Guiding principles on work-life balance

Posted in People & Culture

There are umpteen articles available on work-life balance but the latest one from HBR is bang on target. The five themes mentioned in the article can be effectively used as guiding principles to achieve a good work-life balance.

1. Define success for yourself – This finally boils down to how much time you want to spend with your family and kids versus achieving your professional goals.

2. Selective travel or relocation for work – If you have family, this is tricky. If your partner is working, it can be complicated. Can you move easily for the next promotion or work opportunity?

3. Manage technology usage – Do you want to access office mails while having dinner with your family? Are you available 24×7 for your work?

4. Build support networks – This is applicable both at work as well as home. I guess this cannot be compromised on both the fronts if you want to lead a quality life and achieve professional success.

5. Collaborating with your partner – Again this is mandatory. If you are not collaborating with your partner in decisions that impact them, you may not have a partner for long!


From BYOD to BYOS – A new service model for enterprise

Posted in Hot, Ideas, People & Culture, Technology

These days it is not uncommon for you to access your official mails on your personal Blackberry or Android or iPhone. This is exactly what a BYOD or bring-your-own-device model is. It is quite a challenge for enterprise IT teams to ensure security of network and corporate data every time an employee accesses sales report or downloads sensitive information on his own device.


The adoption of BYOD is on rise and a recent poll by market researcher IDC shows that more than half the polled companies support employees using their own device. It is also shown that there exists a positive link between usage of employee own device and employee satisfaction. This is a great news as it can help reduce cost as well as boost employee performance.


As more employees start to use BYOD model, the boundary is getting pushed beyond devices to include software and services that employees want to use directly. Today 77% of online adults in US use at least one personal cloud service such as Dropbox (a file sharing service). This consumerization of IT is leading to a shift towards more personal choice and ability to personally select the tools that employees want to use. Many products are moving away from perpetual to subscription based model and offering SAAS (software-as-a-service). So, employees are increasingly selecting what is available. Well, if you represent enterprise IT, there are many challenges that you have to deal with.

This is probably the biggest issue to deal with in a BYOS model. Similar to BYOD, organizations need to worry about if these BYOS services meet their security requirements. Moreover concern around providing access to sensitive data has to be solved before the integration can work.

Though this is somewhat related to security but organizations need to consider any additional cost of hardware and software that these services might need and how requirements across multiple groups can be managed together.

Just like any service model is built with standard SLA, BYOS is no different. It is important to understand them and know the quality of support should things go wrong.

Future proof
Are the services customization and extensible? It is important that BYOS remains compatible with other IT systems and integration points where they are used.

Just like the forces of BYOD models are prevailing, BYOS is here to stay. We better get in front of it!

Whopping 87% of employees worldwide are dis-engaged in their jobs!

Posted in People & Culture

A recent Gallup survey reports that only 13% employees worldwide are engaged in their jobs. The number for India is –

Engaged – 9%
Disengaged – 60%
Actively disengaged – 31%

The problem is not just a large percentage of disengaged employees but employees who are actively disengaged. Gallup defines actively disengaged employees as

“Actively disengaged employees aren’t just unhappy at work; they’re busy acting out their unhappiness. Every day, these workers undermine what their engaged coworkers accomplish.”

disengaged employees

If you talk to many front line managers, they will be able to describe several reasons about why this is happening. In my opinion, it is not that the organizations are not aware of key issues that is causing this disenchantment. But what is hurting organization is the lack of ability and willingness to act on it and provide ways that employees feel connected to their company.

I do not want to focus on what key issues are and what can potentially be done – much literature exists on that. I am more interested in hearing your observations on what you have seen organizations trying out to increase employee engagement – what has worked and what has not.

Harvard Business Review has created an interactive map for all countries.

Law of Hiring

Posted in Hiring, People & Culture

The law of hiring states:

“Hiring an individual whose potential to perform is below the current team’s average brings down the team’s average performance”.

Conversely, “Hiring an individual who can perform better than the current team’s average increases the team’s average performance”

Why the law is important? Because the law of hiring determines your team performance. A sample calculation based on this law illustrates this point.


This means that the hiring exercise should focus on assessing a candidates potential to perform. Higher the delta, higher the influence on the team’s average. There will be times when your assessment will go wrong but at least being aware of this law allow you to take corrective measures during your next hiring gig. This awareness also help you to provide any training and mentoring facilities to the new hire.

What constitutes performance and how to assess it is not an easy task. However, it is something that you must prepare yourself, in advance, if you are the hiring manager.

The team’s overall performance depends on you. Are you listening? How have you applied this law?

How business models like subscription impact innovation culture

Posted in General, People & Culture

I was recently reading an article by Steve Blank on how startup is not a smaller version of a large company. One of the important points that he mentioned was around value system and the differences in a way a large company evaluate business opportunity than a startup.

Now think about a business model like subscription. A subscription based business model increases predictability in revenue on an ongoing basis. This is because subscribers pay for the duration of subscription and if they like the services, subscribers are highly likely to renew their subscription. This typically happens in advance as subscribers provide payment information in advance. Wikipedia says –

“Businesses benefit because they are assured a predictable and constant revenue stream from subscribed individuals for the duration of the subscriber’s agreement. Not only does this greatly reduce uncertainty and the riskiness of the enterprise, but it often provides payment in advance (as with magazines, concert tickets), while allowing customers to become greatly attached to using the service and, therefore, more likely to extend by signing an agreement for the next period close to when the current agreement expires”

too risky

This is unlike perpetual/one-time transaction model, still uncertain. Now business managers can predict quarterly revenue with increasing accuracy with subscription. This means that the value system being built is one to reduce uncertainty and riskiness which is what a new product idea does not have. A new product idea by definition is in a phase of discovery and building sustainable business model. And hence unpredictable and risky.

This conflict can have serious negative impact on innovation culture of an organization – more so for large organizations as they want to reduce risk and have smaller variations in their quarterly and annual results. Subscription is a new business model and many large organizations are experimenting with it. It will be a while before this value system gets deep rooted and impacts innovation culture. Organizations need to watch out!

In my next article, I will describe what companies can do to leverage this change and still be innovative.

What entrepreneurs can learn from the regrets of the dying

Posted in General, People & Culture

There is something very interesting for entrepreneurs to learn from Ms. Bronnie Ware, a woman who worked for years with the dying and wrote a list of the top 5 regrets people say aloud on their deathbed.


1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
Go chase your dreams!

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
How about working smartly and still having time for family.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
Most of us are entrapped with this regret to some extent. Whatever you do but just don’t settle for mediocre existence.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
Build relationships. Both for professional and personal well being. Most successful and happy people live on strong relationships.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
As most entrepreneur will say – Enjoy the journey. It is really up to you.

I guess the leanings are for everyone. The lesser regrets you have in your life, the more enjoyable it is.

Can you really measure people’s performance in your organization?

Posted in Ideas, People & Culture

Can you really measure people’s performance in your organization? If you are people manager, a quick answer would probably be “yes”.

Rethink about it!

If your answer is still “yes”, there are high chances that you are either managing a very small group and most likely working in a start up. In such situations, market measurement of your company or group is quick and high – you either succeed or fail and hence attribution to performance is easy. The second reason being, everyone is constantly performing. Or maybe  you are a sports organization!

If you have worked in large organizations and gone through multiple assessment cycles, you know how difficult the job is. Most managers are not sure if they exactly know both the performance and potential of their employees. It’s no wonder large organizations have huge budget to train their managers on people performance and managing peak performance. There are several tools and techniques that managers use, including 360 reviews and gut feelings. But are employees happy? Are they performing to their peak potential? Is it an issue about manager’s capability or tools/processes that are available to measure performance?


And the bigger question really is, how does this impact your organization’s performance? Just imagine what a small improvement in employee performance can do for the company.

Now I see few opportunities here – If you can’t measure, you can’t improve. There is a big opportunity in creating tools for performance measurement. Tools that work. Tools that can include the process around the performance measurements.

One of the things, I have noticed is that generally people have good sense on how someone else is performing if they are around that person. Managers can miss “how” part of completed task but peers have a good idea on how someone completed a task. 360 works to some extent but it fails during comparative analysis or depends on reviewer’s personality.

Is there a way to capture this sense and build a tool?

The second opportunity lies with the fact that a small improvement in employees performance can improve organization’s performance. But most managers at best can connect it implicitly. What are those parameters that can be influenced and measured? Remember, can’t measure leads to can’t improve!

Is there a way to associate employee’s performance to company performance in a more direct, action-oriented way?