Tag Archives: OB

How to Treat Others – 5 Lessons from Unknown Authors

25 Jan

How to Treat Others

How to Treat Others – 5 Important Lessons

1. First Important Lesson – “Know The Cleaning Lady”

During my second month of college, our professor gave us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions, until I read the last one: “What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?”

Surely this was some kind of joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark-haired and in her 50s, but how would I know her name? I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank. Just before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our quiz grade.

“Absolutely,” said the professor. “In your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say “hello.”

I’ve never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her name was Dorothy.

2. Second Important Lesson – “Pickup In The Rain”

One night, at 11:30 p.m., an older African American woman was standing on the side of an Alabama highway trying to endure a lashing rainstorm. Her car had broken down and she desperately needed a ride. Soaking wet, she decided to flag down the next car.

A young white man stopped to help her, generally unheard of in those conflict-filled 1960s. The man took her to safety, helped her get assistance and put her into a taxicab.

She seemed to be in a big hurry, but wrote down his address and thanked him. Seven days went by and a knock came on the man’s door. To his surprise, a giant console color TV was delivered to his home.

A special note was attached. It read: “Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway the other night. The rain drenched not only my clothes, but also my spirits. Then you came along. Because of you, I was able to make it to my dying husband’s bedside just before he passed away. God bless you for helping me and unselfishly serving others.”

Sincerely, Mrs. Nat King Cole.

3. Third Important Lesson – “Remember Those Who Serve”

In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less, a 10 year-old boy entered a hotel coffee shop and sat at a table. A waitress put a glass of water in front of him. “How much is an ice cream sundae?” he asked. “50¢,” replied the waitress.

The little boy pulled his hand out of his pocket and studied the coins in it.

“Well, how much is a plain dish of ice cream?” he inquired. By now more people were waiting for a table and the waitress was growing impatient. “35¢!” she brusquely replied.

The little boy again counted his coins. “I’ll have the plain ice cream,” he said. The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on the table and walked away. The boy finished the ice cream, paid the cashier and left.

When the waitress came back, she began to cry as she wiped down the table. There, placed neatly beside the empty dish, were two nickels and five pennies. You see, he couldn’t have the sundae, because he had to have enough left to leave her a tip.

4. Fourth Important Lesson – “The Obstacles In Our Path”

In ancient times, a King had a boulder placed on a roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the king’s wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the King for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the stone out of the way.

Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables. Upon approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded. After the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the King indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway. The peasant learned what many of us never understand – “Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve our condition.”

5. Fifth Important Lesson – “Giving When It Counts”

Many years ago, when I worked as a volunteer at a hospital, I got to know a little girl named Liz who was suffering from a rare and serious disease. Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her 5-year-old brother, who had miraculously survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness. The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the little boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister. I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, “Yes, I’ll do it if it will save her.”

As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing the color returning to her cheeks. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded. He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, “Will I start to die right away?”.

Being young, the little boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was going to have to give his sister all of his blood in order to save her.


Pinal Mehta

HR CaseStudy:- When Grapevines are Good (Gossip’s @ Workplaces)

3 Dec

Gossip, just like social media, is an exchange of information between two or more people typically about a third, absent party. Managers may view their lack of control in such a democratic environment as a threat. Instead, they should look at the positive powers of gossip as a tool to diagnose or influence workforce issues.
Call it whatever you like, the grapevine, water cooler, gossip or the rumor mill. Conversations among co-workers happen. As human beings, we are social creatures who crave community, engagement and interaction.
Whether it’s talking shop about the boss, layoff rumors after a less-than-satisfying quarterly earnings report or gossip about Susie in Accounting and her supposed office extra-curriculars, conversations among co-workers are a guarantee.
Management has battled with gossip and the grapevine since the beginning of time. Supervisors are quick to lay blame to wildfire rumors, half truths and innuendos at the office as being detrimental to workplace productivity and undermining management authority. However, a recent study by two doctoral candidates at the University of Kentucky sheds some light on the positive power of gossip in the workplace.
Some Points to Ponder:
1. Gossip improves an employee’s social understanding of his or her environment.
This concept is the basis of cultural anthropology and the concept of micro-cultures. Workplace cultures are no different.
2. Gossip is natural.
According to the University of Kentucky study, 96 percent of employees admit to engaging in gossip at work.
3. It’s not all negative.
Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of gossip was an even blend of both positive and negative. Only 7 percent of gossip was largely negative.
4. Negative gossip
Negative gossip is a symptom of a larger organizational problem.
Just like a fever or runny nose alerts an individual to an infection, negative gossip is no different.
5. Perception is Reality.
Prior to the written word, the grapevine was a form of historical storytelling and news distribution. Sometimes, the spoken word is more reliable than the written word in the workplace. Visit any break room or smoking section as a covert HR operation and you’ll see exactly what I mean.
Just as social media is about engagement and influence outside of a brand’s scope of control, so, too, is the workplace grapevine outside of a manager’s control. Gossip, just like social media, is an exchange of information between two or more people typically about a third, absent party.
And managers view their lack of control and that democratic environment as a threat, instead of a tool or channel in which to diagnose or influence a situation or scenario. There is no silver bullet to managing gossip in the workplace or via the Internet. One size does not fit all, but here is some food for thought:
1. Conversations require at least two people.
Managers should be talking to their teams just as companies should be talking to their customers. After all, employees are our biggest asset and advocate for our companies and brands.
2. Don’t bribe or threaten the workforce.
Just as in branding, you must be authentic. People are smart, cynical and suspicious. Have conversations, mean what you say and keep your promises.
3. Don’t be afraid of the negative.
Hearing negative feedback about our style as a manager is hard, but if we fail to listen to our audience (our consumers), we risk feeding the best.
With the Internet, nothing is secure. Your team is not only gossiping at work but also on social-media platforms and forums, not just Facebook. Glassdoor.com and forums on Indeed.com are common sites where employees go to let off steam squarely within the public eye and with open access.
4. Survey the troops.
If you don’t already, facilitate an employee-engagement survey. Use tools such as exit interviews and other employee surveys for feedback. It doesn’t have to cost anything; they can be created for free by using online tools such as Survey Monkey.
For thousands of years, the workplace grapevine has been a social and cultural case study in action. Rumor mills, shared assumptions and opinions have long been a part of what makes our place of work interesting, enjoyable, intolerable or entertaining.
Social-media experts are quick to segment the social audience when working on marketing or public-relations campaigns. Managers and human resource professionals should do the same.
In Groundswell, authors Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff identify six groups who can be found in social media. While these profiles were created for social-media purposes, I believe they can be used in a workplace context.
The profiles can help identify the different types of workplace influencers and their involvement in what makes the community flow and how thoughts and ideas are influenced.
a) Creators.
These individuals are extremely socially active and are enthusiastic about their hobbies, passions, dislikes or love of a product, brand, company or service.
They are connected and have an established and strong community, and are seen as an authority because of their extensive research and ability to vet information to others.
b) Critics.
These individuals are extremely vocal and use either online or word-of-mouth to rate and critique products and services.
These individuals can be your best allies, especially if you have a great customer-service department, stellar management team or new program you are rolling out to the staff. Don’t be misled by word “critic” as having a negative connotation. These team members can be an evangelist for your organization and culture.
c) Collectors.
These individuals have a great deal of influence and can generate a great deal of chatter in a short amount of time because of their extensive network and passion for sharing information.
These team members focus on collecting information and content for sharing with other members of their active community.
d) Joiners.
These individuals want to feel like they belong to something. If online, they are very active on community sites like Facebook and are extremely engaged in places that involve a sense of community such as churches and professional organizations.
Their ability to connect with many individuals and persons is a draw for team members. They often join for the sake of joining — to belong.
e) Spectators.
These individuals love to sit back, watch and enjoy taking in the environment and situation to soak up all information.
Online, these individuals are focused on using ratings and reviews to draw conclusions. Don’t be surprised if they use these same methods of surveying and gathering data when engaging and influencing your organization.
f) Inactives.
These are those individuals who are present and listening but not participating and engaging. They have one ear to the wall but have not made an effort to actively participate within the organization or culture. Just as they would do online.
[About the Author: Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, is an author, speaker and consultant. She is a leader in the HR social-media community and her book, Tweet This! Twitter for Business, was released in February. Her company, Xceptional HR provides businesses with social-media and recruitment strategies, and human resources consulting.]

HR Stories – A valuable lesson in life

3 Dec

A giant ship engine failed. The ship’s owners tried one expert after another, but none of them could figure but how to fix the engine.

Then they brought in an old man who had been fixing ships since he was a young. He carried a large bag of tools with him, and when he arrived, he immediately went to work. He inspected the engine very carefully, top to bottom.

Two of the ship’s owners were there, watching this man, hoping he would know what to do. After looking things over, the old man reached into his bag and pulled out a small hammer. He gently tapped something. Instantly, the engine lurched into life. He carefully put his hammer away. The engine was fixed!

A week later, the owners received a bill from the old man for Rupees ten thousand .

“What?!” the owners exclaimed. “He hardly did anything!”

So they wrote the old man a note saying, “Please send us an itemized bill.”

The man sent a bill that read:

Tapping with a hammer…… ……… ……. Rs. 2.00

Knowing where to tap………. ……… …… Rs. 9, 998.00

“Effort is important, but knowing where to make an effort makes all the difference!”


Pinal Mehta

Bill Smith – HR Case Study

10 Oct

‘Cobra’ Ltd;

‘Cobra’ Ltd is one of the fastest growing end to end IT services firms worldwide, incorporated at US, serving to long list of fortune 500 clients. One of its units established at Asia is engaged in Recruitment Process Outsourcing.

Bill Smith;

Bill Smith, MBA (HR), is recruited through campus placement clearing 4 rounds of interviews by Yen who is one of the technical head working in the same company for over 5 years. As such Bill doesn’t have any sort of base of technology since he is a commerce graduate. However he had quite a good experience of US mortgage and telecom (outsourcing) as he has worked for another call center in the past.

Being an HR professional Bill made no blunder during interview and made himself crystal clear about his non technical background and put his doubt whether he would be fit for the job or not. Yen motivated him by saying that he is highly experienced and has empowered a lot of non technical students.

Bill’s Team Members;

Finally Bill joins ‘Cobra’ even though he is yet to complete his degree 2 months later. Here he got highly cooperative batch mates – Mr. Paul, Miss Sophia, Mrs. Amro, and Mr. Alex. Except Bill, all are from IT background and each of them consistently motivates Bill and supports him to understand all the technologies. Bill is impressed with their behavior since even though there is a competitive atmosphere each of they are behaving like family members.

Paul is a sporty boy; succeeds in getting attention of anyone. Whole group enjoys his company as he possesses great sense of humor. Mrs. Amro is most experienced lady amongst the group. She is highly caring, empathetic and friendly. Sophia is very friendly and cheerful girl. However she hardly cares for others time, feelings or any promises made as she always loves to stay lost away in her own world with her own dreams. However she keeps the atmosphere live all the time.

Induction & Orientation;

On the first day of training all the members are informed that they are in probation of 40 days training program. At the end of which the company will decide as to which candidate would be hired finally.

First week training is taken by amazing trainer Mr. Bonanza, in which all knew each other and became the best friends.

Training by Nancy;

Second week onwards the team is handed over to another trainer Nancy. She has been serving the company since so long, and has been one of the best recruiter the company had ever seen. She is very smart, polite and focused mentor with friendly nature.

Nancy sends daily report to Yen as to performance of each trainee. The whole group passes through various technical and theoretical exams. Even though having poor technical command Bill succeeds in maintaining score of average 70 %, slightly at par with his team at around 75 to 80% However Nancy never gives any clear indication as to her satisfaction level from the performance of Bill, instead she keeps on instructing Bill to score more. She always notices the hard work, sincerity, ambition, and loyalty shown by Bill. However she never communicates any of these to Bill formally in the presence of any superior authority.

Yen and Bill;

Yen has hardly any interaction with Bill since the day he joined except for once or twice. He interacts only on weekend to give review upon weekly tests. On the first review he warns Bill saying that he speaks fast English. US citizens won’t understand it. Bill is little shocked as he never got such a compliment at his last job where he interacted with a lot of US citizens. However he starts working on the same constructively.

Bill’s improvement;

Within a short time he starts working on live calls to recruit IT people for various clients. He is found to be very smooth in calling. He is so comfortable in talking that discussion starts in a very formal way for a job however ends in a long lasting professional relationship. It would not be exaggerated to say that if any candidate speaks with him for more that 10 minutes s/he becomes a big fan. Bill keeps in touch by e-mail with all the successful candidates who are in process of selection. Within 2 weeks he closes around 15 candidates out of which 11 are US citizens. Bill feels satisfaction on his improvement. Moreover he starts grasping the technological parts rapidly.

Yen’s review on Bill’s performance;

On the month ending Saturday Nancy went on leave. Yen calls up Bill and agenda of meeting is to communicate following points –

  1. Yen is not at all satisfied with his performance, neither at calling part nor with technology part. i.e. ‘Communication & Technology’ are the grounds on which Yen wants to terminate him from job.

(Bill is confused as Yen had a last interaction with him when he gave him first warning, 20 days before. Moreover, there was not a single test on technology part conducted yet and still Yen directly came on negative conclusion without consulting Nancy even.)

  1. The current profile would not give him any long term benefit as the outsourced recruiting can’t help. (as much as work experience for the domestic recruitment can)

  1. Showing the picture of future where other employees with technical background would earn far better incentives where as Bill would be struggling just for survival, staying underperformer all the time.

  1. To suggest him to go for such a job that supports his qualification and can be helpful to his career few years down the line

  1. In a nut shell Bill is just wasting his time at this company.

Bill is frustrated on coming out of meeting. He is convinced with all the points except the first one of poor performance. However he doesn’t discuss anything about it with his lovely team. He feels like stereotyping attitude of Yen towards him. However Bill puts a strong wish to join the Corporate HR team of ‘Cobra’ which is engaged in domestic recruitment if he isn’t fit for the current profile since he has specialized in HR and possesses sound knowledge of that field. Yen consolidates for the same if there’s any opening there. They decided to meet on Monday again.

Last e-mails Bill sends at the end of Saturday;

Bill is matured enough to visualize that it is his almost last day at ‘Cobra’. He writes nice e-mails to each trainer he came across during a month wishing thanks and about his hearty feelings for ‘Cobra’. He also wishes a warm thanks to Yen in spite of little disappointment with his decision. He wishes thanks for all the cooperation, love and consistent motivation throughout the month given by his charming team members who made a unique place in Bill’s heart.

Nancy’s silence;

Nancy is the only close observer of team performance and always appreciated Bill for his die heart efforts for improved performance. She is the only person who is authorized to forward performance report to Yen. She has very friendly relations with each team member. She always takes personal care of Bill in any difficulties. On these grounds it can’t be predicted that Nancy might have given negative any negative feedback to Yen. In spite of all these facts Yen takes negative decision. So naturally, Nancy’s role becomes doubtful here. Meanwhile, on Sunday, Bill informs Nancy about Yen’s decision. However she just keeps quite and suggests for waiting until final decision.

During the Masters Bill came across many theories and case studies in HR about corporate politics, seniority, appraisal, hidden observations, investigation etc. all these things started striking suddenly when he started thinking of the role of Nancy in the whole play. Yet he isn’t ready to believe that Nancy could give any negative feedback about Bill.

Team’s reaction;

As such all team members are almost fresher, having their first job. None of them is able to understand what is happening and why when Bill suddenly declares that he would no more continue with them. All are surprised and shocked with the ground of poor performance on which Yen wanted to terminate him. Each team member is expecting something from Nancy as she is the only witness of all facts about Bill’s performance and other things.

Final Monday;

Finally on Monday Yen asks Bill to resign from job saying that there’s no vacancy at corporate HR team nor he is fit for the current profile. Bill requests him to give a little notice period so that he can search out for a new job. Yen replies in legal terms saying that in probation period there’s no notice period he can terminate anyone at anytime. He also suggests to speak badly about ‘Cobra’ if at new job the reason of leaving previous job is asked. It is totally unexpected and suddenly changed behavior. Just a little talk and Yen goes back to his work.

Bill’s reaction to Yen’s final decision;

Bill is wondering what has happened within a moment! It is the first job of his professional career and he is terminated on first month itself. He is frustrated because he is thrown out of company as a failure in spite of performing beyond expectations. He is not at all willing to leave his loveliest company in this way. He feels as if someone has taken away his dream from his sleep. All sleepless efforts for performance, sacrifice of study, opportunity cost of other jobs at campus, loyalty & sincerity, vision to rock up to top….. Everything goes in vain within a moment. He is highly satisfied with the company except the fact that he is being terminated on probably wrong grounds.

The Attitude of Bill while leaving the company;

However his institution inculcated sound corporate values during the professional course. He thinks that “Boss is Always Right”. If his employer is not satisfied it is of no value even if he puts 24 hours dedication for work. It’s not a matter of facts and figures but his ultimate goal is to give satisfactory return on investment to company which he somehow failed provide. Corporate doesn’t grow on the amount of efforts but on the ultimate results. In absence of win-win situation he isn’t willing to continue with the job. Instead of cursing for wrong decision of Yen he thinks that he gave right direction to his career. As finally he has to accept the fact he puts a resignation letter on the desk of Yen and prepares himself to start searching for a new firm like ‘Cobra’, a dream company.

Last wish of discussion with Nancy:

Lastly Bill wants to have a discussion with Nancy whose killing silence till the last moment is creating so many questions. He wants to express his whole hearted feelings for ‘Cobra’ (which has given him everything he expected as a dream organization) and a little doubt about his being terminated as well. He never wants to leave with a tag of failure. Even the reputation of his institution is at stake if he is terminated like this. However she is busy with her work and contact at this moment is not possible.

Last meeting with Ryan Smith;

Co incidentally while leaving for home Bill comes across Ryan Smith. Ryan welcomes him for open discussion about the matter. Here, Bill tries to communicate his true feelings for everything ‘Cobra’ gave to him and to justify his performance, a little criticism about Yen’s decision as well. Bill puts across the following major points to Ryan…

  • Being an HR professional Bill didn’t make any blunders during the recruitment interview taken by Yen as he very well understands that bluffing leads to failure when a candidate comes on actual work.
  • Bill clarified all his weak points well in advance including technical skills so as to decide whether he would be fit for the profile or not.
  • Bill just wanted to know at which decision Yen was wrong whether at a point of selection or at a point of rejection!
  • Yen gave motivating statement to join ‘Cobra’ saying that “the company provides extensive training subject to condition the candidate is ready to take up challenges and willing to work hard.” Bill feels that he has fulfilled his obligations well then also why Yen is not ready to give him time to prove himself.
  • All the positive feedback given by other trainers on his performance except Nancy’s silence along with scores of tests.
  • A sense of gratitude to company for providing such a great opportunity and the best people to work with.

This meeting proves to be the best one for Bill to come out of frustration. Ryan makes him realize that he is not at all failure, may be he isn’t fit for the current profile he is working upon. He adds that Yen is one of the senior most managers working with the company since so long so his decision would be true anyhow. However he offers for further training if Bill is so confident about his performance.

Since Bill is convinced with the reasons 2,3,4,5, and 6 except 1st given by Yen on Saturday meeting he refuses to continue with the profile. He wishes to work with Corporate HR team but even Ryan is helpless as there is no vacancy. Ryan also suggests him to work for core HR profile instead of RPO. (Recruitment Process Outsourcing) He suggests giving his reference at a new company and wishes all best luck for career.

Challenges for Bill on leaving ‘Cobra’;

  • Bill has lost all other job opportunities at campus during the stay at ‘Cobra’.
  • Only 45 days are left for final exams which are yet to be cleared for degree. Now whether to struggle for a new job staying in the same city or focus on study?
  • He already incurred heavy relocation cost. It’s now not easy to again go back and set up new house etc.
  • There’s a tag of failure on leaving the first job within first month which is a major hurdle in getting new job.
  • Family members have big issues with the company’s sudden firing decision.

Yen’s call back for Retention;

After an hour of leaving the work place Bill gets a call from Yen wishing great news that he wants to give him 2 more days to prove himself. But there’s nothing great for Bill now to continue with the same profile so he refuses to come back. Yen is shocked with the reply and becomes little upset. He starts speaking opposite about future, profile etc of whatever he conveyed on Saturday, but Bill has no trust on any statement given by Yen now. Finally they agree upon personal meeting along with Nancy within next 30 minutes. As Bill wanted to take feedback and answers of so many questions of whatever had happened from silent Nancy he agrees upon the discussion for retention.

Nancy Speaks out Finally;

This is the last professional meeting with Yen and Nancy. Yen states that he is really surprised when Nancy gave feedback after termination about Bill’s performance record and rate of improvement on Communication as well as Technical aspects. Nancy rated 7 out of 10 on Communication part. Bill has now no more questions with Nancy. She made her role clear there as per expectations. His curiosity comes to an end. He feels a great satisfaction as at least someone who truly knows all the facts has spoken out finally even though little late. Yen also tries to convince family members of Bill who are not at all agree to allow him to continue with the same profile. But Bill has lost faith on Yen and there are no hopes of further growth in the same profile as suggested by Yen. However Bill expresses his strong wish to continue with the dream company given a chance to work with Corporate HR team. The meeting ends with disagreement, yet on good terms.

Everything is lost except Long Lasting Relationship;

Bill respects whole heartedly for Nancy’s efforts and staying honest at all the time. As such there is no place of feelings and emotions at corporate world still Bill has quite a good affection with all the team members and his ideal trainer cum mentor Nancy. Even after termination they all meet frequently on holidays and have a feeling of team as a whole. Here’s the best thing ‘Cobra’ might have ever given to its any of the terminated employee.

The Story Doesn’t End Here;

The company and its HR need to do extensive research upon the following aspects…..

  • Is the top management taking notice of such issue or they’re just passes away like a usual hiring & firing case?
  • Which decision of Yen is correct for Bill – Selection, Rejection, or Retention?
  • Is Yen ready to take responsibility for any of his mistakes or still believes that he is right in all the decisions?
  • Why was Bill recruited if he had poor communication skills and no technical background? Should the company bring any intervention in its recruitment procedure?
  • Why was Bill asked to resign even before completing 40 days training program?
  • Usually existing employees start fearing for their job insecurity after such an issue. What are the HR practices at ‘Cobra’ to avoid it?
  • The major area concerned here is that even after being informed on Saturday why Nancy kept silence until Bill was finally asked for resignation on Monday? Is Yen a dominating manager? Is there an issue of Whistle Blowing for Nancy? Why Yen didn’t feel necessary to consult with Nancy before such a serious decision?
  • Why Bill didn’t choose to come back for the same profile even though Yen marked finally the improvement of his performance, ‘Cobra’ is a dream company for him, and he wishes to join corporate HR team? It’s said that “employees never leave their company they leave their Bosses”. Has this concept worked here?
  • Why there is a communication gap between Yen and Nancy even though Yen is the immediate supervisor of Nancy? Why did Yen not discuss with Nancy who was aware of in & out about the candidate before taking such a serious decision? Did he ever read any of the daily report submitted by Nancy about the performance of team?
  • A genuine employee had to leave his beloved company only due to communication gap between two managers. How constructive HR policies are to look after such issues?

Bill quotes negative words for ‘Cobra’;

“The company has set very high expectations for me. I would expect excellent work culture, best trainers, friendly collogues, opportunistic policies, and flat organizational structure just like ‘COBRA’ from next job throughout the career.”

– Pinal Mehta