Sunday, February 24, 2013

Maslow and the movie 'Hierankl'

'The three most important questions', begins the 2003 German film 'Hierankl', are: Are you having sex? Do you have a family? Are you intellectually stimulated? Scoring three yeses is paradise, two yeses is what you need to be happy, and one yes is what you need to survive. The film is bad but the questions, it asks are good.

Out of the three questions that stimulate most are the first and the third one.
question is what do you mean by having sex? Maslow did talk about it 1943 paper "A Theory of Human Motivation, at the bottom of the pyramid, the physiological needs are food, water, air, sex, etc . .  'Hierankl' talks about it in 2003 and still has validity to it. Maslow used the terms Physiological, Safety, Belongingness and Love, Esteem, Self-Actualization and Self-Transcendence. At level of love, which is third from the bottom, he talks about sexual intimacy. But Hierankl talks bout sex with or without family, which means, sex that he is talking about is at the physiological level of Maslow. But when we answer both yeses for first and second questions of Hierankl, it would mean, you are having sex and have a family as well and most likely, you are having sex with your partner.

Second question of Hierankl is again the level 3 question of Maslow's , i.e. belongingness and love, which means,  a settled and happy life with lots of life support, fun and love. 
Hirerankl's third question, "are you intellectually stimulated?" is about the 4th stage, i.e, the stage above Belonginingness and Love.

Hierankl did not as any further questions, they knew that next level question will fall into the level of Self-Actualization and Self-Transcendence and Hierankl is not about people, "been there, done that" and now searching for the purpose of life!

I read somewhere, that, "Rule of thumb for the Western world: the things that we desire the most are the things that we need the least".
Tell me, if you desire money, power, Popularity and sex, why would you not need them or need them the least? 
Yes, perhaps not, when we have got all that and now feel, I do not need it for any such reason.

I read sometime back, "Experience is the name everyone gives to his mistakes. Oscar Wilde."
This really appealed to me the great way. Not sure why but it says, mistakes are something that teaches you the most! If yes, then why be afraid of mistakes. Commit it and have as much experience as you can. But who knows, what we commit as mistakes may not be mistakes for you may not be caught or face any consequence. Learning comes from facing the consequence. 

Budget 2013 and taxes

Every Sunday, I gorge into the Times of India, newspaper articles on the editorial page. I have my favorites like Gurucharan Das and Swaminathan A Iyer.

Excellent aspects into GD's article...

India's growth has plunged from almost 9 per cent to 5 per cent. One percentage point of GDP growth means roughly 15 lakh jobs; each direct job creates three indirect jobs; and each job supports a family of five. If you do the arithmetic, Madam, you will find that a four percentage point drop in GDP has brought pain and suffering to around 12,00,00,000 Indians. 

12 Cr. jobs vanished? and you can imagine the pulling-down effect it will have on consumption and thus on revenue and thus on GDP. Seems like a vicious cycle.
So, the 4 percent point growth rate dipped is due to NDA's stable government of 9 years? PM, Manmohan Singh's charismatic leadership and expertise in Macro-economics?

A recent study by Ejaz Ghani and others for the World Bank shows that the highways built or upgraded by the Golden Quadrilateral (GQ) have brought enormous gains in new manufacturing activity, jobs and productivity within ten km of the new highways.

This development though is self-evolutionary and not so much planned and induced by state and central govt initiatives of development. Certainly adds lots of direct and indirect employment and alleviates poverty. Makes society self-sustainable. Cash crops, dairy, poultry and other cash generating business develops around the GQ.

And you will see this development, when you drive across the Golden Quadrilateral.

Out of Swaminomics, interesting insights are---

Both George W Bush and Obama have greatly increased health entitlements. So, total US spending on three items — Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid (for the poor) — is projected to skyrocket from around 8 per cent of GDP today to 18 per cent by 2025. This is the crisis Obama has to tackle. 

 Recall Chidambaram’s vision in his so-called dream budget of 1997. He said India should aim over time to align its tax rates with those in ASEAN countries. These were fellow-developing countries that had achieved miracle growth of 7 per cent for decades, and hence clearly had tax systems worth replicating. They were also competitors of India in export markets, so in a globalising world India needed to ensure its tax regime was competitive with ASEAN’s. 
    Singapore, the biggest ASEAN success, has a top income tax rate of 20 per cent (including dividends) and corporate tax rate of 17 per cent.

 Thousands of Americans (including Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin) have migrated to Singapore and other tax-friendly places to avoid rising US taxes. 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Appreciative Inquiry (AI): David Cooperrider

Following the strengths-based leadership philosophy of Peter Drucker, Appreciative Inquiry says “the essential task of leadership is to create an alignment of strengths in ways that make a systems’ weaknesses irrelevant.” It says that managing and leading change is ALL about strengths: elevating strengths, magnifying strengths, and creating new combinations and chemistries of strengths in ways that propel innovation.
Appreciative Inquiry—or “AI” for short-- has two radical but exciting premises. First, is says forget everything you learned in change management 101—organizations are not problems-to be-solved—and that all the deficit based change methods, from gap analysis to organizational diagnosis, are in fact creating an exhausting treadmill and barrier to real innovation. Appreciative inquiry turns the problem-solving habits of the field on their head, and shows that change is more powerful, energizing, and effective when we inquire into the true, the good, the better and the possible—everything that gives life to a system when is most alive and at its exceptional best. Do you really think one more survey into low morale is going to generate the energy and new vision of a company filled with people alive with passion and high commitment? AI theory says no: all the studies in the world of low morale will not tell us one thing about “high commitment work systems.” If we want to know how to create a high commitment work system we would be better off doing 100 interviews—a real study—of “high point moments” in people’s career in the organization, times when they were most committed and alive in their work and when they were going way beyond their job descriptions. So AI is about the discovery of life generating strengths and instead of SWOT it is built on an analytic model called SOAR, that is, the systematic study of signature strengths, opportunities, aspirations, and results.


People often reveal their character in their approach to discussions. Four basic types can be identified, according to how people react to suggestions:

The Fault-finder: "The idea is good but...
The dictator: "No".
The school teacher: "No, the idea isn't good because..
The AI thinker: "Yes, and we could also..

Saturday, February 16, 2013

"Built to Last" and "Built to be Sold" Companies

Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies is a book written by Jim Collins and Jerry I. Porras on October 26, 1994. While there are companies that are built to last, there are numerous examples of companies, which are built to be sold. Heard of term called Serial Entrepreneur? They build companies fast, take it a level of being lucrative for some or many and then get it sold. Not sure, how does it work?

I read a few days back in Deccan Herald (precisely Feb 6, 2013) that travel services firm Thomas Cook (India) inked a pact to acquire 74 per cent stake in Ikya Human Capital Solutions in a deal valued at Rs 256 crore. Which is $47.14 million. IKYA was started in 2007 and they celebrated 5 years in 2012. Effectively, it took IKYA 5 years to be sold 74% at ~USD 50 Mn. Great value created by Ajit Issac, the CEO of IKYA.
AZB & Partners advised British travel major Thomas Cook’s erstwhile Indian subsidiary in buying a 74 per cent stake in upcoming Indian staffing company Ikya Human Capital Solutions for Rs 256 crore ($47.6m). Ikya was advised by Amarchand Mangaldas.

AZB & Partners Mumbai partner Ashwin Ramanathan with senior associates Nandish Vyas and Bhavi Sanghvi acted for Thomas Cook (India) and Canadian investment company Fairbridge Capital which had acquired the Indian subsidiary from the UK’s Thomas Cook PLC in May last year.

This, according to the Economic Times, was Fairbridge’s first acquisition after the Thomas Cook buy.
Amarchand Mangaldas Bangalore partner Reeba Chacko with principal associate Akshay Bhat acted for Ikya.

9 years back Ajit was the CEO of PeopleOne Consulting and in 2004, they sold 67% stake to Adecco SA, Switzerland based firm, for undiclosed amount. Remember PeopleOne had reported revenue of USD 6 mn in 2003-04. PeopleOne was started in year 2000.

Both PeopleOne and IKYA Human Capital Solutions have same business and services.
Interestingly, it appears that , it was actually built once and sold twice!
Not sure what value does Thomas Cook, a travel company sees in a Staffing company. Any guesses?

What Mr.Menon, MD of Thomas Cook India says is worth listening to. Here he what he says,

"...Ikya's wide range of HR services and sterling reputation, offer us a wonderful opportunity to extend the bouquet of travel, financial and HR services we offer to corporates across India," Thomas Cook (India) Managing Director Madhavan Menon said.

Not sure, if you are convinced but he has his own way of looking at this investment!
Not sure, how the 2004 deal worked out for Adecco?

And now, listen to what Ajit Issac, the CEO of IKYA says about this deal,

Ikya CEO Ajit Issac said the company was born with a vision to be the leading player in human resources across the emerging global markets.

"This strategic partnership with Thomas Cook (India) and in turn their promoters at Fairfax Financial offers Ikya a platform to enable us to realise this vision sooner," he added.

For some more details, you may refer to links below-

Friday, February 15, 2013

“Sense of worth” before “Sense of growth”

Thinking of retention risks?  Focus on people finding their “sense of worth” before giving them, the  “sense of growth”

Retention is an issue that haunts HR folks much more than any other evil. Reasons are galore. What make people think of moving out?.One is "urge to get out of here" and the other could be "to get in there". Though it is just a trigger.

Someone's loss is someone's gain. The devil emerges, many a times, when a team becomes dysfunctional for any reason, from losing a juicy project to a enter of a dictatorial manager to the poor performance review. Quite often, the reasons for people choosing to move out are sectoral technology change, seasonal recessionary trends, making business sick and people have no clue on when company returns to pink. 
Let others, not just HR folks, do the thinking and build a robust plan to retain the stars (A player) and others, respectfully called B players, as they hold the organization with their consistent performance and lesser threatening demands than the A players.

Retention is a strategic game as it aims at averting the "War for talents" scenario. 
Skill/Capability building takes much longer than buying it. Money makes the move. Fancy and high sounding Titles, ESOPs, On-site 5 star training, Outside India office training/orientation and hefty sign-on bonus play a deal-maker. Here we have the capitalist mind-set, which boasts, 'WHO PAYS WINS' and rest of the lot say, let's re-build our long-term strategic retention rod-map. The war has begun.

Surprisingly, while building war strategy to protect business, we often ignore what we are made of is just not people, who are bought and sold, we have people, who keep searching their 'sense of worth', much more valuable than the "market-rate" and RFP Jewellery!

Let's start talking to people heart-to-heart and you will find them having all the solutions that can make you think beyond the "survival strategy". People are there to grow with a sense of achievement, sense of belongingness.
Share your concerns with them. "When in doubt, disclose" is what NRN says. What does not work is, "when in doubt, cut it out". Solutions are not that close and easy. Cookie-cutter is a good day scenario!

Many a times, we do statistical regression analysis to Fair Issac predictive analysis, of employee exit data in an attempt to figure out what might have gone wrong in managing people. Unassumingly, what we get are so very different reasons that we start doubting the authenticity of exit interview captured data.

Retention actually starts from the date of hiring. We need to be aware of the personal and professional aspirations, ambitions and dream, one joins organization for. That has to be tracked and fulfilled or disillusionment starts building.

Remember, people look for their sense of worth to the organization much before they start thinking of sense of growth. Ensure that a new employee finds her sense of worth very quickly and very well. As said, values are built in initial six months in the organisation. If it does not, it is an attrition or worse than that, we call dis-engaged/disgruntles employee.

Feedback, Speedback, Feedforward and Goodback!

Karen May, vice president for people development at Google, has invented a method she calls “speedback.” It works like this: partway through a training session she will tell everyone to pair off and sit knee to knee, and give them three minutes to answer one simple question: “What advice would you give me based on the experience you’ve had with me here?” Participants say that it’s some of the best feedback they’ve ever gotten.

Compressing space works well too. Since I wrote about the effectiveness of Brazli’s futbol de salao (football in the room) for teaching soccer skills, I’ve come across numerous examples of coaches shrinking space to increase reps and improve feedback, from hockey to swimming to baseball to factory assembly lines.

WSJ article,  " Yes, Everyone Really Does Hate Performance Reviews "by Samuel A Culbert says that "No one wants to give true feedback, no one wants to listen to the true feedback and normally the whole environment built around the feedback session is depressive!".
Not just me but many of you would agree with what Samuel says.
Feedback shall be need-based and at the time of need and not as per calendar or unsolicited.

Feedback to me is a passive but excellent mechanism to hear back on how I am performing, behaving, appearing, getting accepted, acknowledged or abhorred and hated? What shall I do to get better and improve on where I am loosing sheen and notice!

Other than feedback, which shall be a mixed-bag session, ending with positivity, hope, inspiration and better relationship between giver and receiver of the feedback.

Largely, other than feedback sessions, there shall be positive inducement sessions, I call Goodbacks! Appreciate every time you see good performance, good effort, good citizen behaviour, good follow of corporate core values and ethics!

Keep spotting "Goodback moments". Goodbacks are great energisers. Use them to charge up!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Accidental Billionaires: Will Facebook magic wane and wipe out

The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius, and Betrayal is a 2009 book by Ben Mezrich about the founding of Facebook, adapted by Columbia Pictures for the 2010 film The Social Network put the book cover because it is so attractive and inspiring. The four glorious words in the book's title are "Sex", "Money", "Genius" and "Betrayal". All of these 4 words are so powerful.  If we look at these four words and try making out one common cardinal value out of them, it would be "Self" or "Me" rather "Only me". Me is so important that it allows all sins of the ideal world, Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal. Yes, Genius as well, as this is the devil's Genius! Same day, Devils are always very attractive, because they win! While one billionaire is built on Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal, the other legendary ones are built on 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. At least this is what Oracle's Larry Ellison told about Steve Jobs! While in business, the word 'betrayal' may be a loser's pet peeve, in man's world this is a reward, for winners. "Who dares, wins!"Money makes the world go!. It is not a sin but an essential sin! There is nothing called "win-win". You can never divide Money equally and make everyone happy or successful. Communism failed! Justice lies in equitable distribution and no one ever likes a smaller share! Some one's Genius is other person's "opportunity", "being lucky", being able to get things easily! Others pulled him up, etc, etc. Genius is state of being restless, state of being out of sync, state of being anti-social and a broke! Rather the book is appropriately titled, but this would not mean, being successful mean, you have arrived and you can sustain business. Difficult to believe, that early signs of success do not inspire investor confidence. Interesting watch is his "hot under the collar video at WSJ interview on you tube. Check this link".
 Really interesting and would have been too tough and embarrassing for Mark! This is natural progression for young guys! You fumble more as you did not finish Harvard education and started looking at private lives of people "uncensored". Privacy norms flouted. Rather did not know that was awful to society and law. Dropouts do better as learning happens when you are fearless! Hope you liked the book cover too!

Human Resource Analytics and Dashboards

Human Resource Analytics has become as important as the Business Intelligence (BI) reports and dashboards have been. It is obvious that people strategy have become inevitable drivers of business objectives and talent strategy is the key to compete. From thriving, surviving and struggling the new way of doing business is "Analyse-Strategise-Execute-Analyse and Execute!".
Measures of success are reflected in financials and brand value, or the new fad of "Influence" in social marketing, driven by companies like Klout and Kred, but the war for talent that McKinsey declared as open strategy to grab or lose, has made HR Analytics more contemporary and real time activity than any CEO ever thought of.

HR Analytics are defining factors today for survival of companies. The war in the open is now waged on the exceptional talent and talent optimization policies, which set the baseline for creativity and innovation! Big data or Cloud Computing, SaaS, PaaS or IaaS, it is people who make any company a leader. With Cloud Computing, Amazon and SalesForce really did well and others did follow fast. Those companies, who could not catch up are facing the heat and now started thinking of creativity and expect young guys to passionately pursue creativity.

HR Analytics will always have to go beyond capturing attendance, leave, attrition and payroll data to "talent hot beds" and "Talent optimization" and "Time to build quick capabilities". Many mini-games, quick games in the backyard will decide success in larger market arena for today's companies. 

HR Analytics and HR dashboards shall get some dedicated space and time on CEO's screen!

Smart HR guys! Here is an opportunity. Grab it to get high-end business visibility. 

Check my HR Analytics and Dashboarding presentation on the link below-

Jim Collins and TV Rao: From HR to CEO!

TV Rao's article in TOI Ascent, Feb 13, had some interesting discussion on 5 levels of HR Managers, based on what they do.
I just created my own metrics and placed my descriptions in columns called, "Level of work", Hierarchy level' and "Action proposed".
I urge you to look at the Level 5 Definition of Jim Collins and check what is missing at all the levels of HR of TV Rao is, "Leadership". Things will be very different if Leadership is added at all the levels.

Refer to link for downloading the file..

Level of work
Nature of work
Hierarchy level
Action proposed
Level one HR
Bottom rung work
HR Administration: documentation, Data gathering, Record keeping and MIS
Clerical/Entry level
Outsourceable low end work
Level two HR
Just above the bottom, Coordinator and analyser of mundane data of time and attendance, appraisal form submission timeline, etc
Monitoring and execution: the focus is on collecting information, ‘reminding’ people, getting forms filled and statutory obligations fulfilled. These may also include data analysis and feedback to the top management. The measures are quantified in terms of appraisal forms filled in time,
Monitor people systems and processes, evaluate, suggest  improvement, alternatives, alert if any risk sensed
Level three HR
Designer and Architect/Evangelist, System evaluator, Does issues diagramming, cost-benefit and risk analysis, Viability studies and even small pilot projects.
Designing and implementing are vital activities wherein the focus is on reviewing the existing systems, redesigning and starting new practices in performance appraisals, incentives/performance-linked pay, learning and development and employee engagement; 
Manager and Specialist
Efficiency and Effectiveness manager, Shall lead organization from one level to other level.
Level four HR

Business focus and process and practice agent and implementer of cutting edge and “Leading Practices”.
Helps raise the bar and get HR a Specialist department status if not COE.
Strategising, innovating, integrating and leading. In this level, the HR manager has to be aligned with business goals and his/her concerns shift from having a ‘good HR’ to more of a ‘business driven HR ’set-up. The HR person at this level is constantly looking for what C K Prahalad called as ‘next practices’. At this level, HR focuses on building leadership across the organisation by using multiple tools including 360 degree feedback,
development centres, top management team-building exercises, etc. Here, HR becomes talent-focused and the concern is on acquiring, retaining, nurturing and multiplying talent;
Director level/Expert within company and Go to person for lot many tactical issues
Broad thinker on sustainability and competitiveness of HR systems, processes and policy against competition and market developments on all fronts of learning, technology leverage, and creation of platforms to keep talent, skills, competencies aligned to business delivery by helping build, rebuild, improve “Capability Building Frameworks”. Focus on talent strategy.
Level five HR
Strategist and knows what people strategy worked and what will not work so, what levers to apply on broader framework of HR in terms of outsourcing certain HR functions, right-sizing, rewards policy, retention strategies and M&A analysis and may be tough decisions to cut headcount in HR and work, Total Business decisions that keeps company in business or helps thrive o survive or wind up.
Most evolved and progressive level focused on making HR a business partner. Here, managers realise that there can be no business without talented people at all levels and particularly at the top. They believe in the philosophy that people make business and therefore, ‘business-driven talent management is essential. The focus shifts from tangibles to intangibles and from immediate and short-term performance goals to building long-term capabilities and from quarterly results to intellectual capital building and shareholder value enhancement. Dave Ulrich calls this ‘outside–in HR’. I call this ‘business-focussed HR’.
Chief People Officer
Sits in the boardroom and senses opportunity, risks, and keeps the whole HR architecture and engine agile, awake and oiled.

Monday, February 11, 2013


"BAD HIRING BLEEDS DESI COMPANIES RS.2460 CR IN 2012", TOI, Bangalore, Feb 11, 2013

Times of India Bangalore today, has an outrageous article on front page. "BAD HIRING BLEEDS DESI COMPANIES RS.2460 CR IN 2012" . And Hema Ravichander is right when she hits the right reason and mechanism that could help check his non-nonsensical hiring by agents of labor arbitrage. Yes, I call these modern day Talent Acquisition guys (Recruiters) agents of labor arbitrage. They have no idea what the company is, what is its culture and what are its business opportunities, challenges, constraints and leadership priorities and focus. They are just "poultry farmers" not recruiters. As Poultry farmers have only one yardstick to follow, a kilo of chicken would cost Rs.100, irrespective of who it is or how different or similar it is from other chicken. People are not chicken. Do not use butchers for surgery. Hiring is the most important task of any CEO, and should never be delegated, as Larry Bossidy said. 90% of these poultry farmers would not even know who Larry Bossidy is or how Jack Welch built GE by hiring "A" players. Mind you, hiring "A" player is an attitude and not a "job fair" affair. We shall ask all these board members of these desi companies who lost Rs.2460 cr in 2012 on what shall be their "exit plan against this "holy loss"?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Would It Kill You to Stop Doing That: A Modern Guide to Manners

Would It Kill You to Stop Doing That: A Modern Guide to Manners, is a well received and acknowledged book on mannerism. Published in Jan 2012.

I came across a very interesting interview in Sunday Times of India's supplement today. Henry Alford was interviewed on the mannerism, the way he interprets it.

Its not etiquette or protocol but a way to respect others by doing, saying, asking, responding that shall make them feel comfortable, not something that makes only me comfortable.

Interesting example that Henry quotes is as below-
“No individual should congratulate a woman on her pregnancy until that woman has announced that she is indeed pregnant.” I’ve seen how the gaffe of doing otherwise causes mortified silences all around.

Another good example: A compliment to a woman, he writes, “should be a single sunflower set on a windowsill for her to walk up to and admire, not three dozen roses delivered by an exhausted-looking bike messenger in an angel costume.”

Some new words got its place in Modern Dictionary, due to lack of mannerisms, that we see today, an example:
Modern Dictionary has a word called "pizzled". Explained like,
The feeling you get when someone whips out their Blackberry aka crackberry or cell phone and begins having a conversation with someone. It's a cross between pissed off and puzzled.

In some of my interviews with MNCs and large Indian IT Services companies, I have seen sincere lack of mannerisms.
I had fourth round of interview (face to face) with Head of HR at Wipro Technologies at Bangalore in 2011. Interview started well in time. Coordination was excellent.
Interviewer welcomes with professionalism and starts interview with questions around my studies, world wars, etc. I was there for HR Engagement Manager role interview.
During my 45 mins of interview the interviewer got 7 intermittent calls (4 on his cell phone and 3 on his desk number). Some as long as 3 to 4 mins. He spoke about his teenage daughters shows, land availability for purchase in Bangalore. His recent travel to Kerala and his brother-in-law. He took all the calls and spoke to all callers with ease and did not ask my permission for taking calls or even after he finished his calls, did not apologize. I was so uncomfortable and pizzled that I had no option but to look at his walls, same old posters, tube lights, paper weight, color of his cabinet and anywhere except him talking. Serious lack of mannerism and huge breach of professional ethics. I forgot his name, but he sits on diagonally opposite office at Wipro , Sarjahpur 1, at Bangalore, where my SIBM MBA college senior sits.
I always thought of writing about this sad interview experience to Wipro group Head HR, Pratik Kumar, but now is the time, I guess.

In Jan 2013, I had face to face interview with Adobe for Bangalore location position of Campus Lead-India.
My first meeting that day was with Punith Suvarna, Head of TA, India. Very polished and cultured interviewer and professional. Good experience meeting him. Great attitude and adult to adult interview. Very unlike many non-trained and non-aligned and un-cultured interviewers at MNCs, who believe that all candidates who come for an interview need a job, and so would be ready to be laid!
Unfortunate thing happened when Punith asked me to meet her report, a Manager and she was someone I remembered when I read Henry's interview.
I was waiting at the reception to meet her. And this was between the time, I met Punith and her.
She came to the small reception area, talking on her cell phone, when she noticed that only I was the waiting person there. She kept walking the space leisurely and casually and remained glued to phone and worse was the part that she was loudly bragging someone about some company's HR person. It was embarrassing to see her and listen to her phone brags.I had no choice but had I read Henry earlier, I would have rather apologized to her that I heard her phone talks and I did not mean that. That is what Henry would call passive mannerism. If she had a phone call, she should have taken it later of should have finished it in her office before walking in to reception area, where anyone could listen to her call and more importantly, a senior candidate waiting would really not like someone, who he is going to be interviewed by behaving so rude and casual. She did not stop talking and went to the interview office, on reception bay and opened the door. Ended her call and came back to me. This was all happening in an area as small as 10 ft by 10 ft., being watched by a security boy and an oblivious receptionist.

Manners can be taught and learnt. It is a culture thing but you cannot train a pig how to whistle, as they say in training domain.
Hope, sense prevails!


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

"People Matters" magazine Rewarded the HR Leaders. Did you know

The 25 young winners of People Matters’ Are You In The List were lauded at a spectacular Awards ceremony on January 24, 2013 in Gurgaon.
To select the list of winners in a scientific and transparent way People Matters partnered with Development Dimensions International (DDI), a leading global talent management consulting firm. Here is a behind-the-scenes look at how we did it

10 questions for the boss
 People Matters asked the winners to pick the one query they would like to pose to their CEO. Here are the ten best questions

I am trying to answer the below questions in bold to see, if my CEO did not answer and asked me, what do you think shall be the answer, I would do as said below-

Q1. It is one thing to believe that “people” are any business’ competitive advantage and another to support this belief with appropriate allocation of resources. Is the resource allocation strategy of your business in consonance with the belief that it is “people” who make all the difference?

Mrinal-Resource allocation is not different from building a platoon for a war. When McKinsey wrote about War of Talent and later gave the metrics have ROI of each resource, it was evident, people will play their roles for which they have been chosen. Everyone is a leader or that is what every CEO expects them to be. Be a winner, win projects, win market share, win competition accounts, implement and execute leading ideas faster than competition. CEO Herb Kelleher of South West Airlines told much earlier that "Business of Business is people" and teams comprising of VPs till as Associate is valued and so chosen for a task or assignment or a project or a program.
CEOs not only look for ROI but also ROM (Return on Management) and Shareholder value. People allocation is key to any CEOs success, though he believes that his leadership team down under, would keep teams together, inspired and focused. As Herb Kellehar said, every airline company has airplanes (tangibles), what matters as advantage is Culture (Intangible), very difficult to define but is obvious when exhibited at any levels.

Q2. How can we make cross business exposure for HR professionals as common as it is for other functions? (For only then the business can develop top class HR professionals and reap the benefit.)

Mrinal-CEOs do not provide such opportunities to anyone, it is upto people to grab them and persistently ask for it by showing great passion and interest. It is same as Osho said that, "I do not make disciples, it is for people to become disciple as even if I make one, they are free to return to their original status". HR has acquired a pedestal of a preacher and often seen working in silos. Hardly 5% of HR folks have ever moved to other departments and that is the reason HR has never expanded beyond TA, Generalist, HRIS, L&D and C&B. HR never became Program Manager, Project Manager or Business Leader. They enjoy the priestly status of Brahmanism bestowed on them. They sulk and recede into their comfort zone, most of the time oblivious of what opportunities business may have thrown to people and even they could grab it. Again, it is not responsibility of business to grow top class HR professionals, it is them in HR, who have to emerge and evolve as Business enablers and value adds. They must know, HR is second best paid job in India as per recent research. It is shame to be the profit guzzlers and being called cost centres.

Q3. If someday in tough times we are to right-size this company by 70 per cent of its current strength, what would be in the list of qualities that you will you send to HR for the purpose of evaluating and retaining the top 30 per cent?

Mrinal- Right-sizing is not a blanket decision, as often understood by HR. Right-sizing is due to dip in business or decision to shelve certain part of business due to reasons, well debated and discussed.
Qualities can be very different in different situations. Many a times, due to merger of departments or business units, senior positions become obsolete and then, even the best have to be dropped, re-positioned or out-placed. If it is matter of automation or outsourcing and efficiency issue, operations people may be axed and there qualities may not be too fixed a factor. As MCKinsey report says, in assembly line roles, difference between output of a great player and an average player is hardly 20%, while in sales positions, it is 120%. So depends, what function and what reason comes to play for right-sizing. It is a compels process and just not culling the H1N1 infected chicken! HR needs good business insight even to implement what has been decided. Not many HR folks have business insights, forget about business acumen.

Q4. Why do you need an HR department? Why can’t the energy invested in the HR department be invested on the revenue growth functions of the organisation, and why do we need employee champions when every employee can be their own champion and also her team’s mentor?

Mrinal-Have you heard of the term, "HR Shared Services"? Lot can be driven through them. We need HR people to support people connect for vital issues to admin issues. Since other businesses need someone else to help them with hiring, travel , visa, accommodation, letters, tickets, etc, people in HR/Shared Services are needed from coordination to people champions. Role like people champion evolves over time with proven abilities and attitude to serve as value adding partner. They can help keep core values and people practices intact as per organisation's governance model. How many in Hr ever understand what, when and where "governance values" get ignored and abused. Even EthicsPoint cases gets no hearing in many MNCs and they have become so immune to such sensitive issues. There is no place for whistle blowers that HR should have protected. Rather they are used to snub whistle blowers and value evangelists. For details read my blog on "Corporate Confidential" by Cynthia Shiparo. Using fancy words like employee champion is easier said than done. It requires character that have courage of conviction. How many HR folks do you know have ever exhibited such character to thwart unfair treatment to employees?

Q5. Can I shadow you for a month to understand what it takes to run a business? It would help widen my horizon beyond projects to broader business perspectives.

Mrinal- CEOs do not play hide and seek. Their business plans are written on the white-boards and any one can read, who ha interest in knowing what is CEO's mission and objectives. You do not need to shadow a CEO to know what he does. Keep your eyes and ears open and look for what people say and talk about at each level in the organisation, water coolers to coffee tables, cafeteria to office cabs. Information is valuable, if you are interested in business. How many HR folks know why we lost our last deal and why procurement/purchase department at client's side threw spanner into the deal for just 3% cost difference?

Q6. What are the skills that you have acquired that you found the most useful in your professional career? How did you acquire those skills?

Mrinal-CEOs hardly have time to learn, they are on a roller -coaster and walk on tight-rope to razor-edge. Board and Shareholders drive him crazy. He needs to act in real time, his learning is speedback not feedback. All his skills are put to practice and test. He even does not know, what skills worked in what scenario. Business is so shrewed and unpredictable. Take the risk or lose the deal. Unless you are a family guy who is placed as a CEO, you do not have luxury to learn. What is learning for a CEO is his success or his failure, both of them are results. Considering them as learning can be regressive and self-fulfilling prophesy. No rules hold good for long.

Q7. How do you think we can build a diversity strategy that gives women options, so that they can have both – a successful career, and also work-life balance?

Mrinal-As it is told about time management, "you do not need to manage time, you need to manage yourself." Same is true for balancing work with life or life with work. The scales are never evenly weighed. You have to make conscious choice. Success comes at a cost. It is a trade-off, you have to chose to drop. In all cases, your status is more because of what you do to yourself than others do to you. You cannot expect others to help you in balancing your life or work! They also have work and life of their own.

Q8. What has been your mantra to ensure that you keep a steep learning curve and achieve your full potential?

Mrinal-Success is what counts. It comes because of everything that you do and others do to achieve it. As you grow higher in the hierarchy, your success is more defined by what others do to help you attain that level of success. Here comes test for your leadership style and leadership potential. You have to have a blend of authoritative to delegative to participative leadership style applied at different inflection points. CEOs do not have limited potential. It is immeasurable and pervasive, that keeps evolving and expanding for newer opportunities to leverage the great team's potentials.

Q9. Looking at the HR talent in your organisation, what are the three traits that you think are our strengths, and the three that we need to develop further so that we can contribute more effectively to the organisation’s human capital strategy?

Mrinal-Every organisation has its own way of looking at its strengths and areas of development. You should ask this question at all levels in the organisation to arrive at what are  real strengths and opportunities for improvement in the organisation. What you perceive may not be the right thing.
Q10. What keeps you awake at night?

Mrinal-Excitement to meet clients and propose a great value add. Excitement to meet my teams and discuss with them the future. Worry, that my HR team may not be able to meet newer expectations as some of them may be on maternity leave, some getting married and others just came back from maternity leave. Kidding. Ignore the last part.

Hope I answered the way you expected.!

Linkedin the biggest expose

Two biggest landmark changes for humanity in India are - RTI and LinkedIn.
Thanks to Arvind Kejriwal and many valiant fighters of RTI, who made this possible in a nation still ruled by Congress and the other has been the Linkedin, though,  Reid Hoffman would never have thought that he gave the professional world the Global RTI, without being asked for any RTI application.

Linkedin has been the biggest expose and tool of rights for professional world. Knowing details of people, we do business with or knowing your interviewer, knowing your colleagues to be and more on people from the company, you are interested in. People cannot fake, if they are on Linkedin, though Linkedin does not ask for any verification what you claim there on your profile, be it company you work for or run, tenure, qualifications, location you belong to, certificates that you earned etc. still it is a big lever in people's hand to know about others, who are on Linkedin today.
Initially, I found senior executives very reluctant to place their profile on Linked in and Partners from my ex-company were not there for nearly 5 years from Linked in's launch of 2003. Slowly they came, slowly they added their photos, slowly they started adding contacts and now have started accepting recommendations. They still do not write any recommendation. There is lot they hesitate for.

Another interesting fact I observed is that many senior members have 20+ recommendation for them and they have written only 2 for others, while Linkedin itself asks you to write a return recommendation, when you accept one from others. Why is this hesitation? I really worry, how would they appreciate their team members over e mail or other channels when they are hesitant about writing recommendation. I am not trying to draw too far fetched conclusion that "there maybe leadership bankruptcy or erosion at the top" or "they care a lot about internet security". I know of 20 year experienced CAs, who work as CFOs do not use online banking. Passwords are kept by their wives under locker.

On a random sampling I found that in India with MNCs, US or others, the HR teams from top to bottom are full of non-aligned qualifications, many of them at the Sr.VP levels are just B.Tech, many are LLBs, Many of them are MA-Public Administration. All their team members mention Education from XLRI, IIMs, but you will find they are certificate programs and small courses. Unfortunate that the scenario is same with Big 4s and well branded MNCs in India. Results are obvious, they build more and more of non-qualified HR jungle around them. They ward off- professionally qualified people as that will be disruptive for their orgasmic inertia. B players hire C players , as Stanford research says and Jack Welch very well knew this.
CEOs need to wake up for this cleansing, if they are at all aware that "people strategies directly link with Business strategy" and people who are not qualified can never do a business enable-ment role by tactical or strategically lifting business. Business of Business is people and we have gone far and beyond the hiring the deployment era.

Hoping for the change!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Why Human Resources Isn't Just For Women Anymore

HRx Analysts published the below data for the US , reflecting euphemistically that HR is a 47 year old white woman! Interesting but a brilliant report.
Ten of the 50 top compensated CHROs were women.  Ten.  That’s 20%.  And that’s down from 43% in 2011.

I always wondered why is HR more of women's game and why do I find more and more women in HR.
Great to know the origin of HR and it was really a woman's game to begin with.

Forbes cited HR Manager as a “best paying job for women” in 2011, with over 70 percent of the profession dominated by females. For year 2011, this percentage looks like quite imbalanced.

No wonder, within HR also, there are jobs for men, like the Industrial Relations Manager at factory, which works in all 3 shifts, HR Admin Manager, who manages attendance records, looks after canteen, transport and safety. Women still look like more suited for 'touchy-feel-y' roles.

I’m not denying there’s a reason HR is dominated by women. The profession has its roots in the welfare secretaries of the early 1900s, whose primary role was to ensure safety of the mill workers. Those positions were completely occupied by women and eventually evolved to caretaker, benefits and party-planning roles.

But HR today is different. Whether you love or hate your HR team, it can’t be a women-only game anymore. It’s gender, position, role and industry agnostic. Your business cannot be successful unless you can develop and manage talent—the crux of HR.
One of the firms called Evviva Brands, describes itself by saying “we put people on the balance sheet.” Infosys also puts Human Resources in their Balance Sheet on asset side. As an MBA, I love that sentiment. The idea of measuring the value of a company through talent isn’t new—McKinsey wrote about the metric of “profit per employee” in 2007. And the best venture capitalists know that valuation has to include both an assessment of the management team and the talent pool.
Call it people management, human capital, HR or whatever you want. Whatever it is, it’s not touchy feel-y or emotional. It’s a pure, balance sheet, analyst-watching, performance-driving business necessity. But if you leave it to your largely female HR team, or assume the ladies will take care of it, you’re not just mistaken, you’re in the red.

Systems Thinking vs. Disruptive Thinking

I had a phone interview from an Engineering Company for the Head-Learning and Development position/role.
The question that intrigued me was this, "What challenges do you anticipate when you join us in your role of Head-Learning and Development?

Interesting question and what I discovered at the time of answering this was that, process of learning and time to maturity are very different in different set of industries. While one techie can be trained on new Business Intelligence tool in 3 weeks, a driller cannot be trained in underwater piling in 3 weeks. It may take 3 years or more and even after that you will be a trainee. Engineering and Technology are disciplines way apart in terms of conceptualization and maturity. Engineering is a trade, Technology is skill application (a business?). While Engineering is the marble architecture, it's carving and polish that build the Taj Mahal, Technology is the positioning of Taj on the banks of river Yamuna, at an angle that it captures it's mesmerizing reflection to add to the amazement. Engineering is built for generations, Technology glow and phase out equally fast. Each has it's own space for pride and heroics. While Engineering appears less disruptive, Technology, outrageously makes noise of being disruptive. Mind you, the discipline of being a "Game-Changer" is equally disruptive, be it Engineering or Technology. Even the fastest disruptive technology is still incremental, done with frantic pace, that confuses a lot till it emerges.

Sharing Systems Thinking concept as I believe, lot more survive on Adaptive Skills than disruptive.

What Wikipedia says about the Systems Thinking is as below-

Systems thinking is the process of understanding how things, regarded as systems, influence one another within a whole. In nature, systems thinking examples include ecosystems in which various elements such as air, water, movement, plants, and animals work together to survive or perish. In organizations, systems consist of people, structures, and processes that work together to make an organization "healthy" or "unhealthy".
Systems thinking has been defined as an approach to problem solving, by viewing "problems" as parts of an overall system, rather than reacting to specific part, outcomes or events and potentially contributing to further development of unintended consequences. Systems thinking is not one thing but a set of habits or practices.

You may like to know about Peter Senge and his concept of "Learning Organisation". Some facts in perspective are laid below-

Peter M. Senge (1947- ) was named a ‘Strategist of the Century’ by the Journal of Business Strategy, one of 24 men and women who have ‘had the greatest impact on the way we conduct business today’ (September/October 1999). While he has studied how firms and organizations develop adaptive capabilities for many years at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), it was Peter Senge’s 1990 book The Fifth Discipline that brought him firmly into the limelight and popularized the concept of the ‘learning organization'. Since its publication, more than a million copies have been sold and in 1997, Harvard Business Review identified it as one of the seminal management books of the past 75 years.

Aside from writing The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of The Learning Organization (1990), Peter Senge has also co-authored a number of other books linked to the themes first developed in The Fifth Discipline. These include The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook: Strategies and Tools for Building a Learning Organization (1994); The Dance of Change: The Challenges to Sustaining Momentum in Learning Organizations (1999) and Schools That Learn (2000).

The dimension that distinguishes learning from more traditional organizations is the mastery of certain basic disciplines or ‘component technologies’. The five that Peter Senge identifies are said to be converging to innovate learning organizations. They are:
Systems thinking
Personal mastery
Mental models
Building shared vision
Team learning

The core disciplines

Alongside systems thinking, there stand four other ‘component technologies’ or disciplines. A ‘discipline’ is viewed by Peter Senge as a series of principles and practices that we study, master and integrate into our lives. The five disciplines can be approached at one of three levels:
Practices: what you do.
Principles: guiding ideas and insights.
Essences: the state of being those with high levels of mastery in the discipline 

Ban These Interview Questions

Funny interviews

1.       Ban these questions-

a.       Why are you looking for change?

b.      Why have you changed x jobs in y years?

c.       Who do you report to?

d.      Are you open for relocation?

e.      Are you open to travel?

f.        How long do you see you will work with us?

g.       Why you left your fist company in less than 6 months?

h.      How do you think you are a good fit for the job?

2.       Ban gatekeepers from doing screening/first level interviews-

a.       Recruiters doing specialised skills screening interviews

b.      Recruiters or respectfully called Talent Acquisition folks do not even do check-list interview well.

c.       They take pride in rejecting a good candidate by using defining words like, “too ambitious”, too aggressive”, too much of attitude”, “not flexible”. Do they know that all these rejection words could be a great fit in many cases and the Hiring Manager gets the filtered/refined average “tooth-less”, sometime, “spine-less” guy who will faint in real situations against expectations. How can you select a “hero” when you have a shepherd selecting a horse for the derby? You are thinking of building a “A” player team with “B” and “C” player gatekeepers. Use them for graciously opening and taking the door. They can be trained to keep the doors!

Why people block you on LinkedIn?