Thursday, May 19, 2011

In lighter vein: Public sector vs private sector-who is more fair and transparent

Liberalisation opened gates for large number of private sector businesses and along came loads of jobs. Jobs came fast and furious. With so many hired, has there been a system that can be called fair and transparent in private sectors? Not sure as they do not hire like PSUs do. PSUs advertise, call for test, at  each stage publish results and best out of the whole lot are hired. Clear and transparent. In private sector hiring happens through local systems that a company may choose to adopt. Advertise on different job boards, media, website, internal hiring campaign, or sometimes even without advertising. That's called liberalisation. But does that ensure, we have followed fair and transparent process? Probably not. As there is no audit or accountability to any government body or cell to publish, how fair and transparent their system has been in hiring till promotions, reviews and rewards. Liberaliation, while has opened gates for privatisation but it appears it has made people and system within the company management a little like unbridled rulers.Lack of proper accountability may have promoted lose systems and whims and fancies in decision making and thereby affecting the fairness and transparency.
My experience of having got offers from PSUs and other government services gives me more confidence in the system than in private sectors.
Private sector hiring in most of the cases, except for campus hiring is not so well planned as PSU hirings are.
Even selection of campus have been quite questionable many a times in private sector hiring. But that's the liberalisation code that we agreed to and it has helped a lot in growth but the question is not questioning growth but questioning, the fairness and transparency of the system.

While appearing for a government competitive examination and interview, I experienced that my performance will lead to result with much higher probability than I experienced in the private sector, where, even if score 100/100 at all stages, things may not turn in your favor as selection in private sector is not most driven by a formula that is established or can be explained and understood, but by hunches, gut feel, culture-fit, focus fit, long-term, short-term planning fit, etc.

When majority of jobs are there in the private sector, an uncertain system of hiring and growth of job or ucertain job market and hiring trends mayy derail lots of lives which will in turn affect lots of growth plans.
Housing loan is one such threat that has made people think twice before buying a flat or house, as uncertainty is unsettling lots of boats.
Hope things turn out and shape up for better.

Friday, May 6, 2011

The threat of HR shrinking as a function


Largely HR is considered to be a support function to business or enterprise and has been growing as a function much guided by the business than it's own pattern of evolving as a multi-tier or multi-layer function. I see traditional HR has a definite form of statutory or compliance keeper in forms of maintaining employee records, history of employee life-cycle while following statutory compliance as the rule of the land or state stipulates.
Modern day HR as all of you know is a catalyst to the organization's change management efforts, organisational development planner and agent, people effectiveness coach, coordinator for capability building framework design team, total rewards expert, champions of people issues, aspirations and career progression frame-work builder ; advisor, Leadership pipeline builder, keeper of people's faith in organization's fair and transparent review, reward and recognition system, keeper of people's faith in being heard, taken care of and resolver of issues with a surgeon's precision, excellent trainer and organiser of real stuff in training to ensure people's success in the organisation and beyond, etc, etc..

On top of the list of jobs or roles that HR has added to it's armoury, there are everyday challenges that industry, competion, market and people keep throwing that relates to people comes to HR first, before it gets filtered out or routed to other functions or people, outside HR. Agree to all of the specialist hats that HR can don, but the bigger and little worrying question is: Have we really made it large in HR to establish as HR specialist, as strongly as acadmicians and HR evangelists, great universitty professors and researchers have established these glofiying terms, conceppts and models and matrices? Probably not that much as we would have expected to..
The bigger worry is not there....the bigger worry is for the existence of the HR folks in future with HR professionals in many-many companies have not been able to establish the sense of worth and importance of each lateral function within HR to the company management and it's people, to the extent that each company to get the optimum benefit out of the HR's specialist functions.
Unfortunately, HR people are not able to sell thee specialist functions within HR to their curent company that results in too many HR people doing more of generalist function and not many in specialist functions.
I am not telling generalist is not a great skill, rather it is a great combination called 'Jack of all trades' but equally true is the other part of the adage...
Time to sell more of specialist HR roles within the organisation, so that you get to specislist role or rotate to various specilist roles, by adding key skills required for thoe roles or hire from the market.

If HR people do not do this today, they will always ask, what should be best employee number to HR member ratio?
We need to get ahead from here ASAP and establish HR as a specialist function with great sets of weapons or offerings to organisattion and people. Let's all take a task to grow HR function or else we will keep reading such ideas in HBRs, and great HR books and will hardly know anything beyond a 10 yrs junior HR student who comes out of his college and gets a next seat to us.

More so, for HR's sake and for sake of large pool of HR students at the gates waiting to enter your company..

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Thinking Course by Edward DeBono

Lateral Thinking










The quickest and the most reliable way to be rewarded for intelligence is to prove someone else wrong. Such a strategy gives you an immediate result and also establishes your superiority. Being constructive is much less rewarding. It may take years to show that a new idea works. Further more you have to depend on the listener liking your idea. So it is obvious that being critical and destructive is much more appealing use of intelligence. This is made even worse by the absurd western notion that ‘critical thinking’ is enough.
Analysis, judgement and argument are not enough.

Critical destruction has never produced a better one. It is creativity that produces the better hypothesis.

Perception is how we look at the world.

Professor David Perkins at Harvard has shown that almost all the errors of thinking are errors of perception. In real life logical errors quite rare. Yet we persist in believing that thinking is all a matter of avoiding logical errors.

If your perception is limited then flawless logic will give you an incorrect answer.

Perception works as a ‘self-organising information system.’

The tool method is much easier and more effective than other methods of teaching.

Teaching people to avoid mistake is very limited. You could avoid all mistakes in driving by leaving the car in the garage.

The PMI tool-

Exhorting people to take a balanced view is not very effective.

P stands for Plus or the good points

M stands for Minus or the bad points

I stands for Interesting or the interesting points.


PMI is an attention directing tool.

PMI is the first of CORT lessons. CORT stands for Cognitive Research Trust.

The PMI sets the mood of objectivity and scanning. The ‘I’ encourages he deliberate habit of exploring the matter outside the judgement framework. Another aspect of ‘I’ is to see if the idea leads to another idea. I trains the mind to react to the interest inherent in a idea and not just to judgement things about the idea. A thinker should be able to say: ‘ I do not like your idea but there are these interesting aspects to it..’.

As a habit of mind the PMI is specifically designed to force us to scan in those situations where otherwise, we should deem scanning unnecessary.
The PMI is useful because it is more oblique than direct disagreement or confrontation.

The APC tool-

A stands for Alternatives

P stands for Possibilities

C stands for Choices

Contentment with an adequate solution or approach is the biggest block there is to any search for a better alternative.

Proof may be no more than lack of imagination.

Through APC anything can be simplified or made more effective or productive.

1. Do an APC (review style) on the packaging of chocolate bars

2. Do an APC on the design of a telephone

I am told that there is an old Jewish saying which states that if there are two courses of action, you should always take the third.

Sir Robert Watson-Watt, the father of radar, had a saying, you get an idea today, you get a better idea tomorrow, you get the best idea never..

There is a need of practical cut-offs and deadlines and the freezing of designs.

But is you never generate alternatives you never have a choice.

Generating alternatives opens up possibilities.

We need it even more because the patterning nature of the mind seeks certainty-not alternatives.

What is the main purpose of thinking? The main purpose of thinking is to abolish thinking.

--Lumpers are those people who tend to group thinking together by focusing on common features.
--Splitters are those people who tend to separate thinking out by focusing on points of difference.


Edward De Bono first brought the term Lateral Thinking during an interview in 1967.

Lateral thinking is both an attitude of mind and also a number of defined methods.

The attitude of mind involves the willingness to try to look at things in different ways. It involves the appreciation that any way of looking at things is only one amongst many possible ways.


General use of lateral thinking-
The three methods: ‘stepping stone’, ‘escape’ and ‘random stimulation’.

Stepping stone method-for its movement value instead of its judgement value.
Escape method-willing to improve them or escape from them.
Random simulation method we open ourselves to influences other than those we directly look for.
Two other tools, CAF (consider all factors) and C&S (consequences and sequel). These tools were designed to counter the tendency for thinking to be ego-centric and very short-term.
In doing CAF, emphasis is on ‘what has been left out?’ and ‘what ought to be considered?’

Thinking is almost always short-term because the attraction or repulsion of a course of action is immediate.

Dense reading and dense listening.

Very few people are good listeners. A good listener listens slowly to what is being said. He does not jump ahead nor does he rush to judge nor does he sit there formulating his reply. He focuses directly on what is being said. He listens to more than being said. He extracts the maximum information from what hears by looking in between the words used and wondering why something has been expressed in a particular way. Dense reading is like dense listening. Dense reading involves a lot of thinking.

Questions-

Questions fall into two categories-Shooting question (SQ) in which we know what we are aiming to get, yes or no, etc. Fishing question (FQ) we dangle the bait in the water and wait for what we can get.

FI-FO- in-formation-in, in- formation-out
There should be as much consciousness of the information that is not available as there is of the information that is available.

Exlectics seek to lead out or pull-out of the situation, what is of value –no matter on which side it is to be found. With exlectics emphasis would be on ‘designing forward’ rather than on judgement at each stage.

EBS stands for examine both sides. ADI stands for Agreement, Disagreement and Irrelevance.
OPV stands for other people’s views.
THERE IS LOT MORE TO LEARN AND PRACTICE FROM DeBono's Lateral thinking course.

Retention is an issue that haunts HR folks!

Agility Mission Consulting
Thinking of retention risks: Focus on people finding their “sense of worth” before “sense of growth”
Retention is an issue that haunts HR folks much more than any other evil. Reasons are galore, that makes people think of moving out..one is "urge to get out of here" and the other could be "to get in there". Though it is just a trigger.


Someone's loss is someone's gain. The devil emerges, many a times, when a team becomes dysfunctional for any reason out of few given here; from losing a juicy project to a dictatorial manager to the poor review, etc. Much of the reasons for people choosing to move out are sectoral technology change, seasonal recessionary trends, making business sick and people have no clue on when company returns to pink. Let others participate and not leve it just to people in HR functions to do the loud and clear thinking and build a robust plan to retain the stars and others, respectfully called the 'B' players, as they hold the organization with their consistent performance and lesser threatening demands than the 'A' players.

Retention is a strategic game as it aims at averting the crisis due to the "War for talents" scenario. Skill building takes much longer time than buying it. Money makes the bull move. Titles, ESOPs, On-site opportunity, 7 star training, exposure and hefty sign-on bonus play a deal-maker trick. Here we have a capitalist mind-set, who says, 'WHO PAYS WINS' and rest of the lot say in chorus, 'let's re-build our long-term strategic retention rod-map'. The war has begun.

Surprisingly, while building war strategy to protect business, we often ignore what we are made of is just not people, who can be bought and sold, we have intelligent people, who keep searching for their 'sense of worth', much more valuable than the "market-rate".

Let's start talking to people heart-to-heart and you will find them having all the solutions that can make you think beyond the hell-imposed "survival strategy". People are there to grow with a sense of achievement, sense of belongingness, recognised, consulted, rewarded & respected. Share your concern if any, with them. "When in doubt, disclose" is what NRN says. What does not work is, "when in doubt, cut it out". Solutions are in-sight and easy.

Many a times, we have done statistical regression to the mean modeling of all employee exit data in an attempt to figure out what might have gone wrong in managing people and you get so very different reasons that you start doubting the authenticity of exit interview and people's diplomacy.

Retention actually starts from the date of hiring. You need to be aware of the personal reason as well beyond professional reasons for which one joins your organization and those have to mapped to ensure that they are taken care of, or fulfilled or else, disillusionment starts building. And mostly churn is not due to one-morning, one thought of quitting.

Remember, people look for their 'sense of worth' to the organization much before they start thinking of sense of growth. Ensure that a new employee finds her sense of worth very quickly and settles very well.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Brahmanism of hiring: Corporate's helpless dilemma

Recruiting managers or HR Managers who do the hiring or sourcing as it is called in the mean world of procurement of human resources
No, not really, candidates or applicants or aspirants get the dime-a-dozen treatment when they are hired through an agency, who is a detached or not-connected sourcing agent/a contractor or a vendor , be it a company sourcing guy or an outsider.
I seriously believe, it is high time when we all started implementing the learning's that we got from the top leaders like Jack Welch and Larry Bossidy and others with similar stature, who told, "nothing that you do is more important than hiring and developing a top talent" and "you must never delegate hiring".
If there is any element of truth into what these statements here, then we must look back and ask all hiring Managers, for whose team and business the hiring goals are set to review the whole hiring process , which includes sourcing, posting, marketing, branding, screening, evaluating, invitation for meetings with protocol or professional essentials , etc. To review the whole plan and do proper adjustments accordingly. Leaving hiring like critical decision to sourcing or recruiting managers is no less risky than risking a 'wrong hire'.
Most easy excuse for letting HR/Recruiting/sourcing function do the most part of recruiting in the name of not having much time with the hiring manager is like inviting for failure.
Sourcing/Recruiting department, for whom , sourcing is a task devoid of real intangibles called 'hiring for success' is like establishing a 'caste-system' in the organisation and that too with very defining dominance or high-leaning of a Brahmanism.
Hiring managers must be given more than a dip-stick idea and overview of the whole hiring plan and cycle, the typicality much before the hiring manager decides to delegate certain parts of activity for certain time with certain specialists from sourcing/recruiting department.
My experience says that hiring, strongly managed by Hiring Manager herself, has been the fastest and solid in terms of quality, cost and time-scale than when it was summarily given to sourcing department. If hiring manager treats hires as sourcing goods, she can imagine the results and team-spirit and bonding and the culture-fit.
Hiring managers need to get direct-hand involved in hiring and use HR as a supporting hand.
I have seen some recruiters who very much talk the language of a passionate hiring manager in words and spirit, that impresses. Hiring is not a number game or else purchase department could do it better..
Save spirit of hiring in the name of building a sustainably successful organisation!
Watch-out for labels of 'caste-system' and 'brahmanical shades'.