While reading and learning today, I came across this amazing set of research and empirical data. This amazing study by the Union of Concerned Scientists proves that since 1750 and until 2019 (projection until 2022). #India & #Africa GDP growth since 1750 is not only impressive but most environment friendly. Hope we stay the course.
As per the worlds only and most ancient Indian texts known as the Upanishads which, is one of the four sections of each Veda had concluded and suggested the concept of वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम् Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam means the entire earth is one family. Still not too late to pay attention and follow the ancient wisdom.
I aspire for a inclusive and gender equal world. A world free of discrimination, stereotypes and biases. A world where we all strive for inclusiveness, equality and diversity in all walks of life, especially in and at work places. I am committed to playing my part in making it happen, are you?
Our women and LGBT colleagues don’t need any help or charity, especially from us the men folks. All they expect is a culture and environment of fairness, respect, equality & inclusiveness without any biases. Let’s take pride in seeing people of all genders thrive and realise their full potential and live and work happily. I take immense pride in working for a company that believes in this and lives it everyday.
Together we can all #breakthebias and let’s do it. Wishing everyone a happy International Women’s Day 2022
One of my inspiring Bosses, Carole Wamuyu Wainaina (she was my manager during my stint with Philips in Amsterdam) once said to me, that, “her endeavour in life is to buy and collect experiences and not material things”. Amongst many other things that I learnt from her, I learnt that, It’s the rich experiences and memories that one collects – defines the wealth of a human being. It’s the key difference between being wealthy and monied.
She also used to tell me that, the ability to balance one’s competing priorities in life is what makes one successful – professionally and personally. It’s not about working more or spending more time with the family – it’s about finding and striking the right balance. Also we used to discuss how important it is for a person to have quality “me time”, time for yourself, where you are absorbed in some hobby, sport or a creative interest outside of work. That’s when I again took up photography and pursued the genre of Wildlife and Nature, with total passion and enthusiasm. I must say since then I have become a richer person, with wealth of experiences 😊.
The greatest privilege of my life and career has been to work with exceptionally talented and bright people world over and live in geographies such as Asia, Europe, UK, USA. Carole was then the Global CHRO of Philips and then went on to become The Under-Sectetary General of UN working for Ban Ki-moon at the UN. I was the Global Chief Learning Officer of Philips and was tasked by her to build the first Digital Philips University, aimed at transforming talent management at Philips.
Keep finding people that inspire you and engage with them in rich conversations, learn from them and chart an exciting course for your life. What do you say?
Being in the space of corporate careers, talent and people – many friends, family members and colleagues often request me to guide their children on their career and higher education choices. I willingly make time, as I enjoy doing it.
The first question, I ask them as aspirants is, “In your own assessment what are you good at? and what do you love doing?” Most start by answering what academic subjects they are good at and they straight jump into explaining their potential career choices, such as – wanna become a software engineer, medical and healthcare professional, sports manager, chartered accountant, sales and marketing professional, human resource professional, etc. What I find interesting is that most of them are clear and already opinionated about what they want to do, which is a good thing. But what worries me is that most of them haven’t tested themselves in the extra curricular space as a student and have given very little importance to finding out what their aptitude is, what they love doing or what makes them happy. Please note most of these people are from middle class and it’s higher strata of the economic segment of our country. They have access to good education at reasonably decent schools and colleges.
This makes me wonder about the educational framework of our country and the early counselling they receive in school, college and at home. Making children focus more on choosing career tracks that are more linked to achieving monetary prosperity versus matching their career choices to their aptitude and happiness, begs a question, or rather say many questions. Coz then later in life, somewhere down the road they end up realising they are in a rat race and not a career.
I keep thinking about it and wish to come up with a solution for this. What do you think?
In my observation one big confusion that prevails in many organisations and amongst it people, is to be able to clearly understand and distinguish between “Strategic Work” Vs “Tactical Work” in their roles.
It’s my view organisations and their leadership teams, if are strategically capable and execution focused, they tend to succeed more than their peers. This can be achieved by building a clear understanding of strategic work Vs tactical work in employees roles.
“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” ~ Sun Tzu
In the last one and half years, I interviewed more than 150 bright and talented people across mid to senior levels, I found that more than 90% of those people demanded and aspired for more strategic work in their roles. When I asked them to describe what does strategic work Vs tactical work means to them – I realised how the understanding varies with every individual. About a year ago, I started to maintain notes and began researching and analysing my qualitative data points of each and every interview. Will share some of my insights and thoughts in this blog post.
In her article featured in Forbes Magazine in 2018, Bhavana Dalal, very nicely explains, “What does it mean to be tactical? Tactics refer to the skill of dealing with or handling difficult situations, to achieve a specific goal. On the other hand, a strategy is defined as a comprehensive high-level, long-term plan. Being tactical focuses on tasks, concrete smaller steps, best practices, specific procedures, and resources. Meanwhile, a strategy is tied to purpose, goals, and vision.”
As per my learning and understanding, strategic work involves creating a long term plan for a organisation and working on high level strategic things such as Vision, Mission, Purpose of the organisation. Defining key focus areas, objectives and goals for the organisation and its key people. Being able to design and successfully build brands, processes, culture, technology platforms and talent pipeline and a operating model for the firm also falls in the area of strategic work. On the other hand performing tasks to deliver and execute your strategy is tactical work. In addition, tasks such as responding to a crisis, managing a difficult situation involving customers, employees, suppliers, unions are examples of tactical work. In simple terms, building strategies, plans, objectives for higher value creation for the organisation and it’s stakeholders is strategic work, most other things is tactical work.
All roles of an organisation, cutting across levels will always have a mix of strategic and tactical work. What’s important to note is that as a rule of thumb, senior level employees should have 90% of strategic work and 10% of tactical work as a mix in their roles, responsibilities, objectives and deliverables. Middle level should be 50/50 and lower level of employees in the Org chart should have 90% of tactical and 10% of strategic work built into theirs.
In conclusion, I say, “The CHROs should take it upon themselves to socialise this thinking and approach in their organisation and design and build processes and a culture which will become a value creator.”
In case you are interested to learn more about this. Related articles that, I suggest you read are as follows:
Post the COVID pandemic, the biggest challenge globally for the CEO, CHRO and other CXOs is how to get employees back to office. Most CEOs and CHROs consider it necessary to get employees back to office, for the in-person social interactions which, many feel is the bedrock of team work, collaboration, innovation, etc. But getting them back safely, creating a safer than before workplace and ensuring employee motivation and morale remains high, is going to be a likely challenge.
Most companies are designing a hybrid model which will involve some employees permanently working from home and some working in office three days a week and two days from home. Of course it’s important to note that not all jobs, even office based, can be performed from home effectively. Therefore, clearly define what is the hybrid? Will it apply to all employees/roles? There are no clear answers at this stage and it remains a challenge from equity and fairness point of view.
For the past one year plus most office based employees have gotten used to working from home and if you look into it deeply, you will learn what has changed. Let me share what I have learnt and observed from an employees perspective:
What people have started valuing the most:
Office commute time, be it 30 mins or 2 hrs, it’s been eliminated and people have found more time available in the day.
Flexibility to plan and juggle work and life demands, has gone up significantly as the factor/variable of going to office isn’t there.
Constant supervision by superiors in a contained office environment has disappeared and that has given many people, who were heavily supervised a sense of ease, independence and freedom.
Reduced expenses of commute, travel, formal clothing and accessories, etc has facilitated a minimalistic high quality living and increased savings.
Freedom to move from large cities and cramped apartments to smaller cities/towns into bigger homes with family, parents, pets and loved ones has enhanced the quality of lives of many people significantly.
The devastation and deaths due to COVID in the world has touched and rattled everyone in some way or the other. This has made people re-evaluate their priorities and many are choosing to give a higher priority to their mental and physical health vs wealth creation alone. People have started to evaluate and recognise what’s more important to them and are choosing for a more healthy and better quality of life over a career driven by purely aggressive ambition.
People have built significant skills for using remote working digital platforms and technologies and have learnt to be more efficient and productive whilst working working from home.
Now you see the challenge for the CEO and CHRO. So how should they go about doing what’s right for the organisation’s business and people in a balanced manner. Its only wise to recognise and address this challenge very carefully and thoughtfully. In my opinion the “Do’s” and “Don’t” are as follows:
Don’t force any authoritarian decisions on your people and expect them to accept and comply. If you do it, you are bound to loose a lot of talent, in the short term but even more in the medium and long term. Talent will find opportunities and move to organisation that are more sensitive to their needs.
Don’t be insensitive and dismiss people’s fears. Sensitive and caring leadership is the need of the hour.
Request your CHRO and the HR team to independently gather insights about how your employees are feeling and what are their hopes and fears. Articulate and summarise them and present them unfiltered to the CEO and CXOs.
Evolve a plan using clear lenses for objectively deciding, as far as work flexibility is concerned and what your hybrid model will look like. Lenses such as; a) List jobs that cannot be performed from home. For example jobs in manufacturing, sales, R&D labs, customer service, retail outlets, office reception, etc. are jobs that cannot be performed from home in most industries. b) Senior leaders at N-1 and N-2 are roles and jobs that are less effective when performed from home permanently. A few days in a week or month is okay. 3) Jobs that are usually outsourced and have little need for collaboration and socialisation in a workplace can be performed permanently from home, with some hot-desks for them in office. d) Since we are coming out of the pandemic, I suggest we use the lens of COVID-19 vaccination and safe behaviour protocol. Open up offices and invite people back when you have crossed some sort of threshold of 75% or 80% of your employees should be vaccinated with both dosages. That will help you create a safer workplace and ensure employees safety while they commute.
Educate and train people leaders to rebuild the thinning personal touch and connection with their people. They have to learn to engage with people effectively in the new normal of hybrid working models.
Transform the hiring and on-boarding process of the organisation to best suit your woking model. While hiring make sure the contracts are crystal clear to all stakeholders. Onboarding and engaging people who are going to working from home is a new challenge that needs to be addressed. Re-hire or re-contract the working model terms with the existing employees if necessary.
Remember, many employees are eagerly waiting to come back to office. People are missing the workplace, it’s social network and experience. They are missing the travel, off-site meetings and all the fun elements that go with work in a great workplace. Welcome them back nicely and continue to build a superior workplace in all respects.
In conclusion, I suggest, what ever model you evolve and adopt, it should be positioned as a pilot, on a trial basis. Keep modifying and refining it based on learning’s and insights. The best model will be the one that enables an organisation to get work done effectively, retain its talent that will deliver superior business results.
Please do share your thoughts and views on this blog post. Me and my team are in the midsts of doing this in our company.
Every human being has an innate need/desire for respect from their family, friends, workplace or society. I will share some of my thoughts on how to effectively command respect in a workplace.
Internalise and focus on your attitude, behaviour, knowledge, capabilities, values and ethics. Effective and confident people have a realistic assessment of self and are continually developing themselves on the above mentioned elements. If you lack in any of those elements then your need and desire will remain a wish. Instead of externalising and blaming others for not giving you respect. You need to begin by understanding as to what is required of you and if you are working on developing yourself for being worthy of commanding respect. Let’s discuss the elements a bit more.
Attitude and Behaviour. Don’t confuse attitude with behaviour, even though intertwined, they are two distinct things. Attitude is a person’s mindset, feelings, beliefs, or opinion towards something (situation or people). Behaviour is an exhibited action or reaction that a person presents in response to a stimuli. Stimuli often comes from situations and other people’s action. Effective people understand the golden link of Thinking – Feelings – Behaviour (Stephen Covey). How you think is how you feel, how you feel impacts your behaviour. Thinking is the lead factor and feeling and behaviour are it’s lag factors. Therefore, if you want to modify your behaviour or influence someone else’s behaviour then focus on understanding how and what a person thinks. To be able to command respect your attitude and behaviour has to be positive, constructive, calm, reflective, sensitive and most importantly respectful. Remember “respect is reciprocal”.
Refrain from externalising and blaming others for everything bad that happens to you. The constant “I am Okay and You’re Not Okay” (Eric Berne) mindset and communication state is a recipe for disaster. I have learnt myself and coached several others on how to apply the Transactional Analysis model of Eric Berne, Transactional analysis (TA) is a psychoanalytic method of therapy wherein social transactions are analyzed to determine the ego state of the communicator (whether parent-like, childlike, or adult-like) as a basis for understanding behavior. I would recommend that you read and understand it. Amongst several other tools this can help you analyse and correct the externalising de-railer and manage ones ego state . You may need a coach for it.
Knowledge and Capabilities play a big role in the way you command respect and sustain it. Knowledge gives you the the right level of confidence. When knowledge is applied and practiced, it start building skills and capabilities. Highly knowledgeable and capable people often inspire others and that allows you to command more respect in a workplace. Learning is key to gaining knowledge and building capabilities in one self. Effective people are constant learner’s and they have a good senses of their own learning styles and abilities. To command respect, pay attention to this important facet.
Values and Ethics are foundational for being able to command any kind of respect. If you don’t have the right set or values and ethics and have all the above mentioned elements then it’s guaranteed that you won’t command any respect at any place. Good beliefs that get founded in a person from an early age, lead to creating a sound set of values and ethics. For example if you have grown up with a belief that all human beings and animals needs to be treated with respect and care, then that, becomes your strong value system. Effective people have very sound beliefs and they constantly check and correct them as appropriate. As simple as it may sound, being punctual, objective, fair, delivering on your commitments to people, responding to people’s emails and text messages, giving credit and authentic praise when it’s due, being transparent and non-political, etc is what defines your work ethics. High standards and sustained exhibition of these work ethics at the workplace will make you a role model and commanding respect won’t remain a wish.
In conclusion, I would say, it’s a combination of all the above and none of them are mutually exclusive. Its very important that one manages his/her self esteem. Also there is a possibility of a chance that in certain situations and organisation, “You are Okay and Others Aren’t Okay”. In that case, do not ever take things lying down and to maintain your self esteem, walk away from that organisation. But, one important check – if you are finding the need to often walk away from many organisations and people, then there is good chance that you are externalising things and in the “I am Okay and You’re Not Okay” ego state. Another important check, if you are not able to command respect of your family, friends, society and workplace – either from all of them or even two out of the four – Well then, let me tell you, the problem is with you. In that case, do seek feedback and coaching from a objective person you respect and trust at the workplace.
Hope you find this useful and do share your thoughts and views based on your experiences. I am keen to learn from you.
On this International HR day, let me compliment all my colleagues from the fraternity for rising to the challenge and leading from the front in managing the COVID-19 crisis. Proud of my HR fraternity.
March 2020, we all realised that a pandemic is gripping us and between March,20 & April,20 the world had shutdown. Only businesses under essential services and commodities were operating. Since, I work in Pharma and Healthcare sector, we continued to work with unprecedented challenges and since haven’t shut down for a single day. Like me most of my colleagues became responsible for Crisis Management – a role that earlier HR supported, were now leading it, with the support of others.
We witnessed the horror of the largest migration of workers of all skill levels, but mostly semi-skilled and low-skilled levels to their home towns and cities from large industrial/services megapolis’s such as Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, Gurgaon, etc. We not only witnessed a humanitarian crisis but also faced sever shortage of labour at our manufacturing plants, research facilities, warehouses, etc. HR professionals all over rose to the challenge and kept the lights on.
There were sectors and companies that had totally shut down and are/were facing severe impact and losses. Such as Aviation, Hospitality, Education, etc. Cost conservation/reduction and hence job losses were the worst in these sectors. There also, HR professionals all over rose to the challenge and despite being impacted themselves, they managed and led the difficult exercise of mass severances with respect and care.
Like Government, Healthcare and Financial sectors that never shutdown totally – even IT services and other digital product and services companies came to rescue by servicing consumers and students locked in their homes. It wasn’t easy for the companies to work in 100% work from home model. HR professionals all over these sectors rose to the challenge and created a new model that works effectively in service of its customers.
HR professionals boldly took the initiative and led from the front. They have now clearly added disaster/crisis scenario planning and its management to their role. Even more hearting was to see, the increased level of focus that HR professionals brought towards health and wellness and especially mental wellness during this period. We are creating better value in our organisations by encouraging virtual collaboration, engagement and are enabling people to accept and adapt to a new normal.
During the recent second wave most companies have witnessed unprecedented levels of home isolation, hospitalisation, even deaths of their employees due to COVID. HR professional again led from the front and have provided all possible support to their employees and their families for arranging tele-consultation or proving Oxygen Concentrators during home isolation or finding them beds in the hospitals or evolving benevolent and new polices to support the family of the deceased employees. Well done fellow colleagues and I have never been more proud of being a member of the HR fraternity than now. I am sure this pride will only grow bigger.
Thank you and wishing you all a happy #InternationalHRDay #2021
It seems Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918-19 had three waves, before the virus weakened and we humans built a immunity against it. We are dealing with the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic, today the Delhi HC has called it a Tsunami. It’s a shame that, after 100 yrs of Spanish flu pandemic and despite the stellar advancements in medical technology and practices – we didn’t learn much from the gory past. This is on all of us!
The second wave in India is peaking and it caught everyone unprepared. This wave will certainly flatten. Wisdom lies in preparing for the third one and not getting caught by surprise. So what do we have to do? I guess the following :
1) Get vaccinated – it’s your best defence and chance of survival. 2) Don’t let your guard down after this wave is over and make sure you maintain top health and keep practising social distancing, top hygiene and wearing masks at all times. 3) Let’s all pledge to build pressure and compel our government to invest heavily in our Healthcare infrastructure. We need more well trained and qualified doctors and healthcare professionals, more hospitals that are better equipped, easier access to health insurance and facilities, national stockpiles of critical medical supplies of medicines, vaccines etc.
Photography is my earliest/oldest passion, which I picked up from my father, whilst accompanying him through the forests of Central and Northern India, handling his Rolliflex camera in the 1970s. Photography equipment then was mechanical and analog. I started using digital cameras only from 2009. Today, I use professional level digital equipment (Sony Alpha Mirrorless and Canon EOS DSLRs). While technology may have evolved from Analog to Digital, the passion, creativity and joy of creating stunning images remains the same.
Wildlife & Nature photography is my favorite genre in photography. It is known to be one of the most challenging genres as one is at the mercy of nature with little control over the outcome. Pretty much like life, right? Over the years, whilst spending time in the jungles and forests across the world, I have learnt some important life lessons from wildlife photography that can also be applied to Leadership & Management. Here is a list of my top 10 lessons:
You cannot control everything: What you learn very quickly in wildlife photography is that you cannot control the subject, its background, its foreground, the frame, the lighting conditions, etc. What you can control is your equipment – so make sure that you know your equipment 100% and use it in the most skilled manner to create the image, with all the limitations. Your knowledge, skills and creativity will help you overcome all obstacles. Similarly, in life, especially in the corporate world, you cannot always control all important variables, such as people, external factors such as economic forces, government regulations, etc. If you apply your knowledge, experience, skills, creativity and act effectively in your area of control, you are likely to be very impactful. In-fact Steven Covey’s concept and advice for being effective is to act in your area of control instead of worrying too much about the areas of concern things that you cannot control. It seems to be a lesson straight from wildlife photography
Focus and Exposure is very important: In photography, focus and exposure is critical. If you are not able to focus sharply or clearly enough on your subject, you won’t have an image. Also, the right exposure (level of highlights and shadows) of an image is a must. If you overexpose the frame or your subject, you will get a burnt image and if you underexpose it, you will get a very dark image. Similarly, in leadership and management, a sharp and clear focus on your goals and objectives is very important and making sure you expose yourself and your people in the right manner is equally important.
What’s the story? Every image/photograph tells a story. A great image is a great story that people decipher, without being told. Therefore, creating images is the art of storytelling. While everyone can tell a story, only a few tell it effectively in an inspiring manner. In wildlife photography, when you create an animal portrait or an image of an animal in its natural habitat, or a beautiful landscape, you record a natural history moment and tell a very inspiring story. Similarly, leaders must act as storytellers to share a compelling vision with their team and then rally people towards achieving it.
What you create will be critiqued: Every photographer loves his/her own work. But when that image is shared or promoted, not everyone will react to it in a similar manner. Similarly, as a leader when you take certain decisions, you will be appreciated by some and critiqued by others. I have learnt that it’s okay to be critiqued; if you listen to your detractors with an open mind, you only get better at your craft. Try it!!
Virtues to emulate: Patience, Perseverance, Ethics, Humility and Teamwork are some of the common traits of a wildlife photographer and a corporate leader. Some of my best images have come after waiting for hours – that’s patience and perseverance and it comes from realizing that you cannot control everything, hence you have to wait, stay positive and hope for it to happen. It takes a lot to create one stunning image, but you cannot make it by compromising with the ethics of wildlife photography (such as disturbing animals or getting too close to them or by defying the laws and rules of the country and its forests). This has reinforced my belief in the ethics of doing things the right way. Wildlife photography is teamwork, I may be the photographer, the lead player, but I depend so much on my safari driver, guide, naturalist, tour organizer. It’s teamwork and if you do not value it, your experience and images won’t be any good. One last thing on Ethics is that as a photographer you learn to appreciate and respect others’ work and you never take credit for someone else’s work. Similarly, as a leader you give credit where it is due and take your team along with you.
Lifelong learning & adopting new technologies is the secret of success: Photography is an art and craft, and in this craft your joy and success depends on how adept you are at continuous learning. Especially learning about evolving technologies of cameras, lenses, image-processing softwares, etc. Similarly, in leadership and management, if you are not a lifelong learner and an early adopter of new technologies, you are preparing for failure.
Domain expertise is important: In wildlife photography, you cannot create stunning images of animals if you don’t know the animal, its behavior, its antics, its habits, its habitat, etc,. Similarly, it is important to be thorough and have expertise in your area of work to be an effective leader and guide your team.
Compassion and Creativity are the bedrock: Without compassion for animals, their habitat and nature, you cannot become a good wildlife photographer. Creativity of a wildlife photographer lies in imagining and composing the image in one’s mind, much before its clicked. Same goes for leadership and management, isn’t it? Without empathy for one’s people and their compulsions and priorities, one cannot gain their respect and support.
You compete with yourself and not others: I learn a lot from others wildlife photographers and admire their work, but I don’t ever want to compete with them. I compete with myself and my objective is to create a better image than the last one. Hence my best image will always be in waiting. That’s the reason, I loathe photography competitions and barring two (during my early and young days), I have refrained from participating in competitions. The biggest lesson here for leaders is to stop competing with others and instead, focus on improving yourself. Competition is fast getting replaced with Collaboration, Continuous Improvement and Innovation.
Last but not the least, as a corporate leader, the most important lesson that I have learnt is that it’s very important to have a hobby and passion outside of work. It helps avoid burn out and maintain mental wellness. During my boyhood days at the Scindia School in Gwalior, there was a strong focus on co-curricular activities for all students. The reason for that is, when you present various avenues and platforms for expression, they develop holistically. Many students who lack in academics, find their strengths and talents in other activities. When they do well in those areas, it builds their confidence and that in turn makes them perform well in academics too. Why shouldn’t companies too encourage people to have a hobby outside of work to pursue in their personal time? It is bound to help the wellbeing of the employee and harness his/her potential.