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HR is not an add-on function

August 28, 2011 2 comments

An acquaintance called a few days back to inform that they had recently started their own business and wanted to know if we could help them with recruiting & HRO.

We had a preliminary meeting where the couple ( the acquaintance & her spouse) insisted that they were in a tearing hurry and wanted everything related to HR done up in 30 days, so that they could focus on business thereafter. They wanted everything to be automated so that right from the day a new employee joined, there was no need for any “human intervention”.  They had ambitious business plan but HR had no place or time in that. HR practices were ” necessary but not important”.  I made attempts to inform  them that HR practices necessarily involve Human interaction &  facilitation and that it was an ongoing process and that they can’t think of growth without taking care of the people.

The promoter said that he had seen the best systems in some big organisations & they worked seamlessly without much human involvement. He failed to recognize that these organisations were in business for decades and had fine-tuned their systems. The human interaction part was getting  addressed at the branch/unit levels and so was not visible.

Anyhow, to get more information about their business, values etc, we proposed to send across a questionnaire to help them write down their answers (we insist on the writing part as most often it helps in arriving at clarity). They committed 2 days to revert with anything that we needed so that we could go back to them with a plan & timelines.

The answers never came. Initially they said that more time was needed as they were finding it difficult to get answers. After following up for 2-3 times, we were told that they were busy and did not have time to answer the questions. I suggested that we meet so that i could help them answer the questions by facilitating the process. A time was fixed but the hosts failed to confirm the meeting. Our repeated efforts to contact through phone, mail & messages met up with no success. It was evident that they were avoiding us. ( Had this been a candidate, we would have dropped them after the initial few attempts). I wish, instead of avoiding our calls,  they could have just told us that they did not need our services.

This whole episode and my interactions with many SMB promoters over last 2 years has left me with few thoughts.

  1. Why do many organisations still treat the people functions & HR practices as an add-on function only ?
  2. What kind of metrics can be used to demonstrate linkages between good HR practices & organisational success and vice-versa ?
  3. Can promoters behavior towards vendors & service providers be used to benchmark their possible attitude towards their employees ?

Please share your thoughts & experiences.

10 favorite entrepreneurship books

May 19, 2011 1 comment

There are a lot of books and article talking about why & how of entrepreneurship. Many bestsellers from real life experiences to strategies and case studies.

Here are my top 10 favorite must read for any Budding entrepreneur ( not in any particular order). Some of these are more relevant from Indian Perspective where I operate while others are relevant generically. A few of these books don’t have anything to do about entrepreneurship directly but offer some fantastic lessons which can be key to setting up and building a Business. Many of them are now famous movies too.

Book  #1 – Jonathan Livingston Seagull (Richard Bach) – a book which makes the reader dream & explore the untested domains. a book that encourages you to find a purpose in life & then to strive to achieve perfection in that purpose. This is the story of a seagull who does not want to live just to eat. He loves flying and breaks all boundaries to become the best.

Book #2 – The Pursuit of Happyness (Chris Gardner) – real life rags to riches story of an individual. Showcases what sheer determination & perseverance can help you achieve.

Book #3Losing my Virginity (Richard Branson) – One of the original maverick. a fantastic account of how a dream gets shaped from a college publishing venture to  music to airline and more. the tale of a person with steely determination & desire to succeed

Book #4 – Simply fly (Capt. Gopinath) – Every word, a lesson in the journey of a serial entrepreneur.From a farmer, to motorcycle dealer, from a politician to an aviation pioneer, this book will fill you with dreams and thoughts of being on your own.

Book #5Mahavakya on Leadership (Lt. Gen. Dr. M L Chibber) – a practical guide to value based leadership from a famous army veteran. Unveils the leadership principles for those who wish to lead & serve. This book discusses leadership in action by taking examples from lives of Mohandas Gandhi, Benjamin Franklin & Winston Churchill among others and even lays down a road map for teachers & parents to inculcate leadership qualities in children.

Book #6The High performance Entrepreneur (Subroto Bagchi) – a step by step do-it-yourself guide for anyone thinking of starting their own business. Subroto Bagchi’s other book ,The Professional, is an equally great book.

Book #7Mavericks at work (William C Taylor & Polly LaBarre) –  an account of business leaders / entrepreneurs from  around the world and how they are redefining their domains  by being original .From banking for a cause to grassroot collaboration, open source to sharing values, every case study is like a fresh breath. Another book on same lines is Blue Ocean Strategy ( W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne).

Book #8Against all odds (A G Krishnamurthy) –  instances from the life of Dhirubhai Ambani and how he fought against all odds and surmounted every obstacle  to build a giant business empire.

Book #9Before you quit your job (Robert Kiyosaki) – From the writer of  Rich Dad Poor Dad, a simple guide for every employee wanting to become an employer. some of Roberts messages could appear again & again in his books and his narrative too is repetitive in nature. This book still qualifies as one of the good reads.

Book #10Connect the Dots (Rashmi Bansal) – Success stories of common ordinary individuals who had the courage to see opportunity and the acumen to seize the moment.

Which are your favorite books that have made you think about being an entrepreneur ?

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