Work to be Hired

Reading Time: 2 minutes

One of the early screening processes to make it to the defense forces, is that of physical fitness. It is one of the more fundamental requirements of the job. Of course, subsequently, those who make the cut are broken down and rebuilt to be stronger, both mentally and physically.

In the corporate battlefield, potential candidates are put through interview boot camps which are at best, spread over a few days. But are these processes measuring the fundamental requirements you need from the candidate? Skill, while ever-changing, can still be taught. But what are more long-term character traits you’d want your next hire to have?

Once you’ve identified those traits, what if you took the hiring process and turned it on its head?

What if you then shortlisted applications based on simple initial screening criteria, and on gut feel? And then, have them come and work with your team for a week or two, or more. At the end of the period, both parties can decide where to take things from there.

One of the bigger concerns might be the transition and uncertainty, especially for people already in jobs.

Compensation is the easy bit. Even an approximate pro-rata salary-type compensation given to the candidate if rejected, would be far cheaper than the cost of hiring a wrong candidate.

From the point of view of ‘interaction time’, interviews, case-studies and other hiring processes can only be so effective. In comparison, working on a live project, albeit factoring in necessary confidentiality, might be a better way to assess a candidate. To assess traits like integrity and mettle, among other important qualities, which go far beyond a quick and temporary display of skills at an interview. The little I’ve watched of the mentally disturbing Big Brother and Big Boss, it is evident what a short amount of time spent in the same reference (a common project, not an interview) can reveal.

These are times when many MBA students and even experienced professionals focus more on being interview-ready, rather than on cultivating a curious mind. And it is partly because of the illusion of limited time.

Instead of hiring people to work, having people work to be hired might be a better way to build a team that is more suited for one’s company in the medium-to-long term.

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Your Time Will Come

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Your Time Will Come

Three days ago, I was rushing to office after a meeting. The day somehow seemed very different. Special, in an inexplicable way. The meeting had gone well too. While waiting at a signal light, lost in the magical voice of the very beautiful Amy MacDonald singing ‘Your time will come’, when I suddenly noticed a teacher of mine from school, standing on the other side of the road. I recognized her instantly, despite not having seen her in over sixteen years. She seemed to be waiting for a cab.

She was one of a few favorite teachers I had in school, which is why I perhaps recognized her instantly. Not that I was her favorite student, or that she was lenient and kind. It was, in fact the contrary. She was one of the few teachers who was really strict; the no-nonsense kind. She used to be notorious, if I may, for her habit of twisting the ear of students who created trouble or didn’t finish homework. I had been on the receiving end of this treatment on several occasions.

Over the years, I often wondered why I have so much respect for her and a few other teachers who too, happened to be equally strict if not more. And one strong logical reason that emerged, seemed to be something to do with how they taught. It had something to do with the sheer passion the had for the work they did. Teaching. And I guess that’s what made them great teachers.

These few teachers showed a resolute and relentlessly effort towards educating a somewhat difficult-to-handle bunch of children. What set them apart was probably that they never diverted their purpose from teaching, nor give up on us students, however much we tested their patience. They never held grudges. And best of all, their efforts towards their objective was unwavering and true.

A lot has changed over the years when it comes to teaching, discipline, not hitting children, and so on. And I’m not really am expert on the rights, wrongs and different methods to teach, discipline and mould growing children. But I think the focus and dedication these few teachers showed, had effectiveness written all over it.

I was to take a right turn at the signal, but quickly made a u-turn instead. I stopped the car beside her, lowered the window and said, “ma’am, you probably wouldn’t recognize me, but I’m a student of yours, Shrutin Shetty“. She said she remembered the name. After some insisting, she gave me the privilege of driving her home. It seemed insignificant a gesture for the efforts of a great teacher.

Had I ever enlisted in the army, teachers like her would have been akin to a commanding officer. I had read somewhere about how soldiers are the true salt of the land, and how the training broke them down and rebuilt them into the refined beings they are. That’s exactly what teachers like her had been doing over the years, batch after batch.

As I dropped her off, she asked me why I didn’t visit school. I had only been there once in the sixteen years. All I could tell her was, that I will. The real reason I hadn’t gone there, however, has been because in my head, I had set an expectation that my teachers would have of us students. Expectations in terms of us reaching our full potential, making a mark for ourselves. And I still have a long way to go to achieve expectations I felt my teachers would expect from me, ones that would make them proud.

What I didn’t realize in these sixteen years though, is that while I have been busy working on my dreams, and much time will have passed before I get there, but time had not been waiting. This teacher of mine said she’s retiring soon. Not sure how many of the other teachers already had retired. When, where and how would I meet them. Be able to share stories of my trials and experiences from my journey, hear their stories about this long and disconnected gap in time. Such was the predicament that held my thoughts on my drive back.

And through the numerous people in life that I have had the pleasure of knowing, I will always be grateful and indebted to this small elite set of them, people like this teacher of mine. For however insignificant I may still be, they have played a crucial role in making me who I am today. Their undivided efforts towards teaching, indirectly taught me the type of focus it will take to achieve my dreams. And my estimation of their expectation of me will always keep me aiming higher.

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The Last Straw

This one’s for all those people who’ve found their goal, and work towards it like nothing else matters, like there is no tomorrow. And for all those who know the true meaning of rules, the sensible rules at least.

Reading Time: 4 minutes

The Last Straw

Have you ever been in a state where you’re head is filled with the purest rage? Where you think, ‘once more someone messes with me regarding (whatever), and they’re really gonna get it?

Have a look at this article. Just an average, or in my view, above average employee, who just got pushed way over the edge, for apparently no fault of his. (Fed-Up Flight Attendant Makes Sliding Exit)

What happened was, that an airline attendant, Steven Slater, who probably had his share of responsibilities and troubles, got pushed a little too much when a passenger stood up to fetch his luggage on the aircraft before the crew had given permission. When Slater instructed the man over the PAS to remain seated, the passenger goes ahead with removing his luggage. And when Slater reaches the passenger, he accidentally gets hit on the head by the luggage the passenger was trying to remove. Now this, in itself, is a random accident that could happen to anyone. But when Slater asked for an apology, the passenger proceeds to curse him. So that’s two mistakes by one moron of a passenger. Firstly, not following rules, and then throwing his weight on someone trying to enforce those rules.

Slater, who apparently has served 20 years in the industry, (20 whole years is a bloody long time eh!), was a regular chap, who had been recently caring for his dying mother, who happened to be a retired flight attendant. His father too was a pilot in his day. Slater happened to be the leader of the airline’s uniform redesign committee apart from being a member of the airline’s in-flight values committee.

So I guess that does speak for his character, abilities and his work.

There’s something that the average consumer, customer or colleague often doesn’t understand. That different industries and businesses have rules for the purpose of the very meaning of the word, rule = that which is prescribed or laid down as a guide for conduct or action. So obviously, being aware of the risks, or to maintain an orderly way of doing things, rules are laid down.

But most beings, thinking themselves the wiser, feel that they can merely bend the rules a bit to accommodate their holiness. It’s easy when the average self-centered soul thinks that way. But what happens when everyone starts thinking that way. We get chaos. We get three lines at a counter where there’s supposed to be only one, we get five lines of cars on a road with three lanes, we get the ‘everyone’s doing it so why cant I?’ question staring you in the face. We get herd mentality. We also get more fights, more abusing, more punches, etc. Because they are not the only self-centered one around, there are more like them always around, many more.

And then what happens. The last straw. What’s worse, is that oftentimes, the one pushed off the edge for no fault of theirs, gets punished too.

Like Slater, who after letting out a string of expletives at the passenger over the PAS, grabbed a beer, activated the emergency-evacuation chute, and slid down and drove home, only to have his home surrounded by police officers, detectives and port authorities, and him, arrested.

Normal people don’t do such crazy things. Grab a beer and jump out of a plane. As ridiculous as that sounds, bloody cool even. But no, normal people wouldn’t take their job that seriously either. Most of the kind of staff I have seen on airlines or even with some people I’ve had the (dis)pleasure of working with, they wouldn’t have bothered too hard in trying to enforce rules and regulations to that extent. They try a bit, and then don’t bother. So it’s usually the most hard working, the most driven and most dedicated of employees who usually end up reacting in such extreme ways when they are constantly pushed against the wall for their efforts and dedication.

It’s because, on a scale from 0 to 100, the average expectation of, say quality, or enforceability of a rule for a normal person is, say 50. The normal chap or gal would expect something in the 45-55 range under most circumstances. So when the weird folk bend the rules to say a 40 or even 30, they think they’re just doing something that’s 10-20 units off the normal. Not too big a deal.

But to that crazy dedicated worker, the normal delivery expectation he or she provides is nothing less that a 95. When someone’s screwing about with rules (pushing it to the 30’s or 40’s), regular employees think they’re 10-20 below average. From the dedicated fellow’s point of view however, they’re way below the 95 average. Which is why you then get the extreme reaction to situations like this.

Reminds me of the movie ‘The Rock’. Am pretty sure most of you who watched it, ‘wowed’ at the story, the action, and then forgot about it. But give it some more thought. The story of a Brigadier who takes tourists hostage as a final desperate attempt. An effort to get the government to open its eyes to a cause he’s fighting for. The deaths of fellow marines killed in action, who have been denied even the honour for their ultimate sacrifice.

But somehow, that fight of the Brigadier General is never addressed during the rest of the movie. Or realized even by most people who watched the movie. So, through most of the movie, the Brigadier General is viewed as the bad guy.

It is only a few people who follow the rules to that level, work towards something with everything they’ve got, and the least they expect, or rather deserve; is respect for their efforts. And when finally, their efforts aren’t leading to anything, they sometimes end up getting frustrated and taking a drastic step in a final attempt at bringing out the flaw in the system…only to be rewarded with punishment.

Rather than look at the final action, it would do some help if people were to even look at the situations and all the causative factors which eventually culminate in that one drastic or so-called stupid career-killing step.

I guess the world expects people to merely reconcile themselves with things that happen. To not complain, challenge, nor question it.

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