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Feb 1, 2005 - of Management Calcutta in 2000. She has been in the Personnel and Industrial Relations. Area at Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad ...
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1 February, 2005, 9 A.M. As usual, Hari was working hard to pull out the assignment that was to be submitted that day. It was a real chilling morning in the early January of Ahmedabad. The phone rang… it was Vijay. Vijay has been a great friend for years. "Hey man! Good news! I've just put in my papers! This is one of the happiest moments of my life. You should have seen how surprised that useless project manager was to hear that I was resigning. He never thought that I would do it. I'm joining Softlabs on the 14th… just want to chill out few days at home, yaar." Hari was not surprised to hear the resignation news. It was the joy and excitement in Vijay's voice that surprised him. After all, he was resigning from one of the leaders in the information technology sector. Hari pondered over their discussions during the past two and a half years since Vijay joined Futurz Tech Limited. It had been a period mixed with happiness and concern for Vijay. The past four months had been especially eventful, though. 10 July, 2000. It was one of the most grilling days for students at a well known engineering college in South India. Futurz Tech had come to recruit students from the campus. The company had a good brand name and was the first company to come to campus. Everybody was keen to get in. Vijay had a good track record in his school life and he had done pretty well at the engineering college, too. He was 21 years old at that time and had completed his education without any breaks. Futurz Tech had a two fold selection process - a unique test focusing on thinking skills and an interview. Vijay was from the mechanical engineering stream and had very little idea about what an IT job meant. At that time, a job mattered a lot, particularly if it was in an organization like Futurz Tech. Futurz Tech had stated that they were focusing more on learning and thinking skills at the selection level. They had an extensive training program to finetune technical and people management skills. Candidates from all branches had applied to Futurz


I put in my

papers! By Dr Sandeep K. Krishnan & Prof Manjari Singh 40


Tech and from a group of more than 400 applicants; Vijay was one of the 70 odd people who were selected. Getting a job those days was not easy and at that moment getting one of the first jobs on the campus was like a dream come true for Vijay. It was not as if he was hell bent on taking a job in IT. To be frank, Vijay or most of them who got selected then had no clue about the jobs they will be doing - except that it would be in 'coding'! The job also provided an immense sense of security. Even seniors from the college who had come as part of the recruitment process seemed quite contented and gave a feel of being 'real corporate guys'! The beginning… August 2001. While 2000 was the year of high growth for the industry, 2001 was a year of confusion with dotcoms busting, lay offs, and the growth of the industry seen after Y2K issues was slowing down. Futurz Tech was one of the few companies who kept their word to the campus recruits. All those who were recruited were asked to join for the training. Vijay joined the Chennai facility of Futurz Tech for training amidst news of many of his batchmates getting regret letters from their respective organizations. He felt fortunate to be part of Futurz Tech. The training period of two months was hectic. It was all new to him. He took it as a challenge, passed all papers and did reasonably well in the final evaluation. Based on his evaluation and interests, Vijay was allotted to work on net technologies, something considered 'hot' in the field at that time. Apart from a few who got mainframe based technologies most including Vijay, were happy with their allocation. October 2001. After the training at Chennai, Vijay opted to work at the Pune facility. He had never been to that part of India and wanted to explore new places. Five of his batchmates had also chosen Pune. They shared an apartment. It was just like another college hostel. The work atmosphere was also equally good. The facility was really swanky. At Pune also there was a week of training. After training, Vijay was given an option of either to go for a six

While established organizations have great HR systems to work on, how it is reflected as employee experience is a question mark. Is it always the organization to blame or the individual?


Dr Sandeep K. Krishnan Senior Consultant, Ernst and Young Dr. Sandeep K. Krishnan works in the area of human resource consulting. He is a Fellow of the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad and a mechanical engineer by profession. He worked with the Group Human Resources of RPG Group prior to joining Ernst and Young. His doctoral work was on the intention to quit of Indian IT professionals which covered twelve major IT organizations.

Manjari Singh Faculty, IIM Ahmedabad Manjari Singh is an Electrical Engineer from Regional Engineering College, Bhopal, India. She attained her doctorate (Fellow Programme in Management) in HRM from Indian Institute of Management Calcutta in 2000. She has been in the Personnel and Industrial Relations Area at Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad since 2000. Her research interests include strategic HRM, HR information systems, performance management systems, HRM in small and medium enterprises, and HRM in schools. month Japanese language training or to directly get involved with a project. At that time the inclination to learn something interesting was more and he opted for the Japanese language training. There was an expectation that there would be more Japanese projects coming and the people who were trained in Japanese language would be in demand. Vijay had thoroughly enjoyed the six months of training and it was more of fun. He also excelled in most of the evaluation tests. Shortly after the training, Vijay was assigned to a project. The project was a short term one and was in its ending phase. His assignment was just for three months. It took him at least a month to understand what was going on with the project. He was not given any major role to play and after the learning phase the project was almost over. Few of the people who joined with him had already started going for onsite work. Hari remembered Vijay speaking about those onsite opportunities that his friends were getting and his priorities. Vijay always cared for career advancement. More than an onsite opportunity, he was looking for a better role or career opportunity. He mentioned that even to his superiors during performance feedback sessions. Hari also remembered Vijay sharing that most of his friends generally did not know what a professional life was or were not even bothered about a career. All they wanted to do was go for an onsite. "It is like this… the one who cries most gets the onsite" Vijay had commented jokingly. Just after the three months project stint in Pune, Vijay was assigned a project in Bangalore for a month. Vijay thought of that as a great opportunity. Bangalore was considered to be a really great place to be and Futurz Tech had a great facility there. He just wanted to see what that was all about. The project was interesting but it was just for a month. Vijay returned to Pune after a month's stint in Bangalore. August 2002. The next six months, Vijay had to spend on bench. Though he enjoyed being on bench for around two to three months, the rest of the period was boring and at times frustrating. During this period Vijay thought



of preparing for CAT and went to coaching classes. However, plans for getting admitted to top b-schools did not materialize during that time. February 2003. Vijay was assigned to a new project. The project was really great in terms of the team he was working with and the technology. He could use some of the technologies that he had learned during the initial training. The project manager and leader were friendly and took a very professional approach. However, in this team also, people were very keen to go for onsite opportunities, Vijay had thought that it was time for him to reflect on how he had progressed professionally. He shared with Hari that almost 70% of the people from his college who had joined with him had gone onsite. Towards the end of the project, Vijay thought it was time to make a move to Bangalore. Almost all of his friends had shifted to different locations. They had either moved to another job or were at onsite locations. Vijay felt that it was better to make a move to Bangalore as he felt was is better than Pune on two fronts. His sister who recently got married was planning to settle in Bangalore. Secondly, Bangalore was much closer to home and he could visit his parent more often. Vijay informed his project manager and project delivery manager his need for transfer. After a month of transition, Vijay was allowed to move to Bangalore. The project manager at Pune was really helpful and even took extra efforts in making the arrangements. December 2003. Vijay shifted to Bangalore and decided to stay in an apartment with his friends who were batchmates from college. At Bangalore, Vijay was assigned to short term projects. None of them were really interesting, nor were his roles challenging. He could not put to use any of the skills he had acquired over the period of two years. The period from December 2003 to August 2004 was one of frustration and Vijay saw no meaning in the work he was doing. He thought seriously about giving CAT again and tried to spend extra time after work hours on preparing for the entrance examination. Hari also remembered Vijay mentioning

case study about some of the project leaders he had during this period. "A lot of one's motivation to work in projects depend on these PLs. But, most of them out here do not really know how to deal with people. This PL of mine stopped me when I was about to leave for home at around 7 P.M. He asked me what the time was and is it the time to leave! I told him it is 7 and just left. These guys have no understanding of personal preferences or life after work. I think I have better things to do in life apart from sitting in the office from 9 in the morning till 10 in the night. I think in Pune it was much better." Vijay had remarked once, in an irritated tone, when Hari asked him how things were at work. The CAT examination was scheduled for November and Vijay thought he should give some extra time for preparation. He had applied for a month's leave on medical grounds for the month of October with an intention to give extra time for preparing for exams and also for treatment of gastroenteritis that was troubling him. His parents had also advised to get treatment from the home town as there would be someone to take care of him. Vijay had to take the leave one week in advance of the schedule. The stomach ache was bad and he thought it would be better to get treatment as soon as possible. Vijay took the leave without a prior approval and verbally communicated the same to the Project Manager after reaching home. The PM was cool about it



and wished him to get well soon. December 2004. The whole scene took a bad turn when Vijay returned to office after taking treatment and giving CAT. Futurz Tech had taken a different view of people taking leave during this period. Projects had suffered because people had taken long leaves to prepare for CAT on the pretext of medical treatment. The first news that Vijay heard on arrival was the dismissal of two guys who had admitted that they had taken medical leave for CAT preparation. On the day of his arrival itself the Project Manager and Delivery Manager asked Vijay to meet them. The meeting was a very serious one and Vijay was asked to submit all the medical records pertaining to his treatment. As he had none with him at that moment he was asked to bring them within 24 hours. He could not do that as all the records were at home. Vijay called up Hari to brief him about the situation. Vijay: "Hi, man! Things are going tough here." Hari: "What happened, boss"? Vijay: "They are damn serious…they've told me to get all the relevant documents in a day or two." Hari: "Do you have all of them?" Vijay: "To tell you the truth, I did not do any specific surgical treatment for my illness. Just met the doctor twice and took some medicines. I had earlier told my Project Manager that I need a surgery for my appendicitis problem." Hari: "Did you say that you did not have the surgery?" Vijay: "No…actually in that tense mood I told them I had the surgery. It was just to get some sympathy from them." Hari: "This might land you in trouble man!" Vijay: "Yeah. Now I don't know what to do. Should I fake some certificates?" Hari: "What can I say? This is now a serious issue. Try to get out of it." Vijay: "But I really do not understand. Why are these guys after me?" Hari could not give any suggestions at that juncture. He thought that Vijay might land in trouble now. After the meeting with his Project manager and the Delivery Manager, a meeting with HR was scheduled next day. Meeting with the HR personnel was more intimidating and was full of warnings and the HR personnel asked him to admit that he took the leave for preparing for CAT. He was also accused of unauthorized absence. Though Vijay tried to explain the whole event and mentioned about his verbal intimation to the Project Manager, the HR personnel asked him to bring documentary proofs. Hari remembered the calls Vijay made to him that day. "It was one of the biggest insults for me. I really do

case study not trust these guys now. They think that I am a thief or something. How does it matter to them whether I had taken leave for preparing for CAT or treatment? I am not their slave!" Vijay had burst out angrily. He also asked Hari for suggestions. Hari had advised him to stick to his stand. The worry of losing his job, the way in which the whole situation was handled and the chances of losing his image in the organization were all hurting Vijay. A day after the meeting with the HR personnel, he was called to meet the HR Center Head. The HR personnel, Project Manager and the Delivery Manager were present along with the HR head. Vijay was asked to sign a document admitting that he had taken unauthorized leaves and apologizing for the same. It was a real shock to him. He was tried to convince them about his innocence. Under pressure, he decided to sign the document. Life was never the same again. The Module Leaders and Project Leaders were trying to ignore him on major decisions related to projects. He even had to put up a small fight with a Module Leader who was just six months senior to him, as he tried to interfere too much with his work and dominate him. The Module Leader responded saying that Vijay's irresponsibility would affect his performance appraisal rating. Vijay felt that all his impressions of Futurz Tech as an ideal workplace had come to an end there. He even regretted the decision to come to Bangalore. He started applying to other organizations. He took the advice of his friends who supported his decision. The final straw was the performance appraisal ratings. Vijay has been consistently rated in the top 30 percentile. In the performance appraisal after the mentioned event, Vijay got good rating on all the parameters. However, the final ranking put him in the lowest 20 percentile. In the feedback session he was told that it was done as a punishment! "I have no clue about what is happening here. How can performance appraisal be used as a punishment?" Vijay blurted out over the phone to Hari. Those were the hard days for him. Coming to office every day and facing these superiors were the biggest torture for him. It was almost 10 days after the performance feedback that he got an offer from another major multinational IT firm. This offer also had 60 percent hike in the salary. February 2005. He wanted to report everything in his exit interview and even write a letter to the CEO, but at the last minute, decided against it. "Why should I waste my time? I do not care for these people anymore. The system is not going to improve even if I write a letter or vent my frustration in an exit interview. I will say good bye and quit." Even Hari thought it was good to quit without creating any more ill feelings. Let everything end here.

This case is driven from the thesis dissertation work of Sandeep Krishnan during his Fellow Programme at IIM Ahmedabad. Authors would like to acknowledge Prof. Biju Varkkey and Prof. Rakesh Basant of IIM Ahmedabad for their inputs.



case study ANALYSIS

Tighten people and productivity processes management Chandrasekhar Pingali Executive Vice-President, HR, GSSC & Head-HR, Standard Chartered Group, S East Asia With over 22 years of professional experience and extensive worldwide exposure, Pingali Chandrasekhar has developed an enviable record of professional expertise in all aspects of human resource management. Currently, Pingali Chandrasekhar is the Executive Vice-President, HR for the Global Shared Service Centres of the Standard Chartered Group located in India, Malaysia and China as well as the Head of HR for the Bank's businesses in South East Asia. Prior to taking on responsibilities in Standard Chartered Group in 1990, he added value in Lupin Polynova Ltd, Ion Exchange (I) Ltd as Senior HR manager starting a HR function in the former and driving proactive employee relations and HR value adding projects in the latter. He had a brief stint at J L Morrison Ltd. as production manager. Chandrasekhar specialized in HR from the prestigious and highly reputed Tata Institute of Social Sciences (1985) and pursued Masters in Pharmacy as his basic degrees.


t's a very interesting case that resonates with the work culture and values of some of the Generation Y employees in the contemporary world of not just IT industry but in other related industries as well. I would like to analyze the case into two themes. Key people practices and suggestions on better management are embedded while covering these two themes

Vijay as a professional and his work ethics Vijay comes across as an ambitious, bright person with aspirations to grow. He, like many millions of graduates/ engineers in the country has not been sure about the career he wanted to pursue and is blissfully unaware of his strengths to pursue a particular career. His engineering degree offered him a platform to enter the IT industry without having a clear understanding of what it unfolds. His initial two years seems to have been absorbed more in learning than in contributing with intermittent exposure to short term projects. His focus seems to have been what he can get than what he can give. Recognizing after two years that he is beginning to lose out in comparison, he wanted to catch up with good assignments. Surely, his expectations from the company did not match his own skills and capability. He appeared to drift and was allowed to do so with little or no guidance from the company on focusing his energies and skills towards productive deployment. As a result, he grew restless and chose to shift his location for both professional and personal reasons. Apart from Japanese language or cultural skills, he did not seem to have a domain expertise for a substantive role. Coupled with this, his own desire to pursue further education only reinforced his distraction and lack of commitment to make things work for him. He was not sure of what is expected of him at work and neither was he sure of getting a value adding "onsite" role. With increasing levels of frustration, he chose to prepare for an MBA. While his performance appraisal seems to indicate that he was in the top quartile, nothing indicates that his contributions substantiate this rating through his years of service. He did not seem to have invested in building relationships or skills to enable him get a great opportunity to succeed. Instead of coming clean and



courageous to confront his situation, he chose to go the easier route of taking leave for exams through blatant, untrustworthy stance of false medical grounds. He knew that he was seeking disproportionate period of medical leave for his illness. This is where he crossed the boundaries of his work ethics. When he was confronted to establish his innocence, he started blaming the company and its people. Even once, he did not seem to step back and reflect his wrong doing or accept the fact that his performance rating is largely due to his attitude and value systems. When he got himself another good offer, he continued to hold the company accountable for his state than internalize his actions. Unfortunately people like Vijay compel organizations to instill control standards that waste a lot of management time and money. For almost five long years he seems to have been clueless on what he wants to do in his career within the company and the organization has contributed in its own way in not focusing him for mutual benefit. Ideally, he should have been terminated on his admission of false sickness than tolerating him, like they did to a couple of others. A disengaged employee is unproductive but an actively disengaged employee is counter productive. Vijay turned out to be the latter after being given a lenient view. There are thousands of such Vijays who can cause disruptions. They have to be dealt with firmly and swiftly so that the loyal productive workforce does not have to face punitive HR policies because of a few recalcitrant employees who have poor value systems.

Futurz Tech's approach to people management and productivity The organization seems to have a good reputation to attract and retain good talent. Any company recruiting raw talent will take risks with inexperience and rely on its strengths to nurture the youth for mutual benefit. Futurz has adopted a similar model but seem to have floundered a bit in tightening the people and productivity process management. Some areas where the company needs to look at itself hard are: l Identifying strengths of its recruits: Its one thing to mass recruit talent with the usual tools and another thing

case study to invest time in understanding what areas drive them within the business verticals. Options to learn languages or culture like they did with Vijay for additional six months is unfair to offer to people who are just finding their way. Structured induction with a fairly standardized model to allocating their first roles would benefit Futurz in separating men/ women from the boys/girls in productivity, people leadership and budding domain experts. Vijay and perhaps others were given a choice that took the focus away from what he is paid to do for the company. And did not help him discover his strengths to thrive on. l People management: Rumblings about how people are treated in Futurz may not be new to any organization. The trend in today's business world, particularly in the sunrise industries is that "Young managers are managing younger workforce". Therefore, managing self and others is a soft skill that many need to be coached on. As again, Futurz may have made managers out of great individual contributors which often damage the fabric of the unit. It will augur well if the company sets up processes that help in identifying people with potential to becomes good managers. l Performance and productivity: It's not evident how strong the performance management process works in the company but the little data shows that there may not be checks and balances in leveling the performance of individuals. Immediate managers are normally the decision makers and Futurz is perhaps suffering from the same issue that many companies face i.e Empower managers and monitor by exception. Inherently, Futurz should look at the effectiveness of its processes ( if they exist) like feedback loops through employee surveys and skip level engagements etc., that enable it measure the health of people management practices. Additionally, it will be helpful if it tracks productivity and performance of its new employees up to two years to give it adequate focus on building a high performance culture. l Value-based policies and decisions: It looks like there are many employees who have been taking medical leave for a few years during CAT exam period. And the company chose to take action during Vijay's time. If Futurz has a set of core values as a company, such behaviours should be dealt with firmly, consistently and swiftly. Such practices, when looked at with a lenient eye by managers will lead to favoritism and unethical practices that will spread wildly. And how can Futurz differentiate between the gravity of misconduct from one ethical issue to another if the stand is not tough on all of them? HR managers have a role to play in being the champions of the policies in ensuring they are fair for employees and the organization. Many times a 1% of employees are miscreants that create hugely administrative and control driven policies that mistrusts and pains 99% of the people. Futurz need to relentlessly weed out the 1% to build a robust value based company l Industry standards for reference checking and sourcing: Its appalling to note that an MNC picks up

With vastly enhanced employment opportunities for this generation even at a graduate level, unlike ten years ago, this work force needs to be dealt with a slightly different approach. They need to be given clear priorities. And progress to be monitored for quality and speed of execution. Vijay for 60% more pay when he should have not got a job at all for such values. Only when industry has a robust reference checking process that enables to support each other in screening out such employees that the sunrise industry will be able to have reliable workforce. As long as poaching takes place and companies like Futurz do not lead in creating better industry practices, employees like Vijay will get away by not contributing much in one company and get rewarded with higher remuneration in another. With vastly enhanced employment opportunities for this generation even at a graduate level, unlike ten years ago, this work force needs to be dealt with a slightly different approach. They are by and large dependable to deliver their goals but outputs need to be monitored through technology solutions than just adding managerial layers. They need to be focused, given clear priorities and enable them to understand what is expected of them and by when. And progress to be monitored for quality and speed of execution. Too much of multitasking hassles them and they need to have a good work life balance with flexi time. They are bright and therefore they would like their opinions to be sought for changes in their work or facilities. They are a mobile workforce with no loyalty to any company. They want to get more pay every year just for staying back to work in the company rather than for increasing their contributions. They are ambitious and want to lead an accelerated lifestyle. Their focus is predominantly "what is in it for me" than what they can give and that applies largely into their personal relationships. Since their opportunities are many more, they begin to realize value of a career vs. job in a company much later in their lives. Hence dealing with such force requires policy making and execution machinery that is nimble to take some tough decisions on ethical issues and some soft pedaling by offering regular sops than one time benefits or pay increases. Organizations like Futurz or individuals like Vijay are pretty common in the current business world for many to learn lessons from and deal with situations as appropriate.



case study ANALYSIS

Don’t not 'let everything end here' Prabir Jha Senior VP & Global Chief -HR & Corporate Communications, Dr. Reddy's Laboratories Prabir Jha, an alumnus of St. Stephen's College, Delhi and XLRI Jamshedpur and has an impeccable academic and professional record. After doing his Masters, Prabir was selected for the prestigious Civil Services and as a bureaucrat handled the entire gamut of HR & IR issues of the Indian Ordnance Factories. On his switch to the corporate world after almost 10 years in the government, he has worked for organizations like Thermax, Mahindra British Telecom and now, Dr. Reddy's. He has handled all areas in HR, with special interest in Change Management, OD interventions, Global HR Strategy, Employer Branding and Leadership Capability Development. He is on the CII Panel for HR &IR for Andhra Pradesh and has been a regular contributor of articles in reputed journals, apart from a faculty at prestigious B schools and training establishments.


ijay's tryst with Futurz Tech is tragically not an unusual or solitary experience. His experiences at the company represent a deeper reality within both contemporary organizations and the current generation. The inability of either side to navigate differently is the issue that we need to deal with. We are living in a world of choices. Not exercised well, both sides must be willing to live with the consequences. The strong employer brand of Futurz Tech obviously helped it in attracting the best of minds. While it looked at an assortment of engineering skills, presumably for their analytical skills, it failed on two fronts. It was unable to match actual experiences in line with the employer brand it had hitherto created. It also was skewed in its otherwise seemingly robust selection process in so far it was overly biased for 'learning and thinking skills'. The brand reputation ensured that it attracted the best talent in its 'early to campus' strategy but it obviously did not adequately look at other personality dimensions that would make people successful and build careers with the organization. It did not reasonably address the herdsyndrome decision making to sift out serious and better candidates. Thus, while hard recruitment numbers were met for the present, it did not look a sound-enough strategy in the mid term. While it is easy to blame the organization for the litany of woes, it would be unreasonable to absolve Vijay of his share of mistakes. Like many youngsters on campus, he was very impressionable, making significant career decisions on the glitz of employer branding. Every organization is good, possibly great. But is it the right one for you? The inability to think beyond impressionable career drives to deeper career anchors is a perfect recipe for choosing an organization that may not be the perfect fit with one's personalities, unique capabilities or cultural preferences. The unwillingness of many a youngster to think deep enough of what one really seeks to do in life and what organization would best enable a successful and satisfying future often precipitates future career derailments. Futurz Tech obviously had reasons to enjoy the reputation it had on campus. Excellent facilities and comprehensive training surely make a strong case for



senior batches to play back to the impressionable minds. Vijay was possibly lucky to have been involved on what he would like to do after his foundation training. It speaks well of an organization to involve the employee in making career choices. His initial project experiences were possibly too short to help be a hook in his organizational incubation. With hindsight, the organization would have done well to make every initial assignment become a hook. Maybe the way a new entrant is received and made to feel central in a project is a key skill to build in a manager receiving short term additional talent reinforcements. More often than not, managers are not sensitive to this need since it may not be critical to their projects. But for the organization it could well be the start of disillusionment. The issue of 'bench management' is the classical dilemma with most software firms. Akin to keeping the troops in peace-time barracks, in anticipation of future wars, companies need to understand that under-worked employees have plenty of time to feel 'wasted'. Neither do they build newer skills nor do they feel part of the mainstream. With nothing much to channel their initial enthusiasm, youngsters start getting distracted. The herd mentality again takes the better of their judgments. They naturally gravitate towards the beaten path. The time at hand and the little -to-do gets the sharp minds to draft to another challenge - the gruelling selection process for top B-schools. Futurz Tech has clearly been unable to crack this piece of organizational disharmony. The crisis of not-so-meaningful engagements continued with Vijay for far too long. It does indicate some systemic gaps at Futurz Tech. Short assignments did not really help in building deep personal relationships. Neither managers of the respective projects needed that nor does it appear they cared, the odd experience notwithstanding. At the same time, the projects were intellectually not appetizing to a youngster who wanted to soar. A sense of drift was but natural to happen. In this entire experience, Vijay's disillusionment with Futurz Tech could have been arrested if the Project managers were sensitized to their larger role in the organization. Typically of many firms, the managers at Futurz Tech seem to be focused on the here-and-now of delivery and operations. It is indeed a major tragedy that

case study organizations have been unable to help coach managers on the larger leadership agenda as they go through their career transitions. In an era of free agents, the role of a manager is the most delicate. While there is no dispute over the operational deliverables, that is just not enough. They must evolve into becoming mentors to the juniors. They must be seen to be trusted and approachable. Alas, Futurz Tech may not have done a good enough job of deciding who it trusts to make managers. More often than not, organizations promote people who had done well in their previous roles. This may not be the best decision to make or philosophy to follow. While continued top-order performance is a strong input to a promotion, it cannot ignore the demands of the newer and bigger jobs. This is exacerbated when need for more managers pushes more inexperienced youngsters up without due calibration of the changed requirements. From being responsible for oneself, one needs now to be responsible for others. And we all know that a good soldier does not necessarily make a great general. Futurz Tech must introspect that is it indeed having project managers with the competencies that it needs in such a group. Sensitivity, coaching, trust, influence can make bosses into credible coaches. Command and control will not work in today's environment.. Vijay represents a new breed of professionals who need o be handled differently. Futurz Tech may have made a big mistake of not having prepared its managers well enough to handle these newer demands. Be that as it may, the general lack of discipline that Vijay's generation displays also cannot be condoned. Membership of an organization demands a certain conduct. Possibly the irreverence of the times and inadequate socialization into organizational norms has nurtured breaches in organizational discipline. It has been a well-recognized practice that leave is not a matter of right. Without prior approval, being away from work is unauthorized absence and endangers the effectiveness of an organization. Taking a month off from work should never have been done by a casual phone call from home. It was not a sudden emergency and was also handled by a level of casualness by his manager too. The inability of managers at Futurz Tech to see the

gestalt of their actions comes across strongly. While each manager may have lived with absence of their team members, collectively it would have impaired organizational deliverables. What is even more surprising is that with CAT examinations round the corner, the organization would have but been better prepared to handle the slew of 'leave requests'. This organizational lapse is significant and could have been predicted and resolved better. Nonetheless, Vijay is in trouble of his own doing and deserves little mercy. The organization is rightfully holding him guilty of misconduct. The fact that his Project Manager does not own up to the tip-off he had received from Vijay, nor bothered to check on him during his entire period of absence also conveys a general sense of indifference that builds up as organizations grow, succeed and typically get complacent. The need to brow beat an employee, howsoever guilty of a lapse, into signing 'confession statements' is surprising. If Futurz Tech viewed the episode as serious enough of a disciplinary action, it could well have taken it and done so most expeditiously. There was indeed no need to get an employee go through rounds of humiliating inquisition. This surely will not be a best practice reputation to build on campuses in the years ahead. To make matters worse, the relative immaturity of its 'fast tracked' managers has Futurz Tech in a tight spot. While employees must be held accountable for their failings, it is always the magnanimity of the organization to enable a bounce-back. The way some of the managers, notionally more senior to Vijay, handled him after his experience and the indifference of the hierarchy to the situation suggests a big gap in the leadership maturity at the organization. A bad appraisal rating, in spite of good scores on various functional parameters, smacks of double jeopardy, always a bad practice. The fact that it got sustained through all the various organizational processes makes one wonder if Futurz Tech indeed had sound HR fundamentals. One would hope that this was an aberration, not the norm. However, it cost the company a Vijay, someone who had joined with stars in his eyes. Even more dangerously, Futurz Tech has landed itself with an experience where even the credibility of its CEO is at stake. Disillusionment of an individual never remains with the departing employee. While good words spread, bad experiences make excellent fodder for the grapevine. The company could have salvaged not only Vijay but its reputation, by a more fair and mature handling of the employee life cycle. This would have actually added significantly to its brand reputation. But it did not lose just a possible brand ambassador. Futurz Tech has actually hurt its own future: lousy experiences will impact its status as an employer of choice. Worse still, people doubting its credentials will make it a deaf system. Systems which refuse to listen finally flounder and decay. Will Futurz Tech still wake up and not 'let everything end here' as Vijay would have liked?

Futurz Tech has landed itself with an experience where even the credibility of its CEO is at stake. Disillusionment of an individual never remains with the departing employee. While good words spread, bad experiences make excellent fodder for the grapevine.



case study ANALYSIS

Don't underestimate emotional trauma of employees Rajagopalan Raghavan GM-HR, GE John F Welch Technology Centre, Bangalore Raj Raghavan is the HR Leader for GE John F. Welch Technology Centre (JFWTC), Bangalore. Prior to this, he was Head of Human Resources for Global Service Centres in India at the HSBC Group where he was responsible for overall HR Leadership to their captive servicing centres. Raj is a seasoned HR professional with over 20 years in various aspects of Human Resource Management. His experience spans a wide range of expertise including Senior HR leadership for large organizations, Labour Relations, Organization Development and Training, Client HR for Sales and IT. Raj earned his Bachelors Degree in Economics from the University of Madras and Masters in Personnel Management & Industrial Relations from the Madras School of Social Work. He is married to Priya and they have one son Hridhey.


hen I finished reading the case, I can somewhat understand why Vijay was so happy and excited about leaving Futurz! Often organizations tend to underestimate the emotional trauma that an employee goes through with the various disciplinary processes that some of its managers tend to use rather flippantly. While there is no denying that Vijay could have been more upfront and mature in dealing with the way he left on leave without proper authorization, it is also true that as organizations, many tend to just do what they think are creating the "right" paper work that can then be used to separate an employee. As an HR professional, my dilemma is how Futurz could avoid similar situations in future. I will come to the ethics or lack of it from Vijay's part later but the whole situation can be summarized as below: l Futurz has got itself into a trap! With billing rates not steady and experienced hires from outside costing lot more, the natural tendency to hire bunch of smart engineers and then train them to work on projects is actually a smart hiring strategy. Where the whole thing boomerangs is when organizations do not think through the training and orientation piece well in advance. It seems to me that Vijay would have attrited much earlier than he actually did. First, even before joining Futurz! Imagine that an engineering consulting company had hired Vijay or a manufacturing company made him an offer to work on mechanical engineering related stuff. He would not have touched Futurz even to start with. Second, from the case, it is quite clear the company did not have any real plan to train Vijay, let alone deploy him in projects. Most of their initial training seemed like an afterthought or fillers. Let us take a step back and analyze the situation little more holistically. Much like the BPO industry few years ago, IT industry in India also started their roots with hiring people (even experienced ones) and then training them for deployment. This served most companies very well since early 90's. Fortunately for most of these companies, or

rather unfortunately, the order books were filled no sooner than they were opened. This led to a situation when either experienced people were hired from outside or fresh engineers from campuses were hired and then trained. While larger companies certainly looked at training strategically, smaller ones did not. Even the larger ones tended to fail on their delivery as most of these were outsourced to much smaller start-up training firms. Imagine how frustrating it can be for a new employee. One, they start a brand new job with glitter in their eyes having just heard about the company in media, internet, college campus etc., Second, they all expect to be fully occupied (even if it is training) immediately upon joining. With most hiring departments running behind meeting recruiting targets and training folks busy with other things, the new employee orientation and on-boarding used to be the last thing in the minds of HR honchos. This situation has changed considerably now for the better, I should admit. In the early 90's for most companies, even the larger ones, orientating a new engineer and engaging them productively without active work, was a new concept. Most of the early IT professionals came from other industries i.e., banking, manufacturing, etc., and they were busy from day-1! And the expectation was everyone else would do the same. It was much later that the industry realized the need for early engagement etc., By the time

Like most large sized organizations, (in Futurz too), the immediate manager is the only one who communicates with the employee. Vijay is connected with his manager as well his outside world, whereas his manager's only connect in this triangle is just Vijay.



case study the promoters or seniors could actually do it themselves; they became even more busy and outsourced stuff to start-up training companies who too were learning on the job! For a while it was mayhem! Coming back to the case; what went wrong: l First and foremost, early engagement was missing. From what I can see Vijay spent close to an year on all kinds of training l And then it was bench … by then he already started thinking of CAT l When Vijay was relocated to Bangalore, by IT industry standards, he was already veteran! However, like most IT professionals, he did not quite understand the need for approval to go on leave, etc., Whether it was Futurz not letting employees know or Vijay ignoring company norms in another issue l New managers who acquire a team for the first time need to go through an orientation of sorts. This should include coaching, giving and taking feedback. There are many things that augur well for Futurz. One, they are one of the largest IT organizations in the country, dream company in college campuses, Like most large sized organizations, Futurz have got itself into a situation where the immediate manager is the only one who communicates with the employee. Imagine a triangle with Vijay, his manager and other employees in Futurz as the three corners. Vijay is connected with his manager as well his outside world, whereas his manager's only connect in this triangle is just Vijay. This is a very challenging situation for the manager too. One, his context is limited to just the project and Vijay along with a few co-employees. He is completely blind to whatever other influences on Vijay are, even from within the company. That Vijay had to confide in Hari from the very beginning shows that as a large company, one does tend to lose the employee connect quite easily. In effect, if I were to be the HR leader at Futurz, I will do the following: l Communicate, communicate and communicate. Use all possible modes of communication just to ensure that young professionals understand organizational codes of conduct. At GE, for example, it's fairly straightforward that one does not just take off on a month's leave without informing sufficiently in advance. l Coach and train managers - to be telling employees that punishment can be via performance appraisals is not just childish but vindictive too. l Commence a buddy program - where people like Vijay can freely talk to leaders in the company and discuss issues in an open and honest way This said, there are Vijay's and Hari's everywhere …. It is up to us to find out where they are and handle it much before it is too late. HC