How to make it to the more wanted employee list

Geetanjali Pandit enumerates factors of stickiness against the dreaded pink slip.

Geetanjali Pandit enumerates factors of stickiness against the dreaded pink slip.

One of the most difficult tasks I have had to implement in organizations is that of right sizing and of optimization of manpower. It is not a mere execution of management diktat. There are so many factors and so many business compulsions that lead to this call.

Even more difficult and complex is the task of ensuring minimal collateral damage - no organization, no management would like to lose the high performers nor is it ever an exercise in random selection. Managing the fall out on the rest of the organization is even a greater challenge. Each time, criteria linked to performance, to discipline and to pure economics (e.g. a non performing business unit) are articulated and then, implemented.

As a human resource practitioner, I have come to understand and appreciate the qualities exhibited by those who are not pink slipped and the common reasons of those who are - except where a particular business needs to be shut down due to the economics factor.

The most organizational stickiness is evident for the high performer. Any criteria that get spelt out for the downsizing process will safeguard the performer. If you have treated your work as a vital asset and have given stellar performance (and sustained it over a period of time), you have firewalled yourself against the downsizing exercise.

Does it sound too simplistic?? Well, the truth is not necessarily complex. You may say that this is not true and that you have witnessed the boss’s favorite chamcha, the sycophant, the one who cozies up the boss and says all the politically correct things in the politically correct places is equally safe and perhaps safer than the true performer.

While no criteria can be a 100 percent fool proof and some of the chamchas can slip through, usually they do get filtered out if the only skill is boss pleasing. The combination that does not get filtered out easily is the fair performer who is also the boss’ favorite.
But the rule of thumb is that those who perform well and consistently so, are usually protected by the team managers and the function heads. Their names will not figure in any exit list. Performance is the foundation.

Collaboration builds on the foundation and the factor of just plain congeniality at the workplace carries a fair weight-age in the exit plan. If you have stepped up to help others, you will be perceived to be helpful and supportive and this naturally creates a factor of stickiness. The ability to be collaborative and supportive is one of genuine helpfulness and initiative. It is not rooted in a desire to put others down nor to shine oneself as an example of individual brilliance.

Even the average performer scores well on the stickiness rating when he or she combines consistent performance with workplace collaboration and lends a helping hand to colleagues

Stickiness itself is helped when you display positivity in words and actions. In every company, in every organization there are folks who keep holding on to the negativity of “nothing works here”, OR “this company is a lousy employer” and so on…. They may not be aware of how deeply this negativity impacts their environment and their fellow workers. It certainly leaves a bitter residue in the minds of those who will take a decision on whom to let go.

Now you may ask what happens when the negative person also happens to be a high performer? Is he or she fired or not??

Well, there is enough understanding and enough research and really, enough practical observation that the consistent high performer is NOT negative. Once you enter the orbit of negativity it becomes increasingly difficult to churn out good performance. So the conflict does not really arise.

Another factor that increases stickiness is the good old work ethic of discipline. Discipline is not just the ethic of reaching on time and clocking out on time. It is the way you work and conduct yourself. It is about meeting timelines and about remaining committed to the work you do.

The way we are at the workplace can be summed up in the factors of integrity and competence. I see integrity of performance, finances and of doing my best as the single over arching factor that creates stickiness. It boils down to ensuring retention through our personality at work.

The author is a senior human resources leader and is presently the chief people`s officer at Zee Media Corporation.