Friday, April 15, 2011

Bad Day at Work

It doesn't really have to be this way :)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Employee Blogs - Your New Tool for Improving Productivity

That social media is the modern medium of communication needs no endorsement. Twitter and Facebook rule the internet. This map, illustrated in Feb 2011, shows how Facebook has come to dominate the globe. And the micro-blogging site Twitter has celebrities and politicians addressing the world in 140 characters or less. Companies use Twitter and Facebook to reach out to their target audience. "Broadband" is the new name for Oxygen for today's Netizens!

So, where does your company stand in this burgeoning and still evolving virtual landscape? Obviously, the savvy would have already had their social media strategy in place. That is not the scope of this post, in a blog that has dedicated itself towards promoting the cause of Human Resource Management towards organisational success. Rather, the idea, in this era of "Micro-blogging", is to highlight the power of Web-logs or "Blogs" as a means of "Empowering" employees. Is your organisation being carried away by the power of social media to reach consumers and customers, that it has overlooked its own internal customers, its employees? Has your organisation come up with its "Employee Blog" yet?

There are many more organisations that would have embraced the concept of electronic, one-way communication, when compared with those that would have come to realise the power of Blogs as an effective two-way communication medium - and dialogue - with employees. People familiar with Human Resource Management concepts would have been acquainted with the idea of 'Employee Voice'. In simple terms, when you give 'Voice' to your employees, you democratise your workplace, yielding some of your bargaining power to employees. In an era where formal unions are going into retreat, it is essential that organisations reach out to employees and listen to what they have to say regarding their perceptions of business practices and working conditions, if you want to unleash your employees' potential. And these days, technology is so much more user-friendly than the days of yore, that it takes a mere access to a computer with an internet connection, to sermonise the world. 

Irrespective of whether you, as an organisation, have channelised your employees' 'voice' or not, the truth is that your employees are already out there, casting their votes about the way the organisation functions and the way employees are being managed. Employees have their own on-line social networking groups and blogs, where they express their ideas and opinions about their employers anyway, perhaps, covertly. Rather than going about sniffing what your employees are up to on the internet, how about recognising this fact of work-life and legitimising employee blogs? Some of the best known global brands encourage their employees to blog, uncensored, and in the process, cash in on the opportunity to have their ears to the ground and have a feel of the pulse of the organisation and morale of employees. And employees do express opinions about things that matter through blogs, which organisations, otherwise, may never get to hear at all. The onus is on the employer to create a sense of security in the employees' minds so that they feel free to blog about their place of work. And when you give your employees 'Voice', not only do you have more scope to know your employees better through employee blogs, but you also make them have a sense of 'fairness' in their now 'officially recognised' freedom of expression. 

So, go ahead, create some space, give them freedom, legitimise your employee blogs and give them 'Voice'. You only have so much to gain out of delivering satisfaction to your internal customers and see your productivity grow!  

Saturday, March 05, 2011

The Travails of Capitalism - Mervyn King Raps on Banks' Knuckles

What happens when business is driven by shares? Some may not find it strange at all that businesses exist for the sole purpose of making sure their shareholders reap the returns and remain a gratified lot. Profit Maximisation and Shareholder Value Maximisation - are they not the Mantras that are supposed to keep businesses going?

Historically, Capitalism has shown the way forward, with shareholder value maximisation being adhered to with utmost earnestness. However, while shares have made millionaires out of the erstwhile working classes, what we have seen through the Great Depression and the economic recessions is the speed at which the flow could be reversed and how the mighty structures could collapse to rubble. The financial meltdown had its last laugh in the latest episode of businesses' tryst with their destinies; but the spirit of Capitalism would never say die! The phoenix has risen, again, from its ashes, aiming to reach new heights.

The problem, however, is with the basics. Shareholders are interested in returns - and businesses driven by shareholder orientation tend to have two types of goals - short-term and the long-term. And it is this dilemma that exerts enormous pressure on the Human Resources. When consumers are neglected in the pursuit of profits, one can imagine what the status of the "employee" would be, in business that is pressed for short-term success.

As if to reinforce the importance of remembering the basics, without being carried away by fancies to glorify the shareholder, Mervyn King, the Governor of the Bank of England, has warned that banks have not learned their lessons right, and that the crisis has not yet led to regulations being put in place to make sure the recession doesn't raise its ugly head again. Do other industries treat their consumers better than the banking sector does? Is banking more prone to opportunistic behaviour with a short-term orientation? Well, the Governor has given more than just a hint at the state of affairs in the industry. It is up to the watch dogs, and the players themselves, to decide where they stand, and where their competitive advantages lie - with the shareholders with short-term orientation, or with consumers and their human resources, with a long-term strategy. After all, all that the economy can do, is to teach a few lessons - it's the businesses and the regulators that have to learn their parts. 

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Do you Own your Social Networking Profile?

I came across this interesting piece of debate, so apt a discussion in this new world of social networking for business - "Who owns your LinkedIn Profile". Social Networking is taken so much for granted these days that one is often taken aback by the implications of one's actions in cyberspace.

Professional networking sites such as LinkedIn are becoming all pervasive in a networked world, where making new friends and becoming part of professional memberships is the order of the day. However, LinkedIn strikes as a prominent example of the conundrum that the coming days would pose to those who are accustomed to the new way of "stayig in touch", and more so to the recruiting fraternity that has come to rely so much on the power of LinkedIn.

The debate discusses the ownership conflict that arises when a recruiter, who has built up his database brick-by-brick by initiatives in the social networking arena, quits his organisation and moves on - does his database belong to him or does his employer have the rights over the contacts that the employer has encouraged the recruiter to build?

This is an issue that could have wider ranging ramifications, as the border that seperates work from personal networking becomes one more shade of grey. With so many organisations using Twitter to promote and build their brands, what would happen when the person with thousands of followers moves on to another company? Would the company ask the person to shed all the followers in favour of the company and ask her to build her base afresh?

To be sure, this does look impractical. That social networking sites are more useful for business than what they were thought of, must come as no surprise. However, social networking is a tool that is available for anyone to leverage. As an employer, the company could encourage the employee to build his database and use it for professional purposes. However, I doubt if companies can really have a say over ownership issues of the LinkedIn or Twitter profiles built by employees, unless such clauses have been originally included in the employment agreement with the employee. The onus pretty much lies on the organisation to make such aspects clear and unambiguous, as it is the organisation that encourages such networking behaviour from its employee.

In the event of an employee moving on to greener pastures, and in the absence of such explicit agreements with the employee, the organisation should only hope to bring in a replacement for her, who has equally attractive, if not better, contacts in professional networking sites, which the organisation could very well leverage for its own business advantages.

All said, if an employee is so rich in professional (and personal) contacts, it makes sense for the organisation to try to retain the employee, such a valuable asset that she is to maintain on the payrolls.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Common Mistakes in a Resume' - The "Objective": Part 2

What are the "Rules" to the 'right' objective?
Rule 1: Be to the point.
Your objective depicts you as a person. Are you professional in your approach? Would you be up to the task? Are you knowledgeable? Do you have the appropriate expertise? Are you trustworthy?
One could infer as much as your integrity through a single line that your Objective is supposed to be! Now, that isn't far-fetched. Recruiters with years of experience can make you out from that statement that defines you!
Rule 2: Use minimum words.
Remember! A recruiter, no matter how fast, never has sufficient time. All he looks for is a clue that would fetch him the right candidate. To drench him with words might just be the wrong strategy - and worse so to begin your Resume' with.

Rule 3: Convey just what you want to convey.
That is the key. First, decide what you want to convey; then, convey just that. What is the reason that the recruiter should consider you as the right candidate? What would give him the hint that you may have something in-store that may be of interest to the job at hand? What precisely do you want? Which industry/ division/ job/ position are you applying for? Which skill-sets do you have that would put your candidature above the rest?
Put them all in a nut-shell, make it short, use minimum words and be to the point.
Objective: A CCNA and MCSE with hands-on experience looking for Technical Support Positions.
Objective: Sales Manager in a continuous process industry with a Degree in Mechanical Engineering, having exposure to Material Handling in a manufacturing set-up.
It has to be crisp, it has to attract attention, it has to be you and only you. Never try to be someone whom you are not, in your Objective.
Rule 4: Realise that your "Objective" can decide your fate regarding the job you are applying for!
Well, that is self-explanatory. When you realise that, the rest would follow.
Make the most of your first impression!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Common Mistakes in a Resume' - The Objective!

I keep going through Resume's and I find mistakes in most of them. Mistakes so common that they never strike people as mistakes at all!
With so many thousands eyeing each job and with every opportunity being sought after by eager competitors, it becomes increasingly important to craft Resume's with as less flaws as possible.
It so happens that the "Objective" part is one that is the most prominent part of a Resume' and yet, one that is so alarmigly standardised and given the least importance towards. Let's see what an "Objective" is supposed to do, in this piece.
A couple of sample "Objectives" that are very commonly used in a majority of CV's are reproduced here:
"To be part of a growing organisation and a global work force that provides opportunities in a world-class environment"
"To excel in my areas of strength and grow with the organisation so that I make my organisation proud and contribute to continuing and constant growth . . . ."
Caution: Never use these in your Resume's! These objectives almost always put the recruiter off.
What would you want to convey to your recruiter through your Resume'? How much scope do you have to convince the anonymous recruiter whom you have never seen? How many candidates do you compete with for the very same opportunity? Why would you want to waste a chance that could be your only one?
Rule 1: Be to the point.
Rule 2: Use minimum words.
Rule 3: Convey just what you want to convey.
Rule 4: Realise that your "Objective" can decide your fate regarding the job you are applying for!
An Objective is a Tool that can convey a message and convince your recruiter to take the next step - to go through the Resume' in detail. In the next post, we'll see how you can use it to your advantage.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Grow and Let Grow!

Private or Public, expectations are the same - and so are the rules of the game.
The popularity of Public Sector Enterprises never seems to have been at a high when it came to prospective employees. That's not to say that no one wanted to work for PSU's. They did. And that was when people considered "Job Security" sacrosanct. "Where else would you be safe but for the Government Sector?"
Now, that "S" word is long gone; people are a lot more used to uncertainty these days. PSU's dont splurge when it comes to compensation of employees. Bureaucracy rules in most Government undertakings - expect for a handful that have resolved to relegate the red tape into oblivion. Is this what makes the young aspirant think more than twice before applying for a job in a PSU?
What I could gather was that something else was the prime reason for youngsters opting not to aspire for a 'Government job' - "Lack of Growth Prospects"! This is the factor that comes first in inhibiting Generation Y! "What's in it for me in growth terms? Will be there a professional Employee Performance Appraisal system in place in a PSU? How long would I have to keep climbing up the ladder? How many hindrances would I have from the 'leaders'? Who would vouch for my progress?"
These questions are the most prominent ones in the minds of the youth. And this is followed by the factors mentioned earlier - bureaucracy, Red Tapism, lack of Professionalism, insufficient pay . . .
Upon receiving this feedback from a bunch of MBA students, I posed this question to them. "How many of you would be willing to work for Maruti Udyog?" Almost everyone expressed their ready agreement to be part of the company. A car maker that took the market by storm is still one of the most sought after employers.
The inference from the episode is two-fold: PSU's are being looked down upon not because of their being PSU's but because of the image that they have created for themselves. And "Growth" in career occupies prime time in the minds of an ambitious employee. Companies do have some lessons there.

Monday, April 24, 2006

The "Best" Companies

The "Best Companies" need not be the "Best Companies for YOU to work for"!

Try posing this question to a few - "Do you deserve the Best?". You could end up facing a variety of responses - most of them would be different forms of the "Affirmative"; and in some cases, the responses may not be necessarily polite or even Verbal, depending on the moods of the respondents ("How silly do you think you could ever get?"). But not many would say "No, I DO NOT deserve the Best" but for those who have gotten really serious about Self-Improvement and have decided to become Brutally Honest!

However, what evades our conscious attention is something very basic. It is the result of the human tendency to assume things and frame hypotheses by default. We normally tend to take for granted that what is best for one has to be the best for everyone else out there!
We come across this 'phenomenon', not to use a term as negative as 'Syndrome', all too often - and more so when it comes to one's all-important Career Moves! A 'Template' gets formed in our minds sub-consciously and we get into the trap of thinking 'Perfectly Logically', within the set template; and in most cases, we never get to acknowledge the presence of such a frame of mind until, for instance, something goes terribly wrong! It is then that we decide to sit back and extract ourselves from the scenario to analyse what we have been 'Tuned' to do, by default!
How many of us get frustrated on the job, in spite of being in one of the most "Enviable Positions" when it comes to one's peers? How many times have we asked ourselves, "What is the missing ingredient in my daily bread?" How frequently do we cry over the milk that keeps spilling, again and again? How often have we wanted to get back a few years and re-write our personal histories?
All that needs to be done to get out of this cycle is to realise one simple reality - "What is good for you, may not be good for me!" That precisely is the reason why one needs to think twice, or perhaps even a few times more, before one gets conditioned into applying to the "Best" companies, by default! "The Best Companies" convey the financial healths - and other parameters - of the companies in question. But when it comes to the quest to find yourselves in the "Best" place of work, it really has to be a "Match" between you, a part of the company, and your organisation, the "Whole" of your professional self. Every company has a 'soul' that is defined and formed by the thousands of people who give it its life - the onus lies on you to make sure that you would make a natural fit into the place where you would spend the majority of your remaining life time in!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Listen Carefully - It's being 'Assertive', not 'Aggressive!'

Listening is as much a part of being assertive, as is conviction.
People are not individuals any more - people are sets of groups. One ought to be ready for the buzz word - Team Work. While individual skills matter as much as ever, equally important is the ability of individuals to appreciate the phenomenon of groups.
It is here that one faces the question - am I being assertive enough to be heard by the rest? How could I make my presence in the group felt? When everyone has a view of one's own, how am I going to make my views reach the discussion table? Even if it does reach, am I being forceful enough to make it sound valid and plausible? Is someone suppressing me and my expressions? What if Im left out of the discussions? What if I never had a role to play in solving the problem? Will I be of any value at all? If Im not of any perceptible value, would I stay in the team?
The focus of the actions turns into one for existence. Survival is a big game - when one gets caught in a stampede! And the quest for survival could well turn into a game of power; and when it does, it does not remain a Team anymore!
The situation is a lot trickier than it sounds - and the onus definitely lies on the moderator to set a system up and running that values individual contributions and nourishes the team, simultaneously. However, the responsibility lies with every team member. And the key lies in something absolutely natural for human beings - "Listening Skills"!
Assertiveness is not about going for the jugular - and it is by no means about being Aggressive! Assertiveness is one's ability to be clear and concise about what one has to say - after having taken the opponent's views into consideration. Listening is as much a part of being assertive, as is conviction. For, the role of an individual in a group lies in his/ her contributions to the group - and not in promoting himself or herself through some Power Play!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Are you Sure?

When you are not sure, it reflects in your behaviour, in your body language, in your actions, in your effectiveness and in the results.
I was approached by a youngster; I had just conducted a session on Self Improvement for a group of young people. "Feel Confident" was the message that I had stressed on, in my session. "When you start off confidently, half of your job is already done".
The girl, after the session, reached up to me. "You said feeling confident was a major factor in success". I listened. "But you never told us how to feel confident?"
It was a valid question. "Can you please tell me how to build my Self-confidence?" I saw that many in the group were interested in my response. They all knew that winning required confidence - but they were not sure how to become confident!
To become confident is, in simple terms, to be sure. 'Is this the right pair of jeans for the rugged shirt that I'm wearing? Am I walking too fast? Is someone glaring at me? Am I being so loud that I may be disturbing others? . . .' Instances where we are not sure of ourselves, abound. When you are not sure, it reflects in your behaviour, in your body language, in your actions, in your effectiveness and in the results of your actions. When you don't achieve, you get even more doubtful of yourselves. When you doubt yourselves, you are not confident any more. When you are not confident, you would not stand a good chance of succeeding. . . you get caught up in a vicious circle that dumps you within your own shell.
Building confidence is not an extroverted effort where you keep monitoring every move of yours and seeing if you are sure of whatever you do. It involves going a lot deeper into yourselves, looking within and analysing the fabric that you are made up of. To study the deeds of a third person is easy; to criticise the runner who falls is fun; to suggest corrective measures for the dip in the prospect of a risk-taking individual has no stakes attached. But to read yourself takes a lot more concentration, dedicated attention and realisation of the inherent fallibility of every human being. Then starts the step-by-step process of building on your foundations till you know for sure, what you are and where you stand!