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Sunday, January 31, 2016

JOB SPECIAL......... The same job, but a different role!

JOB SPECIAL The same job, but a different role!


There are hundreds of changes that happen in an organisation. One of these is a change in the nature of the job. In simpler terms, it means having a role change while in the same organisation. Today,we live in an age where changing of roles within the same job is not only tolerated, but encouraged.
In today's changing business environment, adaptability is one of the toprated skills organisations look for. This is because they want an employee to be master of all trades and not just one. And, this is where the concept of role reversal comes in.
But the fact is that different people react differently to a role reversal.“Generally, people react positively to change especially when they are looking for one. Sometimes, ambiguity can create discomfort and the only way to manage that is to get clarity and understand the expectations from the new role,“shares George Pathiyil Jose, director-HR,UST Global.
The reaction to a role reversal is also situational.It depends on whether the role change was asked for or came as a surprise.“Role change in an organisation could be in both, known and unknown scenarios. In both scenarios, the change could be made keeping in mind the organisation's and employee's goals and aspirations. The only difference is that in a known scenario, an employee is well to take on new challenges. Whereas, in an unknown scenario, it may come as a surprise and the employee should seek help from HR and the line manager to train and upgrade hisher skills for allround development, “says Kishore Poduri, head HR,DBS Bank India. Whatever the situation, what is more important is dealing with it sensibly.“
In both the scenarios, employees can seek guidance from previous incumbents who managed such roles and take guidance from mentors and coaches,“ Poduri further adds.
As one of the initial steps, talent should have purpose and role clarity. In addition to that,the employee should better equip himself/herself with required skills for the new opportunity through self-learning, training, coaching, mentoring, etc.
“The first and foremost thing is adaptability. One should be ready to unlearn the existing skills and behaviours, learn new skills and work with different people in a different environment. Also, the ability to simplify things by removing the ambiguity is the most effective tool in such situations. One could reach out to experts in the area and seek help, “says Jose.
It is advised by the experts to have an open dialogue with your manager to understand the work flow and his/her expectations from you. It will help in course correction.
But, this doesn't mean that there won't be challenges. There will be challenges for which one should be prepared in advance.
Vaishali Tanwar




The real reason we get tired throughout the day

Not having enough water in our bodies is the primary cause of daytime fatigue.

1 Men carry around more water than women
In an unexpected fact about water in the human body, men have a higher water content than women. However, in both sexes water content drops as we get older.

Lack of water can often be misinterpreted as hunger
A Washington study found that nearly all dieters who felt late-night hunger cravings ceased to feel the cravings after drinking a glass of water. This is because we often confuse our thirst response for hunger, leading us to consume more calories when we really just need some hydration.

We lose water by breathing
Since water hydrates oxygen as it enters our body, it is also lost when we breathe. In numbers, we lose over a cup of water from our bodies every day just through basic breathing.

We need to drink much more water when flying
Do you ever feel dehydrated after flying? It’s a fact that the average flyer can expect to lose about six cups of water from his or her body on a flight from Miami to New York City – about three hours.

Water as an antioxidant
Water acts like a dustpan, taking many toxins with it on its way out of the body. Keeping these toxins at minimal levels helps prevent heart disease and cancer.

Water's role in dental hygiene
Water is also useful in our bodies per its role in maintaining good dental hygiene. Besides helping digest food, saliva also cleans our mouth. Drinking enough water means we’ll produce enough saliva, important for lessening the chance of tooth decay and cavities.

Minor dehydration's immediate effects
Dropping just 2% of the water normally in our bodies leads to poor short-term memory, greater difficulty in solving basic math problems, and the inability for our eyes to focus on a screen or page.

Water as a shock absorber
Water acts as a shock absorber for many points throughout our body including the eyes, spinal cord, and the amniotic sac which protects and surrounds a fetus during pregnancy.

The danger of too much water
Though we’re recommended to drink eight cups of water every day (there’s some debate to this), drinking too much water can also be harmful. 
Hyponatraemia, or water intoxication, is caused when such large amounts of water are consumed within a short period that sodium levels in the blood drop to critical levels. 
Headaches, cramps, blurred vision, coma, and possibly even death can result.

10 Water is good for the blood
Water is critical for our bodies in that it transports blood plasma. Blood plasma regulates our bodies’ pH levels, moves antibodies around the body, and is important for maintaining our body temperature through osmotic balances.

11 Water in our bones and muscles
Our bones, often thought of as hard, non-porous 
substances, are both porous (though the holes are tiny) and
 made up of 22% water. Our muscles, in contrast, are 75% water.

12 The need to drink plenty of water
We need to replenish the water we lose daily through normal bodily function. An average adult loses between 10-13 cups (2.5-3.0 L) of water every day, even counting out hot weather and exercise.

13 How much water is in our bodies
One of the better-known facts about water in our bodies, water makes up 70% of us.

14 Proper hydration prevents arthritis
Drinking the proper amount of fluids can prevent and/or lessen the pain of arthritis. Since water lubricates our joints, adequate water reduces joint friction.

15 Pregnant women put on water weight
It’s a commonly-known fact that pregnant women put on “baby weight”. What’s lesser-known is that pregnant women add on as much water weight as baby weight, largely due to the high amounts of blood, amniotic fluid, and tissue fluids needed.


WORKPLACE SPECIAL............... Dealing with dilemmas@work

Dealing with dilemmas@work

Why am I here? What is the purpose of my job? Dealing with questions like that is not easy and yet, you might be required to pacify a team member who's having an existential crisis

French philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin said that we are not human beings seeking a spiritual experience. Rather, we are spiritual beings having a human experience. Be that as it may , finding the motivation to go about our daily lives at home, work and in the world becomes exceedingly difficult if we begin questioning every moment of our lives. Society dictates that we make a living and lead respectable lives, which is why the majority of the populace clocks in hours at work every day . But now and then, there comes a phase where it all starts to look meaningless. And if you're in the position of a leader or team manager, you might very well encounter team members who seem to have lost their sense of direction at work.
The dictionary defines an existential crisis as 'a moment at which an individual questions the very foundations of their life: whether their life has any meaning, purpose or value'. It might be a modern malady , but when it strikes at work, it can lead to significantly lowered performance and even depression if left unchecked. “The first thing I do in such cases is to listen to them. I allow them to sit freely and talk in detail narrating the whole story from start to finish. Often, the solutions come from their own mind. With a little moral support, they come out with their own solution.Every problem has a solution. But, it is very important to find out the root cause first,“ says Debasis Chatterji, CEO, Netxcell Ltd.
Sometimes, a particularly life-changing event can trigger an existential crisis and lead to diminished enthusiasm at work. Rather than hastening to draw up a performance improvement plan, sit down and take some time out to talk to the person and identify the source of their dissatisfaction. It could be that the organisation needs to shake up things to remove a sense of stagnancy , or the feeling could stem from changes in the person's personal life.Chatterji narrates an experience he went through, “ Around two years ago, we had a project to execute at a very short notice. The project leader was a well-qualified person and he had successfully delivered many such projects with zero error in the past. But in this particular project, he could not deliver properly at the POC (proof of concept) stage due to which he was terribly sad and went into depression thinking that he had lost his technical prowess. After a lot of investigations, we came to know that the project did not go through the full cycle of testing due to lack of time. So, bugs were not properly detected before it went into the production stage. Theoretically , it sounds quite simple that it was not the engineer's fault But for a registered winner, it was very difficult to make him understand that as he was under the impression that we were just pacifying him. It took us lots of time to convince him.“
It's all right to feel disoriented at times. What matters is that you quickly regain perspective and appreciation for your life and career.
Ankita Shreeram


MANAGEMENT SPECIAL .................Five Reasons Most Companies Fail at Strategy Execution

Five Reasons Most Companies Fail at Strategy Execution

If your organisational culture has these five characteristics, all attempts to implement strategic change will likely be doomed.

It’s no longer a secret that most companies struggle with strategy execution. McKinsey research tells us, for example, that 70 percent of change efforts fall short of desired results. The financial losses implied by statistics like these are massive, and corporate leaders have taken notice. Today’s senior leaders realise that implementation is at least half of the leadership challenge when it comes to improving performance via strategic change. Too frequently, however, they seek solutions in the wrong place.
When I speak to executives about what constitutes effective strategy execution, they very often emphasise the importance of “communication”. If they could only master the art of communicating the new corporate strategy, employee alignment would be guaranteed and resistance overcome. Of course, having a clear and consistent message is essential. But within organisational culture there can be powerful, unspoken messages that contradict official rhetoric. Peter Drucker famously said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” I believe the same could be said of strategy execution.

Collective emotions
Managers are usually uncomfortable dealing with emotions in business settings, especially the all-important collective emotions — i.e., various emotions experienced by different stakeholder groups inside and outside the organisation, including employees, customers, communities, and investors. However, as much as managers may want their intended strategy to succeed, they still find it difficult to accept that the fate of their best-laid plans depends on the emotional allegiance of these groups. Instead, they assume their communications—which often focus only on the intellectual “left brain” rather than incorporating the “right brain”, the seat of emotional engagement—will be heeded when their back is turned.
My prior research shows that executives who are receptive to the subtle, non-verbal signs of collective emotion are more likely to have the credibility required to lead strategic change. Sadly, such leaders are still few and far between. 
Over time, emotionally illiterate leadership gives rise to a change-averse corporate culture. While profits are high and the economic climate remains promising, the problem stays under the radar—much like the early stage of cancer. But when a change in course becomes necessary, senior leaders find that no matter how hard they try, transformation never takes root.

Microsoft’s woes
Consider what happened internally at Microsoft in the year or two just before the iPhone came out. Having gotten wind of Apple’s impending game changer, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates tasked then-CEO Steve Ballmer with creating a copycat device to forestall Cupertino’s market dominance. Ballmer passed the word to his senior vice-presidents, each of whom had at his disposal thousands of engineers and an R&D budget running into the hundreds of millions of dollars. Their combined failure to produce an acceptable iPhone equivalent is the stuff of tech legend.
What went wrong? Despite their shared mandate, the departments didn’t cooperate fully with one another. A big part of the problem, experts agree, was Microsoft’s infamously cutthroat “stack ranking” system, which forced managers to grade employee performance on the curve. Regardless of individual performance, a certain percentage of staffers would always be ranked as “below average” or “poor”. Low-ranking employees were ineligible for promotions and pay rises, and would sometimes be shown the door.
As a result of stack ranking, Microsoft’s top talents were wary of and competitive with one another, seeking to surround themselves with employees who would make them look better by comparison. Any collaboration between them was stifled by the dehumanising corporate culture.
In November 2013, reports surfaced that Microsoft had abandoned stack ranking. Three months later, Ballmer stepped down as CEO.

Five main barriers
Microsoft’s story may be high-profile, but it is not unique. Wherever there is a lack of emotionally incisive leadership, employees will tend to fall back on the basic human instinct of self-preservation. Ironically, what is “survival mode” for employees may well spell the death of a corporate strategy.
In my decades of experience working with executives representing dozens of nationalities, I have identified five main emotion-based barriers to strategy execution within organisations. Each one presents a major danger to transformational efforts by preventing the necessary sense of urgency and commitment to a common task from taking hold throughout the organisation.
·         Mistrust and low sharing of useful and timely information – A “politics first” mentality that prizes appearance management above action. This causes a situation where no one wants to be the bearer of bad news. As with Microsoft, Nokia and probably Volkswagen, problems will come to leaders’ attention only when it is too late. Strategic alignment is further hindered by information-hoarding among players who see their colleagues as competitors.
·         Low receptivity to effortful change  –  Effortful change (even when it’s obviously beneficial, e.g. quitting smoking or staying on a diet) is easy to profess, difficult to do. Leaders must demonstrate their own willingness and ability to change before asking it of others.
·         More talk than action, then misaligned action – As I suggested above, communication for intellectual understanding does not elicit emotional engagement to implement the new strategy. When leaders fail to inspire the collective toward a common goal, each team will tend to veer off in its own direction. It becomes impossible to integrate all the silos.
·         Mechanistic action – When under high time and performance pressure, employees become creatures of habit rather than taking risks to become innovative.
·         Complacency  –  Confronted with the potential effort and risk of strategic change, the organisation as a whole believes the status quo is good enough, so why do the hard work to change it?

Balance is the key
Leaders already spend a lot of time and energy making a solid left-brained case for their strategy, as they should. But without a corresponding effort to engage emotionally and a culture that supports that effort, the spirit of change will quickly fade from the scene. To execute a strategy successfully, you need a good plan and an even better culture. I will discuss how this could be done in future blogs.
Quy Huy is Professor of Strategic Management at INSEAD. He is also Programme Director of the Strategy Execution Programme, part of INSEAD’s suite of Executive Development Programmes.




Impress your coworkers with how much you accomplish without breaking into a sweat

Contrary to popular belief, the key to productivity is not working yourself to the bone. In fact, there are plenty of proven strategies for getting more done while staying happy and healthy.
To find out what those strategies are, we checked out the Quora thread What is the secret to insane productivity? and some other research, and picked out our favourite techniques.

Work less
A Quora user says that when she was younger, she used to work and study for about 20 hours a day. “As I got older,“ she writes, “I realised that working harder is not always the right path to success. Sometimes, working less can actually produce better results.“
More recently, research has found that we can tolerate working 60-hour weeks for three weeks -after that we become less productive.

Get rid of your current to-do list
If your to-do list is brimming with items you didn't get to last week, or month, or year, it's time to make a change. Limit your list to three to five items every day to be more productive. Make a promise to yourself that you will not move on to any other work without completing the important ones that you listed.

Don't manage your time -manage your energy
“You need to align your work schedule with your energy level fluctuations,“ writes a Quora user. He suggests tracking your energy levels throughout the day for a few days. Then schedule your workday according to when you're the most focused.

Don't do the work yourself
“Learning to delegate effectively is the best thing you can do to free up your time as a manager,“ says another Quora user. She identifies four spheres of work: total autonomy, heads up, checkpoints and collaboration. Being aware of what's stopping you from delegating is the first step to addressing the issue and boosting your personal productivity.

Take a long lunch break
It's tempting to power through the day and feel productive, but that's not always wise. According to some psychologists, taking a long lunch allows you to step back and remember your most important priorities. Moreover, a long lunch gives your brain a chance to recover from mental fatigue, so that you don't lose steam later in the afternoon.

Don't plan every hour of your day
Etienne Garbugli, a Montreal-based product and marketing consultant, has 26 great pieces of timemanagement advice for those who are just starting out. Here's one, which heat tributes to David Heinemeier Hansson at 37 Signals: “Only plan for 4-5 hours of real work per day. Days always fill up.“ In other words, schedule some buffer time
around tasks in case they take longer than you think .


BOOK SUMMARY (25) Understanding Organizations


Understanding Organizations

·         Summary written by: Jacqueline van Dyk
"Management can only be learnt, and learnt, even now, in the school of experience. But experience, guided and enlightened by understanding, is likely to be a gentler experience for everyone and to lead to a shorter learning cycle."
- Understanding Organizations, loc. 171
Along with Peter Drucker and Henry Mintzberg, Charles Handy is considered one of the most influential management thinkers. Handy’s work focuses on the changing shape of work and organizations, and what this might mean for our futures. Understanding Organizations catalogues conceptual frameworks that are useful in the interpretation of organizational phenomena, and discusses their application to particular types of organizational problems.
Taking the premise that organizations are micro-societies, then those who lead them have to understand the needs and motivations of the people in them. To this end, part one covers the concepts: motivation to work, roles and interactions, leadership, power and influence, the workings of groups and the cultures of organizations. Part two discusses the application of those concepts in the workplace, covering: organizational structure, work design, environment, politics, change, management and the future of organizations. Ultimately, this book provides a better understanding of how human communities work.
In reading this book, I recognized aspects of organizational life; gaps were filled in by having a well-described and thorough lists of organizational concepts. Building on these foundational elements, Handy offers valuable insights regarding the impacts and implications of decisions that are made around individual roles, leadership styles, motivation, structure, environment and politics—and the behaviours and actions that are fostered by these organizational decisions.

The Golden Egg

The Culture You Create will Determine Your Results

"Many of the ills of organizations stem from imposing an inappropriate structure on a particular culture, or from expecting a particular culture to thrive in an inappropriate climate."- Understanding Organizations, loc. 3532
Handy describes four main types of culture, and the structures and systems appropriate to that culture:
1.    Power Culture: reliant on a central, controlling power source. The quality of these central individuals is of paramount importance for the organization as these cultures put a lot of faith in the individual. They judge by results and are tolerant of means.
2.    Role Culture: often stereotyped as bureaucracy; structure, logic and rationality rule. In this culture, the job description is often more important than the individual who fills it. The role culture succeeds as long as it can operate in a stable environment.
3.    Task Culture:  job or project oriented. Emphasis is on getting the job done, relying on the capacities of individuals working within a network. Teamwork, which thrives on integration, creativity and sensitivity, prevails in this extremely adaptable, albeit difficult to control, culture.
4.    People Culture: an unusual culture in which the individual is the central point. Rarely do organizations exist with this type of dominant culture. What you may find is individuals who operate with this orientation in a more typical organization; with very little allegiance to the employer, these employees are not easy to manage.
Each can be a good and effective culture.
Handy describes a normal trajectory for an organization: most start as power cultures; time and success leads to growth and the need for a role culture; the role culture is next confronted with the need for greater flexibility; hence, the task culture and need for greater diversity.
Finding the right cultural diversity is aided by an analysis of activity types, which can vary in different parts of the organization: steady state (routine), innovation (change), crisis (dealing with the unexpected), and policy (overall guidance and direction of activities). The suggestion is made that if the appropriate culture prevails where that set of activities prevails, then that part of the organization will be more effective. “Organizations that are differentiated in their cultures, and who control that differentiation by integration, are likely to be more successful,” he writes.
For my own work, I took this as a caution to ensure that the systems and roles we have in place, the relationships and networks, values, leadership styles, and even the information we collect, should all match and support our desired collaborative culture.

Gem #1

Cultivating Change

"To ‘manage change’ is wishful thinking, implying as it does that one not only knows where to go and how to get there, but can persuade everyone else to travel there. To ‘cultivate change’ is something different, suggesting an attitude of growth, of channelling rather than controlling, of learning not instruction. A changing organization is one that uses differences to grow better, that treats politics as a bonus and people as individuals who are rightly different and usefully different."- Understanding Organizations, loc. 5784
This framing of change really articulates for me how change can happen at a deeper level – and I love the creativity it implies as change unfolds organically, yet with intent. Genius!
One simple change in words makes a whole shift in mindset: you are not the manager of change, but the cultivator of change. Simply change your mindset, and consider this: “Perversely, organization theory would suggest that more trust and less control, more diversity and less uniformity, more differentiation and less systematization might be the ways that organizations should move.”

Gem #2

Illegitimate Use of Power

"Negative power is the capacity to stop things happening, to delay them, to distort or disrupt them."- Understanding Organizations, loc. 2542
Don’t know about you, but I’ve certainly experienced these tactics in the workplace! It can happen when someone doesn’t agree with the decisions or actions legitimately made by others in the organization – or it could be that they didn’t go about it the way someone thought it should be done. And yet these are the joys of working with other people who bring their own ideas and experiences to the organization.
Releasing others’ energy in the organization can place managers in the uncomfortable position of letting go of control. Next time you are tempted to use your power to control decisions made by others in your organization, give some thought to whether you are supporting the goals and growth of your organization, or yourself. Keep in mind that discontented, low-utilization organizations bring out negative power; the use of negative power breeds lack of trust. Successful, high morale organizations see little negative power.
While part one in particular reads like a textbook, what it provides is a language. The array of concepts, sets of categories, and various pieces of jargon, all contribute to the development of a vocabulary from which to interpret experiences, learn from others’ experience, and link concepts and knowledge. Part two shows us how this language can be used to help with better understanding the problems that are encountered in all organizations. As Handy says, “It is not a managerial cookbook but an exploration of the art and problems of cooking given what we know of the materials and the processes.”
That said, many valuable resources and toolkits are included in the book. I’ll be using some of Handy’s tools with my management team to analyze the cultures and structures within our organization. I expect this will provoke deep conversations about how that’s working, and where we may need to make changes, or pay more attention in differentiation and integration.
Understanding Organizations, a classic, first published in 1976, is now in its fourth edition. Forty years later, this book stands the test of time; its concepts are timeless and, perhaps surprisingly, incredibly relevant to today’s work environment with all its pressures to change, and constraints in which to produce.

In your leadership practice, what organizational elements could use some analysis for improvement? What practices do you employ to cultivate change?

FINANCE TAX SAVING SPECIAL...... ELSS is not the only tax-saving option

ELSS is not the only
tax-saving option

Most investors need both ELSS and provident fund for effective 
 tax planning.

We are into the new tax-planning season and some mu tual fund distributors
 have begun pushing equity linked savings schemes (ELSS). Their sales pitch:
 ELSS has beaten the Public Provident Fund (PPF) handsomely in the past
15 years; PPF investors have lost heavily by not investing in ELSS.
But, showcasing only the latest situation isn't being fair to the investor.
Though ELSS has given better returns compared with the PPF in the last
15 years, this hasn't always been the case. Our analysis is based on the
assumption that `10,000 was invested at the end of December, every year
starting 1985, for 15-year periods (1985­2000, 1986­2001, 1987-2002 and 
so on)  in the PPF as well as in the Sensex. Since there was no ELSS
scheme available in the eighties, BSE Sensex has been used for doing 
the analysis.
Dividend yield on the Sensex has been ignored because retail investors
can't invest in the Sensex directly--they have to invest via index funds.
So the expense ratio of index funds will nullify this small dividend yield.
As is visible from the chart, the Sensex was able to beat the PPF in
12 of the 16 rolling holding periods--75% of the times--while it
underperformed the PPF across four 15-year periods. It is not a
clean sweep. Investors need to carefully consider both PPF and
ELSS for their financial planning.

Personal finance
Each individual needs to consider what suits her best. “This decision
has to be taken at the personal level and that is why it is called personal
finance,“ says Tanwir Alam, Founder and CEO, Fincart. “ELSS is a
good option for investors who understand the equity market and can
withstand its volatility. PPF is a good option for those who don't want to
take the risk even in the long term,“ says Vikram Dalal, Managing Director,
Synergee Capital Services.
Asset allocation
No financial planner will advise you to put your entire corpus into equities,
just because the holding period is long. Similarly, you should also not
avoid equities and go overboard on debt. The most important thing is to
take into account the employee provident fund (EPF), available to all
salaried employees, when calculating one's asset allocation.
“For salaried employees, a good part of the debt might already be covered
by the EPF,“ says Alam. The co-relation between debt and equity market
is low and, therefore, a balanced portfolio reduces the risk significantly.
Though the exact asset allocation should be based on your risk-taking
ability, a standard asset allocation can be drawn based on one's age.
 “Out of the `1.5 lakh available under Sec 80C, youngsters should
invest around `50,000 in EPF or PPF and the balance should be put
 into ELSS. For investors close to 50, the ratio should be reversed,“
says Ankur Kapur, Founder and MD, AK Advisory.

Avoid last minute rush
While product pushers love the fag end of the financial year,
you needn't wait for the `tax-planning' season for your financial planning.
 If you do so, you may end up investing in the wrong products.
“Be it in ELSS or PPF, or a combination of both, investors should
start investing from April onwards. Opt for SIPs in case of ELSS funds
and regular monthly investment in case of PPF,“ says Kapur.
 By taking the SIP route to investing in ELSS, investors also get the
benefit of averaging out their costs.

Sec 80C already exhausted?
Sec 80C offers limited tax benefits. It could get exhausted by things
like repayment of the housing loan, premium on insurance policies,
tuition fees of children, etc. This doesn't mean investors should avoid
long-term products including ELSS and PPF. “`1.5 lakh should be
treated as savings for social security. Instead of treating it as an additional
job imposed by the HR, investors should treat it as retirement planning,“
says Kapur. Of course, investors who exhaust their Sec 80 C limit,
have the option of avoiding ELSS and investing in other equity funds.

Moderate expectations
Investors need to note that the government may cut the PPF rates soon,
so the future returns may be much lower than what was achieved in the
 past. Similarly, with the Indian market stabilising, the returns from
equity will also come down. The growth of the Sensex from
December 1979--119 points--and December 2015--26,118 points—
works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.16%.
However, most of these gains happened in the initial years. If you
split these 36 years into two time periods of 18 years each, the
CAGR of the first 18 years--till 1997--was 20.98%;
 for the next 18 years, it is just 11.54%.
So, those investing in ELSS funds should also moderate their return