Category Archives: My Thoughts

This Monday, decide what you want in life!

I believe in setting the pace – for my career and my life. However it is not as easy as writing this blog (or reading it).

We all complain of not having enough time for ourselves, to spend with our families, to pursue our passions and to do things which we love. We have become habituated to blame it on the corporate life we live, the way we live it. But guess what – it is you who needs to be blamed.

Did the penny drop?

Read the real story as told to me by Jane Doe, last week in Singapore, over some carefully chosen potions. Jane Doe Jr, her cute little angel, was feeling under the weather, however, our ever committed and dedicated protagonist decided to manage the situation by asking her spouse and family to pitch in, so that she can attend the late evening/night conference call. As she joined the bridge, she realized that the other party hasn’t joined. She had a note in her inbox, which read, “I can’t make it as my dog is not well.”

I don’t need to write further on this.

Mails or Memories

That’s my son Zayaan Raza

Action: Take 2 minutes now…now as in right now… and decide what you want in life. Your job will always be there, but people you love may not. You may earn 10-20% less salary but you will be happier and content. Do let me know by replying to this blog what change you will make. I’d love to know.

Eventually, You must have more memories than mails.

May be. Live with it.

I am a huge fan of mentoring – no doubt. However, I disagree that learning only happens when planned. Most of the super-sticky and impactful learning experiences I have had have happened unplanned. [Tweet This]

I was in a meeting with DP Singh, Vice President & HR Head, India South Asia, IBM, to discuss the crazy-fun work we do under India HR Hub effort where we focus on accelerating the adoption of social and technology by HR Professionals. The conversation drifted to team-work and DP shared with us 2 tips to ensure teams stay together and continue to improve.

DP posits that we should observe 2 behaviors when working in a team:

  • may-be-live-with-it-socialglamorMay be: Most of the time, teams become war zones when team members start to shoot down ideas and people. This takes an ugly spiral turn and then becomes a norm. This behaviour inhibits team members to be open and share ideas or suggestions. DP believes each team member should listen to the idea or suggestion and consider – ‘may be’ this is possible. This approach allows you to be inclusive, encourages new ideas and also opens up a new perspective. So next time you hear a new suggestion, think.
  • Live with it: When your idea or suggestion is not considered by the team, ask yourself if you can ‘live with it’ before getting into a frenzy to dismantle the fabric around you. It is very easy to get worked up (also read: 3 tips to avoid Rash Decisions) and take decisions which do not serve any fruitful purpose. Do not attach your ego with the outcome and always keep the team agenda in your perspective.

When I heard these points, I kept thinking – how easy it is to follow these 2 steps and what an impactful learning this is for all of us. So many times we see great teams doing average work because team members start to cannibalize as they tend to solution other team members than the problem.

Do you have any idea to make amazing teams? DO share with me by commenting.

More to read

3 tips to avoid Rash Decisions

Did your decision make the situation better? If not, then it wasn’t a good decision. [Tweet this]

We all have been there, done that. What? Rash and Crazy decisions. And most of the time, these decisions, although seemingly justified, come and haunt us. Every time we take a rash decision, we make ourselves vulnerable and put risks at play.

  • Your boss is difficult to work with – you quit your job.
  • Your spouse doesn’t appreciate your passion – you start to ignore them.
  • Your friends forgot to invite you – you unfriend them.
  • The parking lot guy could not guide you – you start yelling.

What is happening? In all of these instances (and I know there are many more – why don’t you share some by commenting to this blog) the reaction to the situation has done nothing to address the issue. Almost all the times, the issue continues to stay and your reaction becomes another issue to be addressed.

rash-decision-sociaglamor

So what should you do?

I don’t know. I will tell you what I do and you might wish to try that. There is no set answer but I will give you three tips:

  1. Have an honest discussion to know the reason. Ask ‘why’? There is always a story and be ready to accept the story and change your perspective.
  2. Take out protagonists from the story – See how one would deal with the situation if you take off names and just keep the story. Sometimes our bias/love towards people influences us – don’t let that happen.
  3. Talk to a more mature person – this person could be a friend, spouse, mentor, colleague… ask them what should you do after sharing the honest story you know. Third party view always helps.

It’s always understood that each situation will be unique and would require that much in depth introspection however next time, blood rushes to your head, sit down and chose one of the options. The idea is to give yourself time, perspective and options. The approach should be to avoid rash decisions and impact of those decisions.

Is Indigo turning Purple? @IndiGo6E

Purple or bluish discoloration could be caused by lack of oxygen in the red blood cells.

Is this what Indigo suffering from – brimming with staff which lacks compassion and logic and is struggling to be humane?

I flew with Indigo, on 25th Nov 2016, to celebrate my son’s birthday with his grandparents however, I was surprised to see no special counters for infants at the Bangalore Airport. Since we were early, it was not an issue – we took our boarding passes and spent the time in the lounge. Then came the big one – no seat belts for infants! I implored Roja, air hostess, and she demonstrated the first sign of lack of life by saying, “Yes we do not provide seat belts to infants. If you have issues, please send a message to this number”, pointing to the seat in front of me. Before I could say anything, she left, assuming me to be a tyro flyer.

I reached out to Indigo’s team on social and met a dead end. My network was aghast with  the way handled the issue but it seems they are flying high. See this:

While they did reply about the seat belt, on which I am still surprised as we have flown with many other airlines and they all provide it, but no one cared about touching the topic of how their staff spoke with me. Is it too much expect that their staff should be polite and caring?

#1: Roja, the flight attendant should have been given feedback on how to speak with customers.

On 12th Dec 2016, after my initial flight was cancelled, I landed at the airport to see a long serpentine queue (because of cancelled flights due to fog etc.). Again, I couldn’t figure out any special assistance queue for Sr. Citizens or infants or pregnant ladies. I asked the lady sitting at the counter and he shrugged off and directed me to a ‘manager’ who happened to be another lady. Pooja, the manager, had no qualms in sending me and my wife back this long queue (imagine how much their staff cared for women support), although I repeatedly told her that we are with my 12 months old son. She was adamant and curt. My son Zayaan has traveled 7 times in last 12 months, including international flights and everywhere we have been given preference, however Indigo staff has its own purple rules. Even Big Bazaar has special queues for pregnant ladies, infants and people with special needs.

I had no choice but to stand in that queue for around 40 odd minutes with 2 bags and a kid on us. I reached out to Indigo teams on social and see what thrashing their brand is getting

Also see the embarrassment they are facing on Facebook:

#2: Why no one cared and/or cares for Women and Infants in Indigo? How do you plan to change this?
#3: Why was my family and I were made to suffer?
#4: What feedback has been given to Pooja, the manager?

And this is not where it ends, after boarding we realize that we have been double booked and another couple had been given same seat numbers. All passengers were seated and flight was delayed till the ground staff came and sorted it and gave us new seats.

And my struggle did not end. I sent out an email (customer.relations@GOINDIGO.IN) to them, as told by a lady who called me and did not know the issue at all, which they refused to acknowledge/read. I sent out many tweets and finally they read my email and see their response after 8 days

screenshot-2017-01-09-11-50-26

Their response is ‘all English’ and no action. Indigo has not clarified why there are no special queue? Who is responsible for not having special queues? What action/feedback has been articulated for the rude staff? Why no one ever bothered to call me and explain?

I replied to their email on the same day but they never responded to me.

I want someone to see this blog (and apathy) and find a solution. I am not happy the way things have unfolded and more so by the people who have communicated with me. The team on social is lost as lambs and no one has cared to reach out to me. Anyways – let me not solution your pale customer service.

indigo

You heard (read) me and I will wait to hear from you, before I decide my next step which also includes not using your services and convincing my network of friends, colleagues, relatives and all women force to not use your services. I will also recommend to IBM to discontinue the tie-up with your company for corporate bookings.

I hope this blog breathes some oxygen in Indigo and someone wakes up to take care of this.

Thank you!

Destination Unstoppable with Maureen Monte – A Journey of Strengths

On 28th July 2011, almost 5 years ago, I got an email from a lady, asking me to remove a link from IBM Manager Community – a place for all IBM People Managers, across the globe. I was the community manager then. It was 12:10 AM, India Standard Time and I was surprised – why would someone ask me to take down anything from a community I manage! The sender was Maureen Monte – someone I have never seen, never met, spoken to only once on a call with few other people.

Her point was valid – Why should we restrict the learning to a special set of people, when we can make a bigger, larger, more astounding impact. We did exchange few emails back and forth and we both knew, we are heading towards something brilliant.

We both joined hands and ran. The result of our partnership was the ‘biggest’ virtual learning event in IBM till date – from attendance: over 7000 people enrolled and attended the webinar sessions. Greater than 90% of the responses indicated that the workshops were valuable and should be shared with other IBMers.

I checked the replay data today: Our five webinar recordings have been downloaded over 12,500 times, accounting for 40% of all the downloaded recordings since June, 2011 (There are total 72 recordings). Continue reading

How to not screw your career!

First Scene: 2010, 2 years after I joined IBM.

I got a call from a recruiter who was hiring for a fortune 100 company. The articulate lady called me to see if I will be interested in a role she has with her employer. The role sounded exciting, although we agreed it was not perfectly aligned because of my lack of experience, and after reading the JD, I shared my resume to be processed. We spoke 4-5 times over phone as we proceeded towards the first round of interview. I was invited to speak with one of their leaders, after a telephonic interview, and had a great conversation, but I got the feeling it will not move forward, which was not a surprise. None the less I got an opportunity to meet and interact with a leader, which was my takeaway.

As anxious as one can be, I waited for the formal revert from the recruiter. Weeks passed and I did not hear anything. I tried to reach her over phone to understand the next steps, if any, or get some feedback. However my calls were not replied to. After waiting for few days I sent her few emails to seek guidance/closure and I never got a response. I was not impressed as a simple closure email with a thank you would have worked.

It showed me how much this recruiter cared or bothered about candidate experience and professionalism which every organization strives for.

Cut to 2016.

Recently, one of my friends had an open position for a Senior Manager – Talent Acquisition and reached out to me if I had any references. I did pass on couple of them to him. My friend and I spoke after a week to see how is it going with his search and he mentioned that he has zeroed in on 3 candidates and wanted to check if I have any information on their profiles – we all know HR fraternity is very close knit.

The moment I heard the name of the lady, I knew who she was. Now you know what must have happened to her chances of bagging this juicy role of Senior Manager.

End of Story.

What do we learn from this story?

  1. Always close loop your business transactions – especially as a recruiter, it is your duty to revert to the candidate with information and feedback.  It will save time for you as the candidates will not be reaching out to you over phone and email and will also build credibility and relations for you.
  2. Builds a reputation for your company – Every time I have a case study of bad recruitment, I share this story. I have kept the names away from this blog, but in those off-the-table talks, names come out and reputation takes a beating. TA Leaders should ensure their teams close loop with each candidate. The person may not be a fit right now but who knows about the future.
  3. Perception is the Key to Success – While you may be putting in super human effort but how others look at you is directly linked to how successful you become. So ensure small slip ups do not wash away the brilliant work you do.

Now pause for a second and read these 3 points again – hey hold true for all professionals. We know that leadership is all about compassion – we should learn to treat like we wish to be treated. So are you guilty of not treating others respectfully? Do share your thoughts with me.

Tu Beer Hai – Startup Bubble is Bursting

Disclaimer: I believe in the potential of startups and as a consumer of many of them (For example: Uber, Inshorts, Flipkart, TinyOwl, Quikr, …and many more) I feel they have made a difference and are needed.

Startup Bubble Khalid Raza #SocialGlamorYesterday I opened a nifty startup news app to read that Flipkart deferred (read declined) the joining of some very glossy IIM A MBA grads, to whom they promised hefty packages (and created artificial talent wars). While I understand that there is some internal structuring going on but a company which is leading the current e-commerce scene, not only in terms of losses, really has not gotten its act together. In April, Puneet Soni, Flipkart’s Chief Product Officer and expensive import from Silicon valley, left Flipkart within 14 months of joining.

Snapdeal and Flipkart have reported losses in financial year 2014-15. Snapdeal’s financial report revealed a loss of Rs 1,328.01 crore.  The highest loss reported last financial year was by Flipkart at Rs 2,000 crore.

2 days ago, Anand Chandrasekaran left Snapdeal. Anand, a former Yahoo executive, returned to India in 2014 to run product for the carrier Bharti Airtel. He jumped to Snapdeal last June, and led an effort to integrate more services, like Uber, into the company’s flagship app, a model similar to China’s popular WeChat.

3 days ago, Tiny Owl, another start up shut all his India operations, except Mumbai. Wonder why that was left. The Mumbai-based company was operational in 11 cities, including Delhi-NCR, Bengaluru and Chennai, but will now operate only in select areas of its home city. It laid off 160 employees in August. In November, it shut operations in four cities — Pune, Delhi, Hyderabad, and Chennai, and laid off another 100 employees.

Housing.com, which is backed by SoftBank and witnessed a management change after founder Rahul Yadav was evicted following a boardroom battle last year, posted a loss of Rs 279 crore on a revenue of Rs 12.7 crore, up from Rs 48.9 crore in the previous year.

Sulekha went to Rs 98.5 crore from Rs 80.9 crore, and AskMe’s revenues grew to Rs 43.4 crore from Rs 42.7 crore. Losses, however, went up massively, with Quikr and AskMe posting a combined loss of Rs 704.9 crore during FY15, up from Rs 380.9 crore in the previous year.

Zomato, which posted revenue of Rs 96.7 crore during FY15 had an employee cost of Rs 130.3 crore, while FoodPanda, with revenue of Rs 4.6 crore, had an employee cost of Rs 5 crore. Earlier this week, however, Zomato said it has reached operational profitability in six markets, including India.

Uff, stop it! So whats now?

The startup bubble is bursting!

Let’s understand what I mean here: The valuations… read more

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