January 31, 2010

Employee Engagement- A few lessons....

The topic 'employee engagement' always excites me. I have written about it in the past too. But I had some very keen observations about the topic in NHRDN Chennai chapter meeting last week.

The speakers were fantastic; Mr Gurmeet Singh, Marriott, Area Director of Human Resources – India, Maldives & Pakistan and Ms Githanjali Panikkar,Research Director , Corporate Executive Board's (CEB) Human Resources Practice along with her colleague [Really Sorry !!! I can't recall the gentleman's name].

Mr Gurmeet Singh focussed on how the Generation Y is increasingly becoming socially aware, having preference towards leadership and getting inclined towards social connectivity. Recognizing these aspects of the Gen Y which constitutes a major bulk of workforce in any industry is extremely important while implementing engagement activities.

I was already aware of the Marriott's engagement activities as I was an HR intern in Courtyard by Marriott, Chennai. It was a phenomenal experience in all aspects. One of the key observation which I had made during my internship was the direct [and delightful] correlation between guest experience and associate experience. For example: the front office team focuses on check in and similarly, the HR team takes a lot of care in giving the appointment letter to their new joinees. The new joinees are encouraged to take pics of their accommodation and the pics are e-mailed to their parents so that they are aware [and happy] about their kid's accommodation.

Similarly, the kitchen team is passionately involved in preparing great food for their guests and the HR team ensures that there is great food in the associate cafeteria. They serve their internal customers with the same intensity [or maybe more] than the external customers.

Also the fact that some of their HR practices are inspired from other companies and industries speak volumes about the way they embrace learning from other companies too.

A video was played on the fun and frolic culture in Marriott where the Genaral Manager danced with equal enthusiasm as others. The passion and energy was also evident in Mr Gurmeet Singh's presentation.

The team from Corporate Executive Board provided a very interesting perspective on employee engagement. Some of the major learning from the presentation based on a research done by CEB were as follows:

  • The percentage of companies planning to conduct an engagement survey in 2009 were 67% only.
  • The economic slowdown has led to an alarming drop in engagement among critical segments of employees such as leaders and high potential employees.
  • There are two types of commitment namely 'Rational Commitment' and 'Emotional Commitment' , the output of which are 'Discretionary effort'[employee willingness to go "above and beyond the call of duty] and 'Intent to stay'.
  • 6 groups of employee engagement drivers are Senior Leaders, Organization Culture, Direct Managers[a lot of emphasis was given on this point during the presentation] , Corporate Integrity Code, Compensation and benefit plans, Training and development.
  • 10.6.2 theory: With a 10 % increase in employee engagement there is a 6% increase in discretionary effort and 2 % increase in performance.
  • 10.9 theory: With 10 % increase in commitment there is 9 % decrease in him leaving his company.
  • What individual companies do for their employees matter a lot more than demographics in case of employee engagement.
I also strongly recommend everyone to visit their website. Happy reading!!!!

January 27, 2010

Sensational Samson- An auto driver & marketing genius

Aamir Khan is respected for his acting skills as well as marketing skills. The way he marketed his movies like 3 idiots and Ghajni is a topic of intense brain storming in top business schools.

Yet many might complain that bollywood examples are becoming too common.

Stop complaining!!!!

If you are bored of hearing about Aamir's marketing skills then you need to meet Samson. Mr Sensational Samson is an auto driver according to his website.

Being in Chennai my encounter with auto drivers have not been delightful but this virtual encounter with Mr Samson and his friends is extremely delightful.

In times when even companies feel apprehensive to launch a website, Mr Samson has embraced webspace for great business advantage.

Following are the few lessons which we can learn from Mr Sensational Samson

  • No matter what is your job, marketing it with passion is worth it.
  • Market intelligently: Samson is intelligent enough to introduce Chennai and it's attractions in the website which is bound to create greater interest in his customers as his passion for the city reflects here.
  • Know your customers well: Samson knows his target customers [foreigners] and their preferences really well . His great knowledge about the city helps him further.
  • Monetize your idea: He has a special provision for advertisements too. He has collaborated with a webmaster for the purpose.
  • Acknowledge your friends: Samson is sweet and sensitive enough to have a special page to introduce his friends.
  • Patience and perseverance: He has been driving auto since 1992. So along with passion, one also needs patience and perseverance.
  • The most special lesson one can learn from him is that everyone has the right and the capacity to make his job extra special.
Hats off to Mr Sensational Samson.

Bye guys!!! I gotta catch the auto. Wish me a great auto ride :-)

January 26, 2010

The train journey-A short story

A local train journey was not new to him. It was an integral part of his growing up years in college. Relishing the extra sweet tea served in mud cups, savoring the local sweets and namkeen, singing in train were part of those journeys back then. However, the most memorable part were those short lived relationships which used to get build with strangers during the journey. The conversation, the laughter and the occasional remorse which used to foster through the journey was remarkable.

It was 20 years since he had stepped into a local train to meet his revered professor in college. He was keenly looking forward to meet his favorite professor with whom he had lost touch completely. A deep sense of guilt infused inside him.

In all these years he had earned all the good things life could have possibly offered him including a splendid car. But he chose the train to relive a few old moments.

The crowd seemed busy and occupied. Some occupied with reading the newspaper, some busy with the cell phone, some with their music gadgets and quite a few in their thoughts.

A lot had changed since then.

But the beggars were still at large. He found a rare innocence in them. They were still comfortable forsaking their ego and asking for a few pennies as they used to many years back.

He wondered " It's the desire to get more that evolves a person".

A lot had evolved since those early years. Most of it was undesirable according to him. However, what remained static did make him feel nostalgic but saddened him equally.

He was not complaining. He was simply awed by the obvious revelation.

He was missing the companionship of his friends as the crowd appeared indifferent.

Ticket collector had appeared by then and he realized that he did not buy the ticket. He was worried about the possible embarassment of shelling out a fine in the midst of a crowd. Wearing an expensive suit and yet not buying a train ticket would be very embarrassing.

Collector said " Dada ticket please".

He struggled to find an appropriate response. A perplexed look was evident on his face. The ticket collector repeated his words. Now in a more stern voice. Indeed a lot had not changed he thought.

The blind passenger next to him took out a ticket and offered it to the ticket collector.

The ticket collector left the compartment.

He was now inquisitive about the generosity showed by the blind person next to him. He told him "Dada thanks a lot". The blind man replied " Pleasure is entirely mine. My daughter could not accompany me in the last minute and I had a spare ticket for the entire route."

He further inquired " What do you do Sir?" The blind man replied " I am a professor in the city college".

The station had arrived and the professor left in a hurry from the train.

January 21, 2010

Toolkit for honing your 'NI-Networking Intelligence'

I hope you all read my earlier post on 'Networking Intelligence'.

This post is an innocent attempt to focus on what's the tool kit required for high 'Networking Intelligence' .

Here it follows:

  1. Be open minded.
  2. Focus on sustaining relationships rather than building relationships.
  3. Be genuinely generous in providing help to others.
  4. Seek help from anyone you feel like and be grateful for their kindness.
  5. Embrace all forms of technology for networking.
  6. Be a keen observer of activities in your domain and beyond ;-)
  7. Be a life long learner. It humbles you and helps you to stay connected.
  8. Be genuinely interested in PIT-People,Ideas,Technology.
  9. A good sense of humour helps.
  10. Most importantly ask yourself why you want to network and how it will help you.

Hope this helps ;-)

January 18, 2010

An interesting categorization of employees inspired from Ramayana...

According to an article in the recent Business Today's 18th Anniversary issue, Kishore Biyani, MD, Pantaloon Retail (India) elicits an interesting categorization of employees based on Ramayana inspired characters.

Here it follows:

  1. Rama: Employees who follow the company rules.
  2. Krishnas: They are the ones who do not follow all the rules, but work in the interest of the company.
  3. Ravanas: They are those who have their own rules and follow them.
  4. Duryodhanas: They have no rules and follow none.
So you fall under which category?????

January 11, 2010

Should business speak HR's language or HR should speak business's language????

Language unites and it divides too. Some languages are known for it's commercial value...some for it's melody...some for it's lucidness...yet some for it's snobbishness....

Yet multiple languages are embraced by individuals for their respective purposes. Sometimes we get accustomed to a language in a subconscious manner because of the strong ethos around us.

Similarly, in business too, there are often varied languages existing which we are supposed to understand, analyze and synthesize.

I hope my readers must have figured out by now that I am not talking about the different national or regional languages spoken in a workplace. But this refers to the different domain languages through which all of us communicate [at times struggle to communicate].

Namely the HR language, finance language, marketing language, operations language and the list goes on......

But this post is about HR language versus the business language.

So the first effort should be to recognize the business language.

Does business language refer to HR language or sales language or operations language or some other language???????

I am sure all of you feel that the question itself is flawed. It is flawed because it divides the business unnecessarily.

The language of business is a confluence of all the languages in business that is communicated to create business value. It's a symphony.

We have to understand this fundamental aspect of business. So whether it's HR or marketing or operations, it must speak it's own voice with the purpose of collaborating. This collaboration will culminate into the language of business.

So need I say more as to who has to speak who's language??????

January 6, 2010

Networking Intelligence!!!!

We have witnessed various forms of intelligence gaining wide acceptability. Who can ever forget the immense focus on emotional intelligence followed by spiritual intelligence in the past decade. This led to some genuine consideration of such types of intelligence being used for gauging personalities and even being used while hiring and appraisals.

However, in many instances it was merely romanticized and was not leveraged upto it's fullest capacity.

Anyways the classification did help by making us more open minded in our pursuits. Hence inviting better possibilities.

Considering the fact that networking has now evolved further because of linkedin, facebook, twitter etc; there is a need to recognize 'Networking Intelligence' in an exclusive manner.

In my own words I would define 'Networking Intelligence' as the form of intelligence that would aid the individual to get connected with people and get benefited in a symbiotic manner'.

This is not only keeping the sky rocketing popularity of social network sites or blogs in mind but even the old world networking that is as relevant today as ever.

How we network in present and in future will decide a lot about our possibilities and hence opportunities and even success. Let's keep in mind that success stems from opportunities and opportunities are created often by people.

Our networking intelligence will determine whether we will be at the right time meeting the right people to collaborate towards mutual success. One of those major networking grounds would be the web space.

More about 'Networking Intelligence' later.

January 4, 2010

Got quoted in Indian Express for my views on the Ruchika Case.

I got quoted in the Indian Express for my views on Ruchika Case. The views are candid and I am sure many of you feel the same. Click this link for the e-paper version.

January 3, 2010

Performance Up-Raise-All :-)

It's performance appraisal time for one of my friend, who is not only getting appraised by his superiors but is also in the process of appraising his juniors [First performance appraisal after getting promoted from entry level]

It's that point of the professional life which helps the person to become more objective about the Performance Appraisal process.

He either does his sincere bit to do justice to the process by exercising his work ethics & performance orientation or he might just get swayed along by the bureaucracy and politics already plagued in the process.

It's that point of time when a senior associate like my friend wants to raise his voice against an obnoxious bell curve system in the company which neither makes sense to a wise old man or a kindergarten kid but makes sense to quite a few. The purpose of a performance appraisal is to recognize the employee's present level of performance & help them to raise their performance level and not raise their level of frustration.

Of course!!! any performance appraisal would create demarcation. It is right to do so as it even happens in a kindergarten school too.

But it lacks logic when someone assumes the demarcation even before the performance appraisal takes place or actually even before the performance itself takes place.

Who would be the least performing 10% players from the T-20 World Cup Winning Indian Team in 2007???? Who would be the 10% least performing Army Jawans who won the Kargil War for us????

Whenever any team wins a great cause, it's the entire team performing. Each one playing their significant part with aplomb.

If your company creates demarcation before the performance itself then either there is something wrong with the company's purpose or it's people. The demarcation will not help.

It's that point of time when you either genuinely align your company's purpose with the associate's performance or hope that someday the company will rise from it's ashes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

January 2, 2010

An innocent yet useful analogy for HR folks...

I love the relationship between analogies and HR. It makes the process of understanding HR concepts more interesting and relevant. However, many might feel a tinge of insouciance associated with them.

I belong to the former school of thought.

Consider this quote:

"Marriage is the chief cause for divorce"

The quote is funny and even though it might be seemingly impractical, it is the 'truth'. No one can refute the aptness of the quote.

Let's consider it from HR context now.

" Recruitment is the chief cause for attrition"

The effect is similar here too. It is funny and even though it might be seemingly impractical, it is the 'truth'.

Many might laugh it off. Well!!! let's laugh but also learn along the way.

Such a simple analogy can infuse a greater thought process and sincerity in the execution process of recruitment.

Happy New Year!!! Keep laughing!!!!!