My Summer Saga at Jindal Steel and Power: Of Personal and Professional Learnings
It’s been over a year now since I had last stepped into the hallowed portal of Corporate. Leaving behind the legacy of NSN, JSPL was a different ball game altogether. They looked at me differently now. There were heavy expectations on my shoulders. But I was determined to emerge through the gauntlet as the last ‘woman’ standing.
It was a tough decision to put up at Noida and travel daily all the way up to Gurgaon, but economy prevailed over convenience. Although I was back to my roots, a lot had changed. Kicks and shove were served with rudeness and the ‘auto-wallahs’ were nothing short of extortionists. The winger cab was my usual ride, but at days of long working hours, the public transport truly tested my mental and physical strength.
Theory and practicality are two different sides of the coin. Human resource is by far the costliest and rarest acquisition for any firm and being in the shoes of managing the same is a challenging proposition. However, under the guidance of an able leader, even a rookie is well set towards greatness. My field of work was “Performance Management System (PMS)” and I had to perform a S.W.O.T. Analysis of the PMS Process at JSPL. Working in a big firm comes with its own set of benefits and the CLC website (Corporate Leadership Council) was one such treasure. In fine, I served as a devotee in this temple of knowledge, wisdom and creativity.
I am sure everyone understands a SWOT analysis in theory but the practical sense of the phrase can be awe-inspiring. We were talking about ingrained details about competition, analysing them with the current scenario in JSPL and recommending the future action plans. Adding the constraint of time due to long travel hours, I quickly learned about work efficiency. Rather than burning the midnight oil, swiftness was far more effective and efficient to deliver the goods.
Although the task seemed appalling, I took my stance and prepared for the slugfest. The immediate challenge was to identify competitors and extract information related to their PMS. I soon learnt that the corporate world is run with an iron fist and networking was now more crucial than ever before. The CLC website gave me a starting node but identifying the rest of the pieces for the puzzle was quite intriguing. I started off with the basics – the first step in any PMS was goal-setting. Often neglected and misunderstood, I led the crusade by studying the existing goal-setting process at JSPL and defined the user guide for the process in general. My project presentation on goal-setting awareness for JSPL’s employees was my first step towards my mission.
Internship and literature review also revealed the importance of timely, specific, continuous and a balanced performance review feedback to employees and the fact that feedback is touted to be one of the most highly under-rated management interventions, in recent times. While JSPL was considering to launch a vigorous drive on increasing the overall effectiveness, quality and frequency of feedback that was provided to the employees by their supervising managers in the coming year, my work as an intern was to prepare yet another presentation for managers at JSPL which would enlighten them about the art of giving effective performance review feedback. And here I got my second lead for the SWOT analysis. Systems Training is always imparted to appraisers but Skills Training (i.e. how to use training scales effectively etc.) is never imparted to managers across organizations.
Subsequently, I got a chance to study the policy for managing marginal performers/underperformers at JSPL, do its AS-IS and TO-BE Analysis and come up with a policy revamp so that the existing policy is more in tune with the industry standards. Well, some organizations look down upon underperformers as “Dead Weight” that they can’t bear for long. I scoured the internet for research papers on how to plan and conduct a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP, as popularly called in organizations). CLC website provided me great insights on how marginal performers are effectively managed at different organizations and with these insights incorporated, a contemporary “Managing Marginal Performers Policy” was crafted for JSPL.
What followed next was learning some marketing/HR communication practices. Well, HRs need to be creative in coming up with effective teasers/communication mailers that keep apprising the employees of different stages in the appraisal cycle and their required actionable. Teasers required great levels of process awareness and creativity in conveying required the idea/information to the employees.
And then, I got this chance to whet my excel skills and build some excel prowess when I got to work with my mentor and collaborate with the entire PMS team at JSPL in performing Bell-Curve Analysis and different types of Dip Analysis on the PMS data for the year in review, 2014-2015. My internship thus made me aware of the different types of analysis that can be done on PMS data.
All these steps led me to my ultimate objective, i.e. the SWOT Analysis which I conducted vis-à-vis three other manufacturing companies, i.e. Bosch, Schneider Electric as well as Tata Steel. I prepared a questionnaire to gauge the efficiency of different PMS practices and processes at these companies by circulating the questionnaires to some known HR professionals/friends employed currently in these companies. After getting rich data, I started putting the information pieces together into the SWOT framework. After several rounds of discussions and feedback, my SWOT analysis was given a “thumbs-up” by my mentor.
Last week saw me finalizing my report as well as the presentation and the final day of the internship saw me presenting my ideas and top recommendations before the PMS Department Head at JSPL, along with other senior members in the HR department. I always get the jitters before making a presentation but this time I was confident. How can I forget the end of my internship when my mentor came to my seat, congratulated me for the effort that I had put in and treated me to a Cadbury Dairy Milk. And then the Summer Internship Completion Certificate which spoke volumes of my credibility as an Intern.
“Well, dil ko jab khushi chuu jaye, kuch meetha ho jaye”….as they rightly say in the advertisements !
My summer internship experience with JSPL was enriching and important in helping me chart out a career plan for myself. Though, JSPL is a great organization to work with and they have also have a PPO Policy in place for this year, my fate still hangs in the balance as I can only be apprised about the PPO conversion, few months from now.
Well, the top three learnings from my summer internship experience are listed below:
Advice 1: Don’t consider your internship as a “Break” from demanding MBA Schedules!
To sum up I can say that one’s internship is as serious as one wants to consider it. People often slack like anything during this two month phase, considering the summer internship as a break from the hectic, “sleep-derived” MBA schedule. Well, in spite of the personal challenges that I faced during the summers, the workload that I had while managing the office work as well as the aspirant mentorship program for IIM Ranchi on several social media platforms, I managed to pull things off, “reasonably well”, if not “exceptionally” well. And I am really proud of it.
Advice 2: Be Extremely Resourceful before heading for Internship
Well, I understood why seniors always kept on harping about the importance of networking all the time. The more links and contacts you have in the industry, the easier your life becomes as an intern. These contacts can come in handy for filling your surveys/questionnaires or giving you some useful insights about the work processes at their organizations (or other crucial and relevant data that you might need during your internship). Remember, Primary data can only come from personal contacts in the industry.
Advice 3: Build MS Office Proficiency beforehand
Being swift and comfortable with MS Office (MS Excel, PowerPoint and Word) is always expected from an intern. However, because of demanding MBA Schedules, many of us don’t get the time to build proficiency and expertise on all these MS Office platforms, especially Excel which gets ignored the maximum. I would suggest every intern to have a good grip over both basic and advanced excel functions, as well as build some expertise in developing business dashboards. Your excel skills can raise your credibility as well as level of preparedness for the internship in your mentor/reporting manager’s eyes and might very well seal the deal, as far as the PPO is concerned.
This is Richa Mukhi, PGDHRM Student, Indian Institute of Management Ranchi, sharing her #SummerSaga2015. I represent the Media and PR Cell, IIM Ranchi and have a penchant for writing/blogging, oratory and singing;.also a great fan of Roger Federer .
My internship with Jindal Steel and Power Limited was a very fulfilling experience which made me aware that for budding HR professionals who mean business, even the Sky Is Not the Limit…Cheers 🙂
(This is an official entry to the Summer Saga 2015 Competition. If you have an internship story that could compete against the best in India, give it a shot! Read the instructions here and start writing!)