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Thursday, April 18, 2019

Defining Integrity

The general lack of integrity is still a cause for concern, despite the focus on probity that we have fortunately witnessed in recent times. 

I am reminded of an incident more than a decade ago when a senior state level politician filed a motivated complaint, accusing me of dishonesty and seeking an enquiry to probe charges. A direct confrontation that followed set the matters right with doubts being raised on the politicos capability to even understand what honesty or integrity meant. The matter ended with a confession of the reasons behind the complaint followed by profuse apologies, apologies that the politico continued with for years.

And that set me thinking – why is it so easy to accuse someone of dishonesty, more so within the governmental setups, a scenario that is witnessed in the form of a plethora of vigilance cases, enquiries and charge sheets that engulf the environment. It is sad that even a deviation from a laid down norm or a mistake is regarded as malafide, a scenario suited to throttle initiatives.

It is not only about honesty. Honesty is truthfulness, integrity goes much further. While honesty is about acceptance of the truth in its absolute form always, integrity is about doing the right thing under all circumstances. Integrity therefore is also about an impeccable conduct and behavior for that is the right demeanor to possess.

Yet the blatant absence of it and why? During my over four decades of serving with the government, the majority of the officials I interacted with comprised of those who would do the right thing only if there was no pressure whatsoever from influential quarters to do otherwise. The silent minority who would do no wrong despite pressures also comprised of two categories, one who did no wrong and delivered, while the bulk did no wrong and also had no concern for delivery. The majority and the bulk of the minority, both lacked integrity.

The system unfortunately continues to regard everyone as devoid of honesty or integrity despite occasional signs of being proven otherwise. To that extent the legacy left by the british continues uninterrupted. 

The widely prevalent belief that regards check-posts as an appropriate deterrent for dishonest practices is also misplaced. The more the number of check-posts and those who police, the greater the ingenuity of those on the wrong side is my firm belief. If mere policing could reduce crime and corruption, the job was simply confined to increasing the number of policemen. Our rank inability to provide a corruption free society, a society where every interaction of the common man with the sarkari tantra is not laced with graft, despite the over powering presence of the watchdogs says it all. 

And why not, the society and the system generally lay no emphasis on the need for honesty and integrity. Never in my career spanning over four decades have I witnessed a forum called by my superior where issues related to honesty and integrity were discussed.

Trust deficit is a mild word, lack of trust is most appropriate. Yes a system that does not trust its own constituents can only propagate lack of integrity and that is what has happened. Viewing every action with suspicion has become the norm.

Inculcating integrity in the human resource has to be the numero uno priority for organizations as well as the society and putting this issue bang on the table would start the ball rolling.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Tremendous potential of the HR

Human Resource is the key to revival, yet very rarely the same is understood or appreciated. And we search for solutions in strategies, high sounding words and solutions and often in power point presentations.

Slick power point presentations have caused the nation and its organizations much harm. Presentations conceptualized and made by young MBA’s while remaining fairly distant from ground realities, yet presented powerfully under a false shroud of conviction have the ability to take many for a ride. The boss, partaking of the presentation remains under an illusion of a time well spent, even though it is totally wasted.

The problem of an illusory ground connect especially at apex levels is for real. Unfortunately our society, already highly compartmentalized, differentiates between the lower and the upper echelons on an almost 24/7 basis, thereby preventing the much needed interaction that makes one aware of what is really happening.

The solutions touted therefore remain theoretical and fail to work. What remains constant are post mortems of why and where we went wrong.  Jet is one such example. With a debt that is apparently manageable if the organization is well run, one fails to understand why the organization went down under, if the management was capable and committed enough.

And so have been many other organizations, the national carrier being one of them. How can an organization be allowed to remain in reds continuously for over a decade since merger, a scenario that has resulted in the current debt trap, without real remedial measures being initiated the moment the dip became apparent.

I have witnessed the same everywhere, be it Madhya Pradesh tourism, ITDC, Railways or the National Carrier, all faced the ignominy that emerges out of inadequate top management. In all organizations, invariably the blame for shortcomings was laid at the altar of the field soldiers. On the other hand I have also witnessed though rarely, organizations rising from the ashes whenever a humane leadership played on the front foot.

We all know how we would like to be handled by those above us in the organizational hierarchy, yet we fail to apply the same when we handle those below us in the hierarchy. We are rough with those down below and extra polite with those above us, regardless of the merit of the argument being made and the subject being discussed.

The ability to stand up for what is right and to be able to correct what is wrong is amiss, almost always, everywhere. This quality is what defines an individual and all other traits are borne out of this singular attribute only. Everything else is secondary.

Let us all focus on the human resource, alleviate their grievances and suffering and get the best out of them. It is indeed almost impossible to comprehend me as to how much more we can get out of a charged motivated individual.

We need to believe in the tremendous potential of the human resource.