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.