Monday, June 15, 2009

"There are two ways of constructing a software design; one way is to make it so simple that there are obviously no deficiencies, and the other way is to make it so complicated that there are no obvious deficiencies. The first method is far more difficult."
-- C.A.R. Hoare


Employees are the most valuable resource available to any organization and their satisfaction can do wonders to company productivity. Research has shown that job satisfaction enhances motivation and performance, decreases turnover and associated training costs, reduces accidents in the workplace and enhances customer loyalty and contentment. The days of yore where a person stayed with the company he/she joined as a ‘kid’, till he/she retired, are no more. These days, people are likely to show more loyalty to their careers than to the company .So can managers create satisfied employees? The answer is yes, they can.

Firstly, they must create a supportive work environment. With an increasing number of people spending more time in their offices, the physical comforts, visual appeal and accessibility of the work environment become increasingly important. Offering an open workspace and paying importance to issues such as ambience, seating facilities, recreation centers, free food, etc would make an employee comfortable.

Some employees resign simply because they cannot work along with their immediate superior. Having an open door policy and an understanding and friendly team leader, who knows were to draw the lines and yet maintain objectivity, can make employees happy. Proper decimation of information within the organization will provide a sense of being trusted by the company to the employees. It is said that a trusted work force is a loyal work force.

A human being works best when he/she believes in the job he/she does. A nurturing environment where employee opinions are valued can do just that. Allowing people to take ownership of projects gives them the opportunity to develop new skills and, just as important, the chance to show what they can do. Having frequent attitude surveys can provide valuable feedback to the managers on how their employees perceive their job.

What an individual expects is greatly based on his/her value system. Incentives and promotions provide the "golden handcuffs" that keep employees from getting away. Incentives include health plans, insurance covers, transport facilities, bonuses, promotions, team outings and other rewards. An individual not moved by these incentives can be positively reinforced by objective appraisals, appreciation & other recognition programs. Having fair and just promotion and pay policy, which is in line with employee expectations and skill sets, can enhance satisfaction.

A manager should not assume every glitch as a result of poor employee performance. Instead he/she should look for failures in the system as well. A manager should clarify his/her expectations, and make sure that people have the resources and skills to fulfill those expectations .When firms help workers acquire new skills that support their professional advancement, they often win those workers' commitment—and attract loyal new employees. Cross training and job rotation will help in breaking the monotony of work. Hiring energetic people with the required skills and ensuring a good ability- job fit will enable a manager to form a tight knit community as a team. Having a mentor program will help new employees adjust faster.

If we turn the picture around, than the manager himself is answerable to higher authority and is himself an employee of the company. Hiring proper managers always pays rich dividends .It is always refreshing to work at a company where you can trust that the upper echelon is smart, hardworking, and making right decisions.

Is the independent workforce strategy a viable option? Implications on HRM

Globalization and cost pressures have seen many firms the world over trying to convert their fixed costs into variable amounts by using an independent workforce strategy of outsourcing, offshoring and contract hiring.


Offshoring simply means that a firm hires local employees abroad to do jobs previously done by the company’s in-house domestic employees. Here the role of the HR department in identifying high quality, low cost talent abroad and to provide the necessary background data on things like wage rates, working conditions and productivity becomes pivotal. The HR manager also needs to make sure that there is an effective supervisory and management structure in place to manage the offshore workers. Recruitment, retention, compensation, T&D and appraisal – jobs traditionally done by the HR department hence will have to grow to compensate for the increased distances involved with offshoring.


Simply put, outsourcing is the contracting of a third party to manage a business process more effectively and efficiently than can be done in-house. The key idea behind this is that organizations can free-up resources involved in support functions so as to improve the performance of core functions. The improved performance resulting from this is also expected to outweigh the loss of control associated with outsourcing.

Outsourcing tends to be a uniquely HR-dependent activity as now instead of the HRM domain being restricted to a given company , the HR manager have to deal with a host of companies each having their own and generally unique culture and environment. Thus in such a scenario, the HRM function of people management is now becoming that of vendor management and change management for the outsourcing company while the vendor’s HRM would add client management to the already long list of HRM tasks namely recruitment, training and development, retention,…

Change management
Change management would involve generating organizational readiness to receive and sustain the change associated with outsourcing. This involves
1. Identifying appropriate leadership to oversee and mange the outsourcing effort
2. Creating a transition management plan that identifies activities to be transferred to the vendor
3. Developing a conflict resolution structure to take care of client-vendor and internal employee conflicts.
4. Having appropriate matrices and reporting framework in place to measure effectiveness of the outsourcing arrangement.

Shift from transactional and traditional HRM activities to transformational
India today has virtually become the back office of the world with a large number of companies outsourcing their non-core functions to India. These non-core functions include transactional activities such as benefits administration, record keeping and employee services and traditional activities such as Recruitment and selection, training, compensation and employee relations. This shift has lead to a company’s HRM department looking at the transformational part that is cultural change and strategic redirection and renewal even more than in the past.

Focus on Output
Any SHRM initiative always focuses on directing the individual, behaviors, culture, subsystem and environment blocks towards achieving a desired output (goal, mission, vision) .Outsourcing also focuses on the output of the process without the additional burden of the remaining five blocks which get outsourced to the service provider.

Implications on organizations
The impacts of outsourcing are not limited to the economic domain. There are also organizational implications, such as loss of control over how an outsourced activity is carried out or a service is delivered. The organization may become dependent on the external service provider and thereby lose strategic flexibility which in turn may harm its long term goals.

Another major area which is hit is the organizations culture. Partial outsourcing will result in the employees retained within the firm having fewer opportunities to gain broad experience and have less career chances (Greer et al., 1999) . This means that motivation levels would reduce. Thus HRM would have to be present to reduce attrition.

Knowledge process outsourcing (KPO) even though currently in its nascent stage is the path that most experts predict the Indian BPO industry will move in the future. This will result in highly specialized knowledge based organizations specializing in one or more fields such as finance, training, etc. Thus the organization will move from a cost center to a profit center with each individual KPO employee contributing towards revenue generation giving the individual a clear sense of the value they provide.

Technology and HR
Technology and the internet have enabled the outsourcing of HR activities such as pay slip generation, retirement planning, etc. This is only possible because specialist service providers can now have real time, internet based access to their employer’s database. Technology also brings with it the demons of hacking, cracking and leakage of information as has been seen via various scandals in the BPO industry. This means that the company’s culture and subsystem will have to be tailored to meet these challenges.

Virtual team
Outsourcing also means that the lead time for training and development of new employees is extremely low as the service provider already has trained professionals and support infrastructure in place. Thus virtual teams can be easily setup whose lifespan is as long as the contract exists between the outsourcer and the BPO. This in turn would mean a cultural disconnect would exist the minds of the workers.

Contract hiring

As the environment becomes more competitive for a company, the resulting cost pressures normally lead to an increased tendency of the firm to hire and fire workers as per the market demand. This just-in-time contract hiring policy has many problems associated with it.

Loss of security
A major problem is the loss of security which a company offers to its workers in the form of health, legal rights and retirement benefits. Independent workers face lower earnings, fewer benefits and legal rights, truncated career paths, and dimmer prospects for retirement income security.
A company is less likely to send/impart training at its own cost to temporary workers. Thus they will not receive expensive training which is needed by them to keep abreast of technological developments so as to enable them to secure good jobs in the future. Instead they would have to spend from their own pockets to gain access to newer training and skill development. Thus HRM training function may shift from the company to the independent workforce.

Training becomes even more relevant when newer technologies get introduced within the company. Since the independent worker can simply be replaced by a more competent independent worker.

So Will SHRM continue in an independent workforce environment?

Strategic HRM refers to the overall direction the organization wishes to pursue in order to achieve its goals through people. A company’s intellectual capital such as experience and technical know how is a major source of its competitive advantage. It is also the employees of the company who implement the strategic plan of the company.

Thus it can be argued that if people get outsourced there is every chance that strategic HRM may itself get outsourced out of the company. However the points explained above clearly show that despite people moving out of the organization, HRM will continue to remain an integral part of an organizations structure.

The Goa Garbage Times

We Indian’s are a very funny lot. We tend to have very short memories about past events. In 1994, Surat went down in the annals of history as the city, which witnessed one of the worst cases of the Plague epidemic. One of the primary reasons for the epidemic was the accumulated filth and garbage, which acted as a breeding ground for rodents. Surat was an extreme case but such incidences are fast becoming the norm in most of our cities and towns.

Goa today is literally buried in garbage. The joke goes that if you stay in a village you either burn your garbage in your own backyard or worse, load it into your car and take it to one of the cities or to a national highway to furtively dump it. If you live in a city, the town municipality piles the cities garbage into overflowing trucks to dump it in one of the nearby villages.

Garbage experts estimate that on average every person in a developing nation produces one pound of trash per day, compared to three times that amount in a developed nation. Already the world's most populous nation, China generates 190 million tons of trash per year, more than the US, and by 2030, the World Bank estimates, that figure will jump to 480 million tons. Garbage is one commodity which everyone creates in plenty but one which no one wants to owe responsibility to.

Household garbage can be broadly classified as wet and dry garbage. Wet garbage is normally foodstuff and other perishable items while dry garbage is mainly paper, plastic, glass and metal waste such as tin cans. Other ways of classification include biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste, recyclable and non-recyclable waste and so on.

‘Mass burn’ incineration is being widely used to convert garbage into electrical power. Germany is one of the best examples for this. However, the environmental impacts of this technology are huge. The Incineration of garbage can result in release of harmful dioxins into the environment. Clean burn technology can trap and filter out these toxins but is rarely used as the costs are too great.

In India the most common form of garbage disposal is to use the landfill method where in garbage is compacted and stored for life by ultimately covering the landfill with soil. The main problem with this method is the leachate and Methane gas created by it. If not properly handled these can result in ground water contamination as was evident from the Curcca waste dump incident.

So how can individuals contribute to reducing the garbage menace. One way would be to ensure that wet garbage gets treated in our homes itself. Composting is the most effective and environmentally clean way of dealing with ones own garbage in ones own backyard. Even people living in flats can use vermiculture composting using composting bins. At the community level, mass biological degradation techniques like biogas may be used.

Segregation and recycling can be effectively practiced to handle dry garbage. Most metals, glass and paper can be easily recycled on an industrial scale if properly segregated. The best case in point for this method is Rio De Genero, Brazil where 95% of soft drink cans are recycled. Segregation needs to be practiced by each home to make this technique successful.

Plastics are the achelees heel for any garbage management program. In the financial year 2003-04, about 42 million tons of plastic was used in India. Burning plastic waste produces toxic smoke. Dumping wet garbage in a plastic bag is the worst thing any individual can do as it ends up in the stomach of stray cows and dogs.

A better solution to the problem ,as proposed by Mr. Atanu Day, would be to charge a disposal fee for every plastic bag manufactured, say of Rs. 0.10.This fee would get passed on to the consumer. The next step would be to have collection centers, where for every plastic bag turned in, Re 0.08 is reimbursed. People automatically will start using less number of plastic bags (Simple economics 101: price goes up, quantity demanded goes down) and even if they use them, they will have an incentive to recycle.

Many state governments have put a ban on the use of plastic bags, but plastic is still used in many other forms.Research continues accross the globe on how to handle plastics.The best example is a process which converts plastic into fuel, developed by Prof. Alka Zadgaonkar from an engineering college in Nagpur.Limiting plastic usage is the best solution to this.Simple measures like taking a cloth bag for shopping can go a long way.

Privatization of garbage handling can also work wonders .For example, in Chennai, Veolia Environnement has been doing great work but the same strategy has miserably failed in Delhi due to political misadventure.

Commercial establishments like restaurants are also huge wet garbage generators. Privatization will mean that such establishments will have to pay for handling garbage thus reducing the amount of garbage in the end.

School kids are the future citizens of our nation. Inculcating good garbage handling practices in them can do wonders in controlling the garbage problem. Almost every E-mail user today has been plagued by E-garbage that is Spam mail in his /her inbox. Spam can be managed by pressing the delete key or just a few mouse clicks. The ‘Delete’ key can do wonders in the cyber-world but no such 'Delete' key exists in the real world, which can handle our ever-growing garbage crisis. For this, the attitude of people towards garbage must change, from their garbage being the municipalities or their neighbor’s problem to their own problem that can be tackled in-house.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Recovery Tools for IE

Internet Explorer 5.0 and above recovering backup files from an Internet Explorer or Netscape backup.
Within Internet Explorer, click the File menu and "Import and Export...".
Within the Import and Export window click Next.
Click "Import Favorites" and click Next.
Select the location that contains your favorites and click Next.
Select where you with to save your favorites and click Next.
Click Finish.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Marketing made simple

1. You see a gorgeous girl at a party. You go up to her and say: "I am very rich. Marry me! " - That's Direct Marketing"

2. You're at a party with a bunch of friends and see a gorgeous girl. One of your friends goes up to her and pointing at you says: " He's very rich. "Marry him." -That's Advertising"

3. You see a gorgeous girl at a party. You go up to her and get her telephone number. The next day, you call and say: " Hi, I'm very rich. "Marry me - That's Telemarketing"

4. You're at a party and see gorgeous girl. You get up and straighten your tie, you walk up to her and pour her a drink, you open the door (of the car)for her, pick up her bag after she drops it, offer her ride and then say:"By the way, I'm rich. Will you "Marry Me?" - That's Public Relations"

5. You're at a party and see gorgeous girl. She walks up to you and says:"You are very rich! "Can you marry ! Me?" - That's Brand Recognition"

6. You see a gorgeous girl at a party. You go up to her and say: "I am very rich. Marry me!" She gives you a nice hard slap on your face. - " That's Customer Feedback"

7. You see a gorgeous girl at a party. You go up to her and say: "I am very rich. Marry me!" And she introduces you to her husband. - "That's demand and supply gap"

8. You see a gorgeous girl at a party. You go up to her and before you say anything, another person come and tell her: "I'm rich. Will you marry me?" and she goes with him - "That's competition eating into your market share"

9. You see a gorgeous girl at a party. You go up to her and before you say: "I'm rich, Marry me!" your wife arrives. - "That's restriction for entering new markets.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

BEST approach

Everything you communicate with your customers has a purpose. What do you want them to do?

Deliver information that your best prospects and customers really need to succeed at work or in life.

Your content marketing efforts must be an integral part of your overall business strategy. Link your content strategy to your bottom line results.

You must target your content precisely so that it is truly relevant to your buyers.

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