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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

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Relearning from childhood…

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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

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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

Sparks of brilliance…

All of us have genes of brilliance ingrained in us. It is like the diamond hidden in the carbon below the earth. We need to keep looking within and one day we may find to our surprise what we are brilliant at.

It is generally our parents or teachers who find the gems in us. They look at every child as a potential and look for what we are good at. As we grow up, they make us realise our potential. However, as we become adults and work in organisations or even on our own, we either tend to forget our potential or do not find a mentor who can see that in us.

I realise that everyone of us has sparks of brilliance and it is upto someone to help us discover it. So, all of us as parents, teachers, friends, colleagues, bosses or even neighbours have a responsibility to help individuals discover their full potential.

Every child is born with innate talent. If someone in their life is able to help the child realise that capability through careful mentoring and support, then they become gems in life. Otherwise, that potential goes waste and neither we nor others benefit from it.

It is like any team game. In football, cricket or hockey, it is the coach, who helps every player reach their full potential. If the coach is not a great motivator, a true friend, a wonderful teacher or a mentor who never gives up, the best of every player is never seen. On the other hand, ordinary teams show sparks of brilliance when they have a great coach.

I have seen repeatedly in life that great parents or teachers transform the lives of children and bring out the best in them. Similarly great coaches make ordinary teams look extra ordinary. Similarly great bosses, make ordinary employees perform superbly.

On the other hand, a negligent teacher, an impatient parent or poor boss can make individuals less confident of themselves and we may never be able to discover our true worth.

As an employee throughout my life, I have learnt that the best in me came out when I was given the freedom to experiment, the luxury to fail and the time to discover myself. Every manager has a role to play to treat every individual in their team as an unique potential talent.

Every one of us has something within us. We need the right environment to flourish and encouragement to fail and learn. The recognition that we are capable of much more than we have done so far will be of immense help.

Every word of encouragement motivates us. Every act of support enables us to try our best. Every recognition of minor accomplishments makes us excel in whatever we do. It is people around us who make us what we truly are. Of course, we need to put our best foot forward.

As in the photo above, every mother discovers the brilliance in her child.

The light within us is always burning. We just need to ignite the spark and then we realise that the flame can be brighter than we thought and makes us realise our best.

Let us discover the best in us today.

S Ramesh Shankar

21st February 2021

Top 12 organisational priorities for 2023

Most of us as individuals make new year resolutions and try to live up to them to make us better individuals both in our personal and professional lives. Now, it may be time for organisations to make new year resolutions and strive to to be better organisations in the future.

I would recommend the following priorities as the top twelve for organisations to focus in 2023. They could consider focussing on one factor every month and thus make the world a better place to live in.

1. Move away from shareholder value to stakeholder value: Today most organisations and their senior management are focussed on how to enhance shareholder value. While there is no doubt that the shareholders are the owners of the company and hence we need to add value to their investment, it is important for organisations to realise that all other stakeholders like employees, suppliers, customers, governments and community at large are equally important for sustainability of organisations.

2. Think long term rather than quarter to quarter : Organisations tend to plan and strategise to achieve their quarterly results. While there is nothing wrong in ensuring consistent quarterly performance, it is important to focus on the medium and long term and not just on the short term results of the organisation. Sustainable organisations look beyond quarters and enhance value for all stakeholders.

3. Strive for employee wellness as much as organisational wellness: Managers tend to focus on organisation health. It is important for senior leaders in any organisation to focus on organisation health. If an organisation turns sick then it impacts all its stakeholders. However, it is important for managers and leaders to focus on employee wellness too. This is important because employees take care of all our key stakeholders of the organisation.

4. Focus on Sustainable products and services: We produce products and services to fulfil the stated and unstated needs of our customers. In this process , we may sometimes end up producing products and services, which are not sustainable in the society at large. Hence, it is critical for organisations to ensure that their products and services are always sustainable.

5. CSR should not be a statutory obligation alone: Many organisations today tend to serve communities around them more to fulfil their statutory obligations rather than a duty towards the communities they live in. It is time to realise that organisations cannot survive in an isolated world and hence need to serve the societies around them to thrive and grow in the future.

6. Target Carbon neutrality as a goal: This may appear as a long term goal. However, it is important for organisations to begin with small steps. Leaders need to find ways to neutralise the carbon they produce and emit in the environment so that they can aim to be carbon neutral in the future. This could be done with small steps like self generation of power by using renewable energy and so on.

7. Think “Zero waste” & recycling of resources: Organisations tend to generate a lot of waste and pollute the environment around them. It may be time for leaders to explore ways and means of targeting “zero waste” and recycling of resources so that they reduce unnecessary waste and pollutants in society. Recycling of packaging materials could be a first step.

8. Suppliers are as important as customers and employees: Most organisations focus on customers and then on employees. Yes it is true that customers apart from shareholders are the one of the most important stakeholders. After customers, managers tend to focus on employees. This is important too. However, there is a tendency not to treat suppliers with same value. Is is important to realise that suppliers are as important as customers and more so in times of crisis and hence they need to be partners to our success in good times and bad.

9. Let employee restructuring be the last option always: When an organisation goes through a rough patch financially due to business cycle or environmental factors, the first decision most organisations take is to reduce the number of employees as a way of cost reduction. It may be time to think of employee restructuring as the last option and not the first. Organisations need to realise that employees win customers, sustain suppliers and manage other employees.

10. “Customers” pay us always: It is important for organisations to realise that our “customers” pay us always. They not only pay employee salaries but ensure the sustainability and survival of organisations. I cannot imagine organisations surviving without keeping customers happy. Organisations tend to become arrogant over a period of time when their brand value increases and they distance themselves from customers. Hence, it is important for organisations to revisit their customer orientation periodically.

11. Equity is as important as profits: It is critical for organisations to be in good financial health always. Making profits on a sustainable basis helps organisations to thrive and grow in a competitive market place. However, it is important to realise that maintaining internal and external equity for all its stakeholders is equally important. Organisations have to ensure that equity is a value while dealing with customer issues, supplier problems or employee salaries. This will ensure its survival and growth.

12. Ethics has always to be a way of life: Shortcuts may yield quick results. This may end up in higher profits too. However, if organisations do not make “ethics” as their core value in all their business operations, they may not survive in the long run. History will always teach us that ethical organisations only can survive and grow in the long term.

As in the photo above, organisations also have equal responsibility to make the world a beautiful place like this exotic flower in the garden.

While the above 12 may not be the only priorities to focus on and may not be equally relevant to all organisations, they could be considered as important foundations for a sustainable organisation of tomorrow.

S Ramesh Shankar

15th Dec 2022

 

 

 

 

Life, wife and strife…

If you are married, you are lucky and if you aren’t you are not unlucky. Sabka time aayega( everybody’s time will come). I have been married for 37 years and have enjoyed every moment of married life so far.

If you have a wife, you will have strife and that is life. Life without strife with wife is like food without spices. The best of Indian food will be tasteless if you don’t add spices. Similarly, if you have don’t have conflicts with your spouse, then life is not fun.

Marriage is a social institution where two partners meet each other to lead life together. Sometimes we know each other even before marriage and at other times we discover each other only after marriage. Whether it is love marriage or arranged marriage, life is fun when we are open to each other and are willing to fight with each other only to sit down and resolve our differences through dialogue.

Conflict is an integral part of married life. However, one of the two partners has to accept that if we are magnanimous, then any dispute between us can be resolved through dialogue. This may be easier said than done. Listening and willing to let go of our egos can resolve any misunderstanding between us.

We need not agree to each other at all times to be happy. We need to learn to respect each other’s differences as much as we celebrate our similarities. Learning to respect differences is the art of successful partnership.

In life, you meet people who may not agree with you. But you love the way they disagree with you. Even in parliament when an opposition leader bitterly criticises the government of the day and if the treasury benches stand up to appreciate the way the criticism is delivered we realise that differences can be encouraged and respected.

Similarly, in life we may like something which our spouse may not and vice versa. So what. We can learn to live together appreciating each other’s differences. I love driving my car for long trips and my wife does not. Both of us have learnt to enjoy the journey together. Neither I crib about driving nor my wife cribs about being driven around.

There may be days we may not even talk to each other. Sometimes silence can be the best language to use to resolve differences. Most of us may not realise that listening is more difficult than speaking. Many of us prefer to speak rather than listen. The day we learn to listen, we may be able to resolve any dispute with anyone.

If anyone thinks marriage is a bed of roses, they may be mistaken. Is it a road full of thorns – no it isn’t. It is mix of both. There will be some days where you will be flying high together in the sky. There will be others when you will regret coming together. But the success lies in managing both in such way that you make other a winner. Marriage is a conjunction of mutual partnership with mutual respect.

Lets learn to live together always.

S Ramesh Shankar

21st February 2021

Be imperfectly perfect…

One of the leading brands of cotton dresses in india caution customers when they buy it that there would be imperfections in their product and that is the way it happens in hand woven items. Similarly I live in a green gated community. When I had once raised some imperfections in my house design, my architect reminded me that imperfection is the beauty of nature.

Nature teaches us to adapt and enjoy life as it is and not as the way we want it to be. If you drive down a forest and watch the trees on both sides, they look green and pretty. But no two trees look alike although they have may have been sown at the same time and may be by the same person.

Life is no different. It evolves for each of us the way we may least expect. There are two things in life, which makes living difficult. The first is our innate tendency to compare and the other is to have unrealistic expectations of ourselves and of others.

Today I thought it may be worth while to explore as to how to live life the imperfect way. If nature can evolve this way, be imperfect and still all of us enjoy it, why not we live similarly. How do we learn to live life imperfectly, perfect ?

Many of us tend to spend our entire life looking for perfection. Searching for imperfections and attempting to make them perfect becomes our mission in life. In this process, we forget to live and enjoy life every day.

One of my friends is a perfect man. He graduated from a prestigious engineering college and completed his post graduation from one of the best business schools in our country. He has had a good career and has an enviable family with a smart spouse and a daughter who is also studying a leading medical school.

Everyone around would think this person would be living a perfect live. However, what I have seen and heard is otherwise. He is still searching for perfection in his life. He wants everything to be perfect in life and thereby a slight imperfection makes him yell at everyone around him. Now, I realise that how difficult it is for us to live with imperfections. The day we accept life as a mixed bag, we may enjoy it more than we are doing today.

In this process, what they do not realise is that neither do they enjoy life, nor allow others around them to enjoy. Most people do not like to interact with them since they are obsessed and are not willing to accept anyone with even minor faults.. Ultimately, they lead lonely lives.

While there may be nothing wrong in aiming for perfection in everything we do every day, if we spend our whole life in search of that elusive perfection, we may realise some day that it never existed and that may be too late to enjoy life.

So, one learning and insight today for me is to live life imperfectly perfect. While we may aim to do our best in everything we do, we need to accept that neither we nor others around us are perfect in every way. The day we realise this basic theorem of life, life may be fun and different for us.

As in the photo above this flower may not be symmetrical but its beauty lies in its asymmetry.

Let us learn to live life the way it evolves every day and learn to enjoy it that way.

S Ramesh Shankar

21st February 2021

Ideas for a “Sustainable future”

Dear friend,

At the outset, let me wish you and your near and dear ones a happy, healthy and prosperous new year. 

I have always wondered what could be my new year resolution every year. This year I thought I could think of 12 practical ideas to live sustainably every day. I am trying my best to practise them in my life. These are not difficult ones to follow but does require discipline and intent

1. Have a bath with one bucket of water: I was used to having my bath in a shower everyday and enjoyed doing it. I did not realise that I was wasting four to five buckets of water everyday for a bath till a friend told me so. I then decided to forget the shower and use a bucket of water to have my bath every day. This way I am not only able to conserve water for the future generations but feel less guilty since there are millions around the world who do not get enough water even to drink and cook. I do use the shower occasionally when I am travelling but it is worth trying.

2. Dont honk while driving your car or scooter: I was quite used to blowing the horn liberally in my car and scooter since the time I started driving almost four decades back. However about ten years back I attended a programme on defensive driving at Panchgani and learnt that driving without honking is possible and it further makes you drive more safely. I have since been practising the same except in emergencies. It is a feasible idea and worth trying.

3. Switch off all lights and fans, which are unnecessary: We are lucky to have 24 x 7 power supply in our homes today. However there are millions around the world who are not as privileged as we are. Further, if we conserve power it is power saved and may be useful for those who do not get it from the grid especially in rural areas. It is a simple idea to switch off lights, fans and all appliances when not needed. This way we can conserve energy for others.

4. Take the public transport atleast once in a way: We all  aspire to drive our own car or bike to work or at leisure and it is fun to do so.  However, apart from consuming precious fossil fuel, we also pollute the environment and increase our carbon footprint. It may be a good idea to take a bus or metro or train once in a while. This way we can contribute to promoting a cleaner environment for our kids.

5. Walk instead of driving to the shop nearby: We have the habit of taking our scooter or car even to places near our home or work for small errands. It may be helpful to walk instead of taking our bike or car. This way we not only make the environment greener but also improve our fitness. Our lifestyle today does not give us enough time or motivation to exercise every day. This can even be supplemented by taking the stairs instead of the lift at work and at home.

6. Use solar power to generate the power you need: Our electrical energy needs are increasing by the day. We are increasingly using multiple appliances for our lives. So, it may be worthwhile to generate enough power for our daily consumption. Roof top power through solar is an easy option to install and maintain. This way you can produce enough power through solar energy for your daily needs and save fossil fuels for the future generations.

7. Recycle organic waste and make compost: It is possible to collect and recycle organic waste in our homes through a simple and sustainable process of composting. It is possible today not only in independent homes but also in flats and apartments with simple to use bins and thereby save the environment of avoidable garbage all around us.

8. Do not waste food while you eat even at home: We are lucky to get a full meal three times a day. We have our breakfast, lunch and dinner without fail. However, we sometimes tend to waste a lot of food at home and more so when we eat outside. If we remember that there are millions of people especially children going hungry around the world every single day, we may avoid wasting food. All the food we waste can feed many hungry people around the world. It may be worthwhile to promise to oneself not to waste food from today and share it with others if it is surplus for you and your family needs.

9. Plant one sapling around you and take care of it: Many of us are not privileged to live in our own home even today. Even those who live in our own homes do not live in independent homes and have a garden to plant a tree. But it may still be worthwhile to plant a tree at home , work or in a public place or park and take care of it. Every tree we plant helps us clean the air and protect the environment for our future.

10. Donate one old set of clothes for every new one you buy: All of us love to go shopping. I have been no exception. However, over the last few years I learnt an idea of donating at least one set of clothes for every new one I buy for myself or my spouse. In the beginning, it was tough as all of us are very possessive of all that we have but as I grew up I realised that it may be a good idea to share my possessions with others, who are not as privileged as I am.

11. Never throw garbage around: We are in a consumption world today. We consume a lot of packaged food and most of the stuff we buy are in packaged form. We generally tend to use the things or consume the food and throw away the garbage in form of plastic or other materials. It may be a worthwhile to minimise throwing garbage around and recycle whatever is possible. If we are able to help segregate garbage in a scientific way, it may help us save the planet.

12. Carry a cloth bag for shopping : Shopping is not only a habit but a contagious one for many of us. We tend go around shopping even when there is no specific need to do so. Further, we dispose all the plastic carry bags all around us and pollute the environment. It may be nice if we carry a cloth bag whenever we go out for shopping. This way we can avoid plastic bags and save the environment too.

Let our lives bloom like this colourful flower( as in the photo above) in the new year.

I would recommend that each one of us can try practising one new idea every month. We may sometimes fail but that is ok as long as our intent is to learn from our own failures. Let us together create a sustainable future for our kids.

S Ramesh Shankar

3rd Dec 2022

Forgetfulness…

I have always wondered as to why people are forgetful. Some are forgetful from childhood and others like me have become forgetful as I grew older. Some creative people are considered forgetful. I am not sure as to what makes people forgetful.

My spouse has been forgetful for quite some years now. So, this defies the logic that forgetfulness is linked to one growing older. I have seen my college professor being very forgetful. He was a genius but not very creative. So the link between creativity and forgetfulness is also not always established.

My grandson who is ten years old is very creative but not at all forgetful. So all our theories on “forgetfulness” has to be forgotten. We need to believe that anyone and everyone can be forgetful and nothing wrong being so.

I wonder why we are forgetful. Some of us genuinely forget while some others fake forgetfulness. Either way forgetfulness embarrasses us more than anything else. We forget to brush our teeth before our morning coffee. We may forget our bath before going to work or forget our breakfast before leaving home.

We may forget to drop our kids to school and put our family in distress. We may forget to keep our timelines at work or commitments to other stakeholders. Every way we learn from these incidents every day. However, some of us learn and change while others continue to forget the same way.

Many of us may remember that we forgot to do our home work in school. Most of us would have faked this excuse to our teachers and would have gotten away a few times. But life does teach us that that the more we fake to others the more we betray ourselves.

We can expect from others what we deliver. If we forget on our commitments to family, friends, suppliers or customers, we may realise sooner than later that they may do the same to us in return. Every thing which goes around, comes around in life.

All of us may have used the “forgetfulness” card at home, school or the work place some time or the other. It is fine to try those pranks and learn from it. However, if we make this prank a habit, we tend to lose more than others in our lives.

I personally feel that there is nothing wrong in being forgetful as long as we don’t fake it. It is human to forget things and there are many ways to remind us as to why we forget things in life.

The earlier we realise this basic tenet of life, the easier life becomes for us. If we don’t we can continue to be knowingly forgetful and be ready for others in our lives to be as forgetful as us or even more.

Let us remember not to deliberately forget from today and if we do, we lose in life more than others. If we forget unknowingly, it is human and anyone will forgive us for that.

Let us forget to forget, knowingly from today.

S Ramesh Shankar

Management lessons from our cricket victory in Australia

I am a fan of cricket but do not claim much knowledge about the game . I have been in the corporate world for almost four decades and believe that we have lessons to learn from any sport for us. I was fortunate to witness on TV this historic victory in Brisbane, where India defeated Australia after more than three decades on this ground.

I have tried to summarise the lessons organisations and individuals can learn from this fabulous victory. This can enable ordinary individuals like us and organisations to turnaround from any crisis situation.

1. Failure can teach you more than success: After India lost to Australia in Adelaide and were bundled out for 36, many critics had written the team off. This happens to us in real life too. A big failure can lead many of our well wishers to lose faith in our abilities. It may also lead to demoralisation. This incident reinforces that failure can teach you more lessons than success. The lowest score by any Indian team in an innings was enough to wake them up and resolve to look forward and excel in the next three tests.

2. Leaders lead from the front: After our captain returned to India due to personal reasons, we were led by a young unassuming leader. He not only led from the front by hitting a century in the next test but also gave space and encouragement to his team members to give in their best to the team.

3. Every crisis can bring out the best in you: This humiliating defeat in Adelaide was a great wake up call for all the team members. They literally rose from the ashes and conquered. The resolve to win and give their best was seen in every movement of the players. Every individual was not only giving his best but also was enabling each other to excel.

4. Team work produces greater results then individual brilliance: While every team has individual players who are excellent, it is established through this win that team work provides better results than individual brilliance. A leader needs to work like a conductor in a symphony orchestra so that he is able to get the best out of every team member.

5. Focus and commitment enables you to get over adversaries: We had some players being abused racially. This is not only deplorable but unacceptable. However, these players not only gave their best but responded to the abuses by speaking through their ball and the bat rather than abusing back to the irresponsible spectators.

6. Nobody is indispensable in any organisation: There were only two or three players who played all the four test matches. This happened more by default due to injuries rather than by design. This however re-established the fact the nobody is indispensable in any organisation leave alone a cricket team.

7. Merit alone leads you to success: While many people still believe that success eludes those who do not have resources or necessary connections in life. At least four players in this team, who hail from humble backgrounds have proved that merit alone determines your success in life. Hard work can take you wherever you want to reach in life.

8. Resources are only means to an end and not an end in itself: The limited resources of the some of the players in the team before they played for the country did not deter them from excelling. This means that resources are only a means to an end and not an end in itself. We can succeed even with limited resources if we are determined to do so.

9. Critics can demoralise you but cannot prevent you from winning: While almost the whole cricketing world including the so called pundits had written the team off after the Adelaide loss, they proved that critics can only make you more determined to win. This is equally true in organisations if we take the criticism into our stride and learn from the mistakes of the past and move to on we can give our best in the future.

10. Humility gains more respect : A leader who leads from the front and is calm and humble gets you great results. This victory has proved that humility is still a great virtue for a leader to possess especially to tide over a crisis and lead the team to victory literally from the ashes.

I learnt a lot from this episode as an individual and I hope organisations, teams and individuals do the same as we reflect and rejoice on the Indian team’s historic victory down under.

As in the photo above, one can learn from every sport in the world even sitting outside the fence.

Failures can lead you to greater success if we convert a crisis into an opportunity.

S Ramesh Shankar

22nd Jan 2021

Life is all about give & take…

Life is wonderful when it is built on the foundation of gratitude. Someone said the left hand should not know what the right hand is giving. This may be an old adage but true and valid even today. The more we give, the more we get in life.

Some may say that I am saying this because I have got all that I wanted in life. It may be true today but I was born in a low middle class family and lived life as a child in a very frugal way. We were inculcated this value in our early life years and it has got ingrained in our blood. I have experienced the joy of giving all through my life.

I would further extend to say that life is first about giving and then about taking from others. Most of us are keen to to take everything we want from others but are reluctant to give. In my view, giving comes first and then only we have a moral right to take from others.

It is interesting to realise that most people are not interested in your money alone. The earlier we realise it, the better it would be for our overall growth. People are looking for your time, they are looking for sharing their joy and sorrow with you. People want moral support. Even simply said, they want a patient ear – someone who will listen to them.

As a child we realise very early in life that there are not many around us who are good listeners. Even in listening, let us give our patient ear to someone before we expect others to listen to us patiently. We are generous in talking but impatient in listening. The more we listen, the better we understand people and the more we learn.

As an adolescent, we are impatient and stubborn and want the world to move our way or the highway. This is time to realise that we need go give back more to the people around us who have made us what we are today.

Even as an adult, our expression of gratitude is limited till the period we think we have arrived in life. Once we reach a stage in our career and life where we feel that we have arrived, we tend to forget the people who enabled us to reach there. It is at this time we need to give more than we take. We need to to express our gratitude in both monetary and non monetary terms.

The most successful people in life are humble. They are always grounded and give back more than what they have got in life. It is this humility and gratitude which set them apart in society and we admire them forever.

Arrogance and selfishness will never help us succeed in life. Nobody likes to interact with someone who thinks he or she is beyond human imagination. All of us are human and we may err at times and that is fine. It is fine as long as we realise our mistakes and are willing to learn from them.

As in the photo above, we have to grateful for all that we have rather than worry about all that we don’t have.

Life is all about giving first before asking for anything. As I said repeatedly giving does not mean it may cost us money. Giving time, respect or listening to people does not cost anything but is valued immensely.

Let us learn to give before we take.

S Ramesh Shankar

9th December 2020

Life may not always be fair…

Is life always fair ? Many of us may feel differently. Some of us, who have not yet faced inequality or unfairness may vouch for life’s fairness, while others may feel otherwise. This is the beauty of life. It is not the same for everyone . Each of us live life through our own experiences.

If one loses a young colleague, friend or relative due to cancer, you are torn apart. Especially if that person has been a good human being, you feel life is not at all fair. Then you see you see a young and healthy colleague, who keeps fit, has no vices and dies of a heart attack – you are convinced on the unfairness of life.

On the other hand, when you read about a young student from a slum topping the civil services exams or representing the country in Olympics, you realise, how equitable life is and vouch for goodness and fairness of life.

Life is like that. While it is fair for some, it may appear unfair for others. Each of us go through our own share of fairness and unfairness. We feel good when life is fair to us and feel cheated when life treats us unfairly. This is human.

Now, the question before us as what we could do to ensure that life is always fair and equitable to all. I am a born optimist. I always have believed that life would be better tomorrow than today. Even while going through some of my toughest moments in life like losing my parents or missing a promotion in my career, I have never given up.

It may be easier to write about being an optimist than actually being one when you are tested by the challenges of life. However, I believe the true test of a human being is when we go through the hurdles of life. It is easier to drive on a freeway but tough to wade through slushy hill side during the monsoon. Life is no different. It is at these times, we need to calm down, think of all the good things that have happened to us in the past and express gratitude.

Gratitude helps us to be grounded. It strengthens our resolve to face all the unfairness of life. It gives us the courage to stand up even when we are knocked down multiples times in the bout of life. It is like the sportsperson who loses a match but resolves to work harder for the next learning from the failures of why he lost the previous match

While we go through a challenge in life, it may be difficult to be grateful or reflect on our mistakes. But, as soon as we are able to pick up ourselves from the doom and get up and walk again, that is the time to sit down and reflect. It is the time to express our gratitude and put in our best foot forward.

I have always believed that hard work pays for itself. Sometimes, we may not be able to correlate our efforts and the concomitant rewards which we may be expecting. But as long as we are sure of our efforts, results can never be far behind.

As in the photo above, you may sometimes wonder “Why it happens to me only ?”

We need to learn to be fair to ourselves even when life is most unfair to us. We need to learn to get up every time we fall down. We need to learn form our mistakes. Last but not he least, we need to bow in gratitude.

Life is fair or unfair, the way we perceive it.

Time to change our perception.

S Ramesh Shankar

15th Nov 2020

Substance over style…

I was watching a cricket match recently when one of the commentators made a very pertinent comment. He said he liked one of the young and aspiring cricketers of India for his style. But, it is time that he shows “ Substance over style”. This set me thinking.

Many of us spend our life time trying to sharpen our styles. We forget the fact that Substance is more important than Style in everything in life. While style make get you temporary accolades in a particular match when you score well but if you do have substance and are not consistent then you may fade faster than you could imagine.

This point is equally true in every aspect of life. We tend to focus on the outer behaviour and forget the inner one. We tend to be outwardly well behaved without a human heart. What is the use of being the best dressed man in the office if we end up being the worst behaved manager at the workplace.

While dressing for the occasion may be important but dealing with people humanly is more important than our dress. We may never remember the best dressed persons we have met in our lives. But, we will always remember the people, who made us feel special on all occasions.

It is like being a great orator in a debate. While our diction and style of delivery can get us admirers, we will be remembered more for the content and quality of our debate than the style of delivery. This does not mean style is not significant. What is being emphasised is that substance should always prevail over style. If we have substance and deliver in style that could be the best option before us.

Even when we listen to speeches of great parliamentarians in India or abroad, we look for substance over style. While a great orator with an eloquent command over the language impresses us in the moment, it is the content of her delivery, which lingers in our thoughts forever.

I remember one of my college professors who had great substance and no style. He was grounded, simple and down to earth. He did not have a sense of dressing too. But all of us as students used to admire his content and even nicknamed him as a walking encyclopaedia in college. He was knowledgable , modest and had quest for learning and sharing with others. This proved that substance always prevailed over style.

Another important learning for me is that people with substance may not necessarily need to focus on style. Whatever style they adopt, their substance overflows and takes care of any deficiencies in style. However, it cannot be the other way around. If we do not have substance, style cannot compensate for it.

As in the photo above, while style is good, substance over style is also critical.

It is time to lay the foundations of substance before we mould our style in life. We need to focus on substance first and style next and not the other way around.

If substance is there, style will always follow.

What do you think ?

S Ramesh Shankar

9th November 2020