Lavanya Opines


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The Pleasure is All Mine …

I picked up this book while browsing the book shop solely for the title and cover page. I read few pages and discovered the content is for mature adults, as duly mentioned on back cover. I smiled and put the book down. Then I thought why did I put the book down? Was it for the adult content? Was I bothered that when people see me reading this book they will form opinions about me? Wasn’t I silently affirming the same stereotypes of the society that I want to break by even having these questions? The answer to these questions was ‘yes’ and consequently I purchased the book. The sales person of the shop (I am regular there but this guy doesn’t know that) did not react at all. He gave the book as a usual transaction. Was I looking for some reaction there? May be he wasn’t aware of this book just like he is, or may be, unaware of 50 shades of grey. Why was even I bothered about the same? I am a reader and I have a freedom to read any book and to make such choice. I started reading the book in bus and metro. People saw the cover of the book. They didn’t bother. I didn’t bother. Why should book1anyone be bothered? Because of the stereotypes we are bound to?

The power of any book or for that matter education and knowledge is to raise the inquisitive nature of a human being and challenge the intellect, the wisdom, notions the human being has so far gained. For me this book challenged me to think whether I am truly capable of even breaking the stereotypes or I am just being a hypocrite. I will come to this question later in another blog. First, let me provide a review of the book per se.

This book is second from Shanaya Taneja. She becomes the first Indian author this year I read. The book is intense with detailed explicit descriptions of passion, love-making and feelings therein. The author has made a considerable effort in presenting that this love-making is not a mechanical things but a lot goes in mind during those sessions, and the effort pay offs. People often enter into purely sexual relationships for different reasons. When it comes to sexual desires and coupled with feeling of loneliness and not be desired or wanted, people often break restrictions-whether self-imposed or societal pressures. But what happens when you add the need to continue to live an extravagant life one is accustomed to? This book is answers this question. All 5 protagonists, Sanjay, Bharathi, Abhinav, Trisha, and Ankit, enter into each other’s life, deceive and betray each other for money using unfulfilled sexual desire as the ammunition. Until we reach 15-20 pages towards end, the book is full of descriptions of intense love making and the various thoughts that cross the mind during and after love making. The author has done a good job by portraying the conflicts that play in one’s mind when one is not following certain human rules (not societal rules). The conflicts can only be understood only if the passion is understood and the passion can be understood if the conflicts can be understood.

But after reading some sessions in the book, I truly felt bored reading about them. May be the reason was “too much of anything takes away the pleasure in itself”. The end was twisting but I was disappointed. The common thread among the 5 protagonists was that all of them were deceiving and betraying at least one person. However, rather than giving success of Trisha and Ankit, who plotted the entire scam of luring and robbing Sanjay using Abhinav and Bharathi, success should have been given to Bharathi, who could have been portrayed as strong yet cunning woman who took revenge from all those who exploited her, in a typical “revenge is best served cold” manner. The book steers clear from being preachy and presents the story in as-it-is basis. The book cannot be compared with “Adultery” by Paulo Coelho, as both authors are different in handling these conflicting human states and emotions. Frankly, Adultery was very depressing and too preachy in my opinion. This book, on the contrary, touches and presents the dark emotions and related conflicts. It would be great to see if the author is able to explore these dark emotions on a next level that moves beyond sexual desires and plays with intellect.

Overall the book is one time read. Appreciation must be given to the author, who despite having the Indian back drop, did not the make the book sound like “Hinglish” or “translated from Hindi to English”. It was out and out an English fiction with Indian Backdrop.


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HR Policies in my Company – Part 2

HR-with-a-human-voiceContinuing from my earlier post, here I have my broad objectives for creating HR policies in my company. Writing it down, so that my future ‘human resources’ can apprise me if I do not deliver in this part.

For me the best HR policies are the ones that are capable of:

  1. Providing Good Compensation in terms of monetary value, leaves, and work life balance:

We are working to get paid. It’s a myth that people who love doing their job are not interested in money. Honey, there are only few things that money can’t buy. And all work and no play make Jack a ‘robot’. Our forefathers were intelligent enough to introduce ‘festivals’ in our social fabric to ensure humans interact with each other and bring one close to families, friends, and near and dear one. Some visionary must have thought of the same and introduced ‘leaves’.

Nothing will motivate an employee as a good compensation and good number of leaves to include sick leaves, paid leaves, casual leaves, and gazetted or government holidays.

Work-life balance is a new age term and gels well with modern thinking. We work to earn so that we can lead a better life. What’s the point in earning lacs by slogging day and night, when you only spend the amount on clearing bills and loans and not with your family? Work hours should be defined and followed, and employees should be encouraged to finish work in those hours only. Exceptions are allowed but they should remain exceptions and not become routine.

  1. Establishing Better Environment in terms of transparency, clear communications, defined career and/or promotion path:

We criticize government for not being transparent. The same rule applies to business as well. Each and every process of each and every department should be well documented, followed with transparency. Communications should never be closed and effective communication leads to further transparency. One example could be employee should know the reasons for not being properly appraised or for promoting others instead. Another could be team member knowing the team’s work and team member’s pending work.

If business has not decided on how their employees are going to progress in their career at the company, then the company has failed to visualize their own growth. Like they say fail to plan and you effectively and definitely plan to fail. As much apt for business as for employees.  Regular trainings, be it for soft skills or hard skills, should be provided to employees. Expecting employee to get the training themselves is one part. Motivating employees to get training and providing training is the game changer.

  1. Promulgating Happy Culture:

We spend a good 8-9 waking hours at office. Shouldn’t this place be a happy place where people are willing to come every day to enhance their progress and are motivate to work every day? Happy culture need not only include celebrations of festivals or ‘happy hours’ but an overall environment. Examples could be of allowing employee to decide their work completion pattern within specified timelines and allowing employees to take a break to relax and refresh the ‘hard working mind’.

  1. Creating Leaders:

If we see the present start-up culture in India, we often hear X person working in A capacity with Y company has started this new start-up, A being a high position and Y being a big company. The one thing that immediately comes to my mind is that Y company has groomed X to be a leader in his A capacity, eventually creating a leader to lead a new company.

A business should always strive to groom people for next positions. You cannot just throw people into sea and expect them to learn swimming in seconds.

Lastly, I agree, despite all the above objectives, attrition will be there in such company and people will leave. I think people should not be stuck with a single company for their entire career. Unless they move out and experience different things, how can they appreciate the good things provided by the company or how can they come forward to put forth their criticism. Moreover, such movement will help people in gaining experiences, which will eventually help them in their personal and professional life. So, my objective would be to allow people to move as they are best judge for themselves and equally allow them to re-join. At least, people would not leave with bitter feelings. And, yes, they would be encouraged to provide honest answers, without the fear of jeopardizing their future with new company or with old company.

And I would not have anarchic practices at my company that are still being followed even by some big companies. Liz Ryan has done a terrific job by providing us with these anarchic practices. Check out http://www.forbes.com/sites/lizryan/2014/01/26/ten-mad-men-era-hr-practices-to-ditch-in-2014/#211c1e68dba4

I would like to thank Agilent for giving me an opportunity to work with them and experiencing the best HR policy in my first job. I would also like to thank Tata Sons for rolling out the amazing policies. I wold also thank the websites of Google, BCG, Bain and other big MNC for providing me a glimpse of their work environment. You have shaped my thinking and these objectives are an outcome of the best practices you follow.

Photo source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/lizryan/2014/01/26/ten-mad-men-era-hr-practices-to-ditch-in-2014/#211c1e68dba4


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HR Policies in my Company – Part 1

HR-with-a-human-voiceI read an article in today’s Economic Times newspaper about new woman-centric policies including paid maternity leave of seven months being rolled out at Tata Sons, the holding company of the Tata Group. Other companies in the group are likely to adopt it in the near future since policies at the Tata Group companies are traditionally shaped by the initiatives at Tata Sons.  The policies come in effect since May 2016. The policies have been shaped to effectively help a woman balance work and life at various stages of woman such as child-birth, early childhood care, flexible working, care for elderly, and care for child.

The policies are listed as below:

  • Seven-month maternity leave with full pay, in which the leave can be taken from two months prior to child-birth;
  • Work from home with reduced hours for 18 months for early childhood care after completing the maternity leave with half-pay for half working day;
  • Flexibility to shift to a flexi-work arrangement such as work from home for women wishing to work full-time after completing the maternity leave;
  • One year of leave during the total course of their employment for child care or elder care upon completion of five years in service, with compensation of 50% of last drawn salary;
  • Performance rating during maternity leave and flexible work will be based on the average of the previous two years’ ratings or ratings for the ongoing year, whichever is higher;
  • No impact on promotions during this period and maternity leave, flexible work, work from home to be considered as continuous service; and
  • Six-month adoption leave;
  • Six-month surrogacy leave; and
  • 15 days of paternity leave

Wow. That is holistic approach and definitely commendable. Tata Group has always been a better employer and does have a human-side and seriously treats human resources as ‘humans’.  I wish that this initiative becomes ‘a new benchmark in India’, where the HR policies are still seen as just an another mandatory yet non-interested policy (Many not be everywhere, but definitely somewhere this mentality would be evident)

I have been toying with the idea of starting my own and the first thing that always comes to my mind after outlining the technical implementation details is “what should be my company’s HR policies?” I started my career with MNC, Agilent Technologies, ranked 7 on best place to work. Then I shifted to start-up and then to law firms in Patents domain. I have seen the work style, atmosphere, and environment. I have had and having my interpretation and categorization of ‘good’, ‘better’, ‘bad’, ‘ugly’, and ‘worst’ of the HR policies at these companies.

I feel HR policies should be in tune with business goals and objective but at the same time should have a humanistic approach. After all, as business groups you are employing ‘humans’ and not ‘robots’ to work at assembly lines.

HR department should not be ‘under control’ of people who can influence your appraisals and career growth. HR Department should be like a place where each and every employee, no matter what position he has, can go and talk freely about anything related to workplace without fear of any negative backlash.

P.S.: The next post broadly outlines my objectives of for creating HR policies in my company. Otherwise this post would have been a boring post. J

Source of ET article: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/52084422.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst

Photo source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/lizryan/2014/01/26/ten-mad-men-era-hr-practices-to-ditch-in-2014/#211c1e68dba4