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Advice for New Recruits in Corporations

A Director of one of the management schools once approached me to recruit some of their candidates for our consulting firm. We have generally decided not to take fresh recruits as corporations have been asking for experienced candidates to advice them. They don’t mind “fresher” from the big Five consulting firms, but not from the lesser known companies. Nothing short of the Chairman or the CEO or Directors and Partners will satisfy them. However one of our interests is also to develop young people, if not for our company, but for others. We finally decided to take the two of them. We did not want to visit the Institute as it is far away from our place and the airfares will give at least a couple of months salary of the candidates. I have agreed to take them and we interviewed them telephonically. They were very impressive on telephone. They seem to have read most of my books- so they stated. I was quite happy to know that this institute is following the books written by me and therefore we are getting candidates prepared in HRD Audit, 360 Degree Feedback and so on. In fact they said that they all did a 360 Degree Feedback practical project. I was even more impressed.

A few weeks after they joined I was very disappointed to know many things from them which were totally opposite to my expectations. Foe example:
1. They did not really know anything about HRD audit. They stated that they had only one copy of the book in the library which was shown to them by the instructor and all their preparation was on the basis of the notes given by the Instructor.
2. They said that the practical they did on 360 is a group assignment and for this purpose all the class was treated as one group and they just had to conduct a 360 feedbacks session of their professor and write up the experience. They merely collected the feedback on the professor and had not even shared it with the professor.

 My assessment of their knowledge on various things indicated that what they have leant in HR is very superficial and they have to start all over again. I had to put them on 6 months of learning HRD by getting them to read all my books. We could not use them and the six months ended up as an extended preparation of their two year MBA in HR.

I found their attitudes also to be short of my expectations. They were neither learning oriented nor career driven. They were merely looking for a better and more permanent job and used it as a pass time or a stepping stone for their next job. Both of them are doing well in their HR profession today. But they could have done far better had they used the six months with TVRLS productively by preparing themselves for the same.

In another case we created a similar position for a candidate to work with us for a couple of years. This candidate was not happy with the salaries we offered. We gave him the option of taking up another job but he preferred to work with us as the job situation that year was tight.

I mentioned to this person about the new Journal my team was starting. Now it is named “Perfect Professional” but at that time the name was not decided and the format was decided. The candidate agreed to join and help us in the magazine. However he preferred to join only a couple of months later as he had to visit his home somewhere in the east. He wanted to be with his family. We agreed for it and suggested that he should use the time to be familiar with our company and its products. We gave him a list of ten books and also said that he will give an examination after he joins. We said that until he passes, he will keep reading the books and we will not give him any assignment. We also wanted the person to be in touch with us and prepare himself for the job.

In the subsequent two months what we experienced was pathetic. The candidate never contacted us and my team felt very hesitant to disturb his time with the family. When he finally joined two months later, we found that he did not visit our web site and also did not read the books. He stated that he did not have access to the internet. Though he had his lap top, he did not have an internet connection. We knew for sure that he lives in a city where internet connections are available for Rs 20 an hour and perhaps not too far off from his home. He also did not read any of the books we suggested to him. He said that he could procure only one of them and the rest were not available in the market. As a result he had to spend the next two months to read all the basic books we gave him and finally pass the exam we gave.

From these experiences I have come to the conclusion the desire for learning, drive to take initiative and be entrepreneurial, respect for gaining in-depth knowledge is missing among the new joiners in many cases. I don’t want to conclude all are like that but I do feel that the new generation of recruits have a long way to go in preparing themselves to be employment ready when they join corporations. While some of the corporations like Infosys started initiatives like the finishing school or stating school, small companies can ill afford to start such things. Banks for example are recruiting a larger number of employees now days and cannot even give more than a week’s induction courses. Most of such induction programs are focus on teaching IT skills.

In such circumstances how much should the organization invest on preparing people or new employees to be productive? Is it not also the responsibility of the new joiners and employment seekers to learn and make themselves “job ready”? Is it not a good way to build career?

I would like to argue that it is in the interests of the new employee to join a company fully prepared with enthusiasm to make a difference, rather than to wait for the organization to give them all the agenda on platter and also help them to acquire the skills only after they join.

The new joiners will do well if they can prepare themselves to be contributors to their employers rather than posing themselves as a challenge to the employer to get them to be “job ready”. I consider any employee as job ready if he/she starts contributing to the corporation from Day One! It is possible and only such people build their career and become future leaders. Those who expect the corporations to prepare them to be job ready are carrying their “ordinary student mind set” and saying indirectly that they will study only according to the syllabus and lean only when the school begins and teachers teach.  These employees will remain ordinary employees all through and at best be good Doers as I characterised them in my book, “Managers who Make a Difference” (IIMA Books: Random House).

My Advice to the New Joiners from Colleges, and MBA Institutions:
When you join as a new comer in a company please remember the following:
You are happy that you got the job for a short time or long time. Do you now want the company to make effort to “get the work from you”? You may be doing this by posing yourself as a challenge to the employer- You may be unconsciously saying to the company “You got me at a low cost or high cost. But now try your best to get the best out of me. I will give my best only when you deserve it. First show me all the incentives you can give if I do a good job. Give me first the job descriptions etc. and prove that you have not done any injustice to me in my recruitment by paying others any better than me?”

Such type of employees wastes their time and talent and that of their seniors. Don’t pose yourself as a challenge to the organization but make yourself as a valuable asset.
 How to do that? The following are some things you may practice:
1.       Understand the organization, its business, structure, products, services, customers, reputation in the market, problems, issues, opportunities it has etc.
2.       Visit their web site, search Google and other sources and learn as much as you can and be prepared to join them as a family member and not merely as an employee.
3.       Get in touch with your boss or seniors with whom you will be working or reporting and get as much details as possible about your job, their expectations from you and the way you need to prepare yourself for the job. Don’t get disappointed if the HR department says that they are yet to decide your location, department, boss etc. Your initiative may get them to think of taking such decision in future well in advance.
4.       Ask for a competency check list or competency profile of the department to prepare yourself to acquire the competencies. Read books and acquire competencies needed to be ready to serve. Interact with current or former employees of the company and get to learn as much about the culture, values and other things.
5.       Start visualising your working patters and the way you are going to spend your time, and the way you are going to learn, and the way you are going to deal with difficult situations if any when you join.
6.       Get the personnel policies manual and try to understand the same. Use it to bring down your expectations and not to enhance them. Experience says you will find many things missing from what you have positively imagined. If things surpass your expectations it will be good for you. Don’t worry about petty things. You are not joining to get small allowances (Travel and other allowances) but you are joining to build your career. Career can be built how so ever long or short is your stay, by your contributions and not by the evaluation of the way company has treated you. The way you treat the company is in your hands and the way they treat is not in your hands. You will remember what you did and you should work to remember that, than the way they treated you or did not treat you. In my first job I worked only for six months at Andhra University. But hat has been the most memorable job. Every student and every faculty member and the Professor who took me there remember it even today 44 years after my first job. I used to keep in touch with the students even after I left and kept sending my notes to them, thought he University did not finally give me the job they promised. I worked for six months on a stipend given by the Professor in charge.
7.       Young joiners must remember that everything they do is being evaluated. Impressions get formed in the initial interactions. You may say that you don’t care. That is ego and that is what slows down your learning and progress. You should care to learn and also show your eagerness to learn. It matters. However if you only show and not really mean to learn it gets demonstrated soon in one way or the other. You must develop genuine desire to learn.
8.       Respect those who may be less qualified than you but have experience in building the company or the organization. Organizations have been built by hard working people with experience and they may not have had all the good education you had. Some of them may not even be familiar with internet, Google Face Book Linked in and the many modern technologies. But they have contributed. Appreciate how much they have worked and how much they have done to build the organization when they did not have all the technology and infrastructure we are having now days. Learn to respect every one and every function.
9.       The best way to build yourself in the modern world is to take initiative. Initiative only can help you discover the talent in you. Organizations are platforms offered for you to constantly discover and multiply your talent. It can be done mainly through initiative, communication and action. Share your thoughts. Listen to others and learn. Treat everyone as a source of learning, seniors, juniors, books, magazines, lectures, meetings, visitors, strangers, documents, successes, failures, mistakes and so on.    
10.   Life is beautiful if you treat it so. Before someone asks you to do a thing do it and show it. If you don’t know what to do and if someone asked you to do it, do it faster or do it better or do it wholeheartedly to win the hearts. You will create your own freedom and your own career.

Best of Luck

 


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