a genuine smile on my face and heart.

Today, while reading Business Line I came across an article on '7 lessons from Sam Bahadur '. Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw [ April 3,1914 -June 27,2008] also known as 'Sam Bahadur' held the highest rank of Indian Army and had also recieved the Padma Vibhushan.

I found the article very inspiring and also relevent as both 'corporate lesson' and 'life lesson'.

I really hope that everyone finds the article very useful including HR proffesionals. Following are the excerpts of the entire article from Business Line:

Field Marshal Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw has passed (on June 27) into the pantheon of immortal Indian heroes and all-time great military leaders. The saga of his life will continue to motivate and inspire untold generations of Indians. In a country that is hamstrung by a predominance of pseudo-leaders he shone like a diamond.
For corporate leaders aspiring to make the crossover from good to great, the departed Field Marshal is the ultimate role model. What can we learn from the 94 years of brilliance, joie de vivre and selfless service that Sam Bahadur gave us?

1.Raw Courage
First, of course, is that any aspiring leader needs raw courage in abundance. Sam Bahadur was wounded critically twice and highly decorated for gallantry while personally leading troops in combat. Raw physical courage he possessed in full and overflowing measure but does a CEO need it?
Of course he does because natural disasters, terrorist strikes, industrial accidents and all kinds of emergencies are just a heartbeat away. In such an eventuality will the CEO be the first to run or first to respond? His response could make or break his organisation and his own future.
Even more important is courage of the moral kind that Sam demonstrated. The courage of conviction, the courage to do that which is right, the courage to stand up to political pressure: these are of utmost importance in defining and demonstrating leadership. Buckling under pressure and deviating from the path of organisational welfare are options that true corporate leaders don’t have if they are to retain loyalty and followership.

2.Spotting & Deploying Talent
The second lesson is to build an ability to spot and deploy talent. Identifying the right person for a particular assignment, a person with the skill set and mindscape that guarantees delivery can spell the difference between success and failure.
This can only come about if the CEO has an intimate knowledge of the capabilities of his people. For that he has to develop close relationships across the organisation. Many observers are unanimous that the real genius of Sam lay in his choice of field commanders. That is a skill that every CEO must build.

3.Planning & Faith
The third lesson is to plan to the nth degree and simultaneously invest consummate faith in your people. Sam practised this expertly throughout his career. The most visible example was Sam’s planning for the East Pakistan (Bangla Desh liberation) campaign when he handpicked the team to lead it and backed them to the hilt.
CEOs need to drive detailed and meticulous planning and then support the team totally; every member should know for certain that if things go wrong the CEO will back them fully.

4.Seek The Best Ideas
The fourth lesson is to seek the best ideas wherever they may emanate. The best ideas may be embedded deep within the organisation. The CEO’s job is to ferret them out and implement them.
Sam seemed to excel in this; he would never pull rank when his juniors tried to tell him something that was very different from his own ideas. Debate and discussions are used by all great leaders to clarify their own thought process to facilitate decision making.

5.Strategy-Tactics balance
The fifth lesson is to balance strategy with tactics. Organisation building and tactical plans must be synchronised. While deferring the East Pakistan campaign by three months despite political pressure, Sam assembled his assault force and supplied them with strategic guidance while demanding operational targets and execution plans from the field commanders.
This balance is what CEOs need. While strategic initiatives are important, grassroots implementation is equally vital. I fear that the acquisitions that corporate India has so aggressively concluded in the last 18 months will come to naught with non-achievement of sales and profitability targets in the near future.

6.Direct Communication
The sixth lesson that Sam teaches us is the importance of simple, direct and, many times, earthy communication. Known for his wit and informality, he could get straight to the heart of the matter. CEOs must imbibe this in full measure.
Many times corporate communications and discussions are mired in obfuscation and jargonising. The principle of, “say what you will do and then do what you said” is the bedrock of credibility.

7.Unshakeable Principles
The seventh lesson Sam leaves us with is the importance of unshakeable principles. In a famous incident he is reported to have given only two options to an officer found prima facie involved in corruption: either resign or shoot yourself.
Sam’s greatness lay in living the principles with wit, wisdom and humility. CEO’s can learn to dilute their self-importance while sticking to the values necessary for leadership. The leadership legacy of Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw is formidable. It needs deep study and research by the premier business schools in India following which it can be integrated into management curricula. The true tribute we can pay to this great son of India is to universalise the principles by which he lived.

June 26, 2008

A phenomenal reading experience.......

I read fiction mainly because it helps me to liberate myself and push my creative boundaries through the eyes of the story teller.This time the story teller is Karan Bajaj with his witty,quirky,humorous and fast paced reading delight 'Keep Off The Grass'.

Karan Bajaj, an IIM Bangalore alumni; writes his debut novel with freshness & spunk of a new age author blended with a matured fervor of a veteran author.

The novel hovers around the life of the protagonist who is a suave,smart yet confused NRI Investment Banker based in Wall Street who sets for a journey to India which includes the rigorous academics in IIM, occasional solitary confinements in the hostel rooms,friends who seek enlightenment though customised spiritual retreats,a summer internship in Banaras,a brisk trip to the prison,acquaintances which includes the finest minds of wall street & IIM to aghori tribes,hippies,drug peddlers to a legendary author.

It's the by products learned from his exrtemely funny and deeply thought provoking journey which will stay with you even after reading the novel.

I congratulate Karan on his remarkable debut novel and I am keenly looking forward to the sequel...............

June 16, 2008

The budding author in me......

I am finally ready and have committed myself to the cause of living one's dream to the fullest. I am ready with the synopsis of my novel in the making. It's tentatively titled as ' Nothing Hip About It'.I have also finished a few chapters and it's gaining a promising momentum.

I would have never dared to write this novel if I had not read the works of some of the finest new age Indian Authors like Abhijit Bhaduri,Shonali Bose, Sudeep Chakravarti and more recently Karan Bajaj who have pioneered a tersed way of writing to which the Indian youth can co-relate with ease. More importantly their writing has given me an empowering feeling that I can write and contribute to this growing Indian literary diaspora which has created a exclusivity through the superior writing style that creates the instant 'Kismat Konnection' with the readers.

My book is about a working proffesional armoured with a Bachelor's Degree,low grades,conservative but rich family background , a few lousy relationships & a relentless quest for sanity through insane[Hip] means....

Does he finally recieve the sanity he wants to achieve in his proffesional and personal life????????

What happens when three distinct generations have a conflict??????

Is it really worth it to recognize the intangibles affecting his life or he should take it easy???????

Well!!!! Let the story unfold and the answers will be inferred....

-Saikat Saha

June 6, 2008

Role of HR in M&As

With so many Merger & Acqisitions happening in the corporate arena. HR has found a very vital role in the success of such ever growing M&A's.
This has been further elaborated in an interesting interview with Dhirendra Shantilal, senior vice president (APAC), Kelly Services which appeared in The Economic Times . Following is the excerpt from the interview:

Q.There have been a large number of M&As in the last one year. What is the role of HR in making M&As successful?
A. The biggest challenges for HR during a merger or acquisition are those related to communication, compensation and talent management, culture and managing uncertainty. Most M&As follow a four-stage process of pre-deal, due diligence, integration planning and implementation. A successful M&A deal is where HR gets involved right from the first stage. HR can add value at this stage by assessing the culture of the target organisation and by mapping the management styles of the two organisations. Similarly, at the due diligence stage, where the financial and strategic implications of the deal are assessed, HR plays a critical role in evaluating the financial implications of retirement and other benefit plans and the compensation structure of the target company. At the integration and planning stage, the acquirer creates a comprehensive plan for integrating the two organisations. At this stage, HR plays the key role of developing a strategy for employee communications, retention of key talent, a new organisation structure and compensation strategy and in change management.

Q.What are the recruitment trends for senior executives in India, especially after the US slowdown?
A. The recession in the US has not had a huge direct impact on the India growth story. Although the impact is visible in export-oriented industries like IT, textiles and pharma, it has not affected the hiring trends of senior executives in India and it is business as usual.

Q.How do you see Indian staffing solutions firms vis-a-vis their counterparts in more evolved markets like the US?
A.The Indian market has evolved over the last few years at a rate faster than the developed markets due to a boom in foreign investments, an unprecedented increase in M&A deals and a large number of Indian companies acquiring a global footprint. This has brought with it global management trends and also a huge interest in human capital management. The staffing solutions companies, therefore, have got their desired place under the sun in India, as they have elsewhere in the world. Having said that, the staffing industry in the country still has a long way to go to catch up with its western counterparts where it is perceived to be a more strategic partner to organisations and in the US itself, the industry was valued at $112.2 billion in 2007.

Q.What is Kelly’s outlook for the job market for 2008?
A.As the Indian growth story continues, this would translate in a growth in the job market in most industries with the possible exception of sectors that have been impacted by the export market. Retail, insurance, real estate, banking and financial services, health services and biotechnology would show higher growth in recruitment process.

Q.Do you see Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) catching up in India?
A.India has the unique opportunity to take a significant share of the RPO market in the coming years. The country is predicted as one of the fastest growing markets for RPO at an annual rate of 30% or higher in the years ahead.

Q.While applying for or switching jobs what are the factors one should consider at senior positions?
A.Over and above hygiene factors such as quality of assignment, career growth and direct and indirect monetary benefits, the several factors should be considered at senior positions. For instance, it is critical to understand the environment in which the new organisation functions and its core competence, knowledge of the key stakeholders involved, internal and external dynamics associated with the role like matrix reporting, etc. A thorough understanding and study of the financials of the new organisation is a must and his career path as the organisation sees it and live examples of employees moving on that path.

June 4, 2008

Faith & Patience

A few of my readers would be knowing that I am a devotee of Shirdi Sai Baba. I recently came across a wonderful article in The Times Of India on the two most important virtues for wellbeing taught by Shirdi Sai Baba.

The article reads as the following:

"The Sage of Shirdi, the Saibaba, emphasised two virtues for wellbeing: faith or shraddha and patience or saburi. The two virtues are complementary. Each is both, the cause as well as the effect of the other; and both are the means as well as the end of the other. Between them they contain a complete code of conduct for life. Shraddha is devotion. It is faith that helps one accept all happenings — the good and bad — with equanimity. Faith is what makes a disciple trust his guru and a child, its parent. Saburi or patience is not just the ability to overcome the urge for instant gratification. Patience is not the art of ad hoc management of mental restlessness. Patience is the intuition that inspires you to just be and wait for the will of God to unfold and work itself out. Patience helps you to live uncomplainingly, and so you are able to accept without anger what you know cannot be changed. Patience is what enables a tree to let all its leaves fall without demur. The tree stands denuded, without a sense of shame, despondency or heartbreak. It stands as comfortably as ever. It lets the sun, the air, the rain and the season to work their magic. They denude it; they later laden it. The tree surrenders to them, not out of helplessness but out of natural design. When the season turns, tender new leaves dress it with flowers and fruits in due course. Patience is not to stoically brave winter in the hope of spring; rather, it is to accept spring and winter alike. It is to surrender with a joyous heart to the will of God as represented by the current moment and condition. Faith is the insight that tells you that patience and surrender to the will of God is the best course your life can take. Wisdom is in understanding and valuing both faith and patience. Patience is born of faith and in due course it serves to strengthen faith. If patience and faith are so intricately woven, why did the sage emphasise these as two virtues? Why did he not advocate either this one or that? If faith is exclusively emphasised, it can promote blind belief. On the other hand, if patience is singularly emphasised, it can lead to the shirking of responsibility and indolence. Patience without faith can become sloth. Faith minus patience can turn banal. Either way, the result will be counterproductive. In tandem, the two virtues uplift. If both patience and faith are required, which among these comes first? Where does one begin? Asking which came first, patience or faith, is very similar to asking which came first, the egg or the chicken? It perhaps depends on an individual’s spiritual configuration as to which path suits his psyche best: faith or patience. Whichever route one may begin with, the two paths keep twinning and finally the two converge towards a common goal. Does patience of the tree-type not kill enterprise? Surely not! Otherwise the tree would never grow and bring forth its wonderful flowers and fruits! Yet, yes: patience and faith, as they mature and begin to lodge in one’s mind, kill such enterprise as is inspired by sheer greed for material gain, unrelated to honest need. Greed is contra life and nature. Is there any religion anywhere in the world that has upheld greedy enterprise and glorified it? No tree competes with its neighbour to double its output just to outperform the other. The supreme enterprise in life is self-realisation. Patience and faith proactively support this enterprise."

I found the article very useful and I believe it can be a strong guiding force for all my readers.

Om Sai Shri Sai Jai Jai Sai