Monce Abraham

Posts Tagged ‘winning’

Getting the best from others: Where does one start? – II (The Workforce ‘Three Quadrant Quandary’)

In Building Culture, Management, People Management, Strategy on January 3, 2012 at 22:15

Almost a year back I had written a post on “Getting the best from your team: Where does one start? – I” where I had explored a couple of ideas that a startup had applied towards building a great motivated team.

The year 2011 has been a great one in terms of meeting different people and getting to learn a lot via interaction as well as via plain ol’ observation. Just a couple of weeks back, whilst I had the fabulous opportunity to interact with Tan Yinglan, and we all were in Bengaluru along with a colleague’s friends from the city, the banter drifted to the topic of performance appraisals at a well known global IT firm – easier said than done!

During the 5 minutes or so that the group was discussing the general concerns of people & performance in huge organizations, my mind drifted back to something I had learned during the first 6 months of my work life, and which I have now fondly named “The Workforce ‘Three Quadrant Quandary’.”

The Workforce ‘Three Quadrant Quandary’

This started out as a funny concept which I observed whilst I had just started working right out of college, but one which has started making more and more sense over the years. Whilst it is ‘relatively easier’ to gauge and manage people strengths and weaknesses when working in smaller organizations, it becomes more and more complex as the organization scales up; more so when we start thinking of organizations where we have 500-1000+ employees (we have a good number of firms flaunting these kind of numbers in their workforce).

In an organization, people can generally be classified under the following quadrants:

The Workforce ‘Three Quadrant Quandary’
For ease of understanding, +1 indicates a positive display of the characteristic (Knowhow/ Showhow) whereas 0 denotes a lack of the same.


Quad I: +1 Knowhow, +1 Showhow

These are the visible S.T.A.R.S. in your organization. They know the work, and (a) they are smart enough to let others know about their genuine efforts or (b) they are lucky enough to be recognized for their genuine efforts.

These are the ones who will keep taking your organization to the next level(s) as long as you keep providing them with right opportunities that help them grow, and which gives them a sense of achievement. Work on them, groom them for the next level (as they become intrapreneurs)… and needless to say, please make it a point to make sure you put in your efforts to retain them!

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Atlas Shrugged – Answers to Questions you never knew existed, deep inside your being – II

In Branding, Building Culture, Management, Self Awareness on December 20, 2011 at 10:06


“In the old days, it used to be said that the Twentieth Century Motor trademark was as good as the karat mark on gold. I don’t know what it was that the Starnes heirs thought, if they thought at all, but I suppose that like all social planners and like savages, they thought that this trademark was a magic stamp which did the trick by some sort of voodoo power and that it would keep them rich, as it had kept their father. Well, when our customers began to see that we never delivered an order on time and never put out a motor that didn’t have something wrong with it – the magic stamp began to work the other way around: people wouldn’t take a motor as a gift, if it was marked Twentieth Century. And it came to where our only customers were men who never paid and never meant to pay their bills. But Gerald Starnes, doped by his own publicity, got huffy and went around, with an air of moral superiority, demanding that businessmen place orders with us, not because our motors were good, but because we needed the orders so badly.”

Having published the first of the two sections from Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand) that inspired me, it was only appropriate that my next post be about the second section from this epic of a book, that has left such a deep impression on me.

To be honest, it was very difficult for me to go through this part of the book the first time around; for the sole reason that the time spent reading this section was one where I was totally repulsed by the description given in the pages.

Now one might say that ‘repulse’ is too strong a word to be used in the context of a particular section of a book. Alas, that was the exact emotion that I experienced while going deeper into the pages. When one starts imagining the kind of transition that envelopes an organization, where people outdo each other to do the worst they can, hiding their own ability and… staking their claim on other’s; the plot leaves a huge lump in one’s throat which stays there, much to his/ her discomfort. Any system that rewards non-performers at the cost of performers is bound to fail, or develop cracks from within, sooner or later; should we consider a time period of 5 yrs, or one which spans 50. 

Not to take anything away from the books and articles that I have read (and learnt from) over the years, but, this section taught me more about the essence of people management and understanding and managing (the right kind of) people’s expectations in the 2 days that were spent reading this section, than all the time I had spent reading about Reward, Recognition and Training (Winning anyone?!) and rest all jazz that HBR and other fabulous (albeit random!) sources line up in my mailbox every day around noon or later.

Of all the things that I am grateful for, the one thing that this section helped me with most, was to learn to Let Go…  of learning (laying to rest parts of myself – perceivably good or harmful, that do not serve me in the long run), situations and people.

Trust you too will find something relevant to take back from this section, each and every time you read this. 

p.s.: Feel free to bookmark, for all those times you may wish to revisit this.

Cheers, Monce

(An answer that still eludes me: How did Ayn Rand know all that she did? And what experiences did she undergo to learn the same? )


The Story of The Twentieth Century Motor Company from ‘Atlas Shrugged’

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