Sunday, April 06, 2008

The absent sense of belonging!

My first ever post on attrition is here. It was prompted by the steady number of people who landed up at my cubicle to say “Today is my last day! I have come to say bye!” From the time I started college holiday Internships, I was struck at the number of people per month who dropped by my cubicle to say goodbye. ‘Here today gone tomorrow’ was the norm of the day in most IT companies till sometime back. Today I work in the marketing wing of my company and far away from the development teams and hence do not know how things are in the attrition scene!

Sometimes the departees would tell us a day or two in advance about their departure. The subsequent discussions revealed that the reason for leaving was almost always dissatisfaction with their Manager. A small percentage left for better salaries because they were refused the hike the company eventually paid the new incumbent who filled the post of the departee. What an irony! The saying that “employees leave managers and not organizations” is so true and I have seen it happening myself. It happened to me too in my first job. The manager I left was later fired for the attrition levels in his team, but not before many valuable people had left their jobs.

What strikes me most about our employment scene is that people do not identify with the company they work in. All they are bothered about is their post, perks and package! I would put the blame squarely on some of the managers and top management for this because they themselves have no loyalties to the company they work in. Their lackadaisical attitude towards retaining talent and their half hearted attempts at the same are usually due to their job obligations. And due to this attitude they make no effort to respect or retain the talents under them.

What I have seen from my experience of the IT industry is that we Indians are not mature enough to work in an environment that is meant for professional people back in the US. We are still to attain the professionalism that most Americans display and bring our personal likes, dislikes and moods and prejudices to the work place. What we need to function effectively is managers and top management folks who are responsible professionals themselves and bring such values to the work place. This can be ensured by making the management and managers responsible for attrition. This will force them to create a conducive and fair working environment for their employees and hence create a sense of belonging towards the organization. Otherwise modifying HR rules and regulations more suited to the way we think is the only way out now.

Top management of most companies is also lacking in professionalism and work more for their career advancement than organizational development. It is no wonder that no one has a sense of belonging to the company and most companies are now functioning with a floating population of employees!! Ability is rarely given credence and a new breed of people who know the corporate loopholes, are the winners in the corporate race.

The situation is a lose lose one. What foreign companies need to do right now is train the people at the helm first and sensitize them to the fact that their subordinates are equally if not more important than them to the organization. This point has to be driven into them and they should be held responsible and answerable for every employee that leaves the organization! This will make them sit up and get their act together!

The company where I work has a rule that the Managers word is the last word. This has led to some people in Managerial position to abuse their power and finger whoever they want in their team. Which has led to good talents being swallowed up by the competitions after the mandatory cooling period! In the US, the very same manager would have been evaluated and promoted not only on his contributions to the company but also his people skills and man management and employee retention records. But here in India these practices are just on paper!

Shifting businesses to India may be cost effective but it can be made more cost effective by ensuring that employees stay in the company for longer periods and hence reduce the burden on the company on hiring and training newcomers. If the US majors spruce up their act in India, India would become much more cost effective than it is now!

This is my 200th post here ! Right now feeling a little senti because my little baby that completed two years on March 5th is all grown up now *sniff*


mathew said...

Congrats on the 200th post!! wanted to come first!!yay!!:-)
comment on post later!

mathew said...

This is something which i guess our niche IT companies are losing the sting..For most people in IT there is no attachment of sorts where each company is just another launch pad for a higher wage in the next job change..The IT companies when they started off were infact very employee friendly or infact to put better a family sorta feeling was incubed.But with ever increasing number of employees most of them have lost the plot.When the employee becomes an expendable resource it become almost an inanimate object!!

...Jive Talker said...

Hey!! (Drumroll...Crash Bang..Cymbals...Busssshhhh :-) Congratulations on the 200th !! Your topic this time is a very pertinent and a very touchy one for me personally. I actually wrote out my comments and then wiped the entire thing out 'cos it turned out to be a mini-blog in itself :-) Guess I'll rant some other time :-)

Jiby said...

first of all congratulations on hitting the two year mark. this is my favorite blog and ever since you started blogging here, it pushed your other blog to the No:2 spot!

i am in danger of a feeling of belonging to the company i work for manager is responsible for embarasses me to say no to him each time he offers me new sops to stay on. man management is the strength of US companies...i am surprised at the percentage of employees who haven't felt the need to jump ship in the places i have worked despite chances of higher pay at other firms.

~ ॐ ~ said...

I have worked with people from the US, and I have worked with people from the UK, and yes I have worked with people from India...

I am not sure if Indians can be treated any less professional than anyone else... people from US and UK have their own attributes, both good and bad... Though on second thoughts, I would agree to the striking difference in the way a lot of people from Asia work...

Also things would start changing when the change filters from top to make a difference right at the starting level... when people are not only billable and non billable resources, but assets to the company... i think its a mix of how the company treats ( read policies, procedures, support systems etc.) its people and how well the think-tank, the managers ( like you rightly said) take pride in that.

This still would be very open to discussion... there are people who switch every 2 years.. and there are people who don't for 5, 10, 15... I have seen people moving quicker enough learn and contribute more to the industry as a whole, and not just one company, and I have seen people who don't move work as they own the place and not care about anything in this world, and they might also not be able to survive in the world outside, because they don't have a clue whats happening...

and congratulations.. many many on the 200th post !!! it sure feels good to see a baby grow!

ToOothlEss WOndeR! said...

I do not disagree with any of the things you said, but on a slightly different note, attrition can be healthy, if the organization doesn't rush in to fill the voids created.
If there is a good internal job posting system, and the company makes the employee feel he/she belongs, I believe we are more often than not better off without the people that leave, no matter how well they know what they do. (At the minimum, we make sure the know-how risk is covered ok)
i concur with you on the manager bit, though. The sense of belonging and well being can be generated to a large extent by the manager.
what the Indian industry needs is for people to understand that careers have more to them than money and managers.
And for managers to know that when there is a value correction, they are the ones that are disposable most easily.
That value correction is not from a book - it is happening right now for anyone that has to do with financial services, and the rest are going to follow.

ToOothlEss WOndeR! said...

oh, and congratulations on the 200th. :)

silverine said...

Mathew: :)) Thank you! Your observations are very real!
"When the employee becomes an expendable resource it become almost an inanimate object!!" That just about sums up neatly the reason why there is a lack of animation in some companies and its people today!

Jive Talker: Thank you! :) Wish you had penned the comments here though! :)

jiby: Thank you so much! :) You are so lucky to have that sense of belonging. I have heard that only from relatives who work in govt companies!! The IT sector employees like Mathew said use their present job merely as a launch pad for a higher wage in the next job change. And the cycle continues...
Reg this blog it is the easiest to write and the most difficult to manage comments wise :p But then I have to be thankful because I am blessed with the best and most intelligent commenters in the whole world (soap adi) :))

Om: Thanks for the wishes and that very interesting observations. Very good read! You should be in Corporate Communications lol!! Such write ups will attract talent by the droves lol And I meant that as a compliment! :)

I was talking from personal experiences of freinds and colleagues here. The general feeling is that managers don't seem to take enough trouble to retain good subordinates!
"i think its a mix of how the company treats ( read policies, procedures, support systems etc.) its people and how well the think-tank, the managers take pride in that." Very well said!

TW: Thank you for the wishes! :) I agree that attrition can have its benefits and like Om pointed out people moving quicker learn and contribute more to the industry as a whole. The general feeling I get is that companies are not doing enough to retain people! We have a internal posting system as this co rarely lets go off a person :) So attritions are really low here!

philip said...

congrats on your 200th!

Fresh Lime Soda said...

Congrats for hitting a Double century.
Now for the post..
Attrition is a word more you think more it makes you think.All have well laid down the reason well substantiating your findings...
After reading all these stuffs, I felt like comming out of ma weelky management catch up, where we discuss a lot of stuffs like this.

g-man said...

good going with your 200th post. i don't think i'm qualified to comment on it, being stuck in s6 at the moment...keep blogging!

ursjina said...

congrats lady!!!
ther r exceptions to the scenario my first work place..people worked there not coz of the perks but coz of the amazing work place it was and of the management attitude towards its employees..i still feel bad about having to have left them..:)...[paradoxical..hehe]

Karthik said...

Congrats on the 200th post!

I think you hit the nail on the head when u said that managers should be evaluated not only on the basis of the contributionto the organization revenue but also on the man-management skills. A 360 degree appraisal system looks fathomable aqt such times, eh?

Deepti said...

Congrats on hitting the 2 year mark and for 200 posts...
I totally agree with you. I think managers should also be rated on manpower retention skills. In my team we have had so much attrition in the last few months and the reasons are the same as u've mentioned. Sorry for cribbing on your blog ... :(

freespirit said...

I think you captured the scenario at the India IT office just right. I remember how things changed for me at TCS, started with a passion for everything TATA, soon learnt that all those values we talked about stayed probably only with the top mgmt n didnt trickle down. At my work place it was pure and plain politics, gang up with the right people to advance urself. That was the motto all around. I dunno if the USA offices are ne different, but from what I've heard politics is really the name of the game here too! One difference maybe that these people fake concern and friendliness very well! :)

Anonymous said...

its wrong to stereotype an entire country as good managers or bad managers.
Its the same things which get people promoted be it India or the US.Its the people who are the most visible and those who advertise their achievements more than their peers, that get promoted.

People leaving, in a mature market could be due to their managers but in a market thats exploding with opportunities, its usually for higher pay or opportunities abroad.

I think its a cardinal sin to have a sense of belonging to the place you work. Im saying it this way to make a point. The company wont even think for a split second before letting you go if it could do so and benefit. All they care about is increasing shareholder value. The company pays you for your skills and you are essentially in a transaction.

Smart managers take their teams out, organize family events etc to create that sense of belonging cos that benefits the company.

Someone once said "Fall in love with your profession but not your company"

ap said...

Congrats on your 200 th post.....

Seeing the post and comments -Managers are the main culprits !!!
Hope "you" are listening to the same ;)

Yeah Managers do influence....
Coz for many of them
1.We are "RESOURCES"
2.We are "Cuury Leaves" yes kariveppila!!!!! :(
When a Manager sees his team like this ,the team invariably sees everything as a launching pad for his/her career....

emmanuel said...

Congrats on the 200th post and also for completing two years!!

The scenario is clearly present in the post. I have heard from my dad that we have a problem in treating our colleagues equal. In a position one tend to be at the foot of his senior and like to stand on the head of one's subordinates. This kind of mentality starts from the day one starts the career. Even, we evaluate one's individuality on the professional identity of another person, which I feel is really ridiculous. That means we are not yet learned to draw the distinct line between personal and professional lives. And I'm not sure, but I hope the people elsewhere too would have problems like these, but their rights are well preserved and they wouldn't find any reasons to just go out of a company.

And about the scenario in IT here. Earlier when the opportunities to switch was less and when people used to start their careers late than nowadays, they would have reached in some kind of responsibilities and they didn't mind to switch and go on with the career. But now, they have choice (plenty!) and attrition is a natural byproduct of the same. And yeah, people definitely leave their managers and not organisations as an employee is not concerned about how the company performs globally and only what boils down to him in actual.

Once again Congrats for the milestones!:) Keep the enthusiasm and thoughts going!

| Balu | said...

Congrats on the double century hope you break Lara's record and score an adipoli 500 soon!
Getting to the point... attrition is not restricted to IT alone but also to media.. here people shift around like changing undies and yes like u mentioned due to personal differences.
But I don't think it is lack of professionalism alone... I blame the company for not trying to build in the 'company pride' funda in to the employees.. give them a 'cool' place, good (understanding) managers and feed them a truck load of 'Your company is the best - we can't do without u' bak-bak and may be the attrition rate will come down

eljo said...

Congrats on the double century!!! I admire your perseverance for being able to blog so often and bringing out topics which makes one think about one’s stand on the same. Keep it going and make us readers do some more thinking :-)

kochuthresiamma p .j said...

an extremely useful post.
after a quarter of a century of service in a very tame and safe sector, am planning to venture into a managerial assignment. your post is a real real eyeopener. i have saved it in my computer.
i think i am visiting your blog after a very long time. 200th!! and you have truly come a very long terms of style, content . attitude.

silverine said...

Philip, Fresh lime soda and g-man: Thanks guys! :)

Ursjina: Thank you :) I am aware of last boss and present boss being among them...but this post was about the bad peas.

Karthik: Thank you buddy! :) 360 degrees appraisal = Fair Appraisal! Period!

Deepti: Absolutely no problem with cribs! :) What is sad is that it is only after many people are lost that the powers that be wake up to a bad man manager!

Freespirit: You have explained the situation very well.

Anon: If you had read the post properly you would have noticed that I was talking about bad managers "only" and not slotting every manager as bad. And neither am I talking of people staying on in a place for longer periods. I was talking about retaining talent! If an employee is good for the org then every effort should be done to retain him and if a manger doesn't do so then he is acting against the org's interest and should be identified and pulled up!

AP: I also believe that it is managers who set this culture of "here today gone tomorrow"!

Emanuel: Thank you for that really insightful comment. I agree with you totally. I have seen this need among people to be deified and worshiped because they are Managers or TLs or PMs. And in most IT cos where the hierarchy is flat these people create an invisible hierarchy of their own within their teams. No amount of training or HR pep talks gets to them because of the mentality your Dad described. Thanks for this great comment!

Balu: You are absolutely right! But bad managers don’t want to retain talent...they want to retain "yes men" and "yes women"!

Eljo: Thank you dear! :)

kochuthresiamma p .j: Thank you!! Honored to have your comment here! :) I have blogrolled you at the other blog!

Anonymous said...

I did read the post properly and the following line led me to believe that you were stereotyping all Indians.

"What I have seen from my experience of the IT industry is that we Indians are not mature enough to work in an environment"

silverine said...

Anon: You contradict yourself. In your earlier comment you accused me of stereotyping managers and now it is something else. Anyways…I guess you are new to blogs. Blogs are personal spaces where the writer airs his/her personal views. What I have written here is from personal exp and I stand by it. I make no pretenses here. I have exp to the contrary too but right now I would like to stick to the topic here. If you don't understand what blogging is all about it will be a very frustrating stay here for you and you will end up like many other Anon commenters lashing out at bloggers for speaking their mind. It takes a lot of guts and conviction to put up your personal views in public. Please appreciate that! :)

Praveen said...

hey are right about the top management and the attrition..but where i work,around this time, i also see ppl leaving the job to pursue careers in the US and this has increased the attrition.

Congrats on the 200th post :).. I started blogging about 3.5 years back..but have not managed more than 60 posts, so great going :)

Anonymous said...

my post is missing :(...i want to see peekchar of all vintage goodies pleej!

Anonymous said...

I do appreciate the spirit. But without getting into an argument, I think you got what i was trying to convey about stereotyping - Its not right. Who am I to accuse ? :) just airing my opinion !
This is one of the few blogs where i do take the time and effort to comment.

silverine said...

Anon: Thank you! Its not right to stereotype I agree, but I am not stereotyping anyone here. Just making an observation based on personal experience and of many people I have talked to. That is usually enough to grasp a trend if you are sharp. You either write about one incidence or generalize. There is no other way of writing. And people realize that and read accordingly. Anyways...appreciate the fact that you drop in here to read my ramblings! :)