Saturday, December 15, 2018

A "Personnel" Letter

Dear Employee,

I know you believe with your heart and head that HR (traditionally known as the Personnel department) is a good-for-nothing department. You think that we come to work just to idle away our time and get salaries for free. And that our only job is to hire people and making your salaries (apart from making rangolis and organizing office parties).

I know you blame us for all the awful things that happen to you at work (or may be at home too!). Even when you are late for office in the morning because you woke up late, you must be blaming us for the office location being ten kilometres away from your residence. I am sure, you find a way to blame us for your constipation every morning too! Well, you sure do have a lot many preconceived notions and misconceptions about us and I am sick and tired of your cheap jibes. So here are some things that you should know.

We are the interface between the management and you. So the truth is we get bashed up on both sides. We need to play the role of a mediator and strike a balance between the you too but ultimately end up becoming the unpopular lot. For the good things, the management takes credit; for the bad things, we take the beating.

No, our only job is not to hire people and making your salaries. Our role starts even before we know you. We help departments in making manpower plans and hiring people. We help to screen prospective employees, and put up a fight to bring in the best and honest people to the organization. We are responsible for all the aspects of an employee's life cycle and even beyond. We are loathed for our processes, systems, procedures and policies. But can't you see? We do all this to have a healthy working environment and a healthy organization. We are the custodian of the key to the DNA of our organization (but sometimes it is snatched away by higher powers).

Training is not the sole job of HR. Many things and skills are learnable at your own level, provided you have the attitude to learn. So stop expecting that we will be giving you vocabulary lessons! Your managers are your foremost trainers and mentors. We can provide you specific development opportunities only when your managers let us know about your potential. Ditto when it comes to your promotions and increments. So talk to them! Let them know about your accomplishments, requirements and expectations. The next time you start cursing us for your peanut increment, remember that we are not the ones who draw any pleasure from your poor increment.

When the washroom is not clean or you have a problem with your parking space, please don't come to us. You are supposed to contact the office admin person. Yes my dear, HR and Office Admin are two different activities.

No, we are not snobs. We are forced to put up poker faces to stop you from making illogical statements and unreasonable accusations. And no, we don't know about everything that is happening in the organization (even if we want to) and we are not gossip mongers. So, please don't try to befriend us for inside information's sake!

But yes, you can come to us when something's bothering you, when you don't know how to handle a certain situation and need advice. We will surely try to help you to the best of our abilities. And if we can't help, we will let you know.

You might not have encountered the best of HR people in your professional life. But you can't think poorly of us based on your prejudices. It is like saying that all salespeople are liars and all accountants are nerds. So give us a chance and understand that negative perceptions can be broken only through better experiences. And it goes both ways.

Depending on the size and type of organization and its goals and culture, HR's role in an organization ranges from hygiene to strategic. At heart, our role remains to ensure an ethical organization, to have organized systems, to streamline activities and avoid chaos, to promote well-being of employees. We strive to have a positive workplace, to keep people connected. After all, happy employees are productive and effective employees, aren't we? We are constantly trying to find ways to bring people together, to nurture team spirit, to promote positivity and encourage work-life balance. We often have to challenge orthodox managers for that, and we seldom succeed at one go but we never give up. But we can't do things alone. 

Every department in an organization has a role to play, and none can work in isolation. And each have their own limitations. So next time you try to take a jab at us, try looking at a mirror too. Hence, instead of always finding fault with each other,  we need to work in tandem. Together we can make our workplace a better place.

With best regards,
Your HR team.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

When You Care

I believe you can take care of other people only when you are truly concerned about them. An exception may be when you are a caregiver by profession. But again, you can truly be honest in the same when you empathize with those who need your care.

Families spend years together under the same roof, without feeling any real connect with each other. So called friends may hang out together everyday, yet remain oblivious to each others' lives. Why some people are capable of offering help without being asked, while others are able to overlook when the other person clearly needs help? I believe the answer lies in genuine concern and kindheartedness. 

A person who loves his/her family and friends to bits, even when his/her love and concern is not cent percent reciprocated, he/she will bear all hardships for them. And a kindhearted person will always be able to empathize with your pain, sorrow and hardship. Such people are always ready to lend you a helping hand, even when you don't ask for it. There are so few people who genuinely care about other people, about their well-being without an ulterior motive. They check on you from time to time, even if you don't care a fig about them. They genuinely care about you, and that makes all the difference.

Then there are the others with magnanimous hearts, the kindhearted. They embrace humanity at large, offer their selfless service to the lesser privileged. They care about other living souls with a sense of empathy and genuine love.

It is only when you care about someone, that you can feel the burn of their pain as well as the warmth of their happiness. Your genuine concern lets you see when they need support. It enables you to go ahead and lend a helping hand without being asked, to take care of them with an open heart and with open limbs. They will not need to ask for your help because you will reach out to them on your own. The fact that you care will reflect in your words and your action. When you love and care about someone, it will manifest in kindness and empathy. 

If I care about you, I will be kind to you in the simplest of ways. It may simply mean getting you a glass of water or simply asking how you are doing.  It is as simple as that.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Looking Married

They - "You are married!"
Me - "Yeah....."
They - "But you don't look married at all!!!!"

I get this a lot. From colleagues, acquaintances, salon staff to random people I meet. Many of my office colleagues assumed that I am single and are surprised when I mention my husband or in-laws in my casual talks. When I was already working for couple of years, many still asked me what I was studying.

Not to brag, but I have been even looked at as a prospective bride in other people's weddings a couple of times. They didn't even notice the red vermilion on my forehead. And once it was at my own brothers-in-law's wedding! And yes, that's the reason why aunties and sisters attend weddings, to check out prospective daughter-in-laws for their families.

My husband breathes mock fumes when I report such stories and remarks playfully that I should go out of the house all dolled up in fistful of sindoor (vermilion) , dangling mangalsutra (a black beaded necklace which married North Indian women typically wear) and jingling bangles.

And it makes me wonder what does looking married means anyway. How does a woman look married?

Is it wearing traditional attire?
Or applying a dollop of sindoor on her middle hair parting?
Or by announcing her entry with jingling of bangles and anklets?
Or by not taking care of her looks and body?
Or by opening her mouth only to blabber about cooking, housekeeping, husband and children?
Or by appearing haggard at all times?

And why does a married woman need to look married at all?


They - "But you don't look married at all!!!!"
Me - "Thank you. I would take that as a compliment." (With a wide grin!)

May be it's just my "look younger" genes (Thank you Ma and Deta!).