Category Archives: training

The anatomy of a Mistake

What is a mistake?

The Oxford online advanced learners dictionary defines the noun “Mistake” as “an action or an opinion that is not correct, or that produces a result that you did not want

Male hand holding wooden pencil and delete word "MISTAKE" on the white paper

So does making a mistake – intentionally or unintentionally make me a bad person?

Why do we spend so much time beating ourselves up for action(s) that were simply put – a result of a temporary lapse or lack of better judgment? I decline to use the phrase good judgment in favor of better judgment because I do strongly believe that we all are subject to our perception of our surrounding and our decisions are similarly subject to the holistic result of numerous factors that directly and indirectly influence our perception and thus the interpretation of facts which culminates in our decisions at any given time.

I have a rule about mistakes. Its ok to make many unique mistakes as they are simply a learning opportunity but it is not acceptable to make the same mistake repeatedly.

No mistake should be big enough to stop us from travelling the path toward our objective. I keep this rather generic to accommodate a variety of personal and professional objectives.

What is really important is to remember to get back up from a mistake and reassess and reload to jump back in action. Beating oneself up over a mistake is only unnecessary burden which will create lag in the future of our journey.

Learn to forgive yourself as the worst thing you can do is to keep blaming ourselves.

Mistakes
Learning

So go ahead and make mistakes, learn from them and make NEW ones.

Keep learning 🙂

A Dog in Sheesh Mahal

Don’t be too amused at the title just yet. Its a local idiom showing how a dog in a palace would behave. Out of place, bewildered, confused even bedazzled. Most of us started out careers at the entry level. We all have come from different backgrounds. Some have been exposed to corporate setups due to our parents or family and some of us have not. Some come from elite institutes while other from very humble beginnings. What all of us have in common is that we started somewhere and today we have achieved a certain status in our professional lives. Going back in the journey and recalling our first day at work …. Do that…please go back in time and remember. The nervous insides, tingling unexplained sensations, the fear of the unknown … Are you there yet? Good, or not too good 🙂 Now, do you remember the first senior who took you on and explained some of the basics to you. The first senior who corrected your mistake and told you ” Its ok. We all make mistakes…learn from this and you will be ok!” I feel certain that we can all name at least one senior in our professional lives who carved the path to our achievements , to our success. Being senior professional in our respective fields today … we owe it to those mentors, friends, guides to Pay it forward ! Acknowledge the fact that our knowledge and skill cannot be taken away from us, cannot be stolen. The purpose of our experience is to “share”, to give away to our new generation ( batch ) of budding professionals who stagger in to the hall ways of professional greatness .. unsure and unaware of the magnitude of potential they are carrying hidden away inside them. It is up to us to act as guides and in many cases as catalysts to build confidence and transform these freshers. I am a result of many great minds who have in their own unique ways contributed to my professional path. And today I would like to say “Thank you ” to all of them. I would request a moment from everyone reading this post to take a minute, remember those mentors and send them a thank you note, sms or email today…now . It may not seem much, but appreciation goes a long way. I am in the process of emailing mine 🙂

In the lines

The other day I was looking at my 2.5year old daughter use crayons on a coloring book. I noted that she was not paying any attention to the borders of the Dora cartoon outlines. She was simply “spreading” color everywhere.

It makes me wonder… We are were once like that. We didnt care for any lines or boundaries to restrain our thoughts. First came the single rule note books and then the multi-rule English note books and so on. When we learnt to write we learnt to remain within boundaries. To live lives within limits to restrict ourselves.

Soon what may have started as a definition for our language letters writing becomes a defining moment in our subconscious where we automatically accept limitations to our thoughts.

We inadvertently accept limitations as givens and begin to think within the proverbial BOX.

Thou, it appears to be a great learning tool and leads to become a great disciplinary tool, I feel that we should encourage our children to color and paint as they feel and appreciate their ” Picaso’s” instead of discouraging them.

Only when their thoughts are left to grow and wonder and taste the air of freedom can they really “learn” to control themselves instead of becoming slaves to their own minds. Replicating, reproducing and not creating.

I know that many may differ from my point of view and that is fine and encouraging. Just wanted to share my 2 cents worth.

Managing difficult people at work

Difficult people present no problem if 

  • we pass or meet them 
  • on the street
  • in the supermarket 
  • in a building lobby
  • in the parking , etc

Nevertheless, when we have to work with them difficult people can become major irritants.

It seems that some people are just born to be difficult. We have all worked with them and most of us dislike them. Difficult people are easy to recognize–they show up late, leave early, don’t turn their work in on time and have an excuse for every failing – bottom line, its never their fault…. Hmm..heard that somewhere?

Wait, there’s more. These difficult people harass you and others, ask too many self-explanatory questions, neglect details, distract you and repeatedly challenge you and others for no other reason than to “appear” important. Even worse, when they interact with customers, vendors and people lower than them in the corporate hierarchy, they can be grouchy, impolite, condescending, uninformed, misleading, inappropriate or simply wrong. — Do you know anyone like this?

Naturally, no one wants to work with difficult people. When dealing with problematic employees, productivity decreases, frustrations rise, morale goes down and customers and vendors get upset.


Now, lets see how we can handle such people:

But I try my best

1. Don’t ignore the problem. Assuming that the employee provides value to the company and possesses redeeming qualities, there are ways to deal with difficult employees. Most often, managers will simply ignore problematic staffers. Managers who live by this rule hope the problem will just go away; that these people will somehow turn themselves around or stop being troublesome. Ignoring the situation is the wrong solution to what could likely become a progressive problem.

2. Intervene as soon as possible. It is important to take action as soon as the negative behavior pattern becomes evident–when left untouched, this problem will only escalate.

Occasionally, the difficult employee has no idea that his behavior is a problem or that others react negatively to his actions. This is because most people tend to put up with the annoying behavior and “go along to get along.” At the same time, some employees just consider it a “job frustration.” Just like some managers, employees want to be liked by colleagues and subordinates and are therefore reluctant to speak up when a problem arises.

Ultimately, it is the manager’s responsibility to take the appropriate action to correct the problem. Whether the concern exists due to the employee’s lack of knowledge of the issue, lack of feedback or projecting the difficulty onto someone else, the manager has the responsibility of addressing and turning around the predicament. The manager needs to gather information from employees to discern the extent of the problem and personally observe the employee interacting with customers or vendors.

3. Research the problem personally. Armed with accurate data and examples, the manager needs to then take this person into a conference room or office–away from others–and calmly address the issue. To begin, the manager needs to ask the employee if he is aware of any ongoing issues to determine if the difficult person is aware of the problems.

If the employee is “unaware,” the manager needs to describe the unacceptable behavior. The employee might interrupt to disagree or deny the existence of any issues. Nevertheless, the manager needs to continue by giving clear examples of the unwanted behavior.

The manager also needs to allow the employee to respond to the allegations. If the difficult employee refuses to believe that the allegations exist despite the evidence, the most the manager can hope for is an intellectual acceptance of the possibility that a problem exists.

4. Help the problematic employee to get back on track. Once the employee begins to understand that these negative behaviors are real and experienced by others in the organization, the manager or someone from human resources should begin to coach the difficult employee in displaying more acceptable and appropriate behaviors. The employee needs time and practice in “trying on” new, more suitable behaviors. HR and/or the manager need to provide specific feedback to this employee on the success or failure of his efforts in minimizing the negative actions and implementing ones that are more positive.

5. If all else fails, termination may be necessary. If the employee continues to deny his inappropriate behavior and refuses to try to improve the situation, the manager needs to place this person on the fast track towards termination. Often this involves recording a series of well-documented verbal and then written feedback about the behavior. Strictly following company protocol, there should be a period for the employee to address the questionable behavior. If this trial period does not result in improved behavior, then the employee needs to be terminated.

Most employees will recognize the negative behavior and will at least attempt to turn it around. This is especially true during tough economic times when unemployment is high and finding a new job is difficult. In any case, the manager needs to follow company guidelines in recognizing the unacceptable behavior, providing direct feedback, providing input to try to turn it around and ultimately taking action in a timely manner.

Not doing so is a disservice to the problematic employee, other employees and the success of the organization.

Some top reasons WHY HR is often misunderstood

Some top reasons WHY HR is often misunderstood –Take 1 J
Readers, I absolutely don’t pretend to speak for every HR department worldwide, but the HR professionals that I know are committed to both their employees and their company. They avoid causing employees pain intentionally. Here are some top reasons why employees might perceive the situation differently. These are the reasons why I feel I have observed non-Human Resource professionals having a list of depressing and so to say “HR horror stories”.
·         The HR staff person is caught daily in a balancing act between the role of employee advocate and the role of company business partner and advocate. And, no, the employee doesn’t often see or understand that the HR person is playing two roles. They gauge the HR person by their affect on the employee’s need.
    • As an example, the employee wants HR to make an exception for him; the employee doesn’t realize that an exception for him begins to set a precedent for how the company must treat other employees – employees who may be less deserving of an exception.


·         All information about employees is confidential. Even when the HR staff person handles an issue, whether the issue involved disciplinary measures or just a conversation, the steps taken and the outcomes are confidential. An HR employee can tell the complaining employee that the issue was addressed. Because of employee confidentiality, they cannot reveal more. This can leave the complaining employee believing their issue was not addressed. (The outcome of a formal, written complaint, as in sexual harassment charges, is generally disclosed.)
Blame it all


·         HR staff members need documented evidence that a problem exists. Witnesses are helpful, too, as is more than one employee experiencing the same problem. It is difficult to take action based on one employee’s word, especially if the other party denies the problem.


·         What an employee may see as unreasonable behavior on the part of a manager or another employee, HR may find within acceptable bounds of organizational behavior and expectations. The employees may have a personality or work style conflict. The boss may supervise an independent employee more closely than desired. HR can talk with all parties, but often, no one is wrong.


·         When an employee doesn’t like her job or work goals or experiences a conflict with her supervisor’s management style, HR can’t always find the employee a new job. Additionally, because of the cost of employee on boarding and training, the organization is likely to have policies about how often an employee can change positions. Indeed, proving yourself in the current job is the fastest path to a coveted new job.


·         HR doesn’t know about the promises you say your manager made to you about a raise, a promotion, special time off, or a rewarding assignment, unless the promise was documented in your performance development plan. You are welcome to complain to HR if you have addressed the issue with your manager. But, the end story is likely your word against the manager’s word. Is it possible you misunderstood your manager? If not be wary about promises made – when he has demonstrated he doesn’t keep his promises. Work with HR on an internal transfer.


·         HR is not always in charge of making the decision. In fact, the decision you don’t like may have been made by their boss or the company president. Good, company-oriented HR people won’t blame other managers publicly for decisions with which they may disagree. And, they won’t bad-mouth the decisions of their boss or other company managers, so you may never know where the decision was made.
So, an unresponsive, unhelpful HR office that avoids helping employees with their problems is not always the case. (Though I know from my experience that such organizations do exist, let’s hope they are on the path to change- Inshallah). There are legitimate reasons why HR cannot fulfill every employee’s wishes.
If the HR staff listens, communicates actively, and informs the employee why a decision is made or an action not taken, employees are much less likely to write asking how to solve their HR horror stories.
This information may help our fellow HR professionals better address the “misunderstanding” by employees.

The key to life

A bright day of August,  I would be around 14 or 15 years old at that time. I was vacating in Pakistan after having appeared in the O/Levels exams…The memory is clear thou saddened by the fact that the other person from the memory is now dead…My Dada jee.

He was in one of his lecture moods and well, I figure, he guessed right that I wasn’t 🙂

So, he started telling me a story of Batala (India – Pre-partition)

The story goes….

Rana ( My Dada jee used to call me so)….. When I was a very young boy, I went with my father to attend a wedding in a different town ( he knew the name of that town..I don’t recall it now). My mother, sisters and mostly everyone else in the house had already left a few days ago ( as was traditional back then).

Lock with Key

While leaving, my father (your great grand father) did something different….Once he had locked the house he gave me the big lead (metal) key to me for safe keeping 🙂 I was very happy at being given this responsibility. It was the first time that my father had given me the key to the home. Now the locks you kids have are different from the ones we used to use. He then proceeded to go to his cupboard and after a 2-3 minute ritual of locks, padlocks, etc etc etc… he recovered a lock (that looked quite like the picture here on the right).

He continued…

This key, your great grand father gave me and told me to keep it safely in my pocket. Once we started on our journey (via train)…soon i forget about the key in my pocket.

Jasmine

I still remember when we got to ( the city where the wedding was) there. While exiting the Railway station, my  father took a handful of Jasmine flowers and smelled them. He had me smell them too..it was very refreshing….He then gave me a few of the jasmine flowers and I placed them in my pocket so that I would smell fragrant…Artificial perfumes were not IN back then … (and we smiled at me.)

Then my Dada jee proceeded to tell me about the events at the wedding… girls … dances … food … and of course the all important family politics 🙂

Eventually coming back…

My Dada jee continued his story….

So finally we all returned to our home in Batala, Gurdaspur and my father asked me to produce the key….. When I reached for the key …(contrary to what I was thinking…the key was still in his pocket…hehe … no thriller there)….. I took hold of the key and brought it out. Along with the key some of the old jasmine flowers , now dry and brownish color came in to my hand.
I blew the dry flowers away and proudly gave my father the key…

My father took the key and then opened the lock… he asked me to stay at the door while all family members walked in to the home.

Finally we were the only two remaining standing…. My father took the lead key and gave it to me and said….
“Putar Khurshaid” smell this 🙂

Would you believe… The lead key was giving off the same fragrant jasmine smell. It was very amusing indeed.

My father simply said…. Son, you are getting older now and will soon enter more practical life where you have to choose friends and directions in life. Always remember just as the fragrant jasmine has penetrated the lead key , similarly no matter how strong we think we are…we always risk having habits from our company rub on us.
So instead of putting yourself on a silly test every other day to prove that you cannot be spoiled …. its better to avoid company of people that have negative behavior and be close to people who are good.

After that my Dada jee was silent for a bit and then he gave me that Key ….. and he said “I hope I do not need to say anything more now…..Do I?”

I was amazed and happily influenced at that time….I took the key…I still have it deep inside my own little ritual of locks and padlocks and such and I intend to share it with my daughter when she is old enough to understand this or when she needs to.

My Dada jee, passed away on 15 January 2005 ….. My daughter was born on 15th January 2010 ……. Ironic thou, I feel its just a way of nature telling me not to forget the important things in life.

Things rub off on us at all times… Try being influenced by the good.

Good Luck.

NGO with a vision

My wife volunteered here a little while back. Amazing place.

The kids were happy and it really seemed to have contributed very positively to their lives.

Kids of “kam walis” and Gypsies are given admission free of charge. They are tutored in the following:
1. Academic courses
2. Personal grooming
3. Religion
4. Livelihood Skills
The first three are self explanatory. Thus I shall not go in to details for them. The fourth one is rather interesting as it gives them the skills to earn a living after they leave the secure confines of the school.
The kids are taught how to make embroidery and stitch ornaments on fabric. These templates so to speak are then sold in to the US and Canada markets and the profit from them are used to primarily finance all the activities in the school.
These templates are made on “khadis”. I got a chance to see them when I visited the school at its old location in PAF, Cantt this year just before they moved the school to the new location in DHA.
We should all in the very least contribute by volunteering in such organizations to see firsthand the impact they are making the lives of our future leaders.

The Eight Elements Of TQM


Eight elements are key in ensuring the success of TQM in an organization.
Total Quality Management is a management approach that originated in the 1950’s and has steadily become more popular since the early 1980’s. Total Quality is a description of the culture, attitude and organization of a company that strives to provide customers with products and services that satisfy their needs. The culture requires quality in all aspects of the company’s operations, with processes being done right the first time and defects and waste eradicated from operations.

To be successful implementing TQM, an organization must concentrate on the eight key elements:

1-Ethics
2-Integrity
3-Trust
4-Training
5-Teamwork
6-Leadership
7-Recognition
8-Communication

This paper is meant to describe the eight elements comprising TQM.

Key Elements
TQM has been coined to describe a philosophy that makes quality the driving force behind leadership, design, planning, and improvement initiatives. For this, TQM requires the help of those eight key elements. These elements can be divided into four groups according to their function. The groups are:
I. Foundation – It includes: Ethics, Integrity and Trust.
II. Building Bricks – It includes: Training, Teamwork and Leadership.
III. Binding Mortar – It includes: Communication.
IV. Roof – It includes: Recognition.

I. Foundation
TQM is built on a foundation of ethics, integrity and trust. It fosters openness, fairness and sincerity and allows involvement by everyone. This is the key to unlocking the ultimate potential of TQM. These three elements move together, however, each element offers something different to the TQM concept.

1. Ethics – Ethics is the discipline concerned with good and bad in any situation. It is a two-faceted subject represented by organizational and individual ethics. Organizational ethics establish a business code of ethics that outlines guidelines that all employees are to adhere to in the performance of their work. Individual ethics include personal rights or wrongs.

2. Integrity – Integrity implies honesty, morals, values, fairness, and adherence to the facts and sincerity. The characteristic is what customers (internal or external) expect and deserve to receive. People see the opposite of integrity as duplicity. TQM will not work in an atmosphere of duplicity.

3. Trust – Trust is a by-product of integrity and ethical conduct. Without trust, the framework of TQM cannot be built. Trust fosters full participation of all members. It allows empowerment that encourages pride ownership and it encourages commitment. It allows decision making at appropriate levels in the organization, fosters individual risk-taking for continuous improvement and helps to ensure that measurements focus on improvement of process and are not used to contend people. Trust is essential to ensure customer satisfaction. So, trust builds the cooperative environment essential for TQM.

II. Bricks
Basing on the strong foundation of trust, ethics and integrity, bricks are placed to reach the roof of recognition. It includes:

4. Training – Training is very important for employees to be highly productive. Supervisors are solely responsible for implementing TQM within their departments, and teaching their employees the philosophies of TQM. Training that employees require are interpersonal skills, the ability to function within teams, problem solving, decision making, job management performance analysis and improvement, business economics and technical skills. During the creation and formation of TQM, employees are trained so that they can become effective employees for the company.

5. Teamwork – To become successful in business, teamwork is also a key element of TQM. With the use of teams, the business will receive quicker and better solutions to problems. Teams also provide more permanent improvements in processes and operations. In teams, people feel more comfortable bringing up problems that may occur, and can get help from other workers to find a solution and put into place. There are mainly three types of teams that TQM organizations adopt:

A. Quality Improvement Teams or Excellence Teams (QITS) – These are temporary teams with the purpose of dealing with specific problems that often re-occur. These teams are set up for period of three to twelve months.
B. Problem Solving Teams (PSTs) – These are temporary teams to solve certain problems and also to identify and overcome causes of problems. They generally last from one week to three months.
C. Natural Work Teams (NWTs) – These teams consist of small groups of skilled workers who share tasks and responsibilities. These teams use concepts such as employee involvement teams, self-managing teams and quality circles. These teams generally work for one to two hours a week.
6. Leadership – It is possibly the most important element in TQM. It appears everywhere in organization. Leadership in TQM requires the manager to provide an inspiring vision, make strategic directions that are understood by all and to instill values that guide subordinates. For TQM to be successful in the business, the supervisor must be committed in leading his employees. A supervisor must understand TQM, believe in it and then demonstrate their belief and commitment through their daily practices of TQM. The supervisor makes sure that strategies, philosophies, values and goals are transmitted down through out the organization to provide focus, clarity and direction. A key point is that TQM has to be introduced and led by top management. Commitment and personal involvement is required from top management in creating and deploying clear quality values and goals consistent with the objectives of the company and in creating and deploying well defined systems, methods and performance measures for achieving those goals.

III. Binding Mortar
7. Communication – It binds everything together. Starting from foundation to roof of the TQM house, everything is bound by strong mortar of communication. It acts as a vital link between all elements of TQM. Communication means a common understanding of ideas between the sender and the receiver. The success of TQM demands communication with and among all the organization members, suppliers and customers. Supervisors must keep open airways where employees can send and receive information about the TQM process. Communication coupled with the sharing of correct information is vital. For communication to be credible the message must be clear and receiver must interpret in the way the sender intended.

There are different ways of communication such as:
A. Downward communication – This is the dominant form of communication in an organization. Presentations and discussions basically do it. By this the supervisors are able to make the employees clear about TQM.
B. Upward communication – By this the lower level of employees are able to provide suggestions to upper management of the affects of TQM. As employees provide insight and constructive criticism, supervisors must listen effectively to correct the situation that comes about through the use of TQM. This forms a level of trust between supervisors and employees. This is also similar to empowering communication, where supervisors keep open ears and listen to others.
C. Sideways communication – This type of communication is important because it breaks down barriers between departments. It also allows dealing with customers and suppliers in a more professional manner.

IV. Roof
8. Recognition – Recognition is the last and final element in the entire system. It should be provided for both suggestions and achievements for teams as well as individuals. Employees strive to receive recognition for themselves and their teams. Detecting and recognizing contributors is the most important job of a supervisor. As people are recognized, there can be huge changes in self-esteem, productivity, quality and the amount of effort exhorted to the task at hand. Recognition comes in its best form when it is immediately following an action that an employee has performed. Recognition comes in different ways, places and time such as,

Ways – It can be by way of personal letter from top management. Also by award banquets, plaques, trophies etc. Places – Good performers can be recognized in front of departments, on performance boards and also in front of top management. Time – Recognition can given at any time like in staff meeting, annual award banquets, etc.
Conclusion
We can conclude that these eight elements are key in ensuring the success of TQM in an organization and that the supervisor is a huge part in developing these elements in the work place. Without these elements, the business entities cannot be successful TQM implementers. It is very clear from the above discussion that TQM without involving integrity, ethics and trust would be a great remiss, in fact it would be incomplete. Training is the key by which the organization creates a TQM environment. Leadership and teamwork go hand in hand. Lack of communication between departments, supervisors and employees create a burden on the whole TQM process. Last but not the least, recognition should be given to people who contributed to the overall completed task. Hence, lead by example, train employees to provide a quality product, create an environment where there is no fear to share knowledge, and give credit where credit is due is the motto of a successful TQM organization.

About The Author
Nayantara Padhi is an HR Executive in an Indian Steel Industry, and is pursuing a Ph.D. on “The Human Dimension Of TQM”. Mr. Padhi has published numerous articles in different national and international journals, and has completed a P.G. in Industrial Relations And Personnel Management.