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Horses and Elephants | All the animals you meet at work

පෙබරවාරි 23, 2015 ප්‍රතිචාර 3ක්

Horses

I was an intern at one of the top software companies in Sri Lanka, which was the pioneering IT services provider for over 15 years specializing in aviation solutions, despite securing a masters degree and bachelor’s degree in information technology. Entry into the industry was that pathetic, but I took whatever the opportunity that came my way with both hands.

Who was I to complain, Mr. William Gates used to sleep on his friend’s dorms and Mr. Steve Jobs used walk so many miles to have one have that one good meal from an Indian temple.

As Mr.Jobs would relate the fonts of his Macintosh OS and the calligraphy classes he took, I would not be writing down about the horses if I had not taken up the internship. HR Manager of the firm conducted a soft skills programme for all the interns, who were 07 odd years younger than I was. The programme was about ‘the 07 habits of highly effective people’.

Somewhere, in there he related to the types of people he has to work with as the HRM and how they behave.

Stallions / Hot bloods

Stallions are untamed horses captured from the wild. (Not the conclusive scientific explanation though) They are full of energy, enthusiasm and determination with speed and endurance. It is a bit difficult to handle them.

I believe you have met this type of people at work.

  • They do not play nice with others. Its not that they are bad, but it is their nature.
  • They get angry upfront.
  • Single-handedly performs/carries out tasks that may require 3-4 persons with less time.
  • They do not walk away with incomplete tasks, no matter what.
  • They need hard work physically/mentally to be normal.
  • They reach the climax of their productivity during high pressure/intense situations.
  • They demand respect and rewards for the work they do.
  • They tend to change workplaces, simply to seek challenges and opportunities.

They are free horses; you just have to let them roam in the wild freely.

It is difficult to navigate them. However, if you put blinkers to a stallion and place it on a racecourse, no wonder they will be victorious. In the same manner, stallions at work will provide a project manager with enormous unimaginable breakthroughs. (Provided the managers will know the method of applying the blinkers on)

Mr. Arjuna Ranathunga knew how to make use of stallions like Mr. Sanath Jayasurya and Mr. Romesh Kaluwitharana. They were put into the racecourse with no responsibility of protecting their wicket and to hit the cricket ball as hard as you can.

Ponies/Cold bloods

Ponies are the average horses with no exceptional qualities other than the general qualities of a horse. They are being used for slow heavy work. They are widely available.

I am sure most of us belong to the same category, the average typical worker/employee. They are widely available. They posses average qualities and believe that hard work will make their bread and butter. They always try to establish a good work-life balance.

They are being used to simply get the work done by the top management. They will act as the labour force who will deliver the workload. Yes, they do not posses a huge bargaining power like the stallions, but the project will not succeed without them. However, they can and are being replaced very easily. (With delays due to domain knowledge transfers and task familiarization) Often their commitments are not being appreciated and rewarded lightly.

Warm Bloods

They are a category of horses called ‘warm bloods’, typically the creatures born as a breed originated from the above two. They really should not, be discussed drastically. A stallion may grow old and become more tamed. A cold blood will gather more qualities of a stallion over a period and might show some exceptional skills with experience.

Interns ???

What type of a horse is that? I have not heard about a horse in that name, but you do meet them in corporate environments. They are being offered an opportunity and somewhat exploited. (Not really unfair to say) Most internship starts with loads of training, workshops and promises. However, a week or two later, they are slowly transformed into slaves.

Elephants

There are two types of elephants according to Sri Lankan corporate culture. The one who pull the huge timber logs and the ones seen in the processions. (Perahara) The first is typical hard work, which will exploit the animal, which will associate extreme hard work. The later is a more of fancy parade, where the elephant becomes a celebrity,sometimes may be worshiped upon by the public.

It is the elephant that will have to perform both of the above activities. You do not get processions and festivals all year long. The rest of the days have to be associated with hard work of course.

The same can be observed in the corporate culture.But, where the top-level managers go wrong is when they choose same people to do the heavy timber lifting and same people regularly attending the processions/limelight. The trick is to send the hardest worker first to the procession. Therefore, all the elephants will be motivated to do more hard work and earn the limelight.

Products, projects, start-ups, franchises, acquisitions – [ Interns guide to the corporate world ]

ඔක්තෝබර් 12, 2014 1 ප්‍රතිචාරයක්

The objective behind this is to encapsulate these notes in a glass bottle, seal it and through to the sea of internet where some backbencher will read it one day and learn something. May be at least the fact that he is not the only one. Nobody taught me these, didn’t take up even commerce as an O/L subject. As the genuine back-bencher I am, had to learn all these via experience – the self-taught MBA.

The difference between a project and a product

                     This was so eloquently put together by the CEO of the software company I used to work for. I don’t remember the exact event, but I believe that he was elaborating on the fact that why he couldn’t grant us with huge salary increases during the time.

                      ” When I was small my father used to take me and my brother to Herculese tailors, bambalapitiya to get our school uniforms done. The tailor used to take measurements and the suits were perfect. Nowadays that culture does not exist. Nowadays people go to Hameedias and look for clothes and check whether they fit their size. Hameedias was a similar tailor shop those days, which Hercules tailors still are.

                        But, Hameedias somehow oversaw the future trends and evolved. They managed to build a brand/product for themselves in finished goods. The lift brands such as Le Bond and expanded their  horizons with a product based economy which was just an idea back then and the mainstream now.

                       Projects has to dimension to expand their horizons and acts as a breeding ground for innovative  ideas. But, product based scenario has limitations due to the burden of protecting the demand based market.

Start-ups, franchise and acquisitions

Start-ups describes itself. Yet it is not a fairy tale like the 70’s or the 80’s where apple was started by Jobs and Wozniak in jobs family garage. In Sri Lankan context it is always better to look at more realistic approaches such as the kapruka.com wonder boy Mr. Dulith Herath, who had initiated sithiyama.com long before Google maps.

The man behind the wishing tree – An article in README.

A start-up according to many is a difficult task. The belief and being passionate about the concept of the business plays a huge part. Start-up have always encouraged innovation and free will changing the boundaries of the existing systems. According to traditional corporate mind-sets of Sri Lankans (like my father), a start-up is a huge risk and it is always better to work a good salary with minimum risk. Actually the trick is not to put all the eggs in the same basket and let your investment/passion blossom to a reality rather than fade away in the wild, like most of the good stuff in Sri Lanka.

Franchises on the other hand is a result of a company/business which has already blossomed and owns huge corporate prestige/image. Franchise comes as means of expanding the business chain exponentially by third parties who will fulfil the requirements stated by the mother company. Its simply the McDonalds Franchises operated by Abans.

In most cases the quality degrades immensely due to the fact that franchises are set to seek big profit margins and not to increase the prestige of the brand name. The hard work has been done by the original franchise owners. Embedding franchises to different communities has to be done very carefully in order to prevent Starbucks in Colombo serving Harischandra coffee. (Harischandra coffee is second to none, but the point in having a so called Starbucks franchise should not be to serve Harischandra coffee.)

      An Acquisition, as I understand is the change of management/rebranding may be due to company buyout/stock deals or other decisions taken by management. It can have mixed effects. It’s like dialog acquiring suntel. If some suntel employee was arguing they were better than dialog, he/she would have to change her tone.

Still, I believe that joining dialog has helped immensely for Suntel employees considering the corporate and technological exposure which dialog has to offer. Company acquisition by a foreign firm may result in hardships for the employees due to various cuts in benefits, but the overall exposure should do wonder for their careers.

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Well then, that some things to ponder your head around Interns. I believe there are many more avenues and topics to be explored. Welcome to the corporate world interns.

As Bill Gate would say to school kids, “If you think your teacher is being was cruel to you, wait till you get a boss! ”.

It’s a tough world out there!

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ERPs endangering the traditional workloads of employees.

සැප්තැම්බර් 1, 2014 ප්‍රතිචාර 9ක්

 This was experienced during the implementation of ‘Petty Cash Process’, (which my SAP FI colleagues poured in their hard work).

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The traditional public sector corporations or companies like ours, have a vast tradition, culture and history bonded to it. The revised / modified versions of well-defined procedures, rules and regulations which are originated during the colonial times, still exist today. In general there is nothing much wrong about the so called AR and FR documents. (Administrative and Financial Regulations) The actual fault was with the bureaucracy and the attitudes of the workforce.

 

The clerk who had performed petty cash related work for a huge period in her career, burst into tears within the first 10mins of her SAP training. The trainer had simply asked her to login to the SAP training server with an assigned password. Failing to do so with one or two attempts, she went way from the training centre bursting into tears.

 

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The trainer had to appoint another dedicated trainer just to herself in order to carry out the petty cash training. Today she is successfully performing her duty (after few hiccups here and there) utilizing the SAP ERP system. The cumbersome manual process of petty cash maintenance, with a large no. of file handling, record keeping of related bills and manual voucher processing had dominated most of her career. It was the subject that she has handled and was an expert of. It seems that she had felt the insecurity of her job role due to the automation of petty cash via SAP and was not at all confident on facing the change.

 

ERP systems have significantly reduced the traditional workloads carried out by many personnel, with respect to the good old days. Therefore managing the excess resources has become a side effect of ERP implementations. A plan should be put into action to develop other professional skills of the employees and to utilize the resources in a productive manner. The traditional single task performing employee of the public sector should be converted to the highly productive multi-tasking employee of the modern era.