Lead-Wise

MEANINGFUL & IMPACTFUL RESULTS

Category: HR (page 1 of 3)

Notes from Nasscom HR Summit 2017

I thought of sharing some of my consolidated notes from this year’s Nasscom HR Summit 2017 in Chennai (July 20-21, 2017).

“HR is not an agenda item. It is the agenda”. – Jeffrey Immelt, GE

LEADERSHIP

  • Next big leadership focus may be on leading differences and harnessing diversity.
  • Differentiated organization needs for “future fit”: 1. Adaptive Intelligence. 2. Culture fit – DNA (Very difficult to replicate organizational culture) and Curiosity Conversations (Really important to ask multiple “Why” questions and encourage them in your culture).
  • Leaders are brokers of hope. There is a thin line between hope and despair.

FUTURE DIGITAL WORLD

  • A key challenge today while thinking about change and future: In 2008, 73% of business ideas were Continuations. 12% were Novelties. Now, 71% of ideas are Novelites and 14% are Continuations.
  • A useful idea about the future needs to be ridiculous. What ridiculous idea are you entertaining about the future in your organization?
  • We will see more of Digitally Autonomous Organizations (DAO) – that involve very few to no management layers. That could be termed as technology enabled holocracy.
  • In a future digital world, there is a need to approach metrics differently. eg. Mahindra is moving from measuring number of cars sold to number of miles driven. There will also be a need to look at different business models that may challenge existing revenue and business models. Mahindra launched a separate tractor company called Trringo, that is similar to Uber for tractors (while maintaining their traditional tractor business).
  • The role of HR in a digital organization has to be more customer facing and focussed. e.g., AirBnB community interaction sessions are facilitated by HR.

WORK

  • We cannot ignore the social elements of disruption in our work environment. All sectors, especially government will have to rethink and implement a strong support umbrella for those losing jobs and effective re-skilling.
  • Approximately, 30% of India labour is on temporary or contract labor. Most of it seem to be not out of choice. A key question is how this will evolve in coming years, related impact on society and how our systems and support will need to evolve accordingly. Organizations will need to figure out more effective ways to manage a flexible talent pool. Government will again need to play a key role in thinking and establishing related public policies when the dynamics of employment relationships change.
  • The delivery of work in future will change significantly. Open business models are redefining value and leads to the emergence of new roles. Robotics and analytics will drive higher productivity. As a result, the employer employee relationship will also continue to evolve.

LEARNING

  • Continuous education aspect that involves learning beyond formal education throughout one’s career is growing in importance. There seems to be at least three key cycles of learning today in our lives – formal education years, the first few years at work and around mid career.
  • Companies need multiple learning interventions and re-skilling initiatives for the future. Some companies have trained employees on agile ways of working.
  • To enable behavioral change, it helps to do multiple small pilot projects.
  • Effective learning should be accessible Anytime, Anyway, Anywhere.

HR TECHNOLOGY

  • The focus of HR systems and tools is moving to “Interaction” from “Information”.
  • Majority of employee interaction on HR systems are moving to chat and voice. There will be no need for an employee to see the HR Management System.
  • Internal employee experiences need to mimic external customer experiences.
  • For technology to be effective, it must support story telling and connection.
  • YES Bank uses Facebook At Work for communication and collaboration. It seems to be working well for them.

HR PRACTICES

  • Citi sends all their graduates to NGOs and villages for one week, to get first hand experiences. HR folks spent 9 months taking on line responsibilities.
  • HR needs to think like the Marketing function and all solutions have to be simplified.
  • Career relationship managers or mentors will play an increasingly important role in organizations in future.
  • Google seems to have a Googler To Googler Guru Program Tool or Platform that connects experts in the organization to other employees, involving mentoring support.

PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT IN GE

Many folks still continue to refer to the GE bell curve distribution approach in performance management. GE no longer follows that approach. They have completely revamped their famous performance management system and removed the bell curve distribution approach. Some key elements of their new system include:

  • No annual goals, only priorities that are updated through the year.
  • No ratings. Focus is on “real-time” inputs for development and improvement. Feedback has been renamed to ‘Insights’ and anyone in the organization can share with the individual through a smart device application (This is based on neuroscience studies that the term feedback results in defensiveness that also blocks proper processing of feedback).
  • Related areas that still seem to require continued focus and work in this revamp are improving clarity for employees and communication around rewards distribution.

Hope these notes have provided at least couple of useful ideas.

Best wishes to you for the week ahead.

For HR professionals – Making Your Voice Heard

We recently saw in the press about an employee situation in a leading IT organization in India. HR was blamed by many. There will be many occasions in organizations that involve difficult situations to execute and the pressure seems high. One of the most common reasons cited in such situations is financial pressure.

Many times, a different contradicting view is not raised by HR because of the fear for their own jobs, to avoid conflict with the leaders who are more powerful, whose support is needed and to avoid personal issues. Business leaders play a key role in making their HR teams comfortable and confident for such discussions.

An important lesson for HR professional here is to clearly listen to oneself, think from multiple perspectives and highlight one’s point of view, when experience and conscience clearly tells something is amiss. You have to take responsibility for a decision that you are involved in and highlight concerns at the time of review. When a delicate situation goes out of control later, you will most probably see others pointing towards you, though you were not the only person in that room. Sometimes, these may involve ethical scenarios that can come back and haunt the organization in a major way (eg. recent harassment claims in a prominent U.S. organization). The situation may require you to take a clear stand that sometimes creates tension.

For any professional, it is also important to build your credibility by constantly interacting with all key leaders regarding your points of view. One needs to develop trust, skill, knowledge and credibility to initiate and influence such discussions.

Poor leadership is seen when business or organizational leaders hide behind HR teams for decisions made and don’t feel comfortable communicating themselves. The best business leaders take responsibility for leading their organizations, initiate discussions through leadership channels and actively partner with their HR teams. They form a great partnership to build an engaged culture and everyone wins in the process, especially the organization. As an HR professional, it is important to realize you are ultimately safeguarding the organization and key stakeholder interest when you bring different and sometimes contradicting perspectives to a complex discussion.

I once interacted with a headhunter team who were sourcing for a HR Head in a startup. They seemed to become upset and dismissive on being asked related questions and ended up responding quite unprofessionally. It made me wonder that if they could not tolerate detailed questions about the organization while searching for an HR leader, what sort of HR professional and team would be hired.

We see this aspect become increasingly relevant for organizations to acknowledge. Many times, issues and scenarios go out of control because of the “How”, not the “What”. In today’s world, where everyone has access to both channels and sources of information, the professional and balanced HR perspective internally or externally, becomes critical for every professional and organization to develop, succeed and thrive.

Leadership Development For Smaller Organizations In The New Year – 4 Topics To Consider

Happy New Year to all readers!

Many smaller organizations find it difficult to figure out relevant activities in the area of leadership/management development. Related questions come up frequently and at times, a mistaken perception exists that leadership/management development is only applicable to larger organizations.

If left ignored, this is one area that will hurt any organization in many ways. Worrying symptoms start showing up in different areas for the organization including stakeholder engagement, execution and it becomes difficult to diagnose the real problem as time passes.

Here are four topics under leadership/management development for leaders and HR teams to consider.

  1. Any development effort starts with developing self awareness. Leadership self awareness development can start with understanding oneself deeper through facilitated 360 degree/other feedbacks, personality assessments (like MBTI, Hogan etc.) and follow-up reflections/coaching sessions. These sessions can be facilitated at the individual or team level, or a combination of both for quality reflection and action. Periodic follow-up interventions are invaluable for any development effort. Self aware leaders also recognize coaching opportunities for themselves and their team members toward meaningful results.
  2. A related impactful area to consider focusing on is leadership team development. Many leaders miss the opportunity or don’t take the time to consciously reflect on establishing the building blocks of developing an effective team and co-creating a focused agenda with the team. When teams are not developed consciously and carefully especially at senior levels, it leaves room for potential confusion, conflict and frustration. Even for well established teams, this is an important topic to revisit consistently and not to be taken for granted. Supporting leadership transitions in this context also become highly relevant.
  3. Building a shared understanding of what “leadership“or being a leader in the organization means (leadership constructs) will help clarify expectations. Support can be provided through training programs for first time managers, middle managers and leaders. The more leaders understand what it means to be and is expected from a leader in the organization, the more impactful results organizations can consistently achieve through them.
  4. Building a shared understanding on the organization’s strategy, values and culture is often an important item that loses focus. Many times, the clarity on values and culture stays strong with only the founding or early members. As a result, many people tend to apply their own interpretations which leads the organization’s value system in different directions and dilution over time. Sometimes, there is a need for a discussion on how the culture has evolved or needs to change in the context of business direction. Reinforcing and aligning the organization’s understanding and shared beliefs will ensure stronger cohesion, commitment and execution across the board. This can be facilitated through various well designed OD/HR, engagement and communication initiatives.

If you are a leader or HR professional in a smaller organization considering impactful activities to implement in leadership/management development, these may be some practical and actionable ideas to think about for the new year. It is important to constantly be aware of the paradox of busyness & development.

Best wishes for a Meaningful, Impactful and Successful 2017.

Tojo
Lead-Wise

Building A Satisfying & Successful Career in HR

 

During recent years, I’ve received the following question many times – “I would like to build a successful career in HR. Where and how should I start? What should I do next?”

There is no one sure answer to these questions but I do have few suggestions based on experiences, observations and learning from others. This list has grown over time and hopefully useful for many in early career who enquire about this topic.

  • It is great to get an early starting opportunity with a solid, large HR organization but don’t worry about starting small if required, by taking on wider responsibilities in smaller organizations. Smaller organizations give you the opportunity to be involved with a lot more functionally while larger organizations tend to be more structured and specific in requirements with the complexity of scale. There are advantages on both sides and you have to make the most of your early learning opportunities, wherever you are. Stay eager to take on additional responsibilities, learn and get exposure to different areas as much as possible. Set yourself a goal of mastering the fundamentals in your key area of work within a certain timeframe and then target higher degree of expertise.
  • If you don’t have formal education in HR, it is helpful to go for additional industry recognized related certifications or programs. Focus on getting the fundamentals right initially. That helps your knowledge base, confidence and also builds credibility with business stakeholders.
  • Try to talk to/discuss experiences and learning with other competent HR professionals you meet through programs, work, networks etc. Find opportunities or common avenues to connect with other professionals and continue the discussions. Find your own mentors or coaches as well.
  • Follow, watch and read articles from the thought leaders constantly. This will help you to get a strong understanding of the concepts/language used and this will become a distinguishing strength as you grow further. Not many HR professionals seem to take continuos learning seriously and those who do stand out.
  • You’ll need to build your HR experience profile patiently in specific functional areas considering your organization’s needs and your own interest. Over time, you may decide whether you want to become a generalist or specialist (eg. talent acquisition, learning & development, rewards). Even generalists tend to acquire couple of strong areas of expertise over time.
  • Develop self awareness and understand what you really enjoy doing. Knowing one’s own personality characteristics is important. Don’t just go by the pressures of how external sources define functional areas of importance or growth. Your lack of passion or interest in a certain area and related questions will show up one way or the other and become a road block to excellence.
  • When you apply for roles, try to understand clearly the elements specific to that role. The more you have and can add experiences related to what the hiring organization/manager could be looking for, the better your chances. Review profiles of successful HR professionals, their experiences and career paths for pointers – it’s easier to find them on LinkedIn or other professional networks nowadays.
  • Build your awareness and understanding of your organization’s dynamics. Being successful in HR would involve the ability to work/align with multiple stakeholders with varying opinions on the same topic and managing complexity. Successful HR professionals seem to be those who find an effective way of working/gelling with core business leaders and constituents.
  • Continuous development and application are even more relevant for HR. There’s quite a lot of evolving research from different areas that can be applied to people management. It also involves lots of continuous practice and adaptation to different environments. HR is a “craft” that needs to be continuously worked on ( Why Great HR Professionals Are Like Master Carpenters – Josh Bersin, http://joshbersin.com/2015/04/why-great-hr-professionals-are-like-master-carpenters/).

For more experienced professionals, in their book ‘Talent Masters’, authors Bill Conaty (former GE Global HR Head) and Ram Charan included 6 points for HR Leaders to become effective business partners.

  1. Understand your business and industry dynamics – financials and key operating levers that affect your business.
  2. Build your HR vision and strategies around the business model.
  3. Become problem solvers versus problem identifiers.
  4. Take your work seriously but don’t take yourself too seriously – stay cool, provide a sense of balance/calm in the storm.
  5. Have the personal independence, self confidence and courage to push back or challenge the system when necessary.
  6. Never forget why you’re at the table – obligation to balance strong business partnership role with employee advocacy role, people implications of decisions and never forgetting the “human” in human resources.

Building a successful and satisfying career in HR takes a lot of persistence, determination and resilience. It’s unfortunate that many organizations don’t invest sufficiently in developing HR professionals and therefore, the responsibility falls even more on the individual HR professional. You can start early but it’s never too late to get started. One last thought – consider building your career similar to a marathon, not a sprint. Best wishes to you and enjoy the journey.

If you have any suggestions, please do add.

Paradoxes At Work For Leaders

Paradox photo - Please Do Not Touch

paradox is a statement that apparently contradicts itself and yet might be true (or wrong at the same time).

Figuring out and thinking through a paradox is an important and valuable exercise in any organizational environment, for individuals and teams.  This also becomes valuable for leadership decision making and judgment calls.

Thinking through paradoxes is also extremely useful to stretch, question and develop our own thinking ability and approach.  From personal experiences, the lack of clarity and absence of active dialogues on such topics can lead to confusion, frustration and stress within organizations.  Getting caught in ‘no man’s land’ on decisions happens more frequently than we imagine.

Leaders encounter many of the following paradoxes frequently (all but one are from the book, “HR From The Outside In”).

  • Business & People
    How do you balance the tradeoff between people and business?
  • Organization & Individual
    How do you manage the tensions between individual talent and teamwork, individual ability and organizational capability? How do you balance differentiating top performers and rest of employees?
  • Outside & Inside
    How do you simultaneously understand the dynamics and operate in the external and internal environments?
  • Strategic & Administrative
    How do you balance flawless execution of administrative and operational actions with strategic adaptation to future business scenarios?
  • Short Term & Long Term
    How do you choose between short term and long term benefits, especially in decision making?

There may also be relationships to be considered among these paradoxes.  e.g., balancing the tradeoffs between business and people may need to take into consideration the balance between the future and past.

We can build clarity through a continuing, active dialogue with ourselves, our stakeholders, teams regarding our thinking, core principles and approach.  This becomes fundamental for success and increased effectiveness in a constantly changing world.

It is great to see that the 2016 RBL Group/University of Michigan HR Competency model includes ‘Paradox Navigator’ and brings out many tensions commonly faced – tensions between global and local business demands, between the need for change and stability, between the internal focus on employees and external focus on customers and investors, and between high level strategic issues and operational details.

How do you think about and manage these paradoxes?

What other paradoxes do you encounter?

(Previously posted on Linkedin)

Suggested reading:

  • Paradox – Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradox
  • Book – “HR From The Outside In – Six Competencies for the Future of Human Resources”; Dave Ulrich, Jon Younger, Wayne Brockbank, Mike Ulrich; McGraw Hill.
  • Paradoxes for HR – http://www.tojoeapen.com/blog/paradoxes-for-hr/
  • 2016 HR Competency Model – The RBL Group, University of Michigan
  • Image Credit – Zach Stern, The Observer’s Paradox, http://foter.com,https://www.flickr.com/photos/zachstern/7532320120/

Largest HR Competency Study Results (2016) Are Out

2016 Round 7 of the Human Resource Competency Study (running since 1987) by The RBL Group and the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, involved over 30,000 surveys ratings, 23 regional partners and around 4,000 HR professionals around the globe.

CEO surveys increasingly point to businesses winning through differentiating themselves through organization and people.  This research identified what individual HR professionals should know and do to respond to these business opportunities.

In my opinion, the latest competency model also reflects the increasing complexity and demands on the global HR professional.  Here’s a quick introduction to the model and some of my selected notes from the RBL Group HRCS report.  The findings have implications for who is hired into HR and the development, promotion and rewarding of HR professionals.

The report shares nine competencies through which HR professionals deliver business value.

Three Core Competencies
1. Strategic positioner – applies knowledge of business context and strategy.
2. Credible activist – builds relationships of trust and influence with key people within the organization.
3. Paradox navigator – navigates the many embedded tensions in business operations.

Six HR enablers
Three of these enablers focus on building a strategic organization:
1. Culture and change champion – makes change happen and weaves change initiatives into culture change.
2. Human capital curator – manages the flow of talent by developing people and leaders, driving individual performance, and building technical talent.
3. Total reward steward – manages employee well-being through financial and non-financial rewards.
Three enablers focus on tactical delivery:
4. Technology and media integrator – uses technology and social media to create and drive high-performing organizations.
5. Analytics designer and interpreter – uses analytics to improve decision making.
6. Compliance manager – manages the processes related to compliance by following regulatory guidelines.

According to the study, some competencies seem more critical for certain stakeholders.  Creating value for internal stakeholders, such as line managers and employees, requires being a credible activist. Creating value for external stakeholders such as investors and external customers, however, requires being a strategic positioner.

The study also found that about 50 percent of the perceived performance of HR professionals comes from their competencies.  About 35% of the perceived performance of HR professionals comes from their demographics and career histories.

A key overarching finding was that the activities of HR departments as a whole consistently explain more of the department’s performance than the competencies of the HR professionals within those departments.

Activities of HR departments that most impacted HR value creation for key stakeholders
1. Employee performance HR practices: HR activities that help employees develop their skills and abilities.
2. Integrated HR practices: HR activities that offer integrated and innovative solutions to business problems.
3. HR analytics practices: HR activities related to a scorecard for the HR department.
4. HR role in information management: HR role in managing information to make better business decisions.

HR professionals have more impact on key stakeholders when they work as an effective HR department. The report also notes that the old adage, “I like my HR professional, but I hate HR” needs to change because the HR department’s activities have more impact on all stakeholders than individual HR professionals.

For those interested in learning more, you can find Dr. Dave Ulrich’s videos introducing the latest model and competencies here.

(Previously posted on LinkedIn)

References
1. HRCS Round 7 – Creating HR Value From The Outside-In
https://s3.amazonaws.com/rblip/HRCS/pdf/hrcs-7-report.pdf?utm_source=RBL+Newsletter&utm_campaign=867e0e23f2-11_15_Newsletter_Test11_20_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_24fb7cc248-867e0e23f2-19097425

The Rise of HR – Wisdom From 10 Thought Leaders In 20 Sentences

Rise of HR_Image

“The Rise of HR: Wisdom from 73 Thought Leaders,” is a recent anthology published by the HR Certification Institute in collaboration with Dave Ulrich, Professor, University of Michigan and Co-founder of The RBL Group, Bill Schiemann, CEO, Metrus Group, Inc. and Libby Sartain, Business Advisor and Board Member.

As I was reading through few chapters, I thought it would be worthwhile to attempt consolidating the following ten themes from leading HR voices (relevant chapters indicated under ‘References’ below).

  1. The HR professional of today is more likely to be a talent expert, a technology expert and a consultant.  They must focus on 3 categories of skills: how to recruit, develop, and manage people; how to organize, enable and improve the organization; and how to manage, leverage, and exploit data and technology.
  2. Getting the transformational change process right in an organization means attending to the Structural, Cultural and Human elements. All change requires an expenditure of physical, emotional and cognitive resources that should be prioritized like any other organizational asset.
  3. HR leaders need to be conductors of the organizational orchestra, by coordinating the orchestra and being comfortable balancing the various tensions (individual versus firm, star versus supporting players, timing, and flow).  Three key elements underlying the new HR are talent, data and strategy, and require an ability to coordinate alignment across different levels of organizational hierarchy.
  4. HR professionals will need to spend more time thinking about and developing strategies for operating in what has become a transparent world.  More than ever before, HR professionals have to approach their role by constantly reminding their organization to consider the question: What would happen if an employee or customer saw this, or if this appeared on the front page of the newspaper?
  5. Creation of an employer brand is as important as our corporate brand – and thus HR and marketing should be attached at the hip.  In this age of transparency, employees are the media and HR is essential to marketing, as they deliver on the brand promise day in and day out.
  6. In any business dialogue, an HR professional can proffer three unique contributions – Talent, Leadership and Organization.  Three dimensions of competitive organization are organizational capabilities (what the organization is known for, good at doing, how it allocates resources), culture (pattern of how people think and act) and management actions (intellectual, behavioral and process agendas).
  7. Culture is the catalyst that connects executive leadership goals to HR goals and creates a perpetual winning environment.  Great cultures are created through everyday relationships that employees have with leaders, their work and with one another.
  8. Success in any field is based on two characteristics: long term resilience and the ability to be centered, or “in the zone” more frequently.  This resilience center spans five aspects of our lives: our emotions, our physical selves, our spirits, our finances and our relationships.
  9. Workforce metrics is strategically important for firms because the workforce is most firms’ single largest expenditure – and the least scrutinized in assessing its impact on value creation.  HR must focus on delivering outcomes that enable top-line growth through the firm’s strategic mindset and by leveraging the performance of individual roles that impact value creation and top-line growth.
  10. Forward-thinking HR organizations choose their leadership arenas carefully, letting others take the lead when trends are new to HR, and taking a leadership role as HR becomes more involved.  It means gaining credibility with functional partners from other disciplines so that they welcome the involvement of HR in their domain and are willing to help translate and apply their expertise to HR issues.

Hope these are helpful notes for valuable reflection, action and further reading for HR professionals around the world.  A strong community of highly capable and committed HR professionals, leaders and organizations is fundamental for the rise of HR and its future evolution.

References
* Book Website – http://hrleadsbusiness.org/rise-of-hr-e-book
1. HR’s Role In The Digital Workplace: A Time For Reinvention, Josh Bersin
2. The Case For Change Capability: How HR Can Step Up…, Holly Burkett
3. The Reluctant HR Champion?, Robert Ployhart
4. HR And Transparency, Susan Meisinger
5. Think Like A Marketer!, Libby Sartain
6. From War For Talent To Victory Through Organization, Dave Ulrich
7. CEOs Want Better Performance.  Great Culture Can Make It Happen, China Gorman
8. Finding Our Resilient Center, William G. Ingham
9. HR Analytic And Metrics: Scoring On The Business Scorecard, Richard W. Beatty
10. Avoiding The “Profession” Trap By Reaching Out And Retooling HR, John W. Boudreau

Leadership Trust At Any Level – 6 “Be”s

Slide1

(Posted on LinkedIn on October 21, 2014.  Modified version of a previous post on www.tojoeapen.com/blog.)

One of the most common leadership questions and challenges we come across in organizations is “How do I/we build trust?”.

This is a topic that will be constantly revisited by many, in personal and professional lives. Trust can be built more consciously through repeated, consistent actions. Every action and behavior can contribute to building or breaking trust. When a healthy mass of leaders practice trust building behaviors in an organization, it starts to shift and impact the culture positively. You can also build some of these aspects into organizational practices and systems.

1. Be visible.
Don’t get too busy with meetings and spend most time within closed doors. All stakeholders, especially your team members have a high need to see their leaders, even more when uncertainty is high. As human beings, visibility is reassuring and, builds certainty and confidence.

2. Be respectful. 
Being respectful in your direct and virtual interactions, irrespective of organizational levels are major acknowledgments and motivators for individuals. The deeper you go in an organization, the more charged up and motivated individuals feel when leaders find time for them. Respecting personal space and feelings, especially during difficult phases go a long way to building commitment and trust.

3. Be aware (of self and impact of your behaviors and actions on others).
Take time to understand yourself, what drives you, your values, principles, strengths and development areas. Self awareness is the starting point of any personal development. Next stage is to understand others around you and the impact of your behaviors on them. Trust is a two way street and someone needs to extend a hand forward first to get the process of interactions into motion. It becomes even more powerful when you extend your hand first.

4. Be authentic (consistent in behaviors and actions). 
Be yourself. Don’t try to be someone else. Most people are smart enough to see through ‘fake’ and artificial personalities. This does not indicate the license to do whatever to be yourself, rather this is about being aligned to your values and principles. Practice what you preach. Admit mistakes with accountability when they happen and share recognition when success is achieved. Explain your thinking approach because people may think differently about a certain topic and struggle to see the rationale in another person’s point of view.

5. Be open (to discussions, while being conscious of biases).
Having the openness to discuss aspects that you may not agree with and have a strong view about, may help you see different possibilities and ideas. Sometimes, it helps to be open about the fact that you have a strong view for a certain reason. It also encourages others to share ideas and thoughts without fear. Presence of fear and defensiveness are among the biggest barriers to trust. It becomes more difficult to share mistakes that may come to haunt you later, or to speak up when the perceived power distance or threat of repercussion seems high. Being vulnerable, even to some extent is a big factor for others to see your humanness and increases accessibility.

6. Be fair (in your approach and communicate clearly, especially tough choices).
People can live with tough choices if they feel it was based on a fair process and they’re not being misled into believing so. Many times, lack of visibility on the process or the way it was communicated or an absence of it, results in difficult scenarios and contradictions for everyone involved.

To easily remember, we can also use the acronym ‘FAAVOR‘ (Fair, Aware, Authentic, Visible, Open, Respectful).

It is valuable to reflect constantly. Taking out some thinking time with yourself, your close connections, coaches or mentors can help you in finding more clarity. We all have different scenarios to think about and there are no perfect solutions. Observing, reflecting and adjusting our approaches accordingly would help to figure out an appropriate approach for our environment.

Over time and with practice, building trust becomes achievable and impactful through a concrete set of actions.

 

Hate HR? Time To Split HR? Basic things to think about…

There is something about HR that always seems to attract active attention, in any discussion.  In recent years, we’ve seen articles with titles, ‘Why We Hate HR’, ‘Why We No Longer Need HR Departments’, and recently ‘It’s Time To Split HR’.

Many individuals I speak with don’t seem to think highly of HR in their organizations.  At the same time, HR professionals feel the pain on many aspects as well, including feeling that they are criticized unfairly many times.  In most places, they work hard like counterparts in other functions.

The good aspect of all this is, it shows us most people still care and have strong expectations from the HR function.

Looking at many articles, even nowadays, it looks like there is confusion regarding what the HR function exists for.  Having had the opportunity to interact and learn from many thought leaders in the consulting, academic and business worlds, the answer is simple and clear in my mind – HR ensures successful and sustainable businesses, with the right organizational capabilities.  Strategies, practices, processes, behaviors, tools and  technologies need to follow that link.

Sorry to disappoint anyone who still thinks that all of HR’s key job should be to keep all employees happy and answer all queries and requests as quickly as possible.  Some HR teams’ roles might be just that but it is important to be aware of the difference.  Overall for any HR professional, it is neither intelligent nor helpful at any level to repel employees through unprofessional behaviors.

There are some basic questions in my mind.

  • Do employees have a higher expectation from HR as it is the one function that interfaces and represents the organization (beyond their leaders) from start to end of employment?
  • Is there a higher expectation for ‘H’ from the Human Resources function but at the same time business leadership demands more and more cost based decisions?  How do HR professionals feel about ‘H’ from their stakeholders?
  • Is there a feeling that HR work at all levels is comparatively easier?  Is there deficiency of right competencies and professionals for more complex levels of HR work, that have led the HR function to be perceived as ineffective or just administrative or process centric?
  • Do HR professionals feel like they are caught in the ‘middle’? Does that lead to a general lowering of employee trust in HR professionals?

As HR professionals and leaders, it is extremely important to build clarity on the vision, outcomes and the structure/governance to deliver them, while managing expectations with key stakeholders on priorities and communicating constantly.

Leaders also have to be realistic on expectations from HR.  Many times, there is a big disconnect internally among what the leaders expect, what employees think HR needs to do and what HR thinks they have to do.  In addition to this, investments in HR development do not reflect the high expectations from leaders to support successful strategy execution.  HR sometimes appears among the last ones in the line for development.

Many times, HR professionals are frustrated that they are not listened to by their own HR leaders.  Also, here’s a humble request to please stop using the HR function as ‘holding place’ for incompetent employees that you can’t send elsewhere or don’t want to ‘let go’.  HR also should not be seen as ‘glorified assistants’ (a term heard from conversations).  There is space within HR for administrative roles but that difference has to be understood.

Spending time, understanding, influencing views and having an open dialogue with all key stakeholders is probably the first step towards addressing some of these topics with a wider audience.

The untapped potential can be realized only through support from all stakeholders, with a collaborative attitude and approach.  It goes both ways…

“Remember teamwork begins by building trust. And the only way to do that is to overcome our need for invulnerability.” – Patrick Lencioni

“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

 

HR in India, Notes from the 2014 Nasscom India Annual HR Conference

I attended the Nasscom India HR Conference in Chennai last week.  From conversations in recent years, I’ve noticed a lot of interest and curiosity about the India HR world externally as well.

Here’re some of my key notes and perspectives from the conference:

  • One of the most encouraging discussions to hear was from senior business leaders, recognizing that HR leaders can be actively considered as CEO succession candidates. There was recognition at the CEO level that HR leaders can have a tremendous impact on the business, due to immense amount of knowledge about the talent, organization, culture and the ability to engage with them successfully.  What would it take for an HR leader to be considered?  There was a feeling that business, financial and strategic skills can improve.
  • It would be important to have HR experts on the boards of companies (this came from senior business leaders).  Currently, there seems to be little expert knowledge or in-depth discussions on company boards.
  • Importance of having a strong personal value system and caring attitude towards employees (‘H’ in Human Resources) was highlighted.  This approach from leaders and HR was seen to have a high impact on employee engagement.
  • It is impactful for business leader development to rotate to HR roles but seems to not sufficiently happen the other way.  Most panelists felt that it would be very important for an HR leader to have done at least one job outside HR.  HR professionals sometimes do not feel confident or motivated to take up external assignments.  Talent development support and nurturing within the function would enable more of this.
  • The need for HR to be competent business partners – moving beyond processes and policing was highlighted multiple times.  Seems like there is a lot of work for the HR teams to progress towards becoming credible business partners.
  • HR is still seen as reluctant adopters of new technologies in organizations – in some cases, even disinterested.
  • Performance Management was the most active session attended.  Most questions and interest were focused on the details of administering a ‘no bell curve’ system.  This could be among the most active areas for HR and organizations in coming years.  Companies like Adobe who have moved away from the bell curve system received most of the questions and interest.
  • It is important for middle managers or first time leaders to build self awareness, be seen as team and organization builders, and build a strategic perspective, if they want to progress to senior leadership roles.
  • Some of the basic areas and processes require attention.  A recent case in the education industry involving insufficient reporting, employment background checks and records showed up in a Bangalore school, where a teacher with a very worrying negative work history was not identified.  Another area seems to be the pervasiveness of fake certificates and resumes.
  • Interest in topics such as gamification (especially in the start-up community) and hackathons seem to be growing.
  • There is still a long way to go for HR in using data and analytics as a strong base for decisions.  Predictive modeling is used by very few companies.
  • Attracting employees and leaders globally due to growth and acquisition in new geographies seems to be a topic of growing importance.
  • Skill building and employability in schools and organizations were seen as important areas to ensure continuous availability of quality talent.  Working together in teams and leadership development were seen as active areas for improvement and development at all stages (recent post on employability ).
  • Under the new Companies Act, certain class of profitable entities are required to spend at least two per cent of their three-year annual average net profit towards CSR activities.  This seems to hold promise for development activities.
  • The Nasscom report specifying salary difference between men and women being almost a third, was shared.  Looks like companies in India have to dig deeper into this topic and work out related actions.
  • Among notable missing topics from my perspective was neuroscience/brain studies and impact on leadership and organizations.  It would also have been useful to hear about how investors look at HR/leadership practices, global perspectives and references to topics like mindfulness or status/impact of the occupational health area.

It is obvious that managing through fast paced changes happening outside and inside organizations requires a continuous learning and improvement mindset.  The strong link to global business and competitive environment leaves little room for complacence.  This holds many opportunities for HR and also requires intensive, focused effort to upgrade competencies and mindset.

In my observation, HR in the IT/ITeS sector seems to have progressed faster due to heavy reliability on human capital development, fast growth, global acquisitions, diverse client base and connectedness.  That said, most professionals and experts seem to acknowledge that a lot of work is still needed.

Best wishes to you and your teams.

If I have missed something or you have a different perspective, please comment.

Please do note that IT/ITeS HR represents only one part of India HR.

 

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