What is a Talent? : Activity Corner; V4 Issue 4

What is a Talent?

Any recurring pattern of thought, feeling or behaviour that can be productively applied is a talent. It is impossible to build strength without any underlying talent. Being able to identify your team member’s talent is critical to nurturing it. Read the statements given below that are related to “talent identification and management” and mark them as “True” or “False”.

  1. Nervousness cannot be really a talent for anybody.

  2. Spontaneous top-of-mind reactions to situations provide the best trace of a person’s talents.

  3. Yearnings (being drawn to some activity time and again) reveal the presence of a talent particularly when they are felt early in life.

  4. Sometimes a talent does not signal itself through yearning. Instead ‘Rapid learning’ offers the clue to the existence of a talent.

  5. Satisfactions (when he/she uses them he/she feels good) also provide a clue to a person’s talent. So if you feel good after shirking responsibility it is a talent.

  6. As a manager you need to treat each of your subordinate the same way when you are managing them.

  7. A weakness is an area where one lacks proficiency.

  8. One way to manage a team member’s weakness is by finding another person who is good at it who can give the required support in that area to the team member.


Score your responses by giving a point to every right response.

Spontaneous reactions, yearnings, rapid learning, and satisfactions will all help you detect the traces of your team members’ talents. All the best in identifying their talents and managing them for greater performance! To understand more about talents, read ‘Now, Discover Your Strengths’.

Employee Engagement Practices Quiz : Activity Corner; V4 Issue 3

Google was founded by 2 mathematicians Sergey Brin and Larry Page. They owe their stupendous success to a culture of innovation and creativity. They realized in their early days that it is employee engagement that can set them apart from the thousands of other technology companies. Free, healthy and well cooked food became a key ingredient of their employee engagement strategy. Guess what they did to celebrate the day the company went public. No, they did not have a series of senior management speeches about its vision and bright future, but a free ice cream station for employees. 

If you are looking for more inspiration on employee engagement, you don’t have to look very far. Many Indian companies have initiated interesting employee engagement practices. See how aware you are of them.

  1. This is an Acronym for a wealth generation option given to employees under holistic compensation philosophy. This seems to be back in action, as the domestic information technology (IT) industry is witnessing an upsurge in attrition rate. Indian IT companies like Infosys, which had put this on the back burner during the global slowdown, are understood to be revisiting it now.
  2. Between 2000 and 2009, the Adi Godrej group had a young executive board (YEB) which worked closely with the group management committee. The Mahindra group has sustained this concept for eight years. It gives young people the liberty to engage with problems and aids lateral thinking. This initiative exposes top management to a young team that innovates and thinks differently.
  3. This concept is related to making employees co-owners. The Future group of companies headed by Mr. Ashok Biyani is acquiring talent like Mr. V. Vaidyanathan of ICICI Prudential Life, by giving them a stake in the business they will be spearheading.
  4. In this initiative, the company has periodic discussions with the employees to understand any issues/apprehensions faced by them. The discussion also focuses on what makes them stay within the company, the reasons why employees wish to continue working for the organization. This gives the company a chance to do more of those things that employees enjoy. Patni practices this.
  5. A lot Indian of companies today are committed to contributing towards the betterment of the community and society at large. Activities such as the Blood Donation Camps, Christmas Day celebrations with underprivileged children etc develop among the employees, a pride of association towards the company, encouraging them to become responsible citizens.This is about having a contract between business and society, which allies profitable companies with healthy communities because what happens to societies happens to business. What is this employee engagement tool?
  6. “____________is about capturing the essence of an organization in a way that engages current and prospective talent. It expresses an organization’s ‘value proposition’—the entirety of its culture, systems, attitudes and employee relationships, providing a new focal point for the company.” Manmohan Bhutani, Vice President, People and Operations, Fiserv India.
  7. This feedback is provided to an employee by subordinates, peers, and supervisors. It also includes a self-assessment and, in some cases, feedback from external sources such as customers and suppliers or other interested stakeholders. This kind of feedback for Vineet Nayar, the CEO of HCL Technologies is posted on their intranet for all employees to see. He does not believe that all wisdom percolates downwards and believes in bottom up accountability. Even presentations at HCL Technologies are posted on their intranet for everyone to see and comment.
  8. Many companies have started using this for recruitment. For recruiters this low cost tool offers them a broad perspective about the candidate. It tends to bring forth certain traits and personalities of a candidate which may not be reflected in their resume. It also widens the talent pool for the employers and also fastens the recruitment process. It increases the brand visibility of the recruiter. From the applicants’ perspective, this helps them gain deeper insight into the company about certain facts and information which may not be readily available on the company website.


Determine your primary Conflict-Handling Intention: Activity Corner; V3 Issue 4

People have an underlying disposition to handle conflicts in certain ways. To determine your conflict-handling intention, indicate how often you rely on each of the following tactics by circling the number that you feel is most appropriate.



Place the number that represents your score for each statement next to the number for that statement. Then total up the columns.

Your primary conflict-handling intention is the category with the highest total. Your fall-back intention is the category with the second highest total. Each of the categories is explained below.

Competing: A desire to satisfy one’s interest, regardless of the impact on the other parties to the conflict.

Collaborating: A situation where the parties to a conflict each desire to satisfy fully the concerns of all parties.

Avoiding: The desire to withdraw from or suppress a conflict.

Accommodating: The willingness of one party in a conflict to place the opponent’s interests above his or her own.

Compromising: A situation in which each party to a conflict is willing to give up something.


Source: Robbins, SP, 1994, ‘Organizational Behavior’, 6th edition, Prentice Hall of India, New Delhi.

Are you an effective listener? : Activity Corner; V3 Issue 3

Listening is an important part of being able to communicate effectively. To determine whether you are an effective listener put yourself in the shoe of a colleague who talks to you regularly and respond to the following statements with a ‘Yes’ or a ‘No’. In fact to be doubly sure about how effective your listening skills are, also conduct this exercise with a colleague who you actually communicate with regularly at the workplace. Request him/her to respond honestly with a ‘Yes’ or a ‘No’.

1. You feel I pay undivided attention to you i.e., I am not doing something else simultaneously when you talk to me.


2. I do most of the talking even when I am listening to something that you want to communicate to me.


3. When you are talking to me I interrupt often and do not let you finish what you are saying.


4. I maintain eye contact with you most of the time when I am listening to you.


5. I encourage you to talk by responding appropriately with the nod of a head and with small verbal comments like “yes”, and “uh huh”. You don’t have to ask me “Are you listening?”


6. I do not ask you enough questions to clarify and understand what you are saying.


7. You feel I am able to understand your feelings along with the words spoken. I do get you.


8. If something you say does not agree with me, I often get defensive.


9. I am able to paraphrase effectively what you say most of the times and demonstrate to you that I have been listening and have understood most of what you have said.


10. You feel I do change my view point after having heard your views on a subject and having discussed the same at length with you.


Score your responses by giving a point to every ideal response of an effective listener. Similarly score the responses of your colleagues.

The more the ideal responses the better you are at listening. To ensure you have the right assessment about your listening skills, it is important that you have not just answered these questions yourself. The way we perceive our behaviour can be very different from the way we actually behave with others. The difference in the scores between the way you thought others feel about your listening skills and what others actually feel underlines the difference between self-perception and reality.

Determine who Controls Your Life: Activity Corner: V3 Issue 1

Locus of control is the degree to which people believe they are masters of their own fate. Internals believe that they are masters of their own fate. Externals see themselves as pawns of fate, believing that what happens to them in their lives is due to luck or chance.

To determine your locus of control read the following statements and indicate whether you agree more with choice A or choice B.


Scoring direction to “Determine who controls your life”

Give yourself 1 point for each of the following choices: 1B, 2A, 3A, 4B, 5B, 6A, 7A, 8A, 9B and 10A. Scores can be interpreted as follows:

The higher your internal score, the more you believe that you control your own destiny. The higher your external score, the more you believe that what happens to you in your life is due to luck or chance. Internals typically are more satisfied with their jobs and more involved in their jobs.

Source: Robbins, SP, 1994, ‘Organizational Behavior’, 6th edition, Prentice Hall of India, New Delhi.

Guess the "Turnaround Company": Activity Corner; V2 Issue 3

Guess the ‘Turnaround Company’

There could well be a million ways that a company's profitability graph can take a down swing and it can fall in the red. The introduction of new competitors could change the commercial landscape. Fresh business processes mayhave bypassed standard industry operating procedures. Acquired units might have failed to integrate effectively. Executives could have been caught with their hands in the cookie jar. No matter the reason, the turnaround is a catch-all phrase that captures what usually happens next, a term that mostly signals that there is light at the end of the tunnel. A decent chance that corporate leaders can right past wrongs and brighten dim-looking futures.

Guess which ‘turnaround’ organisations are featured in the clues below:

  1. This Car Company's growth became stagnant and it moved into a low-market situation in 1982 after its Chairman’s departure. The turnaround centred on a four-year planning and production program for their "European-like" Taurus mid-market line of cars, which eventually won "car-of-the-year" accolades.

  2. Restructuring the company by laying off workers and eliminating management jobs, the CEO redirected the productive thrust from electrical manufacturing to high technology, eliminating or selling businesses such as house wares, developing such others as plastics, medical imaging and financial services, and seeking "integrated diversity" by acquiring companies, notably RCA in 1985 for $6.28 billion in cash.

  3. Since the 1880s, this organisation has been a name synonymous with photography. But in the 1980s this corporation faced unprecedented challenges from competitors. For the first time, they failed to meet their profit goals and faced a do-or-die situation. Team Zebra succeeded not through new technologies, but through a new commitment to their inner resources that unleashed creativity, risk-taking, teamwork, and excellence. It pulled off "the turnaround of the decade" and reminds us that the power to succeed lies within our people and the way in which they're inspired, motivated, and included.

  4. Exclusively patented copying machine fell monumentally behind world competition by early 1980. However due to it’s strong leadership and a successfully executed program of product and service quality, it became "the first major American company targeted by the Japanese to regain market share from them." A strategy that contributed to their resurrection was introducing quality based on customer satisfaction and an unusual manufacturing and marketing concept.  The company slashed assembly costs by almost 50% while doubling output and improving performance using innovative production techniques and greater receptivity to new ideas.

  5. The basic plank of the turnaround of this Indian public service transportation enterprise was its shift towards market orientation and customer focus.  Some of the strategies adoptedto control costs were retrenchment, improving efficiencies, outsourcing and technology upgradations, non-politicizing of the decision making process which turned around this organisation from loss to profitability.

  6. This Indian beverages company used debt restructuring to reduce interest costs and injected funds where possible to replace high cost debt.  It also acquired a firm with global retailing operations that were complementary to its domestic operations and therefore succeeded in steering the organisation towards profitability.

  7. Acquiring the commercial vehicles unit of a bankrupt Korean firm, and enhancing its product portfolio this Indian company’s net profit zoomed to 163% when it was able to profitably use Korea as a base for exports to the Asian markets.

  8. This Indian auto components maker acquired a loss making European re-manufactured engines firm and turned it around with better cost controls.  Its main aim was to get hold of order books and then shift production to India to bring about cost economies.


  1. Ford Motor Company
  2. General Electric Corporation
  3. Kodak
  4. Xerox
  5. Indian Railways
  6. Tata Tea (acquired Tetley)
  7. Tata Motors (acquired Daewoo commercial vehicles unit)
  8. Continental Engines (acquired ATK Vege Motors, Europe)

Emerging Trends: Activity Corner; V2 Issue 2

Are you keeping track of these emerging trends?

Listed below are descriptions of different products, services, technologies and practices that are representative of the different trends that we are seeing today. Some of them are in areas that can improve workplace effectiveness. See how many you can identify.

1. It is a free service that allows users to send "updates" text-based posts, up to 140 characters long. Updates are displayed on the user's profile page and instantly delivered to other users who have signed up to receive them. The sender can restrict delivery to those in his or her circle of friends.

2. This is a portable device for storing and playing audio files. It can hold anywhere from a few hundred to ten thousand songs.

3. Initiatives related to this help companies make profits without sacrificing the resources of its people, the community and the planet.

4. This device supports push e-mail, mobile telepone, text messaging, internet faxing, web browsing and other wireless information services. It has a built-in keyboard, optimized for "thumbing" (the use of only the thumbs to type).

5. This is a website, usually maintained by an individual, with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse chronological order. The ability for readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important aspect.

6. This is a collection of web pages designed to enable anyone who accesses it to contribute or modify content. They are often used to create collaborative websites and to power community websites.

7. These are web applications that draw upon content retrieved from external data sources to create entirely new and innovative services. They are popular because of the emphasis on interactive user participation and the manner in which they aggregate and stitch together third-party data.


1. Twitter. Media such as CNN use Twitter to break news. The American Red Cross uses Twitter to exchange minute-to-minute information about local disasters. In May 2007, there were 111 such "Twitter look-alikes" internationally. Most of these have emerged due to Twitter's success.

2. iPod. In addition to playing MP3 audio files, the iPod plays AAC (Advanced Audio Coding). AAC’s principle difference from MP3 is its ability to support Digital Rights Management (DRM). DRM is a response to the type of song sharing first enabled by websites like Napster. By encoding legally purchased songs with digital signatures, it increases the difficulty of sharing them inappropriately.

3. Sustainability or Being Green. Companies are doing this by developing greener products and services (designed to have less adverse effect on the environment), and by being more focused internally on operating with greater energy efficiency, cutting their own costs and reducing the "carbon footprint"(carbon emmissions) they leave.

4. Blackberry. It was first introduced in 1997 as a two-way pager. Today, they are popular with some businesses, where they are primarily used to provide e-mail access to roaming employees.

5. Blog. Political consultants, news services and policital candidates have began using them as tools for opinion forming.  The emergence of blogging has however also brought about legal liabilities and unforeseen consequences. In India, blogger Gaurav Sabnis resigned from IBM after his posts exposing the false claims of a management school, IIPM, led to management of IIPM threatening to burn their IBM laptops as a sign of protest against him. As of December 2007, blog search engine Technorati was tracking more than 112 million blogs.

6. Wiki. The collaborative encyclopedia Wikipedia is one of the best known wikis. Wikis are used in businesses to provide affordable and effective intranets and for knowledge management. The open philosophy of most wikis, allows anyone to edit content. Wikis tend to take a soft security approach to the problem of vandalism; making damage easy to undo rather than attempting to prevent damage.

7. Mashups.The ChicagoCrime.org Web site is an example. It mashes crime data from the Chicago Police Department's online database with cartography from Google Maps. Users can interact with the mashup site, such as instructing it to graphically display a map containing pushpins that reveal the details of all recent burglary crimes in an area.

So which category do you belong to?

a. You were not aware of them
b. You have heard of them
c. You knew about them
d. You use them


1. en.wikipedia.org
2. http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/xml/library/x-mashups.html
3. http://www.networkworld.com/news/2007/080307-sidebar-companies-of-allsizes.html?zb&rc=dc_desktops

Identify the Industry: Activity Corner; V2 Issue 1

Can you identify these industries?

Some of them are booming, some are struggling and others are yet to take off. See if you can identify these industries in India based on the clues provided below.

    1. In terms of numbers this industry in India is the biggest in the world. Until the late 1990s, it was not even recognised as an industry. Even though it has since been recognised as an industry, banks and other financial institutions continue to avoid the industry due to the enormous risks involved in the business.

    2. Leading companies in this industry spend approximately 10% of its revenue on research and development. India’s share in the global market is less than 2% in value terms as the product prices in India are one of the lowest in the world.

    3. In Indian company took over an Anglo Dutch company to become the 5th largest group company in this industry. Incidentally this is the largest Indian takeover of a foreign company.

    4. Being in its nascent stage, this highly labour intensive industry in India has not been very stable. While the primary work coming to India is through outsourcing work related to films, ads and gaming, the industry is now slowly moving up to the next level of maturity.

    5. India has the fastest growing market in this industry. A global player viz., a British company bought stake in India's fourth largest firm in this industry. Regulatory changes and reforms in the last 10 years have tremendously helped this industry. The rapid strides made by India in harnessing the off shoring opportunity would not have been possible without developments in this industry.

    6. This industry has grown at breakneck speed due to entry of low cost players. But almost all players are making losses. Due to intense competition and declining margins, a process of consolidation has commenced through mergers and acquisitions. This will bring about synergies in operations and optimal utilization of resources in this capital intensive sector.


    1. Film - Though India’s overall entertainment industry is becoming professional with the rise of TV production companies, India's movie industry per se remains highly informal, personality oriented and family dominated.

    2. Pharma - Overall drugs manufacturing in India is up to 50% cheaper than in western industrial countries.

    3. Steel - Corus was taken over by Tata Steel. Before the takeover Tata Steel was only the world's 56th biggest steel producer and its takeover of Corus represented its first expansion outside Asia.

    4. Animation - India has the potential to be recognized as an animation hub, if education facilities, availability of funds and infrastructure improve. Developing original content that appeal to audiences in America, UK, and Europe will also contribute to its growth.

    5. Telecom - British mobile telecom major Vodafone bought stake in India's fourth largest mobile firm Hutch-Essar.

    6. Airline - Mergers include that of Kingfisher and Air Deccan, Jet Airways and Air Sahara, Air India and Indian Airlines. India has the fastest growing number of passengers in the world. Industry optimists feel that this growth will take care of its current problems.

What are your Career Anchors? : Quiz; March'08

Career anchors are distinct patterns of self perceived talents, abilities, motives, needs, attitudes and values that guide and stabilise a person’s career after years of real world experiences and feedback.

To determine your career anchors give a response (SA= Strongly agree, A=Agree, D=Disagree, SD= Strongly disagree) that best describes your feelings about each statement below.

    1. I would leave my company rather than be promoted out of my area of expertise.

    2. Becoming highly specialized and highly competent in some specific functional or technical area is important to me.

    3. A career that is free from organization restriction is important to me.

    4. I have always sought a career in which I could be of service to others.

    5. A career that provides a maximum variety of types of assignments and work projects is important to me.

    6. To rise to a position in general management is important to me.

    7. I like to be identified with a particular organization and the prestige that accompanies that organization

    8. Remaining in my present geographical location rather than moving because of a promotion is important to me.

    9. The use of my skills in building a new business enterprise is important to me.

    10. I would like to reach a level of responsibility in an organization where my decisions really make a difference.

    11. I see myself more as a generalist as opposed to being committed to one specific area of expertise.

    12. An endless variety of challenges in my career is important to me.

    13. Being identified with a powerful or prestigious employer is important to me.

    14. The excitement of participating in many areas of work has been the underlying motivation behind my career.

    15. The process of supervising, influencing, leading and controlling people at all levels is important to me.

    16. I am willing to sacrifice some of my autonomy to stabilize my total life situation.

    17. An organization that will provide security through guaranteed work benefits, a good retirement, and so forth is important to me.

    18. During my career I will be mainly concerned with my own sense of freedom and autonomy.

    19. I will be motivated throughout my career by the number of products that I have been directly involved in creating.

    20. I want others to identify me by my organization and my job.

    21. Being able to use my skills and talents in the service of an important cause is important to me.

    22. To be recognized by my title and status is important to me.

    23. A career that permits a maximum of freedom and autonomy to choose my own work, hours and so forth is important to me.

    24. A career that gives me a great deal of flexibility is important to me.

    25. To be in a position in general management is important to me.

    26. It is important for me to be identified by my occupation.

    27. I will accept a management position only if it is in my area of expertise.

    28. It is important for me to remain in my present geographical location rather than move because of a promotion or new job assignment.

    29. I would like to accumulate personal fortune to prove myself and others that I am competent.

    30. I want to achieve a position that gives me the opportunity to combine analytical competence with supervision of people.

    31. I have been motivated throughout my career by using my talents in variety of different areas of work.

    32. An endless variety of challenges is what I really want from my career.

    33. An organization that will give me long run stability is important to me.

    34. To be able to create or build something that is entirely my own product or idea is important to me.

    35. Remaining in my specialized area as opposed to being promoted out of my area of expertise is important to me.

    36. I do not want to be constrained by either organization or the business world.

    37. Seeing others change because of my efforts is important to me.

    38. My main concern in life is to be competent in my area of expertise.

    39. The chance to pursue my own lifestyle and not be constrained by the rules of an organization is important to me.

    40. I find most organizations to be restrictive and intrusive.

    41. Remaining in my area of expertise, rather than being promoted into general management is important to me.

    42. I want a career that allows me to meet my basic needs through helping others.

    43. The use of my interpersonal and helping skills in the service of others is important to me.

    44. I like to see others change because of my efforts.

Scoring Key

Score your responses by writing the number that corresponds to your responses. (SA=4, A=3, D=2, SD=1) to each question in the space next to the item number. Then obtain subscale scores by adding your sore on the items indicated and then divide by the number of items in the scale.

The types of career anchors are:-

  1. Technical competence: You organize career around the challenge of the actual work you are doing.
  2. Autonomy: You value freedom and independence.
  3. Service: You are concerned with helping others or working on an important cause.
  4. Identity: You are concerned with status, prestige and titles in your work.
  5. Variety: You seek an endless variety of new and different challenges.
  6. Managerial competence: You like to solve problems and want to lead and control others.
  7. Security: You want stability and career security.
  8. Creativity: You have a strong need to create something of your own.

Ask yourself ..On which anchor did I receive the highest score? What jobs fit best with this anchor? Use your analysis to select the right job and career for you. You will function best when your job fits with your career anchor. 

Source: Robbins, SP, 1994, ‘Organizational Behavior’, 6th edition, Prentice Hall of India, New Delhi

Find Out How Optimistic You Are! : Quiz, Aug'07

Optimism contributes to emotional intelligence and job success in the workplace.

  • If you are an optimist you see the world as positive, safe and enjoyable. You dedicate your thinking to solving problems and finding new approaches.
  • If you are a pessimist you may view the world as dangerous and likely to get worse. You probably dedicate much of your thinking to worrying and expecting the worst.

To determine how optimistic you are complete the following optimism quiz. If a statement describes the way you act or think more than half the time, write T otherwise write F.

Scoring Direction: