Thursday, August 31, 2006

B-Schools to train our Babu's

ET reports
“Premier management institutes IIM-A, IIM-B and TERI School of Advanced Studies have joined hands with Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Maxwell University and Duke University, respectively to conduct short term courses for senior officials of the central government. The officials will be trained in the latest global rules of public management.

The reputed management institutes, short - listed through global bidding, shall design and conduct the short-term courses in management for senior bureaucrats, who will be undergoing the compulsory mid-career course linked with their career advancement.

I wonder if the courses will help our Babu’s perform better. For them more than aptitude it’s the attitude which makes all the difference. Some of the best minds are part of the same system which is branded as inefficient and corrupt. More than courses the govt. should also work on coming up with a matrix for managing performance and developing a measurable reward and promotion system. The bane of system is not talent they have but the way talent is managed.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

HR's Future and Intangibles

The Market share and revenues of the firm are not the only factors which drive a firm valuation.

How do you define Intangibles? Does it really matters in a firm’s valuation?

David Creelman and Dave Ulrich answer this in a white paper on “The New ROI of HR”.

They believe the architecture of intangibles has four steps:

1. First is the fundamental issue of keeping promises and managing expectations.

2. Second is a clear strategy—a story about our future that shows how the organization will create value through growth.

3. Third is having the core technical competencies needed to deliver that strategy. These technical competencies might be marketing’s ability to manage its distribution channels or manufacturing’s ability to maintain Six Sigma quality—the specific technical competencies required depend on the strategy.

4. The fourth and final step is capabilities—those things that make a company stand out in the minds of customers. It might be a shared mind-set, such as Nordstrom's companywide commitment to service. It might be speed, such as Apple’s speed to market with the iPod line.
Intangibles like employee and market perception of firm’s goodwill, human capital, value system, and vision guides the intangible values of a firm. Organization can adopt a clear cut strategy to enhance the intangibles of the organization. They need to adopt practical steps which go on to enhance the intangibles .HR is believed to be play a pivot role in enhancing the intangibles of the firm “research data that shows HR makes not just a difference, but a big difference, is conclusive.

“What is really exciting is that investors are beginning to take an interest in organizational and human capital. If investors are interested, you can bet the board will care, and so too will the CEO. This puts HR in the spotlight in a way it never has been before. It won't be easy, but it is a powerful mechanism to ensure that truly strategic, intangible-building HR practices will spread. There has never been a more exciting time to be an HR professional.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

XLRI, NHRD and CII Partner for HR accreditation

So finally the talent shortage and lack of skilled HR professionals is having some impact on Industry.

ET reports that “In a move to professionalise and give accreditation to human resource (HR) professionals, the National Human Resource Development network (NHRD) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the CII and the XLRI, Jamshedpur, for an accreditation process. This will be launched in a month’s time, P Dwarkanath, director, Glaxo SmithKline (GSK) and president, NHRD, said.

I had posted earlier about the HR talent shortage which exits in the country today.

Today, HR managers are in great demand, with an estimated 5,00,000 required across industries . But there exists a shortage to the tune of 40%,” Father NCasimir Raj, SJ, director of XLRI,. “This apart, the attrition rate is high as people are not sure what areas they can excel in. The training has been designed to check these trends,” he added.

XLRI has been taking the lead in partnering with Industry and even State Govt. to train and set standards in developing competencies for HR roles.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Diversity and Organisational Culture

With the growing pace of globalization and companies operating out of multiple locations spread over globe, diversity of workforce has emerged as a big challenge.

In a recent article disentangling what researchers have learned over the past 50 years, Margaret A. Neale finds that diversity across dimensions, such as functional expertise, education, or personality, can increase performance by enhancing creativity or group problem-solving. In contrast, more visible diversity, such as race, gender, or age, can have negative effects on a group—at least initially.

However, says Neale, fault lines that emerge as a result of such demographic factors can be parlayed to a group’s advantage too.

“In fact, the worst kind of group for an organization that wants to be innovative and creative is one in which everyone is alike and gets along too well,” she says. And the key to making nearly any kind of diversity work is managing it well.

I think teams with members with diverse background have a definite advantage when it comes to being innovative, adaptive and responsive to business challenges. Diverse cultural background means members will look at issues and challenges from different perspective; they will be more proactive in sharing and brain storming issues and will solve problems.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Social Innovation and Business Today

Social Innovation has made one of the biggest impact since it’s dramatic comeback in 1970s through the works of French scholars Pierre Rosanvallon, Jacques Fournier, and Jacques Attali.
Social Innovation is comprised of new strategies, concepts, or ideas that transform policy and practices especially as they relate to the development or extension of civil society.

Social innovation concerns improved quality of life, and may relate to social welfare, working conditions, employment, or community development. It can take place within government, within companies, or within the nonprofit (also known as the third sector) sector.

John Thackara gives these 10 laws for Social Innovation.

Power Law 1: Don’t think “new product” - think social value.
Power Law 2: Think social value before “tech”.
Power Law 3: Enable human agency. Design people into situations, not out of them.
Power Law 4: Use, not own. Possession is old paradigm.
Power Law 5: Think P2P, not point-to-mass.
Power Law 6: Don’t think faster, think closer.
Power Law 7: Don’t start from zero. Re-mix what’s already out there.
Power Law 8: Connect the big and the small.
Power Law 9: Think whole systems (and new business models, too).
Power Law 10: Think open systems, not closed ones.

Rules of Business have not remained untouched and social Innovation seems to be the new mantra for all future business. One of the best example of Social Innovation happens to be the open source movement, Google, your tube, myspace and other social tools which is increasing shaping Business models and society in large. Wealth distributional and equality seems to be the new philosophy where acquiring is passé and sharing is cool…

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Big Question ????

Should HR as a function continue to have Non-Traditional HR person to lead the guide the HR role in organizations?

Traditionally we have seen lot of folks from diverse background doing quite well as HR leads and often giving the HR role in the organization a new direction.

As Philip say “I think one of the biggest drawbacks for HR functions is the fact that they are often filled with people who have no concept of how business operates. They might contain people who have received their MBAs...but when's the last time an organization has allowed an MBA-only person take the helm? MBAs must be accompanied with experience, and this is precisely where traditional HR heads are found lacking. They've rarely had to lead other operations within the organization...and as a result, don't truly understand the P&L responsibilities, hierarchies, turf wars, etc. that might be going on within an organization.

Often it has been said that HR has not been able to pay a strategic role in business as it continues to stay away from the business objective. My point is if HR is able to focus on what its core function / business of operating in an organization exits why does it needs to drag itself to prove that it understands business per say just to act as a strategic partner.

If HR business in the organization is to attract, train, develop, and retain people as well creating a great employer brand, I don’t see any reason why it needs to prove it anything more than that to justify its impact of organizations business. The question here is “Are we (HR) able to prove the impact which it has on the business /profitability and strategy of the organization.

Non traditional HR leaders will also be accepted as traditional HR leaders if only they are able to establish the linkage and continue to give a vision and direction to the HR function as part of the organizational vision and people’s philosophy. To expect that since someone has performed exceptionally well as a business head will continue to do so in HR Head is slightly unfair and unreasonable as the games of the rules are not the same.

However HR professionals should continue to partner actively in business decisions like mergers- acquisition and make an impact on the bottom-line. Business understanding can act as one of the enablers and initiating competencies for HR functions and it could be a necessary but not a sufficient condition/competency for being a successful HR professional.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Why do you Blog??

What do you get when two great minds meet? Here’s a sample on why Seth Godin blogs.

What my blog does for me is it keeps me from writing a book every month, or a long PowerPoint presentation. What the blog does is let me take an idea that's nascent, and share it, and see what happens to it, as opposed to having to invest months or years into fully polishing it.

I'm the first to admit that half the ideas on the blog are nonsense. I just don't know which half. This is a neat way for the community to think about things a little differently. So it's a really good sort of steam valve for me.

Seth Godin is interviewed by Tom peters in the cool interviews series.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Talent Management Strategy:II

Is your Talent management strategy focusing on all the relevant stakeholders?

How do you ensure that managers, employees, HR and senior management are equally benefited from your Talent management strategy?

Some of things which HR can work out while coming up with a talent management strategy is to identify the areas of common interest and conflicts. Based on this it can work promoting and communication the areas of common interest and work of ways to ensure a solution to possible or existing areas of conflict.

Often we end up covering the areas of conflict or disagreement which is not a good strategy in a long run. One of the typical mistakes which happen at the time of recruiting is over –promise and compromise on relevant relieving documents to be submitted at time of joining. Some times the business needs are to pressing to lead to such situations but such steps leads to future conflict areas and dissatisfied employees.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Talent Management Strategy

Talent management strategy of an organization is the most critical strategy in sustaining and developing the competitive strategy of the firm. DDI and Economic Intelligence suggest that

● Given its importance, the strategy needs to be driven from the top. CEOs and COOs should oversee talent management strategy rather than delegating it to HR departments. HR, in turn, should be made responsible for supporting the strategy and executing it.

Talent management should be explicitly linked with overall strategic planning and deliver the quantity and quality of leaders the company will need in the future to achieve its goals.

● Formal processes for identifying top talent, including performance evaluations, and strategic reviews of key talent should occur at least annually and incorporate written feedback to buttress scored categories. There are many other components required in a good programme, and a rigorous approach to obtaining reliable performance data is essential.

Smart companies communicate effectively about the importance of talent management. By publicly recognising and rewarding deserving candidates with promotions and other awards, companies can cultivate an environment in which talent flourishes.

● A varied business background is the best grounding for the CEO and COO roles. As today’s corporate leaders face such diverse challenges and opportunities, firms are looking for people with wide experience in terms of function, role, and, increasingly, geography.

● Talent development programmes should combine both theory and practice in the form of structured learning experiences and off-site meetings, as well as the proper business experience. They should be supported on a daily basis by coaching and mentoring

One of the typical problems which HR faces in some organizations is the lack of support and buying from Senior Management and Line managers in Performance Management programs. As the report suggests that CEO's need to take the ownership of talent management strategy and drive the same with HR as its partner. Despite HR coming up with structured, measurable matrix to capture performance data and review processes the actual execution of the process lies with line manager. Line’s manager inability to share and appreciate the process leads to failure of most of such initiatives.

Some of the steps which can be taken to avoid this situation :

Senior and line managers must be trained regularly on the talent management philosophy by the CEO and HR folks at regular intervals.

Involve and create Process champions for Talent management from Line managers.

Communicate the efficacy and results of such programs and all levels.

Educate about the talent management philosophy right from the time of induction and ensure that each employee understands his personal role in managing his career and performance.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Recruitment and HR function

Is Recruitment part of HR function? A small survey by ERE has this result

Should recruiting be part of the HR department?

Yes, it should be part of HR: 37% :94 votes

No, a separate department :45% :114 votes

Depends on the company :18% :46 votes

None of the above : 1% :2 votes

Total: 256 votes

I personally feel that recruitment is a specialized business function and should not be linked with HR. At the same time all HR professionals must spend some time in the recruitment function since it brings lot of insight and understanding operations issues with recruiting.

Recruitment lays the foundation of HR functions and for generalists as well as specialists HR folks the recruiter’s role is always a challenge. From Line managers and Boards members’ perspective Recruitment has greater visibility in terms of meeting organization manpower need and the business objective.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Talent Poaching

Today’s TOI reports that
“Wipro Biomed, the life sciences division of Wipro Ltd, has won an order from the Delhi High Court restraining the company's long term partner Beckman Coulter from luring its employees, albeit temporarily. Beckman Coulter is understood to be preparing ground to enter India on its own. The ruling has put the spotlight back on the poaching phenomenon that is threatening to snowball into a major controversy affecting the Indian industry across sectors like life sciences, aviation and BPO.
Talent Poaching or Talent acquisition? How do you define it? Most of the developed nations have already witnessed this trend and have come up with confidentiality clauses to prevent people from joining competitors.

Does poaching actually help organizations fill roles? Here's one viewpoint.

The war for talent has intensified and organizations are using every rule in the book to retain the competitive advantage of skilled workforce. However do you feel that it’s fair to have clauses in terms of agreement in order to restrain employees from making career moves?

After all when the high demand for a particular talent/skill may remains only for a specific period of time, so why not let them make hay when Sun shines.

I’m sure HR folks will disagree. But in a perfectly competitive market labor is mobile and most of the organizations today believe in buying skills rather than developing skills.

Large and established organizations typically have large training facilities and spend on developing quality manpower. However some prefers to adopt the buy strategy and are willing to pay extra for folks with some experience and training. This situation presents a unique challenge to HR in all organizations.

Typically any country which grows at a fast pace but fails to develop adequate infrastructure to develop skilled manpower faces such talent crunch. Indian software talent is one such example in case. This war is likely to get worse in the days to come as global supremacy will depend on the talent pool of the country.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Organisational Agility and Speed

As organizations grow in size and operates from multiple locations, one of the biggest challenges is to maintain flexibility and responsiveness in decision making and execution.Historically organizations that have been able to retain swiftness in decision making despite large scale operations always emerge as winner in the long run.

The findings, from a new McKinsey Quarterly survey, suggest that managers across all main regions and industry sectors acknowledge the increasing significance of agility and speed.

In the survey an organization's "agility" was defined as its ability to change tactics or direction quickly—that is, to anticipate, adapt to, and react decisively to events in the business environment. "Speed" was defined as a measure of how rapidly an organization executes an operational or strategic objective.

Some of the major findings are:

Almost nine in ten respondents say agility is either "extremely" or "very" important to business performance, and 86 percent say the same about speed.

The two organizational elements that most contribute to agility and speed, the two top choices (identified by 41 percent and 39 percent of the sample, respectively) were a clear link between company strategy and the performance goals of individual employees and decision-making authority pushed as far down the organization as possible.

Turning to behavioral and attitudinal issues, more than half of the respondents (57 percent) think sensitivity and responsiveness to customer needs constitute the key to increasing agility and speed.

The survey also sought to explore the main organizational, behavioral, and attitudinal barriers to greater agility and speed. Half of the respondents complain about overly centralized, slow, or complex decision-making and approval processes. And around one in four highlight poor coordination and control of multiple initiatives; inconsistent communication of objectives and targets; boundaries, real or imagined, that impede the flow of information and ideas; and unclear accountability.

As for "softer" barriers, one in three respondents cites a lack of employee purpose, commitment, and motivation.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Leadership Development

I was coaching a CEO just recently who was brilliant and really good at strategic thinking and planning but had a huge underdeveloped capacity around growing people and the whole area of leadership development. It was a huge risk, not only for him, but for his firm as well. And this is a most common issue that we see around partial leadership in large and small companies today, the over focus on head.

We also see that there are some people who really are good at inspiring, and motivating, connecting with people through loyalty and commitment. We call these heart leaders and they really are good in the short term at inspiring people to perform, but sometimes over the long term can’t make the tough choices that are needed for success or they can't give tough feedback or make hard decisions around letting people go.

And then finally we have seen some very intuitive and instinctive guts leaders we call them, who can make bold moves, who can act with little data. They may really attract attention in the short term, take big risks, but in the long term they may get caught up in the drama of their bold moves.

Organizations typically focus on developing leaders at Senior or Top management level but rarely focus on developing leadership skills at middle and junior level. A close look at any organizational functioning will reveal that leadership at the middle management level is the critical factor for organizations success.

Employee’s perception of organizations functioning is seldom driven by the leadership at senior level, it the middle management level which does the balancing act of managing teams and project execution. Attrition, team engagement and productivity is directly connected to Managers ability to manage teams. I’m sure greater efforts on managing talent and developing leaders at middle management level does more than any other retention Strategy of the organization.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

In this age of Free Lunch

TANSTAAFL "There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch" popularized by science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein in his 1966 novel The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, which discusses the problems caused by not considering the eventual outcome of an unbalanced economy.

However the new generation of twenty-something lives in what Chris Anderson terms "the Long Tail," a term he coined in his Wired magazine column and that is the title of his new book. The "Long Tail" describes the region of the item "popularity curve" comprising the vast population of least-popular items, whether it is song titles, books, or little-known brands.

Has technology given the new generation a new gateway to access free, unlimited information? What happened to the Marshall’s good old Demand Supply Partial Equilibrium theory?

In Anderson's view, all of these drive demand down into the tail, which he terms "a culture unfiltered by economic scarcity." In the Long Tail, money is made by such things as avoiding inventory, producing to order, letting customers do the work, pricing creatively and flexibly to various customers, utilizing a variety of distribution methods, sharing information, trusting the market to do your job, and understanding the "power of free" combined with money-making services or products.

HR Paradigm

Last few years has seen the great debate raging over the critical role which HR is going to play in the days to come. Business environment has become less predictable and the competitive value of the firm is decided by its unique and skilled workforce.

Organization strategy is not just driven by the technology they possess and the health of the balance sheet, the critical differentiator is the ability of the firm to scale up to the new growth trends. Growing market uncertainties has varied impact on the organizations future growth potential. Does this translate into an opportunity for the HR, to make its path breaking contribution in defining the Business Strategy of the firm?

Let’s imagine another situation in which marker trends are predictable and technological trends are going to remain stable over a period of time. In this situation do you see HR being considered as critical partner in firm strategy execution?

Chances are that HR will be delegated to do the regular predictable maintenance function and its true worth of leading from the front may remain a distant dream.

So does it means that this is best time for HR make its move from an enabler function to strategic decision maker in deciding the firm’s execution strategy.

Are we prepared to rise to the challenge?

A 2002 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management found that a dismal 34% of executives felt that HR was viewed as strategic business partner. However a careful examination of current trends which drive business decision making shows that HR is the only leading function which can play the most strategic role.

Top 3 drivers in today’s business environment are:

s Speed
s Technology
s Culture and Innovation

Speed: Business decision making is a factor of dynamic environment and speedy decision is key for effective results. Since the environmental variable continues to be ever changing the speed in execution is a function the healthy process and quality practices existing in the organization. Speed in decision making and execution is also characterized by the structure of the teams and units inside the organization. Organizations which have a flatter, nimble and decentralized decision making system in place are in a position to deliver solutions with speed.

Technology: After speed one of the greatest enabler in today’s business environment continues to be technology. Human Resource Functions has leveraged immensely by the effective use of technological tools. It has enabled the HR function to deliver consistent, effective and reliable solutions. Technology assists HR strategy and Business strategy in scaling up to great levels and organizations toady can’t conceive achieving its long term goals with out putting a healthy HR Technology in place.

Organizational Culture and Innovation: Innovations drives the future growth potential of organization and HR plays the most critical enabler in setting the context for a culture of Innovation.

Studies show that with competition getting intense, HR is a primary driving force behind organizational change and technical innovation. Innovations in organizations are function of the culture.

Deal and Kennedy (1982) argue that culture is the single most important factor accounting for success or failure in organizations. They identified four key dimensions of culture:

1. Values – the beliefs that lie at the heart of the corporate culture.

2. Heroes – the people who embody values.

3. Rites and rituals – routines of interaction that have strong symbolic qualities.

4. The culture network – the informal communication system or hidden hierarchy of power in the organization.

Human Resource functions and philosophy of an organization lay the foundation of the healthy and supportive culture. Innovation and organizational culture is the biggest differentiating factor when it comes to be flexibility of approach and responsive to the changing environment.

With this context one can assume that Human Resource functions is the most critical function which will play the most important role in ensuring that organizational not only stay ahead in the war for Talent but also play the strategic role in achieving the business objectives.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Capitalism and Social Change

One of the best practices which have evolved over the years in corporate world is the business of social change. Organization act as major facilitators in brings about changes at various levels in the society by acting as a change agent.

Fast Company article talks about the Social Capitalist winners who have developed some best practices that leaders in any sector can learn from.

Thank your customers. Then thank them again.John Wood, CEO and Founder, Room to Read
We make it a policy to almost "over-thank" our donors with as many creative gestures of appreciation we can imagine. In addition to establishing libraries and building schools, we publish native language books.

Let your customers sell for youPaul Rice, CEO and Founder, TransFair
Our model is to mobilize consumer demand for products that pay farmers a fair price so companies that distribute our certified products are rewarded for doing the right thing. That means that our customers are our most powerful advocates. So we need to find ways to support them and encourage them to speak up, without fostering an aggressive, anti-corporate stance with the companies we want to carry our product.

Recruit the right customers, in the right networks.John Wood, CEO and Founder, Room to Read
We think of these folks as our buzz agents: they talk us up in circles of influence where people are interested in international development and have money to spend.

Do your market research in the field.Christopher Elias, PATH
One of the health technologies we're exploring for use in the developing world is a high-pressure jet injection device that administers shots without a needle. Basically, it puts a stream of fluid under such high pressure that it pierces the skin. Not having a needle eliminates the chance of cross-infection.

Understand the emotional appeal of your brand,Paul Rice, CEO and Founder, TransFair.
People are looking for a way to make a difference. They're concerned about the direction the world is going in. There's so much bad news everywhere. Many people feel like their voice isn't being heard, their vote doesn't count. So maybe fair trade is giving people a way to find that voice again and to feel like they actually can make a difference.