Sunday, December 18, 2011

Inspired by Chetan Bhagat

Chetan wrote in TOI today about 'Nerds' and coined a term 'Lerds' for fellow men who study arts, liberal or literal. He beautifully wrote about the real Nerds or absolute nerds, who are devoted to learning and pursue it for it's scientific justifications. Many a times so logically correct that it leads to another set of formula, that gives birth to next set of mathematical equations for arriving at another seminal theory and then lots of nerds follow it at IIScs, IITs, MITs of the world. When as a common man I visit science exhibitions or science centres, I am amused to see lots of abstract products, projects, modules on the table in the form of 'Prototypes' that will reinvent the way, we stored grains at FCI godowns, with 50% less airconditioning cost to generating electricity with Garbage (read rich garbage, that may require some import custom duty exemption and excise subsidy). I am really thankful to the nerds, who gave us $50 tablet PC (Aakash by Datawind, Canada) or $15 water filter (Unilever) that even our Bolangir and Palamu district brothers could afford through subsidised PDS. A nerd changing option from potable water of lerds to safe water,to the bottom rung of our society. We need more and more such Nerds who help us get over the hurdles, approaching a solution, less obvious and seemingly impossible. They take the challenge on their own or together with their closely-held group of nerds, who collaborate with odds and even and also manage strings of bureaucracy created by Lerds who build policies which still reminds us British Raj. Our Indian Contract Act is 1872 and IPC 1860 and we made 94 Amendments to our Constitution. Great job lerds, now we know while lerds are experts or workaround, Nerds come up with Innovation.

Mix of Nerds and Lerds are required to take an objective view out of subjective framework to arrive at solution using the application focus and keeping pontification at bay. For pontification, Lerds can save energy and inertia to deliver at TV talk shows, debates, seminars, etc.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Why this bond?

I am really pained to see independent India still stinking of slavery. The bond, the bonded, the indentured labourers, the cyber-coolies and all that we have heard and accepted for the sake of a JOB. The end result at the end of the month is salary.

I am unable to understand, why we are allowing companies to use this shackles of slavery. Is there no PIL in the court of law questioning this? Most of the fresher students are forced to sign the bond for 2 years or more for as disproportionate amount as 2 lacs, 3 lacs, while they are paid 2 or 3 lacs a year.

Has anyone thought, for any such reasons, if one has to break the bond within 1 year, will with inflated economy a new employee will have 2 or 3 lacs to payback? Will any bank give you loan to repay this burden?
Does your employer pay you 2 or 3 lacs when you served the bond period?
How come in Independent and free India, we have allowed companies to serve us with this INJUSTICE?

Why colleges do not question this when they allow for campus interviews? Why parents do not raise a voice against this draconian practice?

As if education loan repayment was less @12% interest, that you run the risk of paying a bond back if is you want to walk-out one day from the company, for reasons as valid.

Though we all know these bonds are illegal and do not stand any jurisprudence, we have allowed it to flourish like, slavery, dowry, sati-pratha, female infanticide, bride burning.

I see this bond as CHILD-ABUSE!

Help me stop this. Campaign for it and ban all such companies from campus hiring!
You are precious, company needs you as much as you need the job.

Save your soul, save your pride!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Great, Good and Gone

A few days back, Times of India, Bangalore edition reported, Britannia firing 40 employees in one-go while following thier new "Mantra"

Jim Colins mentioned in his book Good to Great, that, "Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice.”

What such decisions, as one taken by Britannia, entail that Level 5 leadership instinct came to play.

What is level 5 ledership is not style but a phenomena. Welcome move Britannia, well done!



Creates superb results, a clear catalyst in the transition from good to great.
Demonstrates an unwavering resolve to do whatever must be done to produce the best long-term results, no matter how difficult.
Sets the standard of building an enduring great company; will settle for nothing less.
Looks in the mirror, not out the window, to apportion responsibility for poor results, never blaming other people, external factors, or bad luck.


Demonstrates a compelling modesty, shunning public adulation; never boastful.
Acts with quiet, calm determination; relies principally on inspired standards, not inspiring charisma, to motivate.
Channels ambition into the company, not the self; sets up successors for even greater success in the next generation.
Looks out the window, not in the mirror, to apportion credit for the success of the company—to other people, external factors, and good luck.

The only way to deliver to the people who are achieving is to not burden them with the people who are not achieving.  

Practical principles:

1. When in doubt don’t hire, keep looking.

2. When you know you need to make a people change, act.

3. Put your best people on your biggest opportunities, not on your biggest problems.

Creating a climate where truth is heard:

1. Lead with questions, not answers.
2. Engage in dialogue and debate, not coercion.
3. Conduct autopsies, without blame.
4. Build “red flag” mechanisms.

Manager’s self assessment Toolkit




Name: ______________________________________

Date: ______________________________________

Purpose: This Self-Assessment Inventory outlines the major areas of competence an effective supervisor must have. The competency areas are sub-divided into categories which correspond to the major functions supervisors perform.

This Inventory can also be used as a guide to curriculum development for Supervisory Training, using the components as the basis for a needs assessment exercise.

Note: The scale below does not represent a test. There is no formal scoring involved.

To assess yourself using this form, put the number corresponding to your level of competence (as indicated on the scale below) in the appropriate column next to each competency listed.

Scale: 4 = Very competent (capable of performing and practice this function regularly)

3 = Competent (capable of performing but don’t practice this function regularly)

2 = Competency needs improvement (little experience performing)

1 = No competency (no experience)

Area of Competency

I. Gain Acceptance as a Supervisor: You must gain the respect of your work group in order to be a successful supervisor.

1. Know the educational and professional background and interests of the people you supervise

2. Communicate your background, philosophy, and general expectations about performance to staff

3. Listen, be open to the concerns of people

4. Know the job descriptions and work plans of staff members

5. Communicate the organizational and unit goals with people you supervise

6. Regularly communicate relevant information from upper management

7. Advocate for your staff if appropriate (e.g., appropriate salaries, resources, training opportunities)

8. Actively attempt to solve problems

9. Treat people fairly and consistently

10. Respect staff and their contributions

Reflections on Part I:

II. Develop Individual Employee Work Plans: Meeting with each individual you supervise to jointly develop his or her performance objectives for a specified period of time such as 6 or 12 months.

1. Meet with each person you supervise to develop a work plan

2. Review their job description and update if necessary

3. Agree on the employee’s major areas of responsibility (e.g., financial management, program coordination)

4. Jointly develop work objectives for a specified period of time that are specific, realistic, measurable, and time bound

5. Agree on performance standards with the employee such as quantity, quality, timeliness, and/or cost, related to accomplishing work objectives

6. Provide adequate resources, according to your ability, for person to succeed

Reflections on Part II:

III. Maintain High Level of Performance: Strategies you use on a regular basis to motivate employees to achieve their best work every day.

1. Publicly acknowledge individual accomplishments

2. Talk informally with staff on a routine basis

3. Take staff ideas, suggestions, and wishes into account whenever possible

4. Provide opportunities for challenging assignments

5. Pass on reports of “good work” to the higher levels in the organization

6. Provide opportunities for training when this is appropriate to the goals of individuals and the organization

7. Invite people to submit agenda items for formal meetings

8. Promote opportunities for staff learning and career advancement

Reflections on Part III:

IV. Conduct Formal Performance Review Meetings: Meet with each staff member on a scheduled basis, generally every 6 months, to review their work plan and assess their performance.

1. Establish a schedule for performance reviews

2. Arrange for time and location, notify employee

3. Control interruptions

4. Review employee’s work plan in advance

5. Discuss employee’s performance with other managers if relevant

6. At meeting, jointly review with employee their work plan and progress

7. Provide positive and constructive feedback, negative if necessary

8. Jointly develop work plan for next designated time period

9. Jointly develop an action plan for any education, training, or in-service activities for employee

10. Incorporate the employee’s comments into the performance review

Reflections on Part IV:

V. Dealing with Performance Problems: Being a supervisor means dealing with performance problems and in some cases, disciplinary action or discharge.

1. Describe the problem objectively in terms of work consequences

2. Don’t assign blame for the problem

3. Know who else may be involved

4. Review job descriptions and specific tasks/instructions with employee(s) to clarify expectations as soon as possible

5. Diagnose all possible causes by collecting objective information

6. Assess whether additional training may be needed for skill deficiency

7. Assess other causes, e.g., personal problems, lack of challenge

8. Establish action plan jointly to solve problem

9. Give close supervision for a specified period known by the supervisee

10. Understand your organization’s procedures for taking formal corrective action, e.g., documentation, discipline, layoff, discharge

11. Consult with your manager, presenting a detailed and documented description of the problem

12. Take action, if required, to dismiss and replace the employee

Reflections on Part V:

VI. Managing Conflict Between Employees: This is often one of the most difficult areas for supervisors to deal with.

1. Keep an open mind about the problem and the causes

2. Interview each person separately

3. Concentrate on the fact, not personalities

4. Ask each individual for advice on how the problem can be resolved

5. Encourage reconciliation if agreement can be reached

6. If no agreement, establish ground rules for future behavior, roles

7. Emphasize benefits of cooperation and the consequences of none

8. Establish and inform employees of procedures for any further grievances

Reflections on Part VI:

Area of Competency

VII. Counseling a Troubled Employee: People sometimes need special assistance in dealing with a particular difficulty/life crisis.

1. Offer assistance when known problems interfere with job performance

2. Listen, guide, encourage employee to solve his/her own problems

3. Let employee express him/herself

4. Assure employee of privacy and confidentiality, but also adhere to the established employee policies in your organization

5. Provide flexibility, support for work as much as you can reasonably do

6. Refer to outside resource, such as rehabilitation services for substance abuse, if appropriate

Reflections on Part VII:

VIII. Time Management: A common complaint among supervisors is that there is not enough time to perform the supervisory function adequately.

1. Prioritize your own work responsibilities, review task list periodically

2. Plan your daily, weekly, monthly schedule to allow time for the most important tasks, group similar tasks together as much as possible

3. Allow time for unexpected demands

4. Allocate time for creative, project development work and not only to respond to crisis

5. Schedule time for your own learning and professional development

6. Delegate tasks wherever possible

8. Discourage unnecessary interruptions

9. Ask your supervisor for advice when you have too much work and no one to delegate to

Reflections on Part VIII:


Based on the above, complete the following and develop a self-improvement plan. Your plan may include a request for formal training, increased meetings with a supervisor to analyze issues and improve diagnostic skills, team meetings with other supervisors to discuss common issues, and/or a renewed approach to daily supervisory practice.

1. My strengths as a supervisor:

2. Areas where I need improvement:

3. My individual objectives for the next 6 months:

4. My plan to achieve objectives:

Saturday, December 3, 2011

WHY THIS 'ZILLA veri di? SiliconIndia Strategic HR Summit, Bangalore: the heinous bias!

WHY THIS 'ZILLA veri di? SiliconIndia Strategic HR Summit, Bangalore, Dec 1, 2011

I attended SiliconIndia's Strategic HR session at Bangalore in 2011 on Dec 1.
Sessions were very average and dull and boring. No excitement. No flavor of leadership or passion of an HR evangelist, so to say.
There were many panel discussions and some solo presentations by tired (read re-tired) HR folks, who are at the top of HR hierarchy in their organisations.

Read my observations--



With due respects to all communities, including mine, if I have one. Yet to figure out as I am so shocked. Unfortunate reality of modern day corporate India! They were presenting at the summit.

A Malayali dominated company has a Malayali HR head
A Tamil dominated company has a Tamil HR head
A Bengali dominated company has a Bengali HR head
A UP/North Indian dominated  company has UP/North Indian HR head
A Telugu dominated company has a Telugu HR head
A Kannadiga dominated company has a Kannadiga HR head
A Marathi dominated company has a Marathi HR head

SiliconIndia can give you names if you approach them.

Is this just a coincidence or a purposefully designed linguistic/regional colonialism? Shamefully prejudicial and biased.
Surprisingly all these companies claim global outlook, global clients and " an equal opportunity employer" tag like EC for European Compliant.

You will wonder, why do I say, it is a Bengali company or a Malayali company?

I say it as it's MD/CEO/India Head/Founder is a Bengali or Malayali or majority of top management is having such affiliation, affection or infection. Who says, culture is not injected? Bad cultures are certainly injected!


In the audience, there was a serious dearth of senior HR folks and especially large companies abstain from such low profile summits. They just come to present there but do not send their HR teams to attend them. Hypocrisy!

Are these HR heads who present at these summits not just publicity hungry? Do they not keep such summits only for themselves and not for their teams? Is this not a bourgeois and colonial mind set?


All these HR heads, talk through their presentations, what is their co's best practice or policy as far as topic is concerned and keep justifying it. While the expectations are that, they talk about what are the leading practices in the industry and how they are trying to emulate them and what challenges they face while trying to do so. What they present through slides could be done by any Senior HR exec. It does not require a Head HR if it is just a sales pitch.


A new bunch of HR heads, particularly the women folk have exhibited very different characters. I define them as WORKING HOUSEWIVES! 

1. While presenting, One Head HR gives examples of her son when she talks about 'connecting' aspect in developing leaders. A few mins later she gives example of her 4 year old daughter, when she talks about 'contacts'. I believe these housewife HR heads have a serious job at home than at work.

2.Another HR lady head comes very close to be called a 'Drama Queen' while inflating simple facts as too dramatic and subtly positioning herself as a Game changer in some strategic decisions that their company management took in sending one cocooned R&D Manager for 3 months sabbatical and other newly hired Sales honcho to 3 months in Europe to know business closely.
Are these not very obvious and routine steps that senior management of a company will take when they position a person for a global role. Best aspect is that the lady HR head dramatized these action items in super-similar EKTA KAPOOR Soaps. I believe these housewife HR heads can be better used for TV serial script writing rather than strategy formulations for companies.

2. One more lady HR Head appears more like a business or operations person PASTED into HR role and for her every basic level HR experiences and surprises that she faces today and shared at hiring and managing attrition, seem like she holds better secrets than Julian Asange's wiki leaks. With these kind of pasted HR leaders, it is a struggle of not resolving critical HR issues but in packaging and presenting the basic HR issue findings for top management. Leave HR to HR experts, don't experiment with non-HR trade people. HR has more important tasks at hand today than helping someone establish as an HR leader who just has facade that gets uncovered so often. 


A company who had their HR head presenting at a panel discussion has a Ph.D from XLRI and throughout the discussion he talked about how he brought Dave Ulrich to his office for "free". His comment on Kasturirangan was uncalled for as he tried questioning matters of personal religious faith in PUBLIC. Not worthy of a Ph.D, if not s an HR leader. I saw the risk of hiring a Ph.D for HR leader role as it is a great fix for them to talk simple versus talk big names and big books. At the end of such presentations it looks like yet another session at Aastha channel, a PRAVACHAN session. Please talk facts and we do not need you as poster boys of HR, you have to be a solution guy for fundamental HR issues and just not keep projecting that you have a Ph.D and so we all acknowledge it and do a SHASTAANG DANDWAT Sir.

Over all an eye opener (read shocking) day!

Learning that I got? You are kidding me!

Why people block you on LinkedIn?