December 12, 2010

'Walk & talk' to resolve conflicts...

The impressive ads from Idea Cellular with the tag line 'Walk and talk' has many lessons to impart. Most of these lessons have been lucidly disseminated by Abhishek Bachan in the ad itself.

However, we can learn one more rich lesson specifically from the tagline.

Many years back, while my fascination for HR was growing, I asked an HR expert about his opinion on how to resolve conflict?

He gave a quintessential HR answer to it saying "Get both the parties to face each other and let them talk(& listen) their way to the solution".

It did sound sacrosanct then but with all due respect the HR expert, I would dare to modify his statement "Get both the parties to walk alongside and let them talk (& listen) their way to the solution".

There were a few triggers to this thought. One being the idea cellular ad with the above mentioned tagline but more importantly this TED video where William Ury, Senior Fellow, Harvard Negotiation Project speaks about 'negotiation' under the theme "the walk from 'no' to 'yes' ".

According to him one of the basics in negotiation is to identify the third party who can always remind the two parties at loggerheads about what is at stake?

It also explains how walking side by side with the two parties (symbolic) while finding the resolution is more effective instead of facing them in opposite direction.

Walking side by side is symbolic of moving in the same direction towards the persuit of finding a resolution instead of facing each other which is symbolic of confrontation.

Most certainly a simple technique which should not be overlooked.

November 7, 2010

Managing the career aspiration of Youngistan

In a recent Conference organized by MTHR Global in Bangalore , I particularly got fascinated by an interesting analogy given by Mr Sangeeth Varghese.

The panel discussion revolved around managing career expectations of freshers.

More specifically it was a discussion on the after thoughts of presentations by 3 incredible students on their 'Dream Company'.

Mr Sangeeth Varghese spoke about how he also was in a simmilar quest of finding something perfect a few years back. Just like the students were chasing their dream of finding the perfect company/job/career, he was in the quest to find the perfect life partner. He met the 'perfect' girl and had the 'perfect marriage'. The situation remained perfect for a few days after marriage but soon he felt it was far from perfect. The relationship was not perfect anymore!!!

This made him retrospect for sometime. He did realize that his wife probably did not meet his expectations but did he ever make any effort to know if he met his wife's expectation? On further retrospection he felt that he did a worse job.

His wife also had expectations which were probably overlooked. He then decided to work on the shortcomings and gaps. The relationship did improve and today he feels he is blessed with a 'perfect wife' :-)

Whatta perfect analogy!!!!!!!

Indeed, freshers (including me) often ask how much has the company done for them and how much more it can do for them. Often they measure their expectations from the company. It's equally important to reflect on how much we are able to live upto our company's expectations.

I remember Mr Sangeeth saying that 'Perfection is a frame of mind'. I feel in order to achieve that frame of mind one has to sincerely reflect on their own & others' expectations and more importantly work sincerely on meeting those expectations.

This also reminds me to share an insightful post contributed by Gautam Ghosh & written by Sunit Sinha. Here are a few excerpts from the post:

  1. A job is what you make it. If you look at your function as only a job (show up, fill a desk, answer a phone, pass on a report), that’s what it will be. But if you recognize the time you spend in your early, entry or junior position as a process of career building, then that’s what you will have: a career. Always play your role with dignity, looking for ways to learn from it.
  2. The real keys to success are not smarts or qualifications or belonging to a brand-name firm. Rather, success is derived from courage, drive, energy, passion, ambition, enthusiasm, excitement, initiative, discipline, a dream and enough self-confidence to keep trying.
  3. Don’t be intimidated by senior people. Remember, they also started somewhere, and if they are purposely intimidating you, they can’t be very secure themselves. Don’t, however, confuse intimidation with respect. Even if you don’t agree with a senior person, they have earned and deserve their due for what they have achieved in the organization.
  4. When you feel underappreciated (or undercompensated) take a deep breath. Even if you are doing better work and have more responsibility than someone earning more or being treated better, show some patience. It’s the long term that counts!!
  5. Broken promises are remembered more than kept promises. Do what you say you are going to do. It’s better to have the guts to say up front, “I’m not sure I can get that done,” than to accept a task that you can’t deliver on.
  6. It is important to , listen to the assignment and carry out what has been asked. Again, remember that you are the directee, not the director, at this point in your career. You may not like the assignment, but do it with the same enthusiasm that you show for those projects you do like. Pencils must be sharpened, and everyone (even the CEO) has taken his turn.
  7. Remember that success is not spontaneous combustion; you have to set yourself on fire.
  8. Last but not the least – remember who actually pays for your salary – the client. Never lose your connect with clients, and always put them at the centre of what you do.

November 5, 2010

More on 'Employer Branding' lessons from SHRM India Monthly meet

I am keen to share a few learnings I recieved on 'Employer Branding' from Mr P Ravishankar, Chief Human Resource Officer, Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India Ltd during the last SHRM India Meeting held two weeks back.

Following are my key learnings:

  • Employer Branding is essentially the reinforcement of Company's values.
  • Key messages that the HR function can transmit using company's employer brand are: Redifination of leadership competencies, living your core values,redefination of performance,renewed code of conduct & governance.
  • How you drive change in your organization, community and the ecosystem is also a major value lever of your 'Employer Brand'.
  • In the persuit of branding one should remember to 'balance' both internal and external employer branding.

October 21, 2010

Game for testing your 'employer brand'?

I have been invited for the SHRM India monthly meet to be held in Chennai tomorrow evening and the theme to be discussed is 'Employer Branding'. Would like to share a few innocent pre discussion thoughts on the topic.

Here are a few questions a business leader might ask himself to test his company's 'employer brand'(Answers should not be on a likert scale. A plain 'yes' or 'no' would suffice):

  • Do people join your company to 'build a career' instead of just having a mere job?
  • Do they market the success of their company as if it's their own?
  • Do your employees get riled up when the company's brand becomes a victim of unjustified critisicm?
  • Does your employees always look for the next 'big or small' oppurtunity to talk about their company with great enthusiasm?
  • Does your employees take a major onus in ensuring that the new recruits get fitted into the company's proud organizational fabric?
  • Can your employees find a world of oppurtunities, moments & friends within the company which they can cherish?
  • Is your company able to attract the talented yet passive job seekers in the market with minimum visibility?
An 'Yes' to each of the 7 (a spiritual number according to numerology) questions might make your 'employer brand' an incredible brand :-)

October 14, 2010

TEDx Chennai 2010

I had an incredible time listening to diverse list of speakers during the TEDx Chennai 2010 conference on 9th October 2010 held at IIT-Madras.

All of you who have missed the show and want to get a snapshot about the event, just click the following labels which will link you to interesting posts from the official TEDx Chennai Blog:

October 8, 2010

Collaboration in the midst of competition....

Two precursors for success in any team would be 'Competitiveness & Collaboration'. Yet if we consider them as a pair then it would definately qualify to be an oxymoron of the highest order.

So how can we ensure that a team has the right amount of competitiveness juxtaposed with the right amount of collaboration???

To answer that question we must reflect on what is the 'right' amount of competitiveness & collaboration???

The 'right' amount would be definately relative. An A R Rehman or Yanni concert would require higher amount of collaboration among the musicians & singers. However, a number chasing sales team would not mind ensuring high amount of competitiveness among it's associates at the cost of collaboration.

However, in the above context, many would associate 'competitiveness' with a sort of negativity and associate 'collaboration' with postivity. The real recipe of interwining competitiveness with collaboration lies in coating both with 'goodness'.

If there is a spirit of 'goodness' infused in 'collaboration' & 'competitiveness' then both would start complementing each other. Look around to find the best team you have ever come across and you will witness that sense of goodness in their collaboration and competitiveness.

The underlying philosophy should be that collaboration must enhance other team member's performance and one should compete with the purpose of completing the other team member's performance.

So dont let the competition kill your collaboration within the team and dont let the collaboration die down the competitiveness.

Compete with the purpose of collaborating and not vice versa :-)

August 30, 2010

Those first few days....a poem....a prayer...

The first few days...
the days of fun & frolic...
even though a little chaotic...
the aspirations are high...
so is the perspiration...

In the midst of all the anticipation...
here comes a realization...
to realize the brighter shades from anything that is remotely Grey...

While I pray, my heart gets suffused with a bright ray...
a ray that shall guide me if I am ever in utter dismay...

From the shores that provide me the depth to be human...
to the terrains that aspire me to chase the dreams...
I shall embrace the beauty and the filth of all...

as I stand between the black & white...
may I become the lightest shade of Grey in the times of the steely white...
and the times of hideous black...

may the first few days be in the remembrance..
whilst the future actions gather the courage from the innocence of the first few days...

In the times of melody or the cacophony...
may i remember the first few days...

-Saikat Saha

Picture above from

August 12, 2010

G Ravindran's Blog

The latest HR leader to join the blogging universe is G Ravindran, Managing Director, SHRM India.
Have a look at his first post which is incredibly candid with a message that most Interviewers overlook. A job interview is one of the first and most credible check point in a professional's journey into a company.

Yet at times HR professionals willingly allow their ego to supersede their common sense.

One of the finest post that's simple yet immensely powerful. A post that extols a valuable lesson to shift from knowledge perspective to 'heart' perspective.

August 7, 2010


Let me make an innocent attempt to provide a snapshot of my learning at the NASSCOM HR SUMMIT 2010:

The knowledge summit started with the Inaugural talk by Som Mittal, President, Nasscom followed by a panel discussion called Indian Townhall: CEOs in conversation’ where the conversation primarily revolved around managing the Gen Y aspirations and other emerging talent issues.

The eminent panelists for the event were R Chandrasekaran,President & MD,Cognizant; Aparup Sengupta, MD & Global CEO, Aegis Ltd, Krishna Kumar Natarajan,CEO & MD,Mindtree and Som Mittal, President,Nasscom.

Some of the key inferences that emerged from this discussion were as follows:

S Chandrasekaran: We have to create enough scope for the mavericks to perform in the best of their capacity in order to leverage their creativity. He mentioned that there is always a risk of being complacent while sustaining growth. Especially in such instances it’s very important to be open to ideas of all formats from everyone. Since the majority of the workforce today is Gen X & GenY. We must connect with them in the right manner. He explained this with an analogy. He explained how a Gen X & GenY employee experiences a seamless virtual connectivity through social networks/media like twitter & facebook where his concerns and inquisitiveness is satiated in a shortest time span on a Sunday but on the Monday morning he again gets into the rigmarole of following HR manuals and time consuming processes. The real challenge is to recognize and sincerely act on repeating that Sunday experience into the Monday experience also. He also focused on the need to collaborate seamlessly and identify enablers that can help to collaborate better. The need for infusing appreciation in the performance mgmt ecosystem, fostering an entrepreneurial climate, infusing fun in the work culture, being tech savvy and embracing the global talent were also key insinuations from his conversation with the panelists.

Abarup Sengupta: In order to witness transformation at work, we must start measuring the task in terms of the impact it creates on the solution and not the task in itself. For example, we must stop measuring the number of associates reporting at office or the number of hours invested by the associates. Rather we should measure what kind of impact their presence and task has on solutions. He also emphasized how a strong belief must be transformed into a collective behavior through repetition of the tasks firmly based on the belief in a consistent manner. While commenting on framing the right ‘vision statement’, he said that the vision statement must be simple and uncomplicated so that everyone can easily internalize it.

Krishna Kumar Natarajan: He emphasized on how the transition of Gen Y recruits from their campus to corporate happens at a very quick pace and hence it’s important to restore campus experience also at the office. The office needs to be recreated as a campus. While speaking about leadership he said that the ideal way to build leadership is not always the volumes approach but it’s about narrating the right stories and inspiring anecdotes. He also mentioned that one of the indicators to know whether HR has graduated as a business partner is to observe whether the HR associate can be prepared to make a business presentation infront of the client.

Som Mittal: Leadership must never be distanced from the people and must ensure that people release their energy in the right manner and in the right direction. He also emphasized on the need for having strong code of conduct within the industry in the midst of the turmoil [high attrition & poaching] so that there is a method in the madness.

Session II: Knee Jerk HR: Was there a better way to handle the downturn.

Speakers: Dr John Sullivan, Professor of Mgmt, San Fransisco State University & Kris Ramachandran, advisor to Chairman, Higher Education Project, Aditya Birla Group.

Chair Person: Prithvi Shergill, Lead ,Human Resources, Accenture India.

Prithvi Shergill: Whether HR played a pivotal role in handling the downturn is based on whether the HR team was having a place in the table during the strategic discussions? Did the HR team ask the right questions in the right time? Did the organization genuinely invest in HR to become more strategic? These were the few questions through which he set the platform for the discussion. Dr John Sullivian also added the question that did we call our CEO’s during the down turn and specify the areas where we should have invested in order to position ourselves better after downturn or did the CEO call the HR leader and ask him about his opinion (even better)?.

Kris Ramachandram: Two extremely contrasting examples of GE and South West airlines were given in order to explain how both the companies had completely different approach in being global leaders in their respective fields. GE was synonymous with very objective and aggressive approach of fixing, selling or even closing down their business whereas South West airlines had a much lenient approach of having no layoffs. Yet even though the approaches of the two companies did not have any convergence but both are still leaders in their respective industries. Similarly, there is no ‘one’ right way to deal with the downturn. He mentioned the 5 dimensions of the Hofstede model and how understanding the respective cultural dynamics are important in framing out the approach towards dealing with downturn. He mentioned the following points to be kept in the minds of the employees in order to deal with a future downturn:

  • Realize that there are no free lunches in this world. We are never ‘entitled’ for the company benefits; we are only ‘eligible’ for the benefits.
  • Keep yourself employable through superior performance, constantly improve your skills.
  • Be an influencer.

As an Employer we can do the following:

· Focus on continuous productivity (Repair the roof when sun is shining J)

· Manage expectation, beliefs & values.

· Connect & communicate.

John Sulivian: He categorically mentioned that the following went wrong by HR in downturn:

· It went into a reactive mode and was not anticipatory enough.

· Did not realize the new economic reality of continuous ups & downs, with little warning.

· Being overtly optimistic

· Not having any warning precursors for identifying what occurs prior to a major problem.

· No contingency labor plan.

· Lack of prioritization.

· Cost cutting focus rather than productivity & innovation focus.

· Solutions adopted with no data on tools effectiveness.

· No midcourse feedback loop metrics.

· No accountability.

· Only ‘guessing’ when to resume talent growth.

Must do list for HR before the next downturn:

· Conduct failure analysis.

· Benchmark best practices.

· Focus on innovation/productivity.

· Establish contingent labor component.

· Do surgical layoffs based on performance.

· Substitute technology for labor (No people first approach)

· Continue to outsource ‘non core’ activities.

· Use ‘peak time & Seasonal empoyees’

· Next time do countercyclical hiring & poaching [;-) not my thoughts]

Session III: Open House- Are Indian players ready to handle a globalized workforce?

Speakers: D P Singh, Director,HR, IBM Daksh & Saurabh Govil, Senior Vice President, HR, Wipro Technologies.

Chairperson: C. Mahalingam, Executive Vice President & Chief People Officer, Symphony Services.

C Mahalingam: ‘Money is what money does’ and similarly ‘Globalization is what globalization does’. The context for the discussion was lucidly set by putting into perspective the thoughts of Thomas Friedman where he considered that Globalization 1.0 was influenced by the government, Globalization 2.0 was influenced by major MNCs and the new age era of Globalization 3.0 requires major role from Individual companies.Mr Mahalingam gave case examples of how Mc Donalds & Coke acted as catalysts in globalization and can be considered as icons of globalization. The following ‘distance issues’ were highlighted as they are to be carefully studied in course of embracing Globalization 3.0:

Culture, Administrative, Geographic & Economic [CAGE].

He also mentioned that the key drivers for success in globalization 3.0 must recognize that global workforce will have different aspiration, ability and engagement. Hence, it will become important to constantly manage as we learn and constantly learn as we manage.

D P Singh: The key levers for success in globalized economy are going to be Shared Visions, Policies, Processes, HR system & Communication. Companies have to leverage technology, opportunities, capital & structures. The right answers to the following few questions would help us to handle the globalized economy better:

· Do you have shared values across the globe embedded & understood by all?

· Do you have processes to identify, reward & grow talent.

· Do you have processes & policies in place with effective & robust control mechanism?

· Do you encourage diverse unconventional points of views to finally integrate with business objectives?

· How will you relate the Gen Y to your business objectives?

Saurabh Govil: The apparent hard issues like labor laws & compliance are much easier to manage but the challenging issues are the perceived softer issues like building local leadership, cultural issues and communication. It also becomes very important to keep on repeating the right things so that it becomes a part of the organizational fabric. He made a major emphasis on leveraging social network as the future of communication will not be e-mails but social networks.

Session IV: Management of paradoxes

Speakers: Hari Thalapalli, Chief People Officer, Mahindra Satyam & Piyush Mehta, Senior VP,Human resources, Genpact.

Chairperson: Elango R, Chief Human Resources officer, Mphasis an HP company

Elango R: The statement ‘contradiction fuels innovation’ suffices to articulate that even though managing the paradoxes might be tough but it would be well worth it. Managing paradoxes in HR would be about being an ‘active game changer’ and not by being a mere facilitator/part of the change process. It would require HR professionals to shift their focus from their HR books to Adam Smith’s ‘The wealth of nations’ and more importantly it will require HR to work in grey shades.

Hari Thalapalli: It’s fascinating how in life’s philosophy itself so many statements & anecdotes are contradictory yet seemingly idealistic. Hence, the same replicates in business & HR too. The right answers of today’s HR paradoxes would be different tomorrow. It’s important that in HR’s pursuit to manage its paradoxes, it should focus equally on its associates, investors and final customers. Hence, investment into research, capacity building has to sharply increase.

Piyush Mehta: The focus must be on making/building talent in an organic manner through Internal promotions, moving to tier 3,4 cities and digitalizing platforms. Another important inference was that the business orientation of the HR would be good for people as in long term what is good for business would certainly be good for people.

Session V: What is your USP as an employer?

Speakers: Aparna Ballakur, Vice President, HR, Yahoo! & Sreekanth Krishnan Arimanithaya, SV, Global HR operations, HR Business Partner, CA Technologies

Chairperson: Gaurav Ahluwalia ,Senior Vice President, HR, HSBC Electronic Data Processing India Pvt Ltd.

Gaurav Ahluwalia: USP of either a product or service or even an employer is based on how it brings value to its customer and brings visibility in the market. The case example of Maruti-800 brought out the message clearly. While speaking about USP from employer perspective, he said that pay is only a part of the offer but the real USP is not pay most of the times.

Sreekanth Krishnan Arimanithaya: Six elements of creating & evaluating value proposition are Utility value, Satisfaction level, Offer alignment, Employee engagement & Employee performance. The organizational brand components are total rewards (base pay, external equity, stock options etc), work life (business level, location etc), company (risk taking, diversity etc), Work environment (job fit, promotion, empowerment project responsibility etc). Hence the USP of the company needs to leverage these elements and brand components with the purpose of managing, governing and securing the talent. A special emphasis was made on fostering an entrepreneurial culture within the company.

Aparna Ballakur: For an employer USP in the current economy stands for Unique Staying Proposition. Creating the right USP revolves around answering the three questions: What brought you here? What keeps you here? What can take you away from here?

She also explained how the focus should be increasingly on ‘stay interviews’ rather than exit interviews. The USP in Yahoo is centred around opportunity (to change the way the world uses the internet), work (scope of impact:600 million users) & workplace(company cares for every individual & shows this in every process/policy).Also it was interesting to know that ‘fun’ is a core value of Yahoo’s culture. In a nutshell, an USP must appeal to the intellect and touch the heart.

Session VI: Conquer the Mt Everest-Motivational Talk by Jamling Tenzing

Conquering the Mt Everest in the realms of thought itself is very inspiring. If we spend a few moments hallucinating about the presence of Mt Everest then we can realize the how insignificant we are infront of the mighty Everest. Yet few people conquer it through their spirit-‘the human spirit’. The human spirit is common to all of us yet only few realize it. One such man is Jamling Tenzing, son of legendary climber Tenzing Norway.

Jamling Tenzing’s presentation was themed as ‘Touching my father’s soul’. He passionately spoke on why he had a single minded focus on climbing the Mt Everest and why it meant so much to him. His childhood hero was always his father and he wanted to climb the Mt Everest the way his father did. In 1996, he climbed the Mt Everest which was later documented in the IMAX film, Everest. This journey helped him to understand himself, his father & his community (Sherpa) better.

His quest to climb the Everest was full of challenges like staying away from the family in the hope of meeting them once again to loosing friends who died on the way to climb the Mt Everest.

Like in any other team, a mountain expedition also has team members with designated roles. The leader paves the strategy to climb the mountain whereas the Sherpa provides strong support in carrying the food, goods and other essentials. Jamling Tenzing acted as the member who bridged the relationship between the leaders and the ‘sherpas’ as he himself is a Sherpa who was educated in America. HR’s role in business is also similar; he acts as a bridge between the business leaders and the associates. He is expected to be a business as well as people champion who can translate the language of business into a language which is best understood by the people.

In business also, the HR team is often confronted with huge challenges yet they are met with the right direction, team support, planning, courage & passion.

Another important life lesson learned from his presentation was that “In mountaineering, climbing up is optional but getting down is mandatory”.

Similarly, in life or business also we make the choice of being the best but we must be ready to face failures courageously too. If we cannot recognize failure and know how to deal with it then we will never know how to react when failure again strikes us in life.

He also mentioned how climbers are increasingly realizing that it’s important to respect nature and keep the surroundings clean while venturing into mountain expeditions.

Hence, it’s not only the end which matters but also the means. HR is the conscious keeper of the organization and must always adhere to ethics in its pursuit to achieve business success.

Jamling also stressed that human beings must be passion driven and not ego driven in their pursuits. He cited examples of how many rich businessmen wanted to satisfy their ego to climb the Mt Everest by risking the lives of many sherpas.

It was delightful to know that Jamling had great plans of teaching mountaineering to Indian kids in order to infuse in them the idea of sportsmanship. He has been doing a lot of work for the Sherpa community and wants to continue the good work.

Even HR has a community to take care of that transcends the associates and their families.

He concluded his presentation with his father’s quote: “Be a leader, Be a guide…Be great and make others great”.

Day 2

Session VII: Social Network: Leveraging or lamenting

Speakers: Arvind Rajan, Vice President, International, Linkedin & Nandita Gurjar,SVP, Group Head HRD, Infosys Technologies Ltd.

Chairperson: Anand Pillai, Senior Vice President, Talent Transformation & Intrapreneurship Development, HCL Technologies.

Anand Pillai: Social Networking is becoming the new operating system for the new workforce which has the following characteristics:

· They want freedom.

· Customized job profile.

· They want transparency.

· They thrive on innovation.

· They love having fun.

· They want to collaborate.

It was interesting to know that HCL has a virtual ‘passion wall’ where associates are free to write about their passion and what it means to them. Adding to this practice, they also started the passion club where associates can mention their top 5 passion indicators and join the communities related to them. These communities would facilitate discussions related to their passion and keep them engaged.

Arvind Rajan: A few startling statistics on how majority of today’s workforce is either actively disengaged or not engaged. Adding to that most companies are having 1 HR associate for every 100 employees. Hence, communication between HR and the associates have sharply reduced. Social media in such a scenario helps to enable better communication. Most companies have focused on horizontal communication through social media but there should be focus on vertical communication too. A CEO’s blog is an example of effective communication that also ensures inclusiveness through the ‘comments’ feature in blogs. It also ‘personalizes’ the leadership especially when the company is large. Social media should be leveraged for recruiting (employee referrals,tweets), Reward(recognition) and retaining(through collaboration). Following are the few steps that can be taken in order to embrace social media (linkedin specifically):

· Encourage employee to be on linkedin & connect.

· Have a strategy for status updates.

· Give them guidance on how to collaborate.

· Add purpose & a fresh perspective on being networked.

Nandita Gurjar: The 3 myths surrounding social media are:

· Face to face relationships are far more valuable than virtual ones.

· The best way to control the use of social media is to block.

· There is no ROI in social media.

Many eye opening case examples of companies were given where improper use of social media backfired heavily. Hence it’s important to ensure the following are never discussed in social media:

· Client confidential.

· Policy documents.

· Misuse of code of conduct.

It was interesting to know about the ‘My voice’ initiative in Infosys where employees can voice their opinion on policies before its creation and can also comment during the probation period for which the policy is implemented before its final implementation.

Micro-blogging is also an area where companies need to progress towards.

Session VIII: Cracking the code on Business agility: lessons from high performing learning organizations

Speakers: Bob Danna, Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer, Bersin Associates & Daniel R Bielenberg, Director, Capability Development Strategy

Bob Danna: In high intensive learning organizations the following checklist must be kept in perspective:

· Rethink the learning purpose.

· Focus a deep specialization.

· Support learning agility

· Get realigned to the business

· Manage programs like portfolios.

The two key attributes in a learning culture are as follows:

· Knowledge sharing on a frequent, encouraging & supportive basis.

· Reflection- Post success & failure, opportunities for learning at all

levels must be leveraged.

Daniel R Bielenberg: The existing talent challenge today is dealt through deep specialization, innovation, changeability, industrialization, people development, case skills & common culture (all of them have a learning & development element in it). The process of building a high performing learning organization begins from building foundational industry knowledge to leveraging high performance business and finally generating sales with industry specific offering & framework.

The biggest challenge in learning and development is that most managers treat coaching as a side job and much sincerity is lost in the coaching process.

It was interesting to know how an Accenture employee used blogs in order to persuade employees for enrolling in a learning module. She was able to sign up 5000 employees by using a free tool. It is actions like these which make the real difference in both learning development & use of social media.

Session IX: The transformed job market

Speakers: Aadesh Goyal, Executive Vice President, Global Head, HR,TATA Communications Ltd.

R V Balasubramanium Iyer ,Vice President, Reliance Retail. Chairperson: William Paul, Executive Vice President, HR, Global Shared Service Centers, Scope International, Standard Charted Bank

William Paul: The speed & quantum of change is humungous today and the customers are also becoming increasingly demanding. This has led to huge talent shortage in many industries. Hence it’s important that we do the following:

· Invent your own raw talent pipeline.

· Finding the balance between raw talent & lateral

· Day 1 readiness

· Use of metrics

· Diversity mgmt

Aadesh Goyal: Following must be done in order to deal with the highly transformed job market which seems similar to the pre slowdown phase in 2007:

· Must focus more on behavioral competencies than technical

Competencies while hiring.

· Continue to hire at lowest level.

· Build & develop the talent for middle & top management.

· Hire from outside (new competencies & new geographies) for new


In addition it must also be recognized that the market for CXOs is hot and compensation offered is also very high.

R V Balasubramanium Iyer: He had a humorous take on the dilemma of being a recruiter in the retail industry where the desperation for recruiting goes to the extent of advertising in front of the stores saying: ‘Trespasser would be recruited’. He emphasized on the importance of partnership between industry, academia & individual.

One of the good examples of such partnership is between Manipal University and ICICI (

August 2, 2010

Meeting Jamling Tenzing in Nasscom HR Summit 2010

Conquering the Mt Everest in the realms of thought itself is very inspiring. If we spend a few moments hallucinating about the presence of Mt Everest then we can realize how insignificant we are infront of the mighty Everest. Yet few people conquer it through their spirit-‘the human spirit’. The human spirit is common to all of us yet only few realize it. One such man is Jamling Tenzing, son of legendary climber Tenzing Norway.

Jamling Tenzing’s presentation was themed as ‘Touching my father’s soul’. He passionately spoke on why he had a single minded focus on climbing the Mt Everest and why it meant so much to him. His childhood hero was always his father and he wanted to climb the Mt Everest the way his father did. In 1996, he climbed the Mt Everest which was later documented in the IMAX film, Everest. This journey helped him to understand himself, his father & his community (Sherpa) better.

His quest to climb the Everest was full of challenges like staying away from the family in the hope of meeting them once again to loosing friends who died on the way to climb the Mt Everest.

Like in any other team, a mountain expedition also has team members with designated roles. The leader paves the strategy to climb the mountain whereas the Sherpa provides strong support in carrying the food, goods and other essentials. Jamling Tenzing acted as the member who bridged the relationship between the leaders and the ‘sherpas’ as he himself is a Sherpa who was educated in America. HR’s role in business is also similar; he acts as a bridge between the business leaders and the associates. He is expected to be a business as well as people champion who can translate the language of business into a language which is best understood by the people.

In business also, the HR team is often confronted with huge challenges yet they are met with the right direction, team support, planning, courage & passion.

Another important life lesson learned from his presentation was that “In mountaineering, climbing up is optional but getting down is mandatory”.

Similarly, in life or business also we make the choice of being the best but we must be ready to face failures courageously too. If we cannot recognize failure and know how to deal with it then we will never know how to react when failure again strikes us in life.

He also mentioned how climbers are increasingly realizing that it’s important to respect nature and keep the surroundings clean while venturing into mountain expeditions.

Hence, it’s not only the end which matters but also the means. HR is the conscious keeper of the organization and must always adhere to ethics in its pursuit to achieve business success.

Jamling also stressed that human beings must be passion driven and not ego driven in their pursuits. He cited examples of how many rich businessmen wanted to satisfy their ego to climb the Mt Everest by risking the lives of many sherpas.

It was delightful to know that Jamling had great plans of teaching mountaineering to Indian kids in order to infuse in them the idea of sportsmanship. He has been doing a lot of work for the Sherpa community and wants to continue the good work.

Even HR has a community to take care of that transcends the associates and their families.

He concluded his presentation with his father’s quote: “Be a leader, Be a guide…Be great and make others great”.

PS: He was kind enough to autograph on my name batch :-)

July 25, 2010

'Udaan'-It's about being man enough to keep the child inside you alive :-)

Sometimes one has to patiently wait for long enough to experience a masterpiece which can stir your soul. Udaan is one such masterpiece.

It's a very sincere and brave movie in terms of the message it renders and also because it paves a new beginning[hopefully] for Indian Cinema. A movie that inspires to liberate oneself towards doing the right hings in life along with embracing the shades of Grey.

Rohan (Rajat Barmecha) gets expelled from his elite boarding school after getting caught red handed by his hostel warden for watching an Adult movie[which apparently the warden was also watching ;-)]. This marks a new journey that separates him from his close school buddies [& partners in crime] and introduces him to a life that further distances him from his insensitive father [Ronit Roy] in spite of the physical proximity of staying in the same home[or rather house!!!] .

Rohan wants to live his dream of being a professional writer but his father wants him to work in the factory for half a day and then persue studies in an engineering college.However his tough routine does not stop him from writing poems and stories.

Udaan captures various facets of Rohan's life like his dream of being a immensely bitter relationship with his father...memories of his late mother..his emotional anchor 'Chacha'...his friends who constantly help him to liberate and keep him sane with all possible insane means... But the cutest part of Udaan is Rohan's relationship with his kid step brother 'Arjun'...

The movie has some of the finest poems. It makes sense to watch the movie to experience the magic of Rohan's poems alone.

Sample this poem which captures the essence of Rohan's conflicted relationship with his father:

"Jo lehron se aage nazar dekh paati toh tum jaan lete main kya sochta hoon, Wo aawaz tumko bhi jo bhed jaati toh tum jaan lete main kya sochta hoon. Zid ka tumhare jo parda sarakta toh khidkiyon se aage bhi tum dekh paate, Aankhon se aadaton ki jo palken hatate toh tum jaan lete main kya sochta hoon. Meri tarah khud par hota zara bharosa toh kuchh door tum bhi saath-saath aate, Rang meri aankhon ka baant-te zara sa toh kuchh door tum bhi saath-saath aate, Nasha aasmaan ka jo choomta tumhe bhi, hasraten tumhari naya janm paatin, Khud doosre janam mein meri udaan chhoone kuchh door tum bhi saath-saath aate."

Watch the movie in order to add depth in your gather courage to realize your dream in the midst of the imperfections that surrounds appreciate the simplicity with which the complexities of Rohan's life is narrated... to believe in stories that are reel as well as real.... to support new age Indian Cinema....and finally strengthen the belief that real manhood is about keeping the child inside you alive constantly....

All the actors play their respective parts with absolute brilliance but Ronit Roy steals the show. You end up detesting the character played by him but you will admire his acting skills.

July 8, 2010

N T Arunkumar on life, universe & everything 2.0

N T Arunkumar who has deeply influenced me in various HR forums and whose tweets I regularly follow is now passionately blogging [Majority of what I retweet are from his tweets]. is his web journal where in a short span [July 3rd onwards] he has written a wide array of posts on topics that are immensely close to his heart like CSR,travel, spirituality & very soon you can expect much more like leadership, technology,HR etc.

I know Arun Sir as a successful leader and one of the few genuinely good human beings who is selflessly concerned about development of young people like me. The blog gives me an opportunity to know Arun Sir even better.

I have found a teacher in him. Follow the blog regularly and get a slice of precious life lessons from him.

Following are a few links of my earlier posts on Arun Sir:

Link 1

Link 2

July 3, 2010

A small break from blogging

I am sorry for not blogging regularly these days. I am spending considerable amount of time reading. Most of these books are non-HR books and focuses on life & spirituality . I am thoroughly enjoying this phase.

I am also watching the football world cup matches too[mostly on weekends]. A little sad that Argentina lost today. But 'Jai Ho' to the Germany team. Young,spunky,energetic, aggressive and immensely determined. The team also has great ethical mix. I have to cheer for this team from now on to celebrate their passion to perform and the open mindedness to embrace inclusiveness. Thats the best team for the HR professional inside me :-)

At work I was busy doing an HR project which has been extremely satisfying in terms of creativity and learning. I am indeed having a great time at work.

In a couple of days, I will be back with blog posts.

June 19, 2010

'HR generalist to specialist-Division of labour' by Ria Dua

One of my dear friend, Ria Dua wrote an interesting post in her blog.

She writes "What I have observed is a recent shift in the trend of the profiles being offered to HR graduates .Initially freshers were easily given HR Generalists role. However, lately there has been a shift from Generalist roles to Specialist Roles."

She further adds "The Generalists were doing a good job but suddenly to get things done in a better way, a need for proper division of labor was felt. It was at this point that the specialists came into the picture."

On a purely humorous note, I must add that I once heard a speaker [cant remember the name...sorry] who said " companies are shifting from generalists to specialists because they have realized[Ria-lized] that 'Generalists' were prone to 'Generally' doing nothing!!!!!"

June 14, 2010

Quality Management System & HR

Two days back during the HR Sangam meeting we discussed 'Quality Management System in HR'.
The meeting was facilitated by C Eashwer from Enhance Chennai . One question which might arise in the minds of many while reading this post is 'How HR and Quality management are related???'.

Quality management is a 'participative process' of 'empowering people' to continuously improve the quality of their work.

I would like to believe that it's HR more than any other function which has the responsibility to
'empower people' and help them to be 'participative'.

So that's where HR and QMS meets.

However, the meeting was about how QMS can be implemented in HR. So it's not only about HR playing a key role as a function in Quality Management but also recognizing QMS's role as a function in HR.

I was given a 20 point detailed action plan on establishing a QMS in HR Department. Let me try & outline the points in brief:

  • Form a Steering Committee of members from HR department to assist establishing & maintaining a Quality Management System.
  • Select and appointment a Quality Management Representative[QMR] for designing, developing, establishing and maintaining a QMS relevent to the Company's business objectives.
  • Arrange for a QMS launch evening, to publicize the Quality Management System.
  • Plan for regular Steering committee meeting with QMR for the strategic planning of QMS in HR department.
  • Arrange for a detailed orientation on QMS to all the steering committee members.
  • QMR to draw the collective wisdom from the steering committee members and design a Quality Policy for HR department.
  • As a next step QMR and the steering committee in consultantation with all the HR staff should design and draft Quality Objectives which are nothing but measurable, tangible, verifiable targets to achieve in the major divisions of HR like recruitment, training etc.
  • Now the steering committee should contemplate and come out with a list of 'Quality Activities' in sequence that is from the first HR activity till the last HR activity.
  • Next is the design and development of the Business Process Plan[BPP] of HR. This is nothing but a Flow Chart of A-Z activities of the department with connectivity from one to another.
  • From the BPP, context diagrams for each division of HR can be made.
  • Now the team should contemplate and group and identify the quality procedures from the BPP and context diagrams and come out with a list of Quality Procedures for the department.
  • Upon identifying the list of procedures, the team should start writing the procedures. Each process must have a procedure owner who is responsible for the effective implementation of that procedure.
  • Formation of Steering sub committees like internal communication committee, ,procedure walk throgh committee, documentation committee etc.
  • Now all procedures must be recorded into a manual called 'Quality manual'.
  • Other addition to QM is Quality Work Instructions for each procedure.
  • Have the internal quality audit.
  • Form the Management review committee for active involvement of management staff in supporting QMS in all respects.
  • Effective maintenance of QMS.
The bullet points above serve only as a very broad outline of action plan on establishing a QMS in HR Department.

June 12, 2010

'Redifining HR' by H N Shrinivas

I was invited by one of my HR mentors from college days, Mr G D Sharma, President[HR],BGR Energy Systems Ltd for a session on 'Redefining HR' organized by Resource Focus Management Solutions Pvt Ltd.

The speaker for the evening Mr H N Shrinivas, Sr Vice President, HR and Business Excellence,The Indian Hotels Company Ltd spoke on the topic 'Redefining HR' with a special focus on 'post 26/11 initiatives by Taj Hotels.

It was the second time I heard him speak in a forum. This link will direct you to my detailed post which I wrote during a NHRD meeting last year where he addressed.

I felt the same vibe this time too. Tears rolled down my cheeks as he spoke about the sacrifices from his employees on 26/11. I was not the only one in that emotional state.

So much of effort is put into employee engagement worldwide. It is measured through various means but it can not be mere engagement practices which can enthuse several associates to sacrifice their own lives for the sake of customers.

As H N Shrinivas said in a very emotional state that it's not only the training & development or engagement practices that allows it's associates to feel so belonged to Taj Hotels. It's because of the values and philosophy present in the cultural DNA of the organization.

He focused on how the new generation of workforce like Gen Y & Millenial are at the risk of getting more associated with their professional communities through social networks than with their own organization.

Hence, he advised that HR professionals should make the unchangeable positive elements of the organization even more firm. This will ensure that the future generations can identify with the company's core values forever as it's the values which is going define the culture & identity of the company in the minds of future workforce. Stronger the values & the way they are lived through actions and not mere talks is the way forward to make future workforce associate with their company.

June 6, 2010

My emotions before the first day at work as an HR professional...

Six years back when I came to Chennai, I was not sure of the course[BBA] I took in Madras Christian College. I always wanted to join the Indian Army but I could not join it because of a few personal reasons.

I found a lot of students eventually choosing to pursue a MBA degree. Hence I thought it would make sense to do BBA and that too when it was offered in Madras Christian College. I had a fabulous time in College.

During my second year I made up my mind that I had a personality fit in HR as we got a snapshot about various areas of management very early during the course.

To put it in mushy note, I had a small crush on HR. Time progressed and I learned more about HR through professors, friends, seniors, books and mgmt competitions. Then I felt that it's not a mere crush, it had to be for HR...I am happy it happened....

After my BBA, I worked in a top Indian company as a process associate but could not get an HR role there. After approximately 9 months of great learning and observation as an employee I decided to study further in HR.

I was very lucky to get into Madras School of Social Work where apart from academics I learned a lot from the field works, summer internship and research project.

This gives me an opportunity to thank everyone associated with my life in MSSW :-)

Finally one of the world's fastest growing IT company came to campus and I got the opportunity to become an HR professional.

For me it's not only about being an 'HR professional' alone. It's beyond that. For 5 years I dreamt of being one. I keenly observed workplaces & people through which I wrote many posts in this blog. Many appreciated my blog and I also received criticisms. I remember once being invited in a top HR consultancy firm and being told by their director that I lacked basic HR conceptual skills.

I tried harder to increase my conceptual skill with sheer passion for HR. Hopefully I have improved and I hope the gentleman who rightfully advised me on my conceptual skills is reading this post today. I have huge respect for him and without his guidance this job would not have been possible.

Whatever little[sometimes significant & sometimes insignificant] I achieved through this journey of 5 years is what I value a lot.

Also I am keen to know if my writing changes in the blog as an HR practitioner because I have blogged till date without any work experience in HR.

I am very excited yet a little nervous. A lot I did till date was for tomorrow & beyond. It's tough to articulate how I am feeling today. I immensely enjoyed this wait only with a vision that it will get over one day and I will become an HR professional. And I am just few hours away from that moment.

Will I be able to sleep well today???

Yes!! because I have a certain sense of a 'settling feeling'. But also 'No' because this is another beginning which I wish never ends. I have a deep desire to deliver the best to my company, my team and most importantly my profession.

It reminds me of an Urdu Couplet:

"Sitaron Se Aagey Jahan Aur Bhi Hai,
Abhi Zindagii Mein Imtihaan Aur Bhi Hai"

Beyond the Stars , There are yet Many Worlds,
Many more trials are there, Yet to be Faced in this Life.

At one point of my life I felt that being an HR professional itself would be like reaching the stars. But my real journey has just started. I am going to be introduced to my major learning now. I am looking forward to every bit of it and I will give my best in order to embrace it all.

Let me also take the opportunity to thank everyone who has encouraged & discouraged me throughout.

Let me share a few quotes from Abhijit Bhaduri's books Mediocre But Arrogant & Married But Available which I feel very relevant for myself:

  • As you step into the world of work, you are bringing to it the freshness of ideas and power to change things.
  • Whenever you feel unhappy about something around you, remember, you can improve it. So whether you change it or choose to walk away and just complain-you have made a choice.
  • You have had the education that will tell you what to do and how to do it. But it is only your heart that will tell you why you ought to.
  • Everyday we choose how much we will touch the lives of less fortunate.
  • Never underestimate your ability to make a difference.
  • Whether it is success or failure, remember that 'this too shall pass'.
  • Don't take your business card so seriously that it defines your identity and you feel helpless without it.
  • If you want success, think of yourself, if you want happiness, think of others.
  • Stop asking about the meaning of life and instead, think of yourself as the one being questioned by life. Your answer must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and right conduct.
It's midnight now and I must get some rest before another phase of my life welcomes me. Hope to see some of the brightest dreams tonight so that I can keep myself awake to fulfill them.

PS: Thanks to my Parents, God,All professors and teachers, HR professionals [especially Abhijit Bhaduri, Gautam Ghosh, Rajesh Kamath,G D Sharma, Sudhir Warde], HR bloggers,friends, cousins,well wishers, my dear readers and many more :-)

That magic of 100%

I came across an old video of Harsha Bhogle addressing the students of his alma mater, IIM- Ahmedabad. His speech on 'excellence' is immensely inspiring and I was glued in front of my computer monitor throughout.

Please watch this video which is of over 1 hour duration but certainly worth it.

In case you want to read a summary of the video then refer to the following links from a few impressive blogs:

Link 1

Link 2

Link 3

The links above do an absolute justice of summarizing the video but I feel tempted to make a special mention of the part in the speech where he speaks about 'excellence being a series of 100 %'.

He says "If you give every moment 100% and then wait for the next moment and say “You know what! This is the moment I wanted to give 100% too” and then the next moment turns up and then you say ” Actually this was the moment I really wanted to give my 100% best” . And then you will find the little things in life that makes the difference between the good and great just happen."

Even though Harsha Bhogle works as a cricket commentator yet he chose to give his 100 % even while delivering the speech. Once we learn to give 100 % in one area of our life, it becomes easier to give 100 % into any other area if we choose to be passionate.

June 5, 2010

Happy to be a part of the Sandbox Network :-)

I am delighted & humbled to announce that I am a member of the Sandbox Network now. It is a worldwide network of hand picked achievers below the age of 30 years.

I am certainly below 30 years but being considered as an achiever is pleasantly surprising. The best part of being in the sandbox network is that there are many inspiring young minds in the network. They are from various walks of life like entrepreneurs, researchers, innovators and even blogger ;-)

You can interact, learn, network and participate in interesting events. I am sure it will be fascinating for all.

I have already made some inspiring friends across the world.

Please visit the website to get more information regarding application & selection process.

Let's get connected at the Sandbox Network soon :-)

May 29, 2010

Leveraging HR analytics for High Impact...

During this month's NHRD meeting, N T Arunkumar, Ex CEO & Director, D&B TransUnion Analytic & Decision Services, made a brilliant presentation on the topic 'Leveraging HR analytics for High Impact...'.

The focus was primarily on three key words- Analytic, HR & Impact.

Speaking about 'analytic', he focused on
on how the success in using analytics lies more on asking the right questions rather than seeking the right answers. Analytics can produce the required answers but the questions asked should be intelligent & proper.

He also mentioned that HR metrics have failed in numerous occasions to provide actionable data. And hence I personally interpreted that analytics would serve that concern with predicting 'accurate' data that would give higher confidence & sharper intent to the HR for taking the right action.

A few challenges in establishing Enterprise HR analytics:

  • Quantifying the linkage of HR & Business.
  • Lack of technology [How many companies really have a sincere wish to invest on providing technology to HR????]
  • Obtaining raw data.
  • Identifying value added HR metrics.
  • Integrating HR & corporate measurement.
  • Subjectivity of HR metrics.
  • HR staff skill gap.
  • Access to metrics.
  • Accountability for metrics
  • Tying incentives to HR metrics.
Some of the key questions which must be asked while implementing Enterprise level HR analytics:

  • How to embed business insights into HR metrics?
  • What cultural & behavioral change is required in HR & business?
  • What are the few metrics that matter to business?
  • Do we understand business SWOT & does the metrics help analyze those?
He emphasized on the importance of particularly 'Employee Engagement Index' and various measures like Age staffing breakdown,Voluntary termination rate, Employee commitment index , Employee retention index, Employer brand strength, Internal hire rate,Manager quality index, Market opportunity index, Offer fit index etc.

He also mentioned that the readiness of HR & business to get aligned to analytics is based on dealing with certain paradoxes:

  1. Democratization of IT within enterprise.
  2. Too much data V/S too few being useful
  3. Skills sufficiency V/S Skills deficiency.

He recommended us to read the book 'Competing on analytics' by Thomas H Davenport & Jeanne H Harris. He quoted from the book that 'Analytics is good but competing on analytics is better'.

He also focused on how analytics have evolved from forecasting to Predictive analysis and now 'Decision Optimization'. Hence, if HR has to truly become a 'Business Enabler' then it must embrace this evolution in analytics at the earliest.

He also emphasized on the need for ethics and values in the operation of analytics.

He gave examples of companies that leveraged analytics for better business performance like Marriott [Revenue Mgmt], Wal Mart [Supply Chain Mgmt], RBC [Cost & Customer profitability] etc.

However, the most fascinating example was that from the book Moneyball which is about Oakland Athletics that used analytics to win a major tournament. The analytics helped the team management to locate the right positions at which they were supposed to play.

Analytics has worked for complex business as well as competitive sport. It's one area that certainly needs to be leveraged. I guess the leadership team has to show the intent and the HR team must show the credibility.

May 27, 2010

Love Letters....

I watched a play aptly titled 'Love letters' directed by Rahul Da Cunha starring Rajit Kapur & Shernaz Patel. The Pulitzer award winning play written by AR Gurney revolves around Melissa Gardner (Shernaz Patel) and Andrew Makepeac (Rajit Kapur) over 50 years when they communicate through letters except a few cherished moments when they met each other occasionally.

Their formative years and ever evolving maturity (& immaturity) is perfectly captured through the letter correspondences (which were beautifully recited & acted by them) .

The correspondence begins from a mere 'birthday party' thank you note to the last moment of Melissa's life.

The play reflects how Andrew & Melisa lived in a denial mode about their romantic feelings and got married to different people inspite of harboring their true feelings for each other only within themselves.

The plot might seem quite cleshay. But it's the brilliant performance and the lessons from the play which makes it remarkable.

Here are a few reflections of my personal thoughts from the play:

  • We often encounter these immensely special moments when we have to make seemingly indistinct decisions about our life. Yet quite foolishly our good humour supersedes our true intent and the pattern of our life completely changes. This pattern eventually extols 'regrets'.
  • We are always communicating with our people but how often do we really connect??? And even if we connect then does it stop there??? Relationships are nurtured through communication...connections... and beyond [Figure it out yourself]....
  • There are few people in our lives without whom there would be a vacum. Spend a lot of love and time for them. Do it either in a selfless or selfish manner. But do it. As long as you do the right thing it doesn't really matter whether it's selfless or selfish.

May 22, 2010

A discussion on the dynamics of 'Performance Management System'

Recently during the SHRM India monthly meeting held in Chennai, we discussed certain issues pertaining to 'Performance Management System'. We were divided into approximately 5 groups consisting of 4 to 5 HR practitioners,academicians & students. We discussed within the groups and then synthesized some of the most important learning from the discussion.

After parallel brain storming sessions we made the following conclusion:

1. Some of the key expectations from a PMS today are Credibility, not merely differentiating performance but identifying top performers , infusing trust in all stakeholders through utmost transparency.

2. The major roadblocks in PMS are organizational politics, time, increased subjectivity to be evaluated, 'Forced' rating [bell curve debate], lack of ownership, lack of instant/proper feedback.

3. The initiatives to clear the road blocks would be ownership, constant/proper feedback, minimizing subjectivity to a certain extent, training to use the PMS in the right manner, proper execution of performance appraisal process.

A few other thoughts which the entire group at large felt passionately about were:

1. The possibility of co-creating tailor made PMS through inclusiveness of all associates in the organization.

2. The need to discuss the 'change issues' while shifting into a new PMS system.

3. The need to better understand and match the right form of PMS with the right organizational context.

The entire group present during the meeting intends to regularly deliberate on the PMS issues through e-mails in order to gain further objectivity till we again meet next month.

May 17, 2010

Rural visits during induction....

There are times when we thank God for even the smallest blessings. And there are times when we are completely ignorant of the best things that happen to our life.

Remember that hot afternoon when you thanked God after drinking a chilled 'nimbu paani[Lemonade]'?
'Yes' most likely.

But do you remember thanking God while having one of your best meals in a luxury restaurant?
'Not really' I guess.

We are in a position to thank God and appreciate the 'nimbu paani' incident as we are put into a tough situation[extremely hot afternoon] & we get an instant gratification after drinking the 'nimbu paani' while there are many people around who are either too poor or too busy to enjoy the chilled nimbu paani.

Hence in order to appreciate even the little things in life we must recognize how it feels to have the lack of it.

The HR community focusses a great deal in orientation, training and also aims at 'value integration' during induction of new recruits.

I feel 'value integration' can not be easily executed as the HR community is always at a risk of getting too occupied with training and orientation.

Every well known company which I can think of has a certain sense of goodness in it's 'values'. In order to infuse that goodness in the new recruits , I feel 'rural visits' for a few days can serve the purpose.

I feel the following can be done during a 'rural visit':

  1. Have keen observation on the life in the village.
  2. Interact with the villagers.
  3. Take up a project[even small] which can be continued on a sustained basis by a fully commuted CSR team along with the support of the new recruits.
  4. Have an interactive session which can consist of the learning from the village life.
The rural visit would help in the following ways:

  1. They would become more sensitive towards the needs of the less fortunate.
  2. It will give them an opportunity to appreciate what all they have in their life including their job or profession. Hence, there will be an increase in the level of commitment and engagement in work.
  3. It will make the future CSR projects more genuine.
  4. It will inculcate a certain sense of goodness that could even match with the values of the company .

May 9, 2010

Quotes from Rabindranath Tagore and few HR lessons from them...

Today we celebrate the 150th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore. I am missing the revelry in Kolkata & Delhi[C R Park].

I was born in Kolkata but I grew up in Delhi. The most formative years of my life belonged in Delhi and I could not really associate myself with the works of Rabindranath Tagore as a kid. My parents did make a lot of effort to get myself oriented towards Rabindra Sangeet but I could never appreciate it then.

But as I matured, I found a lot of depth and meaning in his works especially in the lyrics of his songs and the poems.

Let me share a few of his quotes which has people lessons infused in them:

  • "A mind all logic is like a knife all blade. It makes the hand bleed that uses it."- A beautiful quote that extols the importance of emotions and why emotions must be accommodated even if logic rules the scenario.

  • " For us the highest purpose of this world is not merely living in it,, knowing it and making use of it, but realizing our own selves in it through expansion of sympathy; not alienating ourselves from it and dominating it, but comprehending and uniting it with ourselves in perfect union."- A classic quote that speaks volumes on 'inclusiveness' , 'active engagement' and 'goodness'.
  • "All men have poetry in their hearts, and it is necessary for them, as much as possible, to express their feelings. For this they must have a medium, moving and pliant, which can refreshingly become their own, age after age. All great languages undergo change. Those languages which resist the spirit of change are doomed and will never produce great harvests of thought and literature. When forms become fixed, the spirit either weakly accepts its imprisonment or rebels. All revolutions consists of the "within" fighting against invasion from "without"... All great human movements are related to some great idea."-A quote that can spur thoughts on change management and idea generation.
  • "Asks the Possible of the Impossible, "Where is your dwelling-place?" "In the dreams of the Impotent," comes the answer."- A quote on courage, proactiveness and initiative.

  • "Death is not extinguishing the light; it is putting out the lamp because the dawn has come."- A quote that can inspire a turnaround, change or a complete business re-engineering.

  • "Everything comes to us that belongs to us if we create the capacity to receive it."-A quote on capacity building.

  • "Facts are many, but the truth is one." A quote on authenticity and integrity.

  • "Gross utility kills beauty. We now have all over the world huge production of things, huge organizations, huge administrations of empire - all obstructing the path of life. Civilization is waiting for a great consummation, for an expression of its soul in beauty. This must be your contribution to the world." -Need I say more :-)

  • "He who wants to do good knocks at the gate; he who loves finds the gate open."-A quote on execution and continuous learning & development.

  • "I have spent my days stringing and unstringing my instrument while the song I came to sing remains unsung."- A quote on work-life integration

  • "I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy." A quote on HR's true mission :-)

  • "If anger be the basis of our political activities, the excitement tends to become an end in itself, at the expense of the object to be achieved. side issues then assume an exaggerated importance, and all gravity of thought and action is lost; such excitement is not an exercise of strength, but a display of weakness." -A quote on anger management

  • "If life is journey be endless where is its goal? The answer is, it is everywhere. We are in a palace which has no end, but which we have reached. By exploring it and extending our relationship with it we are ever making it more and more our own. The infant is born in the same universe where lives the adult of ripe mind. But its position is not like a schoolboy who has yet to learn his alphabet, finding himself in a college class. The infant has it own joy of life because the world is not a mere road, but a home, of which it will have more and more as it grows up in wisdom. With our road that gain is at every step, for it is the road and the home in one; it leads us on yet gives us shelter."- A quote on having greater purpose in life and work.

All the quotes above are inspired from life so that they can inspire each and every elements of life in return. HR is only a small aspect yet an important one. A lot can be learned from the works of Rabindranath Tagore. I felt HR is one of them.

The quotes are obtained from this link .

Are you a future leader?

I found this link where you can test your leadership quotient for future times. What I find most interesting are the dimensions on which our leadership quotient for future is being tested. They are as follows:

  • Maker Instinct
  • Clarity
  • Diemma flipping
  • Immersive learning ability
  • Bio Empathy
  • Constructive depolarizing
  • Quiet transparency
  • Smart Mob organizing
  • Commons creating
The dimensions do sound complex but the link above explains each & every dimensions very clearly. Go ahead and test yourself!!!

May 7, 2010

The MSSW-SIFE Story – Recreating lives...

The association of MSSW with SIFE reached it's peak last year when my college was selected as the finalist of the National SIFE tournament. It was a proud moment for all of us in college and the core team of SIFE did a fabulous job. It was not merely about touching lives, it was beyond that. It was all about recreating lives. I once again thank and congratulate last year's SIFE team for their sincerity and selfless work.

But even this year the students of MSSW will have a lot to cheer about. The new SIFE team consisting of Prof Jayanthi Peter,HOD, Dept of MA-HRM,MSSW[Faculty Incharge]; Hadeeja S; Rakesh Kumar Patil; Madhumitha Sowndararajan;Prashanti. T; Arvind Srikantan; Adline Sophia;Sowmya Mathews;Harish.S;Tanvir Ahmed are working very hard towards multiple projects that could generate a lot of benefits and goodness in various target communities.

I pray and wish that the projects are a huge success. I would like to share a snapshot of this year's projects undertaken by the SIFE core team along with the support of everyone in MSSW.

Following is a write up mailed to me by my good friend and SIFE core team member 'Madhumita Soundarajan':

The Madras School of Social Work, as a pioneering institution in professionalizing social service, has undertaken several initiatives to promote the feeling of community development amongst students. One such quintessential initiative has been the SIFE.

SIFE stands for Students in Free Enterprise. As an NGO, headquartered in USA, it aims at creating self sustainability in a chosen community, by partnering with students from various educational institutions.

Thus, it is synonymous to the saying, “A meal today is for now; A skill today is forever".

MSSW is one such prestigious college to have been partnering with SIFE.

Every year, the MSSW-SIFE team undertakes a new project, targeting at a different community than before. It is interesting to note that students, as a part of this initiative, play the role of facilitators, thereby ensuring the non-dependency of the community on anybody else. This year, the new initiative undertaken has been named “Project Vidiyal”

This project targets the women community who are tsunami victims. The project comprises approximately of 40 women, across different locations in Chennai such as Thiruvanmiyur, Royapuram and Pazhaverkadu. These women belong to the age group 20 years to 40 years.

The community at Thiruvanmiyur (Identified by The TamilNadu Women’s Collective) has been trained on various skills such as candle making, embroidery and artificial flower making. They have also been trained on soft skills such as team building and entrepreneurial skills. The products done by them were also displayed for sale in one of the college festivals. It is to be noted here is that, these women have also been given certificates for undergoing the training program. This authenticity will help them get a loan in future.

The community at Royapuram and Pazhaverkadu are involved in the making of office stationery items (such as notepads, files, pen stands etc, as shown in the picture) made of eco friendly materials such as recycled paper. These women are paid Rs.15 per hour as labour charges for the work they do. The sale proceeds from the products are ploughed back into the business again.

The sife team has been helping the community in active selling by displaying the products in a lot of college fests. From the last week of February till date, the sales proceeds has reached Rs.38,000. The Sife team also helped the community get bulk orders from colleges and corporates.

As a future course of action, the MSSW-SIFE team is currently involved in active branding for the products and in the process, also preparing a product catalogue that could be used by the community representatives on their sales front, for marketing and publicity purposes.

Apart from Project Vidiyal, the team is also involved in the active monitoring of their last year’s sustainable venture, “Project Suyam”. This project focusing on the farming community, is now supporting around 50 families. The project, on one hand, targets a community in Tamabram, involving the cultivation of Vincea Rosea, a drug that is widely used for Cancer treatment. On the other hand, the venture also extends to the outskirts of the city in Melmaruvathur where various leguminous crops such as groundnuts are also being cultivated. These are regularly put through crop rotation to ensure the fertility of the soil. The team proudly conveys that this project has already become sustainable and is continuing to be run in association with Mr. P.S Nathan, Farm Director, Apoorva Farms, Kayapakkam, Kanchipuram Dist, TamilNadu