Friday, July 14, 2017

There is no finish line.

Earlier this year my search for a good pair of running shoes took me to a Nike store. I came across this amazing poster there, and the image has stayed with me since.

Running is an adventure. And it can take you places you couldn’t even imagine. (Source: Nike)

Friday, February 17, 2017

What really does hiring for attitude mean?

It simply means that you hire someone who'll get the job done - in the right way, without cutting corners, and thinks about the customer before his/her own job security. Has more empathy and passion than the person next to them.

You oft hear the phrase, 'Skills/tools/domain/industry stuff can be thought", but of what use will it be if the learner isn't ready?

The readiness to learn, to fail, to risk, to succeed, to roll-up-the-sleeves and get the job done, to be the hardest worker in the room, are all traits that differentiates the candidate from the pool.

It's not a successful recruitment formula.

It just increases your chances of finding someone who'll have a whatever-it-takes skill to succeed.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017


It's an art.

It's easier said than done.

It's an uncomfortable place to be in.

It's not a people-friendly way to run the HR function.

Yet, candor delivers every single time.

We are tuned to not be brutally honest with each other. And the longer we practice it, we'll start implementing it on ourselves. And that's where the danger lies.

Most often the reason cited for not using candor is- culture. That's a fallacy because culture is itself formed by the very people who either use candor or not. We engage with people more than just once. We work with the same team for 10-12 hours a day. Think about all that you and the team can achieve if you were to use candor in your communication. You can start saying 'No' to an unreasonable request, speak up in team meetings, have open conversations about bad behavior, give and receive constructive feedback, the speed of execution improves drastically (suddenly everyone knows what to expect).

Candor is not an excuse to become a jerk. It's really just candid dialogue, to talk freely about insights, share observations, call out what's working or not (think about that 2-hr mindless PPT that you last sat through). The biggest disservice is NOT being candid with the person in front of the mirror or a friend/colleague/peer on what they must be told, and not what they want to hear.

Is candor easy? Nope. It's also a lot tougher to learn the art of using candor. It's painful (sometimes more for yourself than for the person in front of you). You'll learn the art, one conversation at a time. Push back on fear of perception, that nagging thought that you'll hurt someone's feeling, and the fear of consequences.

It's not easy. But, you'll never know unless you start. And that first conversation starts with the one you have with yourself.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

5 Days and 4 Nights

Disclaimer: This is not an advertisement for a travel itinerary by a fly-by-night operator. Also, it's an event that happened a few years ago and this post was sitting in the 'Draft' folder for a long time.

I’m referring to 5 Days and 4 Nights that were spent in the hospital, while my mother underwent neurosurgery for an extreme case of Trigeminal Neuralgia. She’s doing fine now, but the tabs were not helping her stay active. She needed to rest for at least 15 hours a day! Anyway, my stay at the hospital (as her caretaker/attendee) was filled with loads of tension, anxiety and extremely high levels of hyper-tension, while she was undergoing surgery. I read an entire book in about 4-5hours (can't even remember the name right now) and a ton of help from my wife kept me from going into a hysterical black-hole.

So, I did eventually manage to keep calm and in fact had a lot of lessons to learn from the hospital staff. They were efficiency in motion!  

Lesson #1: Keep your cool!

The doctors, nurses and every single paramedic in the Operation Theatre, ICU and wards displayed calmness during the entire surgery. I did get to see the video of the surgery, to re-assure and also to keep me informed about the procedure. They had to keep their cool. And hold their nerve with tons of patience. After all, the patient’s life was in their hands. Literally!

Anxiety kills half your brain-cells, or atleast it dulls the senses enough to not think clearly. I’m sure your role as HR could involve hiring, firing, conducting appraisals, employee relations, HR ops and loads more. Phew!  This makes you feel swamped with work! Just imagine, if your next move involved saving a person’s life and you froze. 

Here’s what I learnt – take on one issue at a time. Multi-tasking is great, but even that needs a priority list to be prepared before you get into the task. A cool head is what helps you get that list straight and with enough room for flexibility. For example, retention of employees should be a higher priority than planning a replacement for them. Unless they are let-go for either integrity issues or poor performance. It’s a no-brainer, right?

Lesson #2: Timely Communication is MANDATORY!

At the hospital, I’d spent a considerable amount of time outside the Operation Theatre and ICU waiting for the doctor to come and update me on the medical situation. The waiting time was filled with anticipation and nervousness. Thankfully, he did come with an update on time.

I suppose it’s the same at your workplace too. Right? Honestly, there will be queries around Performance Appraisal, Employee Referral, Company Policies and Practices, Salary Structure, Employee Benefits and more (see you are swamped with work!) Hold on! Don’t panic. Either you DO know the answers to all the queries (not likely) or you DON’T know. If you do know, then you’ll answer (hopefully on time) to the query. If you know the answer and are still NOT responding to the query on time, time to re-look at your style of working.

The trouble actually starts when you don’t know the answer. You get a query from an employee via mail/call/in-person, for which you don’t know the answer. What to do next? Unable to think through it, you sit on the query for many days without doing anything about it. Meanwhile, the employee who had to fill the appraisal waited and sent an incomplete one which is going to impact the review. It’s an extreme case, but nonetheless, it did happen. If you DON’T know the answer, let the person know. Ask for time to get back (be practical in taking time) and then come back to ask your manager or other team members, but get that query answered – ON TIME. More importantly, it's perfectly okay to ask for help.

Lesson #3: Think and Act

More often than not, we do have a tendency to “jump-the-gun” while solving problems! It’s good, after all having a bias-for-action is appreciated. However, a little discretion never hurts, while deciding the course of action. THINK & ACT! Is it easier said than done? You bet!

Fire-fighting is a tough skill. Combine that with some strategic thinking and you’ll get yourself a killer-combo!


The best lessons are learnt in the most unlikeliest of places. Mine just happened to be in a hospital…

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Four books that one MUST read in 2017

There are book lists and then there are books that change your life.

Here are 4 books that I'm sure will have a positive impact on the reader.

 P.S: I'll share my thoughts on each book, but if you've already read them, do share your takeaways as well. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Happy New Year!

The video might be a distraction, it's also a sign that most times we are focusing on the easy targets. Like sending a mass mail to candidates, WhatsApp'ing a common wish to everyone on your contact list, or even worse not doing anything at all. Everything is a choice.

May 2017 be the year where you take the leap-of-faith to:

- develop an attitude that will get shit done
- be ever so optimistic that you'll work on an idea even if it has a 20% chance of working
- bring candor to every discussion
- keep the faith in people around you
- make 'Trust' your defacto mode in day-to-day work
- not shy away from failing
Everything is a choice. Make yours count!

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

5 years, 7 months, 15 days...

Wow! It's been a long time and there's this thing called the writer's block.

Well, the past few years have been truly amazing on the personal and professional front. It's kept me so freakin' busy that I almost forgot that I used to write here.

I truly hope that I find the inspiration in 2017 to write about all that I've learned these past few years.

Wishing you and your family Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year!


Thursday, May 12, 2011

Managers, clones and hiring

Have you ever experienced an interview where managers are looking at hiring candidates that are clones/replica of themselves? And then you get back from the discussion wondering if it was for a role that you didn’t fit into. Or, you got hired for a role that held much more promise than the one you eventually got.

It’s not an uncommon scenario. The easiest way for a manager to conquer the hiring heights is to look for candidates that match the job description 100% and yet would bring in a bit more competency to the table. It’s an ideal scenario that has, less ramp-up time, good fit and most importantly easy to manage. They’re easy to manage (or at least so it seems) because they already know what needs to be done. Zero conflict situation. Perfect.

Except that they are far too many issues that will crop up in due course of time. That’s when the ‘safe’ managers will take a hit. Imagine a situation where the product needs a new roadmap to be defined and everyone at the table thinks alike! Breaking news: The product just got killed.

What should you do if you are a manager stuck in this hiring situation? First and most importantly, don’t benchmark candidates against the last person in that role. Treat each candidate’s competency differently. Assess your current team’s strength and hire to fix gaps. Be prepared to accept new perspectives. Give the candidate some room to learn things in the role. Finally, be ready to take risks (at least the calculated ones) as a manager. If you can’t, then ask yourself if you are in the right role.

What should you do if you are a candidate stuck in this situation? You were promised a meatier role, but ended up in a role that’s identical to your last job. It’s time to communicate with your manager. Understand the duration of your current responsibilities in the role. If it’s for a fixed duration, then ask for a timeline to start taking on more/newer things. I’m quite sure there’s no manager (in their right senses) that would say ‘No’ to a team member asking to take on work. If the answer is no, the responsibilities will continue for an indefinite time, it’s a call you need to take. Are you willing to continue or move on?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Can I tag along for an interview?

I got this question at a discussion forum with friends.

Can I tag along for an interview?

Adding a little more context to the question; the person asking the question comes with a background of approx 5-6 years of work experience and has been on the look out for a another job for the last few months. He hasn’t yet received a call from any prospective employer. Another person in the forum got an interview call with a company for a job that matches the original poster’s profile. This wasn’t a walk-in interview. It was a scheduled one. Should he just tag along with his friend?

The short & quick answer is – No. Please don’t tag along with your friend for an interview.

Now, here’s a bit more explanation. There are at least three different sets of people involved in this situation. In order of priority: Your friend. Company/Firm. Yourself.

First, let’s take your friend’s situation. He’s might have known you long enough and doesn’t want to end up saying ‘No’ (which he ideally should say). Yet, you are putting him on the spot by asking to tag along. It’s his interview call and let him go for it. The best you can get from your friend would be the mail ID of either the recruiter or hiring manager to send your resume. Tagging along would put him and yourself in an awkward situation at the interview.

Second, let’s see the company perspective. Yes, they would love to talk to another candidate, but it’ll have to be on another day too. This just happened to be a ‘scheduled’ interview. It means that time and effort of the interview panel was planned. They definitely can’t accommodate another unplanned candidate into their schedule. They’ll ask you to send your updated resume to them for consideration. Save yourself and them the trouble and wait for your friend to get back from the interview.

Finally, from your perspective, this is a great opportunity. Agreed. But you’ll end up messing the opportunity it if you tag along. Typically, companies would like to review a candidate’s resume before they initiate a discussion. And possibly even have a telephonic discussion before meeting you in-person. That hasn’t happened in your case, they’ll have to say ‘No’ to you.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Candidate Tip - Part 10

I started the ‘Candidate Tip Series’ on this blog with the intent to answer recruitment related questions from readers. The series was also introduced in an attempt to avoid redundancy in replies. I tweet these tips on my twitter account too, and use the hash-tag #candidatetip.

If you are a candidate, hope this helps. If not, you can help send this post to people searching for answers. I’ll continue to take questions and should you have one, you can send it to

Looking for the earlier posts on candidate tips? You can read them here

  1. Putting your spouse's contact number on your resume isn't a great idea. Recruiter's would want to talk to the candidate.

  2. Not a good idea to place an interviewer 'on-hold' during an interview. And not return to the call even after 5 mins! Enough reason to reject.

  3. Words like 'hyper-active' don't sound great on your cover letter. You may want to rephrase.
  4. Using wi-fi connectivity during interviews is fine. Just don’t get hooked to it and forget the very reason for being there.

  5. Use your name as the file/doc name for your CV. Eg: .doc/.pdf. Names like 'Cool Boy', 'HR Bull', 'Chosen One' sound insane!

  6. If you're referred by a friend for a job at the company he works, let him know you'll meet him after the interview. Stay focused.

  7. Avoid using acronyms in interviews. Else, first give context and then use it. Saying BRX, MNJ, XYZ means nothing to anyone outside your current company. Explain it.

  8. It's ok to follow-up with the recruiter/hiring manager on the status of your interview. A couple of mails should be fine. Don’t go over-board. If they still don’t reply, you wouldn’t want to work for them
  9. .

  10. It's not a good sign when you want re-negotiate the job offer after you’ve accepted it. Think.

  11. Take time. Read. Re-read. Ask questions. And only then say ‘Yes’.

  12. It's ok to ask the hiring manager a few questions on his/her style of management. You'll know if it works for you or not.

  13. Try to not change your contact number(s) in the middle of an interview process. If you really have to change it, keep the recruiter informed.

  14. It's not a great idea to take another interview on phone, while you wait in the lobby for the present one to start! Not. A. Good. Idea.

  15. Coming from a competitor definitely gives you an edge, but you still need to ace the interviews. Take nothing for granted!

  16. Aggressiveness is an asset. Don't demonstrate by hitting the discussion table, to make ur point! It's not the same trait.

  17. Getting a presentation to an interview is fine. Just don't force it on the interviewer; unless it was asked of you.

  18. If you're invited for an interview outside the employer's office, it's your call whether to want to take it there or not.

  19. Good hiring managers look for two must-have things in managerial candidates: (1) Emotional Quotient (2) Intelligence Quotient. Go prepared.