Featured

Role of HR post Covid crisis

Work from anywhere

What could be the role of HR in the post Covid scenario ? This is a question, which may be lurking in the minds of many people. I would state that HR could evolve their “Ten Commandments” post the Covid crisis is over and employees gradually trickle back to the workplace.

1. Job Security : In the post Covid scenario, most employees would be worried about their jobs. This would mean a lurking fear that their organisations would have lost revenue for more than a few months and this could result in job losses for many. So, the first duty of HR could be to make the CEO communicate to all employees how they plan to get over this crisis and assure employees at all levels that they would not lose their jobs.

2. New Workplace : The new workplace will have a new normal. It will not be the same place of work like in the past. Apart from physical sanitisation of everything, there would be silence and loneliness at the workplace. There is need to make people adapt to this new work environment through effective communication and counselling by the managers and leaders at all levels.

3. Cost optimisation : While HR leaders should try their best to save jobs, they could be the champions of cost reduction efforts in the organisation. They could engage with employees at all levels and enable formation of teams so that cost reduction is in everybody’s radar and the organisations are able to make up for the losses incurred by this pandemic.

4. Employee engagement : In the post Covid scenario, employee engagement actions become all the more critical. It is important to make employees adapt to the new workplace and at the same time realise that we need to continue to serve our customers, suppliers, employees, shareholders and all other stakeholders as we did before.

5. Work from anywhere : While the Covid crisis forced organisations and employees to adapt to the work from home option, it may be an opportunity for HR in organisations to enable employees to work from anywhere. This means no fixed workstations, laptops for everyone and they could work from any office or any place of their choice in the future.

6. Re-engineering processes : This is a great opportunity for HR to facilitate all the functions in the organisation to challenge all their existing processes and eliminate unwanted ones, simplify those needed and automate wherever possible. The shop-floor could also be digitised and automated so as to minimise human interface in routine operations and use employees for human value addition, which robots or machines cannot do like listening to and attending to customer grievances.

7. Rewrite the HR manual : Just like the Constitution of a nation gets amended from time to time based on the needs of the nation, this is a great opportunity in the history of the organisation to re-write its HR manual. It may be helpful to keep it simple, eliminate unnecessary bureaucracy and all paper work if possible.

8. Productivity : While many of us may not realise that India still has one of the lowest labour costs in the world but our productivity is not on par with the best in the world. This reset post Covid gives us an opportunity to rejig our productivity levels at the shop floor, in our offices and also in all our processes with suppliers and customers. For eg. is it possible for all employees to deal with all HR processes through their mobile phones and eliminate all paper work in the future.

9. Digitalisation : The ability to go digital in all aspects of work is a real possibility in the new workplace. Sales can happen online and service can be remotely handled. This means manufacturing can be digitilalised and automated and so can be all other processes. If banks can provide all their services through digital means so can all other organisations and this is the best time to transition and go digital, wherever feasible.

10. Employee Health & Safety : This crisis provides the best opportunity for organisations to rewrite its health and safety standards. It is not only physical health but mental and emotional health and wellness, which will get tested post this crisis. So , it is the best time for organisations to prepare for similar unknown crises in the future.

While I may not have listed down all possible things, which HR leaders could do post this crisis, I have focussed on the most important and called them the “Ten commandments for HR”.

Do let me know if I have missed out anything ? You can make your own “Ten commandments for HR” based on the needs of your own organisation.

S Ramesh Shankar

12th May 2020

Featured

Relearning from childhood…

IMG_2188

Learning is a life long journey. I was sitting with my grandson, who is 7 years old. He asked me if I knew how to use Instagram on my phone. I said yes. He asked me if I could take a photo of his with the whiskers of a rabbit. I told him that I did know how to do it. He readily agreed to teach me.

He advised me to open the app on my phone. He then showed me as to how change the setting on the phone and then take a selfie as in the photo above. I was quite stunned. It was great learning to use a mobile app from a 7 year old.

As children, we are inquisitive and curious. We learn continually by observing others and things around us. When I asked him as to how did he learn it – he said that he saw my son doing the same on his phone. As we grow up in life, we possibly forget to be curious. Our inquisitiveness is buried within us. We feel shy to ask questions and thereby our learning retards.

It is time to look back and learn from childhood. If we cannot turn the clock back, we can observe young kids around us and learn from them. Another incident made me realise how simple observation can be of great learning value. My grand son was at home for his school vacation. We were playing with each other. Then he wanted to download a few games on my iPad.

I gave him my iPad and enquired which games he would like download. He glanced through the app and shortlisted a few. When I was about to download, he told not to do so. He informed me that every app has a preview. We should preview the game and only if it is interesting, we should download the app. It would otherwise be waste of money. I could not believe that a young kid of 7 years could be so knowledgable on how to carefully download game apps from the internet without wasting money.

To be honest I was not aware of it. This helps learn an important lesson in life. We all are good learners as kids. We observer everything around us and learn. We do not hesitate to ask questions when in doubt. As we grow up our observations skills fades away and hence may be our learning ability also diminishes. We are scared of asking questions when we do not know so as to hide our ignorance rather than learn from others who know.

It is time to reflect. It is time rekindle the child in us. It is time ask questions of curiosity from everyone around us including kids. It is never too late to change. It is also never too late to unlearn, learn and relearn.

Time to restart is today ?

S Ramesh Shankar

Featured

Joy of giving…

I have always be in awe of our festivals in India. Diwali is no exception. Apart from lights and crackers, one recalls Diwali with fond memories because the entire family got together once in a year and celebrated together. We got up early at dawn and had an oil bath before sunrise and enjoyed all the sweets and savouries all day.

Today I got a new insight on Diwali. It is celebrated in India with two different beliefs in the northern and southern part of the country. In the north, people believe that Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya after his 14 years in the forests and hence is welcomed back with lights and crackers. In the South, it is believed that Lord Krishna killed a ghost by name Narakaasura on this day in Dwaraka Yuga.

The new insight I got today is from a forward about the story of Narakaasura and the lessons for all of us. It is believed that Narakaasura is the “I” or ego residing in all of us as humans. When Lord Krishna killed Narakaasura, he eliminated our ego and released more than 16000 evils in us. So the next day on amavasya we pray to Godess Lakshmi to lead us to the right path.

Every ritual in Hindu religion and so in other religions has a deep insight for all of us. We generally get swayed by the rituals and start believing that they are of no use and most of us including me give up rituals because they serve no human purpose. I have been no exception. Now that I have all the time in the world, I am able to reflect and get new insights into these rituals.

Another interesting belief that we should clean our home and get rid of all the unwanted things. This is also symbolic that God wants us to give up all that is not necessary and take up the good things in life.

It is also enshrined in our religions that the best way to serve God is to serve the human kind. If we give more, we get more. If we are content with what we have, God always gives us more than what we need. This is the challenge for all of us. How much is enough – is a question difficult to ask and answer for oneself ?

I have admired people who give away without expecting anything in return. Recently another friend forwarded a message with a great insight. It was a couplet from Rahim. When Tulsidas looked at Rahim donating, he found his eyes looked at the ground and so asked him ” O great person, where have you learnt this amazing way of giving ? “. As your hands rise ( to give), your eyes look down. “. Rahim replies – “. The Giver is someone else ( God Almighty), giving day and night. The world has a misconception that I am the giver. So, I lower my eyes in embarrassment. ”

The best people I have met in life are those who give unconditionally. They are anonymous most of the times and recipient does not know that they are the donors. They give because they have a surplus and they are grateful to the Almighty for it and want to thank him for the generosity bestowed on them.

It is like the exotic orchid in the photo above, given my colleagues at work, which are blooming because of their unconditional love.

This blog a salute from my side to all the wonderful people who have made me what I am today. They have given me support, advice, money and love unconditionally. I can never ever return their favour in any form. I promise to give back without expecting anything in return as I bow in gratitude to them.

S Ramesh Shankar

27th October 2019

The red carpet

IMG_0705
I have always wondered as to why we use a red carpet to welcome important people on festive occasions. It could be a tradition or custom. It could also be a symbol of celebration. I should confess that I have not done any research on this subject. But I felt it may be worthwhile to spread my wings and let my imagination fly for the reasons.

In many religions red symbolises goodness. This could the reason. It could mean the occasion is auspicious and hence the red carpet. It could mean that you are remembering God while welcoming a guest.

Red could also a symbol of blood. It could show that you are welcoming your guest with your body, sweat, blood and soul – in a way whole heartedly. Blood may also relate to life and relationship and hence a connection is established between the host and guest.

In some countries red cars symbolise energy and youth. I understand that red cars are even charged more insurance. This is because they are likely to drive fast and more likely to make insurance claims. Thus red could represent energy and enthusiasm while welcoming a guest.

Red in Hinduism is sacred. It is supposed to protect you from all evils. This may also may be a way to welcome your guests and protect them from evil eyes being cast on them. It is fascinating how a colour could reflect so many things.

I wonder why the carpet could not be blue or yellow as they are also primary colours. I have no reason to believe why it is so. A simple logic could be that red does not fade easily and hence it may be easy to maintain red carpets unlike other colours.

It may be useful to reflect that colour of the carpet does not make the difference. It is the spirit in which it is used. In India there is a quote, which states that ” Respect your mother like God, Respect your father like God, Respect your guest like God and Respect your teacher like God. “. This means that the guest has to be respected like God. This could also be a logic for using a red carpet to welcome guests.

The red colour reflects royalty. It possibly is linked to the kings and queens of the past. If we look at the world of cinema, a red carpet is the symbol of the Oscar ceremony and may be reflects a regal ceremony.

I have no doubt that red is royal and regal. It expresses the emotions of the host to the guest in visual form. We have no doubts that a visual representation speaks more than a million words. This could also be the reasons for using red to welcome guests.

Red is used in most advertisements and this may also be a factor. Red could represent a colour which is striking and will be viewed by all. We can either believe our past and agree that there is logic in using a red carpet for any or all the reasons above. On the other hand, we can forget the past and change the colour to blue or yellow and see what people around us react.

The choice is ours. Red or blue – the emotions remain.

S Ramesh Shankar

8th June 2018.

Did you see the moon today ?

IMG_5436
Every evening I look at the night sky to look at the moon. The moon is beautiful everyday it appears in the night sky. It is romantic and soothes your mind. I have wondered many a time as to why the moon is so romantic. What is the beauty we see in the moon ?

A sculptor sees beauty in a raw stone. An artist admires the beauty of nature all around her. A child admires the beauty in the eyes of his mother. A poet is inspired by the moon or the sun. Each of us see beauty in some thing or the other.

I admire the beauty of the moon. I can sit on a sea shore and admire the beauty of the moon all night. It symbolises coolness. It reflects the sun light and thereby shows its generosity. It is non discriminatory and goes around the earth to share its beauty with everyone around the earth.

I admire the sun as well the moon. Everything in nature is admirable. If I miss to watch a sun rise, sun set or the moon in the sky, the day is incomplete for me. The moon by itself is sheer beauty. When it is reflected on the ocean, it multiplies its elegance to the human eye.

Let me try to reflect on the qualities of the moon, which makes it so adorable. It is sparkling white in a dark blue sky. It is selfless and reflects the sunlight for our benefit without keeping anything for itself. It is hard working and tireless as it revolves around the earth throughout the year without a break.

What do I lose if I miss to see the moon on any day ? I miss a thing which I admire. I am devoid of the beauty in the night sky. Sometimes on a new moon night, I realise the absence of light and how difficult life would be without sun and moon light every day.

I have wondered many times how poets and lyricists have written so much on the moon. Now when I sit and reflect I realise that if I can tirelessly admire the moon every day, there is so much inspiration for them to write endlessly admiring its beauty.

The sun, moon and the stars are nature’s gift to mankind. While each has its unique qualities, the moon is the most beautiful of all. I can watch the sun for a few moments and the stars forever without really seeing much. But the moon gives you the unique opportunity to admire it forever and without any break when it appears on the night sky.

The moon also teaches us to be devoted and grateful. It revolves around the earth without a break and transmits light to us from the sun without asking why. We as human beings find it difficult to give anything without knowing the reasons. May be the moon can be a good source of inspiration for us to give back more to society.

Life without the moon will be a life of darkness. Let us hope the moon will continue to shine in our life and inspire us every day.

S Ramesh Shankar

17th June 2018

Water & Life

eqXFn71xRWWw3qZEQMC9rQ

Can we imagine life without water ? May be difficult. We could even say “Water is life”. Apart from quenching our thirst, water helps us in multiple ways every day in our life. Let us examine the use of water from morning to evening every day.

Most of us begin our day with a glass of water after we get out of bed. Then we brush our teeth with water. We have our morning coffee or tea by boiling water. We then use water for our ablutions and personal hygiene. We have a bath using water.

Then if we are proceeding to work, we may use water ways or power generated by hydro electric means to move to our workspace. The power used in our offices and homes will definitely have a portion of water powered electricity.

Nature around us at work and home depends on water for survival. The plants and animals depend on the rains for their survival. When it does not rain, they depend on ground water or stored water. It is not possible to think of life around us without water.

The lakes and oceans around us provide the balance to maintain the temperature around us. We also use water to cool our air conditioners or air coolers in offices and homes. Water provides us coffee and tea all day at work. It also quenches our thirst all day and maintains the body balance.

We use water to clean our cars and bikes. They also provide a medium for nutrients and food for aquatic animals like fishes. One cannot imagine life without water for living beings around us.

Most of the food we consume has water as an important ingredient in content or in formulation. One cannot imagine consuming any food where water does not contribute in some form or the other.

Water also acts as a medium of transport when we use boats and ships to move from one place to another within or between countries. Inland waterways are an important means of public transport in states and nations where lakes and back waters are common place.

Even when we fall sick, water is the most important ingredient to regain our balance in life. Water is injected in the form of liquid diet or medicines to cure our body of any infection. Even plain water helps in rehydration of the body when we get dehydrated.

I love beaches as you can see from the photo above. Water energies me when I am on a beach.

Today we have forgotten the value of water and how much it contributes to our lives every day. We waste water in many ways at homes, offices and factories. There are many cities in the world which may dry up in the near future. This may be a reality sooner than later in most urban cities unless we take preventive steps.

Let us realise the value of water and preserve it for our future generations.

S Ramesh Shankar

16th May 2018

Silent Service…

I was passing by my neighbour’s home when someone called me by name. I looked back and realised that it was not for me. So, I moved on. Later, my neighbour called me and apologised for the same. She said that she was teaching a student by name Ramesh online and coincidentally I Passed through at that time .

I told her that there was nothing to be apologetic as it was a strange coincidence. I enquired from her as to what she was teaching and she told me that she teaches special children in a school for the last 15 years. Her specialisation was teaching autistic children. I was touched.

Many a time in life we believe we are doing a great deal of service to society. It is only when you hear such stories, you are grounded . It makes you realise that how people have dedicated their lives to fulfilling the needs of society, especially the needy.

It is difficult for anyone to teach children. Imagine teaching children online and that too special children. My salutations to the teacher and the taught. It is indeed incredible dedication to a cause.

What I want to share here is not about my neighbour teaching autistic children but her silent selfless service. I know my neighbour for quite some time now. She has never spoken about her service to children.

What I have learnt in life is that the really dedicated people do what they do without making any song and dance of it. It is like we say the right hand should not know what the left hand is doing when you are donating. Similarly, the genuine service minded people serve society selflessly and silently.

In today’s world, we come across people, who do claim to do social service just to make it to national newspapers, social media or the TV channels. They also do it to cover up for all their misdeeds and believe God may forgive them in this way. It is a rarity to see silent people who serve society even without their neighbours knowing about it.

I should admit that I realised how little I do when compared to such people. It is people like her who inspire me in life. They are the real heroines and heroes for me in life. It is like the front line health workers today who are fighting the pandemic without bothering for their own safety.

Selfless service not only makes you a better human being. It makes you a role model for society and the next generations. It helps your own family members and friends to imbibe the right values. It gives you good health and limitless happiness, which money can never buy for you.

As in the photo above, such selfless servers of society do not want their own publicity. They always want to work behind the scenes

Let the world learn from such committed people all the time.

S Ramesh Shankar

16th August 2020.

Feel the hunger…

The other day I was playing badminton with a neighbour and he said he was a bit tired and wanted to stop after two games. I wondered what had happened to him as he normally had a good stamina. On inquiry, he informed that he had fasted the previous evening and hence was tired.

He further clarified that he was not fasting for any religious reasons. When further asked for the reasons, he hesitatingly said that he was periodically feeding children in an ashram and hence was fasting on that day. What really struck me is the reason for his fasting. He said he started fasting on every Thursday when the Ashram owner told him that it was not enough to feed the kids but may be good “To feel the hunger” by fasting once a week.

“Feeling the hunger” was a powerful statement and it got stuck in my mind. “Empathy” is not only a word in english but an experiential learning for everyone. Like they say, you need to put yourself in someone else’s shoes to experience what they feel in any situation.

At every stage of our life, we find people sympathising with us but rarely you come across people who empathise with you. The difference between sympathy and empathy is the phenomenon of “feeling the hunger”

As a child when you miss out a rank in the class by a few marks or lose a match for the school there will be many who sympathise with you but rarely some who can empathise. The ability to silently put yourself in the other person’s position is easier said than done.

As you grow into an adolescence and want to rebel at everything in life, everyone around you is critical as they tend to look at it only as a deviant behaviour. However, if one can experience what an adolescent goes through the story would be different. You may lend a listening ear or comfort the person that it is natural to rebel.

Then even as adults you find it irritating when someone gives you advise which they don’t follow. It may be easier to advice others than to lead by example. Leaders in organisations are not respected because they lack empathy.

Today’s generation is not looking for sympathy at all. They are touched by an empathetic leader. In times of crisis nobody looks for advice from the ivory tower. People expect leaders to be on the ground, smell the earth and work along.

Leadership is all about “ feeling the hunger”. It is all about empathy. We need to evolve our ability to put ourselves in other person’s position and experience life as they do. Once we are able to do that, our approach to life and living would be different.

As in the photo above, even while we cut a cake to celebrate a birthday, this neighbour skipped the cake to feel the hunger since it was a Thursday.

A simple off the cuff remark when someone said you need “to feel the hunger” made me think how much I still need to learn on this front. Learning is a life long journey and we possibly learn more as we listen more.

Let our learning blossom forever.

S Ramesh Shankar

16th August 2020

Are all relationships commercial?

In my experience, relationships are the bedrock of life. We can get anything done or not done in life because of a good relationship or the lack of one as the case may be. This is true in our personal lives and work lives. If there is one quality which each one of us have to develop right through our life is “How to be build life long relationships ?”.

Some people differentiate between personal relationships and work relationships. However, in my book all relationships are sacrosanct and are no different. Relationships are based on trust and mutual respect. They are developed through our efforts, actions and personal credibility. They need to be nurtured to become strong and sustainable ones.

One question which may lurk in our minds as to why we need relationships if we are capable of handling our own affairs. We need relationships because we are living in a inter dependant world. No country however mighty it may be can think of surviving and sustaining by themselves. We all depend on each other to succeed. This is equally true in our lives. None of us however brilliant or capable we are can achieve everything in life all alone. We need to depend and collaborate with others to succeed in life.

After spending many years in the corporate world, I can vouch for the value of relationships in every sphere of life. I have seen many brilliant employees who are intellectually smart and have great pedigrees to be proud of but fail in their careers primarily because they are not a team player and cannot sustain relationships at the workplace.

This aspect is equally true in our personal lives. If we recall the people we admire in life, we may recollect the names of people whom we enjoy interacting with and learning from. We may not recollect the most intelligent teacher of our lives but the most friendly one. We may remember colleagues who cared for you and not your best performers. Similarly you remember neighbours who were around for you whether you needed them or not and not others.

Today we find a deterioration in relationships. In my view, this is primarily because we have tended to use people and love things. While being materialistic per se may not be a bad thing but if we love our things and use people, relationships can never be built. We have started believing that we can buy relationships and have started putting a value to every relationship possibly in monetary terms. In other words , we have started behaving as if all relationships are commercial ? In my book, this can be the last nail in our our coffins.

We need to realise that everything in life is possible only by building, nurturing and sustaining great relationships. If we do not understand this basic theorem of life, we may lose more than we may win. Even the victories may not be sustainable in the long run. The day we realise that relationships can make or break our lives, we may have turned the corner.

As in the photo above, all relationships are not commercial and the earlier we realise the better for us to enjoy life to the full.

Lets learn to build sustainable relationships from today.

S Ramesh Shankar

23rd July 2020

Journey or destination – which is more important ?

A friend of mine sent me a cartoon, which depicted a tiny dragon sitting on the back of a Big Panda and the dragon asking the Panda – “Which is more important – the journey or the destination ? The tiny dragon replied – “The company”.

We spend our whole life working to reach an elusive destination. It could be a goal in our personal or work life. While it may be a good idea to have goals both at personal and work level so that we may evolve our strategy and plans to reach them, we sometimes forget to enjoy the journey.

On the other hand, there are some of us who keep enjoying the journey but forget about their destination. I have come across both types of people in my life. Rather even I have been both types at different phases of my life.

But this cartoon made me think differently. The answer of the dragon that “the company” neither the journey nor the destination is important set me thinking. I got a new perspective to life and thought it was worth sharing with everyone.

Many of us have chased destinations and some of us have enjoyed our journey. But the question to ask ourselves is “ have we enjoyed the company” along the journey. The answer may be yes, no or may be.

I assume most of us have taken our company for granted. Be it family or friends or colleagues we assume they exist for us. We have taken them for granted to say the least. Lets begin with our parents, siblings or friends. Then our colleagues at the work place, our neighbours and so on. We have so many people for company in our journey called life.

The question we need to ask ourselves is “how much are we enjoying their company and learning from them ?”. We consider it the duty of our parents and siblings to support us. Then we think our colleagues at work get paid for what they share with us. Our neighbours and friends are around because of their fate or their choice. So our life journey continues assuming the company exists and we have no time to enjoy this company and learn from them.

This is the insight and the learning from this cartoon for me today. We need to enjoy the company more than the journey and the destination. If we learn to enjoy the company and learn from all people around us , our life may be more enriched and fulfilling. We may have more people to to grateful to and learn from.

The day we realise that we need to worry less about the destination and the journey and enjoy our company more, life may look more enjoyable to us. Life is an enjoyable journey with surprises everyday. We meet so many wonderful people along the way. We also meet birds and animals and other living beings along the way. May be it is time to hit the pause button and reflect on this perspective of life.

As in the photo above, we may be focusing on the journey or the destination rather than enjoying the company we have in a long drive through a picturesque landscape.

Life is a journey. Let us learn to enjoy it every day rather than waiting for our ultimate destination.

S Ramesh Shankar

7th August 2020

The Appraiser & the Appraisee

XI4ylrdrRle6QS04qh%kpw
It is performance review time in most organisations.  The year is over and the appraiser has to review the performance of the appraisee. In most organisations, the appraiser is expected to have a pre-appraisal dialogue before she appraises her reportee to understand how the year has gone and what went well and what could have been done better.  Many appraisers do not take this step seriously and even give it a slip. In this step, the employee is expected to speak and the manager listen.

The appraisee fills in the form and based on the understanding of the same, the appraiser assesses the employee.  This then becomes a one sided appraisal as the manager has not been able to return to the other side of the story.  It may be said that principle of natural justice, wherein you give a chance to defend yourself before being judged has not been followed.

In the next step, the manager assesses the performance of the employee and fills in her comments and feedback to the employee.  This could possible be discussed in an appraisal group and then it is time for the manager to give feedback to her employee.  The manager is expected to fix a date and time and preferably do a face to face feedback session.  Most managers do it casually and in an informal setting like a canteen over a cup of tea.  I recently met a manager, who stated that his boss met him for breakfast and gave him feedback in exactly five minutes.  This negates the very purpose of a feedback session. In this step, the manager is expected to speak and the employee listen.  The manager is expected to give feedback with real life examples of what went right and what could have been done better.

The appraisal is expected to be complete, when the manager sits with the employee and agrees on the targets for the next year and also the development actions.  This enables the employee to focus on key areas during the next year and also helps the employee to take ownership of his development.  This could be reviewed periodically with at least one review every six months.

The real conflict arises when the appraiser and the appraisee have opposing view points on the performance of the appraisee.  This conflict could be resolved by asking for clear examples of high and low performance.  It can also be substantiated by feedback from peers and internal or external customers.  This may help the employee to get a realistic feedback and also take necessary steps for the next year to improve.

In most organisations, performance appraisal becomes a ritual and not so liked phenomenon.  This is mainly because managers are not trained and do not possess the necessary skills to listen, appraise and give feedback.  Both the appraiser and the appraisee dread this process and want to get over it more to tick a box then to celebrate the process.

As in the photo above, two way communication is critical for a successful appraisal dialogue. Listening more than speaking by the manager may facilitate a rich conversation.

One can make a performance management process rich in content and delivery by honing the skills of the employee and the manager.  Each has a distinct role and has to play it effectively to ensure overall development of the employee.  The real test of a good performance dialogue could be if it is inspirational or perspirational. The day the performance dialogue becomes inspirational, we have achieved the end as much as the means to the end.

S Ramesh Shankar
December 2016

Back to our roots ?

I sometimes wonder whether the time is ripe for us to get back to basics. We need to rediscover our roots and live again like our forefathers did. The current pandemic has made many of us reflective. It has helped us realise that health and happiness, money cannot buy. The richest of nations and the most advanced have suffered the most in this pandemic.

I would like to share my life journey and learning through time. In my childhood, we had limited resources but unlimited happiness. None of us generally fell sick amongst family and friends and we were content with what we had in life. I recall our home with no fridge, TV, washing machine, dishwasher, refrigerator or air conditioners but none of us complained. We had the joy of living together as a family, having dinner together and playing together.

Then as we grew up and went to college, we experienced the benefit of travelling by bus and train and saving money for our parents by whatever means we could. There was only one earning member in the family and all of us contributed our bit to conserve and contribute to everything happening around us.

While our first job gave us financial independence, it also taught us how to stand on our own feet. We considered it our duty to send back money to our parents and also take care of them. Expressing our gratitude to everyone who helped us stand up in life was a way of life. Today the pandemic reminded us about the value of family and friends. It has brought us back to ground zero.

In our career, we almost took our job for granted. Most of us did not believe that we will ever lose our job in our career. Life long careers in organisations was almost a given. Today, it is quite different. People neither want to work for an organisation for life nor organisations are willing to guarantee life long jobs. Jobs are changing and so are careers. This again is making us realise that life is beyond a job and a career.

If we look at our life in general, a lot has changed too. We were enamoured by the social media and the number of friends we have. However in a crisis like the current pandemic, we realise that the true caring people are your close family and a few reliable friends only. We need to realise that we have to save for the future and lay the foundation for the future of our family as well.

Conserving for the present and saving for the future was taught to us as we started our careers. Today we live for the present. We had started to believe that life is today. We need not worry about the tomorrow. Today the pandemic has suddenly woken us up again. We may not be sure of our job security and the future looms in front of us. So, we realise that we need to go back to saving today for a better tomorrow.

In every aspect of life, we are realising today that we need to get back to our roots. Our food, our living styles, conserving nature, being grateful or even our career or vocation. We need to learn to be self dependant and respect nature in every way.

As in the photo above, we need to reflect if we have the ability to admire the beauty of this flower and connect with nature as we did in the past.

Our life events are cyclic and it is possibly the time to reinvent ourselves and rediscover the fundamentals of life and living.

S Ramesh Shankar

23rd July 2020

Educated Illiterate !

The heading may look like an oxymoron. How can an educated person be an illiterate ? However, in real life we see this all around us. Educated people may assimilate educational qualifications by passing exams and obtaining degrees and diplomas. However, they fail to behave like an educated person is expected to do in their day to day life.

Let me share a few examples from every day life for us to believe that this is not an oxymoron but a reality in our lives today. Let us start with the driving on the roads. Of late, there is a lot of road rage in most metropolises and it is the so called educated elite, who are involved in most of them. They neither follow the road rules nor are willing to accept their mistakes if they do commit a violation. On the other contrary, they would like to muscle their way through or use their clout to get away.

Even if we take a basic etiquette like standing in queues in public places like bus stands, train stations or other public offices, it is the so called educated class who tend to violate the queues more than others. We the educated class do not have the courtesy to give our seats to senior citizens or women when we travel in public places.

The current pandemic is a good illustration of the illiteracy of the educated in public life. Most violations in terms not wearing masks, not maintaining physical distance or not sanitising hands are mostly done by people who are well aware and are educated and not the real illiterate.

The case study of Dharavi is a good example to illustrate this. Dharavi is probably Asia’s largest slum. I have personally visited this place. On an average, at least 8 members in a family stay within an area of 10 sq feet. Even in this densely populated space, when the local government worked with the volunteers to prevent the spread of Covid, the people living in this slum have cooperated and made it a successful eradication strategy. The average resident of Dharavi may not be the educated class in the classical sense of the word.

On the other hand, the so called elite of South Mumbai have violated all public health advisories and it spread like wildfire in many posh residential societies. So, the conclusion one could draw is that education may give a degree but may not necessarily make you literate unless you have the right attitude to life and living.

Interestingly many so called educated elite are in the false belief that the Covid virus is spread from our servants and workers. They want to wear the masks only when they are in the presence of them. This is another hypocritical belief of the educated. The virus does not discriminate based on social class or literacy and we have to wear masks whenever we are meeting anyone anywhere in the public space.

I would like to clarify that I am neither against the educated nor do I profess that all educated people are illiterate. I am only stating that the so called educated majority are violating laws more than the uneducated. It is our attitude which makes all the difference. Higher Education may be the privilege of the middle and upper class of society who can afford it. But public behaviour is the prerogative of each one of us and has no correlation to education.

We need to learn to be self disciplined. The best of efforts by the government and medical and health workers will not bear any fruit if people like us do not wear masks, maintain the physical distance or wash our hands regularly.

The lesson to be learnt from the current pandemic is that law breakers cannot build a nation. Education aids our growth and success in life only if we are willing to be disciplined. The distinction between the law abiding citizen and others is discipline and not education.

It is like my house help Sudha in the photo above, who wears her mask without fail voluntarily although she has not even a school pass out.

Let us lead by example from today at least to set the right precedent for our future generations.

S Ramesh Shankar

15th July 2020