Its so difficult to say a "Hello"

Employee Engagement !!! Wow..what a fancy term !!! What does it mean, Engaging with employees to develop better working relationships in today’s environment. And what it takes …well frankly nothing but an attitude of reaching out to people irrespective of their external traits like attire, looks, body odour, proficiency in Enlgish Language etc…. But are we adept to this philosophy….Quite frankly …to answer in short …NO.

Now, why am I writing this. Just for the background for this whining scribe, let me explain whats on my plate now and how much I abhor this work.

I have been entrusted with this mammoth so called Organizational Awakening project of creating Employee Engagement in this Calendar Year. And have been entrusted with the task of putting together a Blue Book (why do they call it that…why not White, or Red or Say Burgundy…how does it matter), for this. So here I am sitting on a Technologically faulty chair which is extremely comfortable to my posterior, and trying to tickle the remotest corners of my CPU (read Brain), to get this EUREKA idea of how to “Create” Employee Engagement. And I am irritatet, frustrated, exasperated to no end about it. You may ask why…of course you are entitled to ask that ….!!! Because, my common sense tickles me in the ribs as if to mock me and ask me, “Hey can you create employee engagement, isnt it supposed to be a given hygiene factor of Modern Corporate world?”. And am speechless. So its a battle of Organizational Requirement and my Conscience. Somewhere we have to meet and patch up.

But, come to think of it I am not angry with the system or people, but I am perplexed with the entire phenomenon, as to why should we drive such a fundamental thing which every people manager should do first before even opening their emails.

Lets see where I am coming from. I go to a wedding. Meet new people. Completely alien atmosphere. How do I get myself comfortable? Well, exchange pleasantries…Hello, Hi..How Are you ..the works. Then chat up work, life, family et al. After some time, we find ourselves surrounded by at least a couple of known faces and before we can say Jack Robinson, we are at home, laughing gregariously and having a good time…in short…we have been accepted by the larger group. Typically thats a pattern.

So why should this mode be different in the corporate jungle. Why do we take so much time to say “Hello, Good Morning, How are you? How was yesterday? How was your weekend…what did you do?”. We are completely awestruck with Phirungs who do this so effortlessly but our culture or stiffness stops us short of doing the same towards our own colleagues. One person who is so jovial, caring, understanding, witty, and informal in Domestic Family life….undergoes a complete personality transformation when he / she is in the Work place. Then to say “Hello” he needs a calendar invite or a structures 1X1.

Sometimes I wonder have we forgotten the essence of the olden days when neighbours used to wake up and share a warm Hello with everyone in neighbourhood and the trend used to continue throughout the day. The local shopkeeper used to remember even the small occassions like birthdays in every house in the locality, the postman use to know everyone by name, the local ferrywalla used to know how to sell his wares, because he knew exactly what will work with each of the housewives in the locality…such was the society then. We never needed a formal invite to say “Hello, How do you do?”.

But today, the Gated Community has given us a secured and luxurious lifestyle but taken us away from our next door neighbours, We have emails, and the phallacy is we communicate with the person on the neighbouring desk in our using emails and IM or Con Calls, We have fully lit supermarkets in the neighbourhood and we are happy to go and pick out of many snazzy brands however impersonal the sales staff is…..and sadly all these have made us “PROFESSIONAL” which has been misinterpreted into being mechanical, unemotional, unempathetic, cold and formal. Today, we feel its too soft to smile at everyone in the office. Today we feel, asking someone about their well being can be misread as being too mild…..Where have we landed ourselves?

And so here I am ….making a Blue Book to spend some million dollars over a project whose main idea is to give certain tools to the managers to make their subordinates feel good and special so that they choose to spend more time in the org…so that the ever spiralling attrition numbers can be arrested…so that we can have a better employee satisfaction scores.

Might sound strange and awkward and a bit gawky amidst a serious organizational article…but what the heck …who cares …I think its time to draw a leaf out of the Tales of Munnabhai !!! Give your people a mental hug (Physical might border too thin on the boundaries of Sexual Harrassment), whenever they feel low….Ask them “What happenned….What Can I do For you” when they feel hassled…I think thats a much better method of making someone feel special rather than a blue book.

Cmon managers, open those firmly clasped arms, and exercise those stiff upper lips…the Cure of engagement is in your pocket…..spare me from the agony of writing a blue book !!!!


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