“What’s going on? Khayalomein? Lost in your thoughts?” Lulu, my parrot, asked as he landed on my shoulder.
“Oh! You have picked up Hindi. You are right Lulu. I was thinking about my meeting with Sharad Patil. The former Secretary General of The Employers Federation of India.”
“I know the man! And who was the other friend who was talking about fish curry….”
“Ha! Ha!! You are referring to Vikas Shirodkar. He is a dear friend. He is a maestro of HR and ER. A respected professional for his integrity and mastery of his subject.”
“Who was the man speaking so passionately?”
“Salute to your keen observation! That was Arvind Shrouti. He too is a close friend for several years. I have deep respect for him. He has influenced the employee relations positively in Pune region.” Lulu’s roll call was over. Parrots are as much curious about men as men are about parrots. And parrots listen carefully to what men speak; yes here to the converse is true!
“You did not answer my question, ‘What’s going on?’”
“Working on a project. We met to chalk out a course of action. We agreed that this was the time to launch initiatives in employee relations. This is the right time to strengthen ER as we say.”
“What’s so special? Unions are down and out. They have lost public sympathy. They have lost the teeth.”
“That’s not the reason. There are many companies experimenting with processes to build healthy relationship with employees. ITC, Tata Steel for instance.”
“Oh, they are always in the forefront. But remember, relationship is dead, the real life is in relating, if you understand what I mean.”
“That’s a deep one! Relationship is dead, the real life is in relating. Wow!”
“One is the past therefore dead, what matters is the moment we are living, how we are living it. Are we doing something constructive and meaningful.”
“That’s what the passionate man was speaking about – what’s his name you said?”
“Right. Sharad Patil and Vikas Shirodkar have done fabulous work in their organisations. Both are highly respected professionals. So we said we will help out other organisations who are willing to build employee relations.”
“That’s a great thought.”
“So we held meeting at TISS. Ten others were present. There was Ramkumar of ICICI and Virendra Shukla and Ms Emrana of Asian Paints.”
“Then we held one more in Pune.”
“The way forward is to reach out to more HR honchos, and then begin experimenting.”
“Create nucleus of positive work.” Lulu said as he looked in to my eyes. Thoughtful he was as always.
“Remember that if you wish to impact perspectives of people, you must show them that your idea is working somewhere. Don’t lecture. Let them make their own conclusions about what works and what doesn’t.”
“That’s the point!”
“But to sustain the change of this type, you must heighten awareness of people. What’s your plan to do it?”
“You are making this task look so difficult! I am getting nervous.”
“Just remember that planning has a place and so also incrementalism. Thoughtfulness has a place and so also spontaneity. Think hard and just do it. And then reflect on your actions. Haven’t you read theory U?” Parrots are ahead of times. They know more about HR and philosophy than me. I have a lot to catch up!
Vivek S Patwardhan