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Archive for the ‘Human resources’ Category

India Post – the road to recovery

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India Post is a jewel in the crown of the Government office provided it can be managed well and steered in the right direction. Read the rest of this entry »


Written by Naveen Athresh

June 11, 2007 at 3:36 pm

Captive centres in India

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There has been a significant trend in establishing cost centers and profit centers offshore in recent years.

Let us examine the business model of such centers and why so many companies are exploring this. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Naveen Athresh

May 17, 2007 at 11:03 pm

IT services versus IT products – which is better

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If you ask for my honest opinion, this is like comparing apples with oranges!

Let me elaborate by going into the grassroots of the IT service sector before striking the analogies/differences between an IT service and an IT product business. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Naveen Athresh

April 1, 2007 at 11:15 am

Importance of communication skills

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We see this happen all around us but we turn a blind eye to it – either due to our constraints or due to our necessities or both.

Email communication is possibly one of the wonders of the world – in my opinion. The truth comes out and its hard to lie on the written medium. We can get away by saying things but when we put it down in words, it stays put. During my stay at TCS, someone had remarked that emails sent out with official company domain name would be treated as legal and valid.

People need to improve communication skills. If you cannot convey what you think, its hard for the other person to understand what you are trying to convey. Interpersonal skills are equally important and sufficient trainings are not being conducted by organizations esp. in India to stem this problem.

Technical manpower can be got albeit at a compromise when it comes to their communication skills. Attitude of the same people can again not be changed once they are on the rolls and hence it is critical we think beyond the traditional technical capabilities of individuals.

As demand for quality manpower goes up esp. in a IT service boom industry such as India, it will become imperative to screen for candidates with good communication skills. Managers need to sensitize themselves on this aspect and act accordingly. Most candidates don’t even make the effort at improving their communication skills – this is going to lead to big problems in the future.

Caveat Emptor – companies beware!

Written by Naveen Athresh

February 3, 2007 at 11:59 am

Posted in Human resources

General Electric – John F Welch, Jr.

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Jack as he is popularly called raised the market cap of General Electric (NYSE: GE) by about $400 billion over the two decades of his reign at the top post of one of America’s best known faces – GE!

His autobiography

spells out the roller coaster ride he had and how he moved into the top post at GE where he reigned supreme conquering corporate America by its horns!

I am deeply influenced by his innovative management style and the fact that here was a brutally frank yet such a demanding leader!

I usually like reading up books on corporate CEO’s and people who made it big.

I believe it teaches us the perspective of looking and thinking big picture.

Written by Naveen Athresh

January 21, 2007 at 1:14 pm

Harvard business review – Managing people — my review

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The book I am currently reading is the HBR series on Managing people.

It talks of a lot of interesting facets among which it measures work productivity of individuals, how well we utilize them and the fact that labor rates are not the same as labor costs.

So, why is the ‘people’ part of it so important. As one of my Human resource professors put it, human capital is exactly that. No matter what amount of automation exists, we still require labor to do things in any industry – even in this globalized world. There is a huge shortfall of talented professionals today. India itself is a witness to this global phenomenon. Among this, the IT and the BPO sectors are hit more than the others. IT companies are hiring people in thousands. If they do not have competant managers to manage the work of those thousands, the productivity of the entire company could be hit, this would directly impact their sales and obviously their bottom line. The need of the hour is to have qualified managers who know how to get the best out of people. You cannot dispense off this ‘people’ aspect in any work environment in any industry. Its the very backbone of the industries today.

Coming back to the book after the short primer on my correlation of the ‘people’ aspect with International trade, the book itself lists down a lot of myths held by conventional International managers and where they go wrong in their assessment.

Some of them are listed below (Source: HBR series on managing people)

Myth #1 – Labor rates are same as labor costs

Myth #2- Cutting labor rates will lower labor costs

Myth #3 – Labor costs represent a large portion of the company’s total costs

Myth #4 – Keeping labor costs low creates a potent and sustainable competitive edge

Myth #5 – Individual incentive pay improves performance

Myth #6 – People work primarily for the money 

It further goes on to say that monetary benefits are not necessarily the only way one can retain manpower. Its not the only carrot. There are a lot of subtle aspects that can make a difference. Many managers tend to confuse the labor rates (Total wages / # of hours worked) with labor costs (how much does it cost to utilize the same labor or in other words, labor producitivity measure). Good examples are taken to illustrate the same and I found it really enchanting as this is what reminds me of the recession of 2001 or even Intel’s recently announced layoff plans for 15000 of their employees worldwide or on my pet topic – GM – where I did measure their productivity, plant capacity utilization etc. where they lag behind their immediate competitor, Toyota by miles!

GM’s labor productivity is lesser when compared to competitors such as Toyota and this contributes to a large portion of their  misfortune in addition to their labor costs (where they are paying up large sums to take care of backdated healthcare benefits etc.) I did hear that they got into negotiations with the UAW but a turnaround in GM’s fortunes is yet to be seen. Its a behemoth and I would be pleasantly surprised if they do survive this current crisis situation.

As one of my associate residing in the US recently remarked this about GM – GM is an acronym for ‘Generally under maintenance’!

There was also a 20-year old article (published sometime in 1984) on managing people and performance in the same book – a paperback edition of the HBR that talks about Pygmalion in management! Really great article filled with common sense.

Written by Naveen Athresh

November 13, 2006 at 7:37 pm