It’s the Season for New Beginnings

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Two things happen with perennial certainty each year in our country. It’s that time of the year again when countless students wait with bated breath for the much anticipated high school and twelfth board results to-be-announced. And it’s that time when meteorologists get busy predicting the advent of the south west monsoons spelling relief from a sultry summer. Both these phenomenon bespeak of new beginnings in terms of growth for the country.

A total of 14,29,478 students appeared for the Maharashtra Board class XII examinations of 2017. Of these 12,79,406 cleared this basic examination that sends them onward ahead for further studies in areas of their choice. Matriculates is the revered term used to refer to these final year high school students who are now ready to blaze forth in the new found world of higher learning.

Passing the matriculation examinations opens the portals to an academic world – Pure Sciences, Humanities, Commerce, Medicine, Engineering, and Computer Sciences and so on. The avenues are open-ended and really endless in today’s modern world. Matriculation is the formal process that allows one to enter a university with students getting enrolled in different fields of study. This rite of passage then sees the careful nurturance and paving of way for the development of human resources for the country at large. Education clearly plays a crucial role in creating the scientific temper of our land.

Scientific temper is a way of life and this is the time when the growing educated population is getting groomed for the social processes, to think and act with conviction, courage and knowledge. Scientific temper may also be described as an attitude which involves the application of reasoning, logic and good sense. Herein are sown the seeds of fairness, equality and democracy.

It was Jawaharlal Nehru who first used the phrase in 1946 in this sense. He goes on to give a detailed explanation in his famous book ‘Discovery of India”: “What is needed is the scientific approach, the adventurous and yet critical temper of science, the search for truth and new knowledge, the refusal to accept anything without testing and trial, the capacity to change previous conclusions in the face of new evidence, the reliance on observed fact and not on pre-conceived theory, the hard discipline of the mind—all this is necessary, not merely for the application of science but for life itself and the solution of its many problems.”

And so, just as we implant knowledge in the young minds of our pubescent citizenry, it is also the time to sow the seeds in the ground for them to grow, flourish, and bear fruit. Monsoons are a boon for this, our land of tillers and the very foundation of our economy, contrary to what one may imagine. Our food security really rests on the monsoons. The Indian monsoon is the most prominent of the world’s monsoon systems, and one on which is based the entire agricultural economy of the country.

Because the land and its cultivation depend entirely on monsoon rains it becomes absolutely necessary to invest in quantitative long-range weather forecasts. It’s an area of operations that we still need to perfect. We need to be on top of the situation and move on from fathoming predictions through clues that appear prior to the months leading up to the big rains. We need to have a weather perfect forecast that ought to be released to the farmers. Forecasts need to be clearly refined so that agriculturists can positively correlate them for cultivation.

Truly, this last day of May 2017 has us believing that June is the month for new beginnings for us in India. The billowing clouds and stirring wind speeds already give indications of the onset of the great monsoons. Smiling graduating matriculates splashed on newspapers augur the scientific temper Nehru bespoke, long years back. We stand on the verge of an academic universe of our making and an agricultural revival that will spell rural development.

“Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark”- Rabindranath Tagore

HR Lessons – Welcome Change

 

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At any point of time in an organization’s history there may be changes. Changes are bound to occur in an organization even if all is moving well and smooth.  Some changes are normal while some changes could appear to be tumultuous. Staff is often wary of changes and the fear is that any sort of change would be disruptive, not worthy of support and will certainly derail the regular momentum of progress.

HR Management therefore includes regular inputs on accepting change from time to time. Employees receiving change orientation would be more open to any kind of transformation processes that an organization may have to go through. It could be something as simplistic as shifting of the workplace or introduction of new norms in the office. It is actually human nature to resist any kind of modification in the regular framework.

Here is where the acumen of HR practice plays a vital role. Knowing full well that change is the only constant, management should include staff and take them into confidence in order to make it easier to accept change. This then makes it is possible to take the transformation processes forward in a positive way. Also, staff likewise turns out to be more flexible. Rather than desist or be fearful to accept new found ways of moving forward. So in order to stop them from raising their hackles, the need is to educate them in the art of welcoming change.

To accept change positively, personnel needs to keep an open mind and be flexible to structural adjustments. Herein they need to apply an open attitude to new learning. It is this ability to adapt to change that ought to be the focus of HR indoctrination. There are several HR trainings on change acceptance that work wonders on employee psyche. Because it is at times of change that many of us may think of going along with the known and familiar that appears secure and safe.

HR departments teach employees to understand that change in situations or outlooks may be viewed with poise and equanimity. It is at times of change that we learn of our ability to weather all kind of changes that may occur in the organization. Once on board staff learns to see the requirement for needed change and also becomes positive to new approaches. Only the unhappy, fearful staff members view change. Their complaining could really create negativity for the organization. We can do away with such naysayers.

The truth is that roles within the organization keep changing as do business strategies. It is therefore imperative at times to re-structure and re-configure certain aspects at the work place. HR heads then become liable to demonstrate to the employees why the change is needed and what would be the positive fall outs so that employees accept change in a more positive mode. Often this may be easier said than done. Although difficult it would certainly help to sift through the chaff.

It would do well also to look at aspects as to why employees resist changes at the workplace. Why is it so difficult for them to understand the benefits. The fact is they are habituated to routine and want to remain in their comfort zone. Also they may be having a practiced schedule on their functions and when change occurs they get uncomfortable or confused with procedures.

It’s a challenging time for HR for sure and they can really be such a support for management to assist them bring on needed changes. Communication herein is critical to make acceptance more positive. HR can really do well to include pre-change counseling sessions for more meaningful acceptance. This then is also a time to test the true colors of employees as to their attitude towards desirous changes. Employees who accept in a positive manner are the ones who are able to sustain themselves. So in short one must – Accept Change!

Keeping the Peace

 

May 29Monday, 29 May 2017 is being celebrated the world over as International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers. The occasion commemorates the importance to honour and remember personnel who are in the forefront to keep the peace around the world. India today remembers 168 of its soldiers who died in various corners of the world for the cause of peace. India actually contributes around 6,900 military personnel among 115,000 peacekeepers in various missions.

It was on December 11, 2002 that the UN General assembly designated May 29 as the International Day of UN Peacekeepers. The day was first observed on May 29, 2003. The International Day of UN Peacekeepers is a tribute to people who serve or have served in the UN peacekeeping operations. Since the first UN peacekeeping mission was established in 1948 until April 2016, 3,400 military, police and civilian personnel have lost their lives in the service of peace as a result of acts of violence, accidents and disease.

The global theme being celebrated this year is – Investing in Peace around the World. Today the focus is to be on offering tributes the world over to the uniformed and civilian personnel’s whose invaluable contribution results in peacekeeping by the United Nations. UNO therefore honours the peacekeepers that have lost their lives serving under the UN flag since 1948.

“Peacekeeping is an investment in global peace, security, and prosperity. It is a flagship enterprise of the United Nations. Today, it deploys more than 113,000 military, police and civilian personnel in 16 peacekeeping operations on four continents. It is a flexible, evolving instrument that brings together political, security and technical tools to assist countries make the difficult transition from conflict to peace.”, as per the statement issued by the UN on the occasion.

“Over time, peacekeeping has grown from simply monitoring ceasefires to protecting civilians, disarming ex-combatants, protecting human rights, promoting the rule of law, supporting free and fair elections, minimizing the risk of land-mines and so much more. They have also work to ensure that women are fully represented in peace processes, political life, and in branches of government including in uniformed services. All of these efforts are fundamental investments in building lasting peace,” adds the statement.

With time peacekeeping has moved on from just simply monitoring ceasefires to protecting civilians, disarming ex-combatants, protecting human rights, promoting the rule of law, supporting free and fair elections, minimizing the risk of land-mines and more along these lines. UN has also worked to ensure that women are represented in peace processes, political life, and in branches of government including in uniformed services. All such efforts assist in being able to make fundamental investments in building lasting peace.

Peacekeeping mission focuses on ensuring rule of law. Currently, UN peacekeeping operations receive contributions of military and police personnel from 124 Member States. This impressive number reflects strong global confidence in the value of UN peacekeeping. Despite the breadth of its operations, peacekeeping’s budget is less than one half of one percent of global military spending. Every mission aims to save lives and prevent mass atrocities to set the stage for peace.

 

 

 

Monthly Employee Engagement Get-Togethers

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The afternoon hours of the last Saturday of the month are observed as Employee Engagement get-together by HERD Group of Companies. This excellent idea by HR is taken up with enthusiasm by all people working in and out the organization. It is really an interesting wrap up to the month that has the varied personnel meeting each other. The last Saturday also makes use of the forum to wind off the get-together by celebrating employee birthdays during the month.

In a pretty widespread and structured organization like HERD Foundation where more often than not staff may not always get to meet or talk to each other the activities allow for people to enjoy and have fun. HR wisely also uses the opportunity to take on some interesting training that adds to the efficiency and knowledge of the staff. Past such engagement has seen Nestle taking up training for staff attached to the Pharmacy division. This Saturday’s training is on Understanding Investments & Savings.

Employee engagement sessions organized by the enthusiastic team HR department allows staff members to relax, rewind and feel refreshed. Also the training session adds value to the merrymaking later. It is the aim that staff has fun at work and at the same time such activities help in building and fostering team spirit. It is for this reason that the HR staff devotes itself whole heartedly to bring everyone together from top to bottom in a bid to relieve the month’s stress and also to assist staff in bonding with each other. All miffed up feelings that are natural to occur in a huge set up get reduced when employees feel emotionally attached to their common work place.

It is great to hear the young HR staff figuring out what fun and games activities to take up. Having done this for some time now it is a challenge to come up with novel activities every month. And the spirited manner in which all aspects of such activities for employees is taken up is worth all the dilemma. Employee engagement activities are therefore totally vital when the employers want their employees to truly engage with what they do. And for the HR department that is always on the lookout for new and more interesting ways to make the monthly affair bright and happy here are some bright ideas – http://hrpeople.monster.com/news/articles/3075-25-hr-approved-office-party-ideas

Another aspect of such engagements is that they help in staff retention and most organizations do want to retain their best talent at work. This is a wonderful way to emotional connect to everyone working from their vantage positions. And so out of the everyday running around the last Saturday of the month becomes a day for some excitement and breaking bread together. Out of the rigors of daily fetters of their jobs such engagements help in creating a normal, relaxed end to the month’s pressures.

We do believe that our series of employee engagement activity has kept our workforce incredibly lively and dynamic. We have found this actually works to make them more productive too. There is little doubt that there is a direct relationship between employee engagement and employee motivation, productivity, satisfaction and retention. HERD Foundation remains indebted to its HR department for raising the bar when it comes to staff welfare and staff well being.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Psychometric Tests for Insights on Employee Performance

It is a well established practice to conduct psychometric tests for the well being of an organization. Usually HR takes on tasks related to modus operandi for psychological measurement and evaluation of staff members. Psychometric tests make use of predesigned instruments that are now readily available online. Such tests appeal to modern day HR practitioners concerned with objectively measuring skills, knowledge, abilities, attitudes, personality traits, and educational levels of personnel.

Psychometric testing involves two essential functions – one the use of appropriate instruments, and two the deducements and evaluation in the wake of applying such tests.  The truth is not many of us really understand how psychometrics works. Psychometrics is actually the science of educational/psychological testing. It attempts at probing the mind of an employee to evaluate defined variable aspects. However to most people psychometric testing remains a black box. Even so one gets a basic understanding of employee mindset which is what makes psychometrics important for organizations.

One really needs to know full well how such testing benefits the organization. The basic intention for implementation of psychometrics in any given organization is to process improvement in employee output based on outcomes of specially-designed testing instruments. Test scores are usually used to categorize candidates into groups – pass/fail , hire/non-hire, and below-basic/basic/proficient/advanced and so on.

Psychometricians document their assessment by determining the results through use of defined methodologies.  Validity of responses is the evidence provided to support score interpretations. For instance they will interpret scores on a test to reflect knowledge of English, knowledge of numericals, personality types, reasoning powers and so to provide documentation and research supporting this.

Companies are likely to place some emphasis on numerical reasoning skills if they are considered important in ensuring a high performance in the given role. The allotted job profile would therefore expect one to have moderate to high numerical reasoning skills. Therefore an employee would be subject to numerical reasoning questions of a level of difficulty and complexity.

Verbal reasoning tests are designed to measure written verbal skills that assess one’s ability to quickly understand and efficiently convey work-related concepts and information. One needs the ability to comprehend and quickly filter through extensive amounts of work-related written data to identify critical issues to draw logical conclusions.

Finally an abstract reasoning test is to measure conceptual reasoning skills that refer to lateral thinking or evaluate fluid intelligence. It measures one’s ability to quickly learn new information, identify patterns in data, integrate complex information, and apply it to solve work-related problems. There is no dearth of test instruments that may measure employee intelligence is whatever it is that you are trying to measure. These tests are usually subject to multiple-choice questions that remains the popular mode for quizzing.

Often an organization may need to state very precisely what their expectations are from such psychometric tests. These are typically run as job analysis study to form quantitative, scientific blueprints for outcomes from different levels of employees. There is a whole lot of information on the internet dealing with the literature on how to make the most of such psychometric tests to evaluate potential and existing employees. HR uses them to the advantage of the organization by leveraging their knowledge of employees and guiding performances as per evaluation content.

 

 

Thoughts on World Schizophrenia Day

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May 24 is largely observed as World Schizophrenia Day across the world. It is a day that attempts to create public awareness about this debilitating disorder of the mind. Schizophrenia is one of the most serious mental health conditions that affect millions of people worldwide. Statistics gathered by psychiatrists’ state that over ten percent of schizophrenics commit suicide.

The day has been therefore marked out to raise awareness about the condition and to understand the situation of people suffering from schizophrenia. The disorder is psychotic problem in the mind, and it influences how a person feels, behaves and thinks. The day makes us pause in our lives and spare thoughts for schizophrenic patients to know how difficult it is for them to live with this tragic affliction.

We also need to be aware of the ways they manage to cope with their situations and to stop a while in our lives to acclaim their grit and determination in carrying on coping with their lives. It is really very sad to see a young adolescent on the threshold f life struck by the disease and learning to deal with it. It is very difficult to see a loved one gradually starting to withdraw from life and living as we know it. It is hard to imagine there world where they hear strange voices insulting them, and telling them so much.

A schizophrenic’s universe is distorted and they remain elusive to their own reality.  Not certain who their friends are, they start to misinterpret well meaning intentions. Families are at a loss to understand how to handle close ones and survive. Worse it is for the patient who has to contend with misunderstandings and lack of consideration from near and dear ones.

Families and friends must be very clear that they are not failing if they cannot manage their ward. It is not being a bad parent, husband or offspring. Like any other illness it is a mental illness.  The thing to remember here is that those who suffer from schizophrenia need to be treated with respect and love. However difficult this may be.

Moreover they need to get quality medical treatment that also will be very difficult in some cases. With time conditions may vary and also deteriorate that may require hospitalization and proper psychiatric care as also counseling. People affected by this vacuous disease are actually very brave in trying to cope with their limitations. And so if we come across a likewise messed up person we must always remember to be kind to them. Knowing that schizophrenia is a biological illness, it is important to care for and support someone who lives with the condition.

People must be aware of the following essential facts of this mental disorder:

  • Onset may start in late adolescence or early adulthood.
  • Symptoms include – Hallucination:hearing, seeing or feeling things that do not exist. Delusion: fixed false beliefs or suspicions that are firmly held even when there is evidence to the contrary. Abnormal behavior: strange appearance, self-neglect, incoherent speech, wandering aimlessly, mumbling or laughing to self.
  • People with schizophrenia are more likely to die early than the general population as a result of physical illnesses, such as cardiovascular, metabolic and infectious diseases.
  • Causes of schizophrenia are not known, but researchers believe that a combination of genetics and environment contributes to development of the disorder.
  • Schizophrenia is treatable and is usually treated with a combination of medication and therapy appropriate to each individual.

However the fact is that half of the people with the condition do not get appropriate care.

International Day for Biological Diversity – 22 May

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“Glory of Allapalli”, 5 hours drive from Nagpur, Notified Biodiversity Heritage Site

The UN has earmarked May 22 as International Day for Biological Diversity. For the uninitiated Biological Diversity refers to variability of living organisms of all kinds (terrestrial, marine, aquatic) in a given ecosystem. It includes all variety of life forms on earth. The term was first coined by Walter and Rosen in 1985 and encompasses different species living in a given area. Biodiversity is the foundation for a vast habitat and is critical for well-being of human beings.

 The International Day of Biodiversity was set aside to increase understanding and awareness about biodiversity issues. This year’s theme for the day is Biodiversity and Sustainable Tourism. In fact the UN has declared 2011-20 as UN’s Decade on Biodiversity with the aim to serve the world in supporting and promoting the goal of significant reduction in biodiversity loss.

Biodiversity is the key that links human survival to their ecosystem, both being inextricably linked. Maintaining the natural diversity of both land and water is a complex phenomenon that has witnessed dramatic changes due to human actions. It is critical to save our unique biospheres comprising of innumerable plants, animals, and microbes.

Clearly, biodiversity affects our environmental systems supporting millions of species that survive together. Gradual loss of species is already starting to affect critical components on which we depend for our lives – breathable air, potable water, fertile soils, bountiful oceans and soil productivity. Large-scale human influences on biomes are tremendously adversely impacting us all.

Decidedly if our actions have influenced nature then we need to reinvent ourselves to remedy the situation. Already the planet has lost 52 per cent of its biodiversity! Seventy percent of world’s species are to be found in just 12 countries! And one of them is India. The International Day for Biological Diversity therefore serves as a global reminder to take action to avoid situations like unsustainable agriculture, desertification, land degradation, drought, impotable water, adverse health impact, unsustainable transport, climate change, food insecurity and disasters that are all fall-outs of loss of biodiversity.

India is among the first countries to be the signatory to the Biodiversity Convention. In 2003 the National Biodiversity Authority was established to implement India’s Biological Diversity Act (2002). NBA works on issues of conservation, sustainable use of biological resources and fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the use of biological resources. State Biodiversity Boards follow guidelines relating to conservation of biodiversity. Similarly local level Biodiversity Management Committees take care in promoting conservation and documentation of biological diversity. This includes preservation of habitats, conservation of land races, food varieties and cultivars, domesticated stocks and breeds of animals, microorganisms and chronicling of knowledge relating to biological diversity.

In our vicinity, May 24 would be seeing Hazra Falls, a picturesque tourist spot in Salekasa forest range of Gondia Division, about 190 kms from Nagpur to be declared as a Biodiversity Heritage Site. Sometime back “Glory of Allapalli”, five hours drive from Nagpur, in Gadchiroli District was notified as a Biodiversity Heritage Site. It is Maharashtra’s first biodiversity heritage site. Such status strengthens biodiversity conservation in traditionally managed areas and control rapid loss of biodiversity. Biodiversity Heritage Sites are a matter of pride and inspire others to join in with conservation efforts.

Hazra Falls

Hazra Falls – Tourist Spot in Salekasa Forest Range of Gondia Division – 190 kms from Nagpur.