By | Hema Ravichandar | Strategic HR Advisory, former CHRO Infosys Ltd
We were sitting in a central Mumbai restaurant. My friend, an HR head, was enjoying her prawn flambé and insouciantly talking to me about the latest crisis in her professional life. Three of the key employee unions in the factories had sent lockout notices. She was in constant discussion with the management, lawyers and even political representatives. But, to look at her as she relished the meal, one would have thought she had nary a worry. And truth to say, she wasn’t—worried, that is. She had just finished a call with her global head of human resources (HR), who asked her: “Do you need any help? Are you worried? Is this a problem?” Typical queries from headquarters, you could say. And how did she respond? “Not really, this is not at all a problem, this is in fact an opportunity to sort out a lot of things and clear the air.”
It’s all in the attitude, isn’t it? She could have been nervous, worried, a bundle of nerves. Instead, she decided to take the issue head on, comfort her senior leaders across the world and use the opportunity to actually clean up and resolve a lot of pending industrial relations issues. The battle was half won in her mind.
She could have managed the decision just as a number, ensuring that everyone attended, organizing standard run-of-the-mill programmes. But she came out of that meeting and looked at specific gaps in employee competencies which had been identified in the customer satisfaction survey of the top 10 customer accounts. Then, with that mandated bank of days, she designed solutions targeted at addressing those specific gaps. And voila! Her interventions were perfectly aligned with the business needs. Of course, it was a big hit.
So would you look at it as two days wrangled out of fiery discussions to run your traditional programmes or would you say, this is my pot of gold, and then creatively structure a solution which hits the ball out of the park? It’s your attitude, it’s your choice.
Cast your mind back and I am sure many examples will come your way. All of us will remember instances when we consciously lost battles to win the war, stooped many a professional time to conquer and picked up the gauntlet of a professional challenge to show that you could, in the final analysis, do it your way. Recently, a young professional more mature than his years told me how he had decided not to escalate the matter of his nominee for an award being systematically sidelined by one who had veto powers. It was a conscious decision, because in the long run this was one relationship he had to nurture. So he understood the vetoing authority’s perspective, lodged a strong protest, but ultimately decided to “lose” this battle to the cause of being on the same page as the country business leader. My hunch is that the “injustice” will be redressed next time round.
Coincidentally, just last week, a friend forwarded one of Winston Churchill’s perceptive quotes, “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference!” I couldn’t agree more.