Revisiting Some Thoughts And Some Issues in HR & IR

A glimpse of some posts and thoughts. It will refresh our memory about some events and also help us rethink on some issues in HR and IR. All this work in 2011. Click on links to read full posts.

The union has established a medical trust. The approach is that they should be self reliant to the extent possible. It has also persuaded management of Thermax to extend financial support to at least three students, workers’ children, studying in USA and Germany.

Thermax Union has participated in several major cost reduction studies and projects. It was interesting to note that they always ask for ‘facts first’ before talking of solutions. They talk the language of RFT, TPM, Kaizen [on an average each workman has done 30 Kaizen projects] etc. They claim that they have saved over 18 crores in inventory and have improved productivity several times. And they talk about it with ‘facts and figures.’

I spoke to one of them who stood close to me. “This struggle is very long drawn, you must have suffered,” I said to initiate conversation. “We used to work twelve hours every day. Yes they paid us overtime, but it was paid only on basic wage and they kept it very low. The allowances were high” he said. Another joined the conversation, “They employ contract labour. They must be employing ten contract workers for every permanent worker. They don’t pay any attention to our grievances. It does not matter now whether the Press runs or closes down, but things must change.”
The predominant experience with cooperation in our society consists of having a group of people work together in order to defeat another group of people. The group may be a basketball team, a company, or, in its most dangerous incarnation, an entire country. While some activities featuring a blend of intra-group cooperation and intergroup competition, such as sports, are widely acclaimed precisely on the basis of promoting teamwork, the most salient lesson they actually teach is that the ultimate reason to cooperate is to defeat a common enemy. Such a message is mixed at best and exceedingly damaging at worst. 
Wikipedia mentions the rules and regulations for the ‘Singapore Girl’ of Singapore Airlines, here are some: [Picture courtesy Wikipedia] [Quote]
  • The airline requires stewardesses and stewards to colour their hair black or dark brown. The airline does not allow for stewardesses or stewards to use highlights. Acceptable shades of hair colours are black or dark brown. Stewardesses with long hair are to coil their hair into buns or French Twists. Stewards are to sport short hair above their collar lines and sideburns no longer than the ear lobes. Fringes (bangs) of Stewards do not touch eyebrows.
The Singapore Girl marketing concept has been criticized as being sexist – apart from the inaccuracy of the term “Girl”, the concept has been accused of being a stereotype of Asian women as being desirable and subservient to white males.[Unquote]
The first of these night classes started with a trek to the roof of the YMCA building and a question. Participants were asked to look at the sky and to tell the instructor what they saw that aroused their curiosity. The amateur astronomer jotted down a series of items that were of interest to the group. On returning to the classroom, he used this “curriculum” in a relaxed, straightforward way, avoiding the didacticism that had initially alienated class members from a subject in which they had a deep interest. At the end of the session, he invited them to his home for the next class where they could view the stars from the comfort of his private observatory. By the second meeting the group membership had mushroomed from a dozen into eighteen.
Knowles had found the model of an effective teacher for his institution and for his own developing image of what an adult educator and adult education ought to be. 
The real threat that managers feel, with a union at the door step, is of losing ability to influence their employees. If the processes are created around reaching employees then the need for unions may be obviated to some extent, at least in a small set up. My experience is that many organisations begin the exercise of ‘reaching out’ to employees after receiving a letter from union.
There is an interesting duel which is going on for decades – it is between the Employers and the Judiciary. The unscrupulous employers are giving narrow interpretation to provisions of labour legislation and the judiciary is reacting with expanding its scope!
This way of introducing coaching essentially creates a situation in which a [prospective] coachee makes a choice of coaching; it does not come as a result of HR’s initiative. It also does not come as a result of a mechanical procedure which says ‘arrange coaching inputs for all those who have been promoted or are likely to be promoted.’ Essentially it recognises that coaching will succeed where the need is felt and where the manager makes a choice voluntarily.