Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Campus to Company

This is written bearing in mind prospective candidates seeking jobs in India.

1.1 Campus to company
Both these expressions are metaphors to places of study and work. They are entirely two different spheres of human activity.

1.2
campus
· The first one you are familiar with for having been in that environment for the past
   seventeen or eighteen years. You have three more years to go. You know what to expect
   from teachers, administration and evaluation system. You entered the environment when
   you were a mere child because you were asked or expected to. But soon you got used to the
   system and became part of it, (accepting and) conforming to rules and regulations
   prevailing in the system, however much you may have disliked them. Because this is the
   environment that provides with a degree as a ticket to enter the job world.

· You have been in protective custody under the care of teachers, management and
   university. Everybody receives remuneration to provide you information and knowledge, 
   show you how to get them and where from, develop skills—academic and life—in you,
   engage you in cocurricular and extracurricular activities to shape your personality, to swim
   with the tide and against it, to tackle tricky situations successfully, to cooperate with others,
   to work in a team, to lead, to manage time, to create and innovate. Everybody helps you
   grow and are happy to see you grow.

company
· The second is a strange place you’ll be stepping into. You don’t know what to expect from
   colleagues, superiors, management. You don’t know the kind of environment you’re going
   to be in, how the system works, the expectations others will have of you. You’ll have to
   soon acquaint yourself with and conform to rules and regulations, the culture prevailing
   there, ignoring your personal opinions. Because this is the environment that will provide
   you with an income and probably a ticket to higher realms.

· You’ll have no protection whatsoever for no one knows you, no one has an obligation to
   understand you. Nobody receives remuneration to provide you information except
   rudimentarily when your HR  does this job, no one, colleague or superior, will lead you by
   the hand, will make you comfortable, will teach you the ropes, will get you out of critical
   situations. You are all alone, all by yourself, you’ll be your own guide and you’ll have to
   survive on your own for it’s a matter of  bread.

1.3
How can you survive and succeed?
The situation is intimidating, yes, but not frightening, not insurmountable. Like to know
why?
  
Because as I said at the beginning though both the spheres are different from each other 
the situations are no different (thinking and behaving will be similar for in both the places you meet human beings whether they are classmates or colleagues, teachers or superiors, college management or big bosses) because exposure to campus life has helped you develop abilities you need and can use to tackle any human situation:
  · in the campus you met strangers in the form of teachers and classmates, you learnt to
     handle yourself and these strangers with tact and patience
  · in the campus like in company, rules and regulations existed, you learnt to cope with
     them,
  · in the campus you underwent testing and came out on top from average to excellent,
  · in the campus you learnt to cooperate, move with the team, take occasional
     leadership into your hands and perform well,
  · in the campus several appreciated your success and some were jealous and you didn’t
     allow your success to go to your head, you didn’t allow jealous classmates take the upper
     hand
  · in the campus some carried tales against you to your teachers but you survived

1.4
Behavioural patterns to practise
But unlike in campus, here in company, you are no more a child but a grown adult well prepared by campus to handle humans in any situation. So
· march like a soldier confident of your steps, direction, action and response.
· Be wary but don’t be scared, take gentle but sure steps, observe colleagues and superiors,
   register in your brain their behavioural patterns, learn what they expect from you, also learn
   what you can expect from them (which may be very little at least in the initial
   stages).
· Be polite and respectful in words, deeds and tone of voice and other body gestures.
· Show respect even if you don’t like the person if that’s what’s expected of you.
· Lend a patient ear, don’t interrupt,
· don’t indulge in unnecessary arguments or don’t make a show of your intelligence just to
   score a point (this will earn you only enemies),
· Avoid gossip like a plague, listen to grapevine but don’t add to it,
· Assert yourself when you have to—such chances come rarely,
A few more tips:
· Always arrive at work on time, if not a little early. Stick to your lunch hour... and if you are  
  particularly busy, eat at your desk or come back early.
· Dress appropriately. Look around you to see how others are dressed; especially those who
   are further along on your career path. For example, if you work in an advertising agency
   and aspire to be an account executive, don't dress like the art director, whose job allows a
   more casual style.
· LISTEN--LISTEN--LISTEN...and OBSERVE. The best piece of advice I received from an
   employer was to listen and observe before jumping in to suggest changes.
· Stay away from office gossip. That is not to say don't pay attention to what you hear
   through the grapevine. That can be helpful. However don't contribute to it.
· Mind your manners. Don't forget what you learned as a child. Please and thank you should
   still be the magic words. Always knock before you enter. Although barging into your
   friend's dorm room may have been okay with him, barging into your supervisor's office is
   not okay.
· Answer the telephone politely, even if the call is internal.
· Find a mentor. Look for someone on your career path who is willing to take you under her
   wing. Your own supervisor may not be a good idea, but someone else under his
   supervision may work well.
· Don't pretend to know things you don't. However, do your homework. Learn what you
   need to know.
· Don't be afraid to ask questions. If you are assigned a project and are not sure how it
   should be completed, ask. It's better to ask before the project is due, than to have it
   delayed because it was done incorrectly.
· Always stick to deadlines. Bosses usually want projects completed on time. If there is any
   flexibility, she will let you know.
· Finally, pay close attention to corporate culture. Learn how things work within your
   company. Are relationships formal or friendly? Does everyone arrive early and stay late?
   Are lunch hours short or non-existent? Please forgive me for this cliche, but when in
   Rome...
By Dawn Rosenberg McKay, About.com Guide
Like the behavioural patterns I’ve enumerated, all these twelve points relate to how you should behave or conduct yourself while performing.

1.5
Performing
Learning to perform begins with taking part in co-curricular activities:
   · seminars
   · paper presentations
These will help you share and gather technical information and improve your communication to an audience. Such participation will improve your prospects of getting a job in a good company because your prospective employer will know that
   · you not only listen, read and understand
   · you also can communicate
and
   · you’re also thinking about technical concepts.

i. Seminars
Grab every opportunity to give seminars for it’s a practice session for paper presentation. The topics are usually syllabus-related / textbook-related. Put your ideas in writing and prepare matching visuals.

immediate advantages
   · your audience is small and known to you
   · information sharing is more important than evaluation of what is shared
   · you’ll be evaluated by classmates who will show sympathy and understanding
  
permanent advantages
   · your confidence level will improve, you’ll begin to believe in your abilities
   · your knowledge span will widen, you’ll look beyond the textbook—reading journals and
      other books by experts
   · your respect for others and their ideas will grow
   · your academic abilities will improve: collecting, accepting, ignoring, rejecting
      information as part of preparation
   · your listening skill will become better
   · your use of English will improve

ii. Paper presentation
You make paper presentations as part of competitions, conferences or workshops. The topics go beyond the textbook or syllabus.
Steps
    · You take up a theoretical concept, a hypothetical issue or a new or improved version of
       an existing piece of equipment.
    · You’ll need to do some research by reviewing existing literature in the areas you’ve
       chosen and reading related journal articles as part of preparing your paper, using your
       reading skills—scanning, skimming, studying.
    · You may make educated guesses, arrive at some conclusions or pose a few questions, or
       present composition of your model with improvements or modifications. 
    · You need to use your writing skills and put these in writing with subtopics, topic
       sentences for each paragraph with their expansions or elaborations and examples.
       You need to introduce the topic, develop into a body and conclude appropriately.
    · You need to prepare visual appropriate to your topic: tables, graphs, charts, sketches,
       photographs, power-point, handouts, flip chart, whiteboard.

To learn about, prepare and present power-point, go to
    2. www.iasted.org/conferences/formatting/presentations-tips.ppt
   
    · You must not be satisfied with the first writing, you need to edit, reedit, refine, plug
       loopholes in your arguments.
    · If you’re presenting the paper with a partner, decide the roles and practise the
       presentation so that the takeover happens smoothly.
    · You should face the audience speak the paper, don’t read your paper, don’t read power-
       point slides. Keep your language simple. Be loud enough for those at the far end of the
       room. Be in constant eye contact with your audience. Don’t speak in monotone; let your
       voice rise and fall as you speak. 
    · The question hour at the end of the presentation is your litmus test. All the effort you
       have put in up to now will be useless if you fail here. The audience are likely to ask you
       to clarify, to provide more information, to question your hypothesis or model. 
         · Don’t be annoyed, rude, impatient, condescending.  
           · Give a patient hearing, listen carefully, understand objectively what they expect and
             answer to the best of your ability.
           · Accept an error.
           · Speak politely, show respect in words and gestures
           · Smile and look cheerful.
          
These two co-curricular activities will go a long way in your preparation for your performance in your search for a job. They’ll develop your communication skills, including your body language, especially eye contact, help you mature as a capable communicator—listen attentively and speak convincingly.

Now we get into the act of performing:
The traditional process of hiring has three stages:
     · a written test        · a G.D.          · an interview
Prospective candidates move from one stage to another; if they fail the written test, they don’t go further.

Today different organisations have different formulas.
1. written test
Some do everything online beginning with a written test ‘talent assessment’ also known as pre-employment tests or employment screening tests. Talent assessment test is used as part of an online screening process that help employers decide which candidates to interview and are given online or in a company or store office via computer or a hiring kiosk. 

For further information on this go to http://jobsearch.about.com/od/interviewsnetworking/tp/interview-process.htm; there may be other websites as well.
    
Public sector companies like BHEL , ONGC also use written test. Go to  
    Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/6801602
Some employers favour G.D. as part of screening process, while others don’t. For further
    information, go to timesofindia.indiatimes.com/.../hiring-process-in-companies

2. G.D.  
You’ll be one among the five or six randomly selected candidates and put into a group in a semi-circle and asked to discuss a given topic. G.D. lasts for anything between ten and twenty minutes. To be able to participate and come out successful, you need to possess and use influence of environment—political, social, cultural, economic, trade—over business activities. And you should also use right mental abilities like: thinking, analysing, arguing, convincing, persuading. And you should also express yourself fluently in English.

You should also exhibit at least one of these G.D. skills: initiating, continuing and concluding the discussion. 

Some Do’s and Don’ts
      · Seat yourself in the centre.                     · Avoid sitting in corners.
      · Initiate discussion if you can.                 · Don’t cut into another’ speech.
      · Take notes of what others are saying.    · Don’t become emotional.
      · Use appropriate gestures.                       · Don’t be silent for too long.
      · Be polite.                                                · Don’t silence others.
      · Be firm in what you’re saying.               · Don’t be dogmatic.
      · Ask others to join in.                              · Don’t talk for too long.
      · Keep eye contact.                                   · Don’t repeat what’s already said
     
Even if you talk only for a minute, if what you say adds meaning to the discussion, you’ll have succeeded. 

3. Personal interview is considered the best option by almost most hiring organisations.
    ‘Almost’ because some conduct online interviews. There may be as many interviews of
    candidates as the employing agencies feel fit. 

    Some may begin with ‘open’ or ‘screening’ interview. They conduct on-the-spot interviews
    rather than scheduling individual interview appointments with candidates. Screening interviews
    are conducted to determine if the applicants have the qualifications needed to do the job.
    This is the first step in the hiring process is there is no open interview. Phone interviews
    are often used to narrow the pool of applicants who will be invited for in-person
    interviews.

    The next stage may be the final one for hiring or it may consist of as many as four or five
    interviews:
      · first interview
         This can be one-on-one interview or a group from several departments. Questions will be
          asked about an applicant's experience and skills, work history, availability, and the
          qualifications the company is seeking in the optimal candidate for the job.

      · second interview
         This can be a more in-depth going into finer details of the abilities, skills, attitudes of an
         applicant. Or it can be a day-long interview that includes meetings with company staff.
         you may meet with management, staff members, executives, and other company
         employees.

      · third interview
         This can be a ‘dining interview’ which happens in a more relaxed environment and  
         where an employer wants to observe a candidate for communication and interpersonal
         skill and table manners.

      · fourth or last interview
         This is generally a chit-chat where the employer and the successful candidate talk about
         things in general and the job is offered. Candidates may use this opportunity to seek
         more information about the prevailing ‘culture’ and other related things.

As far as performing in the interview is concerned, go back to 1.10.3 and 1.10.4.

1.6
Retaining the job
Getting a good job with a good salary is important. But retaining it (continue to work) is more important.

You need to show ‘results’. You need to prove to the Management they’ve gained by employing you. You need to use your technical skills to do given tasks perfectly. And you need to employ interpersonal skills to interact successfully with your colleagues and workers in other departments, superiors or subordinates, customers, the public, members of other organisations and government officials.

You need to work in pairs or as part of a group.
To be successful in pair communication, do the following:
   · be a good listener, allow your partner to talk, appreciate their contribution
   · be a good speaker, be clear in your messages, clarify doubts, use appropriate body
      language and tone and voice.
   · show respect to your superior.
   · show warmth, friendship and affection
   · success is important, victory is not.
   · your listener is more important to you than you to yourself.

To be successful in group activity, do the following:
   · be a good listener, allow your partner to talk, appreciate their contribution
   · be a good speaker, be clear in your messages, clarify doubts, use appropriate body
      language and tone and voice.
   · show respect to your superior.
   · show warmth, friendship and affection
   · success is important, victory is not.
   · your listener is more important to you than you to yourself.
   · judge ideas, not people. Indicate this clearly to the contributor of ideas.
   · control emotions
   · go well prepared regarding the items on the agenda for meetings, brainstorming sessions,
      support your arguments with facts and figures
   · if necessary go for a compromise.
   · remember you’re not important but the group activity is.
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1.7 Corporate culture
The following paragraphs highlight the culture in working places.

1.8
Definition
This topic acquaints you with or introduces you to the kind of atmosphere / environment that prevails, that you can expect in a company, firm or organisation in India.

It’s generally agreed that there can be no one definition or description of  organizational culture or corporate culture. Dr Benjamin Rush, in the website: The University of Rhode Island’s http://www.uri.edu/research/lrc/scholl/webnotes/Culture.htm says: A single definition of organizational culture has proven to be very elusive. No one definition of organizational culture has emerged in the literature.

But for our purposes, we can be satisfied with the following description:
“Organizational culture includes an organization's expectations, experiences,
  philosophy, and values that hold it together, and is expressed in its self-image,
  inner workings, interactions with the outside world, and future expectations. It is based on
  shared attitudes, beliefs, customs, and written and unwritten rules that have been
  developed over time and are considered valid.

“Also called corporate culture, it's shown in 
(1) the ways the organization conducts its business, treats its employees, customers, and the
      wider community, 
(2) the extent to which freedom is allowed in decision making, developing new ideas, and
      personal expression, 
(3) how 
power and information flow through its hierarchy, and 
(4) how committed employees are towards collective objectives.

“It affects the organization's productivity and performance, and provides guidelines on  
  customer care and service, product quality and safety, attendance and punctuality,
  and concern for the environment. It also extends to production-
  methods, marketing and advertising practices, and to new product creation. Organizational
  culture is unique for every organization and one of the hardest things to change.”

1.9
corporate culture as existing in some employing agencies in India:
What you’ll read below is pooled together from several sources.

Positive aspects
· Employees want to go faster and take on new roles. They are hungry to do more.
· Middle management prefers meeting people in person to emailing them. They like to build
   relationships.
· Many of the Indian managers are incredibly bright and well-educated.
· Indians think workplace as an opportunity to build their future and put forth extensive  
   efforts to climb the corporate ladder and earn monetary benefits. They work day and night
   beyond limits. 
· people are genuinely warm and passionate about their companies and co-workers.
· During a layoff in a company, Indian workers wept and cursed. They also offered to take
   pay cuts if the management could keep more people.

Negative aspects
· The most glaring one is the rigid hierarchical structure managements employ. Decisions
   come from the top and have to be obeyed. It’s a ‘yes, sir’ culture.
· Subordinates are expected to take the blame for things that go wrong.
· Strict adherence to time is not a strong point. Deadlines are stretchable. Meetings can be
   cancelled or postponed in the last minute.
· Agreements are seen are viewed as intentions and guidelines rather than as something that
   must be respected.
· Quantity, not quality, seems to be the goal.
· Innovation is neither seen nor encouraged.
· There is stiff resistance to change. Status-quo is always preferred.
· Soft skills such as ‘relationship-building’, ‘teamwork’, ‘presentation’, ‘communication’ are
    lacking.
· Producing results is not seen as important as following rules and implementing processes.
· There is unwillingness to take the blame for something going wrong.
· Indifference to work is seen more than commitment.
· Individual agendas take priority over a given group’s.
· Office politics is a common feature of behaviour.

Sources:


3. web.mit.edu/.../India%20and%20Outsourcing%20Papers/India_Trip_Ess...‎ (pdf)





Despite all these, sincere attempts are being made to match the standards prevalent in global companies. India has had a late start in succession planning and talent management. Succession to high positions has been in the family so far in some companies. Talent management is a new concept that has engaged the attention of managements who feel the need to take care of it in terms of productivity and idea creation. However, it is fast catching up. There is a fair amount of time that all of the good companies here are spending on these two activities. Retaining talent for Indian companies has become a key factor in their growth strategies.

Progressive Indian companies are comparable in their work cultures with progressive companies in the US. US companies have long-standing legacies. For example, in General Motors, every process and responsibility is well-defined, who has authority over what is clearly stated. Indian companies, even old ones, did not have such processes five or ten years ago. Now they have been put into place. Some companies encourage employee blogs so the employees can freely express themselves and come up with something of value. Some others have forums where active participation of employees is expected regarding issues that concern the company or themselves.
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