Thursday, 20 September 2012

Social Networking Sites at Workplace: A Taboo

Today, Social Networking has become a fundamental part of an individual’s communication arsenal. Social Networking by far is the most buzzing thing on the planet. I recall back in 2008 I made my first social networking account with Orkut but rarely opened it. Once my girlfriend texted me on my phone saying “Hey, I have scraped you”. Till that day scrap for me meant waste, and I thought she dumped me. I immediately called her to enquire what went wrong, to my pleasant surprise, she meant she had posted something on my profile, which apparently is called as Scrap in Orkut. Few years later, Facebook came and scrapped Orkut. It’s not just about communication, dating, meeting new and old friends, now social networking has taken a leap ahead and entered the professional world. Today most of us keep our LinkedIn profiles up-to-date, coz you never know when an opportunity knocks the door. Before joining a new company many of us visit Glassdoor, Mouthshut etc to know about the reputation of the company they are going to serve.

Unfortunately (yes, I would like to use the word unfortunately) Social Networking is still a taboo at workplaces. WHY? The biggest reason what a company gives are on the lines of the productivity impact. Let us take a look at the market giants. Google, was a noun before now it has become a verb, and Microsoft is a $294 bn worth brand. Ever wondered why are they at the top? One of the many things that set them apart is the culture they follow. They TRUST their employees, they know they would not let them down. The Trust factor seems to be missing in many of the companies today. I was disappointed to discover that I do not have access to social networking sites when I joined my organisation. I was later granted access as I was working on a project which needed me to visit these sites. For the first few days I was excited about it and I opened FB, Twitter and LinkedIn frequently, but today I only login when there is an official requirement coz no excitement lasts long.The good thing it did is that now I can brag in front of my friends outside my organization about the leisure I have and it makes me feel at home.

A company can do wonders if they have the blessings of Social networking sites, their TRPs would shoot up to unimaginable heights and to gain that their employees have to be the first to “like”/”follow” them, coz preaching starts from home. Many companies do a lot for the employees, but the key thing that they miss doing is, Spreading the Word. There cannot be a better way to do so than thru Social Networking sites. Following are some ways a company can go out in public and make other employers envy them:

·         Share pictures of team outings, lunch etc on Twitter or Facebook
·         Emails of accolades often gets flashed on the floor, now post the pictures of the R&R recipients on Social networking websites. They’ll feel Happier when their friends and families see them.
·         Share company’ revenue/stock updates which can be made public, makes an employee feel they are in safe hands.
·         Company townhall, outing etc, block the calendars of employees on FB, they wont miss it for sure.
·         Have online polls various topics
·         Share the list of awards the company won.

Ofcourse, we also have to ensure that these pictures and posts are not breaching the company’s Social Media policy, hence an admin to overlook the posts is advisable. After practicing even a few of the points above, if the company should have the employees give a feedback on Glassdoor/mouthshut, I am sure the employees won’t let them down.

The bottomline is You can take a person out of social networking but you cannot take social networking out of a person. The companies should learn to come in terms with the generation to make the workplace Happier.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Pain in the Rain : Three Mistakes in one night...

They say Mumbai's monsoon is the worst compared to any city in India. Well Hyderabad experienced something similar on July 20th 2012. It rained non-stop for nearly 12 hours, and it was not just raining, it was pouring like crazy. I was cozy in my blanket watching the movie "Office Space" that friday night after a long day at office and nearly about 36 hours without sleep. Despite of feeling sleepy, at night 0230 hours i decided to go on a drive, my first mistake. I updated my facebook status which read "Going for a drive in rain... Wanna join anyone? ;)" and started,  not even 5 minutes later my phone beeped and one of my old school pal Arpit commented on my post to pick him. He lives close to about 25 Kms from my place, and i knew the roads were not all that great in that route but since its been really long I've met him i decided to go to Malaysian township, Miyapur. My second Mistake.
I took a U turn and headed back home to get my weekend survival kit, laptop, charger, pair of clothes etc as I might decide for a overnight stay. Started for Miyapur after a quick pit stop at my home, not even a kilometer i would have gone it started raining like cats and dogs. My cars wipers were at maximum yet i am unable to see whats ahead of me but i was loving it, the noise of rain on the roof was music to the ears. For a while  I even thought of stopping for couple of minutes and getting drenched, I was unaware of the fact that it will happen soon, by force not by choice. When i reached the road which leads to Maithrivanam (Aditya Enclave road), I saw an ocean ahead of me. I dint have a clue how deep it would be but since i am regular commuter on that road i decided to go. What i did not notice was scream from a few guards warning me not aron ralston to take that road. My Third Mistake.

I thought, now, this would be fun, I have to split this ocean like Moses did to the Red sea while rescuing the Israelites from Egypt. I hit my feet hard on the throttle and zipped thru the relatively shallow waterlogged road, slowly i noticed my car is going deeper and my speed is decreasing despite of full acceleration. Soon i came to a stand still, Engine seized and my brain too. I did not know what to do.  I tried to , again and again switch ignition on, no luck. rolled down the window to discover my tyres were completely drowned in water. I finally opened my door, and a wave of water gushed into car's cabin. With not even a soul around me in this Ameerpet ocean i felt helpless. There was no current and it was pitch dark, my car's lights were on but were below the water level giving a discovery channel's under water torch like footage. in that dim light I saw my car's wheel cap floating in the water, rushed to grab it and threw it inside. I had no other choice but to tow the car back to a higher land. One hand on steering other on the window i started to push my car backwards while the stereo played Emosanal Atyachar song, the lines fitted well "Ho gai dil ke paar tragedy…tragedy", i cursed myself and continued pushing. Thankfully it was relatively easy to push this 1000 kg sedan as it was half underwater. It took me almost 30 minutes to get my car back about 200 meters on a safer land. My wish of getting drenched was over-fulfilled. Sat back in and again tried to switch the damn thing on. It did not switch on but gave a hope with some noise from the engine. I thought of giving it some time so that the water gets drained out of the engine.
I walked upto  a shade where couple of security guards were sitting. They told me "Sa'ab, hum pukaare the nakko jao (Sir, we were yelling, don't go)" I told them i am sorry but i did not see or hear you guys. Waited there for about half an hour and then got back into the car, Prayed and and turned the keys. Prayer was answered, car started. I felt like a i am Aron Ralston of 127 Hours who escapes alive from the Blue John Canyon (LOL). Full throttle for 5 minutes, before i took a U turn and headed back home. Called up my friend and informed him that cannot make it to his place. I have never felt so happy reaching back home. It took me another hour to drain out the water logged inside the cabin. 0500 Hrs, gave keys, a 100 bucks to the watchman to drain the rest of water.
Spending half an hour with a car in knee deep water doesn't seem too big of a deal but (God forbid) if you go thru it you'll know how scary it is. The whole incident taught me that its cool to play with mother nature but not so cool to mess with it, coz it has a long memory and a nasty temper...


Monday, 25 June 2012

REST takes care of rest

A famous handheld phone brand “Blackberry” flaunts the tagline "Love what you Do, Do what you Love". It made me wonder is there really someone who loves what he does. In my childhood I used to watch a series called Lonely Planet on Discovery channel and I used to think that’s the job one should have. The guy (Ian Wright) use to wander round the globe and explore the culture, tradition, lifestyle etc. of various part of the world. But perhaps after certain time even he might have got bored of travelling, and would have wished he had a job of sitting and gazing at a computer screen all day long, what many of our IT colleagues do. So the ultimate question is “Do we love what we do?” Well, per Gallup survey 71% of employees are "not engaged" or "actively disengaged", in simple words 71% people hate their jobs. So now we are quite certain that not many love what they do, and the reason behind it is still a mystery many companies are trying hard to crack.
A Greek philosopher rightly said "Change is the only permanent thing in this world". No one hates his job right from the beginning. We all love when we are learning something new. Doing those little goof-ups is fun, and getting first pass yield is an ultimate achievement. Gradually as the days pass by, disinterest creeps in, and that’s when change is required. Changing your organization is definitely not the solution but unfortunately that’s the only way many of us, especially Gen Y folks, adopt.
I would like to share my story here, I recall the days when I started working, the work was interesting the first couple of months, but I started to lose interest in it gradually, though it was not really monotonous. Thankfully, I did not do the mistake of changing my company; instead I started to invest my time in something I loved. I started reading about quality and process improvements, there were many online modules in our organization and that kept me occupied for next couple of months. Soon I was Lean certified and it was great to learn that something that I started just to keep myself occupied has made its mark on my resume now. I have a belief that your organization should not police you all the time, as long as you are diligent and punctual in what you do. They should not have any problems in the activities; you do in your spare time, and whether you are up skilling yourself by reading some work related stuff or simply playing a game.
Talking about games, I recall a game we use to play every Friday, Pirates. The game is about catching a pirate in a group of villagers by voting them out. The game was a practical implementation of reading someone’s body language and we developed a tremendous knack of catching the pirates in few attempts. Back then our bosses felt we were wasting our time but today when I look back and try to connect the dots, if I would not have played that game back in my early days life would have been different, as it amplified my ability to analyze people, which as a HR person one should definitely have :). Jack Welch, the founder of GE, said that "The 3 most important things an organization should be measuring about its performance are Employee engagement, Customer Satisfaction and Cash flow”. Yet most of the companies miss on the first point, which eventually costs them.
If an organization wants its employees to be engaged it has to ensure that these four things are in place. This may sound funny but the concept is called R.E.S.T (Recognition, Expectations setting, Sense of belonging, and Trek-towards-Goal). Recognition of the people who have gone beyond the call of duty is one of the most important aspects in keeping someone engaged; it also encourages others to strive harder next time around. Organization should ensure that correct expectations settings are done with employees, which should include topics like work commitment, work environment and stability. Sense of belonging comes when people see office as a home away from home and coworkers as their family. Initiatives like Potlucks, Team outings and other team activities helps people turn colleagues in to comrades. A very vital part of keeping an employee engaged is showing them the right growth path. Organization should always drive short term and long term goals for an employee, and the supervisors should coach employees on how to trek toward goals.
REST is the most important concept in employee engagement and automatically takes care of rest.