Thursday, 9 June 2016

Questions or Answers

In a new turn of events, this is not Anupama Shenoy’s Facebook account as conveyed by her.
In yet another turn of events, the account is/was hacked as per the media who neither confirms / denies it. Probably plants it!? for the rest of the audience to have something to be intrigued about so there is still ongoing interest in this case!?

This case seemed interesting to me, and I started following it up. Because here is a person who stands up and revolts against injustice. Mining and sand mafia is on the rise in Karnataka, several lorries carrying loads and loads of sand hits Bangalore everyday. If you are around Hebbal, you can see them parked in the hours that they are not allowed to enter the city.

Why is this case interesting to me? Especially when I do not like following news (which is made news). As Anupama herself puts it ‘I am not the news, I want the people to be the news’. I don’t know if anyone else has said this before and clearly that the people be responsible in a society rather than follow someone who cooks news and serves it to us all.

Why is this case interesting to me? It is because as I stated above that here is a government worker who stood up against the malpractices and resigned from her job.
Why would someone resign from a job that they worked / worked hard / dreamed to get into? And sustained until… As is the case here, until discomfort.

Know this:
What is discomfort to you may not be discomfort to me.

Several of us working in the private sector too go through such discomforts several times despite the length of the career span. But it does not make breaking news when someone resigns because feel free to fill in any reason here.
Someone who is agitated with bad practices, turmoils, prejudices around them, and / or is affected by someone else’s troubles too, thinks of resigning at some or the other point.
For many middle class citizens in India, resigning is not easy. It takes courage to do so, so many just push through the days. Tolerates and waits and then takes the decision of moving out rather than quit without having another offer.
It is true that the waiting period is painful but rewarding when we finally break free, only to be caged in another setup. As long as we do not learn to work with dignity and with each and everyone around us, we are caught up in this vicious circle.

Many of us are in this vicious circle too, consider an example for this DISCOMFORT.
We are asked to estimate a task or perform a task in a certain manner and at times without letting us know the what / how / who / when / where / which of this manner.
So what do we do in this situation? Simple.
  • Ask for a template?
  • Follow the template?
  • Present the work in a way it requires to be templatized
  • Think it’s job well done, because we followed the template
  • And close the task

Now think there is another person ‘A’. Who
  • Asks for the template
  • Questions the template in order to understand the template better, to learn why certain tasks are done in certain manner though it has worked for ‘n’ people in ‘n’ situations in the past. Is it bad to question the template? Especially when ‘x’ has seen it working without fail?

Person ‘A’ thought of a scenario in which this template fails.
This person because he / she questioned something which is being followed by ‘n’ people for ‘n’ weeks/months/years is made an easy target.

I was once in such a situation, I questioned (why?) without simply following the template for every application that I tested. I posed the question to myself, not to the others. I needed to learn and understand why certain tasks are done in a certain manner. Is the template reusable in every scenario and for different applications built on different domains?

After questioning the template and finding answers, I proceeded to do the task, complete it and wrote a report which was self explanatory meaning it explained the what / how / who / when / where / which of the report and in the manner I had written it which was close to the template but not exactly according to everything in the template.
And then presented it.

I was asked why did you not follow the template which was given. I was also asked ‘do you think we are idiots’ this was absolutely uncalled for in a professional environment. And I did not think they were any less. I respect everyone irrespective of fill in the blanks and think everyone is knowledgeable. I believe I have something to learn from EVERYONE(and question the learning when I can).

I explained the self explanatory report and quoted the reason why templatizing is not a good idea for every scenario though it has worked earlier. I failed to follow the template or did I succeed in knowing that this template cannot be used in this scenario. This reminds of this saying by Thomas Edison.
Image source-

Let me explain this with an example:
Do you watch MasterChef?
There is a pressure test round where two contestants are given a recipe to follow and after an hour, the judges taste / test and they conclude who wins and who loses in this test.
Do you ever wonder why the two contestants did not cook the dish to taste the same, though they followed the recipe and used the same ingredients of same quality and had the same time to cook and had no extra powers but were being themselves(their unique selves!) working under pressure or with pleasure.

Why didn’t both the contestants win or lose?
Why do we script? A script needs to be followed? Yes? But followed without learning? Learning yes, but without knowing? You learn something and then you question it. Right? Or learn something and follow it because “you were told to follow” as it works / worked in a certain scenario?
Why do some of us question?
Because some of us wish to know more, or are curious.
Curiosity is a quality related to inquisitive thinking such as exploration, investigation, and learning, evident by observation in human and animal species.

Do you ever think that as an actor I can improvise the script / the act?
When do you feel that you can improvise the script / the act?
Answer for yourself.
Can we say this? Questions are Answers.

Why do some of us do not question?
Maybe some of us fear to question? Does this mean we are hindering ourselves from learning or knowing. What does knowing do to us?

This reminds me of this saying by Marie Curie.
Image source -

These discomforts do come and go, but learning needs to be continuous. Define the discomfort, what are the causes for this discomfort? These are our feelings, this is what defines us. Why don’t we have molds for human beings? Why are we asked to follow? And why do we follow? Why do some of us follow without questioning? Why do some of us follow by questioning? Why do some of us stand up for a cause? Does this make someone strong? While some others speak up on a different cause? Does this make someone weak? Are we biased? Or as Matt Barcomb puts it biased people = people. What makes us a leader? When are we equipped to lead?

This reminds me of this saying by Tom Peters.
Image source-

Kudos to you who question(not to be assumed for revolting or for a rebellion), several of us have the answers to certain questions ready because someone spoke up, someone questioned and someone answered without thinking that the question was directed to measure their intelligence but to know and learn in that particular situation.

Equip yourself to ask, to question, to know.
Love books? = The art of asking

Whom to ask, what and how? = The art of asking questions video by Harvard Business Review (74 second video).
More here.

Fear asking? Or are shy to ask?  = TED Talk 13:40 Ask and you shall receive.
Asking is not always about risking, untrusting, being brave or being fearful or being shy or making yourself vulnerable. ASK → CONNECT → RECEIVE
Don’t ask if you don’t NEED to.

Ask to clarify assumptions = The Art of Asking Questions

Yes, the three quotes used above by Thomas Alva Edison, Marie Curie and Tom Peters have inspired me. Why did they talk to me? I end with this question.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Beyond the Walls of Human Resourcing and Recruiting

What is the version of the application that you are currently using? Or If you are a tester, you may relate to this question: What is the difference between validation and verification?
This infamous question decides some of the interviewees fate.
Could this be because of one or more of these reasons:
The interviewer was asked the same question at some point in his/her interview.
It is listed as the top 10 questions for hiring a 'insert the role here'
Is it because the interviewer thought 'if the candidate cannot answer this then they are not skilled at what they do, should do or EVER DID'.
Or is it because there is lack of effort which goes into the preparation of hiring?

Are we doing it right or simply following the footsteps of someone without thinking if this is the decider question on which I gauge the interviewee.
Or should we be disheartened because we could not answer this question?

I have had the privilege of being interviewed and interviewing candidates and I ensure that I know this before I accept the responsibility of making the decision of hiring the candidate or not.
1) There is a well defined job description
2) Shortlisted candidate's CV reflects the skills required and the candidate is well aware of this job description and
3) I (or the interview panel which is chosen) am aware of the skills that are required to do justice to this responsibility.
Ensuring the above solves the problem to a greater extent. But there are also *other factors which hinder the recruiting process. And many fall prey to it, voluntarily.
*other factors
Think of any factor/s, CHECK if these factor/s is/are influenced by biases. And question. Despite the biases, am I doing justice to the decisions that I make? If yes, you are headed in the right direction.

James Bach enlightened me recently by sharing his wisdom on interviews "the interview is a weird social situation". And his accumulated knowledge as I gathered on interviews is brilliant.
The interviewee and the interviewer goes through tumults when they are faced in this social situation. Some personal emotions may/may not be at display. How do I put this person up / down to prove my worth? This is uncalled for, you interview the candidate for the role you are hiring them for. That's it. Displaying un-professionalism is a waste of valuable time and effort for all involved.

I have gathered below, a few do's and don'ts for the interviewer and the interviewee (from my experiences).
  • Display professionalism
  • Ask questions as much as relevant to the role
  • Ask questions that help you make a worthy decision
  • Be informed and make the involved comfortable
  • Ask for immediate feedback and share honest feedback despite any biases
  • Don't overwhelm the interviewee or the interviewer
  • Don't be distracted during the entire process. Be it be over the telephone/ in person/ online. A lot is at stake, don't lose it by losing focus
  • Don't let the feedback get diluted by discussing with others when it is not required. Make yourself being on the interview panel, COUNT. As much as you dilute, you are losing your will to decide and are handing over your responsibility to the other/s. Know that you are CAPABLE, and hence are asked to be on the panel

Know this
The hiring process, the questions, the relevance, the answers, the tools, the feedback - can be fallible.

Handling rejection / success
You may fret over it, but move on from there with the idea that you did what you could do in that situation and carry the learning that the whole process taught you.
Have new ideas to share with the HR, recruiter, interviewee, interviewer - DO SO.

As a thumb rule, handle success and rejection the same way. How does this sound?
If tried and implemented, this just sounds like music to the ears.

Knowing is the solution to the above stated problem.
This arena requires a lot of research and has a lot of scope for improvement!
  • What researches are being conducted thus far in understanding and improving education and training in this front?
  • How well trained is your recruiting agency / HR team?
  • Do you know a HR guru who has painstakingly taken it upon themselves to learn, search, research and share valuable results?
  • What courses are offered in universities? How worthy are they?
  • What are the available sources of knowledge?
  • What are the roles applicable and invented thus far for those in the field of hiring?
  • What are the skills that are required by the recruiter?
  • Is there any training/course/course material to equip the HR team better?
  • How are we growing as a team by acquiring new skills?
These are some of the questions that we need to ask as a leader.

I recall Madhu Kiran, Director-HRD Committee at LACFI who was the Lead of Training and Development while I was working with LG (my first step into the corporate world). An inspiration, a continuous learner, a learned person  who I look up to and who has done/doing research in this field.

We need more thinkers, learners than the mere 'employed ones' who look beyond what meets, the eyes, break those walls if need be to see and learn beyond the walls of human resourcing and recruiting and to "Make sense out of being Hired".
Image courtesy -
Most of all be genuine in your approach and be as professional and humane as possible. Capture the loopholes, the gaps in the process, the lessons learned and share it with the concerned so that they get to see your perspective and learn together to make HR better and valued.

Make this learning rich by providing your thoughts on the status of recruitment around you.