December 19, 2009

How has recession changed you?

Recession is almost over.. But, yes, corporate leaders know how bad it was... From riding on a growth wave and managing hyper-growth in some industries to managing no growth (or minimal growth) if not de-growth was quite a task. Wasn't easy - but to adapt and mold was inevitable.

The theme of 'recession' dominated the business world, public sector, non-profit sector and working communities at large; it also was so overtly used in the media that it's become a joke, or supposedly a funny answer to any question related to economy, jobs, or even individual finances. Needless to say - it did leave an impact on everyone’s lives.

After my previous post - Everyone thinks business, I kept thinking o'er the subject and couldn't really help elaborating further on how and what are the other areas that have changed in a common man's life due to recession. Living in my own little world and given my bounded rationality, I am thoroughly convinced that would be a significant change in the mindsets of at least the working folk across the world - thanks to recession.

  • Freeze unnecessary spend, increase savings—The core impact has been on freezing unnecessary spending. With rising incomes in households, India has been witnessing a huge rise in spending—the flocking of many international brands to India holds a testimony to it. The news of recession saw such a panic that people lined-up out of the banks to withdraw their deposits and put a freeze on any spend in anticipation of absolute uncertainty.
  • Longevity in jobs—Recession saw a very peculiar behavior at least in corporate India, where people were reluctant to change jobs, even in industries where attrition rates were the highest. Companies suddenly were posed with a new problem—how to deal with low attrition, when they were looking forward to shed some flab? 
  • New workplace dynamics—workplaces have seen a lot of disruption through the recession period, and there will be new and interesting changes emerging. Moreover, a decade down the line, things will change quite significantly, as the next-level citizens at the workplace will profess higher ambitions, will be more diversity-friendly, cross-culturally adaptable, more networked, demanding flexibility among others.
  • Higher Competitiveness—Given the current experience and the reality of future—everyone has had a taste of ‘survival of the fittest’. This has shaken up almost everyone that competitiveness matters a great deal, both at individual and corporate levels. 
  • Prudence in Risk-taking— Everyone has come to know that excessive credit, multiple-insurances, undue mortgages, defaults on payments had at large formed the foundation for America’s biggest bank failures which set off a chain reaction leading to a total collapse of the economy. This has a great lesson for individuals—to exercise prudence when taking sales calls for a new credit card, personal / home loan or an insurance package; even in terms of shifting jobs, or even changing one’s cell-phone models often. I know of few who’ve started paying off their credit and surrendering their credit cards.
  • Conservatism in vogue— With personal resources feeling a strain it may no more be fashionable to show-off the best of brands without as much utility. Spending & consumption patterns will certainly undergo a change. Than individuals, business corporate is more likely to adapt to this model for long term benefits—because the recession has put to test the strategies of all companies, and only the ones with a long-term conservative strategy have seen the least damage. 
  • More jugaad—resources strained, inflation on rise, and India’s best on jugaad :) there will certainly be a lot of focus on how differently things can be done, and cost factors. Might give a rise to new trends socially and at business level too.

Well, I think I’ve written this longer than what I’d expected :)

But, as I always say and believe—human behavior is very unpredictable, and irrational at times. So, the above trends are just a predictive analysis of mine. As a reader, you may please do add, leave your comments as to what you think about – how has recession changed you?

December 12, 2009

Everyone thinks business..

'Twas in mid / end of second quarter of 2009 when recession started taking its toll in India, and companies got a shocking slow-down on their growth ride. The community of employees labored under the indecisiveness and knee-jerk reactions of their respective managements and while coping with it, some did survive, while the others were ejected to search for other opportunities.. That called for a trend, where, at least most (read all) of my friends, and friends' friends (including me) were thinking of starting up their own business...each with his own idea (not original ones, though).

About a year later, now, that the jobs market is open and recruitment agencies are witnessing a resurrected demand for employment, everyone's forgotten their (so called) 'dreams' to start their own business; everyone's now looking for a job; one that's paying better for the ones who're already employed.. Voila, was that something not expected?!?

December 6, 2009

Dreams - What are they?

We come across this term quite a lot these days - 'dream', in fact is a very common phrase in today's parlance. But, not all mean the same when they say - 'My dream...', cos the one dream wouldn't let one sleep.. It's gonna keep you up till you've achieved it!

November 4, 2009

I am what I am...

Of the many favorite taglines published by marketing companies - 'I Am, What I am' used by Reebok has clicked quite well, and I see people flashing this message with or without understanding what it means.. Serves  as a good personal marketing tagline as well. But..

I often wonder what people exactly mean when they make that 'I am what I am' statement, cos many invisibly read 'I am what I am - A silly dumbo', eh? hehe..

When I pointed it out on Facebook, my friend Marc was quick to comment - "Its stolen from the Bible...So wrong." Yes, it is. That statement is not to be used so lightly, cos it's so profound and is a self-definition of a person that man cannot perhaps imagine being one.

The origin of the statement comes from the Holy Bible, where, when the prophet Moses asked God to reveal his name; in response - the Almighty God, rather arrogantly (refusing to name himself) declared 'I Am that I Am'. Which literally means - I am Unchanging. It's God - and as we all know - God is Great.. He has no beginning and no end. He was, He is Great and mighty, He is and He will be. He's got the whole world in His hands. It's apt a definition for the person of God.

But when one of us - humans, state that - it's really funny.. rather ridiculous. One can't really be stating - 'I am what I am' - a silly fellow, and you better not hope for me to get any better! Well, think about it.. and STOP using such statements abusively used by marketers.

October 27, 2009

'The Lost Symbol' Review

The plot is good; the visual imagery is clich̩ to Dan Brown Рbloody and thrilling; the flow Рsimply hooks up the reader. As they say, art and literature are a reflection of contemporary trends Рso this too is Рspecifically about the global quest for spirituality, spiritism, and the application of science to it - noetics.

Weaving a story around a plethora of symbols, symbolisms and ancient artifacts is Brown’s forte. His signature style is in the sparking-up of the controversial coincidental-connections between these symbols and major world institutions, mostly religious.

Having said all that, ‘The Lost Symbol’, to sum it all up in one word is simply Lost. Well, I’m being awfully critical, right?!? That’s because when the purpose of a novel goes beyond literary purposes and ‘a good read’, it also needs to be as critically looked upon.

The weirdest part about Brown especially in the three novels featuring Robert Langdon is that he tends to get very philosophic and preachy about few subjects, debate of Science vs. Religion for instance in Angels & Demons; unproven details behind the holy grail in The Da Vinci Code; Noetics in The Lost Symbol. This only makes readers put it down for a while, like I did, another mini-discourse, let me take a quick break. But, I guess, it’s to do with the character – Langdon’s a professor.

As I finished reading, I was just saying to myself “What!!! So much mystery ‘just’ for this bit? Such a calm and all absorbing climax to all this suspense built-up?” The end is on a ‘note of ‘hope’’. Sigh! Well, all The Da Vinci Code readers must have been bit ready for such a thing, because even that ended in a no great climax, instead a ‘fatherly kiss’ from Prof. Langdon.

At a point in the novel, it seems as if Brown is making up for the damage by quoting & supporting The Holy Bible so much that he’d done with his writings in The Da Vinci Code. All of the hype around this NY Times’ bestseller has come to an end for me.

Going beyond ‘The Lost Symbol’, to be candid, if there’s so much criticism about Brown’s novels, I believe it has to do with the fictionalization and presentation of profound subjects as mentioned above in mere plainness.

Talking about the author – I have a feeling that Brown is somewhere caught in the spiritual realms and not able to find his way out. But, as the novel points in the end – ‘There is hope’.

Dear Brown - hope you’ll find ‘the way’ in the spiritual realms...

October 9, 2009

If you can't convince them, confuse them!

I don't think Harry Truman had an idea of how widely this mantra he gave would be put to use. In some areas, it also defines the strategies..

I've seen this mantra at work and it's very true of large organizations— Governments, large business organizations, religious institutions like church etc., all employ this principle in a very effective way. When all the substance they can use to convince is exhausted, the only way left is to confound the rest - for the best.

Clarified but not Convinced

A lot of formal communication in any organization is by the management - flows top to bottom. Focused mainly on getting the management message across - primarily about objectives, results, strategies, scorecards, policies, procedures, news & updates, other etc., So the idea behind all is - 'Get the message across!'

Of course, one can't imagine discounting the little-bit of the feedback taken and surveys conducted to understand the employees' ranting and raving as well. What of the communication after surveys? Err.. wrong question! Be focused - the point I'm driving home is - the objective of communication is - 'Get the message across!', is it clear?

I've been having this 'clarified but not convinced' feeling reinforced specifically since the time India Inc., had started taking recession cover for various cost-effective measures. There's been a great deal of communication on these strict measures. But, as I observe hundreds of people around me, myself, working family members who keep watching how India Inc., is succeeding in bringing the expenses curve down, for them, the other economic costs have been going up. Even for these measure the great deal of communication that's been happening within the organization from top to bottom has been to elaborate the management's stand and to clarify... Unfortunately, management communication hasn't been able to convince anyone.

Guess the cost of convincing employees is too high! Any doubts? Is it clear? Yes, it's clarified, but, I am still not convinced..

Do not forget the sons and daughters of misery...

The 'Do not forget' speech by William Booth. Transcript also available here...

For a video in Booth's own voice, click here...

I am glad you're enjoying yourselves. The Salvationist is a friend of happiness. Making heaven on earth is our business. 'Serve the Lord with gladness' is one of our favorite mottos. So I am pleased that you are pleased.

But amidst all your joys do not forget the sons and daughters of misery. Do you ever visit them? Come away and let us make a call or two..

Here is a home, six in family, they eat and drink and sick and die in the same chamber. Here is a drunkard's hovel, void of furniture, wife a skeleton, children in rags, father mistreating the victims of his neglect. Here are the unemployed, wandering about, seeking work and finding none. Yonder are the wretched criminals, cradled in crime, passing in and out of the prisons all the time. There are the daughters of shame, diseased and wronged and ruined, traveling down the dark incline to an early grave. There are the children, fighting in the gutter, going hungry to school, growing up to fill their parents' places..

Brought it all on themselves, do you say? Perhaps so, but that does not excuse our assisting them!

You don't demand a certificate of virtue before you drag someone drowning creature out of the water, nor the assurance that a man has paid his rent before you deliver him out of the burning building!

But what shall we do? Content ourselves by singing a hymn, offering a prayer or giving a little good advice? No! Ten thousand times, no!

We will pity them, feed them, reclaim them, employ them, perhaps we shall fail with many, quite likely. But our business is to help them all the same. And that is the most practical, economical, and Christ-like manner. So let us hasten to the rescue for the sake of our own peace, the poor wretches themselves, the innocent children, and the Savior of us all. But you must help with the means,  and as there is nothing like the present, who in this company will lend a hand by taking up the collection?

October 1, 2009

Ka ching!

One of my favorites from Shania Twain.. 

We live in a greedy little world
that teaches every little boy and girl
To earn as much as they can possibly
then turn around and spend it foolishly

We've created us a credit card mess
We spend the money that we don't possess
Our religion is to go and blow it all
So it's shoppin' every Sunday at the mall

All we ever want is more
A lot more than we had before
So take me to the nearest store

Can you hear it ring
It makes you wanna sing
It's such a beautiful thing--Ka-ching!
Lots of diamond rings
The happiness it brings
You'll live like a king
With lots of money and things

When you're broke go and get a loan
Take out another mortgage on your home
Consolidate so you can afford
To go and spend some more when you get bored

Let's swing...
Dig deeper in your pocket
Oh, yeah, ha,
Come on I know you've got it
Dig deeper in your wallet

September 30, 2009

Rudyard Kipling's 'IF'

I was reminded of this poem yet again, as one of my friend was pitching for a proposal to market a book written with this poem as the base material...

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;  

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!

September 29, 2009

Nasty Journalists!

Came across this news in Delhi times about Bipasha getting groped in a Pandal.. Sick, as the journalist called the fellow who did, and as embarrassing as the incident might have been to the actress, what's nasty is the last line of the story - "Despite repeated attempts, John and Bipasha remained unavailable for comment"

Despite repeated attempts, the stupid journalist, rather nasty - Yogesh must be thankful he didn't get slapped by Bips & knocked off by Ab..

September 24, 2009

Is HR alone responsible for firing employees?

It was in March, 08 that I had fired 3 people without quite being convinced myself of the reason for their sacking. Why am I thinking of that now? Cos, the news has it - one of my HR contacts - Roy Goerge, VP - HR of Pricol (Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu) was beaten to death in Coimbatore for laying off employees.. I'd known him through a student at IIPM, who'd done his thesis under his guidance while he was VP-HR with Satyam Cinemas.

I didn't know him personally a great deal, but hear from others that he was a good HR person, 'a seasoned one' I'd believe to have risen to the top positions in various organizations. But, what could he have done wrong as a VP - HR is the question? That anyways wouldn't justify the irreversible consequence of workers' outburst, but it's quite a thing to reflect on what went wrong when the action was taken and communicated; what were the workers thinking when they'd schemed his beating up?

I reflect on my own actions and the actions behind the curtains in March '08. Few observations--
  • Sacking an employee is not a decision by a singular department, the least - HR, which would first look at alternate employability of a person within the organization.
  • Many-a-time, management screws up.. I mean they make mistakes.. serious hiring mistakes, and then, in a fit to control damage and unnecessary cost, press on to sack employees.
  • HR Head, most of the time, unless the CEO & Board's leadership culture supports, is a mere puppet; compelled to yield to the demands of others.
  • Though the decision is taken by CEO, COO, Directors or others, HR is expected, and even asked to communicate the decision singularly. 

In case of Roy, I think of the manufacturing setup, the not so matured understanding of workers, and feel it was some mob mentality that drove them to do this. I may be generalizing here, but I'm reminded of my O|D Prof. S.C. Kapoor's statement "Masses are just Mindless ASSes!"

Sacking an employee of course, mostly happens at the end of the day, to keep it hush hush, when everyone's almost gone. Well, I had one of the three employees call me the next day morning when I was off for a vacation, threatening me to commit suicide and leaving a letter to the police. Hmm, it did freak me out for a few minutes though, however, it wasn't a pleasant experience then, nor is it a pleasant memory now.

I keep saying it time and again - Firing employees, is traumatic equally to the HR person, if not more than what is felt by the one getting fired!

The solution then - acting on all the reflections given above, and puhleez get this clear.. HR Dept is an employee champion, and a business partner!

September 23, 2009

What makes us Christian?

It is not what we eat, but what we digest that makes us strong;
not what we gain, but what we save that make us rich;
not what we read, but what we remember that makes us learned;
and not what we profess, but what we practice that makes us Christians.
--(came across this piece on the internet, author unknown)

September 10, 2009

When companies err in hiring the right candidate

A lot of gyaan is already floating around about the various mistakes that are made during hiring etc., but this piece is about how to deal with the mishire (mistake) when it is inside the organization.

Infant mortality, new-hire absconding are two primary indicators to the company's management that there's been a hiring mistake. Once realized, it's an impulse reaction by managers to find some way to get rid of the candidate and them him out of their team if not fire them. Well, here's the first thing, the hiring managers and recruitment team need to realize - "it's your mistake and not that of the candidate!"

The second type of mishires are identified over a period of time, when the candidates are exposed to production and their capabilities are put to test in live environment. Well, then again, it's an impulse reaction by managers to get them out of the system. Hmm.. yet again, "it's the hiring team's mistake, not the candidate's."

It's really important for any manager to understand I don't mean to this fact, that it's the mistake made by the hiring team, and not candidate. Having said that I don't mean to say live with it, cos one can't just keep the problem and think of performing optimally.

So, what's the action plan?
  • The hiring manager should have a communication plan in place to inform the newly joined about his misplacement and set expectations right.
  • Reassess, take a stock of the wrongly hired employee's skill set and the mismatch
  • Accordingly, either initiate a Performance Enhancement Plan, or
  • Look within the organization for any vacant job positions for right fitment
  • When no opportunity for utilizing the candidate exists, engage in a discussion to separate the employee without penalizing him
Be sensitive to the fact that:
  1. It was your mistake, not the candidate's
  2. Your mishire is within your system, and you may incur damage internally and even from outside.
In all actions taken, while being mindful of the of the cost involved, be fair. What else is a better impression of a 'good-employer', a title which all corporations vie for.

August 28, 2009

The lame breath-check at Gurgaon toll plaza!

There's a ridiculously deficient act by the Gurgaon traffic police at the Delhi-Gurgaon expressway one would come across these days. It surpasses all the other peeves including middle-of-the-road traffic checks and odious questions these cops ask among others by any standard!

At the toll-gate, if you're driving to Delhi from Gurgaon, you'll find a cop standing in your way, stop you, ask you to lower the window, and ask you to breathe on their face! I actually recalled the Colgate ad, 'breath that turns you on'! :-& (sick), Yuck! Cos, it' ain't a sexy woman cop, nor an amiable person in front of you.. it's their cheapest and lame way of checking on you if you're drunk and driving.

Lately, I see them chewing mint-flavored gum, perhaps to do their sensing better, unlike a month ago since when I've been observing this. How did I know that.. of course, they kinda get so close and shoot their questions in their signature style 'Beer pe rakhi hai?" (Have you had Beer?), "Peeke chala raha hai?" (Are you drunk and driving?).. Grrrr...

Well, given all the panic on H1N1 - Swine flu, which is highly communicable, looks like the traffic police department is not troubled by the thought yet! Ignore H1N1, how intruding would a commuter feel (which cop gives a damn to privacy in India, anyways) and to the cop, how belittling even does that act seems, to walk up to someone and ask them to breathe on you?!?

God forbid, if the whole fleet of traffic police in that vicinity there should be erased, by a breath of virus!

June 14, 2009

Time's arriving for Employee backlash!

'Recession' is less cited to teams today in corporate India. The job market is up and coming. Everyone's a keen observer of the business and economic trends these days.

Employees lay low and even still as companies have used and abused whether rightfully or not the recession period as a chance to fire their employees, cut down various perks, even salaries, tighten the finance outflows and so on... To broadly define it, companies have done a great deal of restructuring whether in a planned manner or as a knee-jerk reaction - some interventions with high impact some low. Some strategically, some tactically; a few with long-term vision, and many blindly fighting issues at hand.

Read related posts:
In many of the communication that went out from management to employees through various media, their line managers, their HR managers, finance teams, many a psychological contracts were broken which has certainly left a lasting impact, and the management of corporate India said 'there's no jobs in the market, people won't quit anyway'.

Well, the jobs market is teeming with openings again, and time will tell how rapidly the graph would rise, and then, we'll see a high level of attrition, only this time, it'll be called 'Employee backlash'.

June 12, 2009

Am I giving my best everyday?

We all come across this phrase "Give your best", sometimes as a suggestion, as a statement, a piece of advice, or someone boasting.

After interacting with a team, I was internalizing it, and for days was not able to believe how less was I giving, and best was quite a far-off thing to even think about.

Be it about Profession, Family, Spiritual, Friends, Personal Care. The answer is an absolute, sure-shot and reverberating 'NO'. I am not giving my best.

Caught up in daily grind, we're mostly caught up cribbing, complaining of what's not there, what oughta be there, and questioning who's supposed to do what, who didn't do what, who's mistake it was, why me, why not him, who said that, why this, how and when.. phew.. All of them, mostly filter out the best that we are yet to give, and believe me, then, we aren't giving our best.

I don't know what will make one give their best. But, to understand this issue of giving your best, there are mostly issues around two prime things - Ability, Attitude. Not giving best may be understood when it's a matter of inability, but when it's a matter of negative attitude, then, you and I are at fault!

June 7, 2009

Seal my heart Lord, for yourself!

It is but common for our hearts to wander away, and though we ought to withhold, we just watch our hearts go, inactively... and then we're back at the throne of God's grace praying and seeking his mercy and forgiveness.. This hymn says it all-- "Come thou fount of every blessing"

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
This week, this was all I was praying for, Lord, take my wandering heart and seal it!

June 1, 2009

Love them like Jesus!

A song, which articulates the Christian motto!

Before lending a helping hand or reaching out to someone, many are caught in thoughts seeking answers what next? Will I have to do this also? Then what about that? Will this hold on to me?
Guess the answer is below, and ya, ask yourself another question - What would Jesus do if He were in your place?

Just love them like Jesus, carry them to Him
His yoke is easy, His burden is light
You don’t need the answers to all of life’s questions
Just know that He loves them and stay by their side
Love them like Jesus

Lord of all creation holds our lives in His hands
The God of all the nations holds our lives in His hands
The Rock of our salvation holds our lives in His hands
He cares for them just as He cares for you

May 15, 2009

Advani’s pride parade before his fall!

“I invite the PM for a TV debate as it happens in foreign countries…”
“No weaker PM has India seen before.. (referring to Manmohan Singh)
“Manmohan Singh has diminished the highest office of the high post of PM..”
“Singh is only a PM by accident. He’s a nominated PM, not elected”

Those were some of the statements highlighted by various media time and again before the elections verdict came out. Post that we saw the fall of Advani. The fact that makes his fall so very pitiful is the pompous parade in every media announcing that he was the strong leader. Post-elections, he had no face to show. There's no Advani in the news anymore, and at least I wish to see him no more!

The lesson for me here is the reinforcement of the teaching 'Pride goes before fall'. Evident that Advani now needs to learn a few qualities from what he terms as 'weak PM', though he may not be aspiring to a PM again. I thank God, that Advani was not elected. Given his background, his agendas, the people influencing him and the forces that drive him, it would've been a dark regime for India.

May 13, 2009

How to find a good boss?

One of my friends (in HR field) called up, and said she's quitting her job because of her incompetent boss, in a hope to find a better one.

A few months before, I had the laugh of my life, when a new joinee (a fresh graduate) approached me with a serious question. He very innocently and sincerely asks me: "Sir, I don't want my manager," and gave his list of reasons.

The quest for a good or better boss goes on.. There are all types of bosses - hard task-masters, passive, directionless, control-freaks, over-friendly ones, mentors, highly supportive ones, dishonest, boot-lickers and a long list of them..

One of my senior colleagues sympathetically explains to me, "Manohar, there are two things in life you can't choose - first, your parents; second, your boss."

I love the quote from Chetan Bhagat's novel 'One night at a Call center', where he puts it forth in a brutally honest expression - “A bad boss is like a disease of the soul. If you have one for long enough, you get convinced something is wrong with you. Even though you know your Boss is the real loser, you start doubting yourself. And that is when your confidence goes.”

Given that backdrop, if you have a tough boss - remember everyone cracks at some point in time under continued pressure of a bad boss, and we wish we didn't have such a boss, but, so does everyone. If you're a survivor, and given that you can't choose your boss - look at how you can make the best of what's been given to you - observe and learn ways of managing your boss. There's many books on that topic to get some gyan. Tough bosses also get the best out of you.. Try and add value to him, win his/her confidence, and you'd have done good. Be careful not to subscribe to the professional boot-lickers' club :)

As far as the question of incompetent bosses are concerned, it's a sorry situation as there's not much in there to learn under the guidance of your boss, and moreover, you start losing respect for the person who's allegedly leading you.. Certainly one may start looking for better leaders in better organizations (which still is not a surety); in the meanwhile, you may perhaps partner with your boss to do some new project / initiative, and add value to both of you. Surely, his experience may come of some use.

Finally, if you're on the search for a better boss, and attending interviews, make sure, you'd ask a few details from the recruiter about the reporting structure, the culture within teams, the reward system in the organization, policies about escalation and mechanism available for resolution of issues with your immediate reporting manager etc., Chances are that one may also be interviewed by their future managers. In such cases, you may ask that direct question, and also ask his level of interaction with the team, reporting styles, expectations, discuss your aspirations, if time permits some ideas that may help you understand more about your future boss etc., Caveat: during an interview, it's a sample of the best behavior and may not be true always.

In the end, I'd suggest the same explanation I received - there's not much choice when it comes to choosing a boss. So, make best of what you have!

Christian brothers, where is the love?

I just learnt of the news of our previous church member who's supposedly possessed by the spirit of a Pastor who passed away a year ago. Don't want to narrate the whole story and give names of people or the church, but, in short, this Pastor, given his limited means of income from the church, sought after short-cuts to make money. When the Patrons of the church and the Church committee members found out about it, they were so furious and outraged that they dialed out the police, got the pastor arrested, investigated all his belongings, house-arrested him and his family and harassed the pastor so much that he chose to give up his life voluntarily. He was survived by his wife and two children aged between 7-10 years. On his death, there was another news, that he was married to another woman and fathered her children as well, who are too young.

The person who's possessed by the Pastor's spirit is the son of the Patrons, who also had a role in harassing him leading to his suicide. I’m not judging anyone here. That God will.

What’s shameful of all about this incident is that the very people who profess ‘Love, Grace & Forgiveness’ have fallen short of it. The patrons and the committee members are all believers, ones who set example to others, and confess that Jesus forgave them their multitude of sins. Yet, they couldn’t show that love, mercy or forgiveness causing the death of a Pastor – a man ordained as servant of God.

Apostle Paul, in his epistles wrote in great length about love among believers, rebuking each other, forgiving each other and working toward gaining each other. We’ve even forgotten the greatest commandments of Jesus Christ: “Love one another as I have loved you.” God save us! May God have mercy on us for these our shortcomings which have such great bearing on others’ lives which may perhaps have a bearing on them for a generation or two.

We’re all human beings, none of us are perfect. I pray for mercy for the possessed brother that God will show mercy. I beseech all friends, acquaintance and all readers of this post, to be tolerant; show some love, have mercy and forgive anyone if they do some wrong against you, curse you, or sin against you and for their shortcomings. That’s not too much.. it's just human(e) behavior.

May 12, 2009

Whose side is HR on?

Often employees and sometimes senior management (if not in large organizations, in small organizations) pose this question to the HRD people - Whose side are you on? At least I've come across that question quite a few times from both the sides in an organization. Daily experiences make many a employee question that.
  • HRD is a Strategic partner for the management - which means it's a member in the chief board that makes strategic decisions.
  • HRD is a Communication Driver - taking things across the organization top-down and bottom-up to get people heard, management decisions communicated.
  • HRD is an Employee Champion - to champion the employees' needs and causes.
  • HRD is The Performance Enabler - to ensure the organizational productivity is maintained to meet the customer demands.
  • HRD is The Facilitator - which ensures and facilitates the daily issues of employees and management alike; a constant dialogue between employees and management; needful action thereon.
  • HRD is an Inventor - It invents and ensures the evolution of new and best practices that are mutually beneficial to the management and employees in the organization.

HRD is all those roles in one. To ask such a question is immaturity - It's but obvious.

May 10, 2009

Mothers are our destiny..

Watching Forrest Gump makes me feel good. But, today, being Mothers Day, the movie had left a different impression. Not that one wouldn't have known it before, but when the same words you know are uttered by someone into your ears, it certainly has some reinforcement, more impact perhaps!

Dying in her bed, Forrest Gump's mother says: "I didn't know it, I was destined to be your Mama, I did the best I could... You have to do the best with what God gave you..."

Our mothers were destined to be so. The best thing My Mother gave me, she says, is "to teach me the love and fear of God." She always said - "For me, you're good, but I may not know how you'd be out of the house and when you're out of our sight. But, remember God's watching you, and to Him you'll have to answer."

Her ways of teaching and discipline is what has brought me most closer to Jesus, my Savior and Lord. Those words from her is what had made all the difference to all my life and activities in and outside home, at work, with friends, anywhere I go. Thank you Mom!

(In the pic: Mom & Dad with my new born nephew - Blesson)

May 9, 2009

Let us gain each other through forgiveness

Every day, when I kneel to pray, for the smallest wrong I had done and for the biggest blunder, I ask for forgiveness from God with the assurance that I will receive it. For I know, God is love, and he wants me to get over my weakness and he won't deny me another chance to prove it to myself.

When we do something wrong - we are doing committing that sin towards two persons - primarily to God, and second to the person or group aimed at. Similarly, When we ask for forgiveness, God examines if our heart is as clean, and if we are as forgiving toward others who have offended us, as we want Him to be toward us. Given that we are mere human beings and God, the divine and sovereign power in the Universe, if we can't forgive someone for their wrong-doing or curses towards us, how can He forgive our offenses?

As a person, there are two things we oughta do:
  1. Forgive anyone who has offended us, even if they're not regretful about it. Perhaps, they don't see it then. They'll realize it soon. Forgiving is a step towards healing ourselves more than anything
  2. Ask for forgiveness from anyone who has offended us. It only requires a little humility and a heartfelt 'sorry'.
Any follower of Jesus Christ, ought to understand and strictly follow what the Bible clearly states: "God will deal with us likewise, if we do not forgive our brother." And I, for all selfish reasons do not want to miss out on God's forgiveness. Believe me, an unforgiving heart breeds hatred, and in that, we give the devil the throne of our hearts to rule over. It's only a path to doom for us.

Inasmuch as I may have wanted not to, I know that I have offended many, may be intentionally, sometimes not - To give names, there are many - for all such things, I earnestly seek each one of your forgiveness, hoping and assured, that in the kindness of your hearts, you will.

Especially people bearing the name of Christ are called to win over another by forgiving and removing from memory every negative feeling and every negative word that was uttered against you, your dear ones. You are all in all certainty good persons. Do not let any thought, or any act of the past withhold your forgiveness from each other.

I do understand that it is hard to put the past behind and forgive someone, but We do not gain anything by not forgiving our brothers. If we do forgive, we gain a brother. And, that, friends, is a godly act. Not just forgiving in your hearts, but also demonstrate it through your words and actions.

Let's talk, rebuke each other, and if one of us understands and repents, we have won to each to ourselves. I didn't want to sound preachy, but, this message had to shared with all of you since months. Couldn't put it away any longer.

Management indecisiveness costing employees!

As I read this week's Corporate Dossier (CD) (March 8, 09) of The Economic Times, it instantly connected with the thoughts going on in my head.. Here's few quotes from CDs main article 'Take the Lead'
As bad news flows in unabated and more and more management blunders come to light, it becomes amply clear that the leadership in many companies have been caught off guard. They are unprepared to deal with a crisis of this magnitude.
This simply states that companies have been growing and only focusing on adding to their revenues. Well, they've been putting in enough investment towards identifying and mitigating risks, but perhaps the focus of the management or the risk teams was not complete enough. This is true especially of the large-sized organizations, which have got impacted most, and running around to catch-up.. in a, what's the word - 'Knee-jerk reaction'.
Their cluelessness is confusing their workforce even more. The scrapped projects, brutal layoffs, drastic pay-cuts, sudden top management reshuffles and unrealistic cost cuts all seem like knee-jerk reactions, not the proactive leadership that is the need of the hour.
Literally, if one has to look at the various management decisions that come through impacting every nook and corner of the organization, one would stand in awe witnessing the incompetence of their management to gauge and forecast with little accuracy about what may happen, what steps are to be taken. The incompetence displayed in forecasting is simply frustrating to employees. Though CEOs and Management pundits have been harping that 'the crisis is unprecedented' and 'times are uncertain', given the rapidity of the financial crisis that has struck corporate India, managements not being able to even see through a month or two if not a quarter, is perhaps sheer incompetence. I never though some journalist could be so blunt in mainstream media in their critique about the 'management boards' of Business India, but I was happy it came out. I only few days back wrote about this pattern of new decision a day and how it's impacting employees psyche at work everyday they step into their offices to work.

All the jing-bang around proactive leadership by top management is demonstrated at such times. Which is absolutely 'non-existent' in many organizations. Ha! What's expected from the lesser managers!?!
As Warren Buffet famously said, “It’s only when the tide ebbs, you find who is swimming naked”. Sadly, in this moment of crisis, many leaders have been found without the proverbial fig leaf to hide their shortcomings.
Just a few days ago, that I quoted this to someone. Well, as aptly as it's put here, the world is watching which are all the companies that were swimming naked. This crisis, if not anything, will make the genuinely strong corporations stronger, and the naked ones to disappear.

In all this game of talent, moolah and market share, unfortunately the management indecisiveness is costing employees dearly. As the saying goes, what you sow today, you will reap tomorrow. All such indecisive managements of business organizations better beware!

May 7, 2009

Sanitizing your recruitment process behaviorally!

Recruitment and Salesmen, I don’t find much difference between them considering the tactics they apply to get their targets achieved.

For an individual, a new hire to an organization, there’s a great deal of value he attaches to his recruiter. To him, the recruiter is the first-touch-point of the organization; and given that the initial interaction was to build a long-term relationship with the organization, and the nature of interaction is such, that all expectations are constructed right there.

In a rush to complete his targets for hiring, the recruiter make promises of which significant details communicated are half-truths. The one getting hired is at fault too, that in the excitement of an offer, they forget many a question to ask and get complete details, say about organization policies, pay structure, benefits, eligibility for benefits etc., and given the chance, recruiter is not also bothered to give complete information to the employee with the fear of losing a potential hire.

If the recruiter fails to explain the complexities or the dynamics of the industry / organization culture, it’s a sure shot forecast that the new hire will result in infant attrite. Take BPO industry for example, while this industry does attract a lot of employment with all the hype around the pay, facilities, benefits etc., But when it comes to operations and business dynamics, people stand confused and utterly disappointed and start making judgements about the company and the management. And from there the internal fight starts - within HR between recruitment and Generalist HR executives, and then it's Operations versus HR, and then who's to own up to the attrition?

It's not only frustrating, but a lot of cost involved in there - in recruitment, hiring, inducting, training, readying for operations.. phew.. all of it to lose because the recruiter was not involved / trained behaviorally to set expectations right and focus on a short-term target achievement but in brand-building through their interaction and targeting at a long-term association.

The best way to deal with this is to link up new hires attrition to individual recruiters' at least for a period of 6 months to a year on parameters decided by the management to make recruiters more responsible, and sanitize the recruitment process behaviorally. How else would the HR man impact employees positively and engage employees actively if not starting with recruitment?

May 4, 2009

Psychological impact of recession

I just ended a conversation with a friend from one of India's largest private banks. Totally frustrated, yet laughing throughout the conversation in a way of mockery, he gave vent to his frustration about the recent series of decisions announced within his organization and the communication styles adopted by his company. Surprisingly, he has nothing to hold against his managers. "What will the managers do? It's the company management's decision yaar," he says with certainty. His promotion which has been pending over a year was supposedly coming through with this new financial year has got stopped. Well, based on that maybe no increment or a marginal one going by the impact of global financial crisis. But, what he was not ready for, was the company not giving any of those, and on top of it, withholding his bonus as well.

An hour ago, I was at dinner with a manager from a ITeS company. His company is in the business of cost-saving for his clients, which has seen a slowdown but no negative impact. Of course, his company's ambitious targets were underachieved by a marginal percentage. Going by those standards, his org has had a phenomenal growth when compared to the industry standards. Still, there was crib about how erratically the company's management was responding to the 'uncertain future' of the industry by announcing a new decision every fortnight about a change in policy here, and of some new addition there. Companies are protecting their operating margins by ceasing all expenditure and cutting down on other luxuries that they could have afforded earlier, but that's not it.

Another media friend explains to me that as soon as the news of global slowdown was certain his company has gone for pay-cuts in its' employees salaries. Was the company impacted and how? The question remains unanswered.

Yet another friend from a small IT organization tells me about practices in his company - salary increments are happening on discretionary basis. Managers propose who they feel should be rewarded and the company does; end of story. Did they have a proven and reliable yardstick to measure that? Out of question for now.
Internally, within the organization, going by various management decisions it looks the managements and board of directors of various Indian business organizations have perhaps not yet accurately gauged the impact of global slowdown on their respective companies, nor are they even able to foresee the changes expecting ahead of next two quarters. The shadily funny side of it is, even if they're able to, a dim picture is projected most of the time; because of which, corporate decisions are announced in a very unplanned manner every week or fortnight, without assessing the risk of that communication. With another breaking news, there's a new decision - not any good news, of course! No wonder smiles are missing on the floors at workplace!

The decisions which are mostly negative vary from job cuts, employee relocation, pay cuts, to withholding of bonuses, individual incentives, stopping payout of variable compensation, heavy cut-down on employee welfare expenditure which may include benefits like transport allowances to even rewards and recognition budgets. While those form the main content of employee compensation, the other components include cutting down on any company provided benefits like mobile expenses, pick-and-drop facilities, club memberships, even curbing on snacks vending machines and coffee vending machines. The pursuit for cost-cutting doesn't end there. Every new day may throw up a new idea for cost cutting, even a penny, and the company management would announce a 'decision' on it. Is this what's called 'penny-wise, pound foolish'? Time will tell.

Notwithstanding the fact that global recession has hit a few industries real hard even in India, and that companies ought to take measures to sustain and stay ahead of competition, there are a few companies
(which haven't incurred losses, rather have seen growth) which have offered bonuses, given marginal (token) increments among other benefits. Given that an employee sees his growth aligned to that of the company's, expectations from a growing company are similarly calibrated. When those expectations are flushed away by a 'management decision', even though the company's slowed-down yet growing/profit-making the most important partners in the company's growth are disgruntled, and with more events happening around it, they're utterly dismayed.

When companies today want to focus on actively engaging employees with the organization, not disputing the fact that organizations are investing in their employees through training, work environment, resources etc., what they are missing out on is that the contextual elements surrounding the job and the employee at the workplace are getting so disturbed that there's more negativity that's getting into their heads and flowing out of it every day. Talk of positivity, it's almost missing!

From 'big' decisions like laying off employees, salary cuts to the 'small' decisions of not providing transport-reimbursements for business meetings, or removing vending machines in offices etc., employees are much negatively impacted day-in and day-out. With so much of negative mental / psychological impact of recession, it's surely gonna take sometime for impressions to look up! What say guys?

May 1, 2009

What is May Day?

The Historical Significance Of May Day Celebrations
Johannes T. Kangandjera
(Posted from an email forward)

This day is a commemoration of the historic struggle of the workers throughout the world against capitalism, exploitation, and for safe working conditions and respect for the dignity of workers. It came into being as a result of the successful demand, claims and demonstrations that was carried out under the umbrella of the Federation of Organised Trades and Labour Unions when it passed a resolution stating that eight hours would constitute a day's work from May 1,1884.

The resolution called for a general strike to achieve the demand of eight hours, since legislative methods had failed to address the demand. Workers then were forced by greedy and power hungry capitalists to work ten, twelve and fourteen hours a day under conditions so terrible that most workers succumbed on duty due to ill health and other physiological and psychological ailments.

By April 1886 about 280 000 workers were involved in the May Day movement which demanded an eight hour work day.
Their slogans read as follows: "The only way to get an 8 hour day is by organising."

If you want an 8 hour day, we must make it ourselves!" and another: "We require 8 hours for work, 8 hours for repose, and 8 hours to do what we want and for our own instruction!" The main machinery of the movement was based in Chicago and organised mainly by the Anarchist International Working People's Association. The capitalist bourgeoisie and their cohorts, the State, were terrified by the united front that swept across the entire United States. They increased the Police and the Army in size and supplied them with new and powerful weapons.

The Chicago Commercial Club purchased a US$2000 -00 machinegun for the Illinois National Guard that was to be used against striking workers. On May 3, 1886 the City of Chicago was paralysed by the general strike; stockyards, railroads, factories and other businesses where forced to close. The police fired into a crowd of fleeing strikers at the McCormick Reaper Works Factory, killing four and wounding many workers.

The Anarchists called for a mass meeting the next day in Haymarket Square to protest the unnecessary brutality against unarmed workers. Angry workers began to call for armed retaliation. The mass meeting proceeded without any violent incident and when the last speaker was on the platform, the police numbering 180, arrived with a mandate from the State and the capitalist bourgeoisie to disperse the meeting.

As the speaker was climbing from the platform, a bomb was thrown in the midst of the police platoon, exploding, and killing one officer and wounding about seventy. The response by the police was typically that of brutality, firing randomly in the crowd of workers and injuring about 200 workers and killing many. With no clues as to the source of the bomb, the police arrested eight revolutionary leaders of the Union movement, seven of whom who had not even been present in Haymarket Square at the time of the explosion.

They where charged with amongst others; conspiracy to murder in connection with the Haymarket Bomb blast, incitement and public disorder. They were all found guilty as charged despite the lack of evidence connecting them to the bomb. Only one was present at the meeting, and he was on the speaker's platform.

They were all sentenced to death.

Albert Parsons, August Spies, Adolph Fischer and George Engel were hanged on November 11 1887. Louis Lingg committed suicide in prison, and the remaining three were pardoned in 1893. These comrades where arrested, tried and sentenced to death because of their political beliefs and because they fought for the rights of the worker. News of the trial electrified labour movements in the US and Europe.

Protests against the trial were held around the world.

The Socialist International declared May 1 as a day of demonstrations and since 1890 these have been held annually by labour movements and workers forcing official recognition of May Day as a paid public holiday.

In its attempt to destroy the significance of May Day, the United States government declared the May 1 'Loyalty Day'.

April 28, 2009

Impacting human resources positively!

Does your company have what it takes to impact employees positively?

While reading an interview of a CxO of an organization stating 'companies must impact employees positively', I had mixed reactions from my friends who tried to interpret the statement. Such statements mean different things to different people depending on their roles. Many want to primarily examine it by linking it with their monetary health. After all, it's all about money, isn't it? For all such individuals who want to look at it in that light only, there's nothing but disappointment.

Let's try and understand this from the perspective of a business leader: We live in a capitalist world, where the most important objective for any business and the business leaders is to create wealth for their shareholders (in an extended way, create value (may not be wealth) for stakeholders). With such objectives, anything that doesn't make a business sense can't, and will not find place in any corporate business organization. For example, let's get back to the statement 'impacting people positively'. What impact on employees would make business sense to a CxO? To paraphrase it, what impact by an organization on its employees would generate more wealth for the shareholders?

The following are 4 primary areas which I can think can impact employees and directly contribute towards creation of wealth:
  • Talent Development: Up-skilling through Training & Development interventions: Talent management finds its place on the top 3 agendas in any mature organization today. In simple terms it means ensuring that the right person with the exact skill-set requirement is available at the right place and at the right time. With various pressures of attrition, skill availability, pricing of talent etc., training and development of internal resources through various methodologies makes more business sense to any CxO.
  • Conducive Work Environment & Relations for performance: Ensuring required resources are available to employees is the first step to create conducive work environment in any organization. These resources may be hardware - physical resources, as well as software which includes policies, procedures, practices, communication channels among others. Another important aspect which has taken more significance is Employee relations – both horizontal (peers) and vertical (subordinate-supervisor) relations, and practices around the same.
  • Compensation: Fair & Equitable Pay: When it comes to compensation – the definition of fairness and equity has no uniformity between two individuals, more so with employers and employee. This conflict has always been, is, and shall always be. Everybody wants a greater share, not a fair one. Notwithstanding the fact that ‘exceptions are always there’, I support the first classical / rational school of thought with one of its basic assumptions: “Every human being works for monetary benefits.” Money makes the world go round, isn’t it? For organizations it means giving a pay that’s benchmarked against the market. Not necessarily the best.
  • Employee Satisfaction: Guess it won’t be a surprise to know this area is witnessing a loss of interest from employers. In fact, this focus on ‘employee satisfaction’ has evolved with the passing of time and various landmark studies of human behavior and other politico-economic movements. The focus has now shifted to what is called ‘employee engagement’.
So, we’re talking of impacting employees positively and what do business leaders mean when they say that? But, the questions thrown up by any employee to that is WIIFM (What’s in it for me)? Being a HR professional and interacting with employees – frustrated, separating, engaged, disengaged and all other types, this question is quite frequently thrown at me. But yes, if employees use their monetary health alone as a yardstick to measure organizational impact on them, it’s quite a myopic approach.

So, friend, considering all the facts above, is your company impacting its employees positively? At a macro level, you need to consider at least the above all areas. If they’re not being met, you’ve got serious issues.

April 21, 2009

Called to love, endlessly!

Do read my post written for the weekly meditation in the Butler Methodist Church blog here.

The last two weeks have been intense on me on the subject of demonstrating Love and Relationships. Perhaps my previous posts also indicate on that. Most importantly, I had a practical talk to take on Relationships in God's plan with the 'South-West Delhi EU students'. After I'd finished that and joined the EGF weekly meeting, we had Bro. Richard Masih again sharing about 'How we ought to Love', and be called 'the greatest lovers'. Well, that's the basis of all Christian living too. Love! And, so when it had come to write a weekly meditation for the Church, it had to Love! To love, endlessly, just as Jesus Christ does.

April 18, 2009

How can I be called a Christian?

If I search for failures in others
Their faults, the slip of their tongues
Their inconsequential daily errors

If I highlight their weaknesses
Their mistakes, their imperfections
Their cultural poverty

If I gossip about others
Treat them as outside ‘my group’
Ruin their confidence
Make them feel alienated

If I think highly of myself
My achievements, my way of life
My march towards success

How can I be called a Christian?

S.W. Chandrashekhar
Published inYouth Touch, May-June ‘97, a bi-monthly publication of India Youth for Christ

April 16, 2009

Hard to say I'm sorry...

We all screw up our relationships with friends and family, even though in some cases we ourselves are not the ones to have started it. We make it worse by reacting or sometimes even overreacting to it, and bingo - an endless argument of accusations ensues - forgotten events are brought to life, past hurts are all dug up. Not only that, discussions begin (call it gossip, if you agree) with others trying to gather opinions, satisfying ones own curiosity and the need to reaffirm that 'I'm right'. Blood boils under the skin, hate slips out of control attempting to find any new way of manifesting itself and give back the other person what s/he deserves...

In all the process, many at time, the prime issue loses focus, and our thoughts become so extreme that words and actions start targeting the person and not the issue. That certainly will not only ensure that the issue is not sorted but also the relationship is destroyed. At times the hurt a closed one causes may be so great that you just cannot think of anything else at all. After some reflection and personal experiences, I believe one should hold themselves back from reacting to it immediately. If required sleep over it even for days till one's ready to handle the situation with a cool avoiding any bitter confrontation.

However, it all depends on how much value you attribute to the person and a relationship, and whether or not you want to save that relationship. Similarly, there may be many other variables attached which need to be considered. At the end, remember, everything is personal! If you will, you will!

In all of this, "It takes less time to do a thing RIGHT than it does to explain why you did it WRONG!" Take the first step, it's hard to say sorry, but do it. I've done it, so, I'm sharing it. It's much better, try it. Mend your relationships!

Learn from wherever, if you don't apply, it's a waste!

We get to hear a lot about learning these days, learn from this, learn from that.. "Look at their child, or your friend," some parents say "you must learn from them." That's one of the common things to hear during student days and even till much later I guess. At work, there's trainings, experiential learning etc., etc., These days, many trainers even talk about learning from movies..
Then we have lot of quotes people keep flashing in email signatures, status messages, everywhere around..

What matters in all learning is, if that's not seen in action or application, all that learning is a waste! So, if you're one of those millions who talks of learning from them, that, this and how! Take time to apply it. Demonstrate the learning in action.

April 13, 2009

Everyone wants recession cover..

Given the times of lull in world business and the impact on top-line and bottom-line of organizations, companies have become extra-careful, even the overtly conservative ones (including Lalas) have gone ahead taking measures from announcing job cuts, pay cuts, umpteen internal cost cutting measures, right-sizing etcetera..

But, as they say, in business the rear-view mirror is clearer than the windshield. Most companies looking at the past year performance have announced no salary hikes for the coming financial year. On top of it, there's no significant inflation in India which demands a correction in salaries. That quite justifies action on any company's part. It's about time in a day or two that Indian corporate would start announcing posting to the public their financial statements, and it would be no wonder if most of them had shown significant achievement, if not achieving their set targets for the financial year 2008-09.

Organizations are certain they want to grow, and the results would show that they have grown and the future, though not as certain, fairly indicates that growth is assured. I believe companies should make their employees (they're pampered as talent assets) a part of their growth by showing some sign of sharing through increments if not bonuses (even as some companies have). How else would a company more emphatically reinforce their belief in their workforce? How else does a company assure that they are interested in the employees growth and not only the financial growth of the organization? How else can a company make sure the partners are actively involved in mutual growth without giving them a taste of the growth? There's no promises made for future even if companies do not want to announce salary hikes currently. Would that not be a question of will and just running for cover of recession?

I would like to do a little bit of analysis on growth of organizations, at least 5-10 big ones and see the impact.. but, let's wait till the announcements..

April 11, 2009

Politically correct or not..

There's a dangerous trend these days - 'of being politically correct'. I realize that as I'm often accused of not being politically correct. While I always looked at as being frank, sometimes rather 'brutally honest', whether invited or not, but always with good intentions only, allegedly not being politically correct has affected me a great deal, and still continues to. What I often find a challenge is - Why should one be politically correct with persons close to them, like friends for example?

Why should one beat a little around the bush, disguise statements a little there and a little here, sugarcoat and speak with a friend, when they can go and almost bluntly blurt out about what's wrong - it's a close friend after all! What's in it to be politically correct?

The last two weeks have been quite trying and taught me a great deal about conducting my communication and weighing my words before uttering, sadly even with the closest of friends (I thought). To my understanding, unfortunately it was less due to the words communicated and more about my estimate about the receptiveness or maturity-to-understand of the person at the receiving end that has caused few issues. Well, who's to blame? Guess it's still me.

Politically correct answers or statements are strategies, or at least ideally are to be used strategically to minimize any offense while conveying the core message. Well, there's an assumption to it, that the recipient is mature enough or has an understanding adequate to cut through the diplomacy or political nature of the statement made and receive the core message. And, like it's required for a complete / effective communication there's gotta be a feedback either in words or in deed.

I've taken few learnings from recent past to further refine my communication.
  1. To put into use something I've always known, and express it still better in words - that you're bothered/ attacking the issue and not the person.
  2. Refrain from making personal remarks
  3. Never make judgments about people's maturity to understand based on personal experiences - whether friends, even close or even people related to you.
  4. Talk to people as if you were talking to a kid from second grade unless you're very sure, still refer point 3.
  5. To understand when is the time to be silent; when is the time to speak, and be as slow to speak.
  6. To avoid speaking to fools - you''ll either be counted one among them; worse, they don't see any understanding in your words, and they'll hate you for it. Even worse, you engage in words with them and you will become one among them.
Even after all this, I still believe that when speaking to at least the close friends, aides, acquaintances we ought to keep our speech plain, to the point and edifying each other to the extent possible. But, politics has also touched individual lives so deeply and to such great extent, that a politically incorrect statement can buy you a load of trouble. I'm yet to see if they'll lead me to making always a politically correct speech or not.

April 10, 2009

Why is Good Friday good?

The fact that Good Friday is good because...

Down the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem that day,
The Roman soldiers tried to clear the narrow street,
But the crowd pressed in to see
The man condemned to die on Calvary (place where Jesus died)
He was bleeding from a beating -
there were stripes upon His back
And He wore a crown of thorns upon His head
and He bore with every step
The scorn of those who cried out for His death
Like a lamb came the Messiah Christ the King
But He chose to walk that road out of His love for you and me
Down the Via Dolorosa (a narrow street Christ walked on way to
calvary) all the way to Calvary

The blood that would cleanse the souls of all men
Made its way through the heart of Jerusalem
Down the Via Dolorosa called the way of suffering
Like a lamb came the Messiah Christ the King
But He chose to walk that road out of His love for you
and me. Down the Via Dolorosa all the way to Calvary.

The miracle in the incident of Jesus Christ's death is that He brought salvation and reconciliation by his death for all the generations that were in eternity past, that are in eternity present and that which will yet come to be in future eternity! But it's not a sad day, for Jesus Christ rose up from the dead on the third day (when Easter is celebrated) and gave us victory over the bond of evil.

Salvation is at hand for anyone and everyone by God's abundant grace. All one needs to do is to ask for it in the name of Jesus Christ. Hope each of you experience 'His Love & Saving Grace'. Wish you a Good Friday!

April 9, 2009

Seen pigs fly?

There's somethings that are actually impossible. I don't want to write about what I am currently thinking about as I make this statement, but have you ever 'Seen pigs fly or wallow in slime?'

No matter how much you try, how much you hope against hope - You won't see pigs fly, only wallowing in slime!

Photographing Waterfalls..

I always wondered how photographers captured the milky-white color in the waterfalls, after some reading and trying out some settings in my little P&S Canon IXUS 7.1 MP Camera, I did capture some milky-white colors of a waterfall at Bhagsunath near Dharamshala..

For more pics of the Bhagsunath waterfall, click here..

Hanging out with office colleagues may not be a good idea!

It's time for me to reflect on my own thoughts again. I am revisiting one of my previous posts: Friends at workplace? Not Done! Also I'm reminded of an e-buddy's question which I found really absurd then: "Do you hang out with your office colleagues?" I now concur with his opinion "You should avoid it." Sad that I had to wait for a personal experience to come to an agreement. But, as I keep testing my own judgments and re-evaluate the lessons I learn, I still believe things can change. Because it's people we're talking and people are capable of learning, choosing their actions and becoming more competent and mature to mend their ways! Ever hopeful for the best..

March 31, 2009

Don't sweat the small stuff at work!

It's true loathing and sick feeling you get when those small things at work get to you, which in now way directly related to work, but you can't avoid them due to the people (their actions) around you, the work relationships and the work context... Well, they'll never cease pestering you for those small things - it's their job.

Don't bother those pestering non-issues. Focus on issues. You gotta do your job, so get thick skinned. Don't sweat the small stuff at work.

March 16, 2009

I finished Shantaram, finally!

Finally, I finished reading Shantaram today :) As soon as I posted that update on facebook, friends started commenting, 'good', 'good book', ‘suggest’ etc., Well, to me, finishing the book seemed quite an achievement just as another friend commented. I’ll tell you why.. I’d bought the book on Jan 18, 2008 while on a travel, and after I was some 200 pages through safely put it down and never bothered to pick it up.. finally picked it up after almost a year later in mid-Feb, 2009 and here it is – Finished on afternoon of March 16, 2009. Achievement, ha?

Well, here's what I thought about the book-- "Slow.. not gripping.. It's elaborately descriptive on features of people, things, places.. to quantify it - I'd say - 30% Description, expressions; 30% - anecdotes, insights, philosophy, 40% - Story.."

The book is excessively (my perception) descriptive, and of course a mix of philosophy, insights, anecdotes.. However, the book does present various contrasts of good and bad in the behavior of a person even a criminal. It'll make one surely realize that 'we're all a bundle of contrast', and in the volume and magnitude of expression painted across in various chapters perhaps would give a description of your own thought patterns (maybe) - a little here and a little there.

Well, for all the reasons I know why many people wouldn't pick up this nice fat book, it's sure there are so many daily lessons given out in the book they'll miss out on. I'll try and post a few good quotes from the book in a few days time.

Towards the end of course, the story gathers pace, and there's the attention-grabbing part. Like most books, this too closes open-ended. Did Shantaram go ahead with his next assignment? Who it was finally - Karla Saranen? Lisa Carter? How and when then did the decision to leave Bombay happen? There's the catch! Even I got misguided into thinking that this was some sorta autobiography, even real events, but, it's a work of fiction, though based on personal experiences.

Once finished reading, I couldn't help researching about Shantaram on the web. It was nice to get a look at the author, and to know that there's more books coming up as a sequel. I really don't know if I'd pick up one when it's out in the market.. Depends on the size, may be :)

March 11, 2009

Pitiable Pakistan

Staying at home on a 'Holi'-day, I was watching the news about Pakistan where Zardari, the country's President is warned by the Army Chief of another coup given the deteriorating state of affairs in the country. It made me wonder if any government in Pakistan ever had, or has the guts to normalize its nation? I recalled the various analysis by many senior journalists I'd read. Through all that, here's what I'd grasped of what the Pakistan administration has been like since it was born.

21 Prime Ministers, 11 Presidents of which 4 Presidents were Military Chiefs. A 'so called' democratic rule of 25 years, and about 35 years of various other rules including Martial Law, Coups, Dictatorship. Only one prime minister to have completed a full term in office, under a dictatorship. Average vintage of prime mister in the Prime Minister's office being .57 years. Ladies & Gentlemen, that's a rough sketch of Pakistan. Details of individual PM's & President's rule given below in the end.

Apart from Administrative instability, during this time, Pakistan has had such restlessness when confronted with war with India thrice - 1948, 1965, 1999; civil war and the separati0n of Bangladesh in 1971; involvement with Soviet Union - Afghan war in 1980..

Not only this, but the factionists, fascism, differences in indoctrination, Shia-Sunni divide, clashes between communities, the pressure to Talibianize, the fire of jihad breeding pockets and new ideas of terror, the state sponsored terrorism breaking out of control, administration's failure to provide immunity to its citizens against US attacks, the hate spawning in all of these acts, and the possession of nuclear weapons make Pakistan a significant power to reckon with but incapable leadership to contain it.

U.S. was silent when Pakistan Govt. was making truce with Taliban within boundaries. There's no hard-liner from US even as Pakistan government plays Yes-No with India over 26/11 Mumbai terror attack with no decisive action, nor intent. Now, there is also news of a new terror-plot on US being planned in Pakistan, let's see how things shape up.

Such is the history of Pakistan (I hope I had a better style of presentation)
  • 1947 - Jinnah leads Pakistan post-India's independence
  • Sep 11, 1948 - Jinnah passes away
  • Mar 7, 1949 - Liaquat Ali Khan becomes Prime Minister; With Liaquat, Objectives resolution of the constitution declared the sovereignty of Pakistan lay with Allah, it had democracy, an independent judiciary, freedom, equality, and minority rights as key elements. Not one of them got implemented
  • Oct 16, 1951 - Said Khan (an Afgan) assassinates Liaquat Ali Khan; marks the beginning of power struggle in Pakistan
  • 1952 - Khwaja Nazimuddin, (Governal General after Jinnah) becomes Prime Minister
  • April 1953 - Nazimuddin government dismissed as Ghulam Muhammad steps up as Head of State
  • 1953 - Muhammad Ali Bogra appointed Prime minister by Ghulam Muhammad to please Americans & Bengalis
  • Oct 24, 1954 - Emergency declared by Ghulam as Bogra tries to change certain statutes; Borgra government dissolved.
  • 1955 - Iskander Mirza becomes Governor General with Army support; Chaudhri Muhammad Ali appointed prime minister
  • Feb 29, 1956 - Pakistan declared Islamic republic, title of Governor General renamed as President
  • Sep 12, 1956 - Heseyn Suhrawardy becomes Prime Minister
  • Oct 17, 1957 - Ibrahim Ismail Chundrigar becomes Prime Minister
  • Dec 16, 1957 - Sir Feroz Khan Noon becomes Prime Minister
  • Oct 7, 1958 - Mirza declares Martial law, suspends constitution; Muhammad Ayyub Khan takes over as Chief Martial Law & Administrator
  • March, 1969 - Yahya Khan, another general takes over Ayyub Khan due to protests. Yahya Khan ensured free and fair elections
  • Dec 7, 1971 - Appointed Prime Minister Nurul Amin lasted only for 13 days in office; Martial law continues; Martial law imposed
  • 1971 - Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto takes on President & Army Chief's office
  • Aug 14, 1973 - Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto becomes first elected Prime Minister
  • July 1977 - Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto overthrown in a coup by General Zia Ul Haq, imposes Martial law
  • Mar 24, 1985 - Muhammad Khan Junejo appointed as Prime Minister by General Zia
  • Dec 2, 1988 - Benazir Bhutto, daughter of Zuliqar Ali Bhutto elected Prime Minister after winning general elections
  • 1990 - Benazir dismissed as Prime Minister by the then President Gulshan Ishaq Khan for corruption
  • Aug 6, 1990 - Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi becomes interim Prime Minister
  • Nov 6, 1990 - Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif becomes Prime Minister
  • Apr 18, 1993 - General Ishaq Khan dismisses Nawaz Sharif, makes Blakh Sher Mazari caretaker Prime Minister till Nawaz returns on May 26, 1993
  • July 18, 1993 - Wasim Sajjad takes on as Acting President
  • July 18, 1993 - Moeenuddin Ahmad Qureshi appointed caretaker Prime Minster
  • Oct 19, 1993 - Benazir Bhutto reelected to Prime Minister's office
  • Nov 5, 1996 - Malik Meraj Khalid appointed caretaker Prime Minister after Bhutto's dismissed yet again on corruption charges
  • Feb 17, 1997 - Nawaz Sharif returns to Prime Minister's office
  • Jan 1, 1998 - Muhammad Rafiq Tarar becomes President, remodels the president's office in the true spirit of the constitution of Pakistan
  • Oct 12, 1999 - Nawaz Sharif ousted, General Pervez Musharraf does a military coup. Allows President Tarar to continue in President's office
  • June 20, 2001 - General Pervez Musharraf appoints himself President
  • Nov 21, 2002 - Zafarullah Khan Jamali elected Prime Minister
  • Jun 26, 2004 - Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain replaces Khan Jamali as Prime Minister
  • Aug 20, 2004 - Shaukat Aziz elected Prime Minister, becomes first to complete term in Prime Minister's office
  • Nov 16, 2007 - Muhammad Mian Soomro becomes acting PM & later acting President on expiry of term of Aziz & on resignation of President Musharraf respectively
  • Mar 25, 2008 - Yousaf Raza Gillani elected Prime Minister
  • Aug 18, 2008 - President Musharraf resigns under pressure
  • Sep 8, 2008 - Asif Ali Zardari (husband of Late Benazir Bhutto) of takes on as President
(The timeline was composed out of multiple secondary sources)