The New Brave New World!


The writer elaborates on the Digital Revolution and the changes that it has brought to the work scenario

The world’s worst cliché is that an organisation’s performance is sigma top performers within the organisation. An equally miserable cliché is that no organisation consciously hires under- performers. This begs the question: when the organisation hired, did they make a mistake in assessing the individual’s potential, or did the requirement of the organization change after hiring, or did the organization demotivate a person enough to under-perform?

If I may draw on my four decades of experience in the corporate to choose the right question, I’d say, it is all of the above. The organisation did not align the individual’s capabilities with the deliverables expected of him. Given the dynamic nature of business in the 21st century, the customer was changing his requirements on the fly. And caught in the whole flytrap of growth, profit and selling stories to the Board, the individuals become shadow performers in this show-must-go-on circus. If the show gets rave reviews, the shadow performers are given a face and that’s the reward. If the show is berated, the whole cast is buried in unmarked graves.

When did people who are supposed to be an organisation’s biggest asset become so irrelevant? If we look at history, during the Industrial Revolution, employees were important only in so far as their productivity. For the employees, the job was important in so far as it gave them a livelihood. Employees didn’t stay because they were loyal. Organisations didn’t keep them because they were benevolent. Options were limited for both organisations and employees, so they stayed together.

During the much-hyped Internet revolution, a small dynamic shifted. Employees no longer worked in organisations for livelihood. They did so for a certain standard of living. Their forefathers had ensured during the Industrial Revolution that their families’ basic needs were provided for. So work now was no longer for three meals a day; it was for the dessert. Employees stayed only if organisations continually improved their standard of living. Organisations kept them to deprive their competition of access to their trained workforce. There was no loyalty on either side, yet again.

And then came this era of Social/Digital Revolution. By its very nature, this beast was all about living in the public eye. And that meant posturing, that meant living the way they wanted to showcase, that meant living a lie. Fake is the new value in this whole eco-system. So now it was no longer about earning a livelihood or about the standard of living. It became all about embracing an alternative Universe which fitted one’s avatar. So it became cool to say, oh we quit the rat-race of the corporate to graze cows in the Himalayas! And boy! has Instagram provided just the right platform for these posturing professionals.

I browse Insta as obsessively as Insta is meant to be browsed. And what I have learnt in the process is that the language of the posturing professionals is PLATITUDES. I’m sorry I didn’t really look for an alliterative catch-phrase, it kind of came together on its own and the more I stared at its inner value, the more its anti-truism became fascinating. So now where are we on the hiring-firing dynamics?

I should make it clear here that since internet-related companies are the largest employers who hire and make headlines when they fire, whatever we postulate here is in their context only.
Here, it is perhaps safe to say that employees are adamant about work-from-home as non-negotiable. They have suddenly discovered that their parents wasted humongous amounts of money ‘sending them to schools’, where they actually learnt nothing; so for now they have discovered the joys of home-schooling their progeny. Taking their pet with them to work on that one-day-in-the-month when they are expected to physically report at the company’s office has become as non-negotiable as work-from-home on other days. You see, all these have become the yardstick of this new mantra of the Social/Digital revolutionaries. WE WANT QUALITY OF LIFE THAT MEANS WE EXPECT ORGANIZATIONS TO PROVIDE US THE CONTENT TO POST ON INSTA!

Is this a reasonable and viable expectation? Reasonable from the employees’ side and viable from the organisation’s perspective? Loyalty in any case has always been missing from either side in this whole hiring-firing scenario since the Industrial Revolution. So what is the new glue that can align both these expectations?

Don’t for a moment think that this Social/Digital Revolution is a fad. The movement will intensify and gather momentum by the minute. Me thinks the best way for organisations to hire successfully is not by perusing boring templated resumes but browsing the candidate’s social media stature, presence and influencing power. Me-also-thinks that the most attractive organisations, going forward, that will attract best talent are those that remove the GENDER column from their application. And replace it with latest link to their Google Timeline.

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