Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Performance Awards in Organizations

The annual performance awards in most organizations is the occasion when the management recognizes the contributions of high performing individuals and programs in the organization. The purpose of such awards is to inculcate the spirit of healthy competition in the organization.

Another purpose is for the management to demonstrate in clear terms to the masses what is the "right" behavior that would earn recognition and rewards (referred to as R&R in many HR-driven organizations).

Such awards also give opportunity to one and all to celebrate organizational success stories and may also be clubbed with a gala party for all the employees.

What happens before such events is more interesting and intriguing a tale than what happens in such events.

The discussions and decisions behind the closed doors where the success stories (individuals and programs) are finalized need closer look to understand what such events finally end up achieving (whether acknowledged by the management and HR folks or not).

Here are few points to ponder about:
  • The program/project that goes through maximum crises becomes a natural choice in the name of stretched targets being achieved. This is generally true in case of a team working on new types of programs/projects or on programs/projects with tight deadlines or on high profile, strategic projects. And by definition projects that run smoothly will fail to make the grade. It is hard to imagine a program/project getting rewarded if it ran smoothly and never went into crisis due to proactive actions by the team.
  • The individual who worked on critical assignments becomes a natural choice in this case. Someone who brings maximum dollars through a new project is also a natural choice however this works only in the fist year of the project. And by definition a smooth, silent worker will fail to make the grade. It is hard to imagine an individual getting rewarded if he/she worked smoothly and never went into crisis due to proactive actions.
Overall it appears that the driving factors for such rewards are around results (generally in terms of money) and not values. So this may encourage behavior where "what" is a clear winner and "how" is a distant second.

This also encourages the tendency in a typical employee to be part of only the "award-able" programs/projects and also "getting it done" somehow. In such a situation the values the organizations tends to so proudly flash everywhere may gradually start loosing its sheen and make the employees not to take it  seriously.

Taking this further, it may even lead to ethical breakdown in the organization. There are ample cases to demonstrate that:
  • Kenneth Lay of Enron was one of the highest-paid CEOs in his time (results driving rewards) until the Enron scandal broke out due to the "how" behind the "what" not being fair and ethical (value breakdown)
  • Ramalinga Raju of Satyam won several awards and global accolades (results driving rewards) until that infamous letter he sent to the company board admitting the massive fraud going on for years altogether (value breakdown)
The above illustrates the point that value-based rewards are better in the long run than results-based rewards.

This idea means that even if a program/project made a loss (for uncontrollable reasons) but displayed full respect to organizational values (including the systems and processes) it should be rewarded rather than a program/project that made a lot of money but ignored the organizational values.

Right values will yield into right results in the long run in a sustainable manner.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Selling or Customer Manipulation

Salesmen are known to be quota driven.

They have revenue targets to meet to get their commission. This compulsion of salesmen can lead to customer manipulation.

The one philosophy that guides salesmen is to sell for as high as possible and still make the customers believe that they have got it for dirt cheap.

The typical tactics used by salesmen to strike and close a deal are as follows:
  • Close the deal come what may and close it as soon as it can be done. This means the salesmen may have to use all means including contacts, personal relations, time-bound discounts and even kickbacks or bribes.
  • Quote a price that is within the range of the competition's quotes. In case the price differential is too high the salesmen may have to convince the customers about the additional items which are part of the package or the key differentiation in the offered products/services or the reason for premium pricing, if any even where none may exist.
  • Make the customer think that the best deal has been offered at each stage of negotiation. The salesmen will always know the margin and may have already done calculations with all permutation and combination.
  • Make the customer look nice and knowledgeable in all the meetings. The salesmen may actually blast the customer (in curse words at times) while having a blast with other friends the very evening/night.
  • Sound and look very genuine and concerned about the customer and his needs while meeting them. The salesmen may have to put on a fake appearance to make the customer think that the salesmen is so genuine and good person. However, the salesmen will do it more for manipulating the customer to say yes.
  • Attend conferences and industry events to meet future customers. The salesmen is like a hunting wolf in such forums ready to "trap" an interested customer.
No doubt, any sales job is a tough one which needs not only a good thing to offer to a prospective customer but also sell it to the customer using manipulative tactics if needed.

While some of the tactics used may be based on scientific research into the sociological and psychological weakness and characteristics of the needy customers, looking at them from a pure and honest angle will make them look like manipulations.

It may appear that most of what happens in the name of selling is but another name of customer manipulation.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Dying Happy and Healthy

One must strive to live and die as a happy and healthy person.

Dying happy and healthy is the epitome of a successful life as it means the person has been able to achieve most of the desires (happy) and has been able to enjoy the achievements as well (healthy).

Happiness is a relative concept which essentially embodies the following aspects:
  • Understanding one's god-gifted inherent talents and potential - everyone is unique
  • Achieving what one is truly capable of - stretch out without breaking apart
  • Living a balanced life - both in personal life and profession
  • Not regretting any moment in life - no regrets, no if and should
Heath is a holistic concept which embodies the following aspects:
  • Physical condition - body immunity, vital organs, accidents
  • Mental and emotional condition - calmness, relaxed mind
  • Spiritual condition - philosophical outlook, purpose of life

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