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Your gold is not my gold!

ColorShades_I have often ended up at the losing end of long discussions where my point of view is hopelessly out of synch with the other person (or people, more often than not).  I am sure this is a fairly common occurrence – the precursor to much tearing of hair and snorts of disgust. You have a point of view, you extrapolate and expect the other person will see it the way you do and when that doesn’t happen you have a problem. Now that’s the easy part. But what happens when the person does see the same thing as you (literally or figuratively) and still doesn’t quite?

Take something as simple as the colour gold – here’s the dictionary meaning.

gold: gəʊld/ noun [noun: gold; symbol: Au; plural noun: golds]
1.    a yellow precious metal, the chemical element of atomic number 79, used in jewellery and decoration and to guarantee the value of currencies.
2.     a deep lustrous yellow or yellow-brown colour.

Let’s break down the yellow. Can you? If you want to really nitpick (or are an electronics engineer and like to nitpick) you could say its the colour formed when you mix two of the primary colours red and green. But its just the same thing so lets stick with yellow. Now go to any self respecting paint shop and they will have shade-cards. There are dozens and dozens of shades of yellow and they all have names (gasp!). Lets say we pick canary-yellow. You say that the shade of colour in that tiny square on the shade card is the same shade as you see on the bird. I look at the square and nod in agreement. Indeed it is the same shade I have seen on the bird. But does that mean I am seeing exactly what you are seeing? From the stand point of physics – yes (again if you don’t nitpick about the angle of reflection of the light etc).

When you say canary yellow my brain is effectively doing two lookups (to borrow a term from excel) – one for canary and another for yellow. There is a memory there which it maps against and then confirms. That memory itself has been formed by an interpretation of the shade by the passing of light through my eyes and the firing of neurons when I learnt that a particular shade was canary-yellow. This reference might be actually very different from what you have stored in your brain. Now because of the unique way the photo-receptors in my eyes, the nerves, and my brain is constructed every time I see the same shade as I think is canary-yellow.

And I am not hallucinating: Read more here and here

So maybe when you look at the metal with atomic number 79, you might be seeing something that I don’t which makes you want to buy tons of it. I totally get it. But it would really help everyone if you changed the colour shade a bit so you don’t get so excited about what at the end of the day is just a metal. (Now go read the latest Financial Stability Report published by the RBI (Dec 2013), just for kicks – especially sections 1.12 through 1.18)

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Increase the shadow of the future (among other things)

Kwench | Rewards and Recognition

Before you hand out the badges and thank-you’s to all your hard working employees this week (You do engage with them, don’t you?), take a pause and think if you might actually be doing it all wrong!

Yes you should recognize (and reward) your employees for the hard work they do, for putting in exemplary performances but then again – are they doing too much simply because you haven’t done your job right? As business grow larger and more complex, managing that complexity correctly is also key to employee engagement (and therefore success, profit and everything good that flows from it)

In a very interesting talk Yves Morieux offers six rules for ‘smart simplicity’

1. Understand what your people do

2. Reinforce integrators

3. Increase the total power that people have to take decisions

4. Extend the shadow of the future: Here he talks about how people can be motivated…

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We’re Hiring! Job opening (for the world’s best) graphic designer.

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Rewards that go boink! (or the folly of cash as an incentive)

Kwench | Rewards and Recognition

Money_Trap_Mark Hanna:   The name of the game, move the money from your client’s pocket into your pocket.
Jordan Belfort:   But if you can make your clients money at the same time it’s advantageous to everyone, correct?
Mark Hanna:   No

(Dialogue from the movie ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’, 2013)

I have an article on how to ‘Engage the employee with the right reward’ up on People Matters where I continue to advocate the need for companies to find the right strategy towards rewarding their employees – doling out cash bonuses just doesn’t cut it.

This post however, is more about what I left out of that article (thanks to word-count limits and the need to stay focused on the theme). At the very beginning of the article I mention in passing how the financial collapse of 2008 exposed the flaw of a cash-bonus-linked-to-sales strategy. What I did…

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n:gage Challenge #2: The Winning Entry

Kwench | Rewards and Recognition

First things first. Have you taken the (completely anonymous, less-than-10-seconds) ‘kwench 1-Q survey yet? Please take a few seconds to click a couple of radio buttons if you haven’t already. Thanks 🙂  Here’s the link (https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Kwench1QJan2014)

So now coming to the winning entry for the n:gage December 2013 Challenge (Squeaky Brakes). Congratulations to Chhavi Anand for the best analysis and solution of the case among all the submissions.

n_gage_Blog_Post_Header_Dec2013_

Chhavi’s Analysis of the problems with the reward system in Fast Brake:

(Points made by Chhavi are italicized and marked as CA. Plain text is what I have added, as additional comments or notes.)

CA: 1) Individual cash rewards in all geographies; overlooking the fact that the working culture in India(say) where collectivism is popular might not work in Americas(say) where individualism persists.

A very valid point. While making a rewards strategy that spans across multiple geographies, the one-size-fits-all…

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The n:gage Challenge #2: Squeaky Brakes

Kwench | Rewards and Recognition

n_gage_Post_Header_Dec2013_Important Notes (well, kind of important anyway):

The n:gage Challenge answers should be submitted latest by midnight 29th December 2013. There is no minimum word limit for solutions; it can be just one line or even one word. One of the submissions as advice for Mahesh in n:gage challenge 1, was just two words: ‘Quit – Now!’. While it didn’t win the contest, we were laughing so hard for a very long time. The maximum however is 1000 words. If you hate writing and want to submit a doodled version, an illustration, a mind map, a flow chart – go right ahead. Solutions are solutions.

And now back to the main program: The challenge!

Bhaskar, the HR head of FastBrake was perturbed. He was looking at the MIS of rewards issued and redeemed across various offices and numbers looked quite bad. If there was any interest from the employees, in…

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The 10 Best Books of 2013 – Part 1 (Non Fiction)

Kwench | Rewards and Recognition

Top 10 of any genre’ is a very difficult list to come up with. There are books that are legendary for being up there on every Top 10 list for years on end and then there are sales numbers that stores and online book retailers need to worry about (wink wink).

So this year, we decided to take an data driven look at the top 10 Non-Fiction and Fiction books that corporate India liked. The ranking is only for titles published in 2013. Unburdened with such problems as warehouses full of unsold books, we arrived at the ranking based on popularity, rating, and some secret sauce involving return times, likes, book requests and others. So here we go with the first installment of the Top 10 – the Non Fiction titles – listed in reverse order.

#10: Dhandha: How Gujaratis Do Business [Shobha Bondre]

_kwench_NonFiction_2013_10_Forget the fancy business talk, and…

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Sorry, but we are different!

Kwench | Rewards and Recognition

‘Yes but… we are different’ is an excuse I hear quite often when managers are confronted with the challenge of making radical changes. (or sometimes even not so radical ones)

A typical conversation about focusing on increasing collaboration and lowering barriers revolves around these lines:

Yes, we know collaboration is key to innovation, but…

– We are different

– We are unique

– Our teams work differently

– We are in a different marketplace. In fact we are the market creators there is no-one else

– We recruit only the very best and you know they all have egos so they won’t collaborate.

– We are so large that anything remotely transformational is difficult to execute.

And the list goes on.

In my book there are three types of organizations when it comes to getting their employees working with each other: the ones that don’t know what works, those who…

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[n:gage] What are you doing this weekend?

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n:gage November 2013 – The Challenge!

Pit your brains against the best. Come up with an innovative strategy to crack the ‘kwench n:gage Challenge!

Kwench | Rewards and Recognition

n_gage_Header_

 

 

It was 8 am on bright sunny day in Bangalore, the city which FastVid called home. Mahesh was in early, in-spite of a late night conference call with his Sales heads in Singapore and Los Angeles. In fact it was the call that was bothering Mahesh. His company was starting to stagnate. The sales heads had blamed his tech teams for lack of innovation in the solutions they provided their clients anymore. ‘It’s always the same old thing. I don’t have anything worth talking about when I meet prospective clients’ lamented the President of Sales based out of the Los Angeles office. His APAC Sales head pretty much echoed the same sentiment.

Mahesh pulled up the latest metrics from all his departments. Everything seemed to be on track – all of them seemed to be in line with expected trajectory to achieve their annual numbers. The targets seemed…

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