What is HR ?

I was in conversation with an Intern recently and this how it went:

Me: Which area have you chosen for your intern-ship?

Her: Recruitment.

Me: Why?

Her: Because I like it!

Me: What’s so great about recruitment? Doesn’t it get monotonous after a while?

Her: Yes, then I can shift in HR.

Me: What is HR according to you?

Her: Motivating employees by Performance Management, providing them incentives, perks, salaries etc.

Me: What else?

Her: Training.

Me: Any non monetary ways to motivate employees you know of?

Her: *blank*

Me: You can take a minute to think.

Her: *still blank*; Don’t know!

Me: That’s HR!

Her: *surprised* !!!!!

Image Source : Dilbert Website

Human Resource is a tough job, no doubts about that. You’ve to cater to so many employees at the same time. Moreover, the management thinks you are siding with employees and the employees tag you as management’s advocate! It is a very difficult situation to handle and you can spend your entire life proving that you want employee friendly policies which will not affect organization’s bottom line!

But the beauty of the thing is, if you conquer the above, that, for me is an HR. A brilliant Core HR ! There are several ways to deal with retention of employees, non monetary ways. As good as retention is a challenge, it is a beautiful thing to handle. Yes, I’m calling it beautiful, where most of the HR professionals might dread stepping into.

Although, there is no fixed formula to the above, but being available, listening to employees and letting them vent out makes a difference. HR is not only PMS or Perks or Policies but empathy and trust!

DIY Happiness Project : Bye Bye Stress!

Life’s short, we all have heard of this and know it very well! We’ve lots to do in this ‘short’ life and the time is always running out. It brings frowns on our faces, gathers on our foreheads and shoots up our blood pressure at times. In the recent past there have been many cases in corporate world, typically in IT industry, where in people have given up due to work pressures, some succumb to ill health and some to the extent of heart failures or brain haemorrhage

When I go through such news / statistics, I feel dejected, sad. There are pretty simple things that we as human beings need to do for our own peace of mind and happiness.

Work pressures will always be there, targets will always try to get you, bosses will always hover on your head and you’ll always run short of time! So, in this rush all you’ve to do is to just follow basic steps:

 

 

Smile: Smiling, is the least you can do to help yourself stay light and happy! Believe it or not, term it clichéd, but smiling makes things better if not right! Smile, it is free of cost!

 

 

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Music: Listen to your fav music, every day! You can do it while on your commute, when you’re at home after work. Even if it is for 15-20 mins, do it! The lyrical waves touch your senses and make you feel good from within, quite like alcohol 😉 but way better option than that! Music is the healer!

Deactivate: A yet another simple step towards happiness and attaining “nirvana” (pun intended) !! Deactivate that office email from your pretty expensive smart device, phone! It is very simple: You leave office, you should leave your work behind. If there is a dire need, people will dial your number. So, why do you need to carry your office to home and then give space for family/friends to complain? Your phone can be used for booking movie tickets or reading a book, explore that!

Detach: When in office, you are your designation. Like Manager, Supervisor, Team Lead, Executive etc. Once you step out, you become you, the person. Like Nupur or Ankit or Divya or Amit etc. The moment you detach your personality from your designation, you are out of the internal conflict within you and your life is simplified! Don’t take your ego to work and don’t bring your conflicts home!

Neither work is life nor life is work! It is a means of living but not the only thing to live by! We work for earning money, maintain our sanity and use & enhance our knowledge and experience. Let’s not change the purpose of working as ‘calling for ill health or losing mental peace’ !!!!

Follow these religiously for one month and see the difference, you’ll love yourself for making time for your family & friends and more importantly keeping yourself happy 🙂

 

Happy Working!!!

Tips to boost your confidence on first day at new job

My friend HR Dictionary has written an excellent post here, all newbies must read:

HRDictionary

new job tips image

Congratulations! It’s your first day at job, time for celebrations but Hey, are you nervous? Thinking about how to behave your best all day and impress everyone at new workplace? Here are some tips that will help

Dress your professional best

Looking your best always help. It’s an important part of non-verbal communication. The way you look makes an impression even before you speak. It also lifts self-confidence that will help you sail through rest of the day easily and effectively.

It’s still not time to be You

First day on job is really not the time present who you are. You should be careful about how you behave and talk when interacting with your new colleagues, Manager or team. Being too open and cracking jokes might be part of your personality but you might appear too casual to others. Likewise, being too serious and reserved might distant you from…

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Background Screening: New Hires and Other Way Round Too?

Last week while talking to my colleague we stumbled upon the topic of background checks of new hires. While getting a little deeper in his thought process I realized that before joining me, he had done a little background check on me !

I was stunned to hear that, well not in a negative manner though! Just that I’d never thought that someone would do a check on me before taking me his/her boss. This is not much “trending” as they say! Or maybe I had not heard about it.

The thought of getting a background check done on your future boss is a little exciting and a little weird idea. Now exciting why, I need not explain, I think 😉 But weird I think because of the below reasons:

-If the feedback is not good:

Just in case the feedback is not good, and in some cases the joinee has no choice but to still join the organization, he/she will carry that assumption to work of the boss and react keeping that in mind. As they say, assumptions are dangerous!

-If the feedback is good:

But just in case the feedback turns out to be wrong, the joinee’s expectations will be shattered seeing the opposite behavior and treatment of the boss!

As it is, boss and subordinate relationship is very tactical and delicate, if not handled properly it can break (hearts too) ! And on top of that if the feedback is added to the expectations or assumptions and in reality the things turn out to be different, then I see a huge problem!

All I can say is, finding out about the person that you’re going to work with is not a bad idea at all, it is certainly a good idea to get a pre-hand information, just that one must follow the basic rule of life which I thoroughly believe in

Never react on things that you’ve not heard or seen by your own self. Keep it as an information and but only react when you experience them on your own!

What is your thought on this? Have you been background checked anytime as a boss?

What’s your morning energy?

Every one of us is either a morning or an afternoon or a night person. Which means our energies are majorly focused at a particular time of the day as compared to the entire day.

I’m a night person if I’ve to consider 24 hours. At work I’m a morning person. I like reaching office as early as possible, when very few, or almost none is present. I like to have an hour or so for myself, to organize my day’s plan, prioritize my lists and look at the golden morning sun which is directly visible from my window.

<digression>By window I recall that so far, in my 9 years of work experience, I’ve been always lucky to have a seat near a window. Never asked for it, just got it 🙂 and have been thankful ! I love nature around while at work, which in concrete jungle is quiet unrealistic to wish for, which induces creative juices and positivity in my system!</digression>

I’ve not one but many times also found that in morning hours, I can accomplish 4 tasks in 2 hours as compared to 2 tasks in 4 hours (approximation) in the hustle of the peak hours.

Apart from the ‘silent me’ time at office at start of the day, I also want some energizing drink (don’t get me wrong peeps 😉 ) to accompany my fresh thoughts and pump ideas for the day. (To actually prove that I don’t mean anything else by ‘drink’ ,look at the picture below 🙂 )

Morning Cuppa Green Tea 🙂

So, here is my list of what I want at the start of the day:

-Nature

-Clear Desk

-Me Time

-Morning Cuppa

What energizes you in the morning,at work? Who / What are your sources of energies?

Manager: Don’t Mingle, Only Rule?

When it comes to being a Manager, a team leader, there are lot of dos and don’ts one is being told to follow.

A manager is a “person”, let us start from here. A person, who is a given a team to handle and to get the work done. The manager is responsible for enabling conducive environment in the team and maintaining the productive levels of the team members. The manager is a person the team members look up to for learning new things and practicing the existing.

Now in between all these roles, there is one more role a manager has to play and that is of being a mid hanger between the management and the team members as well as employees, yes I’m talking about an HR Manager here!

How does a manager motivate the team members? How does a manager bond well with the team members? Does a manager need to bond well with the team members at all? This could be a very subjective question as well as situation and persona dependent. Because behind every manager there is a personality which is functional. This personality has a great effect on how a manager conducts himself/herself and manages the team.

If one has to ask me, how I handle my team, I would say this:

-I balance: I pamper and I reprimand.

-I believe in giving freedom & space: Lining up the tasks and checking back on the deadline.

-I trust: To certain extent where team members know they cannot lie to me, in fact they need not lie to me!

-I mingle: I become like my team offline, on trips, on small vacations and on eat outs.

All this with a pinch of professionalism and boundaries. There is a very thin boundary line between a mingling manager and a professional strict manager. I do not believe in being only manager to my team. I want to connect at human level, know the person behind the role which helps me in understanding their potential and limitations. For me being a soft manager works well where in I don’t have to reprimand often and the work is done within stipulated deadlines.

There are times when I’ve been pointed out as the one who spoils the team rotten by pampering and being too soft. But as long as my team is working on my words and delivers on deadlines without fail and yet feel light and happy, my job is done! So be it because I’m a soft manager or whatever! The bottom line is met.

That said, there is no fixed formula by which one can manage the team all the time. There is some tweaking needs to be done in the way one handles the team, depending on the team members and the situation.

What is your idea of a good manager? Do you advocate maintaining distance and not mingling with the team offline? How do you get the team to trust you and follow?

Can HR have bad hair days?

We all know one of the greatest jobs for an HR professional at hand is ’employee grievance handling’. Addressing employee’s grievances is something that falls invariably under all the HR professionals umbrella and is an important task.

For any HR there are around, on an average, 200-300 employees (in a mid size organization) to handle directly. A huge team at hand and everyone has some or the other tiny / silly / serious / huge problem to share with HR. Also, with an expectation that HR will provide a solution and that too right away.

I enjoy being that ‘agony aunt’ for the employees around and I feel, from the bottom of my heart, that I was born to do this job. I’m happy most of the times I’m able to give satisfactory answers and doable solutions to the employees. I’m able to bring a smile on their faces and also make them feel comfortable and help them bounce back to their perky moods, feel motivated and get active and productive on job!!

But on the other hand, there are days and then there are days. An HR being a human being too, must go through bad hair days themselves, no? Has anyone thought of this? When in trouble, while feeling low, while feeling let down, whom does the HR approach? Where does the HR vent out? Who addresses HR’s grievances?

These questions cross my mind when once in a while I feel out of place. I feel where should I go and pour my heart out? Do you feel the same? Or do you always manage to be bubbly and have no bad hair days at work?

When I face the bad hair day, I usually prefer reading, listening to light music, shutting down work for a brief while, talking to employees around about them, calling mom 🙂 , eating chocolate!

On the contrary, do you even think the HR has the right to feel low, sad or demotivated?

Each One Reach One

How important it is to meet employees, face to face, apart from answering / responding to their emails or phone calls? For HR personnel it is highly important to reach out to employees, know them, create that difference and bond with them.

Trust me bonding with employees gets easier when you talk to them face to face. There might be disgruntled employees around, you might not be able to solve their problems right away or maybe never be able to offer a solution to some of their problems, but even after that, talking to them one on one and lending your ears and time to them, will make a difference.

Sharing one of my recent experiences with you all:

One of our senior Technical Architect (TA) level employees, newly joined, emailed the network team to allow him to change his system’s wallpaper to his choice. A little background here: our company follows a common wallpaper policy, which means on any and every machine in the company, you’ll find same wallpaper with company logo. To break the monotony HR selects wallpapers every few days, sometime suiting to the festivals, months and days of the year and other times general. Overall, this policy has its own pros and cons. Anyway, so back to the case in point: Network team directed the TA to HR asking for my permission. The TA asked me to allow him to use his own wallpaper; he mentioned he wants to use his family photos, which keeps him happy and motivated the entire day!

What a noble & genuine thought. But I could not have decided to change the policy right away, without giving it a proper thought, because the very fact this policy was brought into the picture was due to some very strong reason. So, I had this little problem at hand to solve.

At first I replied to the TA, via email, explaining him whys and why nots of the policy. He wrote back with (self- explanatory) logic and still asked for the permission. I realized this is not reaching anywhere if I continued to play email-email with him. This will only irritate him and make him think that HR is adamant!

I decided to walk up to his desk. I met him, generally shared my honest view of how even I do understand the importance of having family pictures around, and subtly told him a no for that moment. He was more than willing to accept that ‘no’ and smiled and said “I understand what you’re saying, and it is important for you to guard the policies, it’s okay, I’ll manage pinning the photos to pin board at my desk”. All of this, with a humble smile.

What did I gain in this? His trust, that I saved being an employee getting disgruntled for a small thing and I saved him from creating an image of HR in his mind that we care least of employees’ feelings. I also became happy in turn, because the more you’re able to give happiness, the happier you yourself get!!!

In this case I could have carried on the conversation on the email chain and let him be, after all I was just saying no to him for a change in organizational policy, was I doing anything wrong? Nope! So I could have saved myself a round to his desk and would have done some of my other email writing work instead, right? 🙂 Wrong!

Employee connect is so very important. I know we’re in such an age where twitter, FB, blogs and the works, work. But even after these social media tools, I think face to face discussions win hands down.

We follow an internal policy of “EORO” which means each of the HR team members will touch base with targeted number of employees each month. Not with an intention and a list in hand, ticking off the names once the meeting is done, but with compassion, a little dash of casual meeting and with open ears: to listen, understand and reach out to employees to know the pulse of the organization!

Image Courtesy: HERE

Now tell me can an email or a virtual shout out do this magic?

Exercising the Exercising Option

Exercising! What does the word ring in your head? Weight loss? Staying fit? Size Zero for that matter? Well, look at it in a different way, it is a stress buster too along with the above mentioned advantages!

Before that, what is exercising, IMO…..It could be in any form: dancing, sports, swimming, gyming, walking, jogging, whatever includes your entire body to take part in it 🙂

I feel exercising is important for everyone, especially working professionals. Why this ‘especially’, you may ask, because most of us are in a sedentary jobs which doesn’t give us much scope to move around a lot in the day. The reasons I exercise regularly (apart from trying to lose on that tough flab which is so loyal to me, gah!) are as below :

-Motivated, Energetic and Relaxed- the entire day!

-I get more ideas, the grey matter gets oiled 🙂

-It breaks the monotony of my daily routine, adds some vigor!

-Let’s me meet those friends who are not work friends, not colony friends and not relatives! (I think this is the biggest advantage!!!!!)

-Changes my perspective towards things in life.

-Gives me very own ‘me’ time… (I love this one!!!)

-Let’s me be more efficient in whatever I do the entire day.

-Helps me keep away from attracting negative energies.

Image Courtesy: HERE

Technically, exercising increases your body’s metabolism, blood flow, purifies your blood and pumps in a lot of energy to keep you rocking for entire day!

Interestingly, looking at the growing importance of exercising among employees, organizations are now providing in-house gym areas for employees’ convenience and flexibility to take a break from work and rock that treadmill ! I heard recently that there are treadmill conference rooms also, which allows executives to exercise while having a meeting, it is indeed a kewl sounding thought but I have a little problem at that. By providing treadmills in conference rooms, we are not letting employees disconnect from work and let them set their minds free… the sole purpose of exercising gets diluted here, me thinks!

Because, I feel exercising releases your stress, work stress at that which is harmful if not taken out. One has to “learn” (note that, I’m saying learn) to not take the work stress home with oneself. Often we tend to take the stress home to our families who deserve better than this, trust me!

Taking work to our home, our families is a very common trait and is fashionably called as being workaholic ! Some feel proud admitting that they are workaholic…. however, this is another story altogether and calls for another post 🙂

So coming back to exercising, how many days a week do you exercise? Do you feel the same that I’ve listed above as a result of exercising? What’s are your views? Do share, would love to hear !!

 

Employee Engagement

I’ve so far maybe taken 100 interviews and what I generally ask to 3+ years of experienced HR professionals is “what do you mean by employee engagement?” and you’ve to bite yourself to believe this that 70% of the times I get an answer “to conduct activities for employees”.

Image Source: Here

Earlier I used to get upset with such answer/s and think that people are not ready to even think using a little of the common sense. But slowly when it started getting very common, I studied people deeper for this particular subject and realized ‘Employee Engagement’ is still not very much explored topic in lot of HR curricula.

I sometimes take lectures in B-Schools on ‘Connect between Industry and Theoretical HR’ and I touch base on employee engagement. Students do have some idea about what is engagement but there answers and eyes ask for more knowledge on this topic.

Employee Engagement, such an essential topic for core HR personnel. If you look at the industry today, you’ll find there are employee engagements specialists and it has become one of the domains in HR. A good EE score tells how very deeply engaged are your employees in the organization.

Engagement varies at various levels: work, profile, attachment towards organization, commitment towards one’s role, on call beyond duty. Engaged employees not only decrease the attrition rate but also function as your brand ambassadors.

Value them, empower them, care for them and cater to their needs. That said you’ve to know the difference between genuine needs and overboard needs 🙂 After all who said HR personnel job was easy?