An Alternative Approach to Work … & Life !

‘  ‘ It’s not my job ‘ , is a very popularly heard phrase in the Corporate World – which is the flip side of an otherwise very useful tool called – Job Description ( JD ) . JD helps one more clarity on his / her role responsibility & what is expected from the role . Unfortunately most use JD to have clarity on what is not listed therein, to claim as ‘ This is not my Job ‘

While above remains as the time tested , evergreen , conventional work approach , idea here is to present an alternative work ( & hence Life ) approach , for those , who it can help
This alternative approach which I discovered & am following since , works around asking 3 questions in succession , when you see anything around ( work , item , aspect , emotion , person … just about anything ) :

o Does this ( work ) need to be done ? .. if the answer is ‘Yes ‘ , go to the second question
o Can I do it ? (vis-à-vis your ability to do it ), if the answer is ‘Yes ‘ , go to next question
o Will I do it ? ( to do with your willingness & time availability )

If the answer to the 3rd / last question is ‘ Yes ‘ , just do it , regardless of your JD … doesn’t matter whose job it is

Let me explain to you with an example . You have a part time housemaid who comes everyday to wash used utensils . She is absent from last 2 days , without notice , as a result utensils to be cleaned have piled up in your kitchen sink & you are feeling short of utensils for cooking . You have two choices … wait until the day your maid shows up or get an alternative arrangement for cleaning , including yourself cleaning . Now try using my alternative work approach , ask 3 successive questions :

o Does this ( work ) need to be done ? Your answer is likely to be ‘ Yes ‘ -Go to next question
o Can I do it ? , Not being a skilled job , your answer is ‘Yes ‘ , go to next question
o Will I do it ? – Decide based on your time & mental comfort … may be you will say ‘Yes’

In reality , you would have acted much earlier than 2 days … you would understand that these 3 questions would have crossed your subconscious mind & answered in affirmative , even before you realized . This is how we work in our personal life … unfortunately when it comes to our work , we become Maids & think it is someone else’s job !

You just need to be careful while answering the 3rd question …. It is not just a matter of your time ( availability ) , but your will / your mental comfort . If you feel by doing that job ( which was not “ Your Job “ , you feel angry or you feel you are doing a favour or you feel it is a big sacrifice … & hence feel burdened , it is not worth you undertaking that task , because it is going to stress you – If you don’t have the ‘ will ‘ to do it , don’t do it . Say yes to the 3rd question only if you are free of any psychological encumbrances

I have always said that it will not be the Talent deficit , but Perspective deficit which will prove decisive difference between an Outstanding & an Ordinary, in the race at high performance end ; because “ What you do is a function of how you see “ . Conventional ( JD bound ) approach defines a Maid & the new ( JD led , but not restrictive ) approach is what Mothers choose

I am sharing this unconventional approach not to propagate its use — finally you should have your own will ! – but just to make you aware that there does exist an alternative approach beyond the conventional route ( not my job ) you know , so that you can , if you choose to use it .The paths for the two approaches are different & I can tell you that if you are the person with a burning career ambition , this new approach is for you .

If you ask me whether this approach by one will lead to his/ her exploitation . My answer is No ! , since you have a choice of saying ‘ No ‘ to the 3rd question … but if you do not feel burdened in answering Q 3 , exploitation or not … please say YES . Now imagine if we can have more & more of us taking this alternative approach , how grossly different World we will make !

What is true for Work is also true for Life & vice versa … These 3 questions – which I learnt from my Mother’s & Wife’s behavior , will help you at any stage in life !

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“ Aukaat “ Apani – Apani

  • The (Hindi) word ‘Aukaat ‘is a very useful word – though currently much maligned, due its usage in a derogatory way.
    • Many use it specifically to ‘ remind ‘ some one of his / her low standing , to denigrate , to humiliate – to express self , relative hierarchical superiority
  • To me, whatever ‘meaning ‘– is what we attach to a word. Words by themselves are only neutral carriers – we load a meaning on them ; hence a word per say is neither good or bad , it’s only an obedient tool to express what the master wants to
  • Aukaat, actually is a very beautiful concept. To me , it is indicative of a ‘ Boundary ‘ … boundary in itself being neither good nor bad , it just defines the ‘ expanse ‘ & where it ends
  • In life , to progress ; it is not much about what you don’t have it is more about we knowing what we have , how much does it stretch & consequentially therefore , where does it end – exactly like little kingdoms we had earlier , each having its boundary ( Nations being little kjngdoms of today ) or ‘ territory ‘ of an animal in a jungle !
    • For Peace & Progress, size was not as important as to know the boundary, so that there is at least no intentional encroachment into someone else’s territory. Within each’s own / independent territory each had enormous scope to create own ‘Heavens ‘….. Didn’t people in Singapore transformed, what was a small marshy land?
  • The same is true for an individual, to know ‘what is there ‘& ‘where it ends ‘. To excel in life it is not about what you don’t have which is a barrier , but not knowing about it – which leads to misadventure & hence a disaster
  • In fact it is my conviction that only when you (or only those who) know your ‘play area ‘ & where it ends, is when you really excel. Those who lack this knowledge ( actual word – ‘ Awareness ‘ ) remain directionless , dabble in many things , often clueless ( like playing Darts in the dark with eyes closed ) and end up at much suboptimal levels , topped up with frustration — not because they lacked in ability , but because they did not know about their abilities & their limitations
  • That is where I come back to the beautiful concept of “ Aukaat “ , which makes us aware of out\r boundaries / our limitations , so that we can play, within our play area maximizing on our strengths and thereby excel in whatever we do
  • There are examples & examples of successful application of this concept – both Positive & Negative
    • Sachin Tendulkar is a Glorious example of excelling in his strength area & not venturing beyond that boundary – it was wise for him to give up Captaincy to focus on & excel in Batting – Hundred 100s .
    • On the other hand there is an example in Ramayana & Mahabharat of crossing Boundary & failing … Seeta Maiya crossed the boundary Lakshman drew for her ( Lakshman Rekha ) …. She would have been invincible by playing from within that boundary
    • Abhimanyu — glorious example of valour , knew how to get into a Chakravyuh , did not know of how to get out – got killed ‘ crossing the line ‘
  • In sum therefore, I have grown fond of & convinced about the Power of the concept of “Aukaat “…. It is a beautiful, potent word / concept.
  • So I would encourage you to , instead of reminding someone else of his / her aukaat , it is more productive to get to know your own aukaat , because I am convinced that , only then you have a greater opportunity to excel , by playing within own aukaat . I have started practicing this.
  • For those , still skeptical about ‘ playing within aukaat ‘ , let me hasten to clarify the trade off , between the Short term & Long term in pursuit of excellence is that : In the short term , best shot at excellence is playing within the boundary ; while simultaneously working on stretching boundaries for long term excellence

Human  Resonance

  • Resonance as a word , is better understood than defined in a dictionary . The very dry & restricted definition in a dictionary does not do justice to this beautiful & potent concept — so here is my sense making on ‘ Resonance ‘
    • Resonance is a state of matter where it feels abundance of energy – free flow at will , for attaining fulfillment
  • We probably first heard it in our Physics Lab in school in the context of a metal . In an experiment we were given a metal tong / fork to strike on a hard surface & watch vibrations ( & the amplitude of vibration ) created in that metal . We were told ( which is true ) that each metal has its own ‘ natural frequency ‘ of vibration . If you make the metal vibrate at its natural frequency , the amplitude of vibration is the maximum / double . This means that at its ‘ natural frequency ‘ the metal produces ‘ higher output ‘ and ‘ willingly ‘
  • This ‘ natural frequency ‘ for a metal is a characteristic of that metal , just as its density , specific gravity or melting point & other properties – which defines the metal & these properties of a metal are different from that of another metal – just like nature of human beings.
  • You can feel it happening in Music . If you pull / strike a string of a stringed musical instrument in just the right way you see the string buzzing & feel the melodious , longer lasting musical vibrations . You can hear this resonance in the sound of a ball being hit by a cricket bat , just at the right spot & at the right time ( timing )
  • I have come to believe that the concept of Resonance is also very intrinsic to Human beings . Each of us can , need to & do resonate towards attaining our fulfillment
    • I therefore believe that each of us have our own unique ‘ natural frequency ‘ if struck at that we resonate . Each one can & will , if only we can find that ‘ natural frequency ‘ for that person .
    • You can feel ( for self ) & see ( for others ) this resonance happening …this is a state of exhilaration , where you experience ecstasy & joy ‘ for nothing ‘ , in anything you do . This is a state where ‘ things happen ‘ , you don’t need to try to hard … nothing you do is a burden for you – the more you do what you do , you feel more happy ( & not tired ) ; you kind of ‘ float ‘ smoothly , everything seems to make sense to you , you have a purpose to exist , you feel life is too short for ALL that you want to do . You have a Great sense of self worth & feel immensely fulfilled . It is a very desired state of mind to be in – should become the ‘ Natural ‘ state to be in for each of us .
  • I also believe for human beings , there exists : Individual Resonance & also Collective Resonance ( like the Bees humming & working in perfect harmony )
  • When resonance happens in an Organisation set up , you see ( not just better but )outstanding results , high energy levels – almost contagious – in employees , a ‘ buzz’ around , you feel the vibrance in the ambience ; it’s a whole lot of positivity which shows not just in measurable results but also in individual fulfillment / happiness and higher employee engagement leading to high retentions .
    • When collective resonance happens , we see a multiplier effect – these organisations may even reach a stage of ‘ Collective Consciousness ‘ …. Where things ‘ happen ‘ , everyone ‘ knows ‘ – nothing needs to be told or explained or asked .
  • So Human Resonance seems to be a very desired state of being ; question is HOW ? Do we know what it takes & Do we know how do we help unfold
  • I don’t think I have a ready answer – a proven formula . But I do have a good understanding of what – why – how it works . Simply it is about ‘ striking a chord ‘ with another person . Various initiatives that we can undertake for human resonance , can be categorized into two ‘ buckets ‘ : Alignment , Ambience
    • Alignment : Each of us has a natural tendency – an inherent strength to do something very well . While a person may be average in many things , there will always be that ‘ one thing ‘ where that person can really to excel . This is what Gallup organization calls ‘ Talent ‘ . All we need to do is to know / understand an employee’s talent & align it with right role . When some one does when he/ she is naturally inclined to do , he/she will reach excellence & thereby a greater sense of fulfillment
    • Ambience : We do not need to resonate anybody , that each individual will do , all we need to do is to provide facilitative ambience for each to blossom . There are many ways / mechanisms / tools one can use to root the employee in Trust & Comfort , with the organization . Tools like : (i) Creating outstanding on boarding experience , (ii) Buddy system , (iii) KYE – Know your employee ( beyond CV & identify value you can add ) , (iv) EVP – Employee Value Proposition ( non monetary promise an organization holds to make an employee ‘ long to belong ‘ )
  • I hope above is adequate enlightenment –Of course if you need further connect or clarity on the subject , you can always reach me @ +91 99860 34443 or yatinsamant@yahoo.co.uk . All the best to all of us !

Wrong Hire — Cost of Existence

 

  • Talent management , Employee retention are getting to be of paramount focus for organisations & rightfully so . Increasingly it will be about our ability to spot talent , attract , nurture & our ability to create Human / Talent Resonance ( best alignment between an employee’s talent with the role requirement ) , which will be our differentiator & decider for outstanding success—it is going to be less & less about Knowledge , Capital or even Technology
  • Attrition is the opposite of retention . There are two broad categories of attrition : Desirable , Undesirable – causal factor for each is divergent . While undesirable attrition has lot to do about an organisation’s ability to positively engage the employee & retain him / her for longer ; whereas primary reason for undesirable attrition is Wrong Hire – organisation’s ability to select ( or lack of ability ) right candidature .
  • Attrition of any kind ( & for whatever reason ) and its replacement COSTS ! . There have been extensive ( research based or otherwise) accounts of estimation of cost of attrition / replacement & various reporting on different components of this Cost : Recruitment , Induction , Training , Initial warm up time , Employee morale , Company image , Cost of discontinuity … etc . Not much for me to add here .
  • However surprisingly , as much as is written about the costs post exit / replacement of a person – everyone seems to have missed on the cost of Existence of the exiting employee — I am obviously referring to Desirable attrition candidate . There are significant hidden costs of a desirable exit , while the employee is working . I call it as Cost of Existence or a Wrong Hire . Since none has focused on this real but ignored cost , I chose to bring it to attention here .
  • Every additional day of a Wong Hire in job costs organization immensely , in myriad ways , as :
    • Absorption :Since the alignment of inclination and role is low , ‘ uptake ‘ is low & slow . Hence impacts getting ‘ up to speed ‘ in time & quality of output
    • Training : Since inclination is low , efficacy of training is low . Gain for training costs is questionable
    • Productivity : Again due to low fit between role requirement & the employee talent / tendencies , work output is low , both in terms of quantum & quality
    • Substitution : Since the work output is below desired levels , most of the time to keep on track , it calls for ‘ substitution ‘ of efforts from the supervisor . This employee unfairly draws much management resource , just to keep afloat . This is draining of management time , energy , which otherwise can be redeployed in more gainful ways
    • Organisational momentum : One person operating ‘ below par ‘ does not just affect his supervisor or teammates – in a chain reaction of substitution, soon most of the organization , at all levels start operating at one level below . Beyond work output , it saps the organization of its vital vibrance , energy .
    • Negativity : All negative / below par things have a ‘ gravity effect ‘ on the organization . Most draw parallel from a non performer ( going un addressed ) to lower their performance ( if he can survive at low performance , why should I stretch for more ? ) This is indirect negativity . However non performers have a far more potential to add direct negativity , by spreading their frustrations , depressions ; they can harm the organization immensely
  • Unfortunately though most of us have experienced this “ Cost of Existence “ of a Wrong Hire , no one has paid much attention to this , either talking about or estimating the cost of this damage . I too have experienced it first hand & while I have no organized study to back up ; my hunch is that the Cost of Existence of a Wrong Hire is no less than the cost of its Replacement .
  • The cure for this is – Right Selection . We need to realise that while Knowledge , Skills can be imparted from outside , Talent or Constitution ( how is that individual ‘ made up ‘ ) comes as intrinsic with the person we hire . Hence it is important to see that we select – not the most intelligent or most knowledgeable or most skilled , but the most right in constitution . No amount of training or hard efforts can change a wrong person into right . Remember no training can convert a Donkey into a Horse … training can at best make a Donkey , a better Donkey

TRADER OR BUSINESS OUTLOOK

I found that approaches / outlook different people hold for work or even life can be categorized into two distinct buckets : Trader mentality or  Businessman mentality . The way I am using this terminology here ; the words : Trader , Businessman , do not denote actual professions they represent , but to describe ‘ mentality ‘ or ‘ approach ‘ with different people

Since I believe ; ‘ What you do ‘ is a function of ‘ How you see ‘ ; people with these two mentalities have two distinct , different pattern of behavior , let’s see how

  • Revenue / money drive :
    • TRADER : is focused on how much money he is making … not necessarily from where it is coming or if this has any consistent direction . He should be happy , as long as xx number of transaction giving yyy revenue is clocked every day . As a result , a Trader may not develop or may not be known for any skill ( e.g. a Fruit seller , but not as Mango Expert or Orange expert ) As a generalist , trader will neither command a Brand , nor a premium – will be moneyed , but he is faceless to his customers & customers are faceless to him
    • BUSINESSMAN : is focused on a ‘ Line of Business ‘ … has a sense of purpose & direction & getting deeper into it , will eventually develop that skill in the desired field & will be known for his expertise . Premium comes from being a specialist
  • Transactional :
    • TRADER : As long as he is meeting the revenue target it does not matter if the same source / customer is coming again & again . It could be a completely different set of customers every day , as long as the revenue output is met . Way of dealing is transactional
    • BUSINESSMAN : Repeat sales is very important for the Businessman . It is important for him to have many of same customers to come again & again . Way of dealing is transactional
  • Profit outlook :
    • TRADER : Has to maximize profit in EVERY transaction …. Since business for him is a Sum of individual transactions . That is why a ‘ Trader ‘ says ; “ Goods once sold will not be taken back “
    • BUSINESSMAN : Optimises profit for the business over a period ; not for each transaction , every day . Hence a businessman may not mind taking one step back to go two steps forward
  • Focus :
    • TRADER : Focus is clearly on self . Likely to be rude / arrogant & ego driven
    • BUSINESSMAN : Focus is customer . Likely to be polite , accommodative,not  ego driven
  •  Now if you understand the two approaches clearly , just think : not just in business / work ; but also in our personal life , don’t we see people using these two different approaches in handling people & relationships

RIGHT SELECTION , not RECRUITMENT

The more I have work on Strategies , more I traverse through the landscape with Successes & Failures & the more I learn about Business , the more & more I am convinced that — Strategy / no strategy , Technology / no technology ; the most fundamental factor for sustained business success is RIGHT  people  . Right human resource is a multiplier & wrong resource is a divider

Therefore Right Selection is a fundamental business process for an Organisation — it’s first level Quality Control . Great organisations like Google place overwhelming emphasis on employee selection , to an extent that they advocate even cutting $ from Training budget & putting into Selection budget . Selection process in best of organisations are therefore more elaborate , intensive , rigorous & with involvement from the highest level ( not outsourced or abdicated )

While each organisation will & should evolve its own selection process , here are some observations & learning which can help most  :

# Do not hire or pay for what you can ; pay for what you can’t : Historically most make the mistake of interviewing candidate based on his CV & select based on Academics , Knowledge / Skills , Experience . To me this is belief has outlived its expiry date . These are not selection parameters , but rejection parameters . ( It is like Power steering / Power window for a new car — this is no more a decision parameter ) You should not even ask anyone for interview if he / she does not qualify on these parameters . But once shortlisted , don’t waste your time on checking knowledge / skills , academics . Knowledge & skills is what you can impart & hence if your , otherwise Right candidate is short on these , they can always be imparted — then why pay for what you can do . You must hire & pay what a candidate brings , but you can’t impart . This is what I call as ” Constitution ” of a candidate . Constitution is what makes a Horse ,a horse & a Donkey , a donkey — you can do nothing to change & hence look for & insist on while hiring . A constitution is how a candidate , as an individual is ; his / her attitude , application , perspective to work , beliefs , etc …. these are the elements define what he is & significantly impact what he can do in the job

# Do not be under illusion ; we are not in transformation business  : We need to understand that we do not have the wherewithal , nor the mandate nor the time to transform anyone against his / her wishes . We can not turn a Mango into an Orange & vice versa . Do not be under the naive impression that we have the tools to do it . Training can only make a donkey into a better donkey ; but never into a horse . It is like a Fertile land v/s a Barren land . This choice has to be made at the point of selection ; not after

# What is a RIGHT constitution  : I guess , a large portion of profile of a RIGHT candidate is likely to be Universal ; though some portion will always be contextual to the Industry , Business environment ,  Stage of evolution of your organisation & its Value system . I can share what I have distilled as a set of 5 parameters – what constitutes a RIGHT person for us in our current business context : (i) Independent thinking , (ii) Ownership , (iii)  Self management , (iv) Learning ability , (v) Problem – Solution ability .  I have elaborated on these 5 attributes in my last posting in December …. for any more clarity you can always reach me at yatinsamant@yahoo.co.uk ; yatinsamant@handiman.in

# Right selection is a skill , we need to train our interviewers on : Although right selection is so fundamental to business success , ironically , practically none of us , the world over , has even been formally trained in ” Quality Interviewing ” , nor are the interviewers are ever measured on their ‘ performance ‘ — with the exception of a few organisations ( again like Google ) . From my experience I can certainly tell you that right interviewing does require Training , Practice and Measurement & feedback

INCENTIVISING V/S BRIBING

Is there a difference between Incentivising & Bribing  ?  For those who don’t think , these two sound different ; for those who can think , would not have thought so , but will get confused , once I ask this question & will start thinking .

In the first instance , when you start thinking deeper , it may appear to you more that both are in principle similar , the more you start thinking …. however think even deeper & the real difference will start getting clear to you .

  • Three points of difference :
    • Incentives are for reinforcing the right behavior … recognizing you for what you should be doing ; Bribe is inducing wrong behavior … tempting you to do what you should not be doing
    • It’s the reversal of “ Cause and Effect “ . Incentives is the RESULT of the reason ( your commitment to the task ) you work on ; whereas Bribe is THE REASON why you do the task ( result )
    • Incentive payout is in reposition of faith & that you may want to induce / reinforce a similar behavior again … whereas bribe payout is out of the distrust that even legitimate work will not happen without paying bribe & that you may not want it to be reinforced . Incentive payout is by choice , bribe paying is out of a compromise
  • Some people distinguish ( to reduce their guilt out of having to a bribe ) between ‘ Good bribe ‘ & a ‘ Bad bribe ‘ . For them , a god bribe is & is called – Speed money , for expediting what is otherwise legitimate & above board ; whereas a bad bribe is for inducing an illegitimate act , something is not above board & what was not to be .
    • This argument sounds so temptingly logical to believe , however the danger is that if you buy in here , you will lose your discretion to differentiate between Good & Bad by the intent behind … if this gate is opened & if this anchor is given up , human intelligence can justify any act / behavior , depending on which of it you are .