Monday, July 30, 2007

Know Your Gossip Quotient :)

Employee communication through informal means works fastest and rumor mills always reach faster than any formal channel of communication. Grapevines has been always considered as a powerful communication network and as per wiki a study quoted in Forbes magazine concludes that 75 percent of employees hear about matters first through rumors on the grapevine.

Robbins states that rumors flourish in an organization because of three elements. They are a response to situations that are important to employees, where there is some ambiguity, and under conditions that arouse anxiety. From a management perspective, the grapevine acts as a filter and a feedback mechanism to identify issues that employess consider important and relevant.

The Political Calculation blog has come up with an interesting tool which can help you decide if, and also how, you should join in the guilty pleasure that is office gossip at your company.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Managing Internal talent

Career planning and talent management in organizations are subject to various challenges today. Organizations may not always be able to attract and develop talent internally; especially it’s difficult to keep pace with the kind of growth organizations have seen in the last decade. At times home grown talent is often over looked in favour of outside talent in the name of fresh blood and out of box approach. This often leads to unhappy senior and middle management as they feel left out due to the fact that they have grown internally. Interestingly Jerry Yang co-founder of Yahoo who has recently taken over as the CEO faces this challenge as well.

"Being an insider is comforting to the organization as current employees see one of their own in charge," says Wharton management professor Peter Cappelli. "Insiders also know a lot, especially about the culture of the organization and what is important to preserve. Founders, in particular, have an advantage in that they remind employees of what were, in Yahoo's case, more glorious days."

Experts at Wharton say that Yang's biggest priorities should be boosting employee morale and finding key insiders to promote into leadership roles. Yang has said that recruiting talent -- internally or externally-- is one of his biggest goals. Yang should play to his strengths, including his knowledge of Yahoo's inner workings. Since Yang already knows the internal landscape, he's in the best position to identify future leaders from within. Wharton management professor Keith Weigelt agrees. "I would look for talent internally first rather than recruiting it," he says. "If you look externally first, people inside wonder, 'What's wrong with our people?' He has to mine Yahoo and then find the most talented employees."
Sometimes in the hurry to quick fix a problem organizations end up hiring outsiders hoping they will start afresh and bring a new perspective and fix deep rooted cultural issues which the organization has developed over the years. When organizations face crisis employees need some familiar face which represents the culture and values, it’s a kind of reassurance to them which helps to keep motivated and positive.Crisis situations demands a deeper understanding of the softer issues and a historical perspective of organisation ability to respond to challenges ensures that the decision maker is aware and appreciates the rationale for decisions taken, which may appear strange to external stakeholders but are made keeping in mind the organizational culture and dynamics .

Sunday, July 22, 2007

What HR does ?

This Business week article made me think how challenging and diverse can be the job of a Human resource professional.

Apart from conveying really bad news—a workforce reduction or a painful reorganization—there are a few other less-than-sensational aspects of an HR career, depending on your temperament and the companies you work for. Lots of HR people I know, for instance, complain about the constant cost-cutting that turns them into the bad guys who must inform employees on a regular basis of reductions in everything from travel allowances to flavors of tea in the break room.

Other HR people wish that the role they play could be more instrumental in making the company a great place to work and less focused on policy and documentation. Still other HR folks spend more time than they'd like protecting the company from employee-relations lawsuits and wage-and-hour claims.

The attention which HR gets, challenges it faces and kind of impact which HR actions have on the employees in the organization is profound and long lasting. I am sure if we all look back at our career as in HR we truly cherish those moments of great joy when we see people dreams come true and also have learnt few lessons when we have to take some tough human decisions at time.

Be it business partner, decision enabler, championing people’s cause or defending policy decisions it’s a challenging and ever demanding job. One has to walk on a tight rope; you are everyone friends yet can’t afford to take sides. You have to stand for fairness and consistency, be mentally prepared to face challenges and answer all odd questions. You are the quintessential nice guy yet some may look at you as part of them (management). You are the change agent and also the custodian of culture and values.

The role has been evolving continuously and best part is that you have the scope and space to scale new challenges by bring about change and move from trusted business partner to transformation partner.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

On HR Metrics

A century's worth of MBAs would seem sufficient to propagate a by-the-numbers approach into every nook and cranny of the business world, but it hasn't worked out that way. By most accounts, companies have done a respectable job of mastering financial metrics, but have largely taken a flier on measurements of operations or intangibles such as customer satisfaction or brand loyalty.

Fifteen years ago the advent of the "balanced scorecard" sought to redress this imbalance by demonstrating how nonfinancial metrics could be captured and used to help managers "see their company more clearly — from many perspectives — and make wiser long-term decisions," according to its creators, Robert Kaplan and David Norton. But despite the popularity of that approach at a strategic level, many consultants and academics say it left thorny questions unaddressed at more tactical levels.

Use of HR metrics for measuring the impact and efficacy of practices and policies seems to be similar problems. Measuring the Intangible has multiple challenges and the success lies in identifying the top metrics which captures the critical indicator of organizations deliverables. Identifying key HR functions like recruitment metrics, training metrics, performance management and employee engagement metrics are widely believed to capture the deliverables for HR function.

As Sullivan rightly said “The most common error that I find is that of HR managers trying to create and implement metrics in a vacuum. Instead, I recommend a collaborative approach, in which you take a list of strategic HR metrics that you can live with to the CFO and let him or her select the specific ones that are most likely to measure business impact and be easily understood and considered strategic by top management. By letting the CFO play a role in the selection process and allowing them to make the final decision on what metrics you will move forward with, you eliminate many of the roadblocks you may encounter — and you'll recruit a high-level champion at the same time.

It’s important to understand how you are reviewing and analyzing the metrics and then setting new measurable realistic targets to improve on the key metrics. Sometimes we intend to address too many issues at the same time and then loose focus. Metrics under functions like recruitment and employee engagement which has a more direct impact of business performance can be linked to organizations overall metrics and also made performance measures for various roles so that it has a more direct linkage with individual and organizations goals as well.

Monday, July 02, 2007

HR as Leading Indicator

I'm sure some of us have seen or heard it before in our profession.

Makes me wonder how many of us come forward and take ownership of our actions.

Accept failures when things go wrong.

Come forward and say yes this is my idea and I have a plan to achieve this result and have this target in mind for this action plan.

One can't expect HR to be a leading indicator unless we have leadership which is driven by metrics and linked to bottom line results of the organization. I’m sure we need more HR leaders who lead by end results rather than mere thoughts.

In case if you are doing this then you need to share your experiences and train the rest of the HR folks around. I’m sure we can do better as a professional community by sharing our learning and experiences on this account and raise the levels of HR benchmarking and best practices.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Talent Retention Challenges

As organizations grow they face the challenge of attracting and retaining top talent. Talent strategies may work fine when the organization is small and has the space to offer challenging and fast growing opportunities. It becomes difficult to sustain the organizational growth and continue to offer the same kind of challenge and career growth for talents.WSJ reports how the Google is also facing this challenge of attracting and retaining top talent.

Google had more than six times the number of workers at the end of the first quarter than it had at the same point in 2004, which some former employees say tends to slow decision-making and make it harder for individuals to feel like they're having an impact.

Google stock option are beginning to finish vesting for thousands of employees brought on during a big Google hiring spree in 2003 and 2004, lessening the financial incentives to stay.

On top of all this, a new generation of Internet start-ups has matured enough to attract top technical talent and offer a real possibility of riches from a stock offering or sale to a bigger company. In contrast, Google's shares hit a record level this week, suggesting the stock simply doesn't offer the same potential gains it once did. The concentration of many of the start-ups within a few miles of Google's headquarters, which Google itself has exploited in the past, can make poaching staff a faster and easier pursuit.

Still, Mr. Bock says Google executives spend a lot of time thinking about how to attract and retain top talent as the company grows in size. "We don't want to become a victim of our own success; we're aware of that risk," he says.

The company acknowledges that creative and entrepreneurial people are the core of its success -- that's one reason Google lavishes them with extravagant free food and other perks. "If we do not succeed in attracting excellent personnel or retaining or motivating existing personnel, we may be unable to grow effectively," Google has acknowledged in regulatory

Best talent continues to aspire more as they achieve success and try to repeat the same experience at a faster and more ambitious pace. Organisations typically find it difficult to keep pace with the growing aspirations of its top talent and this is when the point at which companies needs to rethink the ways they plan to engage employees. As this article clearly outlines that when it comes to human resources, one size no longer fits all.

One set of rules dictated everything from the kinds of benefits and rewards the company offered to how employees were trained and evaluated. That approach made things easier for the human-resources department and ensured a degree of efficiency, equality and fairness. Now some executives are finding that this model isn't adequate for getting the most out of existing talent or attracting and keeping new people. To be competitive in the marketplace and in the race for talent, companies must understand and address the diverse needs of their work force. In fact, they must treat each employee as a "work force of one."
Following this efforts are being made by HR folks to ensure more flexibility, create more opportunities for career growth ,allow individuals greater space in deciding and planning different career paths within the organization .

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Sun Microsystems Inc. asks employees to identify the type of physical setting that suits them best -- a private office, team room, satellite center or their home office. Microsoft Corp. goes so far as to ask certain types of employees to design their own career paths. The company offers software engineers both a management-focused and technical-specialist career track and allows them to move back and forth between the two.
Surely this indicates a marked shift in the way talent is being retained and developed in organizations. Career decisions are not just being made on the challenging role and compensation and ESOP’s being offered but how one gets the opportunity to plan his career and try different things in the same organization.