Do you manage change or inspire people? 

Change Management is an interesting topic that runs around in a corporate circle.

Inspire ChangeMany portents it with managing change that happens at an organizational level. I have had the chance to know more of this phrase through a close friend of mine who was involved in change management project of a whole province in India where she had to implement a technological change in a government sector. Hence, my thoughts on change management have some link to the so-called principles of change management that organizations adopt to make things happen. There are plenty written on this topic and many models and theories are available on this subject, however, does change management really mean managing change?

In my regular interaction with this friend of mine, I realized that technology is less spoken about in our conversations, but the humans involved in the technological change is more a matter of concern. It’s always to do with people behavior towards change that the leader wants. It’s all about certain core competencies in people that leaders struggle with while leading people towards a perceived change. Hence why would it be managing change? Shouldn’t it be managing humans?

How can you manage change? Change is something that had been transformed into or that had been evolving into or what one wants it to be from what it is now and what it has been all these while. It has probably been moved from what it was in the midst of being managed. Hence, the act of management was and is there when change is happening or when the change happened. You don’t need to manage change, it happens and it becomes a new way of life.

To me, change management is an oxymoron. What need to be managed is the people who need to accept the change. Change is there already and is the “present” now or a foreseen state of “expected present”.

 Trying to manage change would be futile. It’s like when you relocate to a place, there is a big change that you would face in a new place in terms of place, lifestyles, culture, people, environment, rules, laws etc. It has happened or you knew it was happening. The change is the present situation of a future scenario. All that you would do is to manage yourself in the new place. So it’s managing self that is important and not managing change. Change is constant and what needs to be changed is one’s behavior and approaches to handling the unforeseen or anticipated situation or the desired result.

You cannot manage change. Foreseeing, identifying, accepting, planning and responding to/dealing with the consequences of change are the important issues. These are what I term as “change management”.

We can elicit and manage certain technical processes involved in achieving the change you want to. We cannot “manage” the human side of it.

We humans are unpredictable and in groups, the dynamic and chemistry of our interaction is even more so. It’s a fallacy to believe this can be “managed”.

The term Manage doesn’t suit here when we talk of change management. What matters is inspiring people to accept change.

Human beings need to feel invited, encouraged and inspired to actively play a role in driving the organization to achieve the new desired status.

They need a purpose, or at the very least, a good reason. What leaders need to practice is on how to inspire people and build a drive for action in them to make them embrace change that the organization is going through or the organization desires to achieve.

If human beings are not inspired, the change that you want is no way going to be a reality. It just becomes a destiny left to be formed by itself.

A true leader is one who dreams of the destiny and shapes it well through managing people rather inspiring people. Sometimes people don’t need to know the destiny of an organization. A good leader will occupy their minds with excitement, inspiration, the energy that translates into action and before people realizes, the change that the leader visualized would have become a way of life.

All that matters in so-called change management if it has to be termed so in today’s corporate world is to inspire people to be engaged with their heads, hearts, and hands in the organizations to bring that desired change.

 A leader has a great role to play, rather an only role to play in cultivating that need to make people feel part of something big, bringing a sense of belonging and driving them in that meaningful journey and making sure that their contributions are acknowledged mindfully. And then you will see change being embraced well or rather managed well to make meaning out of the oxymoron – “change management”.

I leave this note of mine here with thoughts in your mind on whether its managing change or inspiring people for desired change that matters?

Written by Binu Prasad. 

Note: The above blog article is my own interpretation of the subject.

Image: Courtesy Google. 

Do you embrace your work?

I love my job

DG is my man to go when it comes to cleaning my house. Though his name is not DG, I prefer calling him so in truncation. He has been a subject of learning for me and often I used to think that he should be a role model for most employees in organizations.

Great lessons sometimes are taught by modest people around us.

DG is one person who I can leave the housekeeping of whether it’s office or home. DG has been associated with me since 2008 and had ensured that he is in touch with me wherever I had gone from him since 2008.

Lesson 1: He simply taught me the importance of being in touch!!

I couldn’t get him a suitable job in a couple of places where I worked in the past, simply because he was not that fluent in the English language. However, I managed to get him an office assistant job recently and I was amazed at the fact that he struggled to learn the language and speak reasonably well on English.

Lesson 2: if there is a will, there is a way. You need to struggle consciously if you need to achieve something. 

DG comes home often if I need him to just tidy my home, rather a capsule spring cleaning. He is amazing at work. He seemed to have a clear thought process and I noticed that in the way he designs his workflow. He would start from the kitchen and move towards bathrooms at the end. No one taught him this, he seemed to have understood the workflow well. His movements are logical. His planning is superb.

Lesson 3: It’s important to have a smooth workflow design if you need to perfect the art of work. 

DG is meticulous in his work. I see him passing his hands through the corners and leaving no dust or grease on the surfaces go untouched. No one has taught him. He does it by himself. There is no need to instruct him. He involves himself well in what he does. It’s interesting to note that he arranges things in an order. He feels it important to keep things in place and he lifts hard stuff off the surface to clean the base. He notices the grease on the top of jars and washes it off. He is a man of attention to detail.

Lesson 4: attention to detail makes your job near to perfection. 

He sees me lying on the sofa watching TV and very mindfully avoids cleaning that room until he finishes the rest. He keeps it to the last. I guess he knows that not only his work is important, but he needs to be mindful. Unlike any other housekeeping boys, cleaners, he takes due care to not disturb and focuses on what he needs to do without bothering me much and allowing me to do what I have to do. It is quite inspiring to note that he is not only mindful about his work but the other beings near him as well.

Lesson 5: be mindful. 

I see him mopping the floor spotlessly and with passion for cleanliness. I guess he knows that he needs to leave an image of him on the floor. He is not a management graduate, not an MBA from those premier institutes. But he knows that he needs to have passion for what he does. He knows the importance of engagement. He understands the need of willfulness besides being skillful. How many of those employees who work in your organization embraces their work? How many of them feels an emotional connection to what they do at work? I have seen love for work in this boy and wished many had at least a 1/10th of what he had. We come across many talents across our organization and the one with that love for work, passion for perfection, the joy of doing something great, desire to do more, mindful delivery of actions are rare.

Lesson 6: be passionate and involved at what you are doing. 

Once I saw DG covering my trash bins with a plastic garbage bag where I normally use the ones which we are left after shopping in supermarkets. He seemed to have bought these on his own, feeling the need to keep it for those trash bins in living and bedroom. Perhaps he would have felt that those bags looked neat and aesthetically better. He used to keep dozens of them on the bin and then an open one wrapped around inside the bin, making sure the bin is a storage for the bags to be used later. He didn’t go to schools like some of us, no colleges, and no university doors that he stepped into. But he knows the importance of job enhancement, job improvement, job advancement, job enrichment. Perhaps he must have critically looked at what he does and felt the need to improve. He taught me the importance of not just doing your job, but to see what other opportunities are around in enhancing your job standard.

Lesson 7: look for opportunities within your work for improvement. Raise your work standards. 

DG at the office is a favorite of everyone in the team. He has great observation skills and he knows that if I have someone in my cabin, he doesn’t need to be called, he comes on his own asking the guest for coffee or tea while he is already serving water. He knows what each of my team likes to drink and he makes their coffees and teas with perfection. He knows the personalized cups of everyone and ensures they are served only in their cups. He knows the timing and serves people without being asked. He goes to the extent of making ginger tea if he notices anyone with a cough or cold. He is not from a hospitality school, but mindfully being of service to others seemed to be in his blood. Though my team and I invite him to be a part of our pizza or burger party in the office, often I see him being mindful of others by serving others, clearing plates etc. he is an inspiration for everyone who has to learn how to be engaged at work. He is an excellent example for those who dismay work. He teaches us how work can never be tiring by just embracing it all the time. It’s interesting to note that how men and women act when they are in deep love and the principles of engagement is the same when you love your job. To those who work in a Company that doesn’t motivate them, I say that loving your job not your company keep you at best always. It’s important to never let yourself swallowed by the negative vibrations that the companies inject in you but encourage yourself and find happiness in doing your best at the work that you have. Find the happiness that you derive from doing your job well and best as an invaluable reward.

Major part of your life is filled with work, so why hate work and ruin your life. Love it the most. The only way to do the best of your job is to just love doing it. If you haven’t found something that you love it. Keep looking, you will find it.

Lesson 8: love your job and not the company. 

A visit to DG’s pantry amazed me at the cleanliness that he maintains and how hygienic he is in handling food, beverages, his coffee machines etc. he says that everyone’s health is important to him. He seemed to be having a clear vision of being of service and mindful. You don’t need to attend strategy workshop to decide and script your vision statement. It is the inner desire that you have to bring it out, the very purpose of your being is your vision. Finding that very purpose is the missing element in many of today’s leaders. There is no need to break your head on designing that long vision statement. How tragic is that today’s CEOs and directors struggle to keep their focus in vision? I was blessed to have worked with a CEO back in India where I and he had spent weeks deliberating and digging into our inner desire and thoughts to come out with what we needed as a vision that drives us in the business of wellness which we were setting up. I was just an employee and we understood that it doesn’t matter what I desire but what the founder desires as his need. It was my CEO and founder who came out with this action provoking statement as his vision for the wellness hospitality venture that we were setting up in India. A beautiful vision statement came up as “our lives will be an expression of our core belief to be of service and enhance wellbeing”. This was entirely coined by the CEO who had to conceive and drive the work culture. I learned from him and my hero in this article DG that if you need your work culture to be driven by your vision, you yourself need to own the business, own your work and find the inner desire inside you.

Lesson 9: have a beautifully designed action driven vision brought up from your inner self for quality delivery of your work. 

DG is all set to wind up his work at my home and move on. He packs the garbage to throw on his way out and says goodbye to me. He often denies to take some token from me but on insistence he takes it. I buy him food and give him some from home as well. I just feel that anything that I give him is less for what he is. His humility impresses me. I missed mentioning something that touched me. He showed me a beautiful neck chain that he bought for his daughter who he is expected to visit during his forthcoming vacation. I was touched at his act of wanting to share his joy with me. It is so important to show that concern, care to participate in your employees joys and you will see them coming up to share their joy on their own, making yourself as someone whom they think is important in their life. Your employees will do their heart out if you genuinely show an interest in them and if you participate genuinely in their joy.

I guess I am deviating from what I want to say in this snippet. Apologies if I had deviated your mind from it. I was mentioning about humility at work. I saw no expectation in DG after having done a superb performance in housekeeping. He probably feels that a job that I fetched for him is more than what he has done for me. He has really made me small by denying my token. I insisted and he graciously accepted the same first time when he came to attend my home. Thereafter I reward him consistently and he takes it with a simple, humble smile. Amazing to see how humble he is in accepting a reward, no matter how much and what it is. He taught me that being humble and having no expectation drives quality of your performance. Expecting reward sometimes could kill the quality of work consistently as absence of reward can kill the performance. This is a state of mind that many won’t have in today’s competitive world. Everyone expects to be rewarded. Be humble and do your best at work, rewards will follow if not now, in future.

Work hard, stay humble.

Lesson 10: be humble and do your best at work. 

Thank you all for reading and I am sure we all have someone who teaches us daily by just being themselves. Perhaps we are blind to these learnings most often and speed us to universities and colleges to learn these simple principles of management and performance.

Written by Binu Prasad. 

Note: I have taken the vision statement of vanaretreats from their website for the purpose of mentioning it in one of my snippets above and is not my own words. 

Image: courtesy google.

Importance of the word “Thank You”

Ever wondered why this phrase “Thank You was coined”?

Thank You

Coming to think about it, it’s an amazing invention in the language of English. It has crossed geographical boundaries and captured the tongues of the world.

I was on my way to Dubai from Abu Dhabi and I just cannot sit idling by nature. As usual I plunged my eyes on to the emails on my phone (Please do not try this as it can cause accidents). I realized that my team keep sending me updates and information where I have an option to simply say OK or Noted.

For a moment, I started thinking that a word of thanks instead of an ok or noted would put a smile on my team’s face.

It’s a very simple mindful gesture that a leader has to inculcate in his daily transactions. The word ok sometimes on some email communications sound very formulaic and authoritative. It doesn’t carry any emotional element in it.

Very little the leaders are aware that there are a lot of people out there expecting to hear a word of “Thank You”. How many leaders today are mindful of this gesture? Some take it for granted that the employees beneath them are expected to do their job and the very fact that they are getting paid is equivalent to the gesture of saying “thank you”. Imagine an office environment where people are mindful in using the phrase “thank you” in their daily conversations and see how positive the work culture would turn out to.

I am also quite titillated on the way some people say it. The irony is that you can even say this word in an angst or in sarcasm and it totally turns down the very purpose of this phrase. An expression of thank you with genuineness is what matters in work-relationship.

Next time when you interact with your team members, colleagues or leaders, just remember to do the following:

  1. Make it a point to genuinely say thank you with a smile
  2. Write “thank you” instead of “noted” or “ok”.
  3. Start an email sentence thanking wherever applicable in responding to emails.
  4. Take efforts to say “thank you” even to a cashier at the supermarket, a cobbler on the road who mended your shoes, a taxi driver, to that one young lad who offered a seat to you on the train, to your mates in elevator who waited for you to alight first and many more….
  5. Even if your subordinates have done some job as you have asked them to do, make an effort to say “thank you” for doing that.

Most leaders hold on to these minor but important gestures as the position, title etc. gets on to their heads and it then become a concern of ego. A leader expressing these gestures genuinely will inspire people and would find himself being respected for being humble and down to earth.

It’s a pity that many managers out there in the world of management & leadership ignore such simple but powerful acts of managing and leading people.

So, friends, wait not to start using this magic word of “Thank You” in your daily life.

While I end my quick blog on this thought of mine, allow me to thank you for showing the patience to read this.

Source: personal notes of Binu Prasad.

Note: Usage of words indicating one gender in this article is to be considered for both the genders.

People NOT just leave Managers

The Authors Curt Coffman and Marcus Buckingham would have said “people leave managers not companies”. Well, this would have perhaps been spoken many a times by many and still many out there may be echoing this axiom. I have been blessed to critically think of this from my wonderful learning experience at some of the organizations that I worked with.

“People leave managers not companies”. I feel it’s an over abused phrase and the immediate innocent manager gets the brunt of it even if he is not the reason for people leaving. Senior managers, CEOs, Managing Directors and Business owners find it easy to palm it on to the manager as the above saying has been rumbling the air more loudly covering other reasons for people leaving.

Thinking of the same, I do not agree to this affirmative phrase and there is a need to pull those innocent, brilliant managers from the death knell of this adage.

Good people leave organizations NOT just because of their immediate managers. Yes, immediate managers could be one of the reasons not the main one nor the only one, nor the single most one.

There of course are bosses who become reasons for their people leaving a job. But the fact is that, if the boss has to be the reason for people leaving, the tenure of employee with that boss should be a factor to be considered for closing that judgement. It is indeed the immediate manager that one should look at when new employees are short-lived in an organization.

A few paradigm shift to this maxim are:

  • Good People leave Organizations and not Managers

It’s imperative that CEOs and business owners look deep into their organizational culture for reasons for attrition of good people. If your organization is full of negativity created and nurtured by those decision makers, God bless your organization. I have seen organizations who recruit best talent by giving all those “best employer” talks and as soon as the person joins, there will be many at the senior levels resorting to echoing prejudiced comments and those critics about the new person.. There goes the motivation of your new recruit off the window.

If your organization has a culture powered by blame game starting from the top, then it’s just a matter of time when good people leave you. Spare the poor manager if they leave in such atmosphere that you have built in your place of work.

If your organization has people who misguides and misinforms the CEOs about good employees and if you have a CEO who listens to his ears of what it receives, God bless you again. No one will ever be comfortable working in your organization.

If employee is blessed with a good manager in an environment where there are other senior managers who keeps injecting negativity, he/she may be protected and counseled and guided to be strong in such work environment and his/her own boss will advise them to leave for a better opportunity, what more, boss may even help them find an opportunity for their good. And in such cases, you will see these good employees working with 100 % dedication to their boss till the last date of their work and perhaps even after last date of work. No matter how the organization is, they will work their heart out for that manager and they will leave the organization but will never leave the manager from their heart and life.

If an employee looks up to the leader and even works for him till the last second in the company before he or she moves on just goes to tell that good people don’t just leave because of their bosses..

A leader who love his job but not the Company and who believe in developing his subordinates might even tell them to move on after a certain time knowing that they need to move on for their own career which unfortunately the company that they work in don’t provide or the company don’t care.

An interesting thing that I noticed in my life as HR leader is that people stay on with the leader even if the work culture is in pits, because of the learning and development that they absorb from the leader. And the trust level between them would be so much so that, the leader delights when his people move away as the Organization has no care and the culture has no more opportunity for them to grow.

I have come across team members who look forward to coming to work because of their immediate manager but still live with an agony that they are in an organization where the work culture sucks.

If your organization does not foster encouragement, excitement, and fun in general across the hierarchy and throughout the organization, no matter how good the immediate leader or manager is, people will look around and leave

  • People leave because of co-managers and not immediate managers

It is another interesting fact that some good people leave not because of their immediate manager but because of the work place harassment that happens at work from a co department or division’s manager because of which performance gets affected. If an employee has to deal with a co department constantly at work and if the manager of that division causes incessant pain for him to work peacefully or if he snubs them with sarcastic statements, even if they have a good boss to save and protect them, after learning from their immediate manager, they would move away.

  • People leave because of Lack of recognition

I have come across a business owner who believes that paying salary and annual increment in salary is all what it takes to recognize employees. God bless this owner living in a dream world. Some of these self-made owners think that the employees work with them as they don’t have any other option. They feel that they are superior than the employees as they pay them, not knowing that all what employee need is a good word spoken , a pat on his back, a word of appreciation, a smile, perhaps a pleasant handshake … to keep him work for them.

  • People leave because of insensitive organization

An organization’s culture is not in the hands of its HR head but in the heart, mind and soul of the business owner or board of directors or CEO. People will never leave your organization if you are sensitive to them. How often you as a CEO bother to wish your employee on his birthday, have you as a CEO ever asked the employee to go on leave on his birthday, when someone is unwell, have you ever bothered to at least text him to enquire how he is. These are all inexpensive ways of making people stay with you. Good people will leave you if you don’t take care of these minor aspects of relationship.

Lastly, it is indeed a misnomer to think that people leave managers and not organizations. It’s high time to rephrase it as: people leave organizations not just managers.

If an employee is short-lived, it could be because of his immediate manager, but if one leaves after learning from his immediate manager or leave in good note with his immediate manager, then its high time the CEOs and Business Owners start looking at themselves in the mirror.

Note: Usage of words indicating one gender in this article is to be considered for both the genders. Source: personal notes of Binu Prasad.

“Best Practice” – A phrase to ponder!!!

Best Practice

I kept hearing the phrase “Best Practice” through my career journey. I worked for a high-end luxury hotel in India where I first lurched on this amazing phrase. It never rung any surprise nor any doubt on what the heck it meant as you are tuned to think everything that happens in a five-star hotel where every youngsters would die to get into is gospel truth. There were instances where a set of young managers would be chosen to go across the globe to learn the best practices and come back to download the same to us poor learners who are devoid of such traveling opportunities not because of capabilities but because of certain nuances of personalities that this glamorous industry value more than the content in the brain.

Anyway, the “best practices” made all of us shake our thoughts and actions for a while as we always had to keep our eyes and ears open to what is known as best practice. It is as if there were nothing more to achieve or look forward to after you attain the best practice in any particular aspect of hoteliering. For example , providing in-room dining facility those times used to be termed as best practice where most hotels simply performed nothing but room service where the tray or trolley is left in the room with food and beverage leaving the guest to serve himself or herself. Well, the best practice hotel would offer dining service in the room, they will do a silver service to the guest in the room, setting the trolley as a dining table laid well as per the standard, food brought in mobile ovens, served hot, and bearer waiting at the table side. And many more such practices that one would call it as best practice.. not just restricted to hotel operations, it spilled its wings to human resources, finances , marketing and to every corner of an operation and not just limited to hotels but to every single industry in the world.

Years later, when I got out of the bible controlled environment, my head started realizing that there is something above my neck and it works!!! .

The “Best Practice” makes one feel as if there is no room for development, no future beyond that point, no one has ever invented any practice than the so-called “Best Practice”. And the young aspirants focus more on it and stops thinking, stops using their brains, creativity shunted, intelligence rusted, growth curtailed and what more life sucks.

Why do organizations swank on this phrase and ruin their intellectual capital? Why can’t they stop thinking that a practice is best only to some extent and there is always a room for improvement? Probably the word “Best” trains mind to think that this is the end of it. Maybe the language English has to be blamed for the same.

Perhaps we need to re-took at the terminology and may call it as “WOW Practice”, or “Happiness Practice”, or “Nearly right practice” or “Pleasant practice”.. I am sure we can coin many terminology only to help the young talents from getting jailed into the web of “Nothing More”

It would be nice if organizations focus at making their practices be it internal processes, people practices, customer value practices into what suits them the most and create a niche in their own way in their own style and WOW everyone around and keep building new WOWs.. Today’s best practice is tomorrow’s history and “used to” factor creeps in the mind of all.

Come to think of it, all what one shall do to bring the Wow and be consistent in delivering the WOW are:

  1. Simplify your systems and processes in your organization
    Make work processes simple and easy to follow. This will make your people happy, eventually happy customers. You will see how the practices that you follow would be seen as WOW.
  2. Smile
    Simple curve that you need to wear. And the best part is that, the moment you make your practices friendly, easy to follow and fun to live with, your people will surely forget to frown.
  3. Make it Easy
    I was in a supermarket in India once and was astonished at the fact that the security have to check your bill before you are let outside. This definitely annoys a customer. Perhaps a simple one to handle but none realizes how a small change in it could make a WOW.
  4. Respect others
    Do you respect your employees, customers, colleagues… Try amending your ways of interaction. You will see a WOW falling in place and the world will call your style the so-called “Best Practice”.
  5. Be sensitive
    When was the last time you offered a seat to someone in the train? When was the last time you allowed the lady and kids to alight the elevator first? Believe me, your simplest action can bring that Wow.
  6. Avoid complacency
    If you feel you are doing the best, you would be sadly mistaken. There is always room for improvement. If you believe in continuous improvement, constant criticism of your ways of work, behavior.. You will see that the best practice that you once thought was no more a best practice but a norm.

Getting caught at the mindset of “Best Practice” kills opportunities for change and betterment. It just stops you from seeing anything better than the best practice. The world is moving faster than light nowadays and the one who believes that there is more to achieve would move away from the feeling of “we are the best”

My first blog

I have been wanting to explore this domain of blogs for quite some time. I am naive on blogs and have no idea how this is going to turn out to be useful to the world today or tomorrow.

I am sure my own controversial and challengeable weird thoughts would become an interesting topic for many. I have opened this blog with the idea of lighting my own thoughts on management, leadership and human resources. I am a thinker, a wild one at times. My skills in writing must be made to use somewhere and years of writing beautiful emails, thought-provoking statements, inspiring words should find some place somewhere to be useful to someone.

So, welcome me!!