It is a shame to point fingers at people for poor performance: Mali

By SiliconIndia   |   Wednesday, 27 August 2008, 03:47 Hrs
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Bangalore: Bad business conditions take its inevitable toll on the peoples' side of the business. Job losses in significant numbers hit the headlines of the newspapers every day. In the last three months alone we read about three or four IT majors showing the door to thousands of employees. And there are companies that are shedding jobs but are smart enough to do so without much of public glare! On the one hand, these companies are handing over pink slips to a significant chunk of employees. On the other, there are massive cancellations of offers issued to the campus pass-outs or repeated postponement of the joining dates shattering the hopes and dreams of these boys and girls.

Well, the point here is not why companies are doing this - issuing pink slips and canceling campus offer letters. This can be argued as a business necessity (and in the larger interest of one of the stakeholders, namely the share-holders). The issue I would like to focus on is how some of these companies interpret their behavior. Lacking the courage to admit what is obvious, i.e., a weakness in business performance, they put up masks and claim that they are 'only getting rid of their poor performers.' Poor performers must go, no arguments against it. That some of these companies are suddenly waking up and discovering that they have several hundred 'poor performers' does not seem to cut any ice, especially since they have been claiming year after year in their annual reports and in their jazzy presentations to the analysts that they have a 'high performance culture'.

It is a matter of shame that the poor performance of the company (due to bad economy or whatever other reasons) is sought to be displaced and misrepresented as the poor performance of the people. The worse part is that ordering people to pack up and go home and branding them poor performers is like rubbing salt into the injury. In some sense, those that take such a public stance (that they are cleansing the system by getting rid of thousands of bad performers) lack moral courage. When leaders do not come clean on this, there is pretty little they can expect in terms of loyalty from their employees. What goes around comes around. You get what you sow. It is pretty plain, simple, and straight forward. Acknowledge bad business conditions, admit poor performance of your business, and let the employees know that some tough business calls need to be made and some jobs will go away. Think of alternative ways of managing the issue, while keeping the job losses as the very last resort.

By C Mahalingam (Mali), Executive Vice President & Chief People Officer, Symphony Services. He can be reached at Click on the link below to read the complete article. In his article, C Mahalingam gives examples of exemplary handling of the bad business scenario and business performance.

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