Change

Is it possible to change the #culture of an organization?

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Is it possible to change the #culture of an organization? If so, Have you ever tried solving #MoneyCulture?

In one of my stints, most of my team always talked about “Money". It was either about they being underpaid or how others or competition getting more. There were frequent #salary corrections(if you demanded), incentive structures were continuously tweaked to catch up with the grouses, even if the organization was making losses people were paid bonuses (to overcome psychological hardships 🙂 Most conversations were about #promotions overseas postings or benefits.

When colleagues used to quit to join competition we used to sympathetically say, s/he had to resign, after all the money was so attractive, that was the only parameter people could relate to.
Once we were trailing our annual targets and people had to up the ante; Guess what, we said people who topped their KPIs were getting gift vouchers #iPad & holidays. This in spite of salaries and incentives to meet the same goals.

Did we try to change this culture, of course, we brought in new leaders, #HR Consultants did Culture-Workshops for us in fancy resorts. We trained our managers on engagement. We were able to change business results. But the money-culture stayed 🙂

I wish I could say #PeopleEffectChange

Should Cabins at work be discouraged?

800 371 Kamal Karanth
Should Cabins at work be discouraged? I once mooted the idea of razing Cabins/Offices at my ex-employer in vain. CabinFever aided lobbying got the better of my intent. I felt that Cabins were a waste of precious real estate at work and were becoming status symbols for managers/senior executives. If promoting managers to their roles amongst all the lobbying and negotiating wasn’t hard enough, we had to waste time deciding ‘who’ gets ‘which’ cabin. Many CXOs, HR, Admin professionals spend precious business time discussing this.  Some people need lucky cabins, few insist they would only occupy their predecessor’s office to symbolize the power they are inheriting. Many of us spend organization money to do up the office so that some envious colleagues can complement us. Not so cheap thrills?  Now, why I couldn’t bring down the cabins in our offices.  One of the smart alecs said ” Kamal’ at this stage of your ‘corner room’ time you might get kicks & great PR by giving up your cabin. But, its an aspiring perk for managers like us and many upcoming executives’.  I am sure you dreamt of having your own office when you were lower down the ladder”.  Having enjoyed dedicated cabins for a  better half of my career, I couldn’t disagree.

When somebody is #junior #senior #peer in your current organization, does that #pecking order between you & them apply #later to other employers too? 

800 371 Kamal Karanth
When somebody is junior senior peer in your current organization, does that pecking order between you & them apply later to other employers too?  Looks like it does. Some of us get frozen in time. One of my ex-colleagues was desperately exploring an option with us. I said this role now reports to my successor as I am in my notice period. He said “I cant report into him. For your information when we were colleagues 10 years ago, I was L8 and he was L7. I was always his senior there”. He turned down the role though it was in line with his aspirations and took another job at a level below reporting to a stranger elsewhere. What explains this self-drawn hierarchy? Is it hard to recognize that the so-called peer/junior took the risk, made career moves and worked hard to climb the ladder elsewhere?   Encountering ex-colleagues in future jobs is a reality and could be an advantage if you have past track record or confident of your current skills.  Yes, it could turn into a self-goal if you have burnt the bridges which in my view are out of control in many cases.  But, if you haven’t botched up on the relationship front, you think ‘past hierarchy’ is something one can let go?

When your Superstar Quits

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Why it’s difficult to keep our superstars in spite of the world being at their feet? The stock market did not like it when Apple’s Chief Design Officer quit recently. The long term impact of Jony Ive’s departure will be known only in a few years’ time. Star players joining competing is common in soccer, remember Neymar leaving Barcelona to join PSG? There is no denying that an immediate impact is felt every time a star performer leaves the team. Why do our star performers quit is never really understood? Their bosses put them on the pedestal, their peers are in awe of them, their team worships them, and their competitors fear them. In sports, politics, and at corporates, we have these uniquely talented people who seem to be blessed all the time. It would be difficult not to notice when you are working with a star, as they make things happen, there is always an aura about them. Still, they never seem to be happy with their continued success. They tend to move on from time to time, leaving behind their team and organisations shattered. When they are treated almost like a god, I wonder why they won’t continue to stay? Continuous Challenges Most often you find these race horses or superstars to have the right combination of fire, energy, speed and many back it with an enviable work ethic. Their hunger for success is infectious. They set audacious goals and more often than not achieve them. Beyond a point even achieving these goals can bore them. So, it’s important to provide them with continuous challenges. The key is to stay current with what interests them. In the organisation context the challenges could be a new project, a turnaround situation, overseas assignment or even M & A. However, one thing that keeps them binding to the organisation is their emotional connect which can be achieved in different ways. Inspirational Boss/Mentors For all the tenacity high performers demonstrate they too are human and can find themselves isolated. Their bosses leave them alone in the name giving them space, their peers may ignore them due to jealousy, their team could be in awe of them and could struggle to keep pace with them. Some of these superstars may not even know how to manage the adulation at work and may feel pressurized. It’s no secret that Superstars also look up to mentors. Steve Jobs described Jony Ive as his spiritual partner which probably kept Jony Ive going much longer even after Jobs left. Organisations need to provide the superstars’ mentors of their choice to ensure their emotional needs of the job is also met. Continuous Recognition Ensure there are constant recognitions even if you feel sometimes the superstars have underachieved by their own standards. The success spikes they produce overwhelmingly compensates for any blips they might have had in between. These special talents need to be treated with a positive bias even when they are underperforming. This favoritism is tough to pull off in an organisation context, but will definitely buy you high loyalty, discretionary efforts and top performances from this special talent. Another sure shot way of recognizing these superstars would be to consult them for any new initiatives the organisation might be embarking upon. Even though they might not have the capability to contribute its one sure shot way of keeping them engaged.

Jobs for Life: Time to shed the cobwebs!

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As a recruiter, I obviously like people who change jobs. Furthermore, I frown on people who haven’t changed their employer for the last 10 years or so. You can rubbish my opinion as a conflict of interest. But, I strongly believe you are missing out on an opportunity to evolve if you don’t change your job once in a while. Now, don’t rationalise saying I did five different roles with one company or grew every two years. The exposure and skills acquired by staying is never the same as working for another Employer.

Let’s now leave aside people who are going to retire from their current job and focus on the job leavers. More than 1 crore people change their jobs every year in India. That’s a large number of workers who are making the move for various reasons. Some of them may be even fired by their previous employer. Whether it’s a forced change or voluntary, employees moving on is now an acceptable social behavior.

Jobs for Starters

Recently in one of the MBA campus interviews, a Pharma major was describing their career progression. They highlighted the opportunities and presented a case study of how their MD has risen through the ranks to become a CEO in 15 years. One of the students promptly asked what she could learn in the first 3 years. She wanted to know what happens immediately in her career as that’s all the horizon she had. When she asked that question most of her peers in the room nodded in agreement. The embarrassed HR manager quickly recovered to talk about the initial exposure at the firm. Most executives and people entering the workforce have shorter career horizons.

Employees typically tell themselves “let me see how it goes this year and then decide to continue or leave”. Much of the decision after the year is dependent on the raise, job satisfaction, boss, and growth kind of factors.

If we have such shorter horizons with our employers should the nature of arrangement matter?  Let’s imagine that your employer reciprocates this thinking and offers a ‘short-term contract’ for a year. What would be your reaction? I think we would frown at it. Let’s decipher why?

The Fixed Term Bias

It’s difficult to comprehend a contract or a temporary job for a variety reasons

  1. End date of employment offer means insecurity. Though we would like to have short-term plans with respect to our employers, the other way around takes away our bargaining power.
  2. Our upbringing, much of our society worked in public sector or government. The constant chat at home once upon a time was about security. These surroundings now have significantly changed to private sector jobs.
  3. Contractor as a term is frequently used to about people who get done the so-called menial repair works. The stigma of that word is difficult to erase.
  4. An end date in employment also means low value for talent?
  5. The assumption of contract jobs not having other financial benefits creates further doubts about the role.
  6. We don’t work part-time while studying which molds our mindset in a particular way

Jobs in the new world 

Carefully look at the western world from where we copy most of our work or lifestyle choices from. Part-time or temp jobs occupy a significant portion of student life. In advanced economies 2-3% of the workforce is on fixed term contract. In some of the high skilled technology companies, almost 10% of the workforce is under contract. These employers are high performing and most admired blue-chip companies. People strive to join them even if it’s on contract.

The millennials have a different outlook on jobs. They surely bring the confidence in their ability and also possess clearer mindset about exposure than the arrangement. This could also be supported by the private sector working parents or relatively better economic situation at home. Lifestyle choices like flexibility, freedom have overtaken survival instincts like security and comfort. This mindset change needs to transfer beyond the new age workforce.

Leadership jobs on the roll

It’s time for even senior executives to change their thinking. After all, the tenure of CXOs too has dropped by half in the last 5 years. The job changes at the senior level are attributed to the rapid growth in certain sectors or creation of new sectors. But the larger cause is also the mindset change at the leadership level. Leaders either are getting bored with their jobs or tired of the politics at the top. They are also finding it difficult to cope with the pressure of consistent performance at senior levels. So, if the role at the top is getting shorter why not opt for short-term assignments which give the freedom of exploration and liberty of expression?

Whether it’s the CXO roles or entry-level jobs we are accepting shorter tenures for different reasons. In reality, our collective behavior suggests that there are no lifetime jobs in private sector today. In spite of our own infidelity towards our employers, we find comfort in so-called permanent jobs. Though this permanent job can only last till your boss fires you or your company indulges in mass layoffs. Many still work with the fear of every day being their last day at work. But, the lure of a permanent job still continues.

Many of us are happy with the comfort of a single employer. Some of us may still retire after working with a single employer. Except for Government jobs, the security of one employer for life is getting diminished every single day.

In the world of Airbnb, Uber we own nothing but enjoy the engagement and comfort. Similarly, is it time to shed the permanency mindset on our jobs and to keep walking?

 

Staying Successful

Staying Successful AFTER Success

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You may knock a few sixes out of the park early in your career, but that start may not guarantee a successful innings 

Cricket’s thinking batsman Rahul Dravid recently came up with a brilliant insight on India’s Under-19 World Cup win in 2012 and career progression. He pointed out that six or seven members of the Australian team which lost to India in the finals went on to play at the senior level. By contrast, players of the winning Indian team are invisible in the current Kohli regime. Dravid asks: who really won the 2012 world cup – India or Australia?

In the world of work too, we are familiar with many Vinod Kamblis and Unmukt Chands who did not live up to their early potential. This in spite of tremendous opportunities and significant initial success.

Success is not a Skill

The real reasons behind a great start to your career are difficult to decipher unless you get external help. We might attribute the success to our skill and get carried away. But the skill required to perform at an entry level may not make the cut at the next level. Jaw dropping performances at the initial stage would have multiple circumstantial factors including luck. If you are in sales one big customer accidentally might create the success. In other roles, you might have just been in the right place at the right time. Unless somebody whom we respect gives us a rounded perspective we might not rightfully comprehend what led to our success. New skills are required to excel at every level and coaching through that phase is crucial. Most often the immediate supervisors play that role.

The early success probably makes us arrogant, and blinds us from the reality check and maybe distracts from the new challenges.

Coach vs Supervisor

I was amongst the top 20 salespeople in the country in the first year of my sales job. My bosses and HR felt the time was right for the next role and duly promoted me to a manager. The transition from college to field sales to a manager all happened in just 18 months’ time. But the next 18 months were the most torturous period of my professional life. It was a 15-18 hour a day field work schedule away from family. I failed miserably in my role as a manager. This period saw sales dipping, my team members missing their incentives and my manager being constantly unhappy. I couldn’t handle these changed circumstances. As a result, I was forced to quit my job.

In retrospect, I feel the successful salesperson in me never adapted to the nuances of a managerial role. I also conveniently blamed my manager who never took the time to ease me into the role. Though he met me almost every day the time spent was only on numbers than giving guidance. I feel I missed out on the transition or coaching to the expanded role. But then, there are always two sides to a story.

Soaking the Pressure

The key to moving to the next level is the ability to absorb pressure. It all starts with the attention you get due to the initial success. The first few days, you would feel the world is watching you thereby creating new pressure points. There is also the awkward challenge of working on par with people who were your seniors previously. You would be expected to perform almost immediately to validate your previous success. Some people claim they thrive under pressure. But I don’t know how that works.

People who can’t adapt to the expectations of the new roles invariably quit or get stuck in that role forever. Some organizations protect them due to past success, but most get rid of people who can’t cope. It’s important to note that larger roles only look glamorous on paper and media. On a day to day basis, it’s a struggle that requires hard work, discipline and furthermore a constant battle with time.

Constantly Upgrade

Probably many of us live in the past which renders us obsolete when dynamics change. A key aspect to graduating to the next level is to add new skills and stay relevant. Learning newer technologies or processes, understanding the team, peer, boss dynamics are aspects that can make or break you. Observing and adapting to emerging scenarios will hasten your growth to the next level. Also, the ability to control emotions and manage the political atmosphere around you is a necessary upgrade to avoid distractions.

To sum up – the right coach, temperament to manage pressure and learning new skills are key attributes that are needed to succeed at the next level. Therefore, don’t hold on to your initial success like a badge of honour and get stuck in the past.

Just like in a sport which has an expiry date as age catches up corporate careers too get defined in the first decade or so. If you have got a great start don’t take it for granted.

CXO QuickChecks

Are you CXO-ready? Run your Quick Checks!

800 371 Kamal Karanth

Who doesn’t want to become a VP, CFO or CEO nowadays? Nobody really wants to stay at the bottom of the pyramid or work at the mid-level. While some of you may not aspire to be a CXO, the first few days at work will make it clear who the real heroes are. Despite the best intentions, only some of us make it to the top of the ladder. Therefore, shouldn’t we pay attention to the few obvious and some not so apparent factors we ignore in our career journey?

Multiple employers

Stints in several organisations are an asset. I say this in spite of numerous recent examples of internal successions such as Satya Nadella, Sundar Pichai or N Chandrasekaran. Organisations face existential or growth threats in their long journey. At those critical junctures, they prefer external successions. During those external searches people who have adapted to multiple organisations and delivered results carry an edge. You might have worked in the same company for two decades and produced handsome results in varied assignments. But, you might still be overlooked in comparison to someone who has had four employers in the same period. Employers won’t mind even if some of those stints are not very successful. Varied assignments in a single organisation is never equivalent to similar roles in multiple organisations.

Brand bias

You have to be careful about the employers you select for longer stints. I once worked for a startup. The experience was riveting, and a key contributor to my becoming an entrepreneur today. But, in some of the most important contexts I found others only quoting my tenures at MNCs and large organisations. In many CXO briefs that I have been part of, those brand biases continue to persist. You might be in love with some of the companies you have worked for. But, if you need five minutes to explain about the brand where you worked then you know it isn’t good enough.

Yes, today the world of start-ups has disrupted the established brands. Still the pattern of recruiting from known brands will continue. Organisations want to announce their new CXO hires to their internal team with some fanfare. The pride of hiring and internal acceptance is higher when they attract leaders from a large brand.

Signature stint

Every tenure is not successful. We make bad choices or are unable to perform successfully in some settings. But, there would be certain tenures, especially the long ones, which becomes our signature stints. Whenever people refer to our stints or we quote our experiences, those employers invariably get mentioned. These are places where we would have achieved a turnaround or made a huge impact to their long-term journey. Invariably, some of the longer stints allow you to absorb short-term failures and perform significantly over a longer tenure. Therefore, stability on the CV is another side of the coin for claim to fame. However, don’t confuse stability for people who while away their time in one organisation forever doing nothing.

Social and digital

We looked at about 100-plus large Indian brand’s CXO’s social presence or the lack of it. I wasn’t surprised by the ‘zero’ social impact they were making to their employers and themselves. I am sure they are working hard for their employer and there is no time for professional social media. If you are a mid-manager with zero social media presence indulge in social media meaningfully. LinkedIn, Twitter and Quora allow you not only to enhance your presence but also a great source of knowledge and networking. Blogs, podcasts and Vlogs can be great but not essential. Recently, one of the large auto majors in Detroit fired its CEO for his poor digital outlook. Being digitally oriented and learning new technologies is critical to your ascent to the top.

If you can muster some cross-functional experience, it would be beneficial, but then the list is endless. So, don’t enrol for a Finance course if you are in Sales. If your leadership skills are in the right place, you can hire the best CFOs to work for you. Anyhow, you can’t learn everything in one lifetime.

Life is full of accidents and so is our career. The people whom we meet and spend time with shape our ascent to the top. I believe that some of these accidents can be more purposeful if we take charge. If you are ambitious and the aspirations to be a CXO gives you sleepless nights, get started today. If you push me hard and ask me for one thing then I would say start with the first point. Multiple stints are an indication of adaptability and your openness to taking risks.

Don’t get too carried away and stay longer than you should. Your aspiration and ambition should be ahead of your loyalty!

Succession- The Dynamics of Dynasties

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In any succession is the baton handed over to ensure success in the future or just to maintain the status quo?

The long-term legacies of people, businesses, political parties, sports teams have been defined by the next leader. But, this process of succession has different complexities. Viewed from the outside, it appears that often emotion dictates decisions rather than logic.

Let’s look at how succession is playing out in Zimbabwe, in the Congress Party, the AIADMK, Infosys, Tatas, Wipro, Godrej, Bajaj, Reliance or the Kapoor and Bachchan clans in Bollywood. Succession has had different impacts on each one of them. In some cases, the challenge began much before the succession and in others, the unwanted happened after the succession. In a few, it worked so seamlessly that nobody even realised there had been a change in guard.

The science of succession

Unlike political parties and family-run businesses, there is some science to succession planning in corporate settings. Even then not all get it right. But the process provides some comfort to most stakeholders. The philosophy of reputed organisations is to create a fair, neutral and transparent succession process.

This process starts with the identification of key competencies required for the role. Organisations decide on the parameters that need evaluation based on the forecasted future. They look for demonstrated capability on a set of parameters and then run psychometric profiling assessments on leaders. Furthermore, employers subject aspirants to multiple discussions with senior leaders and board as applicable. They also compare internal candidates versus external candidates on all parameters before making the final call.

But in many family-run organisations, succession is linked with DNA. The owner or promoter typically brings his family into play sooner or later. Many of them are blatant about it and bring their children directly onto the board. Some make their kith and kin grow through the ranks. Either way, most professionals working in these firms know that the succession is fixed. They either curse their fate and stick around for the spoils or leave for greener pastures.

Three types of Succession

I would categorise “unsuccessful” succession in three baskets. The first category is the “reluctant heir” who is neither confident nor interested in taking over. S/he is only interested in the material benefits that the family is entitled to. These successors take guard to protect their family assets rather than display capability and take a serious interest in the business. We all know what happens to businesses when there is no intent.

The second category is even more dangerous. “Incompetent heirs” are rushed into the job by insecure or over-loving parents. Everyone knows it’s a recipe for failure. But, who will bell the cat? Nobody can predict the future for sure, only time will tell. But for employees who work hard to take the organisation to great heights, it hurts to see the decline. This is where the organisation’s ability to retain or recruit top talent takes a body blow.

#MeToo

Sexual Harassment #MeToo Campaign for Corporate

800 371 Kamal Karanth

Why are corporates not naming and shaming managers who make sexual advances towards their colleagues? Sexual Harassment at work needs better attention from Boards, CEOs and HR

Hollywood recently exploded with revelations on sexual predation. The likes of which have never been seen before. Looks like the ill-kept secret of tinsel town got to a precipitative point to burst into a #metoo campaign.

Sexual Harassment is about Power

The incident reminded of the famous quote from the movie Disclosure. “Sexual harassment is about power and not about sex”.  That quote dragged my mind to our corporate life, which also has ‘power’ as the key element. However, only a few cases have been reported but they too have actually taken the settlement route. So making an assessment or an informed judgement is difficult. But it seems like serial offenders have taken up this territory. It’s shocking when people in power are repeatedly accused of crossing the line but are not punished. In the corporate world, people just leave jobs when caught if that is any punishment at all!

The most obvious explanation when somebody is accused of sexual harassment is it was ‘consensual. Yes, there are extramarital affairs which have gone wrong to be exploited as harassment. It’s not lost on many that people in power abuse their position to put their colleagues in compromising situations. Here ‘consent’ borders around abuse. The worst part is that a reasonable number of peers would be aware of these offenders. But they feel helpless or do not have reasonable trust with the organisation to escalate matters. When incidents break out they allude and acknowledge that such behaviours are prevalent.

 Case Studies

I spoke to a few HR heads to get more insights into how corporates have been dealing with it. Some of the incidents described are derived from these conversations highlighting the challenges around this sensitive issue.

An account manager stopped coming to work abruptly in a large consulting company.  She highlighted the inappropriate behaviour of her CEO but refused to file a complaint. It seems he would always call her for individual review meetings to another city at 9 AM. This meant she had to travel and stay in a hotel the previous night. On that night he would organise dinner with her. This became a regular feature. One such evening he took her to his suite on the pretext of showing her how the suite looked like. There he grabbed her arm, She ran away from the room and never reported to work again. She feared her family wouldn’t support her career further, the humiliation at work after reporting the case was understandably daunting.

The CEO lasted another three years. There were murmurs about his behaviour from departing female colleagues one brave girl eventually filed a complaint. The company negotiated compensation with the lady, sacked the CEO and their COO took over overnight. However, they did not call out the CEO who was their face in the media. I am sure they could have protected the girl’s privacy and still made an example out of him. We might soon this pest as a CEO in another firm.

Silent Organisations

I wonder how the system of reference checks work for senior executives. If sexual harassment like key conduct is never discovered by hiring employers, what else is checked? Also, I wonder what prevents such reputed companies from shaming these guys when there is evidence. Maybe they fear damage to their brand as an employer? But hushing up these things causes more damage to the brand as the word gets out through informal sources anyhow. By not making an example of such monsters organisations give birth to many such predators.

In an IT Consulting firm, a Senior VP had very high attrition amongst his Executive Assistants. When a departing EA complained about his sexual advances towards her, the organisation confronted him. He resigned as he was cornered in shame. Yet, nobody got to know why he left. The organisation was relieved that he quit on his own. They did not have to go through the embarrassment of explaining his separation with their staff. He joined a large pharma company in a senior role within three months. So the organisation if at all only passed on the problem to another employer.

Sexual Harassment: Solutions?

When I asked for suggestions on how this issue can be dealt better, people were quite ambivalent. The complexity of these situations is multi-fold. Organisations believe they can’t act till somebody files a complaint. Mostly the situations present themselves as “one vs the other”. Many of these incidents happen outside the office premises and there is no material evidence. A CIBIL like a score for these offenders should be brought in as this trait does show repeatability. These behaviours definitely deserve to be shamed. Education on acceptable behaviour, training of senior executives, employees on what constitutes a transgression can be done for prevention. Today I am debating on the corrective side of advances by people in power!

If power creates sexual harassment it’s important to shame the ‘power’ in order for your brand to gain long-term credibility. After all one person’s behaviour however senior cannot be larger than your brand!

I wrote this with the hope that the world around  #MyTwo gets better.

The edited version of this post this first appeared in Hindu Business Line

http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/specials/needed-a-metoo-campaign-for-the-corporate-world/article9924033.ece


Please read my blog on how and where it can start…

When somebody calls you Pretty Face, how do you react?

 

Resigning

Resigning? Let me make it harder for you!

800 371 Kamal Karanth

The decision to leave an organisation is hard enough for any employee, so why do employers harass the person resigning? 

When I resigned from one of my employers, the acceptance, service, relieving letter and final cheque came in three tranches. The first two pointed out that for the next year I could not join the competition. It also said I could not indulge in any competitive activities as per my employment contract.

I had made it known to my bosses that I was joining a rival, but they put the HR guy in front of me with these reminders. I cheekily wrote back to HR that they should pay if I had to sit at home for a year to honour their agreement. They said it was their standard global template and went silent on the pay. I also reminded them that they too had hired me from a competing firm. They had forgotten that they made me break a few similar obligations to my previous employer.

Contracts Hurdle

Non-poaching agreements that organisations routinely enter into are another area of blatant integrity violations by employers. Often resigning employees join another firm on an interim basis for a few months to be hired eventually by the rival firm. Many employees after joining rival firms declare on LinkedIn that they have joined a “confidential” firm fearing the backlash.

I just looked up one of my past employment contracts. It is about 28 pages long and talks mostly about what I wasn’t supposed to do. As organisations continue to behave like feudal landlords of the past, employees have no choice but to innovate. So, should we blame the employees for breach of clauses in the contract which all favour the employer? The best part is most organisations don’t even follow up on violations of non-poaching or non-competing.  They cite the logistics of execution and only want those clauses as deterrents.

Consequences

So why do they have clauses like these? Everybody who creates and signs the agreements knows it’s next to impossible to implement this anti-trade clause, though they know it may work as a deterrent to employees and prospective employers. Every year organisations in India churn out millions of these anti-compete employment letters to recruit employees who break similar contracts with their employers to join them. It’s a shame that we continue to do this with the full knowledge that it’s not enforceable. Some of the organisations selectively send legal notices to their resigning employees purely as a vendetta.

Take one of my former colleagues who received a notice from her Fortune 500 employer that she should pay them 1 Million INR as in damages as, despite signing a non-solicitation agreement, she had approached their client. She promptly sent them a note reminding them of Section 27 of Indian Contract Act (Agreement in restraint of trade or exercising one’s lawful profession) after which they went quiet, but it did distract her from her work for a few days. I am sure that is the kind of kicks her former boss had hoped it would provide.

Resigning & Hiring

I had asked my legal head when I was leaving one of my former employers why companies still practised this. He said: “You never asked this when we were hiring people with these clauses when you were with us. Occasionally we send out legal notices to erring former employees to act as an example to existing employees.” He added that an organisation would have the resources to go after an employee. However, the person leaving would have to fight the case as an individual and pay for themselves. This again reveals the one-upmanship mentality with which organisations operate.

There are a couple of other things you need to fight when you announce your intention of joining a rival firm. Cynicism and hostility during the notice period by bosses and peers. Hostility comes from bosses in the form of extending notice periods They also give you additional jobs that stretch just to frustrate you and delay your leaving. We all know this behaviour does no good to their Glassdoor ratings. But should they really care about people who do not matter anymore?

I find it amusing that in the age of millennials organisations continue to come up with restrictive employee contracts. Its a world of shorter employee tenures, flexible working arrangements and freelancers. I wonder why we all are trying to be over-restrictive in our employee contracts. It’s difficult to protect organisation secrets in an invasive world. Any information a competitor wants to know can be obtained in no time. Why should we simply waste time increasing paperwork which has no meaning?

I have decided that in my entrepreneurial venture the offer letter will be a simple two-page note which radiates trust!

I am praying to get the strength to be grateful when my colleagues are resigning to join rival firms!