Tough times don’t last long …tough people do!
( This entry won the 3rd Position in 'The Summer Saga Contest 2013' )
As I sit to pen down my summer internship experience a myriad of memories comprising the high and low points flash across my mind. As a fresher I had no preconceived notions about the corporate world and hence I eagerly waited for April 8th with umpteen enthusiasm and energy to embark on my role as a summer trainee at one of the best multinational companies in India. With high hopes and guidelines from seniors, as is the case with most summer trainees, I entered the highly secured and hallowed corridors of the company where I was going to spend my next 60 days.
After a brief interview and discussion with HR, I was allocated a cubicle and provided ID card cum gate pass which would be imperative to access all places in the campus.Exuberant as an employee’s first day at work I sat figuring out my work plan for the project allocated to me. I was to work on enhancing the performance management system present at the engineering division of my company. I started by conducting a secondary research on the subject as it had yet not been dealt in my academic courses at GIM (1st year).After going through a lot of HR literature, self-help books and company documents I formulated my action plan with the assistance of HR business partner.
My initial few proposals went for a toss when the HR blatantly disapproved them or asked me to refine my ideas and come out with a feasible work plan. But with time I realized that reworking on my ideas brought out the best in me and also apprised me of the urgency and sensitivity involved when it came to the appraisal of employees.
The most challenging aspect of the job was to garner information from the employees. Though I had a structured questionnaire at hand it didn’t elicit honest responses from the employees at first go .Interviews with an individual would go on for 30 to 45 minutes and still employees won’t come up with issues they were facing with the performance management system , appraisal cycle and training needs fulfillment. The reason to which was apprehension that it would somehow affect their pending PLI. It was after a couple of days of gelling and bonding with them over lunch and snacks did I began to know and understand the current state of affairs across various departments. There were quite a few touchy moments where employees would come and emphasize that nothing could change “Ye sab karne ka kya fayda hai…yahan to politics hi chalta hai”.Convincing them that I would carve out an effective action plan out of their responses and present it before the top management as a champion of their interests was the most challenging task.
I was also involved in conducting the birthday events ,talk forums with top management ,team building activities, mother’s day celebration and world environment day .All these activities gave me the opportunity to make some really good friends at work and further helped me with my project. It provided me contacts and brought me into network of high profile people ensuring great learning and widening the scope of information sources indispensable to my project.I was also appreciated by the business head for my organisation and management skills.
With all required data at my disposition and immense help from the HR department I began the analysis of data collected from 105 respondents representing a healthy proportion of employees from each of the departments.I also communicated with employees who had previous enriching experience in other EPC giants. This along with my own external contacts aided me in the bench marking process. I then designed an effective action plan to do away with the process and behavioral gaps in the performance management system.
For every point I put in my report I felt responsible and hopeful of bringing a change in the system and a sense of onus to bring justice to the employees who had been so frank and forthcoming in their interviews so that I can represent them.
During my final presentation I was asked about my greatest learning from the project. And as if the answer I had known the whole time.
“It is not possible to please all employees through performance appraisal and that should not be even aimed at. But what is essential is to give appropriate due to each one and to make the process as unbiased as possible. The human aspect which is the core of human resource management should be present at all times. If people are apprehensive to come up and approach the HR department for their issues, then the entire purpose of such an assembly is questionable.”
The panel was quite happy with my work and even invested me with additional work to be done from home. The HR department took all of us out for lunch and we had a gala time. As I traveled back to my place of stay I pondered over the last two months at the Maximum City .The phenomenal change they had brought to my thought process and the exponential learning in the domain of my interest. It has set a bar for every other project I undertake from this moment. I was taking away with me an unparalleled wealth of knowledge and intricacies of execution. And is that not the purpose of a summer internship program?
- Sampada Kanade
Sampada is pursuing dual majors in Marketing and HR from Goa Institute of Management. She has done Engineering in Computer Science. She enjoys occasional writing and listening to soft beat music.
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