Performance reviews

Its performance review season again !

Managers have a tough time managing the expectations of the team members. Performance reviews are considered the equivalent of final exams of academic arena. But the fact is that it isn’t. The two worlds are different.

The following are the thoughts that I usually share with my team.

1. In a treadmill, one needs to run enough just to stay at the same place. Likewise, staying in a position comes with certain “Base level” expectations. These are not considered “achievements” per se but something fundamental.

2. In academics, a good performance at current levels ensures promotion to the next level, But in career, performing the next level tasks at the current level is a pre requisite for promotion.

3. There are 3 basic things that every employee brings to the table – Knowledge, Intelligence and Attitude. Knowledge comes from prior experience and hard work, Intelligence is inborn and Attitude is how one carries oneself.

4. Have bigger, far reaching and over-arching goals and do not subscribe to mediocrity. Be cautious while comparing yourself with others.

5. If one is into a rat race, even if one wins, he/she is still a rat ! – Have a bigger perspective about career and life.

Happy Performance Reviews !

The fate of email (ids)

I created my first email id sometime around 1996. It was a hotmail account. But not many of my friends had one. So I wasn’t using it much. I remember checking emails just once/twice a day similar to the way we check snail mails in our letterbox.

So much has changed since then. I moved on to Yahoo! email as my first mail id was spam infested. I do have gmail account as well and couple of other mail accounts created to absorb all the spam mails. But I seriously use Yahoo! email. It is used by my bank to send important information, all my friends and relatives use it to communicate with me and so it has very much become a part of my identity that i cannot so easily do away with.

When i heard that Yahoo! is up for grabs, I was immediately worried about my email account. After all it is free. If a company is knocking its door on bankruptcy, why would it really care to keep my data in tact ? What is the future of Y! mail? Perhaps I should move to gmail ? may be they provide some fancy tool to import all the old y! mails to gmail? But wait a minute … X years down the line, if google meets with the same fate, again what would happen ?

I am thinking it is time the Govenrment owns an email service or at least regulates it like how it regulates telecom etc. Email is of paramount importance and would be more so in the future. Like power utility, Social security, UIDs, email IDs should also be provided by the Government. It could also serve as standard identification like the Tax cards, Voter ID cards and the like.

The Hindu Crossword 2010 Collection

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My roommate during my bachelor days introduced me to Crossword puzzles. Everyday we used to grab a copy of The Hindu and try solving the crossword puzzles. Some days we ended up solving almost all and some days almost none.

Today afternoon, I had nothing much to do and as I was day dreaming, it occurred to me to collect all the crossword puzzles in The Hindu that came in the year 2010. I set myself upon this task and it took around 2 hrs to get the entire stuff ready. Of course, I did not download it one by one but some scripting (in bash and awk) accomplished this.

Without much ado, here is the collection as one single PDF.
The Hindu Crossword Collection 2010

As you know, on some days, The Hindu doesn’t get published. These are the days
15th Jan, 12th Sep, 17th Oct and 6th Nov 2010.
And I could not download the PDF (it is not available in their server at the time of posting this) for the following days.
18th Feb, 25th Feb, 2nd Mar, 6th May, 17th Sep, 28th Oct, 10th, 19th, 20th, 22nd and 23rd of Nov.
Should I find the missing ones, I will post an update.
So that makes it 365 – 15 =350 puzzles. Currently, the Sunday crosswords are interspersed. I will improve my script and segregate all Sunday Crosswords together. Till then kindly make do with this.

I am not aware of any Copyright and such issues. Please do not use it for commercial purposes. Enjoy crosswording and if possible, spread the joy !

Integrity – being internally consistent

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A group of robbers team up and get into group robbery. They are aware that robbery is outlawed. Still, they do it for some reason. But what would happen if the team members start robbing each other ? The group would soon collapse and cease to exist. Even though they break the law as a group, only if they follow the law within the group, the group shall survive. If, for example, one of the members is caught stealing, he would either be barred from the group or let off with stern warning or punishment. As far as each team member is concerned, he should do to others what he expects others to do to him ie., Non-stealing. This is the bare minimum integrity that is needed to keep the group or to put it differently, this is the internal consistency requirement.

Keeping employee expectations and motivations high in a resource constrained organization is a challenge. Smaller organizations that bring up the talent the hard way get poached within no time. There is no escaping from this. This is reality and one needs to cope with this. So what are the ways to cope with this ? How to sustain motivation while coping with people losses ?

One of the ways, is to focus on the positives and set realistic expectations and then introduce the notion of Integrity among people. Let me explain this in some detail.

Smaller organizations provide better exposure and employees. Exposure could be in terms of higher degree of ownership/responsibility, it could be exposure to various technologies, exposure to methodologies, exposure to customers, pre-sales and many more. We go ahead and convince people that some sacrifice (of money) is worth such exposure. But the question is how much of sacrifice and for how long ?

The how much and how long question can be addressed by setting realistic expectations and internal consistency requirements.
If we assume that “X” years of service is “long enough sacrifice” then, strike the deal with the employee that for X years, the exposure and learning is going to be enormous. But unbridled enthusiasm and hard work is expected in return. When the time comes ( ie., X years or so), the employee decides to stay or leave. But whatever be the decision, as long as one stays, they stay enthusiastic. No false promises will be made to hold them back. This culture of Get-in-> Exposure-Learning-Contribution->Stay_or_Quit should help keep things afloat till organization can do away with some of the constraints.

Where does internal consistency come in ?
It comes in the form staying focused and contributing positively as long as one is part of the group (in this case, the organization). The person can move out of the group on his/her own OR if there is a breach of internal consistency, the group membership could be revoked. This should keep the group clean and healthy !

How does it matter ?

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Life, when viewed as just one birth, often does not answer many fundamental questions. Why is someone born to such parents ? in such country ? at such time ? and so on. Whereas, the concept of many lives and its interconnectedness does provide some convincing answers.

Vedic religions seem to suggest the notion of many births and goes on to state that the ultimate goal is to come out of this repeated cycles of birth and death. Ofcourse, there are subtle differences between religions and also within the same religions, different schools of philosophy seem to differ subtly regarding how and when the cycle end, though all of them endorse the concept of many births. ( Some non-Vedic religions do not mention anything about multiple lives etc.)

It is told that man undergoes something like millions of birth before attaining self realization. That this process cannot be speeded up or put on a “fast track”. This world provides the platform where in the soul is associated with its karma and based on karma, it undergoes various births of different nature.

The logically or scientifically inclined mind may perhaps rubbish whatever has been said above. Let us for a moment “believe” or take for granted that what has been said above is indeed true, how does it affect us ?

Firstly, it helps broaden our minds. We are no more restricted to this one life. There is continuity and everything is connected. This means that in the next life, the soul that You are now, will very much be there and perhaps little evolved. You might be born to a rich family this life but in the next you might be reeling under poverty. Never mind, you will not remember your past and also armed with an evolved soul, you are likely to do better.

Second, if You think you are quite unfortunate in this life, just take a step back. Perhaps you were something great in the past on will be in future. May be every soul is destined to go through few thousand “unfortunate” births and this is just one of them. This is the case even if, say, you have a very stupid mind. It is just this life. After all this world should have all kinds of people with different shapes and shades of mind !

Third, what is the point in regretting over petty issues ? Like not getting promoted or getting ahead in life ? After all, this life is a vehicle to carry out the Karma. So what matters perhaps is to “be there and just do it” without bothering too much about the results ( Courtesy Bhagawad Gita). It is about “living it out” as best as we can.

Lastly, God does not play dice right ? So the idea of many lives, an underlying theme, everything being connected … it sounds quite scientific as well !!!

So next time, you feel disappointed that things did not go your way … just remember that it doesn’t really matter much ! does it ?

Now, one might ask, what is that I should do day in and day out ? If whatever I do is not going to matter much whats the point ?
I think each one has to answer this to themselves. But if I am asked, I would say, getting to a higher level of consciousness is what living life is all about. And a life with its constrains, contradictions, surprises is a perfect testing ground to pit our wits and emerge as better humans with evolved souls.

Fine so far. Now let us “unbelieve” what has been said above. No many lives, no connectedness. It is this life and then mother nature takes over. Mmm …. nah … it doesn’t sound any convincing.

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