Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Beginner’s Mind

The Beginner’s Mind – talent orientated business culture
Simon Wright
former CEO and President, Virgin Entertainment Group

According to Wright, many companies fail to make best use of their talent because they 

are still ‘pigeonholing’ people on the basis of their age and experience. However, in his 

view, in some instances experience can actually get in the way of solving problems, 
because of the preconceptions it can engender. There is consequently a strong argument 
for approaching challenges with what is described in Zen Buddhism as a ‘beginner’s 
mind’, an openness to possibilities tempered with the application of a quality that Wright 
believes is all too rare in the corporate world – common sense. 
Wright cites instances at Virgin where individuals were ‘parachuted’ into areas where 
they had little or no directly obvious experience. One woman, for example, apparently 
went from store manager to IT director to very successful managing director of a new

acquisition within three years because of her excellent people management skills and 
ability to change and develop as the situation demanded.
According to Wright the reason why so many organisations shy away from this approach 
is a lack of imagination coupled with fear of the consequences. Businesses of all sizes 
need to trust in their instincts and take more risks with people if they are going to manage 

their talent in a truly effective way. And this, in turn, will call for the creation of corporate
cultures that are permissive, enabling, energetic and open.

Wright also called for HR to stand up for itself more, complaining that its voice was often 
not loud enough. He believes that HR needs to intervene more and become much more 
involved in the commercial elements of running the business rather than deferring to other 
professionals in the mix. And, at all costs, it must avoid the tendency now prevalent in the 
USA for HR to focus, not on development and experimentation, but on risk management 
and the preservation of the status quo.

The organisation of the future

It seems clear from the discussion in this think-tank and in other HR Network workshops 
held during 2011 that one of the major sticking points in establishing how to get the 
best out of an organisation’s talent lies in the challenge of defining what ‘talent’ actually 
means. And in particular whether the term should apply to all those employed within 
the business or a smaller group of ‘high potentials’. Even within the second definition 
there is debate about what ‘high potential’ should embrace. Should it just cover obvious, 
high profile contributors or should it also take into account the ‘quiet ones’, the George 
Harrisons of the corporate world who may have a massive impact on performance but 
in a humble, unassuming and even covert way?
What was also clear was the difficulty of balancing the desire to bring ‘mavericks’ into 
an organisation to catalyse and enable change with the needs of the many - the safe, 
dependable individuals who will ensure that the organisation can continue to deliver 
‘business as usual’ on an ongoing basis.
There was however consensus around a number of key ways to get the best return on 
investment from talent in all its forms:
1. Transparency of vision and strategy
2. Transparency around how individuals could contribute to and impact on vision and 
3. The provision of engaged and engaging leadership
4. Accountability
5. Appropriate and effective rewards systems tailored not just to the whole but to the 
needs and goals of individuals

Performance – should it be an individual and corporate

Can obsession ever be a positive attribute? Although it initially may seem an unhealthy 
concept, obsession does get things done, particularly when conditions are unfavourable 
or there are significant obstacles to be overcome. Obsession injects energy and shows 
the world what’s important to us. However participants generally seemed to feel much 
more comfortable with the concept of passion and, specifically to passion about 
performance leading to energy, continuous improvement, enhanced and positive results.

Modern businesses appear obsessed with getting better and better results. But is this
the wrong obsession...or passion? Instead of focusing only on revenue, sales, security,
delivery and customer service, the general consensus is that business should be equally
passionate about people, talent and performance: a disproportionate focus on ‘hard’
results means that learning is compromised.
Organisations need to find a way of creating the same unrelenting passion for
performance as they have for numbers. And business leaders supported by their HR
and L&D experts could make great headway towards this if they work together in a true

HR’s future in business value creation
If there is one certainty about the future of HR it is that it will be subject to more and
more demanding expectations and will need to deliver more, at a faster pace and more
efficiently. However, after establishing that, accurate forecasting of what is to come
proves much more daunting.
While technology has, in some ways proved HR’s foe by accelerating the pace of
change throughout the business world, it may now begin to become its friend, enabling
an employer/employee interface which is more personal and tailored to individual
experience. If this is to work effectively though, line management will need to accept
that talent management is not something that can be wholly delegated , but must be
owned by those in the front line of the business. And if that can be achieved HR in its
present form may cease to exist and finally merge with the commercial management of
the organisation where many believe it should have sat all along.
Talent economics – building an investment model
A ‘straw poll’ of participants in this group highlighted two common worries amongst
senior HR professionals:
1. The continuing negative effects of a tactical, responsive approach to talent
management in general and talent sourcing in particular
2. A focus on leaders or high potentials at the expense of the bulk of an organisation’s
In seeking to deal with these issues it was clear that HR needed to engage CEO’s
more effectively, quantifying investment and likely results and using ‘business speak’
rather than the traditional language of the function to communicate value. One
participant, a manufacturing company, explained how adopting a different approach to
communicating with the business allowed them to put talent management in a context
board members could easily grasp, likening talent to the commodities the company
dealt with to create and sell its products. However each organisation must be clear as
to what talent actually is and then communicate this through a simple and consistent

The goal should be to educate leaders to see themselves as custodians of talent
with the ultimate responsibility for its best management at all stages of the attraction,
acquisition, development and retention process. HR‘s role should consequently be
one of catalyst, supporting, coaching and enabling rather than actually delivery. Line
management should be provided with the tools to accomplish this and incentivised
to use them. Another participant showed how they achieved this by linking 50% of
individual bonus payments to employee satisfaction and engagement research.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Role of a Manager


The Role of Manager


This vague term describes first and most important trait most managers should have and only few have. If I’m a team member I expect my manager will show leadership and charisma. I want to be ignited to follow his ideas. I need to be sure he knows why and where we are heading. I have to see him around when problems arise. I eager to be managed by someone I’d like to follow even if no one told me so. A good manager is also a good leader but these two are not the same. What a pity it isn’t common mixture.


Help newcomers with learning the organization. Help inexperienced with gaining experience. Help everyone with growing. Help those with problems with fixing them. Easy? No, not at all. First, you need to know who needs what. Then, you need to know how to reach people so your helping hand won’t be rejected. Finally, you need to work carefully and patiently sharing your knowledge in experience in a way which doesn’t frustrate or dishearten people. Repeat when finished.


As a line manager you have some senior management over your head. This is a bad news. Actually there’s usually a lot of crap flying over there and, because of the gravity, it’s going to land down on heads of your team. There will be blame games. There will be pointing fingers. It is your time. Be a shield. Take enough bullets on your chest for the team. You’ll earn respect. You’ll earn a bunch of loyal followers. And that’s how you earn your spurs.


As a manager you’re also an advocate. Devil’s advocate to be precise. You have to present and defend different decisions made up there, in the place where only C-level execs are allowed. Sometimes these decisions you won’t like. But for your people you’re still the face of the company so don’t play the angry boy and act like a man. We don’t always do what we want. After all, they pay you for this, remember?


Sometimes everyone needs a kick in the butt to get back to work at full speed. It would be quite a pleasant task but unfortunately kicking butts is used as a metaphor here. It’s all about motivation. And I have a bad news here, there’s no easy answer for a question what motivates people. You have to learn each of your people individually. Oh, forgot to mention, it takes quite a lot of time to learn what drives all these people.


Yes, an adviser. Not a decision-maker. At least not unless you really have to make a decision by yourself. People will come to you asking different things. Well, they will if they think your opinion may add some value and you’re capable to understand what the hell they are talking about. Of course you can guess or shoot or use magic 8 ball but you better learn (oh no! more learning) what the problem really is and help your team to solve it. Note: it is different than solving it for them, even if you know the answer. If an association which comes to your mind is delegation I must praise your reasoning.

And if you happen to spend two third of your day coding, well, I dare to say you aren’t a manager I’d like to work for. Your people would say the same, but you don’t talk with them so you don’t even know. After all there’s no time to chit chat, you have to code, right?

My comments to this post-

Excellent post. I particularly liked the Advocate and Motivator sections. Many a times, when the Crap falls on team or manager or both, it is really frustrating and as you mentioned, getting paid to work or getting paid to have lots of crap on your face? Not sure what to do when such crap-management becomes a chore.
I have often discussed with my team clearly why this is crap or not crap and if it is a crap, how are we going to manage. Unfortunately the crap-fall is a very risky aspect as, if you manage it well for C-suite folks, your team gives you a Thumbs down in upward review and they create lots of negative propaganda against you. You lose. If you manged Crap well for team, you are going to get a lousy project, that will frustrate you and you either leave or you are asked to leave. Crap will never fetch you a reward! After all, as you mentioned, we are paid to manage crap as well at times, we must try manage it the best way possible.
On Shield, it is easier said than done to take the bullets for team. I have seen only 10% of managers able to do it. Not surprisingly, it helps earn respect of the team, but if management fires a bullet, they want a kill. You cannot escape this bullet. Either you get killed or some other poor team member. We always need an easy kill. This is also a sacrifice, you have to make. Though if blame game comes to you and finger pointed at you, it is good to accept the blame. Similar to the bullet case above, management is very high on Ego and when they blame they cannot lose. Again, get ready for getting killed. Ask for time to investigate and come up with a solution and then deflect the blame. From my experience, management is happy if you accept the blame and then they are happy if you deflect the blame to something or someone, who is management’s pet-peeve, they forget that what the issue was and the matter starts it’s holy journey of ‘blame-blemish and vanish’ cycle. Management is happy that they acted. Does not matter if they achieved anything or fixed any thing.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Myths that I am yet to get clear with..

Myths that I am yet to get clear with..

1. Good B school matters-I do not know why?
2. With experience, B school hardly matters. What matters is experience.
3. There are companies who promote and select as well people with regional affiliations.
4. Longer you stay in a company, powerful you become, because you know how to manipulate things and you learn culture, character and even helplessness or join the bandwagon of survivors.
5. Politics is more important than hard work. You may have read the "ant story". (
6. Managers do not take risk of hiring team member smarter than them.
7. You need to fake your experience and resume a bit to get ahead. Actually it is resume that gets hired and not people, most of the time.
8. Most of the interviews look for a docile and meek candidate. Do not ask questions. Sound mediocre, accept interviewer's view point.
9. Praise your boss and get that promotion. Spend more time in praise and less at work.
10. Do  not sound like a guy with independent thought. Hiring is mostly to be a part of the herd.
11. Manager's or management's intention is more important than any written policies and holy book of core values, mission and vision of the company. If you value core values and are driven by policies and ethics, you need to have your own organisation with your own core values.
12. Most interviews are check-list interviews. Answer as you respond to check-list. Short and crisp.
13. To get that promotion, 'visibility' is more important than utility.
14. Dress well and get less low end jobs. You are considered smart (intelligent) if you dress well.
15. Grow well and never stand against mediocre  They are always in majority. You may win a battle but will lose the job. Remember, mediocre are qualified suckers. Suck up is a tested qualification for being considered 'great guy'.

I am looking forward to comments..

10 Interesting Brain Teasers

To test your mental acuity, answer the following questions (no peeking at the answers!):

1. Johnny’s mother had three children. The first child was named April. The second child was named May. What was the third child’s name?

2. A clerk at a butcher shop stands five feet ten inches tall and wears size 13 sneakers. What does he weigh?

3. Before Mt. Everest was discovered, what was the highest mountain in the world?

4. How much dirt is there in a hole that measures two feet by three feet by four feet?

5. What word in the English language is always spelled incorrectly?

6. Billie was born on December 28th, yet her birthday always falls in the summer. How is this possible?

7. In British Columbia you cannot take a picture of a man with a wooden leg. Why not?

8. If you were running a race and you passed the person in 2nd place, what place would you be in now?

9. Which is correct to say, “The yolk of the egg is white” or “The yolk of the egg are white?”

10. A farmer has five haystacks in one field and four haystacks in another. How many haystacks would he have if he combined them all in one field?


1. Johnny.
2. Meat.
3. Mt. Everest. It just wasn’t discovered yet.
4. There is no dirt in a hole.
5. Incorrectly (except when it is spelled incorrecktly).
6. Billie lives in the southern hemisphere.
7. You can’t take a picture with a wooden leg. You need a camera (or iPad or cell phone) to take a picture.
8. You would be in 2nd place. You passed the person in second place, not first.
9. Neither. Egg yolks are yellow.
10. One. If he combines all his haystacks, they all become one big stack.

Eight Good Behaviors

In early 2009, Google's HR team began a project code-named Project Oxygen. Their mission, reported the New York Times, was to build better bosses. After combing through performance reviews, feedback surveys and other data-rich metrics, they distilled the essence of what makes a good manager down to eight jaw-droppingly simple rules. Odds are you've heard all of these--but when was the last time you practiced them all in concert?

Below, a comprehensive list of what Google sees as the ingredients of highly effective managers:

Eight Good Behaviors

1. Be a good coach

Provide specific, constructive feedback, balancing the negative and the postive.
Have regular one-on-ones, presenting solutions to problems tailored to your employees’ specific strengths.

2. Empower your team and don’t micromanage

Balance giving freedom to your employees, while still being available for advice. Make “stretch” assignments to help the team tackle big problems.

3. Express interest in team members’ success and personal well-being

Get to know your employees as people, with lives outside of work.
Make new members of your team feel welcome and help ease their transition

4. Don’t be a sissy: Be productive and results-oriented

Focus on what employees want the team to achieve and how they can help achieve it.
Help the team prioritize work and use seniority to remove roadblocks.

5. Be a good communicator and listen to your team

Communication is two-way: you both listen and share information.
Hold all-hands meetings and be straightforward about the messages and goals of the team. Help the team connect the dots.
Encourage open dialogue and listen to the issues and concerns of your employees.

6. Help your employees with career development

7. Have a clear vision and strategy for the team

Even in the midst of turmoil, keep the team focused on goals and strategy.
Involve the team in setting and evolving the team’s vision and making progress toward it.

8. Have key technical skills so you can help advise the team

Roll up your sleeves and conduct work side by side with the team, when needed.
Understand the specific challenges of the work.

Three bad behaviors

1. Have trouble making a transition to the team

Sometimes, fantastic individual contributors are promoted to managers without the necessary skills to lead people.
People hired from outside the organization don’t always understand the unique aspects of managing at Google.

2. Lack a consistent approach to performance management and career development

Don’t help employees understand how these work at Google and doesn’t coach them on their options to develop and stretch.
Not proactive, waits for the employee to come to them.

3. Spend too little time managing and communicating

[via The New York Times]

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Leadership is all about taking risks!

How many times have you heard the whine, "Too many bosses, too few leaders"?
Many times, right?
Think of the last time, this came to your mind..What happened? What all incident/s cross your mind? Any people?

Rajeev Peshavaria wrote the book by this title Too Many Bosses, Too Few Leaders (Free Press), Rajeev Peshawaria, CEO of ICLIF, former chief learning officer at Morgan Stanley and a veteran of dozens of blue chip companies.

I read this book. anecdotal and more of summary of experiences that Rajeev had with Morgan Stanley and Am-ex. Most of his career has been there.
Though I did not find it an interesting read, as it lacked original thinking and it is absolutely my personal opinion. It appears like a Coffee-table book, more of summary of what all Rajeev found and did in those big companies, when he donned Big Title Positions.
Though the book is just OK, the title is worth giving your 20 Cent thought, if not more.

We all know we have very few leaders as most of people w came across in corporate life are employees. The same sick, tired, insecure, politicking, frustrated or politically-stung. Those who are happy and so called "thriving" are lucky ones and they do not care about, what you call, "leadership", "creating share-holder value", building competing and leading-edge technology or "world-class teams", "being accountable and making others accountable", "brought in changes, maybe how unpopular, that helped bring turn-around", "made tangible difference to the way business was done and people were treated", and finally "driven by values and remaining integral till 6 ft under grave".

But, if you have ever cared about or did something about above mentioned "Crazyness", you must pat your back! You are a leader!

If you ever have been agent of such shaking way of working or change, you would be hated for disturbing the ecological balance of the "world of orgasmic inertia". You just disturbed a long, embracing beautiful sleep. You will be called "running over people, being rude, a bully.

Now, would you care about the virtues of being a leader or whines of those 'orgasmic-inertia group'?

Natural instinct says, people like to be successful, being recognized and rewarded, being respected and valued. Ever thought, that we built the huge pool of 'orgasmic-inertia group' as we never acted as a leader. 
BTW, on a random note, "not everyone who thinks, he is a leader is a leader". Leader is not self-fulfilling prophesy like, you dreamed, you expected and you got it. Does this thought sound familiar? Yes, it is called 'orgasmic-inertia', you talked about.
Leadership is action, leadership is being visible and remaining available as leader, as a worker, as an order-taker, as anything that is call of the hour. Leader cares about success and holds himself accountable for failure equally as for success. Leadership is the risk of being "shot-down" with fist sign of failure. All others have guns aimed at you! As a leader, you do "tight-rope walking". Good thing about tight-rope walkers is that everyone, looks up to them! even if they are aiming to shoot the moment, you slip!

"Johnny-Walker's tagline, "keep walking" inspires me!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Ever thought what we learnt at MBA

Incidentally, I spoke with 2 of my MBA batch mates, Manish and Parag in past 1 week. Intelligent and experienced folks, they had come to do their 2 years full-time MBA at SIBM, 2001-2003, (Some call it Symbi, and many do not know that SIBM is a flagship MBA college of National and maybe Global repute). I was also there with my work ex with a PSU and Central Police Organisation. Manish had worked for Marriott and helped Marriott set up their first footprint in India (precisely Goa). He did their SOPs, training, coaching and setting up processes. It was all before he came to SIBM. BTW, he was rank-1 in SIBM entrance for MBA. Those days, it was called MPM and we were under Pune University. Symbiosis became deemed University in 2004 and the gen next got their degree titled, MBA. Somehow, I was not excited about SIBM being under Symbiosis University, for simple reason of me seeing that average professors, office staff and librarians, and also the Director remained the same.It was just a naming ceremony and so, I was proud to have my degree of MPM form Pune University. Manish did start with Ma Foi Consultant as campus offer was that for him and also for some other smarter folks. It does not mean others did not get Olam International and ITC and other big names. He quickly realized that mistakes have to be corrected immediately or it becomes part of behavior. He moved to EXL Services and did enjoy his stint, got some quick changes done, had appreciation and then again moved to more realistic world of Unilever as Assistant Training Manager. Manish is a magical trainer. He transforms people and their outlook. Beauty is, he does not talk anything about him or story around his life to motivate you. He takes you to the transforming journey slowly and you consciously hold his hand, start looking up, start feeling lighter and you would not know when you took-off. You know that the best pilots give you such smooth take-offs and soft-landings! I have attended some of his presentations and have seen the passion he brings to the moment. You get glued to the screen with him and him all around. He is very unassuming and maybe also unpredictable in how he will navigate through the presentation or training. It is like a great movie that guarantees you to take you off your feet and you love that 'zero-gravity'. Wait till the end for the biggest 'discovery', the message at the end will sweep you off your feet! It took me hours to come out of what I have gone through once in his presentation (Jonathan Livingston Seagull-A story, written by Richard Bach.) This is a story for people who follow their dreams and make their own rules; a story that has inspired people for decades.
I am very sure, there can be many people who can act passionately telling the story of that immortal "Seagull", but Manish lives it! You can watch through his passion, almost, making of that Seagull as he gathers all his energy to fly! Watch his moves! Mesmerizing!

I wish Manish does 'Open Seminar' on his way of telling the Seagull story. It will create revolutionary impact, he may like to call "total transformation".

Yes, after his presentation, I lived a brief spell of "shake-up". I missed the "transformation" though. Perhaps, I was not ready for it. I had my destiny, who wanted me to remain lost for some more time. It seems my search has begun now, with search for Manish and I found him!
Coming back to to the topic!
Did he learn all that at SIBM? Certainly not! Though yes, he got an audience of some quality. Remember  he was the best guy selected by the SIBM to do the MBA. I cannot expect that Manish was there to learn or experiment. He was there to tell us that life begins the moment you know, what is 'transformation'.
I believe, I heard him talk and present several times but could not transform myself. Not surprised that all great characters in the world needed a "Coach", a transformation agent". Arjuna had Krishna,  Mauryan king Ashoka had Buddhist monk Upagupta, who tamed his fierce and malevolent nature.(Ashokavadana, Buddhist text was written five hundred yeas after Mauryan rule, in second century AD, in Sanskrit). We all need a 'transformation agent'.Sooner the better!

Manish moved on do his research at MIT and Harvard. Now consults select enterprises and SMEs through transformational leadership and Change management.
I remember him as a guy, far ahead and beyond the scope of MBA curriculum, that SIBM followed. I remember what Winston Churchill said about learning, "I certainly like to learn but not necessarily being taught."
I have realized that with people like Manish, you need to focus on what you can collect from him.
Looking forward to working with him.

I was talking to Manish a week back and I told him that "he came to do an MBA, not to learn out of MBA professors and course. Rather he came to see, how he is mis-fit for a regular MBA course. He also learnt, how probationer MBAs are made for operating small wheels of industry.

Google HR Analytics

Ref link at TLNT-

Dr. John Sullivan is a well-known teacher, author, and HR thought leader.

Below is his article published on Feb 26, 2013 in TLNT.

I have written my responses from my experience of being in Human Resources functions with Indian large companies, to MNCs and start-ups.

On average, each employee generates nearly $1 million in revenue and $200,000 in profit each year

How does the Google approach reinvent HR?

HR at Google is dramatically different from the hundreds of other HR functions that I have researched and worked with. To start with, at Google it’s not called human resources; instead, the function is called “people operations.” The VP and HR leader Laszlo Bock has justifiably learned to demand data-based decisions everywhere.

People management decisions at Google are guided by the powerful “people analytics team.” Two key quotes from the team highlight their goals:

“All people decisions at Google are based on data and analytics.”
The goal is to … “bring the same level of rigor to people-decisions that we do to engineering decisions.”
Google is replacing the 20th century subjective decision-making approach in HR. Although it calls its approach “people analytics,” it can alternatively be called “data-based decision-making,” “algorithm based decision-making,” or “fact or evidence-based decision-making.”

“Top 10” of Google’s past and current people management practices to highlight its data-driven approach:

1. Leadership characteristics and the role of managers –Its “project oxygen” research analyzed reams of internal data and determined that great managers are essential for top performance and retention. It further identified the eight characteristics of great leaders. The data proved that rather than superior technical knowledge, periodic one-on-one coaching which included expressing interest in the employee and frequent personalized feedback ranked as the No. 1 key to being a successful leader. Managers are rated twice a year by their employees on their performance on the eight factors.

2. The PiLab — Google’s PiLab is a unique subgroup that no other firm has. It conducts applied experiments within Google to determine the most effective approaches for managing people and maintaining a productive environment (including the type of reward that makes employees the happiest). The lab even improved employee health by reducing the calorie intake of its employees at their eating facilities by relying on scientific data and experiments (by simply reducing the size of the plates).


3. A retention algorithm — Google developed a mathematical algorithm to proactively and successfully predict which employees are most likely to become a retention problem. This approach allows management to act before it’s too late and it further allows retention solutions to be personalized.


4. Predictive modeling – People management is forward looking at Google. As a result, it develops predictive models and use “what if” analysis to continually improve their forecasts of upcoming people management problems and opportunities. It also uses analytics to produce more effective workforce planning, which is essential in a rapidly growing and changing firm.


5. Improving diversity – Unlike most firms, analytics are used at Google to solve diversity problems. As a result, the people analytics team conducted analysis to identify the root causes of weak diversity recruiting, retention, and promotions (especially among women engineers). The results that it produced in hiring, retention, and promotion were dramatic and measurable.


6. An effective hiring algorithm – One of the few firms to approach recruiting scientifically, Google developed an algorithm for predicting which candidates had the highest probability of succeeding after they are hired. Its research also determined that little value was added beyond four interviews, dramatically shortening time to hire. Google is also unique in its strategic approach to hiring because its hiring decisions are made by a group in order to prevent individual hiring managers from hiring people for their own short-term needs. Under “Project Janus,” it developed an algorithm for each large job family that analyzed rejected resumes to identify any top candidates who they might have missed. They found that they had only a 1.5% miss rate, and as a result they hired some of the revisited candidates.

7. Calculating the value of top performers – Google executives have calculated the performance differential between an exceptional technologist and an average one (as much as 300 times higher).


Proving the value of top performers convinces executives to provide the resources necessary to hire, retain, and develop extraordinary talent. Google’s best-kept secret is that people operations professionals make the best “business case” of any firm in any industry, which is the primary reason why they receive such extraordinary executive support.

8. Workplace design drives collaboration – Google has an extraordinary focus on increasing collaboration between employees from different functions. It has found that increased innovation comes from a combination of three factors: discovery (i.e. learning), collaboration, and fun. It consciously designs its workplaces to maximize learning, fun, and collaboration (it even tracks the time spent by employees in the cafĂ© lines to maximize collaboration). Managing “fun” may seem superfluous to some, but the data indicates that it is a major factor in attraction, retention, and collaboration.


9. Increasing discovery and learning – Rather than focusing on traditional classroom learning, the emphasis is on hands-on learning (the vast majority of people learn through on the job learning). Google has increased discovery and learning through project rotations, learning from failures, and even through inviting people like Al Gore and Lady Gaga to speak to their employees. Clearly self-directed continuous learning and the ability to adapt are key employee competencies at Google.


10. It doesn’t dictate; it convinces with data — The final key to Google’s people analytics team’s success occurs not during the analysis phase, but instead when it present its final proposals to executives and managers. Rather than demanding or forcing managers to accept its approach, it instead acts as internal consultants and influences people to change based on the powerful data and the action recommendations that they present. Because its  audiences are highly analytical (as most executives are), it uses data to change preset opinions and to influence

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Yahoo's 'No' to telecommuting: I am with Marissa's decision

The Yahoo! memo said, "We need to be working side-by-side. That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices. Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings. Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home. We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together."

She took a decision and many of us did not like that. Why? Because, we have our own perspectives and we have all the rights and perhaps right arguments to believe in and say, "Why Marissa is wrong" and "Why we are right". Even if we do not say, why we are right, we can say, why she is wrong. All that happens as every one of us have some hands-on experience with the kind of situation, which she has tried to control. Did we really like this? When a CEO, that too new CEO, a very young CEO and perhaps a lady CEO, who was hired when she was pregnant and delivered a baby a month back, takes such "Administrative" decision, it is always protested. If she wanted to bring people together, to learn and collaborate in real work-space, for many obvious 'good' that many commentators listed and what Marissa told clearly, it is her discretionary right to exercise.  Who knows as a servant leader, she may have been asked by board to tighten the rope and fix all loose ends.
Interesting to read that, "programmers/individual contributors have done better in WFH environment" and I agree but at the same time other programmers or architects or testers did not do so well as these great programmers were not there to help as they were not visible and not available. I have seen many failures when one lead is WFH after maternity or due to health reasons, team has suffered and due to poor productivity or quality or timeliness, many of these poor folks in office got fired or left company in utter disgust. Someone said in lighter vein, "Working From Home (WFH) is like Work For Home (WFH*)!

I think she has done a great job. This is high time for Yahoo! to huddle together and be One Yahoo!

All of us know that she is back to work in just 15 days, after delivering her baby!

We all want Yahoo to survive and do well. I remember one indelible statement that one Yahoo CEO made when asked to compare against Google. She said, Yahoo begins, where Google ends. Cannot agree more as she explained that Google tells you where can you find the search and details and analysis but does not do all lot on itself as Google. Yahoo does all that and more!

Look at Yahoo Finance page. Is it not on your Favorite list/bookmark bar?

Help Yahoo! Help Marissa. 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Carrots and Sticks Don't Work

Imagine if you could: 

  • Create massive emotional commitment among all your direct reports
  • Turn apathetic groups into high performance teams exhibiting huge discretionary effort
  • Be a leader who people fight to work with
  • Win a "Best Place to Work" award within 12 months

Indeed, you can do all that and more, and it doesn't take a lot of time or a big budget.

Builds respect and dignity into everyday work life

Nothing is more important than to harness the loyalty, discretionary effort, and commitment of the workforce through respect.

Traditional employee satisfaction surveys make three assumptions that just don’t hold water.

Wrong assumption #1: Every employee response is equally important.

Wrong assumption #2: Every employee opinion is credible.

Wrong assumption #3: Engagement alone drives results.

What Cy Wakeman says are prudent words of caution on Engagement Survey. Helps overcome emotional excitement and bias. Let’s put a stake in the ground and change the way we approach employee engagement, starting with these five practices.

Don’t treat every opinion the same. Listen to what your top performers tell you. They’ve proved their value and earned their credibility, so go ahead: play favorites. Spend less energy on the demands and complaints of your worst employees? (You know the ones – resistant, hard to please, full of excuses.

Insist on personal accountability. Allow employees to see themselves as architects of their own circumstances, not victims. Challenge them to take on more responsibility, and hold them accountable for the results. By replacing a sense of entitlement with a sense of empowerment, you make them bulletproof – capable of handling anything that comes along. Note: this only works if they know you care about their growth and development

Employ quid pro quo. Employees have gotten into the habit of making requests. Maybe they want flex hours or a bigger office or a free lunch every Wednesday. You, as a manager, also need to get in the habit of making requests. In response to the next employee who makes a request, turn the tables and ask, “What are you willing to do to get that?”
Foster a “Yes” culture. Companies are not democracies. We do not vote on decisions. There are people who get paid to make decisions and people who get paid to implement those decisions. Buy-in is not optional. Once a decision has been made, employees should use their expertise to manage the risks and make it work.

Stop trying to create a perfect workplace. There will always be change, conflict, challenges, disagreements, discomfort and frustration in the workplace. And that’s good news! As it turns out, humans can’t be happy and engaged without struggle and strife. Without obstacles and mistakes, we never feel a sense of accomplishment or grow on a personal or professional level. So, instead of removing all these healthy hurdles for your employees, empower them to make the leap. It’s better for them and for the company.

If you must conduct an engagement survey, try one that factors in a certain level of accountability.  Don’t just take the word of the vast majority – many of whom work to collect a paycheck not to add value.  

What kind of employee are you?, Happy or Engaged or both.

Everyone heard the saying, " A happy child is a healthy child."
We also have heard EE and OD experts saying, "A happy employee is a productive employee."
how many of you agree?

But the logic is not that simple and true!
Debatable, right?

Read out what Kevin Kruse has to say-----

“What’s the difference between happiness at work and employee engagement,” 
Someone can be happy at work, but not “engaged.” They might be happy because they are lazy and it’s a job with not much to do. They might be happy talking to all their work-friends and enjoying the free cafeteria food. They might be happy to have a free company car. They might just be a happy person. But! Just because they’re happy doesn’t mean they are working hard on behalf of the company. They can be happy and unproductive.
When someone is engaged, it means they are emotionally committed to their company and their work goals. They care about their work. They care about results. This makes them go above and beyond—to give discretionary effort. In fact, many full engaged people are a little stressed at work. They aren’t necessarily walking the halls whistling a tune, and happily hanging out at the water cooler. Engaged sales people are the ones still banging out cold calls on a Friday afternoon. Engaged programmers are the ones working through the night in order to hit a deadline. Engaged factory workers pull the chain to stop the entire line when they notice a defect.
However, research is overwhelming that we need to be engaged at work in order to be happy in all areas of our life. Because of the spillover and crossover effects, our emotions at work effect our health and relationships. Being fully engaged at work gives us a sense of purpose, of meaning, of belonging…vital human needs beyond the paycheck.
Yeast is not that same as bread, but yeast is required to make bread. Engagement at work is not the same as happiness, but you need engagement to achieve happiness.

Now you must have got several pictures and movie clips crossing your mind of how many happy and engaged employees you have seen across you.

I really care about two defining and differentiating sets of words that Kevin told about engaged employees, "emotionally committed" and "little stressed at work."

Though it is very likely to get stressed and fatigued , if one is emotionally connected with his work but, at the same time gets the true excitement of life by achieving his goals, Kevin calls " sense of purpose ."

Kevin Kruse is a NY Times bestselling author and serial entrepreneur. Grab his newsletter now at and check out keynote video excerpt. His new book, Employee Engagement 2.0, teaches managers how to turn apathetic groups into emotionally committed teams.

Why people block you on LinkedIn?