Vande Mataram

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Why people quit organizations?

The prime problem that creates a sub prime of talent in organizations is attrition. The common definition of attrition is a reduction in numbers usually as a result of resignation, retirement, or death. Refer to any dictionary, and you get the meaning that "the act of weakening or exhausting by constant harassment, abuse, or attack", "the act of wearing or grinding down by friction". I'm not here to think aloud about job hoppers. I'm here to speak about career minded people who find it difficult indeed to leave an organization and the relationships they have nurtured throughout their stay in an organization, yet part ways.

Why do they decide to move out? The frustration they have with their work, which makes them feel ostracized without reason. Most of such separations happen during change in the organization, with the immediate colleagues and boss or policies which make people feel that they have been lured into something worthless to work for. This could be either because the management had failed to convince the people about the change, or the good change promised, had been brought only in paper.

Brain drain is because most of the managers tend to manage people in an autocratic way. They do not explain why a decision is made and in which direction the organization would tread thereafter, and what are the contributions expected and gains to expect. Either the managers lack the capability to communicate, or they expect the people to follow orders without questions. Even in military establishments, do or die orders without explanations are given only after taking the people into confidence about the decisions made and the decision makers.

We lack true leaders and fill the leadership positions with managers, who remain glorified overseers, instead of being given the responsibility to lead a part of an organization. This could well be attributed to the organizational practice of appointing people without adherence to proper recruitment process, lack of plans to educate managers, failure to impart the organizational values to new recruits irrespective of the levels they've been hired for. This results in a know-it-all attitude of managers taking charge of a new environment, which demands ceaseless learning, instead.

If a good manager takes a bad decision that results in attrition of good talent, we can accept that as bad time and move ahead with a confident satisfaction that a lesson is learnt. But when an incapable fellow takes indiscreet decisions, to assert his control over the department he handles, with a gross indifference towards employees' concerns, that would put the organization's goals in jeopardy with freshmen all around looking forward to (of course, incapable) manager for every other step, resulting in pandemonium.

If managers tend to run their departments as their fiefdoms without adhering to industry standards or organizational principles nor an acceptable civil conduct, it is high time for people who run the business to raise their eyebrows toward this and their fists, if needed, to save their business. The widely talked about management adage "People don't leave organizations; They leave managers", is worth a bar of solid gold for every letter of it. Well, talked a lot about chaos and the root causes, now let us think about some ideas to arrest attrition.

Talent retention is not just about giving fat paychecks, bombarding the employees' wallet with other benefits, and fun activities at work. Talent acquisition and talent retention are the much discussed about topics in management circles. But most of us are not following them up with talent nurturing. If a person in promoted as manager he had to be trained with management basics, a brush up on organizational goals and principles, and a constant follow up on his activities by his boss unless he satisfies the purpose he had been recruited for. Just by promoting people based on the time spent with the organization and/or their proximity to "somebody" in the organization is nothing but forcing people to do the job they can't do best. This would result in organizational anarchy.

People have to be given hope that their contribution would be recognized and rewarded. They have to be allowed to voice their opinions that counts for the process of business they work for, as most of the top notch management advises and ideas have come from production/assembly line, than from board rooms and lecture halls. It is the responsibility of the organizational leaders to acquire, nurture and retain managerial talent and thus facilitate the organization in turn to acquire, nurture and retain other talents to stay firm and fly their flag high in the business environment.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Strict laws to fight terror

The newly enacted law to fight terror is a replica of POTA, say some. The stringency is necessary, claim some. Justice would be jeopardized, say some. There shall be incontrovertible evidence against terrorists, say human rights activists. Why should we treat terrorists as human beings, when they kill fellow humans ruthlessly, ask the common man.

I was listening to a discussion between legal eagles in TV. Participants were Kapil Sibal, Soli Sohrabjee and the likes. Sohrabjee was of the view that the confession of a terror suspect (Mind you, law considers them suspects until their crime is proved.) to the police could not be admitted as evidence, unless the inquiring judge is satisfied that the confession was not gotten under inhuman circumstances, like third degree, beating black and blue etc. While speaking about the fellow under custody for 26/11 attacks, the opinion took a different turn as he was seen on TV killing people, so no confession is needed to punish him. Thank God, for making them sane, atleast intermittently.

But, for punishing his handlers and perpetrators we need to coax him and get him to speak wholeheartedly, against his bosses, in a legally justifiable way. Beg him, lick his boot, do more than that, but donot beat that beast. But, this is the framework of law and the police and other security forces have to play within this framework, failure of which would draw strictures and condemnations against them for human rights violations. The police shall operate by the law and bring the terrorists to books.

The discussion went on with arguments and counter arguments for and against a stringent law to fight the terror. My mind stopped going with the arguments at one point, when Union minister Kapil Sibal said that the law comes into picture only at the stage of punishing the terrorists. The message was subtle, but clear. Have our uniformed personnel got it? Hope they have, for they are shrewder than our politicians.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Integrity compromises at work - Why?

Every human being lives on, based on trust. We go to sleep trusting that we would awake after a good sleep. Work is given to us in the same kind of trust, that we would finish it up as required, without any questionable actions. Life is shared among people in different forms like friendship, relationship, etc in the same sort of trust. But when the trust is found violated/breached, it would be chaos in the concerned relationship, personal or professional.

Of late we have come across quite a disturbing trend of integrity violations at workplaces, right across the globe . Why these are happening? The answer to this is none other than performance pressure and lack of a work culture. When it comes to performance managers prefer to reward the go-getter kind, irrespective of where they go and how they get the results.

I know a person who was awarded best performer for getting unbelievably good numbers with his work. His photo was flashed across the LoB and he was rewarded for being an example to others. A couple of weeks he was found to have fudged the numbers in some way and was asked to leave the job. But still, his name remained in the toppers list and people were shown that result as an example till the end of that business quarter.

These sort of activities send out wrong signals. I know people who did what was told to them and got axed, while the perpetrators got safe with preaching integrity to the rest. It is the administering of the organizational culture that really matters. Organizations need to send out clear signal that integrity violation would never be taken easy, and follow that as night follows the day. This would keep a check on people aiming at short term goals, losing sight on long term objectives.

When people work for immediate gains and lose sight of the long run objectives, they create and operate in a vicious environment, that would end up the organization and the people in trouble. The consequences may come up to losing a client account, thus bringing heavy loss of business and goodwill. The thought leaders in an organization shall make sure the middle and junior management is educated and constantly reminded on the long term objectives of the organizations, so that they could be aware of the consequences when they tend to go for the short term benefits.

This happens because of the aloof style of management, where the modusoperandi is not checked before lauding the result. A culture of checks and balances could effectively be implemented only if it comes from top down. The difficulty when it comes from bottom up is that, at any given point, the mission could be aborted by an aloof/corrupt manager.

It is the responsibility of the top management not just to preach integrity and roam around, but also to check at random and make sure an awareness and alertness of being watched is created and spread across the organization.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Desi Subprime?

A news report that the RBI has a package proposal to accelerate the growth of the dawdling real-estate sector, by offering special consideration to the upper middle and middle class people who plan to take home loans up to Rs 20 lakhs, ring an alarm bell. The reason for the slowdown in the real estate sector is e unreasonable spike in prices, and the upward interest rates. The high interest rates, indeed, saved many from the inflated sale price of the property market.

Now that the proposal
through banks to infuse money and induce people to buy houses would give only a notional stimulus to the real estate market, but would not be beneficial to the buyers in the long run. With a constantly inflationary economy, such packages would not do much help to the common man, but for pushing him into more troubled finances, as the constant price rise and slow growth of the economy are antithetic in nature.

The moot question is whether naturally savings minded Indian middle class would plunge into such offers and find themselves in the middle of a meddle. The Indian home buying scenario is not dominated by market forces or economic incentive packages. It is a family event and the women of the family have a definite say in the decision making. Given fact that Indian women are not price sensitive but price performance sensitive, we cannot expect that the inflated prices would be paid by the Indian middle class families for a few thousand bucks incentive from some banks.

The mathematically shrewd lot of Indian middle class men would calculate the interest rate/EMI and would finally conclude that the few thousand Rupees of discount/incentive by the banks would not be beneficial to them at the end of the day, as they would end up paying more than the incentives they got vide EMI and interest on loan. So, this stimulus package would induce people who have no financial plan and care free of the money spent, as they could easily be dragged into a financial deal which might not be beneficial to them.

Come to think of the IT professionals, they were the lot to be wooed in by such packages. But given the volatility of the industry, and the stress many from IT industry have undergone during the meltdown of the US economy and it's global impact, only a few takers could be found for such an incentive to home buyers.

The need of the hour is to curb the unreasonable price hike of the property and related materials, so that the industry could be trimmed from the economic obesity. In general, the Government, instead of putting money in people's pockets, should try and keep inflation under check. Any deal without having inflation under control would not work and deliver the expected result. Instead this stimulus package would further feed the inflation, and hence fillip would be given to the inflation not to the economic growth.

With this step the Government has started a walk into a land of financial mines and economic quick sand. Let us hope the mindset of the Indian middle class would help people from falling prey to such failed economic models and save the nation from a desi subprime.