Monday, 15 December 2014

Interview-Author's Lounge

Dear Readers

I have been sharing the posts of all my three blogs (, and in "rate my"(RML) , a site devoted to featuring the writing of amateurs.

Recently, Ms Padmaja Iyengar who along with her son Etentacles administers the site, interviewed me for her monthly feature"Author's Lounge which traces the writing journey of various writers who regularly contribute to RML.With her permission, I am sharing the link for your perusal..

Do read and give your comments . To comment in RML you need to make a registeration in the site which is free.This is a good idea, given the good writing in the site and the very friendly community. Alternatively, you can give your feedback here.

Please Note:- is a hobby site (network) for literature lovers from around the world. It provides an opportunity for amateurs to publish their work (poetry, limericks, short stories, essays & articles), invite comments / feedback and get recognized. It also provides an opportunity to network with like minded people who share your passion of writing.....

Sunday, 7 December 2014

L & D Leadership League

I had the privilege of attending the L & D leadership league for learning & development professionals organized by 'People matters' at Chennai in hotel ITC Chola  on 16th September 2014 . The half day conclave was  attended by around 150 professionals representing various industries and service sectors.

Normally, in HR conclaves the focus gets diluted as L&D is seen only as a segment of the big umbrella of HR.One may  also  not get the opportunity to meet so many L&D professionals under one roof. These two aspects by themselves can be described as a major achievement of the conclave.

In the first session  Mr Muthu Kumar Thanu, CHRO of Tractors & farm equipment ( TAFE ), set the tone for the proceedings in his plain speaking unambiguous language as to what is expected from L&D professionals. He pointed out that learning by itself would not be meaningful unless it is applied on the job. Similarly learning is not just for one level of employees but should include all levels of employees. when we look at best practices for replicating, we need to keep in mind that the same is contextual. Hence the need to pick up those practices that are relevant & practical in your context or to modify it suitably to make it relevant.

Mr Thanu also spoke about the distinction between leadership learning & behavioural learning. In respect of  the former, the participant after training. should exhibit business attributes such as achievement orientation, be thorough with the business process and have exposure/ experience of what actually happens at the shop floor. The latter should result in a change in behaviour while interacting with  customers & colleagues  at the work place. Behavioural learning should contribute to building the desired culture by reiterating the values expected from employees.

Mr Thanu stated that it is a myth to assume that learning is a solution for all ills. You need to first find out the actual problem & examine whether learning is the solution & then provide it. As for example a disciplinary problem cannot be solved by a training intervention. There is a need to measure the impact of training. Today, learning is an important means of engaging employees. He signed off with the observation that the challenge is for learning to happen at a faster rate than change.

The next session was what the organizers called 'Table host discussions' which was planned for about an hour. As per this format, in a span of one hour, five topics would be discussed led by a distinguished HR practitioner at 5 points/tables in the conference hall.Every 15 minutes, participants will move from one point to the other to listen to the discussion on a new topic. Finally, the leaders who led the discussions would give a summary of the topic based on the results of discussions.
The five subjects for the table host discussion were the following:-
1) What are the design interventions required to build a learning culture?
2)  What are the ways of developing leadership attributes in an organization to foster a learning  culture?
3) How can culture encourage innovation in an organization?
4) What is the ROI of training and what does it mean in terms of a learning organization?
5)  How can organization leverage technology to inbibe pervasive learning in an organization?

Although the table host discussion appeared to be an interesting & novel cocept, during execution, it was found that people spend a lot more time at the first table they went to, meaning sufficient time was not available for the other tables.I myself managed to attend only two and half  of the five topics for the discussion.A stricter implimentation limiting the topics to only two or three would have been more effective, given the fact that only an hour was alloted for the exercise.
When the leaders of the five groups presnted the summary, I found the one on designing interventions for building learning culture (Sl no 1) made by Ms Smitha Murthy, AVP & head OD,Infosys BPO, most   impressive for its clarity & innovative suggestions. The suggestions included the following:-

a) L&D needs to do its own marketing and convince participants as to what is in it for them.
b) Reach out to the influencing  20% key people for spreading the advantages of learning resulting in reaching out to 80% of the population (on the lines of the Pareto principle).
c) Form a learning council having representatives of various levels of employees.Individual development plans for each employee can be implimented imediately  with the clearance of the council
d) Let learning be linked to the personal vision of employees

The next session was facilitated by Ms Meena Surie Wilson,Senior enterprize associate of the centre for creative leadership during which  she underscored the role of experiential games & experiences for driving home leadership lessons to participants.The experiential exercise involved cards being distributed to participants with various scenrio from the work life out of  which they were required to select 3  in an order of priority, based on which their leadership style & inclination was predicted.This was refered to as a 3D approach for balanced leadership development.

The half a day league had two more sessions before we wound up for lunch.This included a session on "Critical thinking capabilities" by Shashir Shetty,national sales manager of Pearson talent lens and another on "Gamified engagement" by Mr K.Ganesan,VP-HR of Tata consultancy services.Of the two, the presentation by the latter was very impressive.Mr Ganesan, at the outset outlined the challenges faced by TCS, an organization employing 3,50000 employees, in attracting talent and retaining their interest.It involves letting prospective employees know how the company is different from others.

One of the most important initiatives in this regard is engaging with students long before they have become employees of the organization.In a software company like TCS, recruitments are made in large numbers but the actual placement on the job could take much longer time.Even after physically reporting  for the job, they could be on the bench for long periods before being assigned a project.It is here that TCS has developed the concept of 'Campus commune', the largest campus portel in the world. Through the portel, the company keeps in touch with students right from their first year of engineering.The portal provides opportunities to participate in technical  quizes, gaming, certifications in terms of technology. The preference, likes,dislikes  & inclination of students are known right from the first year and it is like obtaining their digital footprints for a period of five years.

As for example the company found that students from a textile background are very good in computer designing.In the education-exposure-experience model, participation index in the various activities and the scores is a criteria for success. A person's batching will be delayed if he doesn't get a minimum acceptable score & mileage points in the moving speedometer.Engaging students & employees yet to be posted to assignments and retaining their interest in the company and  & in maintaining technical sharpness are all achieved through this initative which has proved to be very effective & fruitful.

Overall for me, the L&D leadership league was a good opportunity to stimulate the brain, gain some new knowledge and exchange notes with fellow L&D  professionals.Perhaps, a whole day program or less sessions with more focus in a half day program could have made it even more effective. The organizors, however deserve all appeciation for a wonderful initiative that is certainly different from the usual conferences.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Grow! Grow! Grow!

Presently we are living in a fast paced world. Everyone wants everything fast- fast food, fast results, faster returns on investment. In such a scenario 'Patience' has become a casualty. You expect everything to happen in the same way a bulb burns on switching it on.

Yet, there are some things that happen at its own pace & time. you have planted a seed, watered it and put manure as well. Now you want to see it grow immediately before your eyes. No matter how much you shout & order "Grow! Grow! Grow!", the plant will grow in to a tree at its own pace and time with many more days of tending, caring, watering and manuring.

Similarly, although managements would like to see immediate results on behavioural training being imparted, it will not happen as immediately as we would wish. After a training program, from  reviews done after 3 months and from project presentations made by participants after practicing learning at work, I am convinced that we are on the right track & that having sown good seeds, manured & watered with love, the results are bound to come sooner or later.

Let us take the case of an exclusive training program organized by us in the  Learning & Development department  in the year 2014 for the employees identified by the company as "Future Leaders."  The residential  program titled "Strategic Program for Executive Education(SPEED)" nearing completion at a renowned international business school in Chennai has three modules of two days duration each ( Leading self, Leading Function & Leading Business). In between the modules spaced across nine months, participants return to work and carry out action learning projects (ALP) based on the inputs received by them.

As I witnessed along with the faculty, the  ALP  presentations  after the first module, "leading self", I had a sense of satisfaction that we are on the right track and that outcomes from the training program are bound to follow. One of the projects opted for by many participants was "requesting negative feedback" from subordinates/ peers/ bosses.They were required to develop an understanding and document matters such as 1) What was done?  2) Who were involved? 3) How was it done? 4) the challenges faced 5) How did they feel about the experience? 6) Did they notice any change in themselves and/or others? 7) Benefits experienced in task & relationships 9) What classroom learning did this validate? 10) Has the project helped in developing a skill or attitude? 11) Did they get any insights? 12) Any other comment about the ALP experience?

I would like to share here the gist of two of the presentations. The first one refers to a feedback from subordinates to the participant that he appeared  agitated most of the time and tended to shout at them. The participant said that initially  the feedback came as a jolt, as he had believed himself to be very pleasant and was not even consciously aware of the extent of  his  shouting. Having become aware of his own emotions and  gone through the challenge of accepting the reality, the participant analysed the causes. He realized that the multi tasks to be attended was making him insecure & edgy which was being passed on to subordinates.He became aware of the fact that a good amount of the pressure, had to do with his own perception & approach. Having understood the problem, the participant revealed that he started listing down all the jobs to be attended and became more organized in dealing with them. As a result he found that he was no longer shouting at others and his subordinates have become less stressed. In the discussions that followed the presentation, it became clear that becoming aware of our emotions is a  key aspect and that understanding it serves as the first step to resolving issues.

In the second presentation seeking feedback from subordinates was an eye opener for the participant, in the sense he was told that he did not give adequate time to colleagues for dis cussions & clarifications. This was resulting in not only resentment but also errors due to faulty understanding of jobs to be executed.In response to the feedback, the participant rescheduled his work calendar providing for time twice in a day in the morning and late afternoon for discusions, clarification & communication with team members. This improved the quality of work in the department as also improved the relationship with team members.

I have discussed only two presentations.There were many more insightful presentations that drew attention to improvements possible in various ways by a simple initiatve of seeking negative feedback and addressing the core issues undelying the feedback. With each passing day, I am more & more convinced that seeds sown in the form of learning or training can never go waste.It may take its time. But it will certainly  germinate, blossom and flower at the appropriate time if we tend it patiently  with care, water & manure in the form of follow up (ALPs, reviews, surveys) to ensure actual application of learning happens  at the work place. For many, the learning could serve as an important aid to  happy & satisfying personal lives as well!

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Webinar on Corporate Story Telling

Readers will recall my blog  titled "Stories from the work place" posted on 7th june, drawing attention to the importance of story telling and that  of sharing our success / challenge stories ( In the said post  I had shared stories & experiences of V. Bimal Senior manager marketing in Hyundai. Towards the end of the post, I had exhorted employees in corporates to tell their stories and suggested that HR take the initiative to encourage employees in this connection. subsequently in a post titled "Stories from the work place- Unforgettable incident", the learning experience of  S. Saravanan , a supervisor on the shop floor in Hyundai was shared in the form of a story. 

Being an interest area, I was thrilled to note that the People Matters magazine was arranging a webinar (which they called a twang out) on "Corporate story telling - an essential leadership quality" with  Dr Tanvi Gautham, Managing partner Global people tree. I am glad I participated in the twang out. Tanvi was described by the co host Savitha from People matters (Other host being Shivin, manager OD Mahindra & mahindra) as one of less than 100 certified story coaches in the world, In fact she is Asia's only and first certified story coach. with this introduction, I am sure readers are keen to learn more of the intricacies of story telling from the expert.So here goes...

The first question asked was "What is the leadership shift that we are talking about and why do we need to pay attention to it? Tanvi responded by stating that 'leadership' was an old economy concept & that there are no ships to run any more.In the present times however there are a series of shifts that leaders are required to handle such as the demographic shift with more working women & more diversity at the work place, technological shift etc. This calls for new tools for inspiring the 'Y' generation and story telling is one such important tool.

She said that story telling is both a science and an art and that with practice & learning one can become good at it.Although template can be developed as to the structure, at the end there is a need for an emotional connect with the audience which is made possible by modulating your story in terms of content, voice tone etc.

HR would do well to outsource all routine activities  and concentrate on the strategic aspects .They can be the catalyst for leading the shifts by preparing  leaders for effective story telling.

Stories can be used at the time of recruitment to get the right candidates. they can be used while on boarding( inducting your culture to the new employees through stories).They can be used for coaching. Stories help to bring in the emotional connect to new ideas during a change management initiative..

To a question as to what are the basic rules for good story telling, Tanvi replied that the rule #1 would be the element of curiousity & mystery as to what is coming next.This is achieved by careful release of information. Rule #2 is that the story should be authentic. It is only an authentic story that has the quality to be contagious & evoke energy. Rule #3 is  to bring an emotional connect with the audience .

Some of the common mistakes made while telling stories  are (1) not having a 'Why' for telling the story. It is not meant for entertainment! There should be a goal or purpose in telling the story, be it conveying values or inspiring to action.(2) the story being about ' I, Me & Myself' The audience should be able to identify with the stories & preferably a person  other than the speaker  should be the hero of the story.(3) The third mistake is not having an end to the story- Some people go on & on  and do not pay attention as  to whether the audience is paying attention.You should be sensitive to the audience response.

Finally, Tanvi  revealed that it takes around 3 weeks to polish the story to make it fit for delivery. Her organization trains in story telling at  what she called 'story labs'.During the course of the discussion , she also mentioned that she was averse to the use of the word" ROI" with respect to story telling. Instead of looking for return on investment managements ought to look out for 'ROE'  ie return on engagement. stories are an important way of engaging your employees. They should be concerned about the cost or the  loss incurred on employees not being engaged.

Overall, the discussions in the twang out, I found quite informative & interesting, more so because the subject is close to my heart and I believe in future telling & sharing our stories will go a long way - in engaging employees as Tanvi says or as Annette Simmons puts it  "whoever  tells the best story wins!"


Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Leading From the Heart

On 12th September 2014, I attended a program on the above topic organized by the Brahmakumaris Vishwa vidyalaya, at their calm and serene retreat center called 'Happy village' in the outskirts of Chennai city.The participants were mainly senior bureaucrats of the government departments. I attended the program in view of the interesting topic and the persuasive warmth in the invitation extended by brother Eashwaran of the Sriperumbudur center. I am glad I did, because the half day prgram which the organizers described as " a dialogue with administrators" threw up a lot of food for thought and was overall an enlightening experience.

Before the program formally commenced, the volunteers (so very caring & warm) guided me to the breakfast venue and to the founder Baba's meditation room. I spend only around 10 minutes in meditation since the thought was at the back of my mind that I need to go back in time for the commencement of the program.However, the time in the meditation hall was so peaceful & fulfilling that one felt like just being there for hours.

The managerial session was chaired by Asha Behen, Director of the Delhi center of the Brahmakumaris. She set the tone for the proceedings, discussing the key words in the topic of the day viz 'leading' and 'heart'. Leading from the heart would mean not only that people agree to the decisions or rules made by you but that by your innovative ways you get them to lovingly accept the decision. While agreeing can happen from the place of the intellect, acceptance can happen only if the heart is also touched.

Ashabehen said that the session should answer the questions "How to lead from the heart?" and "What does it mean to lead from the heart?".It was expected that the answers would come not from a lecture but from a dialogue amongst the participants. Here the key note speaker sought to make a distinction between 'dialoguing' and a mere 'discussion'. While the latter could result in arguements, dialoguing involves the process of developing on each other's thoughts to come to a holistic understanding of the subject.

For the dialoguing exercise, we were split in to small groups (1) to share our own experiences of leading from the heart & arrive at the qualities exhibited during the process of a leadership decision (2) to deliberate on 3 scenarios given to us in the form of case studies for making a decsion while leading from the heart.

But before the commencement of the dialoguing session which was facilitated by sister Ranjana, Asha behen engaged in a question-answer interaction with the participants to elicit their views as to what "leading from the heart" means. she added her own thoughts to the views expressed & it was agreed that the following qualities would be visible while leading from the heart:-
  • Love, compassion,transparency, empathy
  • Recognizing/experiencing the feelings of others while deciding
  • Talking from the inner consciousness of self
  • Interacting with others guided by one's core values
  • Having a conviction about the decision as you are holding on to the truth
  • Being beyond any attachment
  • Having an open mind to ideas, accepting the experiences of others
  • Listening to the voice of the heart
  • Going beyond your built up assumptions
  • Being in the now while taking decision-not influenced by past or future
  • Being fearless since you are coming from a place of truth
In the dialoguing exercise in small groups (later all experiences shared consolidated & shared with the large group), participants related about situations when they had to take a difficult decision affecting other humanbeings as employees and how they chose to rely on their heart more than the head .As for example there were occasions when an employee was to be conveyed a decision of dismissal. The activity was done with empathy appreciating his situation, imparting to the person confidence to face the future & giving suggestions on the avenues & possibilities of alternative employment.

The discussions reminded me of another incident related in the book " 50 Soul stories-The sagas of management monks"written by the distinguished management Guru and author Moid Siddiqui. The real life story listed under the title "Holy disciplinary proceedings" tells about a theft that had taken place in the BHEL company canteen when a few laddus (sweets) were allegedly stolen by the cook.The General manager (Personnel) wanted strict action to be taken & appointed Mr Siddiqui to conduct a prima facie enquiry.

But his immediate boss, junior in designation to the GM, told him that he wanted him to set an example in the history of disciplinary cases & conduct a 'holy' disciplinary enquiry! " Find out what made the cook steal the laddus? Does he have too many children? Are they half fed? Perhaps his beloved young daughter demanded sweets from him- there could be many causes!" He advised Siddiqui not to embarras the cook by too much probing and handed him a 10 rupee note "Take some sweets with you for his children.I am sure they need it." Mr Siddiqui says that he was stunned by the humane approach of his boss and the incident served as a guideline throughout his career.

As I bid farewell and drove away from the serene "Happy Village", there was the satisfied feeling of a half day well spent.Not only did the organisers lovingly serve us food in the form of lunch but food for thought as well by giving  the participants in senior level positions, a glimpse of the great possibilities in leading from the heart.

The world would be a much better place if all of us in leadership positions, led from the heart...

Monday, 18 August 2014

Leader or Follower?

The other day I received in my mail, forward of a quote by Management Guru, Shiv Khera which read " It is better to be a good follower than a bad leader." This set me thinking...

If you want a grove of oranges, would sowing apples help?The question may seem absurd.yet,this is what we are doing all the time.In the last three decades management institutes and corporates have been progressively underscoring the importance of leadership and how leadership is the key distinguishing factor between the men & the boys.All encouragement whether in terms of training, monetary benefits or recognition is given to the leader or one aspiring to be a leader.In such a scenario, would any sensible person pay attention  to a declaration that "It is better to be a good follower than a bad leader?" People tend to take seriously only those activities that are recognized & rewarded.  Therefore, good or bad, everyone would like to get on to the bandwagon of where the action is- to the place where appreciation & recognition is available in plenty.

No training is imparted to people for taking on the role of good followers- inputs on how to appreciate the good qualities & strenghts of other members of your team.How to actually compliment and serve as a team player. It has been observed that in political field also in India,every one wants to be a leader;nobody wants to be a follower.National parties having a vested interest of centralizing power, did not allow any single natural leader to emerge strong in the states. They engineered dissension and fanned the ambitions of rivals for ensuring instability in the states.

If the statement"It is better to be a good follower than a bad leader" is relevant & meaningful, the time is long overdue for taking steps to  encourage  those attributes essential for becoming good followers. There is a need whether in politics or in the industry to get the less experienced  to thoroughly learn the ropes before they aspire to be leaders.The ones having genuine flair  is groomed into the role with the support & good will of those around them.

In such a scenario, there is also a clarity that to serve in politics or to contribute  in an industry, every one need not be a  leader.Great contributions can be made by honest, zealous followers as well! 

Monday, 28 July 2014

Traveling on the Path of Value Creation (KSS)

In this post I would like to share an article based on my notes taken on another important and useful subject
In the Knowledge sharing session(KSS) on the above subject at our L&D center on 10th May 2012, the speaker Mr R. Ravishankar, of M/s center for Development of Managerial Skills, gave a simple definition of “Value Creation”. He related many stories & instances when value creation came alive for him through the actions of normal simple ordinary people. However their action made extraordinary impact on him as the consumer/ customer.

Value creation means adding some value to the original product or service and making available this enhanced product/service to the ultimate consumer. In other words, it means doing more than the minimum requirement or the basic job description. As for example you leave for office everyday at 6.30 AM. The newspaper is delivered daily at 7 AM & so you get to read it only in the night when you return home. If the newspaper boy knowing your needs, delivers it every day at 5.30 AM, he is creating more value for you. To meet his job requirement it is sufficient if he delivers the paper in the morning. He has added value for you beyond the minimum expectation.

Value creation can also be explained as giving something more than for which you are paid - Giving something more than the expectation. When you create value, you understand the real needs of your customer internal or external and satisfy them.

Mr Ravishankar introduced to the audience some of the value creators he came across in his life:-

Sales Girl in a Department Store

The speaker used to visit a department store near his home. There was a sales girl working in the billing section. She was always enthusiastic & aware about the activities of other areas also including the stock situation  of various products. She took interest to understand the brand preferences of regular customers.  She would inform a customer immediately on arrival “Madam  your  ‘Tajmahal’ Tea which was out of stock has just arrived.” Value creation for the customer from such a sales person is obvious.

Server in a Salem Hotel

The speaker had gone to Salem and was required to eat out for 3 to 4 days in a hotel. On the second day he noticed that there was this server who knew the personal preferences of his customers. As for example he placed the water glass to the left or right of the customer depending on the preference as noted by him. He knew which was the favourite vegetable of individual customers & served them more of the same.

Receptionist in a House construction Company

The speaker had gone to the front office of a House construction Company and was received by the receptionist. She informed that the sales representatives had gone out. The speaker was in a hurry & was reluctant to wait. The receptionist offered to explain the details of the project herself. She took him to the model of the project exhibited on the left & explained all aspects of the project to his satisfaction. He was impressed that a receptionist had kept herself very well informed & asked her how long she was working for the company- she replied that she had joined two days back.

Assistant in a Two wheeler show room

The speaker before visiting the showroom had discussed with a mechanic who advised him that a particular brand of tyre is best suited for two wheelers. When he inspected the vehicle which he otherwise liked, he noted that the tyres were of a different brand. He requested that the tyre be changed to his requirement.

 The salesperson dealing with him simply stated that “Nothing can be done sir. We can sell it only in ‘as is where is’ condition as received from the factory.” His assistant manager also took the same stand & it looked like the sale will fall through. At that time another  assistant who just came in, listened to the problem and gave a detailed account of how the tyre brand & its quality was not a differentiating factor. Mr Ravishankar was finally convinced as the assistant was not avoiding but willing to give patient hearing & explanation to all his apprehensions and he decided to buy the vehicle with the same tyres fitted by the company.

Sales Girl in a Mobile Shop

The speaker went to a mobile store for purchase. The sales girl during conversation came to know that he is going abroad. She started asking questions as to which country he is going. Although a little irritated with the inquisitiveness of the girl, he replied “UK”. She immediately gave him a lot of information as to which service provider in the UK can provide him service, their contact number etc. The gentleman had gone to the shop only to buy a mobile instrument but he got so much more.

Handkerchief vendor on the roadside platform

While buying handkerchiefs on the roadside, the platform vendor wanted to know whether the speaker was going abroad. On being told that he was going to the UK, the vendor told him that being the month of December; it would be very cold in the UK. He advised on the various accessories like sweater, gloves etc that need to be carried while going to UK in the winter & also advised as to where you will get these thing in Pondy Bazar.

Here was an ordinary person  extending extraordinary service much beyond what is expected of him.

The Hyundai Getz car & the service in HMP

The speaker revealed that he was a proud owner of the Hyundai Getz car for over 5 years. Every feature of the car, according to him is planned for the comfort of the driver & passengers in the car. He presently owns an I20 but memories of the Getz continue to haunt him.

 Mr Ravishankar was also in high  in his praise for the service extended by the Hyundai Motor Plaza (HMP) in Ekaduthangal. He says he is so satisfied each time he gives his car for service to HMP that he will never consider giving his car for service anywhere else. He also recommends all his friends to go to HMP alone for service. One aspect he liked in the HMP service is the minute concern for customer comfort like for example at the time of taking car for service, the seat position is marked so that at the time of returning the car after service, the seat is adjusted back to the comfort position of the owner. He is also impressed by the fact that a feedback rating of anything less than 8 out of 10 is not acceptable at HMP.

Bank Manager while vacationing in Munar

The speaker had gone to Munar,Kerala for a vacation. He had recently acquired a debit card & therefore did not feel the need to carry cash during the journey. However on the previous evening of his departure, the resort authorities informed that they do not accept card for the payment which would have to be done in cash. He immediately rushed to the only ATM facility available in Munar only to find it was not functional. He was informed that repair people would have to come up to the hill & do the job which could take a day or two.

In desperation Mr Ravishankar rushed to the Manager of the State Bank of Travancore whose ATM he was trying to operate. The manager listened to his problem but was not sure how he could help him. Finally he advised him to come to the ATM booth at around 8.30 PM. Later the manager came along with two of his staff who worked on the machine for about two hours & at around 10.45 they got it to operate for a time span of five minutes during which time Mr Ravishankar was able to draw his money. The manager had gone out of his way created value for a stranger who was not strictly his customer. This is why the speaker remembers him years later & relates this story over and over again to his audience.

Assistant in  the office of a Sales Tax Service Provider

The speaker was heading a firm providing service on sales tax matters. His assistant had quite a few records under her control under lock & key. One day while coming to office she met with a serious accident. The first thing she said & the last matter she conveyed before losing consciousness was ‘Please tell Mr Ravishankar that the key to the documents cabinet is with Ms Geetha. Today is the last day for filing the sales tax returns…” Even in such a condition she thought first about her duty & the office.

Mr Ravishankar advised participants to make introspection as to where they stand.  Normally there are 3 types of people:

1)     Those who create value

2)    Those who are neutral

3)    Those who are value Destroyers


Most people tend to be in the second category. The introspection should egg us on to move into the first category

Now let us take a Look at a few Value destroyers who came up in the experience of the speaker:-

(1)    Bank Manager advising not to open account in his bank  as he is overburdened

The speaker had gone to open an account in a public sector bank but was shocked to hear the bank manager advising him to open account in any of the other 5 banks operating in the vicinity. To him this sounded like blasphemy that a responsible representative of a business entity is advising you to go to the competitor.

(2)      Nurse in a private hospital refusing treatment

The speaker’s grandmother aged 85 years took ill suddenly. They rushed to the nearest hospital. As no doctor was available at that time, they requested the nurse to come down to the house and provide relief. But the nurse was not willing. “How old is the patient” she asked. When told that the patient was 85, her response was “Nothing is to be done. Let her die.”

(3)      Salesman  at a  motor Bike showroom

The speaker   was discussing the features of a new product in a showroom. The salesman was very casual in his approach.  He said “sir don’t get carried away by the advertisement claims on mileage of the vehicle! You will actually get much less”.

He was discounting the claims & credibility of his own company- a clear case of value destroying.

We can all travel on the path of becoming value creators. After the talk, there was a lively discussion as to why people chose to be value creators. Is it because they will get something in return – More money?  Promotion? Appreciation?

It was generally agreed that people generally  do not create value to get these things. They do it because they enjoy the process. It is another matter that those who add value generally tend to be noticed & rewarded. But their original action came from within as a part of their basic nature.

As for example, the platform vendor who regularly shares information on the climate in foreign countries & guides people on where they can get the required accessories is not expecting to sell more handkerchiefs because of this gesture. It is very unlikely that the same people who benefited from him would go back to the pavement each time they felt the need for buying handkerchiefs. This however does not deter the vendor from sharing, giving more value than is expected from him.

In fact we would do well to take as our role models these people who create value because it is in their very nature.  They are doing things because they enjoy it. They have a passion for what they are doing and automatically add value.

Come, let us all travel on the path of value creation with a focused awareness of what it is that is important to our internal & external customers and consistently aim to meet them, creating  value for our customers and a sense of satisfaction for ourselves.

Monday, 30 June 2014

Book Review- Championing the Bosses

If I remember correctly it was in the year 1998. The karnataka chapter of NIPM (National Institute of Personnel Management) had invited its members to an evening meeting in Bangalore, the main agenda being the release of the book "Management parables" written by Mr Moid Siddiqui a practicing HRDian who was then working as GM (Personnel) in HMT Ltd.

It was a pleasant evening. The chief guest presiding over the ceremony and the author spoke, followed by the formal release of the book. At the venue during break, the fresh new book was displayed and was available for sale. My colleague & I picked up a book each. Two days later I was traveling on official work from Bangalore to Mysore. As the journey time was a solid 3 hours, I was carrying with me the newly purchased book to keep myself occupied during the journey.

I casually started reading the book but soon became engrossed in it. Here was a book as its name suggested, relating to us true tales from the corporate scenario in a simple free flowing language with a lot of learning. The book for me was for me a breath of fresh air with no complicated management jargons or charts. Before I realized it, I had almost completed reading the book as the train reached Mysore.
The book I was referring in the previous para was Moid siddiqui's second book. The book I am reviewing in this post is his 15th book. The author has subsequently written many more .To date he has written 25 books mainly on management, with around 6 on spirituality. But why am I recalling an earlier book while reviewing "Championing the Bosses"? It is because this book has a lot in common in terms of style, tone & tenor with the parables book that I had like so much! In other words "Championing the bosses” is filled with a lot of experience sharing- of incidents & anecdotes from the work life of the distinguished author spanning over 3 decades.
In the book, the author has described 14 types of bosses. He has given a detailed description for identifying each type and tips as to how to associate with each of them for attaining the maximum benefit & sustaining the minimum damage. Interestingly, he has also given tips to the bosses (e.g. the Stone Age boss or the paranoid boss) as to how they can come out of their limitations& become more effective. This approach of the author, Moid siddiqui is heartening & refreshing in the sense, the aim of the exercise is not merely to criticize & condemn but to guide both the bosses and the reportees to desirable and enabling behaviour.

In order to give a taste of the quality & power of Mr siddiqui's descriptions, I am quoting below his take on the 'Heroic' bosses:-
“The prime characteristic of a heroic boss is ‘Urge for visibility' coupled with ‘Over confidence'. A big 'I' is his identity. The pronoun 'We' does not find any place in his vocabulary. Heroic boss has a big ego and is highly ambitious. His urge for visibility is so high that he becomes myopic & fails to make a distinction between praise & appeasement. He over counts himself & under counts others. Heroic bosses are disaster hunters. They feel uncomfortable if there is no crisis. If the crisis is not there, they would create one, as crisis management gives them visibility. They are team destructors.”

For dealing with such types, the author has suggested technique of 'creative aggression'-The heroic manager is like an unguarded missile. We need to look at ways for harnessing their energy creatively so that instead of harming, it becomes beneficial for organizational needs. The other technique suggested is 'supportive confrontation'- confront his 'egotism' and support his intellectual impulses' and ‘energy'. The description is supplemented by many incidents& tales from thework situation.  

The other bosses discussed are busy bosses, paranoid bosses who are always suspicious & trust none, chocolate cream bosses who do not want to displease any one, stone age bosses who centralize power, narcissistic bosses who hunger for praise, crooked bosses, micromanaging bosses & its opposite abdicating bosses, Gotcha bosses who are happy catching you do something wrong, Mohammad Tuglaq Bosses who are ahead of their times, Baba yoga bosses who are patriarchal using the command & control approach and the last two which exhibit positive qualities namely Pygmalion bosses(caring & loving yet keeping the bar of achievement high) and achievers somewhat in the mold of Maslow's self-actualizers.
What makes the discussion insightful, entertaining yet enlightening are the live stories drawn from the experience of the author. On completing the book the one thought that comes to mind is “if only I had this book to guide me a little earlier in my career, dealing with bosses & being a boss oneself could have been so much easier.” I enjoyed reading all the chapters, maybe some a little more than the others given the kind of situations I myself encountered in my career.
The chapter on Baba yoga bosses had new information in the form of sharing a Russian fairy tale of a cannibal witch, Baba Yoga who treated her subordinates with an iron hand cruelly & without respect and yet managed to get their absolute obedience until she met her match in the heroine of the tale, Vasilisa imprisoned by the witch with the aim of eating her for supper. But before she returned, Vasilisa politely and with respect requested the servants of the witch to help her escape & they did because they experienced for the first time courteous behaviour- “I let her pass for she was polite to me. I served you for ten years, Baba Yoga, but you never gave me any love or affection” The Baba yoga of the Russian tale characterizes a typical patriarchal boss who gives precedence to self-interest and self-esteem over the company’s objectives. The reign of fear & phobia snuffs out creativity, ingenuity and intuitive reflexes. Needless to say that there was a lot of learning in this chapter. Yet, after completing the chapter, there was a feeling for me of something missing…. I examined the reason for this and finally came to the conclusion. This chapter did not have a single tale or experience sharing from the author.
I conclude this review reiterating the observation that in “Championing the Bosses” published by Prism books, a wealth of learning is assured for the reader who can also enjoy the free flowing lines, anecdotes & incidents drawn from real life!


Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Stories From the Work Place- Unforgettable Incident

In my post "Stories from the work place" we had discussed the power & impact of  stories and how stories from the work place can energize employees.. I published the same in our company's intranet also and exhorted readers to start sharing their stories from the work place. The first person to respond to my request was Mr  S.Saravanan, Assistant Supervisor working in Transmission-QC department. Naturally I am thrilled and am excited to share this with readers. Mr saravanan has written this piece beautifully in Tamil,even quoting lines from Thirukural ( a classic of couplets authored by poet Thiruvalluvar around 30 BC) .Those of my readers who are blessed with the ability to read Tamil may go down & read the article straight  from the horse's mouth. For the benefit of others, I have translated this motivating story- Enjoy...

Story From the work Place

" Kooramai nokka kuripparvanenjandrum
 maaraa neer vaikum kani"

Meaning: A person who is able to understand from the face of another what he is thinking,even when the other person has not spoken a word will become the ornament of the world

Unforgettable Incident

I feel happy & proud of the fact that I am working in our company for the past 13 years.I have had lot of experiences during this period. Of these I would like to share an incident that particularly touched my heart.This was in the year 2006.

I joined the company as a technician in 2001.Since this was my first job,I was anxious & fearful in respect of most matters. My supervisor was Mr Prabhakar.He used to interact with everyone freely & naturally.He would discuss with us and give his guidance & support in all matters whether pertaining to work or personal life. One day, on seeing my upset & worried face, he took me aside and asked" What is the problem? You seem to be upset. Can I help you in any way?" I then shared with him the injustice faced by me..

In 2006 I bought a new motorcycle.Even after 10 months, they did not give me the RC book.Although I followed up & visited the RTO office a number of times, it was all in vain.After understanding my problem Mr prabhakar searched for a solution on the internet and found that the website ICRPC was available where we could registter complaints. He taught me  the method of registering complaint online at a time when I had no idea or experience of the internet..

Later, I pursued the case as adviced by him in  the consumers' court without the help of a lawyer and came out successful after two years. This incident came to my mind in April last year when I attended a training program, BEES( Becoming an efficient & Effective Supervisor) on beingpromoted as asst supervisor. In the program Mr Rajeev facilitated a detailed training session on the importance of understanding nonverbal cues.I was able to relate to this incident immediately and appreciate its importance.

What are  nonverbal cues?

It is understanding the mental state of a person by observing his face & body postures/gestures. On that day my supervisor was able to guage my mental state by observing my face and then help me. This has become an unforgettable incident for me and it also served in enhancing our relationship with each other.

The training I received in the BEES program & my own personal experience related above, is helping me in my relationships with others as I am able to understand their feelings (sadness/ happiness) and respond.....


கூறாமை நோக்கக் குறிப்பறிவான் எஞ்ஞான்றும்
மாறாநீர் வையக் கணி- குறள்: 701


ஒருவர் சொல்லாமலே அவருடைய முகத்தை நோக்கி அவர் கருதிய குறிப்பை அறிகின்றவன் எப்போதும் உலகத்திருக்கு ஓர்அணிகலன் ஆவான் மறக்க முடியாத


நான் 13 வருடங்களாக நமது நிறுவனத்தில் பணிபுரிகிறேன் என்பதில் மகிழ்ச்சியும் பெருமையும் அடைகிறேன். இந்த காலத்தில் எனக்கு நிறைய அனுபவங்கள். அதில் குறிப்பாக என் மனதை தொட்ட ஒரு நிகழ்ச்சியை பகிர்ந்து கொள்ள விரும்பிகிறேன். இது நடந்தது 2006-ஆம் ஆண்டு.....

2001 ஆம் ஆண்டு டெக்னிசியனாக பணியில் சேர்ந்தேன். அப்பொழுது எனக்கு இதுவே முதல் பணி என்பதால் அனைத்திற்கும் பயம் கலந்த பதற்றம். என்னுடைய முதல் Suprevisor- ஆக திரு. M பிரபாகர் அவர்கள் இருந்தார். அவர் எப்பொழுதும் சகஜமாக பணி இடத்தில் பேசி பழகுவார். எங்களுக்கு பணி சார்ந்த மற்றும் பணிகள் அல்லாத அணைத்து விசயத்திற்கும் தக்க ஆலோசனை மற்றும் தேவை இருப்பின் தானே முன்னின்று செய்து கொடுக்கும் தன்மையுடையவர். ஒரு நாள் என் பணி இடத்தில் மிகவும் சோர்வுடனும், கவலையுடனும் இருப்பதை பார்த்து என்னை தனியாக அழைத்து என்ன இன்று உன்னிடம் ஏதோ விரக்தி தெரிகிறது, உன் முகத்தில் பொழிவு இல்லை, ஏதாவது பிரச்சனையா? நான் எதுவும் உதவி செய்யட்டுமா என்று கேட்டார். அப்பொழுது அன்று எனக்கு ஏற்பட்ட அநீதியை, ஏமாற்றத்தை அவரிடத்தில் கூறினேன்.

அதாவது 2006- ஆம் வருடம் நான் ஒரு புதிய மோட்டார் சைக்கிள் வாங்கினேன். 10 மாதம் கழித்தும் R.C Book தரவில்லை பலமுறை அலைந்தும் பலன் இல்லை என்பதை அவரிடத்தில் கூறினேன். பின்னர் அவர், அடுத்த நாள் online- ல் அதற்கான வழிமுறைகளை ஆராய்ந்து வந்து ICRPC . ORG என்ற வெப்சைட் பற்றி எனக்கு கூறி, அதில் என் குறைகளை பதிவு செய்யும் வழிமுறைகளை கற்று தந்தார். அப்பொழுது Online மற்றும் மெயில் அனுப்புவது பற்றி அனுபவம் இல்லை. பின் அவர் கூறியபடி பதிவு செய்து, நான் வழக்கரிஞரின்றி நுகர்வோர் நீதி மன்றம் சென்று 2 வருடம் வழக்கை நடத்தி அதில் வெற்றியும் பெற்றேன்.

இதை எதற்காக சொல்ல வந்தேன் என்றால், நான் கடந்த Aprtl மாதம் A.S-ஆக (A.S->Asst.Suprevisor) பணி உயர்வு பெற்று நமது L&D ஆல் நடத்தப்பட்ட BEES Program-ல் கலந்து கொண்டேன். அதில் Mr ராஜீவ் அவர்கள் Non-Verbal Cues பற்றி விரிவாக பயிற்சி அளித்தார் . அப்பொழுது எனக்கு ஏற்பட்ட இந்த சம்பவம் நினைவுக்கு வந்ததுடன் இதன் முக்கியத்துவத்தை நான் உணர்ந்தேன்.

Non-Verbal Cuesஎன்பது

ஒருவரின் முக பாவனை மற்றும் அவரின் செய்கையை கொண்டு அவரின் மன நிலையை புரிந்து கொள்ளுதல்.

அன்று என்னுடைய Suprevisor அவர்கள் என்னுடைய முக பாவத்தில் இருந்து என் மன நிலையை புரிந்து கொண்டு எனக்கு உதவிய விதம் என் வாழ் நாளில் மறக்க முடியாத ஒன்றாகவும் எனக்கும் அவருக்கும் நல்ல உறவு முறையை ஏற்படுத்தியது.

தற்போது BEES Program-ல் கிடைத்த பயிற்சி மற்றும் மேற்கூறிய எனது அனுபவம் இரண்டும் எனக்கு மற்றவர்களின் சுக-துக்கங்களை புரிந்து கொண்டு அவர்களிடத்தில் பழகுவதற்கு ஏதுவாக இருக்கிறது
Thanks & Regards
Saravanan S