Speak now or Forever remain silent

On 25th May an African American man was mercilessly killed by a White cop on the streets of Minnesota. His death and his final words were recorded and posted on social media. That video went viral like a wildfire and all the cops that were involved in this hideous act where charged of murder. His death caused protests not only in America but the entire world. Suddenly the entire world either turned their instagram photos black or decided to use #blacklivesmatter along with some that decided to use this situation to their advantage and started burning public property or looting. England pulled down the statue of a 17th century slave trader, New Zealand decided to remove the statue of John Hamilton who was believed to have enslaved Maoris, and recently Gandhi’s statue was removed in Ghana calling him to be racist. Mr.Floyds death united the whole world together and brought out the voice that was suppressed for many years due to so called supremacy. And all of this was happening when the world was busy fighting COVID. 

If the entire world can fight for the justice of one, why has the world kept quiet against the exodus of Hindu Pandits in India? As history recalls, the Hindus of the Kashmir Valley, were forced to flee the valley as a result of being targeted by Islamist insurgents during early 1990s. Kashmir valley during the early 1970’s was home to over 600,000 Hindu families. With constant killing and forceful conversion to Islam only 2000 family are now living in the valley with constant fear. In the year 1986 a prominent leader in Kashmir with the name of Tika Lal Taploo was mercilessly killed by JKLF which instilled fear in the Kashmiris Hindus. The whole idea behind doing this was to demand “Azad Kashmir” or Independant Kashmir to Islamic Countries. On 4th January 1990 Aftab, a Srinagar based newspaper released a message threatening all Hindus to either leave Kashmir or die by the hands of Hizbul Mujahideen.

Sheikh Abdullah in 1975 had agreed with the central government that Jammu and Kashmir would integrate the state into India. Although this decision was met with hostility and the opposition included Jamaat-e-Islami Kashmir and JKLF. Taking advantage of this situation, Pakistani ISI tried to speak more unrest with an intention to take over Kashmir. During the time when Abdullah being the governor forcefully changed the names of about 2500 villages from their native names to new Islamic names and called the Hindus as “mukhbir” or informers of the Indian government. Year 1984 say the profound rise in terrorism in the valley against Hindus which further leads to killing of few more Hindu prominent leaders. It was also believed that Abdullah had allowed Khalistan terrorist groups to train in India, although the sources for this are inconclusive. Farooq Abdulla was overthrown by G.M.Shah in a political coup, but G.M.Shah lacked peoples mandate, so to gain support he decided to join hands with Islamists to gain religious sentiments. This is when the actual fights between Hindus and Muslims started and the times turned worse when Gul Shah in 1986 said that “Islam khatre mein hain” meaning “Islam is in danger”, which lead to even more killings of Hindus in Kashmir. This was all happening with Congress leading the central government. Kashmir, known as the “Paradise on Earth” , suddenly became the “death valley”. The killings and forceful conversion continued in India for decades and it was only in 1995 a Village Defense Committee was organised to protect Hindus in remote areas. Killing and forceful conversion of Hindus in “Hindustan” is not a recent happening. It started in 1206 AD with Mahmud of Ghazni and is happening even today. All of this was forgotten until 2020 when Ajay Pandita Bharti was shot in the back, another cowardly act by the Islamic extremists. Even today Hindu women are kidnapped and forceful converted to Islam in Pakistan. In 2006 a Hindu temple in Pakistan was destroyed to make way for a commercial building. 

So here is my question to all the Hindus out there, are we still going to keep quiet? If eating pig in Pakistan is Haram because it is against their religion, then why was there an issue in India when the government said that killing cows is illegal because Hindus worship cows. All religious activities for Hindus were cancelled during COVID, then why were Muslim’s allowed to have their stalls open during Iftar. If saying something against Quran in Pakistan is equivalent to death penalty, then why cant a Hindu raise their voice when people say something against Ramayan. 

If countries like Pakistan or Malaysia can have Islam in majority then why cant Hindustan have Hindus in majority? Here is why, because we as Hindus are too scared, we are scared to raise our voice and fight for our own rights, because we have taken secularism too far. We as Hindus are good with sitting in the comfort of our own house, and post messages on social media. We as Hindus will wait for someone else to fight for us, but when will we unanimously stand up and raise our hand for what belongs to us. This is not the time to believe in old ideology ” that when someone slaps you on one side of the face, the show the other side of your face”. This is the time to show that unanimously we are the force that cannot be taken for granted.  I support the current Indian government CAA and NRC movement, I stand against all the so-called stand up comedians who mock the government as they think they are making intelligent remarks. I have the rights to shop where ever I want to shop .I support the current government’s Ram Mandir Initiative and I support  “Hindu Rashtra”.

I don’t have to tell you what you need to do, but if we don’t speak now, then please be aware that “You will forever remain silent”. 

Virus and us

mona lisa protection protect virus
Photo by Yaroslav Danylchenko on Pexels.com

It happened, and it happened too quickly especially when we did not expect it to happen and for it to spread so quickly. Where it originated is still a speculation, how it originated is also a speculation which is surrounded a lot by “he said, she said, they ate, they traveled and they hugged”. Who was the patient zero, was it first contracted in November 2019 or December 2019? Was it brought to Wuhan by an American soldier, or was is it that someone traveled from Wuhan to Italy and started an anti-racial hug campaign. But all we knew was that within a span of 4 months it had killed more than 180,000 people and that number is set to grow. This is for the first time a virus spread the most in our so called developed nations. This virus did not differentiate where you lived, how much you earned, what was your skin colour, what clothes you wore, how good was your makeup, how you posed for a photo, who appreciates you the most or what race you belonged to. All it did was it targeted our immune system and took with it a generation that lived through World War-2, the Cold War and also the Global Financial Crisis. All of a sudden all the borders were closed. We started living like cavemen, scavenging the necessity and stocking supplies thinking we will run out of food. The world that was connected was suddenly disconnected. A strong world force of 7.8 billion suddenly crumbled in front of a  virus that is only visible via a microscope. There is enough evidence to us to read about the virus, a lot of blame game, millions of theories, thousands of political gains, hence I will not speak about it anymore, but here is what we all have unknowingly learnt that I hope stays with us, which is very uncertain at this stage:

  • Find an alternative: We are called the fat world and that is the reality. Until recently going to the gym involved spending tons of money on trainers and how you look is very important. A lot of us had gym memberships that we never used. When the lockdowns happened gyms were the first to close. But as a superior species we found a way, we started going for walks. Online classes soared. Trainers who were really good at what they do started online classes. Everyone started cooking at home. We all turned into masterchef finding healthy recipes, because doctors said that the virus affects our immune system. I also realized that having a healthy lifestyle was the key to survival. I realized that “My Health is my Wealth”.
  • Rest and Reconnect: When being forced to do something, we retaliate and that is just a human nature. What I personally realised is that I was being true to my own mental health and took time to pause and reflect. With the busy lives we have been leading, due to the lock-down we have taken time to not only reconnect with a lot of our friends, but also reconnect with oneself. In our busy lives we were leading, we had forgotten to ask ourselves if we are “A-OK”. In the past few weeks we have video chatted with a lot of our long lost connections and I am sure it feels good. We live in an era where it is easy to create a “meme” but it was hard to connect with people. But with this lock-down we have spent time virtually connecting and revisiting. 
  • We can live with minimum: We will be the first generation to say that the cost of fuel has gone to zero. One of the most expensive commodities in the world was petrol. Due to social distancing and lock-down of various stages we have stopped using our cars. Due to borders being sealed, we have no air traffic. I know, my family has reduced unnecessary consumption’s and we are living in what we require. What we have realized is that we need each other, we need support and what we need is to be self content. 
  • Earth is healing: As humans we had forgotten that we share this space with other living organisms. We were eating what we could see, depleting our source and fishing out of requirement. Since the times humans have been locked indoors, our ozone is healing, we can see animals on the streets and our air quality has improved so much that people in the Northern region of India can see Mount Everest for the first time in 30 years. The world is healing and we are as well along with it. 
  • Sustain and save: We are all working from home. We are still doing the same activities but in a restricted manner. We have reduced our overall waste, we are saving time by reducing our travel time, we are looking into our pantry to see what we can use to cook delicious meals and we are reducing carbon emission. We are sustaining ourselves with what we have. We are saving every penny we can for that one rainy day. 

Yes a lot of industries have crumbled in these difficult times, but this is for the first time “shop small and support local” has become our mantra. Every country is looking out for themselves and making sure they can sustain their own borders. I am still happy to say that if given a chance I would love to have 2020  wiped out, but as a community we have grown. I personally cannot wait to get into a flight and travel, but at the same time I will be looking at cheaper options the next time I book a flight. 

I can now say, that I lived through the crisis where we, the so called superior species fought over “toilet paper”.

Building a culture of TRUST

It has been a while since I have written my thoughts down, but in the last few weeks I have seen my team work really hard and effectively to ensure all our customers have been taken care of. This is the beauty of working in the industry where “customer” is the key.

What I wanted to explore this time was looking at a model called “Adaptive Leadership”, a model that is built on only “Trust”, showing trust in the people you work with and also showing trust in the people you report to. This model is very tricky because it does not involve “giving up”, but it involves showing “support”. When I say giving up, I don’t mean giving up on people, but what I mean is giving up your ego as a leader. Below are some of the points that can assist you in being an adaptive leader:

  • It is ok to Fail: Embrace it, the best way to learn is to experiment and look at an intended outcome. The key is to keep moving forward and become more resilient and grow stronger. The stronger you, your team will follow you. It might sound odd but if you are not making mistakes and learning from them, then you are not trying hard enough
  • Become Agile: Adapt, look at ways you can adapt yourself to the situations instead of “your way or the highway”. Mold yourself with your team and their personalities instead of expecting the team to adapt to your style.
  • Be consistent in your values and rewards: Have culture at work. What I mean by culture is having a supportive environment where your team feels included. Ask your team for suggestions instead of forcing your views on them. Adaptive leaders create a shared sense of purpose instead of control.
  • Keep your circle virtuous and not vicious: Communicate properly with your teams and trust them not play them against each other.  Respect their skills and knowledge because they can give you actual customer insights. If your environment is volatile, uncertain and ambiguous being adaptive is your best approach.
  • Focus on the mission: Take your team on a journey with you, instead of creating a journey for them behind closed door. Ask for feedback, ask for suggestions, guide them in their career, walk them through your road-maps. This will help your team to focus on your mission collectively.

Being adaptive means articulating your intent clearly and keeping it real. This will help you build a dynamic team which will work on a common mission. Collaborate and communicate, become dynamic and embrace it. Stay accountable and make decisions keeping the consequences in mind. An adaptive leader has the ability to face relentless challenges by staying positive and always being optimistic.

Have a think about this……..

Support when they need it!!!

This morning at work I was having a conversation with one of my team member and they said something that caught me off guard. I did not know how to react, because all they said to me was, “I am so over it”. That got me thinking what makes an employee say these words. Is it because they feel “under-valued”, “under paid”,” over worked”,  “complacent” , ” stagnant growth”, or ” they have some personal issues”. These words can be very strong especially if they are uttered by a people leader.

Being a people leader myself , those words “I am over it”, got me thinking. I thought to myself what will I do if my entire team walks out on me tomorrow?. That will be my worst nightmare and my biggest fear. That also got me thinking, as a people leader what can I do differently to ensure my team feels valued and look to us for their career and not just a job. That reminded me of something Harvey Firestone had said , ” The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership”.

This brings to me to my next point is to self reflect on myself as to how can I support my team, instead of giving them instructions. What can I do to make work fun and not just a JOB. Some of things that came to my mind were:

  • Reset our values: Made a promise to myself to look at the “WHY” and not the “WHAT”. We all know “WHAT” we want, but do we know “WHY” we want it. This “WHY” will help me reconnect with my peers so I can be effective enough to make my team understand their importance. This value will make a positive impact which will help my team to work independently by using their own creativity. I need to reset my values to be able to influence my peers to reset theirs.
  • Encourage work life balance:  We get so engrossed into our daily work life that we forget our personal life. It is important to press pause for sometime to see your loved once. Boost your professional life while staying committed to your personal life.
  • Challenge your team: Doing the same thing again and again will lead stiff and bored working culture. Best way to activate the extra mile at work is to look up for a new challenge in your workplace. A healthy competition will do no harm. Give yourself a chance to get out “of your own comfort zone”.
  • Leader’s need to listen: When your employee wants to talk to you, it is important that you listen. Take their feedback on board and act real time. Have a real time connection and not when something has gone wrong. Do a pulse survey and daily check-ins. Listening and genuinely responding will help managers avoid productivity erosion caused by disengagement.
  • Recognize success: In 21st century combined with busy lifestyle we have become very quick to criticize but very slow in recognition. The best way to increase employee morale is to reward positive behavior. People don’t leave the organisation they leave people. You can only retain your employee’s if you genuinely care about their existence.

Making small changes to the way you carry yourself at work will assist with your agent morale. Delegate by all means, but be reasonable about it. Appreciate what your team does for you. Your people carry you, but that also means you need to carry your people as a leader. Lead from the front. To conclude, it is possible to improve your team morale, look at your own emotional intelligence and nurture your team to strive for excellence. Small changes will help in making big difference.

 

 

 

Your Employees are your Greatest Asset

Being associated with the contact center industry for over 11 years now, I have seen a lot of people come and go. Contact center’s are known to have the highest turnover of staff which always eats into the company’s reputation and financial margins. I never imagined I would say this but I love every aspect of contact center world and the most satisfying thing for me is to see my employees grow and take the next step in their career. A few months ago at a social event someone asked me why call centers and the only answer I could give them is, “why not”. People have a big misconception that contact center are at the lowest cap of the job ranking and there is no room for growth. In our industry there is growth for the right candidate, there is stability for the one looking for it, there is job satisfaction if you like to talk and most importantly there is money for one who likes to earn it.

Richard Branson always says, “Train people well enough so they can leave. Train them well enough that they don’t want to”. Your employees are your biggest asset if you let them to be. A few things that leads to attrition includes micromanagement, lack of trust, lack of respect, manipulation and lack of opportunity.

The one thing managers need to always remember is that your employees are doing the job for you. They are the backbone of your organization and hence it is important that they need to be respected. Challenge, recognition, culture, respect, support and growth is what they desire and as a manager it is your responsibility to provide that to them. It is important that you show them the path with utmost sincerity and guide them in succeeding. Open up to your team and ask them, ” what is that they desire”. If it is something that you can provide them in your organization then provide guidance, but if it is something you cannot then be honest let them know the truth. A few things that you can do as a manager are:

  • Guide: Show your employees the path. Share your experiences. Get them to practice. Switch roles if needed. Get them to sit in your meetings, or best get them to conduct the meetings. Provide them with your company’s goals and help them blend in the company’s aspirations. Let them learn from their own mistakes, but make sure you don’t let them repeat the same mistakes.
  • Respect: In order to gain respect, one needs to show respect. Respect the job your employees are doing. They face your customers and a dis-grunted employee means unhappy customers. Be tough but be fair. Don’t let your employees become your liability.
  • Teach: Coaching and motivation are very important at any job. Coach your employees. Teach them the tricks and trade of the job. Provide documentation that they can take home and read. Support them with any courses that they would want to take to grow.
  • Focus on the “WHY”: As your employees are the front line help them understand the “WHY”. Help them focus on the trends, ask for feedback, make improvements to the feedback they give, hear what problems they have and help them find the solutions. Get them involved with communication and information sharing.

Caring for your employees will definitely help them take that extra step for you. As a manager it is important for you to understand motivated employee directly equates to better customer experience and a significant profitability and growth.

 

 

Certainly, I can assist you that?

“Dear Customer, Certainly I can assist you that” or “I apologies for the inconvenience caused” or ” No worries I will get this arranged for you”. How many times have you heard this when you have called a call center to get your query resolved?

Never in my life I imagined that I would run a call center. I ventured on a journey that involved working as a customer service agent because I needed a part time job to survive while I write my thesis. That was when I realized how it feels when being on the receiving end of the phone. People think that a call center agent does not know what they are talking about, but imagine getting yelled at by an unknown person, with no fault of you own.

Shifting schedules, minimum wage, challenging customers, work life balance, immense competition and lack of recognition are just some of the on-job challenges that are faced by the call center agent. Along with that sticking to some strict KPI deliverable’s so they can earn their on-target earnings. Call center agents do play a major role in our economy. They are right in the middle of the company they work for and the customer they are serving.

Imagine your normal working day, by that I mean the joys of 9am to 5pm and Monday to Friday. But for a call center agent they work different shifts every week. If the call center is based overseas then they have to work shifts based on that timezone. This does affect their life and also sleeping patterns because no two weeks will be the same.

“Dont worry and dont get upset, you are never going to meet this person ever in your life. Dont take it personally with what they just said”. This is something I always tell my agent when they get upset after being yelled at by a customer. Some of the customer’s are reasonable and listen to what we are saying, while some customers will take hours to understand and still wont agree to the outcome because it was not the outcome they had pictured. Some customers can be racist or hostile for no given reason while some customers are just the best to talk with. A call center agent does experience both side of the spectrum.

Imagine saying to the call center agent, “oh god you are the worst , I am taking my business somewhere else”. Yes this is the reality that we live in. Look around you, except for a government organisation, we live in the world of crazy competition. So when you threaten of taking your business somewhere else, a whole heap of escalations happen at the back end to ensure we do not loose a customer. This is because a call center agent will understand how important are our customers to us.

In a normal corporate job one can call in sick if they dont feel like working , but in a call center if an agent calls in sick the entire workforce needs to be engage to replace that one shift. Work life balance for a call center agent can sometimes be a challenge due to changing shifts, challenging nature of the job, expectations to go above and beyond and adherence to the rosters. This is all topped with lower pay scale and lack of recognition.

Key notes here to understand are that taking a call center agent for granted is a very human thing to do. One might say that this is the job they chose to work, which I agree a 100% but that is the job they could do to live a life that they have. Being a call center agent is not easy. Imagine coming to work every day, for getting yelled at by unknown people and then still having a smile on your face to answer a call from another customers. So next time when you call a call center and the agent says, ” Certainly, I can assist you with that”, let them do their job. And before yelling at someone, acknowledge the call with a calm voice and see how easily your query gets answered.