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Continued from Previous……

We continue the debate between Professional and Seth Cultures, and talk about Engagement, as mentioned in the last blog post.

Engagement and Disengagement – for the last several years, the world has been buzzing with the engagement/disengagement discussion, quest, campaigns and activities. Engagement is a state in which the employee feels connected with the organization physically, mentally, and psychologically. Disengagement is the exact opposite of this where employee feels various levels of disconnectedness. Let us see how the Seth Culture and Professional Culture fare on this aspect.

A typical Seth would come to office late. He would sit behind closed doors to keep himself at a distance from the staff. In fact, for most of them, keeping the distance is of utmost importance. Creating distance is probably taken as creating difference, which can be done positively or negatively. Fortunately, some owners of larger companies have focused on their grooming; while some others started with a good education from a good institution. These are the Seths who feel secure in themselves and have the confidence to mix up with the staff frequently. They do not need to raise fake walls around them to feel secure. They are still a minority. Majority came from three sources; from retail to wholesale to distribution to manufacturing; from very small, cottage type industry to bigger units; and from industry employment, production or marketing. All these gentlemen (all are guys incidentally) carry various types of hang-ups in their mind. They have internal discussions amongst themselves and learn more negativity from each other.

The educated, groomed Seths have generally invested in human capital. They have developed HR function properly, hired and developed and retained talent, and focused on performance management through current techniques. The other Seths prefer to hire compromised talent, pay poorly, do nothing to develop it and keep them under pressure. The number of disengaged employees in such organizations is astounding; nearly 100%. The employees grumble constantly, work only under coercion, cause damage occasionally, and underperform seriously; but do not leave to find a better job as they do not have the confidence for it.

The Professionals are not doing a great job either. There was a time when the managers took it upon themselves to develop their subordinates and prepare them to take on higher positions; including their own. In fact, a manager would not be upgraded if he had not prepared someone as his replacement. Mind it, the opportunities were less at that time. As the opportunities increased, there were not enough eligible people to fill the available positions. Some compromises were made. When these guys got senior positions, they tried to secure their unearned positions. One way was to not develop any subordinate, the other was to hire even more compromised people. They applied both strategies and ended up messing the system. The upshot of this methodology is that many senior managers have no clue about talent retention, development and management.

The engagement level in both scenarios is dismal. HR departments are either powerless or unfocused. The line managers are usually supreme. An anecdote to make the point. In a fair-sized family owned Pharma company, the son being MD hired a guy as HR Manager. After a few days, the father being Chairman, saw a new guy roaming around in the office and called him. He asked him who he was. He told proudly that he was the new HR Manager. The Chairman said “we don’t need HR here. You can go home”. The poor guy ran for his life and took refuge in MD office. Obviously, he did not survive very long. This is where we are in terms of staff; call it human resource or human capital or talent.

There are islands of hope also where a lot of good work is being done in this regard. There are climate surveys and employee engagement measurements. We look forward to having more of these.

Landlord – Tenant Relationship – the deeper we look at Seth-Professional relationship, the more it seems to resemble landlord-tenant one.

The Seth is the landlord, he is the owner of the property, and he has the sole authority to let anyone in; trespassers may be shot. In Pakistan, landlords have some common behaviors. The Landlords generally start with a suspecting mind. They think that all tenants are monsters who will either occupy their property on the first available opportunity, or damage it carelessly. Both acts are unacceptable, therefore the landlord never lets his guards down. He sleeps with one eye open and keeps sneaking into tenant’s house on one pretext or the other to check if everything is ok.  The landlord will choose the tenant through intensive interrogation, or on whim. He would then get a list of conditions signed by the tenant, which if applied in letter, will make life impossible for tenant. Some landlords are very fine but are rarely found.

The tenant moves in finally and starts with the handicap. If the landlord is living away, the tenant may get some sigh of relief at times. If the landlord is living in the same house, then the tenant is in big trouble. The landlord keeps a watchful eye on him and raises objections on every little small thing. The tenant is better advised not to ask for any repair work or any alterations to make life easy. Demands are not taken gracefully. And too many demands are a good cause for removal from property.  Duration of tenancy is entirely at the discretion of the landlord. Some tenants are nasty, and they still are able to damage the property in whatever way they can. They remind the landlord again and make him even more cautious.

In Pharma, the landlord Seth is sitting in the same office with the tenant Professional. You can understand how the equation would be working. There is a watch, and objections, and concerns, but it may remain calm generally. The Seth is dependent on the Professional for business development; Professional is dependent on Seth for doing his work and earn his living.

For most people, work is not just the source of getting money; it is an affirmation of them being useful and worthwhile. Jobless people lose income, and they also lose their self-respect in their own eyes. We see that retired people suddenly become small and worn out. Working everyday assures us about our value, our ability, our contribution to family and society, and keeps our energy up. We stay healthy in mind, body and heart.

The Seths and the Professionals have much to lose in this conflict. A positive collaboration on the other hand offers much more to gain. It is thinking time for both.

To be Continued……


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