Commissioned Article – Code of Conduct

It’s a Wednesday and you are just gearing up for your afternoon cup of tea. You walk to the vending machine and just as the tea mix pours into your cup, your phone rings to tell you that your best friend is calling. “Vivek, It’s going to be a great weekend!”, he exclaims. He informs you that he has procured four passes for a concert that your families were planning to attend. The concert is almost a weekend getaway, it involves driving to the nearby hill station and spending a night at a premium resort at pretty affordable charges. 

How long would it take you to say yes to your friend? 

Now, let’s replace just one phrase in the above-mentioned scenario. Instead of your best friend, this offer is given to you by a well-reputed vendor of your team. His performance and conduct have been exemplary in the organization and you have a professional and friendly working relationship with him and his team. 

How long would it take you to say yes? And would or should you say yes to such an offer? 

Fast-paced professional life presents us with certain situations which become dilemmas if not dealt with immediately. A lingering decision on a matter of yes and no creates the scope for a maybe to come in. And these “may-be’s” can lead to a lapse in judgement and perhaps action in contravention to an organization’s values and ethics.

The Code of Business Ethics and Conduct is the guiding light for our employees and all stakeholders with respect to the ways of doing business with us and our associates. The code comprises six principles that can encompass behaviour at the workplace, dealing with business partners, company assets, regulatory compliance and environment and corporate responsibility. The code also safeguards employees against workplace harassment.

The document in detail describes each aspect of our code in detail and also provides illustrations that help employees resolve their dilemmas. The case studies provided are real life-like and can be understood quite easily. The document also provides a resolution matrix/ route for the ethical dilemmas that an employee can come across on the job

Commissioned Article – ESG

Our planet The Earth is a priceless entity. With its natural resources, flora and fauna and unique position in our solar system, the Earth is the only planet to be able to sustain the life of such diversity. Yet Mother Earth has been taken for granted by the Human Race countlessly. Resultantly, we are now faced with frequent disasters like climate change, unprecedented and untimely heat waves, flash floods, earthquakes etc, that pose risks to human life and property apart from the accelerated decay of our natural resources that are vital for the sustenance of life on the planet. 

Over the last decade, the awareness about climate change and its risks has evolved exponentially, with both society and the corporate world actively taking steps to mitigate the risks to the environment. For corporations around the world, an actionable strategy that nurtures a relationship of give and take with the environment creates trust in the ways of doing business and ensures the development of the community and society at large has become a part of their existence. Widely abbreviated as ESG – standing for Environment, Social and Governance, the ambit of this portfolio encompass important steps being taken by international corporations to ensure a positive impact of their operations on the world. 

ESG has taken shape as a portfolio under the leadership of our directors. Our annual report of FY 2020-2021 describes how ESG is our way to a nature friendly, socially driven and transparent organization. It is important to realise here that we started this journey a few years back. We’ve made some strategic investments into technologies and initiatives that have a positive impact on the way we conduct our business. By ensuring our products are compliant with various product quality certifications, we’ve ensured our customer’s safety remains our top priority. The implementation of improvised water treatment systems in our production process has saved us 8 million litres of water and 80000 kilowatt-hours of electrical energy. Though in the initial stages, our usage of cashew nut shells in place of synthetic and petrochemical products has enabled us to reduce around 10% of our phenol use with natural products. The use of biofuel has offset 1.16 million tons of CO2 emissions and our solar plants generate 0.3 million megawatts of energy. Our waste management strategy of Reduce-Reuse-Recycle has saved us over 8000 fully grown trees. 

We’ve put a firm step in the corridor of ESG. We need to hold hands together to ensure we adhere and grow the levels of collective compliance to higher levels in the times to come to conserve our natural resources and create a better Earth for the generations to follow. 

Commissioned Article – Trust

The essence of human life is the effort of our minds and hearts to create a judgement of what is important in life. The history of humanity is full of people, who have been known for their ability to choose a path of righteousness. Each day, each of us chooses to respond to situations in a specific way. These lamp holders of response are our values. 

Value-based decision making is vital for success that is pristine in nature. The belief on an entity – be it an individual or an organization depends on the values they demonstrate in their transactions with the world. Hence organizations dive deep into their legacy, ambitions and beliefs to define a set of values that become the cornerstones of their existence. 

Let’s take a closer look at our first value and the most basic emotion of all living or non-living interaction – Trust. It is the base of all transactions, many times latent in nature but ever-present. As our dispatch trucks are loaded, a commitment is fulfilled. When a new policy is rolled out, a belief that it is in the goodwill of all is pervaded. Instructions of work are passed on the sublime belief that they will be carried out. Requests to reporting managers are made on the premise that they would be heard. 

But how does this value manifest itself in the organisation? 

M Kumar, Vice President – Commercial and Head, believes that while trust is a two-way process, it begins from the top. The management has this inherent belief that everyone will do their best to fulfil their commitments. This deep-rooted belief then leads them to enable and promote an open and interactive culture where employees express themselves freely. Haja, Head of Corporate Operations, adds that trust brings in the all-important emotion of appreciation in a relationship and when this extends to a company – customer experience, it stands to transform the brand value of the organisation in its market. 

But is trust a unilateral value? The Head of IT, Gopal Dass says that trust is inspired when an employee is allowed the room to make and admit mistakes while working towards a common goal. It manifests itself when an agreed deadline is pushed ahead on the reason that by pushing it we are delivering better on our commitment. 

Any behaviour requires an instrument that expresses it. Our diligently framed policies, SOP’s and their provisions enable us to achieve our targets within given timelines. Says Haja, “The experience of a customer receiving their orders as committed has an entire set of instructions behind it. In the perceived waiting time, the customer is thinking that we will follow those instructions to the T.” He adds, “Our efforts to achieve globally important quality certifications, is a proof of our value system, that right through the raw material to finished product, we adhere to the highest standards.” 

 It takes years to build a reputation of reliability and a minute to manifest it. MK experienced it when a vendor, in spite of his immense push and pull capabilities decided to adhere to our empanelment process on MK’s one line that we stick to processes and if found in merit, the vendor would get the contract. The vendor told MK that his reputation was such that there was all reason to believe him and not exercise his ‘push and pulls’ 

When you read this, rest back on your seat and think about our value of Trust for a moment. Think of it in your daily work life or perhaps life in general too. Think how it is ever-present, how latent is it. And how are we experiencing or exhibiting it in our daily lives? 

On Employee Engagement

I reprise an old note from 2009, while I was employed as an HR Professional in a big corporate in Delhi. The thoughts remain relevant even after a decade of writing these.

“I am tempted to present a few thoughts on the subject of employee engagement. I am now working with a company which builds, operates and maintains telecom towers in the northern, North Western and Eastern parts of the country. We have around 700 employees, growing by the week and structured into hierarchies of corporate office and circle offices. One of the key activities and challenges of our HR team is to have employees who contribute to the system wholeheartedly and have a sense of belonging towards the organization. We need them to feel engaged. Simply put, an engaged employee is one who feels that the organization is his own and willingly puts in efforts to the best of his ability and sometimes ore than his ability for the achievement of the organizations targets and goals.

I have experienced the feeling of being engaged in varying degrees in my limited experience. Reflecting back, I sense that employee engagement may not only be an HR responsibility. The direct managers of employees are as much responsible for their team members being engaged to the business of the organization. In my first organization HR was a department that came into being after the company had been operating for a year and half. So the HR was pretty nascent and yet the organization had extremely strong induction and training processes. A lot of opportunities to learn were provided to the new joiners with the ones with potential, put into client facing roles and given responsibilities of account and people management. Ideas were heard and encouraged. The reporting managers would spend time teaching, mentoring and listening to their team members. Saturday lunches became quarterly movies and picnics and friendships were encouraged. As the HR formalised, these activities became more and more planned and organised; as new employees came in the organization started to lose its flexibilities, but the old school employees still stuck to the pillars of mentoring and friendship. My evolution as an individual and a professional has been the result of 4.5 years in an environment like this.

In my next second organization, which is an IT services company, I observed engagement to originate from the free flow of information, communication and easy available data. Employees liked being a part of the organization since they had a say in deciding policies and food and activity clubs. They did not have to go anywhere to pursue hobbies, they had clubs and activity groups available in office. They did not have to be scared of the hierarchy, they could walk into any of the office bearers cabins and talk about any thing – controversial or otherwise. The organization communicates its plans freely and sets a deadline to them. Those deadlines are adhered to and if there is a lag then the management freely communicates its inability to meet the same and sets a new one. The employees at all steps knew what and how was the organization planning to grow and what would be there roles in it.

So some thoughts that come to the fore from the above thoughts are –

1. Employee engagement, at best, is an activity that the HR can facilitate, but cannot champion. HR can at best be a great change agent, but driving engagement is anytime more of a functional KRA. Until and unless a reporting manager does not make a serious attempt to keep his team members involved in the functioning of his department, the essence of engagement will be reduced.

2. The management involvement and commitment to engagement activities has to be complete. Engagement is at its strongest when the employees know what are they supposed to do and how are they supposed to do it. Engagement is also strong when the employees know what is the organization planning to do and in the timelines in which this would be done. How will they get affected by it? And what is the role that employees can play in this evolution. This is achieved by an environment of openness and communication – seamless…where an employee has the forums and the courage to ask a question. For this the top management needs to communicate – freely, fairly, regularly and needs to practice motivation and encouragement on a daily basis.

3. Engagement needs to be propagated by constituting forums. activity clubs and events. An employee is engaged if whatever he wants to pursue, but does not have the time for it, is given to him in the workplace where he spends most of his time. He will feel engaged if his opinion is sought on the kind of food that he got in the lunchroom and gets to tell everyone about the movie that he saw last week and can talk freely about they way in which a policy affected him and more importantly benefitted him. Friendship at work develops when he is put into a room to learn guitar with his colleagues who he does not know for 30 minutes a week. When he exchanges DVD’s with fellow workers and enjoys having movie discussion sessions with them.

4. HR has a relentless role in being the change agent when it comes to employee engagement. Its a lot of hard work – communication, endorsement, practising, listening, speaking, training. Listening is critical – employees have so much to say and tell, so much to comment on and appreciate – and they need a person or a group of persons to talk to. An HR function must understand that it cannot champion engagement. That’s the USP. When you don’t champion something, you are away from the pressure and evaluation of appraisals and performance. The friendship that HR then creates with employees is not natural…its has the flavor of selfishness to it. Engagement can never be just professional, its personal. Engagement cannot be a one person role, its the role of all the people who work in an HR department.

5. Engagement will be an activity that will show results in long term – may be a couple of years after a series of activities are initiated as a part of the engagement calendar. Annual surveys may not be the best indicators of the same, no matter, how expert an organization is in measuring such activities.

6. Engagement needs to collaborate – with functions, with technology, with training, with recruiting, with vendors and most importantly with employees. Engagement activities need to be planned meticulously, organised to the T and be grand in terms of their scale and treatment. Any employee who is feels special is engaged for the moment and its a collection of such moments that constitute employee engagement.”

A Day Before The Turning Of Time

Photos from my travels
Waiting as ever ©Kartikaya Nagar

Open boxes and folded clothes. Much like memories.

He was a king at sometime. Proud he sat on his throne and on his subjects. They listened to him, prayed to his power and sought his counsel.

Love is unbound. Blind and eventful, it brought me here. I stand as proof of its madness. I was sane once.

When I looked at the world, it  came to me that I am the world.

Vanity Vanity – how much I love this.

Bring me the stars tonight. Nothing else would do.. my love.

What do you know of love?

Rush Rush!!! Take me there and take me here. Dont stop.. just take me anywhere. I need to be somewhere. I belong nowhere; I need to be somewhere. Rush Rush!!!

Happy New Year.

 

 

 

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