Sunday, 17 January 2016

From the Notes of Yesteryears- 2 Human Asset: The Key Differentiator in Service Industry

This is the gist of a talk I listened to some time back of Mr Jagadish Kini, then Executive Director of Airtel. The speaker started out by reminding the significance of the service industry that contributes to 40% of the GDP of the country.He said that in the service industry, more than in any other industry 'customer delight' is paramount.In this connection 'IDEA'  and constant ideation of the employees to make the customer experience better and better is the key.The idea ( I do every action)  also needs to be translated into action to be of value. Any small idea is a big idea if implemented!

Building up on the concept of IDEA , the speaker suggested providing opportunities to ideate, away from the mobile, laptop and the 'madding crowd'-  A think tank room to dream, to ideate and to wait...There is a need for all of us  to take time out to dream; for it is dreams that generate passion. Mr Kini recommended dreaming in colour;when you dream in colour you look for details.He said that in Airtel, they are seeking to develop a culture of dreaming.

As the human assets are the key differentiators, we need to ensure their motivation and energy levels.After they have gone home in the evening after work, the next morning should seem exciting and motivating with  employees happy to remain with the organization.Do we respect our employees? We do pooja to the machines on Ayudha pooja day; similar pooja and devotion needs to be shown to employees. These people who make 'customer delight' possible should be given customized attention to ensure high motivation levels.

Towards the above intention there is a need for honest, forward looking, inspiring and competent leadership  at the top with clarity of  goal and a vision. The key to success is value added competence or in other words having a new way or outlook for looking at anything.Another important requirement in this connection is 'Fun at work' with people really enjoying their work.Performance management that includes talent management  and crossfunctional exposure is also important.

Today aspirational management is a big challenge with attrition levels ranging from 25-30 % in the service industry.It is here that the concepts discussed in the earlier paragraphs would help considerably.Customizing development plans for each employee and working on their strengths rather than the weaknesses would yield good results.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Live IR Experiences and Insights

In the industrial relations summit organized  jointly  by  NIPM and the Karnataka employers's association in 2015 and also during the talk of Mr K. Ramkumar, National President NHRD in a Hosur meeting on the subject "Future of HR", it was opined that IR will come back in a big way.I have been of the opinion that although in India we have had a wealth of experience in IR matters, there is hardly any documentation of the same for the benefit of students specializing in HR or for the fellow practitioners.In this connection i felt that it would be worthwhile to contact those who have had IR exposure and elicit from them details of how they handled various situations.

In this connection I requested a former colleague,Mr  N.Srinivasan , presently working as Manager (HR) to share his experiences.He readily agreed to share his experience and insights on the subject.  The account of Srinivasan as related by him is given below:-

“I joined a manufacturing MNC in 1998 as HR Coordinator whose work was mainly maintaining time office / leave mgmt. of the workers and also taking care of employee’s welfare.
 I then moved to Industrial Relation Department in the year 2008 and worked there for 5 years. I believed that I had a good rapport with all workers and a natural flair to easily move with the workers at all levels. Hence I opted for a department that had many IR issues and where many senior workers were working. I strongly believed that such a department would give me a lot of opportunities to learn in the field of IR.

After taking up the new assignment, I began one to one discussion with all workers. During the discussion I first told them about my family, native place, my career so far in the company. It was a surprise to me that some of the workers were very open and shared intimate details of their personal life such as father has two wives and hence “I have additional responsibilities and personal commitments in my life”. These discussions enabled me to get to know the employees better.

The period 2007-2010 saw a tough time in IR, since a rival group a CITU based Union was fighting for their recognition. A good number of workers were members of this union and started creating problems. I was able to assertively state the management position without fear in spite of the reluctance of employees to accept the management stand. A group of workmen even submitted a complaint letter against my behaviour. However, I was able to function without much difficulty in a hostile situation mainly on account of the rapport build up earlier due to frequent interactions. Frequent interaction with workmen on the shop floor is a must for maintaining good IR. It is my submission that an IR or HR representative should listen to the views and grievances of employees and respond suitably. If there are shortcomings from the admin side, it should be accepted and corrected.

Case study

I had taken action against one of the workers who was addicted to alcohol and frequently absent from work. I thought that taking disciplinary action will improve his attendance. But this did not happen in spite of his being warned and suspended many times. One day he reported for duty after a long period of absence. He stated that he had been ill and I asked him to get fitness from company Chief Medical Officer. Simultaneously I explained to the Medical officer that he was alcoholic and a case of frequent absenteeism. Doctor asked him to undergo a liver function test to get fitness. After two days he came and met the doctor with the report. Doctor immediately called me and before me informed him that his liver is severely affected and his life is under risk.

The employee was scared on hearing this and did not reply for a moment. Doctor enquired about his family, children and other details. He was touched by the personal concern exhibited by us. Subsequently, with his voluntary consent we moved him to a de-addiction center. There, he cooperated well and underwent the treatment wholeheartedly. Separate counselling was provided to his wife. After a month he recovered and reported to work as normal person. Presently his attendance has improved considerably and he makes it a point to often thank the Management. When I visited shop floor, he tells me that he now has more time to spend with his daughter and wife and has been able to begin life afresh.

Interestingly, the employee  started counselling his friends working on the shop floor and they also moved away from alcoholism. He also visits the de-addiction center and explains about life before and after stopping alcohol. There are similar success stories of employees who had become slaves to alcohol. In such cases getting the employee to accept the grim situation and creating in them  a desire to come out of it is very important. Counselling of the spouse in order to get her support to the deaddiction process is equally important.”

It is worthwhile to note that the examples and experiences shared by Mr Srinivasan is related to aspects that straight away impacts the production.Solving the live issues on the shopfloor which are connected to the day to day concerns of your customer  is a  sure way  to get his appreciation and he will look up to HR to solve more issues and contribute more to his success and success of the organization.I hope to bring more of such live experience sharing in future posts.

Monday, 4 January 2016

From the Notes of Yesteryears- Power of Ethics in HR Management

Ms Padmaja Iyengar or Paddy as she is known in poetic and literary circles, had written on the blurb to my book "Straight from the Heart- thoughts and Experiences of an HR Professional" as also in a comprehensive review on the book later appreciating my 'documenting and knowledge sharing skills'.I have been sharing the information gained from attending a seminar or conference from the time I started writing  my blog in september 2012. It suddenly struck me that during earlier periods also I had taken notes from live seminars as also from books that I had read.It would be worthwhile to share these with readers and  it would help me also to go back and read them easily.

I start this  series with an interesting and enthusing subject "Power of Ethics in HR management". The speaker was Anil Sachdeva, CEO, Grow Talent and the period was around 2000- 2001 The speaker  stated that there is great strength in the (1) Power of unconditional love (2) Power of appreciation  and (3) Power of inspiration which need to be leveraged.. The biggest strength of India is its population.If the people of India are inspired, it could shake the world.Character is bigger than all the material wealth.The biggest role of HR is in creating character- remind people of the goodness within them.Every person is u nique and  has a role to play;every human being who works for you has a unique quality.HR's  focus should be on "How do you get ordinary people to recognize their greatness and the purpose of their taking human birth.

A person's real wealth are his values.The stakeholders look at the reputation of a company which in turn is dependant on organisational  values and values of its people.In a corporate scenario,  we should keep in mind that producing more with less is the  ultimate knowledge and ethics involves 'giving more than what you take.'  Businesses are places in which you discover who you are.Good ethics is living by your values; corporates with vision and values ensure sustainable development.

'Talent' which includes unrealised (potential) and realised ( competency) talent,  can be described as as a sum of capacities and values and.ethics is the key to make full use of talent. It is imporatnt to listen to stakeholders and act on them as "action speaks louder than words." Practising ethics requires the appropriate architecture with the work place being in harmony with values.This enables building of trust and HR has an important role in building  this environment.

We need to ask the question "What legacy are we leaving behind? Practising ethics is smart business and in giving, you always get more.HR should focus on weeding out inappropriate and unethical  behaviour.While hiring, developing,rewarding and recognizing people,  HR should keep in mind that they have the right values.Sharing the right stories and instaling the appropriate symbols is an important role of HR.