Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Key to Innovations

The importance of Innovation has always been acknowledged by leaders all around, it continues to be a priority and a top challenge for all types of organizations. When organizations are small innovations may be accidental and the process is more informal and individualized. Organisations as they grow face the critical challenge of formalizing the whole process of Innovation. Setting processes and metrics for innovative practice at various level to drive innovation is considered a strategic move for organizations.

As Dave says "Innovation is the collection, assessment and implementation of ideas to transform an organization's:

The world's most innovative companies, such as WL Gore, have created processes, systems, practices, and organizational structures that enable them to innovate continuously, as part of their organizational culture. Such companies are, alas, few and far between. But they are also, not coincidentally, among the world's most knowledgeable companies: knowledgeable about how the world works and what's happening in markets and sciences and arts far removed from their core business.

They are less concerned with what is happening in their own markets and industries because they are leaders -- their competitors are constantly kept off-guard by their innovations and struggling to know what these innovators know. Copycat products, repackaged products and incremental improvements are not innovation.

Knowledge and organizational culture are two most critical factors which affects innovations in organizations. Knowledge I believe is the initiating factor or the necessary condition for enabling innovation but culture is the critical differentiator and also the sufficient condition for innovations in organizations.

A good talent and a knowledgeable workforce sets the context for innovative practices but unless big organizations are adaptable and ready to build around a culture of innovative practices and find of ways of different ways of doing things with respect to Cost, Quality and processes a culture of Innovation may not be existing.

Read more about Innovations here ,here ,here and here.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Share this with your Boss

I’m sure this is something you’d love to share with your boss .This CNN Money article points out to a survey of 900-plus employees by HR consulting firm Development Dimensions International and on the 10 biggest sins of Bosses.

Tries too hard to be everyone's friend


Ignores conflict




Unable to delegate




The survey also comes up with an interesting "wish" list that your boss does possess:

Trust in one's employees


Great team-building skills

Effective coaching skills

The ability to say "no"

A broader perspective

Patience (I’m sure if he reads the list above it will test his wish list virtue for sure)

Decision-making skills

I hope some of them are reading this too ……

Talent Retention and HR's Role

As organizations struggle hard to retain top talent it does brings into focus the role which HR plays in retaining talent.HR policies and processes can help organizations to give employees a better work experience but does HR actually retains talent. Well to some extent it can, but more than retaining talent it lays a framework for talent management the actual execution of which lies with the line manager.

So the effectiveness of HR lies in not only coming up with good talent retention plans which looks good on presentations. The most critical function is execution and operational efficiency where can HR can only play the role of facilitator.

So if you thought that you’ve done a fair job by hiring the best, think again as it may not always be the best or the star performers may not always be the ones who win laurels for teams.

As Butt Sutton rightly says

Call it whatever you want, but as the war for talent seems to be heating up again, companies that fight it right will spend less time looking for solo stars and more time looking for dynamic duos, teams, and networks of people that have worked together in the past and want to work together more in the future. And perhaps it is time for modern HR practices to catch-up with the evidence.

But whatever you call it, while HR practices turn attention to individual stars, study after study shows when people have experience working together – and have learned who knows what, how to read those little signals that people send off, and can communicate ideas quickly and efficiently – their teams and organizations perform better.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Talent War and Organizational Strategies

The talent shortage just seems to be getting more acute and so is the war for talent becoming fiercer. The war appears to be on an intense pitch in the high tech industries where key to survival and growth is the mind power of the workforce. The Economist reports that large and growing number of businesses outside the tech industry—from consulting to hedge funds—are also facing the heat. It talks the various strategies adopted by the likes Accenture and Mckinsey to attract and retain talent.

Clearly there is more to good management than hiring the best and the brightest. Among other things, it requires rewarding experience as well as talent, and applying strong ethical codes and internal controls. Indeed, talent-intensive businesses have a particular interest in maintaining high ethical standards. Whereas in manufacturing industries a decline in such standards is often slow, in talent-intensive ones it can be terrifyingly sudden, as Arthur Andersen and Enron found to their cost.

All the same, structural changes are making talent ever more important. The deepest such change is the rise of intangible but talent-intensive assets. Baruch Lev, a professor of accounting at New York University, argues that “intangible assets”—ranging from a skilled workforce to patents to know-how—account for more than half of the market capitalization of America's public companies.

The writing is clear on the wall and every business is getting affected by the talent shortage. Depending upon the nature of the business organizations have to come with a rewarding and challenging strategy for attracting, developing and retaining talent. Most of the high tech industries like Google and Microsoft have not only worked on developing a unique employer brand proposition but have also created a positive connect with prospective employees through other sources like blogs.

One of the biggest challenges in retaining continues to create opportunities which individual employees find challenging as well identify with. Managing individual career aspirations is something which is going to be critical differentiator in enabling organizations to stay ahead in this war for talent.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Infosys HRD team wins SHRM Leadership Awards

Infosys HRD team has been awarded in the Inaugural Leadership Awards which was hosted by the SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management).Amongst the 141 applicants from across the globe, and Infosys HRD team made it to the very top in the Innovative Business Solutions category for the 2006 SHRM Human Capital Leadership Awards.

SHRM is the world’s largest association devoted to Human Resource Management, representing more than 210,000 individual members around the globe. The award details will be featured in the November issue of HRM magazine. The Human Capital Leadership Awards are presented in four categories: three awards honoring exemplary HR departments—Innovative Business Solution Award, Competitive Workforce Award and Strategic HR Leadership Award—and the Human Capital Business Leader of the Year Award, recognizing a senior HR leader.

“These awards highlight the essential role that human resource professionals play in developing and executing people strategies that are critical to organizational success,” said Susan R. Meisinger, SPHR, SHRM’s president and CEO.

SHRM feels that ‘Recognition as a winner will enhance your organization’s ability to recruit and retain quality employees as well as increase your organization’s visibility.’

In words of Bikaramjit Maitra , VP-HR, Infosys , “As we embark upon hiring in a big way across the globe this award will certainly give us a great boost.”

Friday, October 06, 2006

Social Capital approach

The other day I posted on how organizations need to find out ways to benefit from the knowledge and skill of employees who are leaving. I came across this interesting study which says “losing an employee, at least in a high-tech field, is not necessarily as bad as it seems.”Firms can wind up learning when employees leave their firm, which is contrary to the conventional wisdom -- that firms learn by hiring away employees," says Wharton management professor Lori Rosenkopf.

But Rosenkopf says the picture is different when employees are viewed in terms of "social capital." Workers aren't just silos of knowledge and skill onto themselves, but rather are part of social networks of workers from various firms who talk about what's going on in their field. Those networks may involve formal arrangements, such as strategic alliances, but they may also be informal, involving professional conferences, email exchanges, common blog sites or even after-hour socializing.

"The social capital approach would predict that the firm losing an employee would gain access to the new employer's knowledge, while the human capital approach would not," the researchers suggest in their paper.

So it’s not always a bad idea if at all some people leave organizations. But building such social capital of the organization continues to be a challenge. This concept may work as long as people are able to associate themselves with the previous organization and continue to share an intimate and personal relation with colleagues and ex-co workers. It all depends on the learning and sharing culture which the organization has been able develop.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Is HR Outsourcing the right solution ?

"Companies today are trying to do more with a limited amount of resources. Outsourcing the recruitment process allows the central HR staff to do more strategic recruiting tasks. HR specialists with a master's degree don't need to spend valuable time populating spreadsheets. Their job is to get the right people before the right managers. Then, they have to retain them. That's HR's core mission," says Rob Brown, Gartner's Research Director for Human Resources Outsourcing Worldwide.
I’m sure you’ve heard it before and you’ll keep hearing more of this in the days to come. The transactional vrs strategic debate continues as HR functions continue to evolve. Ask any HR professional on a random basis and the chances are that 70% of the folks do find that the transactional issues like policy communication, clarification, query resolution ,regular administrative work does not allows them to focus more on strategic functions which will have better impact on organizations health and long term growth.

Does that means all such transactional functions needs to be outsourced? GE feels so .

At GE, the human resources department found transaction work was creeping into the workday. They found themselves bogged down in adding people to Oracle, phoning candidates to schedule appointments, processing candidates' expenses, and updating the company's compliance folder. "We want our HR members to be strategic and work on more high-end projects," says Mary Lou Gibson, a member of GE's Technical Program and Center of Excellence Leader for Interns and Co-ops.

Sounds familiar but let’s look at the other side of the story. Will it really help HR functions in organizations if they simply resort to outsourcing of transactional work?

Does it actually help in improving efficiency of HR operations?

It’s true that most of the transactional work does little to add value to HR’s own functional expertise but the focus should not be on outsourcing but automating the process which will reduce turn around time and also ensure that the HR connect remains in the processes. Any employee will prefer walking over to HR and discuss the matter rather than hoping that some remote operator will help him understand and clarify internal policies.

I guess the key lies in ensuring a balance between transactional routine process based work and also developmental work. One can’t be expected to do developmental and strategic work unless a fair understanding of Hr processes exists.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Managing Knowledge

Jim Lee shares his experience on how organizations fail to come up with a process to capture the learning of a senior experienced resource. Having spent 30 years as a professional in various capacities, the learning and insight of Lee is something which every organization would try to leverage .However do organizations have plans to capture his expertise acquired over the years?

The problem is worse yet when a company initiates a reduction in force. There, the planning horizon is probably a lot shorter, and the ability to capture and retain the knowledge of those being laid off is limited at best. Having been laid off twice in my own career, I know that those organizations simply wanted me out as soon as possible so as not to create a disruption among those who remained. What they also didn’t get was any benefit of my knowledge—learned at their expense. My next employers were the beneficiaries of that.

I think this need to be addressed in context of 2 major issues.

Organizational size and scale of operation: Organizations which are relatively small and have few important positions, handle such issues differently. They lack pre-defined processes to capture such inputs and are liable to loose in such situations. On the other hand large organizations do have processes and system in place and also have recognition system in place for such situations.

Critical nature of function/role: It also depends on the critical nature of the role the individual is performing. An organization may not require capturing all relevant expertise in case if the same is redundant in present context and the role is not critical in nature. So time and criticality of function is also important. What may be important skill today may not be relevant in the days to come with change in technology and business.

Perhaps critical functions and an understanding on future course of business trends and patterns may help in preparing organization to effectively capture the inputs and share some expertise in the days to come.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Employees Referal Programs

The robust growth trends witnessed over the last few months has seen huge spurt in demand of trained manpower. Since hiring laterals is an increasing challenging task in the war of talent, organizations are increasingly relying upon employee referrals programs to attract talent.

This is working so well in most of the organizations that nearly 70% of all laterals joining the organizations today are from employee referral schemes. Employee’s referral programs in organization are being given various kinds of incentive like monetary rewards, products and even paid holiday trips.

Most of the organizations face an uphill task of sourcing genuine profiles with accurate information. Referral program helps organization on getting appropriate profiles which ensures that the employees have an increased sense of ownership and accountability towards the organization. This also has an positive impact on employee’s motivation and helps the organization in creating better internal partnership with employees in employer branding.

Business Standard has more on trends in employee referral program in India. It also talks abut the flip side of the program.

The big downside is that since employees get a chance to bring in people they know, there is a risk of a negative-minded group getting embedded in a company. In some instances of fraud in BPO firms, made possible by a nexus among criminally-minded employees, the referral system was seen as a root cause.

Although such possibilities can’t be denied altogether but the impact and no would be negligible and most likely to be prevalent in non-specialized functions. I am sure the past performance of an employee can also be looked as one indicator of the likely referral. Generally referrals are from previous organizations, relatives or spouse, or common friends.