Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Did you know ?

Interesting presentation on amazing facts which I’m sure we never come across in our daily lives. Few thoughts which immediately come to my mind are :

• Population is actually turning out to be greatest resource for a nation to have. Human resource will be the biggest source of competitive gain even in the days to come.

• At the same time the concept of a nation is blurring due to rapid exponential growth of technology, alternate sources of information like web based tools.

• While nations will continue to have economic and political interest, the power of connectivity has enabled the current generations to tide over the barriers of language and culture. As we grow our cultures will continue to grow locally with global flavor( some say glocalisation)

• If we do not connect the digital and real world at a rapid pace, we will be marginalizing a section of world’s population which would mean greater issues of governance and equitable distribution of wealth and resources.

• Empowerment will acquire a new meaning as the power distance paradigm will change.

• Future continues to be more uncertain despite all our efforts to predict and control changes.

• Mere information does not enables human beings to take most informed and best possible decision as uncertainty will create more information asymmetry and thereby greater chaos.

• Definition of specialization will surely change, people will get into multiple job, try multiple options before they decide to go for a vocation.

• Formal education process will slowly become redundant as future continues to grow uncertain. Growing uncertainties will force education curriculum to focus on developing functional and generic competencies.

• Small will continue to be beautiful.

Any other thoughts?

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Managing Diverse Workforce


Managing a team with members from different cultural background and nationality has its own unique dimensions and challenges. Typically organizations have different training modules which train people on cross cultural aspects before they get exposed to the people of various nationality and culture.

Research shows that most of the organizations have few common issues which inhibit the advancement of diverse groups in the workplace : (1) negative attitudes and discomfort toward people who are different, (2) discrimination, (3) prejudice, (4) stereotyping, (5) racism, and (6) bias.

In one of the HBR series discussions, Navi Radjou, VP at Forrester Research shares his insight on why Indians score over their western counterparts.

He asked senior execs at both Western and Indian multinationals with R&D operations across US, Europe, and India what challenges they face in managing their firms’ transnational innovation networks. They pointed out that the biggest hurdle is socio-cultural, as Indian engineers think and act completely differently than their Western colleagues. The former, growing up in a red-hot economy, are animated by a “growth mindset” whereas the latter, operating in mature economies, are stuck in a “settled mindset.” These two opposite approaches clash when they are asked to collaborate on a R&D project. Why? Because Indian and Western engineers completely differ in their:

1) Reasoning. Unlike Western engineers,who reason with a predicate logic (a statement is either true (1) or false (0),Indian engineers solve problems using a fuzzy logic,the degree of truth of a statement can range anywhere between 0 and 1.

2) Problem-solving. Given their average age (mid-20s), Indian engineers belong to the Generation Y, or the Millennials, who learn through hands-on experiments (think video-games) and peer-to-peer interactions (instant messaging anyone?). When solving a problem, these grown-up “kids” harness the multiplicative power of social networking tools to experiment with multiple solutions simultaneously, and select the optimal one based on peer input. You can call this problem-solving approach “Collaborative Darwinism.” By contrast, Western engineers, many in their 30s/40s/50s, theoretically weigh the pros and cons of every single solution before even trying it, and feel too proud to ask for help when stuck solving a problem. It’s the “ostrich-style” problem-solving.

3) Market expectations. It’s hard for Western engineers living in rich economies with advanced infrastructure to design products for use by customers in developing economies with poor roads and unreliable electrical and water supply. But that’s second nature for Indian engineers in Bangalore, with its ever-congested roads and frequent power cuts. As a US tech multinational’s exec eloquently puts it: “Western engineers’ product ideas are shaped by laws of abundance whereas Eastern engineers’ inventions are motivated by the rules of scarcity.
Just to add to this , it’s also interesting to look at the famous Geert Hofstede™ Cultural Dimensions when one tries to do a comparative assessment of diverse workforce. His assessment is based on five primary Dimensions to assist in differentiating cultures: Power Distance - PDI, Individualism - IDV, Masculinity - MAS, Uncertainty Avoidance – UAI and Long-Term Orientation – LTO.India scores fairly different when compared to western countries when one looks at all these dimensions, so the differences are expected. When it comes to product designing or any solution perhaps the awareness and better understanding of cultural diversity, language barrier and different socio economic approach towards consumption and consumer behavior drives Indian mindset.So instead of terming it mindset of scarcity versus abundance it would be appropriate to term it as informed and sensitized approach towards ideas and conceptualization.

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Sunday, August 03, 2008

Salary Compression – A HR Nightmare?

If there's one thing that's tipping the scales for fresh employees and leaving the veterans out in the cold, it's salary compression. There's no room for loyalty to the company when market conditions have to be taken into consideration and new hires have to be paid according to industry standards. With the internal annual rate of increase between 4 and 7 percent and the industry annual rate of increase touching 10 to 15 percent, there's a huge disparity between what more experienced workers earn and what their fresh-faced counterparts just setting foot in the company make.

The situation is compounded year after year, as those with the company for a longer period of time continue to earn comparatively less than those who've come after them. HR professionals and managers have been put in a bind by salary compression – they're forced to pay the going rate for the best of the new talent to hit the market even as they risk the ire and resentment of individuals who have slogged for the company for more than a few years, but who are earning a significantly smaller amount than those coming in, even with the annual hike in their salaries.

Older employees are forced to change jobs then, since they are likely to be paid the higher market rates by new employers, which means that more new employees have to be hired at current market rates, and more money has to be spent on recruitment and training costs and on higher salaries. This leads us to the questions - Isn't it more rational to increase the salaries of older employees on par or at slightly higher rates than those of their newer colleagues? Is it worth the low morale, frustration and reduced productivity that older employees exhibit when faced with the news that their juniors, people they have to take under their wings and train, are taking home more money than they are? Does this make for a workplace conducive to harmony and cooperation?

Employers are struggling to address these issues without emptying the company's coffers on salary alone. In an attempt to retain valued and experienced employees, they are offering perks like the use of company transport, phone bills at the company's expense, access to health clubs and paid vacations. Some companies are restructuring their pay levels in a new attempt termed broad banding where employers assume more flexibility in defining job descriptions and adjusting pay scales accordingly. Others offer bonuses and incentives on a performance-based model.

A job market with a limited amount of skilled labor and a large number of jobs that require highly skilled professionals gives employees the upper hand – they are able to dictate terms and threaten to quit if they're not paid what they think they're worth. But then, too much of job hopping is seen as a sign of instability in industry circles, unless the employee has something really special to offer in terms of skill and ability. At the end of the day, it's up to organizations to affect the trade off between retaining experienced employees at a higher pay or spending more to bring in new ones and train them well.

This article is contributed by Heather Johnson, who regularly writes on HR manager. She invites your questions and writing job opportunities at her personal email address: heatherjohnson2323 @ gmail.com

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Saturday, August 02, 2008

On ROI, HR Skills & Perception about HR Function

ROI on Training and Leadership programs

Training evaluation usually takes into account the following factors.

• Reaction-How the participants reacts to the program

• Learning-Depending upon the nature of the program ways to measure the learning has to be worked out.

• On Job behavior -To access the effective changes for the desired result on the team and the individual.

• Business result-how the change in behavior has positively impacted business result.

• Calculating the return on investment (ROI).

Most of the organizations focus only till stage 4 of the evaluation process. Typically there are 3 aspects which are considered to be looked at under ROI.

Desired Impact- has the training program been effective it facilitating change as it was desired. Training is one of the many tools available; it must justify its effectiveness as a viable business solution to remain relevant and viable.

Cost –to substantiate that the cost incurred leads to positive impact of profitability.

• Improve the design and content of future training programs on the basis of feedback received.

The best way to evaluate the ROI on training is to do a control group experiment and evaluate the performance of both the teams on the basis of pre identified hard and soft data points like absenteeism, productivity, morale, enthusiasm etc. Only if the pre determined targets are achieved for the group which has undergone training is evident it would be viable to have effective ROI assessment. However ROI assessment has its own challenges since the effectiveness also depends on individual willingness and openness to change behavior through structured intervention.

In my personal experience the best training programs are run by people who have demonstrated exceptional leadership ability and have proven track record of being a performer and great achiever in any field of life. Only those who are exceptional achievers can inspire others raise the bar and achieve new heights.

New Skills for HR Professionals

HR function in itself is the core of any entrepreneur activity. For any organization to be effective it needs great managers and great managers must be great team leaders having exceptional people capabilities. However Marketing (Business development and Sales) and finance are two functions which HR professionals must have to become quite essential entrepreneurs. In one of my earlier post on my blog I had opined on “selling skills for HR professionals”. Cross functional expertise is a core competency for HR professional as it is involved in Hiring, training, mentoring, developing career path and designing robust performance management system and policies for all functions in the organizations. Unless it has the necessary know how of business, functional, operational and strategic goals of teams it will never succeed in performing its role effectively.

Perceptions about HR department

Depends on what we are trying to achieve, we keep reading lot of surveys and findings on the role of HR in organizations and what is expected from HR teams .Perception of employees will change only if the expectations are aligned to the common goal. As long as HR leadership in your teams are able to differentiate and successfully execute the employee value proposition and integrate the same with organizations people’s philosophy ,in my view it would have done its core function.

HR must re-define and change the way it sees itself, it ought to articulate its business value proposition and strategic contribution more effectively. It should become a viable change agent in driving the strategic goal of organizations. Only when these goals are achieved we can expect changes in the way HR function is perceived.

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Friday, July 18, 2008

Inflation's impact on HR function

Inflation is a cyclical economic phenomena, in a globalised world inflation in not just driven by internal economic variables but also get influenced by common economic concerns like global oil prices, entry and exit barriers to economies, food grain production etc. The current inflation trend is cost push inflation which is more driven by the rise in the cost of essentials goods and services. It even leads to rise in wages in excess of any gains in labor productivity, this leads to increase in unit costs of production and thus further spiraling prices.

Generally when Inflation is more demand driven (total demand for goods and services in an economy exceeds the available supply) it leads to increase in the production of goods and services. This means more employment opportunities and higher demand for skilled labour and if supply fails to match the demand for skilled and highly skilled labour, wages move northward and it also leads to higher attrition in organizations where even demand for labour is more.

In case of Cost push inflation the demand for labour does not necessarily goes up,on the other hand organizations looks for ways to reduce cost and reduce redundant work force as the cost of services and managing a non productive workforce goes up. Cost push inflation also leads to demand for higher wages to meet the growing expenses and organizations face dual challenge of managing external as well as internal cost push .This often leads to wage price spiral which means increase in wages will drive cost of goods and services.

In such situations it becomes very critical for the HR team to take the right decisions on:

  • Hiring the best talent-To ensure that the value added is more than the cost

  • Improving productivity - Initiate ways to enhance productivity per employee, to have better retention programs to engage the high performers.

  • Review the compensation and benefits applicable: Change in economic scenario drive the compensation structure, too much of market uncertainty would mean that variable and bonus component of employees needs to be aligned to marked realities.

  • Partner with leadership on decision making- Don't forget the role of the ear piece of senior leadership in your organization, HR has to come up with relevant findings and metrics which helps the organization meet challenges better.

  • Communicate effectively and timely: In such economic scenario it becomes very critical that right information reaches employees at the right time. Even if it's a decision which is likely to negatively impact the compensation or benefits of the employee, it's very critical that the rationale for change and how it will help the organization and its workforce to meet the challenges are well articulated by leadership and HR teams.

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

HR benchmarking and systems

Recently my interview appeared in SCOOP an online HR magazine, it covers industry news , analysis and features the latest from the HR world. The interview covered wide ranges of issues ranging from HR strategies, processes and various other issues which organizations are grappling today. Here is the first part the interview.

On Benchmarking in the field of HR.

Benchmarking in today’s business environment has different context for different organizations.HR practices have also been keeping pace with ever dynamic business environment and every industry presents unique challenges for HR professionals. There are two important aspects which every HR team must try and benchmark against:


Innovative HR Practices: HR practices needs continuous change and innovation, it is key to the competitiveness of any industry. HR teams have to lead in setting new trends in attracting and engaging talent. Today the best places to work are those which have Innovative and engaging HR practices. If you are looking at benchmarking HR practices you need to review the existing practices and then indentify high impact areas which you think are critical for the execution of your business goals and long term employee philosophy.

Humane Processes: I have deliberately used the word humane as we tend to standardize and reduce the human touch in the name of standard HR processes. This is especially true for large organizations as they find it difficult to resolve unique situations through their HR processes.HR teams must set up processes which are more fungible and responsive to employees need rather than just operation ease.HR process benchmarking should focus on creating unique employee experience, in this regard small upcoming companies can provide valuable examples to emulate.

On successful HR system and its implementation?

In my view it’s not just the successful “system” per say which makes the difference. It’s all about the people you have in your team and the way they go on to do their daily job with great excitement and enthusiasm which is the mantra for any successful system. Some of the best organizations have doomed after their best leaders and team members have quit while some of the very ordinary organizations achieve remarkable results by sheer team effort and promoting a culture of co-operation and collaboration.

At present HRIS (Human resources Information System) is the critical backbone of any HR system. In most the of the organizations ccurrently Human Resource Management Systems covers following functions:

HR solutions like client-server (distributed system comprised of both client and server software), Application Service Provider, and SaaS(software as a service) Human Resource Management Systems has enabled HR processes to be structured and streamlined. The manual effort has reduced considerably and helped HR operations to scale their services effectively. These HR systems have helped HR teams to focus more on engaging and developing employees more effectively.

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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Employee Performance Management System

Talent management is one of the most critical and ever challenging activities for any HR team. Sound performance management system is quintessential for the success of any talent management strategy for any organizations. While lot of organizations have automated their Performance evaluation and rating processes a large number of small and medium enterprises continues to struggle between legacy systems and new age Human capital management systems which integrates different aspects of performance measurement and also integrates it with other ERP and HRIS (human resource information system) .Some of the key factors which needs to be considered while adopting automated IT system based performance evaluation model are:

• A well defined performance management tool should focus on arriving at role based assessment and evaluation matrix which is duly aligned with the competencies defined for each role.

• Ratings must translate into performance index scores and should follow the philosophy of the performance evaluation and distribution method generally followed, for example –MBO, Force rating method or Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scales.

• Key tasks and related competencies for each task should be duly mapped and performance grading should have pre set values assigned to the tasks performed.

• It must consider the various variables which have influence of the final deliverables. These variables will again be unique to the roles and competencies.

• Performance index must be benchmarked for different performance scales (best, average and below average performers)

• It should integrate metrics and milestones from any other HR or Internal systems, to enable evaluator assess more accurately with the help of readily available data for specific tasks.

• Should capture qualitative aspects and clearly identify the strengths and performance highlights like client appreciation, key differentiators and initiatives etc.

• It should help in identifying the developmental needs (training, mentoring etc) on the basis of the gaps, based on the assessment against the desired superior performance level.

• Basis Performance management aspects like SMART Goals (Specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely) needs to be factored and assessment must be done again pre defined goals and role based evaluation parameters.

• It must cover relevant feedback and evaluation ratings from all stakeholders apart from the manager and next level reviewer to enable more holistic and 360* overview of the employees performance.

• Periodic review and update features to give a comprehensive assessment for the performance calendar, should not necessarily be open during a particular time during the evaluation window but allow periodic ratings to be weighted for the purpose of cumulative index score.

• It should help in identifying the readiness of the employee to perform a higher role and also capture the future career aspirations.

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Sunday, May 04, 2008

5 ways to get more done in your Workday

A major complaint among HR professionals these days is a severe lack of time. This is a common concern across the professional landscape and something that we all combat every day. You probably find yourself hoping for more hours to get more done. This isn’t going to happen but there are ways you can make more productive use of your time to make sure that your “to-do” lists are completed by the day’s end. Here are five ways you can create this needed time:

1. Switch your hours. If the 9-5 shift isn’t providing you enough time to get everything done that you need to then consider working longer. Wake up an hour earlier and get to work that much earlier. The earlier you get to work the less interruptions you’ll encounter. While your free time will be cut into you’ll feel more satisfied that you got more done.

2. Multitask. This is the catchword of the day and it’s here to stay. If you’re trying to further your career then listen to audio textbooks while in the car. Waiting for a doctor’s appointment or your car to get fixed? Bring a book that is appropriate for your job or paperwork.

3. Cut out activities that eat up time. Turn off the television if you have one in your office. Cut out the twenty-minute chit-chat session in the morning with your friends by the coffee maker. Don’t surf the internet for anything not related to your job. Resist these temptations! These extraneous activities can severely cut into valuable time that you could be spending on getting stuff done.

4. Work faster. This may sound like a no-brainer but it’s hard for people to change their work habits. Learn to type faster by taking a typing course or tutorial online. Be a better reader as you scan for the details that you need and cut out the meaningless text that takes up your time. Make your own deadlines that are independent from the natural deadline attached to a project. This will create a sense of urgency that will make you work faster.

5. Preparation is crucial. If you have tomorrow lined up before you leave work today then you’re in good shape. The worst thing you can do is come into the office in the morning and have little to no idea what you should be doing. It will take you an hour to plan your day. Be prepared with your tasks for the next day and you’ll get off to a running start when you arrive!

This article is contributed by Heather Johnson, who regularly writes on the topic of career exploration. She wanted to share a guest post on HR Funda and I was more than happy to feature her post .She invites your questions and writing job opportunities at her personal email id: heatherjohnson2323@gmail.com . If you have any guest post to contribute, please drop me a mail on ajitchouhan@gmail.com

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

HR Challenges -Time to act

Prioritizing key activities and focusing on strategic areas of concern continues to be a challenge for majority of HR professionals. Most of the studies which focus on challenges faced by HR professional continues to highlight the ever increasing pressure of attracting, engaging in retaining talent.

In a recent study by i4cp when respondents were asked about the main barriers facing HR in 2008, 44% of the 355 responding companies rated lack of time as having a high or very high impact on HR’s ability to achieve its goals.

“HR professionals are singing a familiar refrain,” said Donna J. Bear, senior research analyst at i4cp. “They’re citing not enough time, talent or money and too many conflicting priorities as top impediments to accomplishing their employers’ goals.”

Besides not having enough time, nearly four in 10 respondents cited “conflicting organizational priorities,” “scarcity of workforce talent” and “financial resources” as having a high or very high impact on achieving their goal of filling their employers’ ranks with high-potential workers.

Regarding their own ongoing development, HR professionals recognize the need to develop competencies that are both broad and high-level. The study’s respondents ranked leadership first among all the competencies needing further development, with 55% of all organizations ranking it as high or very high in importance. Also, 50% of organizations ranked change management as a high or very high priority, and innovative thinking is also a competency that HR professionals must develop, according to the 47% of respondents who said it ranked high or very high in importance.

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Saturday, April 05, 2008

HR links for the week

Here are some of the interesting posts from the HR blogosphere for the week. I’m sure readers will enjoy going through the posts.

Career bright on working from Home and how it is important to be self-directed and self-motivated to be able to work from home completely.

David Zinger has an interesting post on Employee engagement where he illustrates through this video on the concept of learned helplessness that contributes to disengagement at work.

Heather Hughes shares her personal experience of how she escaped her newspaper job to start her own Business -- and how others can leaern from her experience as well.

Rowan hosts the Carnival of HR 30 .

A Bob Brady post on no I-PODs at work has most of readers disagreeing to the idea.

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Alltop list and HR Guru

The new layout of this blog got some good news as well.HR funda got featured in the ALLTOP list under careers section. Guy Kawasaki took less than a minute to confirm the inclusion after my request.


I also joined the HR Guru community (part of Monster group) and got the invite from TessaT to contribute as a featured blogger. Looking forward to share and connect with the HR community on HR Guru.


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Saturday, March 29, 2008

HR Value Proposition

Where should HR focus more - on internal customers, business partners or external vendors .It’s a catch -22 situation which many HR teams are unable to crack, some just can’t figure out the areas the top areas of priority. They continue to be driven by change, rather than playing the change agent role.

Dave Ulrich has called on HR to be more in tune with business issues to deliver real value.
Speaking at a Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) annual international conference based in Rome, Ulrich told more than 400 HR practitioners to focus on outcomes - ie, what they deliver for their organisation and key customers, rather than what they do inside.

He urged HR to have an opinion on external changes in technology, economic trends and demographics, and to understand their chief executive's expectations of the business.

"The challenge in HR is not what we do, but what we deliver how we add value," he said. "For decades we have been too focused on what we do. The world of HR for the future should not start with HR it should start with outcomes of HR."Ulrich urged HR to ask how they can use the knowledge they have to help their business leaders.
Ask any business leader and chances are that they will all agree that HR teams continue to deliver day in day out on transactional activities. They meet the expectations and partner effectively on all key deliverables, but when it comes to contribute in leading from the front on strategic areas they are just unsure of the role they can play. They just don’t dare to take up challenges which are up for grab; sometimes they just feel it’s not their cup of tea.

As Ulrich rightly says that instead of starting a discussion with chief executives on training, staffing, recruitment and so on, it is better to start with the outcome - how what HR does adds value to the customers, which ultimately should shape the business agenda."It's important to get customer and investor focus - not what HR thinks should happen, but what's the external reality facing this company in the next 10 years?"

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

HR @ Web 2.0

The evolution of web based social and professional networking has been quite interesting over the years. On an average I spend almost 40% of my time on net on many of these networking sites. In the early days we all started with Ryze and then linkedin, face book and today I get almost 2-3 invites every week from different networking sites. Although as a user I clearly distinguish between a social and professional networking site but now the lines between the two is getting blurred. So be it orkut or its own desi cousin Big adda our generation is increasingly getting hooked to web based networking.


Linkedin recently launched its new version which has more upgraded features and better integration options and even access via mobile phones and PDA’s. Increasingly I see more and more recruiters using web based networking tools for hiring middle and senior level managers. Members are also directly approaching employees from different organizations to explore options in the organization of their own choice. This is an interesting tread as more and more people are using the networking tools to directly get in touch with the prospective employers. LinkedIn is supposed to have more than 20 million registered users and with the new users joining every day it has a user base which allows plethora of options. Unlike facebook which started as a tool for connecting to campus buddies, LinkedIn is seen as a professional and no-nonsense application.

Web 2.0 and hiring philosophies have been widely used by small and starts up as it gives them the depth and breadth to choose the selected few as they have some niche roles to offer. It’s interesting to note that Facebook hired many of its early employees through LinkedIn. E&Y has a page on Facebook, through which it interacts with prospective employees

Consider this survey, entitled Recruitment Advertising: Moving in New Directions, from companies ranging from $5 million to $5 billion in annual revenues (and from a variety of industry segments) -- said they would spend more on business-networking sites, social networking and employee-referral programs in 2008 than in 2007, but less on print and traditional job boards.

On the other hand some argue that your social profiles on these sites may even backfire in case your prospective employer, client or even business partner decides to search your web footprints using goggle or social networking sites. This interesting conversation on Business week has some interesting observations.

A public profile is a vehicle for casually interacting with others in an informal setting, on personal free time. When companies use these profiles to find not only a professional but also an ideological match for a job, they’re misleading themselves and building ill will with talented prospective employees, who might decline to apply for a job for fear a comment about China on their blogs makes them persona non grata.

Meanwhile organizations are finding it increasingly difficult to make out the difference between and social and a professional networking site. It often seen a waste of time when people spend hours spending time on social networking site. Some sites like Linkedin have clearly articulated that it’s not meant for social loafing. LinkedIn vice president Patrick Crane told Portfolio.com in an interview "Because we're professional, we're not about having people waste time; we’re all about people saving time."

A recent survey of 700 HR executives found that 64 percent said their companies block access to social-networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace, while 63 percent block access to blogs and nearly 70 percent prevent their employees from accessing video or photo-sharing sites such as YouTube and Flickr. The study, conducted by Redwood City, Calif.-based security firm Clearswift, also found 54 percent of the HR professionals have had to discipline employees for "wasting time" on the Internet.

While the use of these technologies in the open talent market is wide spreading I’m not aware of many organizations which also using these features of Web 2.0 to engage employees inside the organizations.

I was just wondering how a twitter, facebook or linkedin will help organizations in creating a passionate community of niche users within the organizations. Bulletin boards and blogs have been tried but engaging them through intranet portal will be something really interesting. Given the size and spread of huge big organizations it may be a good tool for creating a more diverse and better connected workforce.

This HRE article has some interesting examples on the latest web 2.0 tools used by organizations.

Some companies that have implemented Web 2.0-type tools in the workplace have found they're a useful way to spark creativity among employees and increase engagement and interaction among -- and between -- employees and customers. Palo Alto, Calif.-based Hewlett-Packard recently launched HP Uncut, a YouTube-like
system that lets HP employees make their own videos that demonstrate best practices for using and maintaining HP products and then upload them to the corporate Web site.

Taleo has built its Taleo Business Edition application on Facebook Platform, which enables companies to integrate their recruiting applications with Facebook, giving them access to millions of users (and potential job candidates).

Penny Davis, head of HR operations at mobile phone operator T-Mobile says “ it's time for HR professionals to take a fresh look at Web 2.0, and how it can help them tap into new talent pools, encourage staff to collaborate, and build their employee brand”.

In the past year, for example, Davis and her team have used Facebook to help new graduate recruits make the transition to the world of work. "We set up a group on Facebook in May for the 2007 intake so that they could network informally with each other and the T-Mobile recruitment team before their September start date, enabling them to get to know each other and air concerns in a friendly, supportive environment. ."

Management consultancy KPMG, for example, the Royal Bank of Scotland, or data storage giant EMC. All three held careers fairs in Second Life during 2007.

Exciting times ahead for HR professionals as they will find these tools really handy to overcome the challenge of attracting and engaging people.

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Is it just about Talent

It’s an old engrossing debate and even today we keep hearing about rechristening of the HR function. What started as Industrial Psychology by Taylor and underwent many changes over the last few decades is still considered little hackneyed as Human Resource. Seth has his views on why we should call HR as Talent department.
Like it or not, in most organizations HR has grown up with a forms/clerical/factory focus. Which was fine, I guess, unless your goal was to do something amazing, something that had nothing to do with a factory, something that required amazing programmers, remarkable marketers or insanely talented strategy people.

So, here's my small suggestion, one that will make some uncomfortable.

The reason this makes some people uncomfortable is that it seems like spin, like gratuitous double speak. And, if you don't change what you do, that would be true.

Interesting thoughts, many organizations already call their HR teams as talent development or talent Management functions. I guess HR is the only function which has undergone so many rechristening with changing times, perhaps also a reflection of the challenges this function has faced over the years. Evolution of Human resources function also indicates shifts which business has undergone.

Personally I feel that the word “People” best describes this function.

It’s simple, engages one and all conveys what we stand for in this role.

Everyone will find it easy relate to, it’s not just about the scarce “talent”, every person can be talent.

So let’s replace some of the terms that we have been using with people “employee engagement, talent retention, talent development, talent attraction with people and voila: D it feels better than ever before.

I would rather call myself a “People Manager” than a Talent or HR manager.

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Steve's talk at Macworld Expo 08

So in case if you missed the buzz about the world’s thinnest note book, don’t miss this awesome presentation by the best showman in the business today. I’m amazed and thrilled by the passion and child like zeal this guy has for innovation. He’s inspiring and really makes you think how your dreams and passion can drive your efforts towards making a big difference in shaping up the way things are going to be.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Career Progression and Promotions

GG started an interesting conversation on performance rating scale and promotion practices in organizations.

The competencies needed for the new role is fundamentally different from the past role's? No matter how well you've done the performance appraisal for the current role, promoting on its basis for the next role is fraught with danger.One thing you could do before a promotion is assess the person for the competencies for the next role. However that is easier said than done, specially when there are 40,000 employees up for promotion.

My take is slightly different from Gautam’s view that the competencies needed for the new role is fundamentally different from the past roles. I don’t think that different roles in a particular career stream fundamentally don’t differ when it comes to functional competencies. If that’s the case then the role competency mapping is something which needs to be corrected.

In any particular career stream upward movement/role progression will be linked to the basic competencies required for superior performance in that career stream. For a higher role the scope and content of the job will change but essentially the technical and behavioral competencies required for any role in a particular stream will be sub set of different competencies identified for the stream. So when a sales person moves to a sales manager role his core stream will continue to be sales, manager role may change the scope and impact of his activities but to be a good manager he should have performed the role of a sales person effectively to be ready to move to the next higher role.

Assessment for next role should be based on weighted average assessment of current performance, and then the potential assessment for the higher role before the promoting the employee. If an employee knows that his promotion to the next level will not depend on his current performance but based on the assessment of how successfully he is likely to perform the higher role, chances are that the employee will not be able to focus completely on his current role.

When employees move to the next role they are not expected to be the best performer in the new role from day one. Promotion or any career /role movement is made on the basis of the initiating competencies (read-necessary conditions/competencies).Once the employee has played the higher role for a while ,he will be able to differentiate in the new role.

Career progression is also linked to the differentiation the individual is able to bring about in his current role and when it comes to relative comparisons these differentiators are most likely to be mapped to the next role in the career path. Most of the organizations have the practice of promoting employees only after the employee has performed the higher role for some time before the formal assessment and promotions happens.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

More than just HR...

Veritude came out with a survey titled “Working together, Working apart”which looked at business and HR leaders working relationship and common understanding of each other issues.

Overall, the research reveals that in many companies, HR must improve their business leaders' perceptions of theirs skills and abilities and business leaders must learn to turn to HR for support in addressing workforce issues. There is ample room for optimism that both business and HR leaders in this study recognize these trends are working toward effective plans.

1.Strategic Business Challenges: Both business and HR leaders agree that talent acquisition and recruitment top the list of strategic business issues, but one in five business and HR leaders see HR as only involved in "implementing " strategy, not participating in plan development. What's more, a common perception is that HR is lacking adequate financial aptitude and therefore is not asked to contribute to strategy development because they do not speak the language of business.

2.The Relationship between Business and HR Leaders: Many business leaders indicate they do not have an established relationship with HR or it world not occur to them to include HR in implementing workforce plans. In general HR leasers agree that business leaders minimize the role that HR plays in workforce planning and don't consider the full scope of HR's ability and expertise.

3.The Impact of Business and HR Leaders' Relationship on Operations: Business leaders perceive HR as "resource constrained" and, as such, unable to effectively implement workforce plans. In turn, HR believes business leaders set unrealistic timeframes, lack an understanding of workforce issues, and are inconsistent in implementing initiatives.
Frankly to me all these survey reports don’t come as a big surprise. I guess I’ve been reading about such “observations / findings” and “recommendation” and the more things change the more they remain the same. Off late I’ve become a big critique of the word “strategic HR” and terms like “HR leaders”. To me it doesn’t make any sense to have them in the best organizations around. No organization today would be great just because it has “strategic HR plans” or it has the “best HR leaders”. Any business challenge today is also a “strategic HR challenge”.

It can either be the growing competition to acquire talent or develop competencies or even explore new market opportunities. Its time so called HR leaders talk about business strategy and take ownership for the business plan rather than just the HR plan. No CEO of an organization expects that functional leaders like HR, Finance or quality should stick only to their piece of pie. Only the ones who dare to break the shibboleth and take the stride to add values with business insights are truly recognized asthe Business leaders and go beyond the cliché of “HR leaders”. I think the expectation today is very different as so called HR challenges are not just being handled by HR leaders .It’s a decision taken by the think tanks as the impact of such decisions are huge. So apart from owning the execution of the HR business plan, today’s expectation is what value one can bring to business plan and its execution.

Even the client model of HR partnership is something which needs to be re-looked at considering the varied situations which the decision makers may find themselves. As far as the transactional and operational activities are concerned the client approach works well to bring about speed and quality in execution and resolving operational issues. However when it comes to business decision making the “consultant approach” is something which HR leaders must do away with. It reinforces the notion that the HR continues to adopt “global approach” to solve and own challenges. The funda is simple “take ownership, go beyond your role, and challenge the conventional wisdom”. Trust me you’ll never be called just another “HR leader” as you would be respected for being a business leader who knows HR and comes from HR background :)

Monday, January 07, 2008

Business challenges for the year ahead

So what could be the likely challenges for the Business leaders in 2008? HBR’s conversation invited some interesting observations.

"With changing attitudes and values, it becomes increasingly necessary for organisations to undergo culture change in order to attract and retain high quality young staff." — Mark Greenshields

"The biggest challenge for managers in 2008 will be giving employees 'permission to play', making work more meaningful and keep it real." — Kathryn Aiken

"Assuming 'management' is a people-oriented activity, I would presume the biggest challenge will be to openly deal with the wants of employees while still making a profit." — David Malouf
IBM global human capital study says that developing the right skill for future business will be the biggest challenge in the coming years.

Today's business executives face a host of pressures, including volatile markets, global competition, and the emergence of new business models. These are forcing organizations to be more responsive to shifting market needs; more flexible in how they operate; more focused on their core competencies; more nimble at partnering; and more resilient to external threats. Success in any of these areas is dependent on the organization's ability to develop a workforce that can adapt to these changes.
The figure below will give you some idea.


Business challenges today are not just external but growing internal challenges give hard times to leadership. We always believed that a happy workforce will help in keeping customers happy. It’s somewhat predictable to assess and work for customer satisfaction but keeping employees satisfied and engaged is becoming a bigger challenge.

The coming years will see more innovation in people practices and as the war of talent gets more intense the work place is going see changes in the way organizations share the future of the enterprise with its internal customers. Policies will be thing of past and more and more organizations will move from the standard, conformity approach to more personalized approach.

Employee empowerment will mean that an employee gets to decide what he wants to do, how he wants to do and the team he wants to work with. Empowered teams will be reviewed and rewarded as special units in all large firms. That’s the challenge for all growing firms in today’s world, every Google success story will be shadowed by facebook like emerging stories. Being big and smart is good but being small and savvy will be great.Here's one interesting video on employee engagement.