Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Goose is Trapped

Attrition, the greatest challenge faced by the software industry. That too in a small or medium sized organization, it is a curse because of the inability or unwillingness to offer an appealing, alluring and authentic package as supposed to be offered by the biggies. Suddenly projects pour in and hope soars high, but when it comes to execution, there pops up the big question! Where is all these years of experience gone?

It is like placing a just born goose in a bottle and ignoring it with such a callousness that, it grows so big that the bottle could no longer contain the goose. The challenge is to get the grown-up goose out of the glass without breaking the glass and without killing the goose.

There are circumstances when attrition is encouraged by the organization to accommodate change, get rid of obsolete resources (assumed by the employer) and to board fresh minds. The Tide and the ebb, up and down, darkness and light, summer and winter, yin and yen, attrition and recruitment has become the two sides of the same coin in this damn industry.

A friend asked me, “How it feels to be managing a big team?

I said, “I feel like a pimp”.

His laughter suggested that he was able to understand the whole analogy.

Recently, I an article on the views of Azim Premji, CEO-Wipro on


Every company faces the problem of people leaving the company for better pay or profile. Early this year, Mark, a senior software designer, got an offer from a prestigious international firm to work in its India operations developing specialized software. He was thrilled by the offer. He had heard a lot about the CEO. The salary was great. The company had all the right systems in place employee-friendly human resources (HR) policies, a spanking new office, and the very best technology, even a canteen that served superb food.

Twice Mark was sent abroad for training. "My learning curve is the sharpest it's ever been," he said soon after he joined.

Last week, less than eight months after he joined, Mark walked out of the job.

Why did this talented employee leave?

Arun quit for the same reason that drives many good people away.

The answer lies in one of the largest studies undertaken by the Gallup Organization. The study surveyed over a million employees and 80,000 managers and was published in a book called "First Break All The Rules". It came up with this surprising finding:

If you're losing good people, look to their immediate boss .Immediate boss is the reason people stay and thrive in an organization. And he’s the reason why people leave. When people leave they take knowledge, experience and contacts with them, straight to the competition. "People leave managers not companies," writes the authors Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman. Mostly manager drives people away?

HR experts say that of all the abuses, employees find humiliation the most intolerable. The first time, an employee may not leave, but a thought has been planted. The second time, that thought gets strengthened. The third time, he looks for another job.

When people cannot retort openly in anger, they do so by passive aggression. By digging their heels in and slowing down. By doing only what they are told to do and no more. By omitting to give the boss crucial information. Dev says: "If you work for a jerk, you basically want to get him into trouble. You don’t have your heart and soul in the job."

Different managers can stress out employees in different ways - by being too controlling, too suspicious, too pushy, too critical, but they forget that workers are not fixed assets, they are free agents. When this goes on too long, an employee will quit - often over a trivial issue. Talented men leave. Dead wood doesn't.

Shiva : If talented men leave, how does an organization grow? I believe that everyone is capable of doing anything. The only difference is the willingness to take up responsibility and stick to commitment. I can never accept the myth that someone is less talented or capable than the other. If a dead wood is someone committed to an organization, what do you call a flip flop as? Managers are no longer authoritative, at least not in my experience though. As a manger, I have never been compelling or authoritative, but a little aggressive on projects to bring the resources upto speed in their learning. But there is always a 60% attrition rate and 40% still sticking to me for the past 3 years. Am I a jerk? I am not questioning the authenticity of the forward, but just wondering where I stand? , Why I have lost the 60% of the people? Am I a dead wood? !!!!!

Friday, December 01, 2006

The Snow Fall

First time when one of my American colleagues warned me of the winter of Chicago, I sarcastically agreed to his comment, thinking at the back of my mind about the cold winters I have endured roaming around the roads of Kodai Hills and a month long NCC Camp in the tents at the oval ground of Sainik School, Nagrota, Jammu during the peak winter.

Today, my preconception about cold was shattered and the winter of Kodaikanal turned warm when the first big wintry storm with a combination of sleet, snow and ice blustered around Illinois, covering everything exposed with a blanket of snow and ice. In spite of the cautious gestures of my colleagues yesterday to stay warm and not to bother attending office today, I got ready to office the usual way, only to be dragged into the Teleconference and Web Conference bridges to attend the flurry of incessant calls pouring in from the managers to ensure the projects stays warm even when everything is freezing in this prickly cold.

The maximum temperature was –3 degree Celsius while the minimum temperature was –10 degree Celsius against a minimum +29 degree Celsius and a maximum of +38 degree Celsius at Chennai.

Deciding to work from home, I stepped out of the house only to see the snow covered streets, roofs, and commuters walked gingerly along slushy road in front of the apartment, people shoveling the snow in their door steps and side walks, digging out their cars buried in snow.

All trees big and small, no longer demanding the sun light for photosynthesis, as their leaves have withered away in the fall, were dressed in the white clad snow in complete submission to the over-powering weather. However, this one plant still with its tender leaves and beautiful flowers is fighting like a warrior, unwilling to give-up, hopes for the sun to appear. A great inspiration!

Though everyone were cold like the weather, only the kids seem to be excited and fancied by the fluffy softy snow, building varied shapes out of it.

This kid pulled his mother out of the home giving her a tough time, jumping into the mounting snow, picking and throwing at his mother, was having a ball.

Though there has been talks of power outages, burying streets and roads, plunging temperature, accidents on the slippery roads, flight and train delays – I enjoyed working from home, occasionally peeping through the window to see the snow turned world outside.