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Posts Tagged ‘HR’

vide Subramanian Krishnamurthy and Ranganathan Narasimhan

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A couple of days ago, spent some time with J, the spouse of my niece, in Bengaluru. A young man in his thirties deep into music, plays drums, works with professional groups…

He’s part of an org offering music as a medium in corporate training programs. Seriously, yes.

Asked him how. What he said made sense.

Take this for instance,

How-to-Decode-Drum-Charts-Drum-Tabs-and-Notation-for-Beginners

In the preamble of a ‘Team Building’ program, the participants are each given a drum. The lead instructor kicks off with a beat on his drums. The group tries to follow suit. Initially it is all discordant and chaotic. After a while, the participants, one by one, fall in line. And very soon they are playing in mesmerizing unison!

And in about 45 minutes, they all learn the basics to play on the drums – a skill necessary for conducting subsequent sessions –  which they knew nothing about before they had walked into the room,.

What do we get out of it?

The participants get an enormous boost to their self-confidence. In as little as 45 minutes, they have learnt something new in their life.

Well, if they could do this, what’s it to prevent them from performing/succeeding in their new roles in the organization?

So I say, team or no team, why not put all those recently-promoted employees in the organization thru this exercise?

There’s something else too at work here: a key reason for the participants to quickly align themselves as one is the avoidance of discordant and chaotic beats, an immediate and unpleasant punishment for a non-team behavior!

How do we carry this into an organization where the punishment for lack of alignment is rarely immediate and inflicting?

The HR guys would do well to think about this challenge.

Of course, not forgetting in certain contexts it might be considered as a virtue to stand out as different.

The subject of immediate punishment brings to my mind a recent personal anecdote: The cook in the house we were camping took off early one evening for justifiably personal reasons, promising to be back following morning.  Come morning, no sign of the cook. Calls to her phone went unanswered. A couple of hours went by. We were left wondering – should we order food from some nearby eatery or what? The uncertainty of it was quite annoying.

Finally she walked in. We were all set to upbraid her over patently slovenly behavior. Suddenly a thought struck us: who knows, may be the same justifiably personal reasons had delayed her from coming on time. Regardless of the merit of the case, we certainly wanted to register our disapproval.  So, changing our tack, we said: ‘Look dear L, is it fair to make us spend twice for a meal…?’ That’s what ordering food from outside meant, for we were already paying her for her cooking services at home. Instead of pulling her up, we played the victim. Immediate punishment effected here was to drive home the point – inconvenience caused by her behavior, without the use of harsh words to her person.

Here’s another example from the program:

Again, in a following session, the group is taught to play the violin this time.

Here a junior is teamed with a senior and they critique each other’s posture, technique…In a few rounds they are observed to get better at it, working on the feedback!

An interesting exercise that has made an all-knowing (!) senior to accept feedback from a junior. He does not feel threatened displaying his vulnerabilities during learning.  Quite an uncommon scenario.

The important operating principle to be noted is: Learning a new skill is a great equalizer.

How do we take this principle into an organization? A challenge for the management and HR.

A simple approach could be: as often as possible, not risking fatigue, present a new skill to the groups making it a fun activity at the work-place. Importantly it serves to bring the seniors from their exalted stations to get closer to the juniors, constantly dismantling the hierarchical barriers brick by brick. The teams could even be cross-functional. The sheer persistence of this effort without causing ennui gives it a good chance to succeed – I’m not a great fan of those traditional n-day training programs, offsite or onsite, filled with some perfectly juvenile games offered by coaches. I’ve seen time and again there are no sustained gains after the initial euphoria – all boxes ticked ‘excellent’ – with people soon going back to their old ways. The so-called follow-up’s are weak and ineffective at best, performed more in form than in purpose. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a scam.

In summary, two powerful principles, demonstrably effective, not to be dismissed as gimmicky, that could be imaginatively and profitably employed in corporate training.

Unfortunately time did not permit learning more from J.

 

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Source: TakeLessons.com

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Sanmargam

No odious comparison or put-down’s:

Shahid Akhtar, studies Physics & Technology at Ajyal Almaarefah International School, Jizan Quora hpih

Thinking about it, employee engagement is not very diff from bringing up children! A similar situation that readily comes to mind is the recognition of team performance versus an individual’s.

Just when this post was being put together, this comes along: This Burger King employee was shamed on social media – her story here makes a sad reading.

In our daily bustle, we forget garbage needs to be removed, burgers flipped…

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Source: Contributed in Quora by Shahid Akhtar studying Physics & Technology at Ajyal Almaarefah International School, Jizan

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M is your guy to grab…not many around like him.

Read on to know what I meant:

Episode 1: When he stopped ‘it’ in its tracks…unbelievable!

He was visiting Hyderabad (Begumpet airport, Secunderabad) from Chennai, in by the morning and scheduled to return by the evening flight 6.30 pm, flying both ways on propeller-driven Avro.  Till 5.30 he was checking up regularly on flight departure and he was told it was uncertain due to unfavorable weather conditions at Chennai. And then they said the flight was cancelled for the day. M happened to be nearby and hence rushed to Indian Airlines office to check on alternatives available – booking wasn’t online then.

He was in their office by 6 pm when he learnt the Avro flight was after all leaving on time! He blew his top for the  misinformation and insisted on taking that flight as he would be able to reach the airport in the next 10 minutes. It wasn’t possible, he was told. Not one DNA’ed to take a ‘no’, M insisted they inform the duty-officer (DO) at the airport about his coming in regardless. Disconnecting without waiting for a response, he rushed to airport and was at the counter by 6.25. The staff quite expectedly refused to check him in. He rushed to the DO who also regretted his inability to help, pointing out to the aircraft all ready to move with the ground staff closing the formalities and giving thumbs-up to the pilot. He threatened the DO he’ll rush out and stop the aircraft which is what exactly M did next! He jumped the security; chased by all including DO, he outran all of them reaching the aircraft just then beginning to move.

Fearing worse, the DO did what he could to keep M out of his hair: the aircraft was halted, the ladder expressly brought in, a boarding-pass printed…was he happy to see M’s back as the door closed!!

Today, of course, a mere attempt in the direction or even an expression of such intent would get him arrested!

Episode 2: Just the man for the herd

The Air-India flight from Dubai to Mumbai was for some reason diverted to Delhi. Obviously there was total commotion and clamor for seats to make the onward journey. The staff at AI counter were simply unable to handle the onslaught. Just the scene cut out for our man to jump in. M managed to push himself to the front – his lean frame lets him move edge-ways! – climbed onto the counter and raised his voice to cow down the belligerent passengers to some order. He then asked them to make up different queues: one for families with small children, another for senior citizens and, lastly, others. Further M declared seats shall be allotted in the same order of the queues i.e. beginning with the families with small children. Some in the third lot were not happy with it, pressing on their needs as urgent over others. He got the duty-officer (DO) also to make a concurring announcement and stick with it.

M made his wife and children (not small) to stand aside, not wanting to be seen as self-seeking. Thence it was smooth-going: the first lot and the second were accommodated in full. About a third of the rest could also be pushed through before the flight was full up. The remaining, including his family, had to perforce wait for another flight. He arranged with the DO to authorize priority seating for them on the next flight. Finally when the counters opened for their flight, our man duly queued up with others. That’s when he was called to meet up with the DO. The DO thanked M heartily for helping them manage a chaotic scene and gave him the glad tidings of an upgrade for his family and him to first-class – a fine gesture from AI!

These two episodes – it wasn’t easy to choose from the many on hand – give you a flavor of what M was and is.

It may just be possible yet to tempt M with a challenge, to come out of his peaceful retirement in a community off the city of Mysore. A word of caution however: liaising, lobbying, scratching people’s back…are not M’s cup of coffee as also underhand dealings of any kind. A square-shooter of the old school, that’s what Mani is and what you get, dealing with him.

 

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Suveer Madapravan is feeling happy.

April 25 at 7:35pm ·

Today at Hyderabad airport…..

I was at the internet center using the (free) net service,

Spotted this lady with a kid in panic.

You guessed it right: she had missed a connecting flight, coming from Delhi to Hyderabad, proceeding onwards to Cochin. Wife of a navy officer based in Cochin, she used my phone and spoke to her husband as she didn’t have a mobile phone. I tried booking tickets and the price was Rs. 14,700 per ticket just then I saw Mr. Gavin, customer service officer from indigo and elaborated her story; in fact, he too was searching for her. I asked him if he could accommodate her in the next flight for which he said he would try and took her out of the boarding area to the Indigo ticket counter. I asked her if she required some money – she declined.

Then, I got back to the internet center, her husband calling me almost continuously and asking me to buy a ticket with the assurance he would transfer the amount to me without delay. But, I couldn’t connect with her as she had gone outside the boarding area. Was just upset I couldn’t do much and mentally stressed thinking what would have happened And started using the internet.

Just then I saw this lady coming back and thanking me…she gave me desi ghee laddoo and mixture.

indigo 1

I was so happy to see them settled and asked her how much did she pay for the tickets.

She said, ‘NOTHING.’

I was pleasantly surprised and happy that INDIGO recognized her as a navy officer’s wife and did the realignment free of cost.

I have heard people share a lot of bad experiences with Indigo executives…but, here is a HERO…Mr. Gavin, customer service officer who took all the responsibility and ensured a smooth arrangement.

Kudos to Indigo and Mr. Gavin. As I see it, Suveer too has been no less a hero either.

indigo 2

This incident brings up a key question not confined to Indigo:  Why can’t all – may be not all, but most – customer-facing employees be like Mr. Gavin?

I see a few factors responsible for this magic to (not) happen: a) Firstly s strong conviction from the top to do the right thing by the customer and not hesitate to walk an extra mile if situation demands b) strong communication, stretched to the point of indoctrination, of what the org stands for with frequent reinforcement, preferably practiced very visibly in live action,  and c) empowerment at the service end-points for showing sensitivity backed up by quick action

While on the subject of indoctrination, so well managed by the MNC’s, I’m reminded of a specific instance that serves to exemplify the point being made. Years ago, I think late seventies or early eighties, Hewlett-Packard was lagging behind everyone else in the field in announcing a 32-bit computer, something the Indian market clamored for. We faced stiff resistance wherever we went to talk about HP’s computers, the ones with 16-bit word-length. We had folks coming in from Palo Alto (International Sales), Hong Kong (Fare East HQ) to tell us and our prospects, thumping the table, how word-length did not matter at all in commercial data processing where data is basically 8 bits. In fact, shorter word-lengths yielded better results at times! Neither did we buy the argument, our customers, even less. Since there was no 32-bit product in HP’s stable, we were forced to push ahead in the field whatever we had, on the back of those arguments we didn’t believe in. Needless to add we were completely disheartened with so few wins.

Some months passed. A team, no strangers, came down from Palo Alto grinning ear-to-ear to break it to us.  This time it was a you-asked-for-it-and-here-it-is 32-bit computer, made available for sale in the Indian market! Along with it came a new set of arguments – all of it old hat to us – how a 32-bit machine out-zips machines with shorter word-lengths (never mind there was hardly any of its kind in the market), all from the same executives spoken with the same conviction! I didn’t think for a moment they were being dishonest. It was more like ‘my company says now this is an innovative product that outperforms 16-bits and it must be so.’ Some innovation, indeed!

That’s indoctrination for you. Am sure if one asked any HP employee in any of its factories or from any of its far-flung field-offices across continents, they would speak the same words! Contrast it with an Indian organization, where every employee proudly has his own views on his company, its values and its products and speaks about it freely. And that’s why not all of them can never ever be Mr. Gavin.

Indigo, not all is lost yet…indoctrinate…indoctrinate…indoctrinate thought, speech and action…the way to go.

 

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PS: HP reckoned its new product a success over its lifetime – I’m sure they had the numbers to back up. Though it did not exactly set any river on fire, no books were written about it, as far as I know. An epic  let-down for die-hard’s like me. However, it was a certainly bold step for HP, perhaps the first among its peers,  to embrace Unix over proprietary software for its mid-range and mini-computers. Staying with proprietary software was cited by many industry pundits as a reason for the downfall of the legendary Vax machines and the eventual demise of DEC.

Source: vide Gopalakrishna Sunderrajan in fb.

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Manager's Problems

 

A different point of view.

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