Friday, September 30, 2005

Competing for Talent

Organizations today are competing hard to attract the best manpower .Unlike other resources skilled manpower is scarcely available and hard to imitate. So for organizations the challenge today is not just to create an attractive brand to attract customers but also employees which helps them remain competitive and innovative in the long run.

Mckinsey’s Quarterly has carried out a survey to study the various branding techniques and growing competitive nature of recruitment practices. Some of the findings of the survey are:

  • Few companies are as rigorous or precise at branding themselves as employers as they are at branding their products and services. Experience therefore suggests to us that many of these initiatives could fail. For a company to exploit its brand effectively when it fishes for talent, it must think of recruits as customers, use sophisticated marketing analysis to identify its key rivals, determine which corporate attributes matter most to specific types of recruits, and understand how best to reach them.

  • Identifying the competition is an important starting point for a company trying to decide which attributes it should emphasize at what stage of the recruitment process. Traditional recruiting focuses on functional employment benefits, such as job security; opportunities for creativity and individual growth; and compensation. But an employer's intangible, emotional associations—"it's fun to work at this company," "we have a passionate and intelligent culture," "there is a strong team feeling here"—are just as important to recruits as similar associations with branded consumer goods are to potential buyers. So companies would do well to compare themselves with their peers on both functional and intangible dimensions.

  • Identifying the messages that best distinguish a company in the eyes of its recruits can improve the cost-effectiveness of its recruiting pitch. Since there is a trade-off between the number of people such efforts reach and the quality of the interaction, it is important to focus the most expensive, high-touch recruiting approaches on the candidates and stages most likely to deliver the greatest value. The best companies also boost the efficiency of their recruitment efforts by tailoring each stage of the recruiting process and by carefully measuring the impact of each stage on the process as a whole.

    Finally, a word of caution: employer-branding efforts will be counterproductive if the messages aimed at recruits undermine the company's broader marketing strategy. To be effective, employer branding can't just apply conventional brand-building techniques; the initiative must fit in closely with the company's overall brand strategy.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Concept Mapping

Joseph D. Novak, Cornell University has given a Concept Map which were developed in the course of research program where they sought to follow and understand changes in children¹s knowledge of science.

In his recent post on Knowledge at Work Denham Grey has given a very lucid description on concept building and its importance.

Some basic premises on conceptual understanding such as “What is a concept?

An abstraction?, cognitive building block, a container for idea(s)?, a symbol & representation?, a tool for indexing, learning, memory and navigation?, a fundamental language construct?, a reified cognitive artifact?, a category? Concepts can be any unit of thought or a mental image formed by generalization.

Any concept is more than its name, the links to related concepts define its meaning, every concept has a life-cycle. A concept is an abstract, universal psychical entity that serves to designate a category or class of entities, events or relations.

Why are concepts important?

Our beliefs, world views, creativity and communication ability, depend on the concepts we hold, how strongly we hold them and ways we can change them. Concepts are the building blocks for analytical and mental models. Making concepts explicit and visual helps promote learning, knowledge construction and assists with memory retention.
To Read more click here

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Ethics and human behaviour

Ethical behaviour in organisations has been in news following revelation that Intel India is asking some of its employee to put in papers after an audit report found that a large no of its employees have been submitting false expenditure claims.An article by Kirk O. Hanson titled "Who Says Cheaters Never Win?" has some interesting observations on unethical human behaviour and the reasons behind these actions.
Some children and their parents have convinced themselves that they have to be superstars and go to Harvard, Stanford, or Brown to have a worthwhile life. This attitude leads to cheating by the most qualified, not the least qualified, students in some schools.

Adding to the temptation, athletes, high school students, and scientists may convince themselves that anyone who is on top has cheated to get there, and therefore they rationalize it for themselves.

So, we have become a society captivated by the winner. We have made the one who dominates the box office, comes out on top in sports, or rises to the peak in business a new kind of royalty. It is no wonder people cheat.
He suggests that instead of encouraging the culture of "winners have it all" we need to have a society which respects individuals best effort.
Encouraging doing your best will require all of us to compliment and celebrate the efforts by those we know and love. The spouse who works hard but does'nt get the promotion deserves a dinner out. The child who studies diligently but gets a C grade should be praised.

Above all, we need to raise our children to resist the temptation to cheat. There is no way to make a rational case for honesty when getting that extra edge may help you come out on the top of the heap. My colleague and character education expert Steve Johnson says honesty must be instilled as a habit from an early age.

We should demonstrate to our kids that we adults abhor cheating. We should refuse to honor those who cheat perhaps by boycotting certain baseball games or the stock of an errant company. Let tell our kids cheaters are jerks. We should support the efforts our schools, sports leagues, and courts take to punish cheating.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Employees Loyalty :New Perspectives

Employees often struggle to find a balance between organisational goals and individual career goals.Loyalty to the organisation is often questioned when employees continously try achieve better career option sometimes even at the cost of their organisations.
Lauren Keller Johnson in HBR's latest issue advocates that loyalty should not be viewed as an either/or proposition.
The very nature of the relationship between employers and employees has undergone a fundamental shift: Today, workers not only don't expect to work for decades on end for the same company, but they don't want to.

They are largely disillusioned with the very idea of loyalty to organizations. But, at the same time, they don't really want to shift employers every two to three years for their entire careers. Similarly, companies would grind to a halt if they had to replace large portions of the workforce on a similar schedule.

So where does this leave us? Is there a way for both employers and employees to strike a brand-new balance when it comes to loyalty—one that gives organizations the focus and expertise they need to compete and employees the career development opportunities they demand?

According to the experts interviewed by Update, the answer is yes, but only if companies are willing to rethink how they define loyalty and how they manage their people.
It's true, the experts say, that to produce their best work, employees must be loyal to the company and what it stands for. But "employees can give their employers 100 percent and provide great performance while furthering their own careers," says Joyce Gioia of The Herman Group, a consultancy based in Greensboro, North Carolina "The two aren't mutually exclusive," especially when the skills that a person masters to further her own career are also what the company needs.

And when firms help workers acquire new skills that support their professional advancement, they often win those workers' commitment—and attract loyal new employees. This gives rise to another important point: Employers can promote company loyalty by helping people grow out of their jobs—ideally, into new ones within the company.

But even when you can't retain talent, it doesn't mean departing employees weren't loyal. Indeed, another mistaken assumption is that loyalty has to mean "forever." "One of my students expressed it well," says Harvard Business School professor Linda Hill. "He said, 'It's like dating: You can be faithful to the person you're seeing now while you're involved with him or her, but that doesn't mean you won't move on to dating someone else later.'"

Nor should companies strive to keep all employees forever. "You don't want blind loyalty," says Scott Brooks, an executive consultant at Minneapolis-based Gantz Wiley Research.
"The best kind is when both parties are benefiting." Leigh Grantham, VP of marketing and administration at DeFuniak Springs, Florida-based electricity provider CHELCO, agrees: "I'd rather have a star performer for three years than a dud for life."
On the Role of relationships in organisations:Focus on relationships. For many employees, loyalty is born or cemented through relationships with supervisors and colleagues.

"The number one reason people leave an organization isn't inadequate pay or benefits," says business writer John Putzier. "It's the day-to-day relationship with their immediate superior." Leaders seeking to secure employees' loyalty must work to create a positive bond.

How? "Be fair in distributing rewards and punishment," advises Donald P. Rogers, professor of international business at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. John Chappelear, a professional coach and trainer, says, "Clarify your expectations, and make sure people have the resources and skills they need to fulfill those expectations."

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Blogging - Impact on Business

Blogging has taken the world by storm. Recently
Business Week carried out an article on how blogging has influenced business models.

So we're going to take you into the world of blogs by delivering this story -- call it Blogs 101 for businesses -- in the style of a blog. We're even sprinkling it with links.

These are underlined words that, when clicked, carry readers of this story's online version to another Web page. This all may make for a strange experience, but it's the closest we can come to reaching outfrom the page, grabbing you by the collar, and shaking you into action.Blogs are different.

They evolve with every posting, each one tied to a moment. So if a company can track millions of blogs simultaneously, it gets a heat map of what a growing part of the world is thinking about, minute by minute. E-mail has carried on billions of conversations over the past decade. But those exchanges were private.

Most blogs are open to the world. As the bloggers read each other, comment, and link from one page to the next, they create a global conversation.Picture the blog world as the biggest coffeehouse on Earth.

Technorati, PubSub, and others provide the tools to listen. While the traditional Web catalogs what we have learned, the blogs track what's on our minds.

David Kirkpatrick and Daniel Roth share their views on Microsoft strategy on Blogs in the Fortune's latest edition.

Microsoft revealed that it planned to take over the world of blogs—the five-million-plus web journals that have exploded on the Internet in the past few years. The company's weapon would be a new service called MSN Spaces, online software that allows people to easily create and maintain blogs.

It didn't take long for the blogging world to do what it does best: swarm around a new piece of information; push, prod, and poke at it; and leave it either stronger or a bloody mess. The next day, at the widely read Boing Boing blog, co-editor Xeni Jardin opted to do the latter.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Why do we need Knowledge Management

Knowledge Management System and short run business returns have often been linked by senior Managers against new KM inititaives.Essentially Top Managemnt feels that knowledge sharing is a top-down approach rather than bottom-down or peer to peer networking excercise.Dave Pollard comments in his latest posting on the importance of Knowledge Management.
Things are the way they are for a reason, and this 'appreciation gap' in the value of KM is not that hard to explain. Just as progressives and conservatives can talk themselves blue in the face, futilely trying to explain their point of view to the other side, so too are the frames of reference of those in the corner offices of large corporations are very different from those of KM leaders and their 'customers', the front-line workers:

Business leaders must take a short-term focus, to meet the demands of shareholders, while KM leaders often feel that investment in knowledge, learning and technology needs longer to pay off.

Business leaders are accustomed to knowledge being transferred top-down (instruction and formal training programs) and information for decision-making being polled from the front lines. KM leaders believe that critical knowledge transfers are more often peer-to-peer sharing, coaching and facilitation.

Business leaders see their leadership role as critical to the organization's success; their frame of understanding is hierarchical -- they tend to believe that knowledge and value increases with experience and that rewards should go disproportionately to identified superstars and up-and-coming leadership candidates. KM leaders see contribution to organizational success as more egalitarian, and are more likely to believe (as Drucker says) that almost every employee today knows how to do his/her particular job better than anyone else (including the boss) -- they may see large wage and reward disparities as demotivating and unwarranted.

Business leaders tend to see value in centralized repositories of 'best practices' and SOPs, and the reuse of knowledge collateral. KM leaders are more likely to see the value in context-rich conversations between peers, 'pointers to people', mining the content of front line people's desktops, and tools that enhance collaboration and innovation.

Business leaders are likely to perceive the major 'knowledge problem' in organizations as being inefficiencies: 'reinventing the wheel' and underusing available knowledge 'on the shelf', and hence the perceived poor ROI in investment in knowledge, learning and technology. KM leaders are more likely to see the major knowledge problem as ineffectiveness: time wasted trying to find appropriate experts and knowledge (often on their own desktops), and 'the cost of not knowing'.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Business of Business is Business

The debate on Corporate Social Responsibility has really highlighted the contribution and impact which organisations can have on common man's life.The CSR concept has got different implications in different countries.Euorpian organisations also include environmental friendly practises as part of CSR activities while Asian organisations see it as part of community develoment process.Ian Davis continues the debate on CSR in Mckinsey Quarterly Review. Milton Freidman's saying "business of business is business" has been extended to include the greater social role which organisation of today have got to play.
The problem with the "business of business is business" mind-set is rather that it can obscure two important realities. The first is that social issues are not so much tangential to the business of business as fundamental to it. From a defensive point of view, companies that ignore public sentiment make themselves vulnerable to attack. Social pressures can also serve as early indicators of factors essential to corporate profitability: for example, the regulations and public-policy environment in which companies must operate, the appetite of consumers for certain goods above others, and the motivation of employees—and their willingness to be hired in the first place.
Highlighting the unhealthy practices of promoting harmful consumption he write's:
In the food and restaurant sector, meanwhile, the long-escalating debate about obesity is now resulting in calls for further controls on the marketing of unhealthy foods. In the case of big financial institutions, concerns about conflicts of interest and the mis-selling of products have recently led to changes in core business practices and industry structure. For some big retailers, public and planning resistance to new stores is constraining growth opportunities. And all this is to say nothing of the way social and political pressures have reshaped and redefined the tobacco and the oil and mining industries, among others, over the decades.

In all such cases, billions of dollars of shareholder value have beenput at stake as a result of social issues that ultimately feed into the fundamental drivers of corporate performance. In many instances, a "business of business is business" outlook has blinded companies to outcomes, or to shifts in the implicit social contract, that often could have been anticipated.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Survey Findings on working Habits

Indian Managers are often heard grumbling about the amount of time their co-workers spend on internet and often waste lot of time and energy on non productive work during office hours.Well Folks....Here's some news which will redeem your soul from the guilt of reading this post on your office network.According to a new Survey from a national poll of 10,044 employees by Needham-based and America Online shares this findings.

It contradict prior reports that described American workers as the most productive — and overworked — in the world. The change, said researchers, may stem in part, from the Internet, which allows employees to take additional breaks throughout the day without leaving their desks. Of those polled, for example, the majority — 44.7 percent — said they waste time randomly surfing the Net,

The next big time-waster? Socializing. The survey found that 23.4 percent of those polled spend a considerable amount of time talking to friends and associates. Other top time-wasters: conducting personal business, daydreaming or spacing out, running errands and making personal telephone calls.

Workers say they're not always to blame. In all, 33.2 percent said they didn't have enough work to keep them busy, and more than 23 percent said they waste time because they are underpaid and unappreciated.

I am sure my Indian friends will need this data when they confront their Boss next time.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

The Third Place to Work

Third Place to Work

Charlie Grantham and Jim Ware write extensively about the “third place” for work in the latest edition of Future of work Agenda.

In the work design collaborative research program their was a demand for a "THE THIRD PLACE TO WORK" from the Knowledge workers.

“In fact, we wouldn't be surprised if that many people are already working one or more days a week in third places right now. Just think about your own work patterns; how often do you "log on" from a coffee shop, an airport hot spot, a hotel lobby, or some other location well removed from both your corporate office and your home office?

"Third place" is a term first used by author Ray Oldenburg way back in 1989 (The Great Good Place (Paragon House Publishers, 1989). By that he meant places that are not living areas and not "offices" per se. Third Places are typically smaller facilities (10,000 to 14,000 square feet) where people gather for a variety of reasons and to do a variety of different things. "A Starbucks on steroids" is a good image.

Third Places are clearly an adjunct to traditional "corporate" offices and home offices. Our research shows that workers of the future will most likely be spending approximately 40% of their time in corporate facilities, 30% in a home office, and the remainder in a "third place" (actually, that will most likely be a variety of third places over the course of a week or a month).

They believe that organization of the future will have these common working patterns.

*Organizations want to move away from a fixed-cost structure to variable cost models in order to reduce capital requirements and risk, while increasing their agility and responsiveness to changing environments;

*Remote and mobile workers do not have adequate alternative meeting places, office services, or technical support that are either affordable or convenient to their residential locations;

*Home-based independent workers also need and want more support and services because their home-based workspaces are limited and they generally have almost no useful meeting space. And like mobile workers they
also have a need for office services and technical support.