Tuesday, 11 March 2014

The 3E Conundrum

All through my professional span over last 25 years, I have been curious about the similar behavior most companies exude and their recruiting, training and developing efforts with employees. With silos and verticals becoming a reality in pursuit of specialization, the most common thread and the core/soul across organizations has been most undervalued and undermined in most organizations, while they claim they follow best practices in HR. Even professional managements have got stuck with a ‘process’ that departments follow to source, select, deploy, manage and develop talent in the organizations.
While this is routine for most, it remains a fact that the five of the above functions are performed by different departments or verticals in the value chain, viz.. Sourcing by HR, selecting by HR and functional head, deployment by functional heads, managing by functional managers and developing by training managers.
While these verticals or functions do ‘their’ bit, and contribute to input-process-output cycle, the basic quality becomes the single most critical factor in the success of this cycle, and that’s what I call the 3E Conundrum. Most managers I have interacted with in the recent times attribute their worries to strategies, markets, products, but rarely do they hit the nail, or even have the realization that the organizations that they run have fallen into the 3E conundrum trap.
The first E denotes ‘Education’ which is a sum total of upbringing that includes academics, beliefs and values, behavioral modification and societal influences over the years on the individual. This first E becomes an antecedent cue and impacts the way people (talent in this case) get conditioned to respond to the stimulus they receive in their professional and personal lives. Most invariably, the probability of success with candidates having a good past in the first E is quite high.
The second E denotes ‘Experience’ which is a congregation of the multiple situations a person undergoes and through his responses to such situations confronts further stimuli, continuing this cycle of cognitive learning over a long period of time. ‘Experience’ is nothing but a long stimulus-response-stimulus chain that is elicited by what we call ‘events’. In practical terms, his past journey through these events build up his experience and that can be his past job, his results, past cultural inflictions and his beliefs developed over time. This also colors perceptions both in a positive or negative way as the person weathers through his Experiences. Most organizations take cognizance of the second E with respect to the job requirements and overlook the larger picture, and inadvertently paving way for dilution in quality for a tactical purpose of manning a position and driving people with high task orientation.
The third E represents ‘Enhancement’, which is an organization focused agenda to build function specific competencies. Organizations are infallibly a whole of the people that it has, and their individual competencies built through first two E’s. Most organizational leaders agree that the third E has limited impact generally proven to be around 5-7% over existing competencies on a longish learning curve, as first two E’s have already had an impact on their learning behavior While this may sound little pessimistic, yet in real world, most organizations make significant effort and investment on training and development to only find either the impact fading away beyond a short period, or only a feel good, non measurable impact limited to feedback forms.
The fact is that sourcing and screening are two most important areas where a near zero error approach is what it takes for organizations to build sustainable talent pool. Passion coupled with people competencies across verticals, departments will need to be the key to success in resolving the 3E conundrum. Business leaders need to look at it beyond their functional silos to make their organizations successful.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Succession - Transiting to generation 2.0

In one of the trade fairs, I happened to meet a first generation entrepreneur who had built a reasonably large business with a half a million dollar turnover and export to some 16 countries.

I was quite impressed with the discipline he practiced in his business dealings. Good products, home grown talent, tight debtor control, and customer centric policies were among the few I could make out in the very first interaction.

Few months later we shared a few moments and I asked him what kept him from peaceful sleep. He shared with utmost simplicity that his business was gaining scale and he was now getting into intensely competitive terrain. That aside, his biggest concern was to see his business transit into future through a robust succession plan. Even as a self made entrepreneur, he has fairly good sense of what he was talking about. He mentioned that he would want his son to be competent to take over in executive capacity; else he was fine with professional managers who could manage the strategic affairs of the company.

As a long term plan we ended up engaging with two newly hired two senior executives along with his son over 12 week sessions helping them understand the transition, and working on their sharp edges. As I write this one, the trio has developed appreciable alignment, common understanding of the issues and co-creative spirit. Over weeks, I have been getting progressive feedback from the proud spearhead who believes that the mentoring effort may be worthwhile and he foresees a smooth succession over the years. Business are built and transit through generations, and while the core values may remain ingrained in the DNA of the companies, capabilities only can build sustainability and scale, irrespective of whether they are internal or externally sourced.

Parenting : Nurturing right beliefs

Sanjay has had a successful stint with a few real estate companies and had developed appreciable expertise at his work. Then came the day of reckoning and he realized that he wanted to move on to become an entrepreneur. All went off well and with usual teething troubles, he successfully launched his new venture as a real estate broker.
During my recent session with him, he expressed that he sought help and he felt miserable about his relationship with his son with whom he had lost communication over his working career.
While all was being done to channelize him to stay focused on studies including language teaching at home and tuitions at a nearby institute, he was worried about the absence of those willingness signs in his body language.
I engaged with him and his wife on the issue and probed over several sessions about any abnormalities in the environment and nothing surfaced till I had a chat with his son myself, informally. What came out was a chain of causes that had an impact on the way this adolescent lad acted. He was at one of the best schools where his classmates strived for high performances and benchmarks which he did not identify with, his communication with parents was limited to his mother while father was away to work, and his 5 year younger brother received all the attention at home for his age. But this is common in many households and I still wondered why he would get defocused from his studies, till he once mentioned that he doesn’t need to do much as his father is building enough for him to do when he grows up.
 I was amused to hear that and tried digging deeper. I found that these symbolic statements were most frequently discussed at moments of togetherness in the family. Both Sanjay and his wife frequently engaged into these reassuring chats and the son would absorb those with his attentive listening. His drive to achieve on his own effort was getting affected as he believed all friends that he had will have to work hard and that was pointless for him as his future was being 'secured' by his dad.
After four or five sessions, his sons’ belief had to be de-frozen and corrections made with consistent coaching effort. There is dramatic change in his approach in last few months. Sanjay and his wife, now, spend more time discussing their son’s achievements and his future focus more frequently with him as suggested and feel much happier and satisfied.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Intuition - Your friend for life

Listened to your heart ever? In situations of distress, while making choice between alternatives, or predicting the outcome with non data driven or non logic situations?
Most people respond with their indifference or ignorance to the question. Science does not vet it as it is not rationality/logic based. With the advancement of science and technology, most of us have moved to a binary mode with logical reasoning for our daily decisions. Negligible number of people use their instinct to get an inner sense as the basis for taking step forward.
The fact though is, that most successful entrepreneurs have heard their inner voice, most professionals who succeeded made use of their intuitive sense supported by data and logic, most of those who manage non data situations like people management use their intuitive skills most successfully. This is the voice that comes from within and guides you through situations. As human beings, all of us have intuition as a supernatural skill, and though there is little evidence to support, females have higher intuitive sense. It is only that it is like a muscle, which unless used frequently, remains subdued.
It is possible to develop the intuition that is part of our being and there are techniques to develop it. Even those who believe in logic, can support information with intuition and get wonderful results. So next time you need to aid your decision making, foresee an outcome of a choice intended to be made , listen to yourself with focus and sincerity. More often than not, you will get answers to most questions from your best friend within you, your intuition.

Friday, 7 March 2014

Balance to bliss

Amidst the chaos of daily life, it is becoming increasingly difficult for most to stay focused and maintain what is called homeostasis, an equilibrium where the mind consciously reacts with apt responses to the stimulus’ it receives. During my wellness sessions with most clients, it is coming out stark that clutter is impacting our ability to sort the cues and address them with befitting response. Even school children appear to be managing it relatively better while matching the tables.
It is common sight to observe people carrying sad faces during a social event, smiling in solitude, acting impersonal among old friends, behaving erratically while with family, or overlapping between personal and professional boundaries. This is nothing but unregulated state of mind causing havoc in our behaviour. This call for immediate attention and help, as, it impacts our wellness directly and therefore our acceptability within the professional and social environment. This is commonly seen in the both professional and family spheres, and even adolescents are falling prey to this fast. Before this becomes malice and one is forced to change ‘outside in’, it is important to take cognizance of it and begin with positive mindset to seek professional help to bring about a constructive change and, take sure and determined steps to rewrite one’s wellness story.
The state of homeostasis can be developed and maintained, like any well programmed computer that knows the standard set of responses, the only difference being that human beings require high rational-emotional balance that needs to be attained with consciousness and practice in a dynamic environment. It is imperative that each one of us must recognize and build awareness of the fact that we need to learn to regulate our states of mind in order to be successful individuals, experience our internal wellness and feel the harmony with the inner self.