Tuesday, June 19, 2007

While practicing Human Resource Management over the last two & a half decades in a predominantly Capitalist environment, I did not realize that one day I will have to rely upon a concept that has been extensively used throughout the various evolutionary stages of development of Socialistic ideology and thought!

And that concept is none other than Dialectics.

Let me explain.

In classical philosophy, dialectic is an exchange of propositions (theses) and counter-propositions (antitheses) resulting in a synthesis of the opposing assertions, or at least a qualitative transformation in the direction of the dialogue.

And now, let me further explain how and why I have had to take recourse to Dialectics.

Understanding human beings - particularly those whom I have had an opportunity to study little more closely i.e. the employees in the organized world, require good appreciation of multi-level realities which many a time are diagonally opposite to each other.

Let’s take an example. There exists a popular belief that young, professionally qualified employees, working in new economy companies in India, possessing internationally usable & globally deployable skill sets, generally aspire for postings in any of the developed countries. And eventually when such postings lead to permanency status, then it is believed that work & life goals of such young professionals get fully met. While I can relate to this proposition about fulfillment of personal life goals of these young professionals, I think that this does not lead us to gaining a complete understanding of the professional aspirations of these folk. It only provides us partial insights. Dialectically, these young lads also want to keep themselves connected with their own cultural roots while trying to furiously pursue permanency arrangements in the developed (alien) countries. I, often times, fumble, while guiding on any career offering to such folk, because I do not fully understand their contradictory aspirations.

Another contemporary example is the one related to ‘vertical’ v/s ‘horizontal’ growth—and here, I mean, ‘professional growth.’ Indian society (and so are many others in Asia) continues to retain it’s hierarchical character in all it’s institutions ranging from family to biz/political/social organizations. It is the father(as a head of the family) who keeps on calling the shots at home (and that too, if the grandfather is not around). And at workplace, it’s not uncommon for the employees look at their supervisors as a ‘father figure’, and therefore, quite logically the employees get a sense of growth only when they rise the organizational ladder vertically. But, on the other hand, we see a vast deployment of horizontal or lateral growth initiatives within many biz corporations and even they are seen by the employees as very positive opportunities in their professional growth pursuits. While the vertical growth brings the person gradually closer & closer to the organizational top, the lateral growth makes him/her much richer in knowledge & skill base that helps them to reach a pedestal that they can eventually use as a launching pad to make real high leaps on their long term career track. Even visually, vertical & horizontal are two altogether different lines literally crossing each other & that’s why this becomes another example of dialectical dilemma of what people strategy in this area would appeal to the employees - and the answer that I have(at the moment!) is ‘a combination of both’--though I am not sure I have cracked this riddle as well!!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How true on the issue of Dialectics! I am just back from a trip to Tibet accompanied by friends and their friends, one of whom happenned to be a permanent resident of the US but a first generation Indian.While he did have the 'good life' as a financial analyst on Wall Street, there was this constant desire expressed during our Tibet trip, to come back to India one day.The annual visits to India were just not good enough and the fact that his children were Americans in the true spirit was a cause of deep concern. I can imagine when he would have left India in the early 80's to study in the US, there would have been only one ambition -- how to get that green card and never return. And now the 360 degree in wanting to be back home , not because life in the US was treating him badly, but due to a feeling of belonging/roots that got to him every now and then.

Having said that -- and I am in my late 40's as is this aquaintance who became a friend as we went through the Tibetan desert-- I do believe that we change as we mature and get older. And our horizons sometimes start peeping back to our roots , or then at times awaken our senses , leading to contradictory pulls and pushes.( Now isnt that what life is all about?).Or then it is perhaps the case of a dormant belief when other more important priorities are there , till such time when the earlier priorities either get fulfilled or then turn out to be less important as we start seeing the bigger picture.

Since the Tibetans in China generally are fond of Indians ( as we are associated with a country that gives a home to their Dalai Lama ), at times when we interacted with Tibetans in China , this friend would proudly announce that he was an Indian along with some of us. But the moment we were back in India and when there was this one occasion , he made it clear that he holds a US passport.....So much for contradictions!