Thursday, November 30, 2006

Impact of Employee Referral's Program

In an interesting analysis Gerry Crispin talks about the impact of employee referral on firm’s hiring over the Job boards. Not that job boards are ineffective but employee referrals are far more effective and have a greater impact than Job boards.

He gives these inputs to substantiate the idea;

Analyzing actual data (as opposed to guesses) from 24 specific firms who filled 188,000 positions during 2005 showed that 32% of the 188,000 were filled with internal movement and promotion. Of the remainder, the folks who were hired externally, 27.1% were filled by Employee Referrals. (source: CXR Annual Source of Hire Survey)

In a second study of employee referrals,More than 50 firms reported that the ratio of the number of hires to the total number of referrals during 2005 produced a yield ranging from 1 hire for every 10 employee referrals to 1 hire for every 2 employee referrals (with 1 hire for every 4 or .25 being the average). (source: CXR Colloquium Benchmark on Referral Practices)

If all companies hired the same percentage of employee referrals (they do not) and, if the average yield for referrals were true for all companies large and small (they are not) then a typical job seeker (there are none) has .271 X .25 chance of being hired if they get a employee to refer them - or about a 6.5% chance of getting hired if they simply focus on getting an employee in a targeted company to refer them.
Previous post on employee referral here .

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Employee Engagement and Leadership

Business needs are not just driven by your external customers and need but also subject to your internal customers. Employees are the key to internal customer’s satisfaction level and different aspects of engagement are put in place in organizations to achieve high internal customer satisfaction. Leaders play the most pivotal role in communicating and giving the message of being an internal customers to Employees.

Ram Charan outlines five steps to engage employees and talks about how attitudes, feelings and emotions that makes work enjoyable and ignites people's energy to do more than they thought they could. Great leaders understand the numbers, but they also touch people's hearts.

1. Spend time and listen.There's no substitute for personal interaction. Even the most competent, motivated professionals can lose focus, energy, and commitment when their interaction with the boss dwindles. Some people will assume others have your ear and feel less important. Others will simply feel overlooked and underappreciated.

2. Help people see why their work is important.It's hard to feel engaged when you're working in a vacuum. You can help people see their individual contribution as part of a bigger picture.

3. Give people honest feedback.
When people aren't meeting expectations, let them know that, too, so that they have a chance to improve. Don't let your disappointments build and fester. If you talk to people regularly there'll be no surprises.

4. Take an interest in people's careers.People will be all the more committed to their work when they know you're the kind of leader who is truly interested in their success. Look for what people are naturally good at and work with them to find ways that they can leverage their talents. This applies to your underperformers as well as your superstars.

5. Take an interest in the person beyond the job.Not every conversation should be about work. People have lives outside of work; indeed, some people are very different outside of their jobs. People will know you care about them if you take time to learn what's important in their lives.

The Full Measure of Leadership

It's in your daily behavior, and it's your energy that creates energy in others. It's that simple.

Put your beliefs into action. Treat people like human beings with full lives, personal ambitions, and both the desire and the right to be valued and heard. Is it different from what you see around you? Maybe so, but that's what leadership is all about.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Asian Heroes

Time magazine has come out with a special issue on Asian heroes. Heroes from five diverse fields which include Arts, sports and Business have been identified. It’s interesting to read the success story of heroes of our times.

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Some interesting leaders like Meena from Afghanistan are really inspiring.

In 1977, at the age of 20, she launched the country's first movement for women's rights, calling her group the Revolutionary Association for the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA). Its goals: the restoration of democracy, equality for men and women, social justice, and the separation of religion from the affairs of the state.

Nobel laureate Mohammad Yunus from Gramin bank on how he started his journey.

In 1974, famine gripped Bangladesh. Hundreds of thousands died and millions became destitute. For Yunus, who had just returned to Bangladesh as an economics professor after completing his Ph.D. in the U.S., it was wrenching to discover how meaningless his academic achievements were in the midst of all this suffering. Hoping to cure his own sense of helplessness, he wandered the muddy lanes of a village next to his university, searching for ways to help. Little did he know that this nervous exploration would plant the seeds of an economic miracle still blooming decades later.

On how Yahoo became a success story.

Created by two Stanford students, Dave Filo and an expat Taiwanese named Jerry Yang, the site was a directory of other websites, organized as a list of useful topics. It was meant for the students' friends, but everyone was hungry at that time for a guide that helped make sense of this chaotic new medium, so Yahoo! quickly became essential for all Web users.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Milton Friedman :1912-2006

Renowned economist and social scientist Milton Friedman died this week on Friday .A supporter of free market economics and the father of monetarism who popularized the term "there's no such thing as a free lunch", he was awarded the Nobel prize for economics in 1976 and his thinking greatly influenced former US president Ronald Reagan and ex-British prime minister Margaret Thatcher.

The Independent reports “Over half a century, Mr Friedman, the son of Hungarian Jewish immigrants, established himself as arguably the most influential economic thinker of his time. Over that post-war period, "Friedmanism" - the belief that changes in money supply dictate fluctuations in the economy - supplanted Keynesianism as the dominant economic philosophy of the industrial world.

Friedman believed in the power of free markets, to the point where it sometimes seemed his only use for government was to regulate the flow of money. The consequence of Friedman's policies was to deepen social and economic inequality. Corporate CEOs could feel entitled to enormous pay packages if, in their view, the marketplace rather than a compliant board of directors, was responsible. Government was hard put to intervene on the side of those not so advantaged, because politicians who espoused the Friedman philosophy kept taxes low and skewed tax cuts in favor of the wealthy.

You can read his autobiography here on Nobel Prize org.

Dave Ulrich on Effective HR

Dave Ulrich on -What differentiates “effective HR” from “ineffective HR”?

HR departments, practices and professionals must add value. This means, simply, that someone receives from these HR investments something that is important to them. Often, we measure HR by what we do — staffing, training, paying, communicating — but we should be focusing on what HR delivers.

To deliver this value, HR departments often are being split in half. Some of the traditional transaction work of HR, which deals with things like payroll, hiring processes and registration for training, are done more efficiently through technology and occasionally outsourcing. More strategic HR practices, such as building collaboration, learning and leadership into an organization, require that HR professionals fully participate with the business leaders at creating more capable organizations.

So the question you need to ask yourself ,how is your work adding value to the organization and its employee in attaining the desired common goal ? I think we all face the issue of finding the right balance between the regular transactional work and collaborating on strategic business goals such as managing career aspirations and engaging employees. This a key challenge for HR in most of most of the organizations, which is being addressed to shift the focus from what we do to what we can deliver.Some have already been able to make the transition and the results are also worth analysing.Perhaps the biggest impact of this shift in focus is the change in the way HR is perceived in the organisations.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Best Companies to Work for in India

So what makes a company a great employer ?Every employer would like to study and adopt the best practices from the best employers .The sixth annual Business Today Best Companies to Work for in India recorded a phenomenal 75% increase in participation from last year and a total of 131 organizations registered for the survey.

The winners of the survey are companies who have made substantial investment in their people, infrastructure, facilities, technology and evolved HR systems. Stock options, flexi-timings, telecommuting, redressal and grievance committees, customized training and development opportunities, career management control and empowerment seem to be standard fare at these organizations. Most companies in the top ten have leveraged technology and have built truly integrated HR systems and processes. This is turn, has benefited and empowered employees who get access to information related to HR policies, performance management review, training needs and career planning tools, online.

The winning organizations have built a strong culture which reflects the values that the company wishes to inculcate in its employees. Communicating these values has gone beyond posters and employee manuals and senior management including the CEO of a winning organization personally facilitates the integrity session as part of the induction program for new employees.

So its not just the HR practices which makes the organizations great but a combination of factors like leadership, values, focus of process benchmarking and greater acceptance and responsiveness towards employees need which leads to high employee satisfaction.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

HR and Recruitment

Lance from YourHRguy talks about why HR and recruitment need to work in harmony for the success of an organization.

When unplanned turnover happens, it is often (but not always) avoidable. And when turnover happens, it is a burden on a recruiter (who may already be sitting on several recs). Wouldn't you rather have your recruiter working on new and high worth positions rather than scrambling to replace a guy that you could have retained? Whenever someone is recruited that ends up having avoidable job fit issues, wouldn't you rather that the recruiter be closely aware of the issues and to work with traditional HR to either solve the issue or to move forward with someone else?

The biggest reason is that separating HR and recruiting will lead to mistakes in most organizations. Mistakes that are both burdening on the employee as well as on the company. Not only lost revenue but lost opportunity. And with the success of both HR and recruiting depending so much upon each other, there has to be a strong, departmental team.
One of the reasons why recruitment and HR always ends up having confrontation is the basic approach toward managing and handling prospective employee expectation. Be it the salary, nature of Job, role, career opportunities, technology or domain there always seems to be a mismatch between expectations, which the recruiter may have set at the time of giving employment offer and the actual job reality. With the constant pressure on numbers and ever increasing hiring targets to be achieved this continues to be a reason why recruiters end up being bad at relationship management.

Employees often land up in a situation where they feel like a disgruntled customer who could not get the services offered by the seller. HR being the point of contact once an employee joins the organization, employees expect HR to meet the expectations set at the time of recruitment. I think one of the primary reasons why HR needs to work closely with recruitment is to have a better co-ordination in managing and improving employee’s initial experience with the organization. This will not only help organization achieve better employee satisfaction but ensure a great assimilation of an employee in the organization from day one.

Azim Premji on Innovation Process

Azim Premji recently spoke on innovation at the Stanford Business School.

Failure is an essential part of the innovative process, “It is impossible to generate a few good ideas without a lot of bad ideas. Failure should be forgiven and forgotten quickly,” he said during his Oct. 27 visit. Premji’s talk was part of the School’s View from the Top speaker series.

To that end, companies must deliberately design a culture of innovation to actively seek feedback from customers, celebrate all kinds of diversity in their workforces, and also foster an environment in which workers feel safe taking risks, even when they fail.

“In every market, at every juncture, there are significant scale advantages that make the largest companies appear invincible. Yet time and time again, upstart technologies create disruptions and they change the rules of the game,” said Premji. He used the example of Skype, which became the first company to offer voice-over-Internet phone services on a broad scale years after all the established phone companies had started talking about the process.

Previous Post on Celebrating failures.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Leadership:The Quiet Style

Is leadership all about charisma and inspiring people with great speeches and effective people’s skill?

Can you think of someone who can effectively play the role of a leader despite being quiet and low profile?

HBS professor Joseph L. Badaracco,In his book Leading Quietly: An Unorthodox Guide to Doing the Right Thing , describes what quiet leaders do and how they make their workplace, and their world, a better place. So who is a quiet leader?

They're not making high-stakes decisions. They're often not at the top of organizations. They don't have the spotlight and publicity on them. They think of themselves modestly; they often don't even think of themselves as leaders. But they are acting quietly, effectively, with political astuteness, to basically make things somewhat better, sometimes much better than they would otherwise be.

One really needs to think hard as we often confuse charisma with leader’s effectiveness. Robert Greenleaf’s concept of Servant leadership also says that the great leader is first experienced as a servant to others, and that this simple fact is central to the leader's greatness. True leadership emerges from those whose primary motivation is a deep desire to help others.

So being in spot light and control of situation does not always makes one a great leader. To some extent this is also what Jim Collins says about level 5 leadership : modest and willful, humble and fearless that’s what a leader is.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Global Indian Manager

Ever wonder why Indian managers are in great demand everywhere?

ET article suggets "Several qualities of Indian management talent have been compelling to multinationals. Regardless of the profession they are in, Indian managers tend to have very strong, foundation skills, honed by our rigorous academic systems. They are quick learners, something that’s again driven by our educational system, the variety of work environments and diversity of issues that they face in India. Indian managers tend to be very adaptable.

Apart from the academic rigours and knowledge of business one trait which really makes the Indian manager indispensable in the ability to handle diversity. This may be something which comes naturally to Indian managers but its one skill which allows them to take a leap.

As a manager managing teams with cross cultural background and different aspiration level is one of the biggest challenges. Our rich cultural background and the ability to interact and manage diverse pool of people help us a long way in managing situations and different stakeholder’s perception better.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Why Innovations fail in organisations ??

Ever wonder why innovations fail despite the buzz being created about the criticality of new ways to come up with better solutions.Jefferey Phillips thinks it’s the unrealistic goals and high expectation that many people are looking at innovation and shying away from participation.

There's simply too much talk about innovation and not enough experimentation and trials. As the talk increases, the level of discourse is not improving, and is only creating barriers as the expectations increase. What most firms need now is to provide tools, processes and training to their innovative folks and get out of the way.

We need more experiments, more trials, more intentional accidents. We need to set the expectations that everyone should be involved in innovation - at least to the extent of generating and submitting ideas. As we define an innovation "team", let's take care not to create innovation ghettos. Too many people are being left out of the process, which means too many ideas aren't being discovered and evaluated.
Geoffrey Moore, author of the book Dealing With Darwin: How Great Companies Innovate at Every Phase of Their Evolution says.

At the end of the day, every function in the corporation has to realign its priorities in order to amplify the innovation to breakaway status. Anything less is simply too easy for competitors to neutralize."

"The failure - and this is a failure of the leadership, not of the rank and file - lies in the failure to prioritize one line of innovation above all others. If management does not take a position on innovation strategy, the company's innovations will continue to bubble up but they will not be aligned. If all are brought to market… none will achieve breakaway status."

Clearly all this indicates that there something more here than just innovations. Perhaps the great debate and attention which innovation generates sometimes goes against the basic objective of encouraging and facilitating innovation. Extremely cautious and pre programmed approach is killing the spirit of innovation. Too many plans, structures and attention have created multiple barriers which firms need to be concerned about.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Mind your language

Jargons can be a highly disadvantageous if one is trying to reach out to people. None other than Freakonomics co author Stephen J. Dubner says -

Most of the literature isn’t very interesting or meaningful to me (this is simply a matter of preference); and some of it might be interesting or meaningful but I am unable to tell. Why? Because the language of economists is often – not always, certainly, but often – deeply obtuse. Now, again, this is my problem, having to do with my preferences and my skills. Research economists, like most academics, are writing for their peers, not the laity. And as much I might like their research to be written in plainer English .

Very true, more often than not great piece of work continues to languish because in fails to connect to people it intends to reach. It’s not just true in case of academics, but even in organizations ,people fail to establish connect with others simply because of the fact that they use too many jargons and make simple facts look really daunting.

Studies suggest that jargon could create a barrier between managers and their teams. Around 54% of employees questioned to mark the fifteenth anniversary of best practice accreditation body Investors in People (IIP) had a low opinion of colleagues who use management jargon.

Six out of 10 employees said they would prefer no jargon at all at work, yet 39% said its use was on the rise.

Commenting on the findings, released today on the first day of 'Investors in People Week', IIP director Nicola Clark, said: "The research gives bosses an invaluable insight into the impact of management jargon on the workplace. While it can be useful shorthand at times, managers need to be more alert to when and how they use it."

So better watch out for the jargons you use….

Michael Porter on Bad Strategies

Michael E. Porter, director of Harvard's Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness recently spoke on -- "Why Do Good Managers Set Bad Strategies?" -- offered as part of Wharton's SEI Center Distinguished Lecture Series.

Portar feels that Bad strategy often stems from the way managers think about competition, he noted. Many companies set out to be the best in their industry, and then the best in every aspect of business, from marketing to supply chain to product development. The problem with that way of thinking is there is no best company in any industry. "What is the best car?" he asked. "It depends on who is using it. It depends on what it's being used for. It depends on the budget."

Managers who think there is one best company and one best set of processes set themselves up for destructive competition. "The worst error is to compete with your competition on the same things," Porter said. "That only leads to escalation, which leads to lower prices or higher costs unless the competitor is inept." Companies should strive to be unique, he added. Managers should be asking, "How can you deliver a unique value to meet an important set of needs for an important set of customers?"

Another mistake managers make is relying on a flawed definition of strategy, said Porter. "'Strategy' is a word that gets used in so many ways with so many meanings that" it can end up being meaningless. Often corporate executives will confuse strategy with aspiration.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Do you hate Recruiters??

In case if you have cursing your recruiter for not attending your calls and sitting over your resume for long. Take a look at this post of microsoft recruiter Jeena and you know the reason why?

Today I received 189 emails: most with resumes, questions and employee referrals. I also received 4 unsolicited phone calls about employment and another 123 people applied to jobs I have posted. This makes grand total of 316 people looking to talk to me today. Keep in mind I also run a team of 8 direct reports spread over 2 different businesses and I spent a large portion of my day running two separate meetings with the business VP and my direct team.

I’m not asking for sympathy- this is after all my job and I love nearly every minute of it- but the reality is that the bulk of people who wanted to talk to me today won’t hear back. And for the people I did talk to, I treated them with encouragement and hope and have good intentions of following up thoroughly, but there is another equally large group of people who will contact me tomorrow and want the same regard. Anyone who is mathematically inclined knows this is an unsustainable equation.
Gosh,it’s a tough ask. One of reasons why recruiting like marketing continues to be a thankless job is because of the continuous pressure to meet next target’s no sooner you finish your current targets you have the next one to think about. The fact that they interact with multiple stakeholders also makes the job challenging and demanding.

Organisations Hiring Philosophy

We have always believed in “hiring for potential” and continue to be guided by this spirit but does it continue to be the mantra for recruitment. Gretchen’s post talks about the gradual shift in hiring approach in software industry over the year.

I was trained to interview against qualities such as a candidate’s ability to learn new technologies or deal with ambiguous situations. As a hiring gatekeeper, it was my job to ensure that the interviewers during final rounds focused their evaluations on similar traits which would indicate a candidate’s ability to live up to their full potential.

While software engineering is still a hot career, the talent a lot of employers seek is not always what’s available in the market. (Supply does not equal demand; expectations are too narrow; many companies competing for the same small pool of talent.) And the jobs a lot of engineers seek aren’t necessarily in their ability to land. (Again, supply does not equal demand; expectations may be too high; many engineers competing for the same small pool of “awesome” jobs.) Zoe and I call this space “the gap,” and it’s not nearly as cool as the store. And really, who wants to live in the gap?

I think companies still hire for potential and attitude but the deciding factor for hiring philosophy of an organization can be the size of operations, nature of operation and location. The size of operation can be a pertinent factor since organizations which have relatively small workforce prefer to hire people with past experience and will expect the employee to be productive from day one .

They are willing to pay higher wages but want complete utilization and hands on skill. On the other hand large organizations still continue to be guided by the philosophy of hiring for potential and typically they hire fresher’s out of college and train them for the jobs. They want lost cost employee and are willing to spend more on training people for desired skill.

However they organizations continue to be guided by business requirements and niche skills continue to hired based on previous experience and role. The key here is to have a balance depending upon the nature of business and talent availability in the location

Offshoring and talent

Offshoring is a business reality which has resulted in jobs migrating to other countries. The common perception that jobs shift due to cost advantage may not hold any more .It’s not just about the low skill work like call centre operation, high end white collar jobs including HR jobs are being outsourced.

The report, "The Globalization of White-Collar Work," says "No longer is offshoring all about moving jobs elsewhere," said the study, which examined 530 companies in the U.S. and Europe. " "Increasingly, it's about sourcing talent everywhere."

Companies in the advanced economies of the U.S. and Europe cannot find domestically the high-skilled talent they need to sustain their innovation and growth strategies," said Duke University Professor Arie Y. Lewin, co-author of the report."They turn to China, India and other countries in Eastern Europe and Latin America in search of highly skilled talent.

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The report indicates that "In terms of locations, India remains the most preferred destination, with China emerging as an important location for engineering, product development and procurement and the Philippines becoming increasingly attractive for office administrative work and contact centres. You can download the report here.