Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Diwali !!

Wishing everyone a Happy Diwali and a prosperous New Year ahead.

May the coming year bring all of us a happy life without any terrorist attacks.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Attrition, oh my God !

I got a call from one of my clients with a situation many companies face. Three key people had quit their organisation and were going at nearly twice the salary to other organisations. The client wanted to know what they could do immediately to stop this outflow. His options, hike salary, give some extra bonus to bridge the gap and try to stop them anyhow.

I have come across this situation once too often and am always amazed at organisations looking at compensation as the sole cause of attrition. In fact I also sometimes wonder why organisations panic when there is attrition.

In my opinion around 15% attrition is good for any organisation which is not growing its business more than 25% YoY. I say this because a company will never be able to create enough jobs for its good people in the organisation if they are not growing sufficiently enough. I also think that only your good people will leave because they will feel stifled by the lack of growth and the monotony of work as there is nothing new that they can keep doing in a static organisation. It is good to let them go as the organisation can't use their potential and it will seriously cut down internal conflicts and politics by letting go of people. The most popular way of accomodating such talent otherwise is to create job roles with no clear accountabilities and with overlaps with other jobs, this creates a lot of confusion in the organisation and a lot of fighting for turf.

On the compensation front, I ask a simple question to all my clients, tell me if you double your compensation will that stop others from poaching from you. To that the answer is always no. No one will normally move from a job unless offered significantly higher compensation, so its a given that people will always move at much higher salaries. There are obviously various other things which drive a person to look out. I think compensation should definitely be at a comfortable level (hygiene level if I may call it) beyond that people will stick to organisations which provide better future career prospects, better work content, better employability in future and a good working environment or culture.

Hence my simple thought is that when you have attrition look at it as a positive sign, especially if you are not growing. Look at the reasons why people moved on and get to the right reasons, other than compensation alone. This will help the organisation focus on the right things and the right people

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Citi never sleeps and won't let you either

Last three months went crazy for me, lots of travelling and some hectic work. The outcome of this was that the blog suffered as I couldn't post anything during this time.

Now I am back and will probably again try to be regular with my once in a week thoughts.

Today I want to write about one thing that I couldn't avoid even when I was super busy, which was talk to a Citibank agent, twice a week, to convince them I did not need their credit card.
Now Citibank is the one of the very funny companies I have come across.

I have had a Citicard for the last 10 years without any history of payment problems. Some time back they came to our company and offered free gold credit card to all employees. They took a lot of documents from each one of us and promised to get back and they did get back fairly quickly.

They called me to say that I already owned a credit card from Citibank so they cannot issue another one till I cancel the existing one, I happily cancelled my card and very promptly got a reply from Citibank saying sorry we cannot issue you the card we promised. So I spoke to this brilliant employees from Citi who was appointed as our account manager and he promised to get back and never did. Finally my finance department convinced him somehow to speak to me and he said the card was rejected as the old card still had a balance outstanding. Since I had just cancelled the card and the billing was yet to be done in the normal cycle I requested him to tell me the amount and I made the payment the same day.

My application was reactivated as per him and I was promised a card soon, one day after a month or so I called this account manager, as it is probably against Citi policy to call your customers back even if you have promised. During this time I had to travel abroad so I badly needed a credit card and he promised to get back with the card. One day during my followups I was told the card was now lying in his office and he will send it to me the next day. The next day came and went with a few more and again I called to find out that the card cannot be delivered as I have not provided my Pan card. I took major efforts to get my Pan card from Calcutta and submitted and post that there was silence. So I gave up my quest for a credit card.

I went without a credit card for 8 months and believe me there is good life without a credit card. I did not have a single problem without the credit card and infact saved a decent amount of money during this period.

Now Citibank has been calling me twice everyweek offering me a free credit card sometimes from Delhi sometimes from Chennai. Some of them have been persistent to also ask questions to find out why I was refusing a completely free card, that too free for life. They don't bother about what time they are calling or they don't bother about checking whether you are free to take their call. Its impossible to avoid their calls. I have been woken up from my sleep many a times to take these calls on a weekend.

If anyone from Citibank reads my blog, please, please, please, please stop these calls. I will never want to have any other Citibank card in my life or deal with Citibank again. If you can stop it I promise to send you a free gold card from some other bank and the offer these days is to have a card for you, your spouse, your neighbour, your maid, your driver, your dog, your cat etc etc.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

HR is just a support function !!!!!

I don't have the statistics but am sure there are not many CEO's in this world who have a basic background in HR, not counting organisations who are in the business of HR or HR consulting.

The job of the CEO is (among other things)
- to provide the vision for the organisation
- to define the strategic roadmap
- to mobilise resources
- to develop capabilities in the organisation
- to nurture talent in the organisation
- to be the spokesman for the organisation both externally and internally
- to be the driver of performance

As far as my understanding goes,

- HR is the department which helps in creating the vision of the organisation and communicating it to the organisation
- They are part of the team which defines the strategic roadmap as controller of the most important resource, Human resource
- They mobilise Talent the most critical resource which works at mobilising all the other resources hence have an understanding of all other resources required by the organisation
- capability and talent management are the most important inputs of HR department
- They are the spokesmen for the company as an employer both externally and internally
- They are the controller of the process of performance management

If my assumptions on the CEO job description are right then ideally the HR folks should have the closest capability fit to the CEO position. I am sure I am taking a very simplistic view of things and have left out a lot of variables.

Lets look at how HR provides a well rounded General Management experience.

HR - The marketing / selling experience

HR departments job is to create an employer brand for the organisation so that prospective employees get attracted to the product (the employment experience). Since they are selling intangible service experience and hence I would assume they are in the more difficult terrain of branding compared to selling products.

They have to segment the prospective employee market to attract the right talent thru the right channels of recruitment at the cheapest cost at the price that the organisation is willing to pay.

They have to sell the employment experience to prospective employees to attract them and the existing employees to retain them.

Hence Kotler is as much use to the HR guys as is to Marketing folks.

HR - The finance experience

People cost is one of the significant cost items in most P&Ls. In knowledge based industries it is THE most significant head. Hence a need to understand the return on investment on this head is one of the most important aspect of HR. HR designs the performance pay programs which are based on the financial performance of the organisation in most cases. Hence there is no escape from understanding the nuances of EVA and ROCE and P/E and so on. Also as the key negotiator of the wage settlements which have huge long term financial implications for many organisations the HR department has to be familiar with all the financial details. One also can't escape understanding of the taxation matters when designing compensation packages.

HR - The operations experience

Being part of the union negotiations and also the authority responsible for disciplinary actions on the shopfloor the HR department has to have a good understanding of the workings of the plant. HR has to follow inventory management principles to keep the optimum pipeline of talent so that the operations are not stopped. HR creates policies manuals which are similar to the SOPs in a plant to a great extent.

Other than this, HR's role as a builder of capability requires it to have a fair understanding of all the areas of capability requirements in the organisation else there is no way they can organise the people development programs.

Outsourcing is an arranged marriage

One of my friend Meera D'Souza had a very interesting thought around Outsourcing as a response to my earlier post on Why outsource. I liked her comment a lot about Outsourcing being an arranged marriage. Here is what she has to say...

Client expectation setting has to be done correctly at the Account negotiation level. In my experience, at the high level they shake hands on the spirit of the agreement and at the Operations level they work by the letter of the agreement. And the gap can be very wide....Also, there really has to be a balance between the outsourcing to a vendor and loss of control by the client. And really a lot of the basic change management has to be done to set the stage for the movement in control. The relationship between a vendor and client can sometimes be akin to an arranged marriage at an Operational level. Your "elders" decide on the match and the two of you have to work it out and eventually learn to love to each other!!

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

An Indian in Texas

Today I am in The Woodlands, Texas and met up with old friend Avneet Jolly (97 batch XL, for people who are from XL) who works in the same firm as me. On landing here remembered a note Avneet wrote in 1999 when he landed here and since I had similar feelings on landing here I thought I would just put the note he wrote with his permission. So here it is, enjoy........

Dear Brothers (and sisters),

We are finally arriving in the Promised Land one month ago. It has been a month ? Seems longer, somehow. We are now being part (though may be not parcel) of this place. We are having many adventures, which I am telling you about now.

We are reaching Houston Airport on Sunday 7th Feb. It is being big change from London. Everyone is wearing minimum clothing here. Partly because of weather, and partly because of habit. Not leaving much to imagination. They are all being so casual here. No uniforms. Even in our Delhi Airport, the staff is wearing uniform. We are being picked up by large car (even by American standards) driven by man who is better dressed than us. Though of course, he is not having to undergo 9.5 hour journey across Atlantic. He is taking us to hotel where the fun is beginning. We are not knowing how to turn on lights, heating/ cooling. Why Americans are having switches that are on when they are off ? Our hotel is only serving dinner from 5.30 pm to 7.00 pm. No doubt surprising for my fellow Indians. Many times we are eating lunch at that time. Then we are going to Mexican restaurant for dinner. Looking for the one vegetarian dish and ordering. Waiter is coming back after 5 min and trying to tell us why he cannot get that dish for us. Of course, we not not understanding a single word of it. Mexican music playing in background is not helping matters at all. After 5 min. we are reaching some understanding and he is getting us spinach enchiladas with rice and beans. Which is not very different from saag, roti and rajma chawal.
Company is arranging for one lady to take us around town. We are rapidly learning the essentials of life in America. In rough order of priority, they are:
1. Car
2. Social security no.
3. Car
4. Medical insurance
5. Car
6. Driving License
7. Car
8. Credit history
9. Car
10. Credit card

On day 3, company is arranging for a rental car. So we are being taken to Avis and left with this shiny, sexy red Dodge. I am bravely getting behind wheel (which, of course, is on the wrong side) , and . . . where gear is supposed to be, it is showing letters like; P, N, R, etc. After few minutes, penny is dropping and I am realising that we have been given an automatic ! Hamari Mrooti 800 mein to aisa kuch na tha. Conference with wife, and then wife is approaching Mr. John of Avis and admitting that we don't know how to operate the machine. Whereupon John is asking her: "But whaat is there to aahperrate ? It's an aahtomatic ! "
Brothers (and sisters), some of you have received DC's mail. He has put it well. Yeh log sab kuch ulta karte hain. What country is this where bed is costing $100, but mattress is costing minimum $400 ? You are getting car for $1000- and then paying $ 1200 for annual insurance ?? You are getting good vaccum cleaner for $20 (I am talking of brand new one) but a simple kitchen knife is costing $ 25 ? Full tank of gas (approx 40 litres) is costing $10, and a car wash is costing $15 ??? Paradoxes like these are really plaguing us when wife & I are going shopping.

We are also being bewildered by the array of options available here. Here they are making decision tree out of the simplest of matters. Take something simple like going to a restaurant. We are used to just going, sitting and ordering. Hah ! here it is not so simple. On entry, you are supposed to wait to be seated. Then hostess is emerging and asking you" Smoking or no- smoking "When you choose one, she will further ask you: "Table or booth ?" When you are finally seated (at smoking table/ non smoking booth, as the case might be), she will ask you for drinks. If you want wine, then you first choose red or white. Then the type. Californian/ French/ Columbian. Then under each, there are several brands. If you choose beer, it is similar; first think of light/ regular/ draft. then any of the 1001 brands. If you are getting frutrated and saying" only water please !", then also they are not leaving you. They are wanting to know: With/ without ice, and then with/ without lemon. After this, if you still have the energy, you get around to ordering your meal. But even after when you have eaten, they are coming back with " Your payment can be by cash/ cheque/ credit card/ debit card/ charge card . . . " The tip can be . . . . . you are getting the picture.

In India, wife is just commanding me "go get bread !", and I am getting. Here it is not enough to say "bread". You are first having to specify; french/ italian/ sliced/ not sliced/ sourdough/ oatmeal/ wholewheat . . . Then you are choosing some "stuffing", which can be nothing (i.e. plain bread), or it can be almonds, cashews, raisins, cinnamon, jalapenos . . . Then there are being brands. The less said about types of cheese/ chocolate . . . the better. I am wondering how these people are getting any work done. It is surely taking up so much time just to decide on these simple matters. Like my boss is saying one day " Yuh know, Avvneat, sometimes ah think just livin requires a cahllege degree !" There is being much wisdom in that remark. I am thinking of our beloved country where exactly opposite is happening- some times college degree is rendering you unable to cope with realities of life !

Driving test is being another nightmare. I am priding myself so much on my driving skill, but pride is taking big blow when I am flunking driving test twice. First time, driving test lady is asking me to parallel park, and I am knocking down flagpole. She is quickly asking me get out and go. Second time different lady (more patient) is telling me how I made such a dangertous maneuvre that I could have caused an accident. Each time I am itching to tell them, "aap pass to kar do, hum chai paani ka intezaam kar dein ge". Finally, it is being third time lucky. I tell you, I am really getting superstitious about this # 3. We are getting US visa on 3rd attempt. Our flight from Delhi- London is taking off on 3rd attempt. Our flight from London - Houston is also taking off on 3rd attempt. Surely there are lager forces at play than we can see.

I am also being perplexed by this American obsession with weekends. Approx. 50% of Friday evening is consumed by people telling each other "have a good weekend", or asking "what are your plans for the weekend ?" Then 50% of Monday morning is spent on asking "did you have a good weekend ?" and discussing what you actually did. How to describe to them that we spent the weekend by waking up a 11.00, eating aalu ka paratha (with low fat butter, if you are pleasing !), reading and lazing around. It has got to the point that this weekend the wife & I actually drove down to a nearby lake, not because we are wanting to see that particular water body, but only so that we are having something to talk about on Monday. We are now planning to do all American- like things like swimming, boating, and driving all over the countryside. Of course, if you are asking us, then in our heart of hearts we would much rather be in bed reading Jug Suraiya's column in the Sunday Times of India and complaining about the power cuts and about the "bai" taking too much chutti.

The sizes here are causing much boggling of the mind. Not of course, to be interpreted in Freudian manner (While on this topic, let me tell you that last week, I am being at loss for words when one lady is asking me one day how the India of Kama Sutra & Khajuraho is so conservative in daily life !! If any of you is having answer, please to tell me also). But I am talking of the size of all man made structures. First thing hitting you is the size of roads. Some of the highways (here they are calling them freeways) are being 5 lanes wide in either direction. In addition, they are having one lane on right for breakdowns and one on left for emergency services/ evacuation. Of course my Indian mind in wondering why they are not using the grassy strip also and making round figure of 8! Then there are the cars. Most people in Texas are driving truck. Even in Hewitt parking lot, you are seeing 25- 30% of all vehicles are trucks nearly the size of our bestselling Tata 407/ Eicher Canter, etc. After some weeks of living here I am realising why- here there is no "thela" or rickshaw for transport. If you are buying fridge or sofa or mattress or whatever, then you are jolly well carrying it yourself, otherwise paying $50- 70 for transport. I am reading of one interesting scheme in Newspaper (which we are buying only once a week because it is costing 75 cents) "Buy 1 Sealy mattress and get EITHER bed frame OR transportation free !" Our rental car (Dodge) is being slightly larger than the Honda City, but here it is in category called "mid- size" The Toyota Corolla we are buying is the size of the Esteem, and is in "Compact" category. I am wondering what category they are putting Maruti
800 in ?

I am having much merriment when one day the wife is telling me that she is getting lost inside a store. Then one day same thing is happening to me. Then I am knowing. One Woodlands Mall, I am thinking, is nearly the size of Sector 17 in Chandigarh. And you are remembering that The Woodlands population is only 60000 ?

So, brothers (and sisters) we are surviving in this land. How is the home country doing ? As they are saying here in America: "What's up with you ?" (One day one colleague is asking me "Hey Avvneat, what's up man ?" and I am responding "Well, the temperature is up 22% from 50 to 65 C, and the Dow Jones yesterday rose 150 points to 9990, but apart from that nothing is up." Since then, she is avoiding me like plague.)

Anyway, do write a note describing how your end is doing. If I live that long, I will send you another update after some time.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Walk the talk

I joined corporate life during the TQM era and was constantly fed this going phrase “Walk the talk”. Most organizations at that time started competing on who was a better TQM organization and the best TQM benchmark practices started getting created. One of the important benchmark practice was to treat all employees equally and provide certain classless benefits.

In my organization we had a common lunch room where everybody ate the same food from CEO to the worker. We would highlight that as the biggest achievement of TQM. The second biggest was providing open parking slots to people where there were no reservations for anybody including the CEO. This was very big as every manager in the company was provided a car.

Lets take the lunch situation, everything else was common, except that while others would pick up the plates and spoons on their own, Vice President and above were provided an extra benefit of a person standing there who will pick up the plate for them and hand it over with a spoon and a PAPER NAPKIN.

Lets look at parking. One day a few people in my office who saw my car parked at a spot came up and warned me that I had parked my vehicle at Mr VP’s reserved parking slot and there is going to be serious repercussions. I did not believe this. Within 15 mins I was dragged out of an important meeting, given serious lecture by the admin department about parking in the reserved slot and made to remove my car that very moment. This is where TQM took over, within 15 mins Mr VP called me personally and apologized for the behaviour of the admin department. I was impressed as this was walk the talk, till people around told me this was a drama which had been enacted many times. After about 4 months I decided to test this and parked my car at the same slot. Within 15 mins admin called, gave lecture, I removed car and within another 15 mins Mr VP called to apologize. I could only laugh.

The situation became more funny when Mr VP was quoted in all TQM sessions and was projected as the father of the TQM movement in our company. No doubt TQM died a natural death.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Why outsource

I was once in an outsourcing discussion with a client we were pitching to. The client wanted us to outsource their HR activities but was requesting us to take the processes as is and then also give them a significant cost reduction. My question was how. If we were to take same processes and same service levels, then we would have to deploy the same number of people and use the same technology being used and if that was the case, the cost incurred by us would be the same as what the client was incurring. From where will we get the cost reduction.

This got me thinking about the motive most clients have around outsourcing and why it ends up not giving the requisite benefit that it should. During conversations with a few clients the feel I got is that clients wanted to download their problems onto someone else, who can be blamed, other than ofcource show cost reduction. Due to this the situation never improved for most organization, infact it worsened as now there was another inefficient process of handover between the organization and the service provider.

To me the basic reasons why any organization should be outsourcing is for the following reasons :
- To get better service levels
- To reduce corporate time spend on routine non-core transactional activities
- To streamline processes for better efficiencies and continuous improvement on processes

Cost reduction is an outcome which will accrue automatically if the other three objectives are met. First and foremost we should be looking at improved service levels. More so with respect to the HR processes as we are talking about processes which impact our so called most important resource – people.

For service providers there is a need to ensure that their clients can get higher levels of service to justify the outsourcing decision. Also there is a need to work with the client to streamline the handover process to ensure that there are no additional inefficiencies that get built in at that stage.

Another significant change required for an outsourcing deal to work is for the client to treat the service provider as a partner, an extension of its own organization, similarly for the service provider to think of itself as an extension of the client organization. This will ensure that both the organizations are working towards the same cause of providing higher service levels to its ultimate customer, the employees.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Bulla! Kii jaana main kaun hoon ?

Last week was hectic for me and hence I missed out on writing. During the two weeks got to listen to the latest Rabbi song "Bulla! Kii jaana main kaun hoon". This got me thinking a bit and I started thinking more around what do I do as an HR consultant ? Let me trace back a few years for a context.

Having brought up in a Marwari family in Calcutta, the only higher education we knew about was Chartered Accountancy. Most people in my immediate family would drop off after college and join their family business or pursue CA and start their own practice. When I got a call from a management college (XLRI, Jamshedpur)there were a lot of questions about why I was not pursuing CA. The only solace was that one could get away by saying MBA is better than CA.

During one of the breaks on my trip back home, one relative asked me what was it that I was learning and I confidently said Human Resources, then was asked what would I do when I qualify in HR, I was dumbfounded. Based on what I was learning in OB and PM I tried imagining what I would be doing when I join an organisation but completely failed to find an appropriate response. My safeguard was to tell everyone I am doing an MBA and will become a manager, this helped me sail through embarassing questions about what my education would lead me to.

Then landed up in my first job where I was Manpower Development Executive. Most of my cousins and friends from college easily got away by saying I have my own business, I am an accountant, I am a forex trader, I am a soap seller etc etc. I had to get into major explanation about how company had to assess manpower needs and then identify possible availability options and build a pipeline of talent and so on and so forth. Imagin saying all this in Hindi or Bangla. I am sure my parent hoped I was working in an oil company and helping setup an oil pipeline for them, they had never heard of a talent pipeline.

Social outings became very taxing when I took up HR consulting as my chosen career. Imagin being asked "Kahan kaam karte ho (where do you work)?" Hewitt. "Company kya banati hai (What does the company make)?" Kuch banati nahi hai hum HR Consultant hai(We don't make anything we are HR consultants). This is a time when HR consulting was synonymous with recruiting. The reaction immediately would be "Achcha aadmi supply karte ho (You supply men)?". Thank God, in India we are not very sensitive about gender equalities, else this could be a very embarassing moment.

No No I am not a recruiters I do HR consulting. "Achcha to kaam kya karte ho (So what do you do)?".

In these moments how I wish I had become a chartered accountant and not have to explain what I do. Of late I have started giving simple explanation that Main logon ki seva karta hoon (I am a social worker) and pray that people will not ask me Kaise (HOW)?.

Which leaves me wondering most of the time "Bulla ! Kii jaana main kya karta hoon". Any thoughts anyone.....?

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Fringe Benefit Tax

I am not an economist so probably don't understand the logic of having Fringe Benefit Tax the way it has been planned. I have heard numerous interviews now of various Finance functionaries and the Finance Minister himself and have yet not got convinced of the need.

The last argument given is that it only adds a max of 1% to 1.5% additional tax to all organisations, so they should not complain about it.

My understanding why this tax has come into being is to generate revenue for the Government's expenditure. So the corporates have to pay this money this way or the other.

To me a simple solution staring at me is that the corporate rate of taxation be made 31.5% instead of 30 and do away with the FBT. This is equivalent to what the corporate would in any case pay to the Government and will cover the fringe benefits that are provided by various employers. I am sure most corporates would be happier paying the additional tax in lieu of FBT. And just to make the Government happy we can call the additional tax as the Fringe Benefit Cess (just to cater to the emotional attachment the finance ministry has to the term Fringe benefits).

But then I guess you would have to be a brilliant economist to ignore such simple logical solution. Lets raise a toast to simplifying our tax structure with an official tag line of "Nothing simple about it".........

Monday, May 02, 2005

Kya Consultant hai hum...

I have been in this situation many times in the past and faced with it as close as day before yesterday. Let me put this as a transcript of the conversation between a consultant and a client.

Client : We need to have an objective, fair and transparent performance evaluation system.
Consultant : For that you would have to set quantifiable or measureable targets for people in the organisation and then measure performance against those
Client : But we cannot do this, its difficult to set such targets for our organisation or people. (The reasons could be anything)
Consultant : Hundreds of companies are doing this so should not be a big problem for you.
Client : You do not understand our company is in a very unique situation and its impossible to do something like this.
Consultant : There are many tools which are available to help you do this, lets use tool XX
Client : So how many companies have used this tool in the past and successfully

Here is where I want to tell them about this circular reference error that you get in excel. First you tell me what applies to others doesn't apply to you as you are unique. Then to apply anything to your organisation you first want to know who else has done it. Make up your mind.

I am told there is a new book in the market House of lies - How management consultants steal your watch and then tell you the time. Haven't read it as yet and am sure there are enuf crazy stories about bad consulting there like the other books in the market on the same subject.

The truth in many cases also is that the client nearly always has a watch and does not want to see the time or believe the time shown in their watches and thats where we consultants make a living. I have been in a situation where a summer trainee presented a brilliant report to my organisation on what we should be doing, but we junked it. The report got presented by a consultant next year, and the same report, as our summer trainee joined that company from campus. My organisation went ga-ga about the recommendations and wanted to implement it immediately. I guess, many of us moved to consulting after facing similar situations in our organisations.

95% of the time (I have no way to scientifically prove this) the solution to all problems posed to the consultants probably lies in very obvious commonsensical solutions. I have been guilty of suggesting those obvious solutions to clients because there is nothing else and in many cases being told "Oh so how did you add value, we already knew this". The urge to find complex solutions to simple problems always leads organisations to push consultants to come up with something out of the world and the consultant has to hide behind jargons to make simple solutions sound interesting and unimplementable which client would not have thought of.

I have always faced this request, we want to be the best employers so tell us how. I have always said we would have to do certain unique things that would differentiate you as an employer from what others are offering and we would have to find things which make sense in your context. To everything that you want the client to do, they ask, so who else has done it.

I guess they are confused about whether they want to be the best employer or the best follower of best employer practices.

So all you consultants out there, don't lose heart. We have enuf number of potential clients who will give us their watch and ask us the time and then ask us to find out what is the time in other people's watches as well, just to be sure.........

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Career Management lessons from a fresher

I recently had the opportunity to meet a bright, young, talented, visionary fresher, who came to meet me to discuss his career strategy. I felt confident of handling him because of my experience as a consultant and a human resource professional till he started explaining his situation and started asking questions. I felt like such a loser.

His story. Having acquired a degree in Management he joined an organisation and quit within the orientation period as got an offer from a better brandname. Now he wanted help in understanding within what timeframe he should plan to move from this organisation ? Would one year be a decent time?

I had to ask him why would he want to do that was he not happy in the current organisation. His point of view was that if he stayed with an organisation for too long his employability will go down. Hence a need to constantly move.

I was reminded of my struggling days in Mumbai, when we had to move house every 11 months as the landlords wouldn't sign a longer deal. Cut to present and I suddenly realised the significance of his comment on my career, I have been in the same job for more than 8 years, by his logic I was finished. I felt cheated that my teachers never taught me career management, the way they were teaching the freshers.

I had never thought about my career so seriously till date, not atleast using project management tools by plotting timelines around my each company stint. I have fought my career dilemma with these simple principles to guide my decisions :

Am I learning new things : I have always asked this question to myself whenever faced with the question of should I quit now. When faced with situations where I was not, I started looking for a new role in the organisation and luckily found new learning opportunities within the same organisation.

Do I fit in well here : I have always believed that all organisations are after all organisations, which have issues which organisations face. Each one has a unique characteristic and kind of similar and unique problems. Will I end up facing the same problems in the new organisation that I face here which would force me to move again. If I find this organisation to fit in with my profiles and I am getting learning opportunities then why bother.

Why do I want to quit : This is the final test which has, for me, three reasons which are top of mind money, boredom with familiar work and don't agree with what others are saying or doing. On serious thought have never been able to justify to myself of the need to move because of these reasons.

Well maybe I am wrong, I am becoming a frog in the well and not taking sufficient risks and probably there are better things outside. But hey, do I care I am liking it here and finding enough challenges here. Probably also at fault is the conservative upbringing and ofcource lack of proper career management education when I was in college.

The learning for me is that there is a huge untapped business potential around benchmarking and comparing people's career around number of jobs hopped and number of years spent in the same job. This can provide useful career management guidelines to all visionary career planners.
Someday when I decide to go out on my own, thats what I am going to do, are you listening all you VCs.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

First Simple Thought

When you have lots to say but nobody who listens to you --- Just BLOG. It can't be more simple than this