Creating a safe working place for Employees

I read about the recent Julie Horvath issue which is out there on the internet, and thought that I might share some of my experiences on this topic.

In case if you are not familiar with the Julie Horvath issue, Google it, or simply head over to TechCrunch who gave Julie’s side of the story.

tl;dr – Julie was an employee at GitHub who quit after feeling threatened at work

GitHub have tried to clean things up with a sincere and apologetic reply to Julie. They have taken some prompt action and that’s what matters.

So what went wrong?

In the entire episode, Julie must have felt threatened at work. Imagine having to battle out on multiple fronts with multiple people … and apart from that handle work as well. The nausea an employee might feel with so much politicking going on is natural. Who would not quit?

One of the most basic requirements of an employee (keep this term in mind folks) implicitly wants, is to feel secure. Be it financially, physically and mentally. These are the very basic requirements, if these are threatened, then the employee is bound to quit. If I were to use Maslow’s hierarchy as a model, then these would be the hygiene factors.

In letting a non-employee (the founder’s wife) sit within the working premises next to Julie, the physical security was in question. The mental security was being questioned by the love lost colleague and the founder in question. Add to it the way the organization reacted with radio silence and hushed tones, the financial security was also put in question. The next move should have been obvious, perhaps the reaction of the organization might have been to incite this move. The GitHub blog update suggests other wise, but we will never know that shall we?

Personal Catharsis

The reason I chose to write about this matter, is because recently we had a similar situation at work. One of our earlier employees went through this insecurity … thanks to my behaviour. It took some time for me to reflect and talk to a few other founders to understand what drove this employee in question to leave … leave at such a short notice. Do I regret this, yes. Did we lose a good player, perhaps. Can this be avoided in the future, definitely.

It’s a lesson learned for me that employees are not to be treated as co-founders. You can cross certain boundaries with co-founders … those boundaries are a strict no-no with employees … even if these are the people who help you grow your organization.

Sometimes, the founder can go to extraneous lengths to retain employees … not because the organization cannot survive without them, but because of the achievements that individual can do if properly channelled. In doing so, lines are crossed … sometimes it helps in bonding the individual closer to the organization … almost like a trial by fire. Sometimes, it backfires … and even worse spreads like wildfire on social media.

In Julie’s own words, what the founder did was to retain her at the organization … however things escalated to such an extent that the very opposite happened. This is what would happen when you mix professional relationships with personal ones. In trying to build a personal relationship with your team, you sometimes cross the boundary. Most of the times it pays off.

So what should a founder do?

A start-up would always face this issue. In order to do greater things, the team has to work outside its zone of comfort … constantly. How then do you build this sense of security within the team?

One simple approach would be to not fraternize with the team. I have seen many a good start-up founders do that … and to good effect. Reduce the fraternization only during moments of celebration.

One of my clear learning from the past episode is work towards fostering a sense of security for the employees … so that means take all conflict discussions offline. Conflicts which endanger the sense of security should not be openly discussed.

What I am saying is to clearly have two separate levels of information parity. What are the things that you have tried at work and it has paid off?

PS – I don’t have all the answers, however I am learning as I journey on.

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Resume Gaffes

A couple of years back I had posted about some of the idiotic things that people write in their CVs. Lessons were not learnt it seems … till date we see thousands of such resumes with grammatical mistakes.

If you have a grammar nazi for an HR team (and yes, we do) … then your resume will not get shortlisted … here’s a list of #facepalms which we have seen over the months. Instead of just posting them here and making fun of these excerpts, I’ve decided to be more constructive and give feedback on how to avoid these errors

Using Long Motherhood Statements

Seeking position for an organization that will utilize my skills, talent and Management aptitude, so that I may propel it’s growth and development, while also contributing to my personal and professional fulfillment.

Looking for a position where talent, sense of responsibility, commitment and output of work is required for personal along with professional growth.

Stuff such as too many clauses, long generic statements are a complete turn-off. This is a matter of personal opinion, but I think putting such things in your CV is a waste of time. The only reason I would want to read these lines is to ridicule them. If you are applying for a job, then your objective should be just that … and no need to put that down on paper, since the reason you sent that paper across is to get a job.

Why beat around the bush, just directly get down to it … it will save the recruiter’s time and that is appreciated.

Grammatical Errors and Typos

Although I am a recent post graduate, my technical knowledge, my practical experience and eagerness to learn and be a part of  your organization will surely make an additional assistance.

I would like to express my interest in a position as HR Executive in your establishing organization.

When you are done framing your resume for the first time, be sure to get it reviewed by at least 2-3 different people. Try to look for a grammar nazi … between the lot of you, errors will come out. Make a note of these and be sure to correct them! Send the updated document across to everyone at the end of this exercise. You will be surprised with the improvement in your document.

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Financial Services: A sunrise sector

In any developing economy, the one thing that’s always on the rise is the GDP, the expenditures and yes, the expendable income available with an individual.

Over a period of time, the same individual realises that keeping money in the bank is the same as wasting that money away. This is due to the high inflation rates that developing economies have. With a saving interest rate of 5-6% and an inflation rate of 11%, the opportunity cost of keeping money in the bank is a whooping 8% (give or take a few basis points).

Soon, this individual will start looking at a portfolio of financial investments to get better returns on his savings. Depending upon the risk appetite, he will choose between vehicles such as Mutual Funds, Bonds, Commodities and more. These are Financial Services … a rising sector in all developing economies.

In fact, with a rising economy, you will find a host of international firms looking to set-up shop in that country. With international firms come top-paid jobs. In this case, jobs in the Financial Services sector. Careers in some of the top financial institutes of the world.

Needless to say that such specific and specialized knowledge work requires specialized people to find the right people for the task. Of course there are sites such as Monster, et al for your normal run of the mill jobs, but what about specialized portals for financial services?

I came across AP Executive, which does executive recruitment for some of the top financial institutes in the world. Recruitment is a big cost driver for many companies and most organizations have a clear cut recruitment policy. In the past 6 months or so, we have seen recruitment on the rise, even in developed nations. Sectoral growth leads to higher recruitment, better players, more competition and finally a better consumer experience.

After what happened nearly 4 years ago, it is great to see this growth in the past year or so. Put the right people behind the wheel and there will be success. Financial Services as a sector shows great promise and increasing dividends … but only if the right people are in the leadership positions.

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Focus

image Today, we received a query on our website from a 16 year old boy. It was about wanting more details about the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Program. I was absolutely stumped. This program is generally attempted by folks who are doing or have done their MBAs, or at least graduates. Of course, the CFA Institute has no qualms with an under-graduate talking the first exam, in fact the boy is completely eligible for giving the first level of the exam.

Now, go back 5-6 years (or in my case 15) … when you were in your 10th standard, did you have such clear aim in life?

I mean, its astounding.

I have nothing but respect for one so focused. When you know what you want, then getting it becomes easy. Kudos Kiddo! and God Bless!!

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CV Gaffes

We are hiring, and are screening resumes of different candidates for interviews. Some of the resumes that we came across are hilarious and I thought I might take the liberty of sharing it here (I am not disclosing the identity of the people, but if your CV does contain a line or two from these selected gems, then consider rewriting your resume!)

  • Seeking an environment to relish the constructive attitude and fulfill my appetite of success by facilitating the organization with my skills and abilities.
  • To use and enhance my educational as well as professional skills with dedications and commitment in the best possible way do as to acquire symmetric height for me and my organization.
  • To be an efficient part of a reputed organization and enhance my abilities while working to attain objectives of organization. I would like to work amongst Network of Skilled Professionals in a dynamic and highly demanding atmosphere.
  • Looking forward for a dynamic career in today’s challenging business environment Achieving organization objective as well as professional growth in an environment of co-operation of team spirit. Reach the top positioning my career and to attain the goal of life.
  • I want to have challenging career in growing organization, which gives opportunities to utilize the skills and contribute to rise up in the learning curve and which values professionalism, by demonstrating high energy levels, ethics and integrity.
  • To Pursue growth Oriented Career with a Progressive Company that provides scope to apply my knowledge & Skill which would also help me to Contribute my best to best Organization
  • To establish myself as a successful professional known for emerging victorious from challenging situations and completing given task thus helping company to new heights and fulfilling my dreams.

I do not understand why people keep career objectives in their resumes. Not only is it a waste of space, but also the recruiter does not glean anything (except maybe a chuckle or two) from it. Most of the objectives I have seen are bloated and filled with hot air – save the recruiter some trouble and directly cut to the chase.

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GoI and Careers

When talking with some colleagues at work, I realized that they are working on a supposedly ambitious project – to categorize all the possible jobs and opportunities for people in India. It struck me that this has already been done by the U.S. Labor department; and very well executed at that. In fact that site is often cited as the basis for a lot of research that goes into the space of work and careers.

This got me thinking, if Uncle Sam can do such an awesome job of documenting all the career spaces, then why can’t Mother India do the same? A few googles and some clicks saw me come to the Directorate General of Employment & Training, Ministry of Labour & Employment, Govt. of India website. It’s in a mess … I know. A usability nightmare and it takes someone with grit and determination to make sense out of the plethora of content strewn on the website. I was suddenly appreciating content rich sites in a whole new light.

I did not start this post with the intention of bashing the government’s websites, so I will not. I urge you to go through some of the sites that I have linked in the post if you are in the IES industry. The Central Institute for Research and Training in Employment Service (CIRTES), is one such initiative that needs to be commended. It’s not in the same structure and format as the U.S. Labor department, however it’s a start. The Government of Maharashtra also has a website for employment which is a similar model to Naukri, do check Rojgarwahini out.

All in all, my view that the Government of India is not doing anything to sort out Labour problems of the country has been shattered. It feels good to be wrong :-)

Good going India!!

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