Monday, April 27, 2009

Don't Let the Economy Get You Down

I found this good article by Michael Wood suggesting the needed attitude and the steps to be taken in this time of economic crisis especially by the employers.

So, here we are, in the midst of perhaps the worst recession in U.S. history. And although originally fueled by bad lending practices in the housing market, the new fuel is the fear, uncertainty and doubt engulfing consumers. Yes, the great U.S. consumption engine that the world relies on is coming to an abrupt halt just as unemployment numbers are soaring.

For those who have jobs, there lingers a nagging fear that those jobs are not secure, as fellow workers and friends get laid off, retirement accounts get ravaged and cost controls eclipse opportunities for growth. It isn’t surprising that issues related to declining morale and productivity has become commonplace in the workplace. IT is not immune to this situation, and finding ways to stabilize and improve morale within the IT ranks has become increasingly difficult.

Leaders need to understand that in recessionary times, it is anything but business as usual. They need to introduce counter-measures to break the cycle of fear that emotionally and physically grips employees. The conventional wisdom points to frequent and honest communication and increased employee recognition programs as ways to improve morale. Consider the following from “Impact of the Recession on Employee Morale” from
“Instead of deliberately and consistently communicating with employees, employers will go into 'shut down' mode. The result will be increased fear among employees and mistrust of management.

Communicate constantly to minimize uncertainty. Uncertainty arouses the fear circuits in the brain and is an absolute killer to employee productivity. When people are unsure about the stability of their organization, their standing with their boss or supervisor, or a clear understanding of what’s expected of them, most assume the worst. The ensuing stress decreases the amount of a chemical called dopamine in the brain, a chemical that is critical for clear thinking and reasoning by the prefrontal cortex. Continuous uncertainty can also increase the levels of Cortisol in the body, too much of which can permanently damage both the brain and the circulatory system.”

So it appears that continuous doses of fear create physically debilitating effects. But is the conventional wisdom enough to remedy the situation? Today, employees need more than empty reassurances and pats on the back. They need to see evidence that management has a workable approach to regrouping and returning to a stable and predictable work environment. Here is an approach that might help management move in that direction.

Develop a formal set of downsizing rules and scenarios that consciously quantify the trade-offs and impact on customer retention, employee service levels and owner value. Each scenario would be event-triggered, objective and fair. For example an organization that wants to keep reductions in the workforce as a last resort might choose the following sequence of events if downsizing is required:

  • Elimination of all bonuses and discretionary perks for upper and middle management – to demonstrate sacrifices will be top down.
  • Reduction in executive pay to the previous 3 to 5 year levels – to demonstrate sacrifices will be top down.
  • Monetization of non-performing passive investments (land, buildings, etc.)
  • Reduction in Inventory (more frequent replenishment) to preserve cash flow
  • Aggressive accounts receivable collection efforts to accelerate cash flow
  • Hiring freeze – without rehire using attrition to achieve FTE goals
  • Early retirement incentives – without rehire using attrition to achieve FTE goals
  • Elimination of matching 401k contributions with pledge to resume once business improves.
  • Reduction in subsidized medical insurance costs with pledge to resume once business improves.
  • Reduced work week options such as 4 day / 32 hour week, unpaid leave with benefits, etc.
  • Reductions in pay geared to wage brackets (i.e. 100k and up employees take 15% where under 40k employees take 3%)
  • Reductions in force based on performance ratings and tailored to the value each organizational unit delivers and balanced with service level support requirements.
While this is just an example, it illustrates the kind of proactive planning that once communicated to employees fosters trust and allows them to monitor events that could lead up to their release.

More than ever, employees need to be able to communicate to their families the current state of financial risk they are facing in a way that minimizes surprises. IT can provide management with the monitoring metrics to assist it in forecasting the impact of scenario triggering events. This information can be shared openly with the workforce helping to forge a connection that conveys “we are all in this together."

What are your organizations doing to foster positive morale during this recession? How is it working? What would you change? Share your stories with fellow gantthead members. Start a discussion group thread or a GIG


Chevrolet UVA servicing experience (problems) at Orange Auto Hyderabad

I bought a used Chevrolet UVA LS 2007 modal 6 months back and decided to give it for servicing since I felt the difference in performance and fuel efficiency. Since, this is the first time that I'm giving car for service and since I was not much aware of the car terminology I took the help of forums. When I got to learn the names of a few terms that I can use at the time of service I went to Orange auto Pvt. Ltd., Sanathnagar, Hyderabad.

I thought my experience there at the service station would help some one. So, posting this review.

When I entered the compound, the security guard showed me the place to park. I parked the vehicle and waited out side the car for nearly 7 minutes looking at the group of people chit chatting wearing sky blue shirts. When I felt that no one is interested to come forward to attend me I took a proactive step to approach the group then one of the guys walked towards me then crossed me and started writing the car number on the job card. I said 'Hi' and that guy looked at my face and said .....nothing.

Okkkay! typical Hyderabadi.

From here onwards every thing is proactive no initiative from the guy. I started telling him the problems, which I had already written on a paper(just in case if I forget the terminology). The guy (service Advisor), didn't get the terms Rattling and ORVM. So, I said noise in the door and he started slamming the door and I told him that we need to go for a test ride to listen to the noises. He called up a mechanic and we went for a test run and the mechanic smartly told what to write in the job card and showed the origination of the rattle in the door and in the dashboard to the service Advisor.

After the test run, we went into the office and there the service Adviosr opened the service history of my car (which showed 1 major and 1 minor accidental jobs, which the previous owner of the car kept secret from me) and the shocking thing is that the previous service was done at 15,000 KMs. No service at 20k and 25k (By the time I bought the car it ran 27k). Now it is 31,200KM. So, had to replace air and fuel filters, and the spark plug. The service advisor was sure that if I do not go for the replacement of these the car will break down in between. Okay....people in Hyderabad are not so friendly to push the car to atleast side of the road. So, I said change them.

I gave the car at 11:15AM on Saturday and they said it will be ready by Sunday afternoon 1PM.

I got a call from the floor incharge saying that I need to change the brake pads otherwise the drum/disk's life time will be reduced drastically. I said okay, the pads cost around 1500/-

Pity me I was expecting a call from them when the vehicle is ready instead I had to call them at 3:30PM on Sunday. Some one picked up and took my number saying that he would call to let me know the status. I had to call after 30mins and this time a lady picks up and again asks for my number so that should would call and let me know the status. Okay, I gave the number again and this time I did get the call saying that they are addressing the noise in the door and the vehicle would be ready by 5:30 PM.

I was at the service station at 5:20PM. I could hardly find a person in the office. All the front desk seats are empty. I had to look around for more than 10 mins and found a service advisor. I told him the vehicle number. He took the job card and glanced at it and just went off without uttering a single word. From the office I could see my vehicle being taken for water wash by a a toy...with sudden brakes...making lots of sounds...scaring the other cars parked around.

Water wash??? after the customer is there at the correct time you told him to pickup the vehicle??? The service Advisor who took the job card came to me after 20mins and returned the...nono..I was not so lucky that day...he just returned the job card not the car and again he is so calm as if I told him "you have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a....". I had asked him whether the car is ready. He said that they have taken it for water wash. ok.

He came to me again after 15mins with a bunch of papers and handed them over to me and said "pay the Bill, Sir". Awesome, I should not expect the bill to be explained. ok again.

I went through the bill and asked him where did they use Fevikwik. Guess his answer..."they used it to stick some thing sir..". Perfect answer. Ok...nope Not okay this time.

I had to en route my words to come from a filter less tongue (which is the only way to get things done most of the times in this part of the Earth). After a couple of minutes of talk with that guy he is straight and went through the whole bill once and then explained me everything and Fevikwik is used to stick ORVM.

I said I would like to go for a test run before paying the money, so we went in to the garage where the washers are doing last minute touch ups to the tires(I believe polish). When they are done with the front 2 tyres, service advisor said 'enough' and those guys stopped the work. ok.

Now, that guy wants to sit in the driver seat and drive. The dumbest act I've ever experienced. I told him that I will drive and he came out of the car and the moment I sat in the car I could see the undone things. All the dust on the dashboard is as it is and on the mats they kept a cover that said (thanks you...welcome again...) when I lifted the cover and saw the mats were dirtier than they were when I gave for servicing. ok.

We left the compound, and the first revolution of the tyre on the road made all the rattling in 'n' number of places. It used to be n =2. Now, n = n.

Came back to the service station and showed him the job card that clearly says 'noise in the dash board and left door' and the bill shows a labor charge of 187/- for LHS door rattle. Service advisor started to convince me to visit some other time to fix the problem.

What to do now, took out the tongue filter again, this time a driver of 'Captiva' joined the voice (he had some billing problem).

I forced the service advisor to call the floor incharge and we went for a test drive again. After coming back from the test drive floor incharge assigned the work to a mechanic. I could make it out that the mechanic who was working on the problem is not a regular guy and he is finding it difficult to open the door screws. He could some how tighten the part producing the rattle but he couldn't put the opened door parts together. In the process he broke a plastic lever. The stores guy was already done with his accounts for the day and closed the store so he rejected the request for the new lever.

At last the floor incharge told me to come on the next day at 10:30AM, so that he can fix all the problems. I got a call from the service station that my vehicle is ready. So, I went there at around 11:45AM and went for a test run again and I could still hear the rattle from dashboard (The Door is not making any sound). Floor incharge told me that some A/C tubes are vibrating and that is what causing the sound and he said that it will take a lot of time to open the whole dash board and then investigate further. I said 'ok not this time'.

The dust on the dashboard is still there as it is. So, the car went again for a complete vacuum clean and water wash and then the billing took 30 mins.

The over all rating out of 10 that I gave in the feed back form is around 3.5 for the service.

The whole service costed me Rs.4800/-(including VAT). Right side ORVM costed Rs.366/- + Rs.80/-(labour charge). Just the glass. Chevy parts are indeed costly :).

The final verdict - I'm very very unsatisfied with the way they have finished things. My car looks so ugly now, with all the unevenly fit black color beading around the door glasses and couple of clearly visible (but small) scratches (must be by the screw driver slippage) on the left side door.

For my next service I will not visit this service station.

Friday, April 24, 2009


A Man started the day early having set his alarm clock

(MADE IN JAPAN) for 6 am.

While his coffeepot


was perking, he shaved with his

electric razor


He put on a

dress shirt


designer jeans



tennis shoes


After cooking his breakfast in his new

electric skillet


he sat down with his



to see how much he could spend today. After setting his



to the radio


he got in his car


filled it with GAS

(from Saudi Arabia)

and continued his search

for a good paying AMERICAN JOB.

At the end of yet another discouraging

and fruitless day

checking his


(made in MALAYSIA),

John decided to relax for a while.

He put on his sandals


poured himself a glass of



and turned on his



and then wondered why he can't

find a good paying job



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