Monday, April 6, 2009

I thought the blog post : on was great!
The article is especially insightful on how to improve poor working relationships by identifying barriers, being willing to adapt, acknowledging other's viewpoint, showing appreciation and by recognizing that we all dependent on others to be successful.
But what can you do when the relationship is just not working? Do you withdraw, leave it to be or try and still do something about it......I guess the answer lies how important that working relationship is and how much effort has already gone into making it work. Sometimes no matter how much you try, things wont be smooth......What can one do then? The best approach in my view is to live with it! And continue to go about it as you would if the relationship was working well (i.e being willing to adapt, acknowledging other's viewpoint, showing appreciation). This is harder done then said but worth a try!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Workplace Harrassment

Laurie Ruettimann blogs on and she posted an article on sexual harassment at workplace. Here is the link to that article:

Laurie's point of view is that it’s a difficult decision to report an incident and sometimes the trouble is not worth it. But in today's times where jobs are scarce, it’s equally difficult to look out for a job and get out of the toxic situation as there are no jobs out there!

My point of view is that, there is only one person who can stand up for you and that's you. But one needs to take a conscious decision taking into account various things that Laurie highlighted. Reporting an incident is probably the most courageous decision you can take. Most organizations don’t have trained investigators or a committee to look into such incidents and this some times makes the person who reported it feeling like the perpetrator......The onus on proving it happened unfortunately is sometimes placed on the person who reports it.

But one sure way of facing a situation of harassment (sexual or otherwise)
1) Stand up and assert that this is not appropriate (in clear and strong voice)
2) Save any evidences (if any), though it might be disgusting to even think this way
3) Report the incident the second time it happens (yes, there are no second chances you can give someone who is harassing you)

Indian workplace is evolving and while we all might like to believe that there is a lot of respect for women in our culture, sexual harassment at workplace is a reality. Turing a blind eye and thinking my organization culture is too good is bad leadership response. Most organizations now have a policy against harassment and basic framework to deal with it........The few I worked with have extremely robust systems and channels which are constantly reviewed to ensure workplace harassment is prevented and if it were to be reported / happened the situation is dealt in a fair and firm way.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Time to focus on yourself

Every single day we keep hearing from business, world leaders and economists on how grim the economy scenario is and how that is forcing tough actions. There have been massive layoffs, high unemployment rates, salary freezes, projects spends frozen etc.......By now most companies have announced that there would be no salary hikes for this year, flat headcount and paired down bonuses and incentives. This is not the year when you will get a incentive / bonus / reward for doing your job........yes its tough but the bottom line is you still have a paid job and that is incentive enough in this year to do your best work.

Its time to focus on yourself and what makes you happy as no one else is going to care about whether you are happy, recognised or motivated. Do all that you wanted to do but did not find the time to do or did not do as you had big stuff happening at work. Its time to focus back on basics and think of how you can see opportunites to learn and do work that will keep you motivated and engaged during year when good news is hard to come by.....

Its also time to stop reading into the gloom news and focussing on how you can do things that are in your control........

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Round Up of the NHRD Conference in Chennai

The NHRD conference was organized in Chennai this time around. The participation was really high even though we had the incident in Mumbai and Chennai was in two feet of water. There were student delegates, industry professionals, Academia but my sensed is that delegates from HR service providers outnumbered other groups.

The topic's seemed interesting and the speakers from respected organizations with tons of experience in HR. However the overall experience was not so great as many speakers did seemed to have been briefed well about the topic of discussion or they simply did not spend time preparing.

The topics and speakers list is on NHRD Chennai website:

I am not going to write about what everyone spoke about or said....... There were some sparks of delight when Prabhakar spoke about the future of trade unions, when Gurucharan Das spoke about India and its growth or when the topic of shaping the new HR manager and role of Hr in uncertainty was presented. There were other good speakers too, but they were really few and far between……….what the conference really taught me was “what not to do” when presenting or speaking about a topic in front of people who already know a lot……….

- Listen to the brief carefully and understand what you are being asked to speak about (personal views / org practices / strategy / research)
- Think about whether you are really the right person for the topic
- Even if the same topic is to be presented, there will be a lot of difference in the way you present it depending on the angle you take (personal views, org practices, strategy, research etc)
- Prepare and practice……….you audience can see it
- Keep it brief and simple (no one complains if its brief)
- Present balanced views and in a calm and composed fashion…people are not paying 12k to hear you rant and rave
- Last but not the least, don’t let the podium get in the way of your interaction with the audience, move around (the color mike is just a ask away)
- If you are not a confident speaker a big conference is not the stage to practice……

So that’s my round up of the NHRD Conference 08, I hope and wish that the next year would be better experience and learning.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Why year end feedback does not make sense.

Most organizations have a feedback / appraisal session between the manager and his employee at the end of the performance year. Its the much dreaded time of the year, most managers and employees are stressed out at the prospect of writing and discussing how the year went by.....The HR manager would have done the mandatory process training and spent a hour or so on "how to give and write feedback", and managers would have attended this workshop feeling "easier said then done".......

The reason I think most people feel stressed out about giving feedback is due to the fear of being opposed / not liked / or seen as critical. If one has not been in the habit of having a regular rhythm with their team to review work and performance, then the end of the year exercise will most definitely be a stressful time as its like "breaking the surprise".

Its humanly impossible to remember what the person did during the last 12 months if regular reviews were not there to track progress, achievements and misses, and especially if one manages a large team and the manager has not kept notes or track then it would mostly be a discussion on recent events which is unfair to the employee.

Year-end feedback session is a wrap up exercise of what has already been discussed and achieved. It cannot be a postmortem of how things went or revealing the climax of sorts.

If the culture of regular feedbacks has been missing, most definitely year-end appraisals are a time for stress and heart-burn. One important aspect which we miss is also about focusing on building trust, we know that its always easier to take feedback and give feedback where there is trust between people.

Here’s wishing all those who have the tough job of giving and taking feedback all the best! J

Why every manager cannot be a leader?

A leader puts team first and thinks through impact of decisions....
A leader does not shy away from taking tough decisions
A leader works with stewardship...long term impact rather than short-term gain
A leader shares personal viewpoint and not organizational spiel
A leader puts his own insecurity / fear / disappointment behind quickly and thinks how he can help the team overcome this tough situation

Being a leader is tough during the times we are in, but as someone rightly said "tough times clear the grey lines between leadership and management"

Monday, October 13, 2008

Are women bad at negotiating salaries??

I read an article recently in a popular women’s magazine on how women should negotiate salaries when applying for jobs and that women are bad at negotiating a salary. Most of the data cited there was based on studies and surveys done in North America. However it was interesting to see the stats that were cited in the article on how much women lose if they don’t negotiate!

Perhaps what women look for in a good organization goes beyond just the salary it offers or may be they just don’t like to negotiate. I also think that many women candidates don’t negotiate as its difficult to talk about money, secondly they may worry that they are perceived as aggressive or needy when it comes to money. To negotiate one needs to overcome these personal barriers as well as possess the skills required to negotiate, but coming to think of it, I saw my mother bargaining all the time and some how that tells me that while you cannot equate bargaining to negotiating a salary, at a level they are the same. Its largely boils down to knowing the what you are worth, the pay range for the job and ability to convince the hiring origination that you deserve that pay (relate this to how your mother always told that vegetable vendor “that’s what others in the market are selling this xyz veg for”, “I always bought veggies from you from “xyz” years”, “the quality of these veggies is not so good to deserve that price”) J

I have personally not seen too many women candidates in India I have hired negotiate hard and but mostly the one’s who had did not go beyond basic level of negotiation. My recruiting friends also think the same and agree that they have been exceptions but really they are few and far between. This gets me thinking on two things:

1)What would come out of analyzing data of last one year on salary offered to women and male candidates for the same type of jobs?
2)Do we as HR professionals act differently considering the that most women candidates don’t negotiate their offers (in the context that male candidates negotiate and may drive up the salary offer made) ?

I think we should look hard at each offer we make especially if the analysis above shows that indeed the salary offered is lower for the same type of job in the case of women candidates given the same level of experience as male candidates and competency as assessed in the interview. A robust system of evaluating experience, competence and a data driven approach to salary positioning will reduce the probability that women candidates get lower salary then male candidates, but I wonder what has your experience been as a hiring manager or recruiter in this regard!