In our society or in organizations you will find two categories of people, thinkers and doers. Thinkers realize what is right and wrong and have a sense of rationality. They also tend to be excellent planners. Whereas doers are action oriented and excellent in execution. Generally it is difficult to find a thinker who is doer or vice versa. Only when both these qualities reside in one person, progress happens with equality and justice.

A Professor of Management could be a thinker who can teach great theories but not necessarily execute those theories into practice and make a team and company successful. Even in organizations a thinker could at times paralyze day to day operation due to continuous analysis. At the same time creative ideas can only be generated by thinkers, which absolutely crucial for continued success in a highly competitive environment. Thinkers are open to new ideas, new concepts and are constantly trying to improve or change the way things are done. They are willing to experiment and change and try new things, new processes, invent new products or services. Doers are the people who get things done. They prefer an efficient, optimized process and don’t appreciate tinkering with the process or with people who introduce a lot of change. Doers don’t like change as change is disruptive to the existing norms and processes. Clearly every society and organization needs both “Thinkers” and “Doers” and people who can be the bridge between the two camps. A firm composed completely of Thinkers is basically a research lab or a think tank, while a firm composed completely of “Doers” is ideal for military at the junior ranks and not evolving business. We need both of these skill sets to be effective in any operation.

At the national level, we had the planning commission, who are great ‘thinkers’, but if the commission consists mainly of academics and scientists, their plans may not be suitable at the ground level for implementation. In fact ministries responsible for implementation, hates planning commission because many plans are un-implementable. That is the difference between ‘birds eye view’ and ‘worms eye view’. At 30,000 feet above the ground, the bird can see complete picture and give directions to the ground team in which way they must proceed to reach the destination successfully. However they may not see the real obstacles that are on the ground that inhibits implementation. Hence one need both bird’s eye view and worm’s eye view to make a great plan that would be successful.

 

 

Sama, Dana, Bheda, Danda, Maya, Upeksha and Indrajala are the seven techniques used by Kings to rule their Kingdoms. This is a political methodology to approach a given situation. Start with conciliation or gentle persuasion (Sama). If that does not help, offer money/material wealth (Dana). If that still does not change the status quo, use threat or cause dissension (Bheda). Use punishment or violence (Danda) to resolve the situation where the previous three fail. Use of illusions or deceit (Maya), deliberately ignoring people (Upeksha), use of jugglery (Indrajala) are also suggested to resolve any situation.

1) Sama – It is the best means to attract and convert others to one’s side. It consists in winning people with sweet words and looks. People who are friendly by temperament and straightforward may be brought round by Sama. ‘Sama’ can be deployed in four ways.

1. Praising the merits: This can be done by flattering a person on the basis of his personal qualities, occupation, good nature, learning or wealth.

2. Linkage: Emphasizing relationship with the concerned person.

3. Mutual benefits: Explaining how solving the conflict can benefit the two parties.

4. Awards and honors: To award an internal enemy and give him honors to tame his warring tendency.

2) Dana – There are five kinds or varieties of dana (gift) viz. pritidana, dravyadana, svayarhgraha, deya and pratimoksa. If a person gets help from another and acknowledges help by reward that reward is called pritidana. The miser and the poor should be brought round by pritidana. Military captains, heroes and citizens should be won over by this dana. Those who fall at feet should be honoured by dana. The gifts can be of many kinds: giving up demand on what is owed, return something received, donate something, allowing to keep something from the enemy, etc. are some of them.

3) Bheda – Bhedopaya is of three kinds: to destroy or end the friendship between people, to create dissension and to make the parties quarrel with each other. First step is to identify the persons who can be influenced by this technique. He who is falsely criticized, he who has been invited to come and then insulted, the angry one, the unreasonably forsaken one, he who harbors hatred in his mind, he who has not been respected though deserving of respect, etc. are some of the kind of people one can influence to create dissention in the enemy camp. 

4) Danda – Dandopaya is of three kinds, viz, killing, denuding of wealth, and inflicting pain on the body or torture. Danda has two other forms, prakasa (open) and aprakasa (secret). Those who have become objects of hatred to all people should be subjected to ‘prakasa’ danda. People, whose killing the world will detest, should not be killed openly, but only secretly. The King, who possesses the three powers (of wealth, army and people’s support) and is fully conscious of the time and environmental factors should annihilate enemies by the instrument of danda. Evil people should be defeated by danda itself.

5) Maya – Maya means practicing deception by magic or other yogic powers. The powers can be acquired by practice. People who employ this go about at night in various disguises. They disguise themselves as beautiful women or even as animals. They also deceive people by creating illusions of clouds, fire or lightning. For instance, Bhima killed Kicaka by going to him in the guise of a woman.

6) Upeksa – Not to dissuade people who indulge in unjustifiable grief, war etc. is the principal aim of the upaya called upeksa

7) Indrajalopaya (magic) – To scare the enemy is the aim of lndrajala.  By magic one can create illusions of clouds, darkness, rain, fire, etc. in order to instil fear among troops of the enemy etc.

Successful Managers and Sales persons employ these techniques every day in their life. Personal and organizational success hinges on how well you persuade people to willingly follow your directions. Your boss may give you specific powers, but execution and results come from successfully influencing others. Most of us try to persuade by using our best arguments, best data, logical flow charts and rationality to generate the thinking, decisions and actions we seek. But science says that most decisions are emotional.

Every leader or manager depends on getting things done through others. Let us evaluate how we can apply the principle of ‘Saptopaya’ (7 techniques) in our day to day life.

Sama – Winning people with motivational and sweet words, showing the benefit of doing things in a particular way, skill development training, counselling, etc. are all part of Sama technique.

Dana – Incentive schemes are a great motivator for superior performance. Higher increments, promotion, awards and rewards are all techniques employed by organizations to persuade employees achieve higher performance in their organizations.

Bheda – differentiating people based on performance and behavior is very common in organizations. High performers are given more financial rewards, faster promotions, better performance ratings and rankings in during annual performance reviews and included in select clubs etc. to differentiate them from average or below performers.

Danda – warning letters, salary cuts, demotions and finally terminations are some of the method employed by Managers.

These four methods are the most popular ones. Maya is employing deception. Making calls to your offices to check how people are responding, visiting incognito to stores or offices to gauge employee performance and response, etc. are part of Maya. Ignoring people by not wishing them, not inviting them for company meetings, not copying them on important internal communications, etc. are some kind of Upeksa.

An outstanding sales person also employs these techniques every day. Can you think of few instances and respond to this article?

 

We make hundreds decisions every day. Decision making is a process of making choices with the available options and information. Whether they are routine in nature or those impact ours and others life, making good decisions takes time, practice and conscious thought. Your knowledge and ability to make sound judgment pays a vital role in good decisions.  It is critically important that we evaluate all options before taking actions on important matters in life. I usually follow the 4Dprinciple, Do, Delay, Delegate or Dump, but the crux is in deciding which one to do, delay or delegate. Certain decisions in life or business are good to delay particularly in a fast changing environment. Here is a story from Mahabharata.

Chirakari is the son of Gautama Maharishi. He used to think deeply before doing any deed and so he earned the name Chirakari. Once when Gautama was away from the ashram Indra came there as a guest. Considering it as her duty to treat a guest of her husband properly during his absence Ahalya received him well and gave him fruit to ease his tiredness. Indra went back. Gautama on knowing this on his return suspected the chastity of his wife and calling his son Chirakari to his side asked him to cut off her head. After giving the order Gautama went to the forests.

Chirakari had a peculiar nature. He will ponder over things deeply before taking any action. He knew he must obey the orders of his father but killing one’s own mother was a greater sin than disobeying a father. In obedience to his father’s order Chirakari came before his mother, weapon in hand. He did not kill her immediately but pondered over the consequences of the deed. How shall I obey the command of my Father and Guru and yet how avoid slaying my mother? How shall I avoid sinking, like a wicked person, into sin in this situation in which contradictory obligations are dragging me into opposite directions? Matricide is a great sin, he mused, and then again, who would be there to look after father if mother died.  Weighing the merits and demerits of the act Chirakari sat thinking without doing anything.

Gautama when he reached the forest thought again about Ahalya and her crime. After all what has she done? A guest came to the ashram and as duty-bound she welcomed him. It was indeed a great sin to have killed her by her own son. Immersed in thoughts of this kind, sad and repentant, Gautama returned to the ashram to find Chirakari sitting silently deeply engrossed in thoughts. On seeing his father Chirakari was perplexed and he explained to his father about the good and bad effects of his order. Gautama was pleased to see his wife alive and blessed Chirakari with long life. He also made these comments “One that reflects long before he acts is certainly possessed of great intelligence. Such a man never offends in respect of any act.  Though the clamor of being an idle man may stick to him or may be regarded as a foolish person, it is only by those who lack better understanding and foresight of situations and life.

Decision Making Process

Generally in a business environment all our decisions are guided and governed by objectives and goals set to be achieved in a given time frame. There are many different methods of decision making, but planning and preparations are essential to ensure that you make the right decisions most of the time.

  • Define the problem – correct diagnosis of the problem is essential to identify and administer the perfect solution. If diagnosis is wrong, treatment goes awry and the patient can die. Identifying the cause of the problem can also help us choose the right solution easily.
  • Develop the alternatives – decision making is choosing between alternatives and therefore we should develop as many alternatives as possible. Brain storming is a technique usually employed by organizations to get variety of options to choose from. Not doing anything is also a decision, provided you have developed and evaluated many alternatives and found this is the best option.
  • Evaluate the alternatives – There are many scientific methods employed to evaluate alternate decisions such as T-chart, PMI (plus, minus, interesting propagated by Edward De Bano), Buridan’s Ass, decision matrix, etc. Use the best and most suitable method for your particular situation. At the same time it is critically important that one should not fall in the trap of “paralysis by analysis”. As a leader your knowledge about the situation and potential impact of the decision should help to take decision in a time bound manner to avoid the pitfalls of delayed decisions when the real requirement was quick decision. 
  • Make and implement the decision. Once any decision is implemented it is also important that you constantly check the progress and make corrections on the way as required.

Where we are today is based on all those decisions that we have taken throughout our lives. Which school to study, what subject to specialize, which career to choose and whom to marry, etc., are all our decisions taken after careful considerations.  It is possible that all our decisions are not perfect, but what matters in this world where law of averages prevail, is that we make more good choices than bad. Louis Pasteur once said, “Chance favours the prepared mind.” Indeed, the prepared mind of an effective leader thinks carefully and searches constantly for the opportunity to learn from past successes and failures, and then improves the way he goes about making crucial choices in the future.

 

 

1. He is the best of kings who has wisdom, who is possessed of liberality, who is ready to take advantage of the slackness of foes, who has agreeable features, who is prompt in action, who has his anger under control, who is not vindictive, who is high-minded, who is not hot tempered by disposition, who is not given to boasting, and who vigorously completes all works commenced by him.

Good managers are essential to any successful organization. Good managers attract exceptional staff; they make the organization a preferred employer; they help to increase market share; add to profits and surpluses, and reduce costs. Their staff are engaged, committed and ‘go the extra mile’. What are the attributes of a good manager? Trustworthy -Trust is the basis of all relationships. People want a leader they can trust to keep their word, to back them up in times of crisis and take the lead under good or bad circumstances. Decisive – There are no certainties in life but a good leader must have the foresight and wisdom to make educated and informed decisions. A good manager is good at managing people, they considerate, thoughtful, caring, decisive, kind, mature, modest and coach their staff and counsel those who need it.

2. If the king happens to be always forgiving, the lowest of persons prevails over him, even as the driver who sits on the head of the elephant he guides. The king, therefore, should not always be mild. Nor should he always be fierce. He should be like the vernal Sun, neither cold nor so hot as to produce perspiration.

A manager must be tolerant with people and processes and must listen and check before making judgments and acting. However extreme tolerance and forgiving could be seen as a weakness that could result in employees disrespecting the manager and thereby lowering the performance of the organization.

3. If the king becomes mild and mingles too freely with his subjects they begin to disregard him. They forget their own position and most truly transcend that of the master. Ordered to do a thing, they hesitate, and divulge the master’s secrets. They ask for things that should not be asked for, and take the food that is intended for the master. They even seek to predominate over the king, and accepting bribes and practicing deceit, obstruct the business of the state. They become so shameless as to indulge in belching and the like, and expectorate in the very presence of their master, and they do not fear to even speak of him with levity before others.

There is a saying in the scriptures “A Brahmin should be respected for his “Kshama” (patience), a Kshatriya for his power, a Vaisya for his wealth and a Shudra for his age”.  A Manager is essentially a combination of Kshatriya and Vaisya and should have the power and money to be respected by others in the organization. And power must be exercised when required while ensuring that excess use of power could also lead to exodus of good staff from the team. Not exercising the power when required is worse than over exercising.

4. The selection of honest men (for the discharge of administrative functions), heroism, skill, and cleverness (in the transaction of business), truth, seeking the good of the people, producing discord and disunion among the enemy by fair or unfair means, never abandoning the honest, granting employment and protection to persons of respectable birth,  companionship with persons of intelligence, always gratifying the soldiery, supervision over the subjects, steadiness in the transaction of business, filling the treasury, absence of blind confidence on the guards of the city, producing disloyalty among the citizens of a hostile town, carefully looking after the friends and allies living in the midst of the enemy’s country, strictly watching the servants and officers of the state, personal observation of the city, readiness for action, never disregarding an enemy, and casting off those that are wicked. The king, even if possessed of strength, should not disregard a foe, however weak.

To lead an organization successfully a Manager must achieve the following

  • Attract and retain the best talent in the team. A Manager is as good as his team.
  • Key members of the team must be action oriented, with excellent business acumen and other skills necessary for them to excel in their respective functions.
  • Keen understanding about the market and competitors strategy is essential to drive your company’s strategic plans and ensure success.
  • Industrial espionage is rampant these days and therefore always keep an eye on your employees while creating discord and disillusionment in the competitors camp.

Raj Dharma vs. Adhikari Dharma – Part 1

Duties and Responsibilities of a King and how it compares that with a modern day Senior Manager (reference from Mahabharata – advices from Bhisma to Yudhishthira).

In the “Mahabharata” Santiparva, Bhishma Pitamaha gave advice to the newly crowned King Yudhishthira about the responsibilities of a good king. Given below are some of the extracts of that talk and how it is relevant even today and can be applied in Managers day to day affairs. 

1. The happiness of their subjects, observance of truth, and sincerity of behavior are the eternal duty of kings. If the king becomes possessed of prowess, truthful in speech, and forgiving in temper, he would never fall away from prosperity. With soul cleansed of vices, the king should be able to govern his anger, and all his conclusions should be conformable to the scriptures. He should also always pursue morality and profit and pleasure and salvation (judiciously).

Manager – Employees are the most important resources for any organization. Motivated, committed, loyal and hardworking employees keep the organization always successful and ahead of competitors. It is indeed the Managers responsibility to take good care of the employees and keep them motivated by leading from front.

2. Readiness for exertion in kings is the root of kingly duties. The hero of exertion is superior to the heroes of speech. The heroes of speech gratify and worship the heroes of exertion. The king that is destitute of exertion, even if possessed of intelligence, is always overcome by foes like a snake that is bereft of poison. That king is not worth of praise who, is destitute of exertion.

Manager – Action orientation is an essential trait of any Manager.  Those who are members of the NATO club (No Action Talk Only) never achieve anything irrespective of their qualification and experience. 

3. It is the eternal duty of kings to prevent a confusion of duties in respect of the different orders. The king should not repose confidence (on others than his own servants), nor should he repose full confidence (on even his servants). These six persons should be avoided like a leaky boat on the sea, viz., a preceptor that does not speak, a priest that has not studied the scriptures, a king that does not grant protection, a wife that utters what is disagreeable, a cow-herd that likes to rove within the village, and a barber that is desirous of going to the woods.

Manager – It is essential that a Manager appoints the right person for the job and ensure they are performing their assigned duties and responsibilities to its fullest potential. He must identify those who are non-performers or whaling away their time in their desks and eliminate them without delay to ensure that motivation levels of those who are high performers are not affected.

4. The king should administer justice like Yama and amass wealth like Kubera. He should firmly follow the behavior of the righteous and, therefore, observe that behavior carefully. If the king is not wrathful, if he is not addicted to evil practices and not severe in his punishments, if he succeeds in keeping his passions under control, he then becomes an object of confidence unto all like the Himalaya mountains (unto all creatures).

Manager – Nepotism and favoritism must be avoided at all costs in an organization by the Manager. Such behavior only creates divide and increased politicking that severely impacts performance. Performance review must be conducted professionally and rewards, awards and compensation decided purely on merits and achievements. Anger is the biggest enemy and therefore a Manager must remain cool and composed displaying highest levels of maturity and compassion.

5. The king desirous of obtaining prosperity should always bind to his service men that are brave, devoted, incapable of being deceived by foes, well-born, healthy, well-behaved, and connected with families that are well-behaved, respectable, never inclined to insult others, conversant with all the sciences, possessing a knowledge of the world and its affairs, unmindful of the future state of existence, always observant of their duties, honest, and steadfast like mountains.  That king, however, who is of righteous behavior and who is ever engaged in attracting the hearts of his people, never sinks when attacked by foes.

Manager – The greatest potentials for the growth of any company are generated by a commitment to high corporate values.  Values raise the quality of corporate energies and elevate work to a higher level. Whatever be your job, when you add values to it, you will see Prosperity in abundance. Honesty, integrity, truthfulness, fairness, and justice are higher values. Punctuality, politeness, pleasantness, proper record keeping, orderliness, soft speech, cleanliness, accuracy, precision, workmanship, and thoroughness are physical values. Irrespective of your job, position and place, add values to your work. Go on adding them in quantity and quality. You will reach the heaven of Prosperity.

Manager and Driver – A comparison.

Can you judge a person’s managerial potential, competence and capability by observing his driving style?

First let us analyze who is a good driver before comparing a driver with a manager.

What is expected of a good driver?

  1. Drive you and others safely from place to place.
  2. The passengers should feel comfortable and stress free while travelling.
  3. Reach the destination as fast as possible without making accidents.
  4. Take good care of the car.

What is expected of a good Manager?

  1. To lead a team successfully and achieve the organizational objectives.
  2. All employees should feel motivated and excited to work under the leader in spite of challenging external market or economic conditions.
  3. Meet all legal and statutory obligations, achieve business objectives and provide growth and learning opportunities to all employees.
  4. Keep the organization ready for any challenges today and for tomorrow.

Good Driver vs. Good Manager

  1. Driving is an intelligent activity and only an intelligent person can become a good driver. Needless to say, a good Manager must be bright and intelligent and is able to deal with concepts and complexity comfortably.
  2. Know the road and traffic rules and sign. A good Manager must have a clear understanding about the market, technology and rules and regulations governing the proper management of an enterprise.
  3. Develop excellent skills in maneuvering the vehicle through bad roads and heavy traffic. A good manager must have the ability to see ahead clearly, anticipate consequences and implement decisions to ensure success under any adverse circumstances.
  4. Basic knowledge about the vehicle and essential maintenance is a must. A Manager must have good knowledge about his company, its products, markets and customer expectations to lead the team successfully.
  5. Self-discipline is very important to be a good driver. Ignoring speed limits, one way traffic rules, parking regulations, road signs etc. indicate lack of integrity and ethics. A manager must be a trustworthy person who adheres to certain values and principles to manage the organization in good as well as bad times.
  6. A driver must know his way around. If not, enquire and learn about the best and shortest route to the destination in advance. It is never good to stop vehicle multiple times on the way to enquire about the route or get delayed to reach the destination because a wrong route was taken. Keen understanding about the markets, customer expectations and company products are essential to drive business and ensure success of the team.
  7. Check weather and traffic conditions before leaving home for a long distance travel. A Manager must validate every plan with ground realities and arrive at realistic estimates before setting the objectives. Too optimistic or overly pessimistic plans can lead to failure.
  8. Understand and anticipate other driver’s behavior. Accidents can happen not only because you did not drive properly but also due to the mistake of others. Driver behavior also differs from place to place and city to city. A Manager must be able to understand individual as well as group behavior, why they do what they do, their intentions and needs to lead the team successfully without major dissentions and disillusionment.
  9. Be careful about large vehicles, particularly trucks and transport buses. It doesn’t matter that you are driving on the right lane or following the rules, in an accident you won’t be there to explain the truth. Learning to respect authority is critical in any job.
  10. Be calm and composed while driving, even when the situation is disturbing and difficult. A good Manager must be calm and composed under pressure and should not become defensive or tense when situations are tough.
  11. Check and ensure clear vision before starting the vehicle. Clean the front glass if required.
  12. Check your co-passengers. They should not be distracting you while driving. Building effective teams who supports and compliments each other is mandatory for any organization to succeed and this is one of the critical success factors for any Manager.
  13. Be smooth. Let the passengers be not unduly discomforted while travelling. Best drivers are smooth drivers. Managers must plan all their activities and inform the team members in advance so that they can also plan their professional and personal lives accordingly. Do not bring rapid organizational or process changes unless it is mandated by sharply declining performance or adverse external circumstances.
  14. Be confident, particularly when you are planning to overtake another vehicle. Make your judgment whether it is safe to overtake and go ahead once the decision is taken. Do not change your decision half way through the process. Making decisions in a timely manner with incomplete information under tight deadlines are everyday affair for many managers. Not taking decision is as good as bad decisions.  
  15. In case you are going for a long distance drive that lasts more than 5 hours, ensure that the driver has had enough rest before to ensure he is fit and alert for the highway travel.
  16. Never take alcoholic drinks, drugs or other mood elevating substances before a long drive which increases your risk taking attitude without proper judgment.
  17. Safety is always a priority. Ensure the driver and all the passengers are wearing their seat belts, particularly in the highways. Risk taking ability is important for progress but not so much that it destroys the very fiber of the organization.
  18. Attitude – if you do not have the right attitude it won’t matter how much knowledge or skill you have, you won’t be a good driver. Neither a good Manager. Attitude determines your altitude!

I have gone around with Drivers who are extremely careful and drive slowly to avoid any potential accidents. So also with drivers who drives extremely fast to an extend that you are sitting very uncomfortably in the car. But I always prefer those drivers who drive fast very carefully and reach the destination earlier.

Manager and Driver – A comparison.

Can you judge a person’s managerial potential, competence and capability by observing his driving style?

First let us analyze who is a good driver before comparing a driver with a manager.

What is expected of a good driver?

  1. Drive you and others safely from place to place.
  2. The passengers should feel comfortable and stress free while travelling.
  3. Reach the destination as fast as possible without making accidents.
  4. Take good care of the car.

How to be a good driver

  1. Driving is an intelligent activity and only an intelligent person can become a good driver.
  2. Know the road and traffic rules and sign.
  3. Develop excellent skills in maneuvering the vehicle through bad roads and heavy traffic.
  4. Basic knowledge about the vehicle and essential maintenance is a must.
  5. Self-discipline is very important to be a good driver. Ignoring speed limits, one way traffic rules, parking regulations, road signs etc. indicate lack of integrity and ethics.
  6. A driver must know his way around. If not, enquire and learn about the best and shortest route to the destination in advance. It is never good to stop vehicle multiple times on the way to enquire about the route or get delayed to reach the destination because a wrong route was taken.
  7. Check weather and traffic conditions before leaving home for a long distance travel.
  8. Understand and anticipate other driver’s behavior. Accidents can happen not only because you did not drive properly but also due to the mistake of others. Driver behavior also differs from place to place and city to city.
  9. Be careful about large vehicles, particularly trucks and transport buses. It doesn’t matter that you are driving on the right lane or following the rules, in an accident you won’t be there to explain the truth.
  10. Be calm and composed while driving, even when the situation is disturbing and difficult.
  11. Check and ensure clear vision before starting the vehicle. Clean the front glass if required.
  12. Check your co-passengers. They should not be distracting you while driving.
  13. Be smooth. Let the passengers be not unduly discomforted while travelling. Best drivers are smooth drivers.
  14. Be confident, particularly when you are planning to overtake another vehicle. Make your judgment whether it is safe to overtake and go ahead once the decision is taken. Do not change your decision half way through the process.
  15. In case you are going for a long distance drive that lasts more than 5 hours, ensure that the driver has had enough rest before to ensure he is fit and alert for the highway travel.
  16. Never take alcoholic drinks, drugs or other mood elevating substances before a long drive which increases your risk taking attitude without proper judgment.
  17. Safety is always a priority. Ensure the driver and all the passengers are wearing their seat belts, particularly in the highways.
  18. Attitude – if you do not have the right attitude it won’t matter how much knowledge or skill you have, you won’t be a good driver.

Let me also say a few words about drivers. Generally we treat them as one of the lowest category of workers in the society. Whether it is a taxi or auto driver or the much hated truck and bus drivers, we usually don’t say good things about them, except may be on very few occasions. If you are hiring one for the office or home, the only selection criteria is his cleanliness and reasonable driving skills and you try to pay him the lowest salary possible! It doesn’t matter that he is driving your expensive car and carrying yours and other family members precious lives a driver is not considered as a critical member of your team or organization.

 

Have you ever experienced the following behavior?

You finally reach the toll booth after being in the queue for more than 15 minutes. Your colleague who is driving the car rolls down the window and ask the operator as to how much is the toll…. Then slowly searches for the money purse which is finally traced to his back-pocket and hands over Rs. 500 for a toll of 31! The toll booth operator is trying to be patient but not the drivers in the vehicles behind who started honking due to the unusual delay! You too are exasperated by the casual and thoughtless behavior of your colleague but keep a smiling and indifferent face. The worst part is that you again stand in the queue to pay the same thirty one rupees on return which could have been avoided if a return ticket was taken.

Or have you seen business executives, who looks like frequent traveler, stumbling at the security check point searching for his boarding pass or taking out coins and key chains one by one when you are fuming behind him in the queue when your flight is already announced! There are also persons who search for their passport after reaching the immigration counter!

What is your opinion about such persons?  How do you define their behavior? If you are his boss, would you give him additional responsibilities or promote such people?

 I see a lot deficiency in these type of individuals. Clearly they are not action oriented and does not show any sense of urgency and may miss many opportunities in their lives. They also seriously lack in certain managerial skill sets such as planning, organizing, timely decision making and priority setting. Lack of maturity, responsibility and thoughtfulness stand outs in these people and they can also be called undisciplined.

One might think that I am too critical, harsh and paranoiac in judging people and that too very soon. But my experience shows that these are not one time behavior but habits formed over a period of time and difficult to change unless conscious about it and make serious efforts to change.

 

 

 

ABC of being a great Employee – Part 3

Venu Payyanur

In the previous two articles, we discussed as to how to be a “Great Employee”. However to be successful, one also needs a great organization that supports your vision, actions and aspirations! Though many organizations today claim that “Employees are their best asset”, how many really practice what they preach? In a country like India, where the economic growth is the highest in the world and opportunities are being created every day, employee attrition is a common scene even among the best paid companies. The best software company in the country, voted many years in a row as the best company to work with, also had close to 17% attrition levels. What then happens to lesser known or companies who do not practice modern human resource management philosophies? Let us analyse the common causes and remedies for such a situation.

I always believed that hiring an employee is like entering into wedlock with someone. Once entered, you must plan to live rest of their lives together. However these days’ employees change jobs for meagre increments without analysing the long terms career benefits and companies terminate employees for many reasons including individual or company performance or economic reasons! As a manager responsible for the business success, your task is to attract and retain the best talent available in the industry. In other words retain the best and retrain the rest! At the same time individuals have to analyse their career and growth aspirations in the long term and select the best job that meet their requirements. Let us discuss the employment process in little more detail.

Employment process if executed properly will result in selecting the right candidate who will contribute significantly towards the success and growth of the organization for a long time to come! But the biggest stumbling block is lack of preparation. Even though we all know that a good employee can make a big difference to our performance, we take the employment process very lightly and at times delegate the entire responsibility to a subordinate or HR Manager! Generally the following steps are involved in the employment process: Job description, sourcing, screening, interviewing, hiring and on-boarding. Let us discuss each of these steps in detail.

Job Description – a vacancy can arise either due to resignation of an existing employee or creation of new positions based on workforce planning. Specific and accurate description is essential to attract the most suitable candidate for the job! It should explain the job and the type of person most suitable for the job.  A broad statement of the primary duties, responsibilities, qualifications and competencies required to perform successfully in the position.

Sourcing – There are a number of internal and external sources such as employee referral, internal transfer or promotions, company website, advertisements, job portals, placement agencies or head hunters, etc.

Screening – many valuable information about the potential candidate can be found by properly evaluating the resume. Whether the person has the necessary qualifications and experience required for the job, his stability and pattern of job changing, types of companies worked, etc.

Interviewing – interviewing the candidate is the most important step in assessing the suitability of the candidate for the job. As a hiring manager it is your responsibility to ensure that only the most suitable person for the job is selected to avoid potential problems in the future for the company as well as for the candidate. Having a diverse team of interviewers who has a stake in the individual’s performance helps selecting the best candidate.  Thorough preparation is the key to successful interview. Interviewer should ask questions to assess the knowledge and skills, character and personality and attitude and behaviour of the candidates based on the requirements of the job. Common interview mistakes are making snap judgements, doing all the talking, leading the candidate, accepting general answers, relying on memory not notes and making the final decision based on gut feeling. There are many books and articles written on the interviewing process and I do not wish to elaborate further on this topic. Once the interview process is over, doing proper assessment of all the candidates interviewed with the team is essential to select the most suitable candidate for the job.

Hiring – preparing a suitable job offer that attracts the best candidate is the next step. In many organizations there are specified processes towards setting salary; designations etc. yet managers do have discretions to offer the best. Discussing the offer with the candidate before a formal offer is sent is also a good practice followed by many companies. Equally important is doing reference checks to verify the claims made by the candidate and get proper feedback from the previous employers. Some Indian companies also check the horoscope of the candidate to check the suitability, particularly for senior positions.

On boarding – The last stage of the employment process is On Boarding. After the candidate has accepted the offer and the start date has been established it is important to get the candidate off to a productive start. On boarding process can take few weeks or months depending on the position and complexity of the function and has 5 primary stages, each stage providing a foundation for the next. The five stages are:

Induction – This is simply the events that happen before an employee has started.

Welcome – which addresses the employee’s first day in their new position.

Engagement – activities that facilitate an understanding of the resources available to the employee and the expectations surrounding the duties and responsibilities of the position

Productivity – putting into practice the behaviours that enable an employee to contribute to individual, business unit, and corporate goals.

And finally Retention – of key high potential and high performing employees which are the by-product of a well-designed and effectively implemented on-boarding program. It is increasingly evident that the successful On-boarding of a new employee is directly related to the level of involvement of that employee’s Hiring Manager.

An organization’s human resource is its most valuable asset. The employees are the repository of knowledge, skills and abilities that can’t be imitated by the competitors. They are the critical intangibles that make the organization unique in a competitive market place. Equally important for success is having as many engaged employees as possible. An engaged employee is a person who is fully involved in, and enthusiastic about, his or her work. They care about the future of the company and are willing to invest the discretionary effort – exceeding duty’s call – to see that the organization succeeds. Engaged employees believe that they can make a difference in the organizations they work for.

How do you make the employees engaged?  There are many methods but it is the leaders who make all the difference by understanding the drivers of employee engagement and implementing the right strategy to achieve the objectives. Some of the drivers of employee engagement are,

  • Leadership – employees are confident and comfortable working under a dynamic and visionary leadership who follows ethical practices and communicates the objectives and strategy clearly to the entire organization. They should be able to handles issues efficiently, approachable and care for the employees.
  • Immediate Supervisor – level of confidence an employee has in her immediate supervisor in terms of perceived competence, availability for consultation, honest communication and frequency of feedback.
  • Career Advancement – opportunities available in the organization for career advancements that meets the employee’s aspirations.
  • Job Motivation – is achieved when the job is challenging and employees are empowered to achieve the objectives.
  • Learning & Development – for younger generation learning and development opportunities are an important motivating factor. Do the company provide technical and skill development training? Do they support specialised training or higher education?
  • Teamwork – refers to employee’s attitude towards people in the organization and perceived levels of cooperation within and across the work group and divisions.
  • Workload – can the employee achieve the stretched goals of the organization without seriously impacting the work life balance? Both over working and under working are demotivating to employees.
  • Performance Management & Feedback – refers to employee level of understanding, perceived equity and flexibility of the PM system, ability to recognize and reward deserving staff and the level of feedback and communication
  • Rewards – how is the compensation system administered? Is it fair and transparent and takes into consideration complexity of the job, market factors, internal and external equity?
  • Pride–the level of satisfaction and pride for the organization and as a member of the organization.

Next most important factor in ensuring the success of the organization is in minimising attrition, both voluntary and involuntary. Involuntary attrition occurs mostly due to performance reasons and occasional behavioural issues. Following a proper recruitment process can minimise wrong hires and efficient on-boarding programs can improve motivation, engagement and performance thereby reducing attrition levels. Performance problems can occur either due to lack of ability or lack of will to do the job. Ability is based on knowledge and skills. We must do everything possible to provide all assistance to the person in improving the knowledge and skills and adequate time to show the performance. Attitude problems can be addressed through counselling and feedback. Termination decisions should only be taken after every effort to improve performance has not resulted in desired results.

Voluntary attrition could be due to many different reasons.

Job mismatch: The person’s understanding about the job and functions is different from what is asked to perform. Unexpected job responsibilities lead to job dissatisfaction.

Job and person mismatch: Best person for the right job should be our objective, based on individual’s knowledge and skills, attitude and behaviour.

No learning or growth opportunities.

Lack of appreciation

Lack of trust and support from co-workers, seniors and management.

Work life imbalance: Job stress can lead to work life imbalance which ultimately leading to employee leaving the organization.

Compensation: Better compensation packages being offered by other companies may attract employees towards themselves.

Immediate supervisor – generally it is said that “A person joins the organization and leaves the Boss”. A good boss will help the employee to be successful while demanding highest level of performance and commitment.

Certain other visible HR policies of the company could also lead to greater employee engagement or higher attrition.

  • Does the company celebrate success and major events?
  • Does the employee’s family participate in any functions organized by the company?
  • How do you treat long term employees who are sick and unable to function efficiently for an extended period?
  • How do you treat employees who are above 50 years and lost their youthful energy and vigour, fallen sick, lack the current knowledge and skill required to be successful in the function, etc.?
  • Do you discriminate based on gender, religion/cast, language, colour, etc.?

An organization with right technology and products, right policies and practices, efficient and effective visionary management team, modern tools and facilities will attract the best employees. And they all win and become great employees!

Venu Payyanur 

In the previous article, 116 attributes were mentioned that helps a person to be successful in life as well as in profession. The list was only indicative and one can dwell on each of those individual attributes at length. Essentially all those attribute could be classified into three categories. Character/Personality, Attitude/behaviour and knowledge/Skill.

Character

Although character is related to personality, it is not the same thing. Personality is primarily inborn traits, while character consists of learned behaviour.

Character is a set of behaviour traits that define what sort of person an individual is. It determines whether a person will effectively achieve goals, be forthright in dealing with others and will obey the laws and rules of the group. It can also imply a variety of attributes such as integrity, courage, fortitude, honesty, loyalty, trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring or of good behaviours or habits, etc. Character is who we really are. It’s what we do when no one is looking. It is the accumulation of thoughts, values, words and actions. These become the habits that comprise our character. That character determines our destiny.

The family is the primary character-building force in a child’s life, and character education is a major family obligation. The following thoughts and actions determine and help build our character.

• Be straightforward, open and direct.

• Be sincere. Say what you mean and mean what you say.

• Look out for the best interests of the people who depend on you.

• Don’t lie (that is, don’t misrepresent facts or opinions).

• Be reliable; keep your word.

• Make only promises that you can and will keep.

• Support and protect the best interests of your family, friends, employers, community and country.

• Don’t talk behind people’s backs or spread harmful rumours or gossip.

• Share your values and beliefs with your children.

• Walk your talk.

• Treat everyone with respect by being courteous and polite.

• Judge people on their merits, not on their race, religion, nationality, gender, physical or mental condition, or social and economic status.

• Don’t manipulate or take advantage of other people.

• Think before you act. Consider the consequences for yourself and others.

• Be accountable. Take responsibility for the consequences of your actions (or lack of action).

• Be reliable. Always perform your duties.

• Don’t blame others for your mistakes.

• Don’t take credit for other people’s work or accomplishments.

• Don’t give up.

• Don’t neglect your duties.

• Treat all people fairly.

• Consider all the facts, including opposing views, before making a decision.

• Live by the Golden Rule: treat others the way you want them to treat you.

• Don’t be selfish.

• Obey the rules and laws.

• Be a good team player.

Personality

Personality is the set of characteristics that each person possesses. Personality influences how one behaves as well as one’s motivations. The personality is the one making the person react in a certain way in various situations. Basically, it is the image that one presents in front of others. Some of the traits based on which we judge the personality of a person are as follows. Warm, outgoing, kind, easy-going, participating, likes people, emotionally stable, adaptive, mature, dominant, forceful, assertive, aggressive, competitive, stubborn, bossy, lively, animated, spontaneous, enthusiastic, happy go lucky, cheerful, expressive, impulsive, Rule-conscious, dutiful, conscientious, conforming, moralistic, vigilant, suspicious, skeptical, distrustful, abstract, imaginative, absent minded, impractical, discreet, shrewd, polished, astute, diplomatic, open to change, experimental, liberal, analytical, critical, flexible, perfectionistic, organized, self-disciplined, trusting, unsuspecting, accepting, unconditional, etc.

Personality traits are individual, subjective, and vary widely. Character traits are objective, constant, and timeless. Personality is easy to read, and we’re all experts at it, but to judge one’s character takes time.

Attitudes

Attitudes are vital/emotionalized thoughts about our existence. Attitudes can be divided into those that we have towards life, towards ourselves, and towards others. Attitudes can be positive or negative. An on-going positive attitude is the goal we seek. It leads to greater accomplishment and attracts positive conditions.  Most of our difficulties in life are rooted in our wanting attitudes. An attitude is born when an opinion is endorsed by the emotions. We acquire our attitudes through our parents as we are raised, in our interaction with others and the environment, through the genes we inherit from previous generations, and through the challenges and difficulties of life.

Perhaps our greatest stumbling blocks are in our attitudes. In our attitudes lies our greatest barrier to success in life. We can trace our positive and negative attitudes towards others, towards, things, towards ourselves, and towards life. Each person can make the effort to overcome their own predominant negative attitudes. This will lead to becoming a better person, and enable greater accomplishment and joy in life. When a person changes a negative attitude, often we witness an instantaneous positive response from life. The process of reversing a negative attitude would occur by shedding our subjective, false opinion about an object, and replacing it with the objectives truth of things. There are three ways to overcome negativity towards another, such as bad will, anger, jealousy, disdain, etc. First, refrain from verbally expressing it. Second control your emotions about it. Third, empty your thoughts of it. Success arises from shifting our reliance from the outer world around us to our own inner being, relying on right attitudes, rather than on external sources of support and assistance.

Examples of negative attitude about work and life include an unwillingness to be fully engaged in the work at hand, procrastinating, not caring about the quality of our efforts, being lazy, and being cynical. Examples of negative attitudes towards others is being hostile and harbouring ill-will to another, and being jealous. Examples of negative attitudes about ourselves is having low self-esteem and self-confidence.  If we can identify our own unique individual negative attitudes, and make the concerted effort to overcome them, not only can we create the right conditions for greater achievement and joy in life, but also under the right conditions we can invoke continuous sudden and abundant response from life.

Behaviour

Behaviour can be defined as the way in which an individual behaves or acts towards people, society or objects. It can be either good or bad. It can be normal or abnormal according to society norms. Society will always try to correct bad behaviour and try to bring abnormal behaviour back to normal. Human behaviour is influenced by culture, attitudes, emotions, values, ethics, authority, rapport, persuasion, coercion and/or genetics. The following are the root causes of behaviour differences: individual differences, differences in family patterns, impairment/disabilities, environmental factors and psychological factors.

Attitude and Behaviour

Experts say that that attitude is what you think whereas behaviour is what you do. In other words it can be said that attitude has to do with the mind whereas behaviour has a lot to do with actions.

Attitude is thought-oriented whereas behaviour is action-oriented. Hence attitude has all the power to shape the behaviour of a person. It is indeed true that a person with the right attitude would be endowed with the right behaviour too.

Attitude is all about the opinion somebody has about something in life. Behaviour is about how one responds to the impulsions and the pulls of the environment.

Knowledge and Skill

Knowledge refers to learning concepts, principles and information regarding a particular subject(s) by a person through books, media, encyclopaedias, academic institutions and other sources. It can be implicit (as with practical skill or expertise) or explicit (as with the theoretical understanding of a subject); and it can be more or less formal or systematic. Constantly increasing our knowledge is essential if we are to progress further or develop ourselves. Whatever field we are involved in, we always have to look for ways and means to expand our knowledge. Increase in knowledge in a particular subject can lead to better understanding, grasp, judgement, intelligence and ability in that area. It can expand our thinking and heighten our expertise on a topic. Knowledge allows us to understand, analyse, plan, evaluate and measure. The greater our knowledge, the more accurate our prediction. Knowledge ensures that skills are applied in the right fashion. According to scriptures, knowledge can be gained by four means.

“Achaaryaath paadam aadatthe, paadam sishya swamedhayaa, paadam sa brahmachaaribhya, sesham kaala kramena cha”. It means one can get one quarter of the knowledge from the teacher, one quarter by analysing oneself, one quarter by discussing with others and the last quarter one can get during the process of living.

Skill refers to the ability of using the acquired knowledge and applying it in a context. In other words, knowledge refers to theory and skill refers to successfully applying that theory in practice and getting expected results. To be successful in any profession, some of the skills that are essential are technical skill, communication skill, planning and organizing skills, interpersonal skills, team building skills, leadership skills, negotiation skills, time management skills, etc.

Knowledge can be learnt whereas skills require practical exposure and can also be in-born. Skills can take a person only to a certain level. To move ahead, it is necessary that a person has the requisite knowledge as well. Knowledge and skill are equally important. As they grow, so does the individual competency. If your knowledge is faulty and your skill is high, then you will go brilliantly along the wrong path. If your knowledge is high and your skill is weak, then you may go very slowly in the correct direction, but never arrive. To achieve the highest results, you need to be both knowledgeable and skilful. Knowledge points the way; skill walks the path.

“Knowledge gives you proficiency, application of the knowledge gives you efficiency and the knowledge applied at the right place, right time and right way gives you effectiveness”. And that is the secret of success.