Monday, December 22, 2014

Hiring Excellence: AIM, FIRE, MISS

If you have to get results, better results, you need to be creative! Be it marketing, where we see the ultimate rendezvous with imagination or the much obvious food and fashion, creativity is the largest play!

Creativity is spontaneous!

Memory kills creativity as it distracts to draw information from memory, that is the 'learned skills'. Creativity may not be incremental. Not necessarily disruptive at the same time.

"Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It's self-conscious and anything self-conscious is lousy. You simply must ... Do things."—Ray Bradbury

What's creative about hiring today? Social media? Hackathon?, Not sure what is creative that we are doing in hiring. The best I hear is multiple rounds of interviews, 10, 12 , may be more. Is there anything creative there?
Offers made: Anything creative there? Do we think of what can be done to make the offer creatively intriguing and engaging?

You declined offer: Any thing creative you heard back?

You accepted offer: Anythings creative followed form there?

You resigned: Anything creative followed?

Dumbness is one way to define lack of creativity.

Are we not doing anything new? We are...we do, we make every transaction little more structured and objective, little more tougher and stronger..But do we do anything creative?

Remember the TV ad where an interview panel asks interviewee to interview the interviewer for the position. This is one bit of creativity.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Why you want a premier B School candidate?

High IQ, High on analytical thinking and problem solving, conditioned to manage responsibilities with strategic intent, smart worker, better degrees, better education, are competitive, have seen better teachers, colleagues and are comfortable understanding and managing high level stake holders with ease and poise, have higher aspirations and thus take up challenges, prove themselves faster, better, lead, challenge, create, produce better results, create value and enhance customer's satisfaction and over experience. Anything else, I am missing here, please add!

Now, when I see how many important and critical positions in HR are filled by folks from premier B school backgrounds, I see only 20% at max. Check LinkedIn and you will find this. 
Does that mean, many companies do not want all that what a premier B school guy can produce? Probably yes! 
Look at many LinkedIn job postings and you will see, many a places , there is not mention of education and premier college background, they just ask for numbers of years. 

Arguments in favor of not necessarily getting hung upon the premier tag is, cost and affordability, ignorance and play safe. 
It will be interesting to survey with stakeholders including employees and business leaders and check what difference they have seen in terms of results from people from premier vs not premier B school backgrounds.

Questions to ask--

1. What great changes have been made by the premier B school person, which was not made so far was not seen, realized or not being able to make by a non premier B school guy?
2. What approach did the premier B school guy follow which was way above the approach followed ever followed by the non premier B school guy?
3. What value and prestige/importance that the premier B school guy created for position, department he represented that was not done by a non-premier B school guy?
4. What systems, processes has the premier B school guy has created that was not available or not imagined so far and that helped create value for all stakeholders?
5. What issues and challenges has the premier B school guy brought to discussion and attention of senior management that was never ever articulated by a non-premier B school person so far? 
6. What is the effectiveness scores of HR programs that has been launched by a premier vs Non premier B school guy?


Add comparators that you want to add and try and answer them.

Adjust Emotional Intelligence to adapt to Org Culture


Whether you are in a place that promotes creativity or passivity, you need to align and work through the culture. Leaders either push ideas or influence us to follow. Either which way , idea is good and leaders fail less and succeed more. Ideas are important but we don't feel great about the greatest gift it is smeared with disrespect/care/passion/prestige.

Research conducted on 2000 scientists proved that those scientists who were respected and recognized produced much more success and failures than others! They just produced. Period!


Intelligence/IQ level helps us grab a grade, a job and emotional intelligence/emotional smartness helps us grow in the position/job/role. More than emotional skills of knowing own and others emotions and leveraging and making adjustments (includes curbing own emotions, gulping a bitter pill, ignoring being ignored, forgiving like a saint, even accepting unjust decisions on self and for people, we are responsible for). Why do we adjustments? Because, this is the way world world is and how people grow is a mix of opportunities, competencies and huge mix of being lucky.


There is nothing new in management sciences that religious/spiritual gurus and saints have not told about. 
Survival is the biggest need and that makes us follow rules, fair or unfair. Survival matters. Challenge rules if you can afford to destabilize your position. Sense of survival makes us safe not successful. 


Like traffic in Bangalore, you cannot predict, which hour you will get less traffic. On external environment we have less control and that matters the most, many a times.
So what role IQ and EQ play in our career, start with a day. How does it impact your life in a day's span at work?

Day means tasks, either action packed or dull, thinking or confusing, worried or excited, easy or sucking! It can be any kind of a day! What is designed is happening. What we design within that design is what we call IQ. IQ helps us find a way to the situations, circumstances, variables, factors, people, etc. EQ is getting ready in mind to manage it and convincing self on how to use emotions and apply social skills.
IQ actually is at play every moment that guides emotions and helps it manage the situation: good to ugly. IQ sits back when you get driven by Emotions and stop using IQ. While IQ is a problem solver, emotion is a drive that helps us float , sometimes direction less, aim less, imaginatively and instinctively driven and at times completely under hypnotic control.

IQ is not moral policing element. It helps when you press a panic button or ask for a quick favor!

It is not prescriptive, EI makes a mandate prescriptive. EI is conditioning due to being self-conscious, being self-aware or socially conscious, aware and conditioned to abide or ignore, even violate certain principles for individual, group etc.

Conditioning will always play a greater role in defining social skills. Else we "SOCIALIZE"!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Leadership Lessons-Donald Keough

An Interview with Donald Keough,
Chairman of the Board, Allen & Company, Inc. Ex-President Coca-Cola company


A few inspiring stories of leadership of conviction and determination. Positions like CEO's have no choice but to act but those who dared act based on what their gut-feel and foresight said, became 'leaders'. Leaderships is not a title associated with tags like CEOs, CTOs, CFOs, COOs and CHROs', they are the reward for being one who others could not date to become! Leadership is a matter of conscious choice, very few have courage to take. 

Leaders like the two discussed below are people, whose attitude and forthrightness impresses us. We have not seen them or heard them. We do not even care, how they looked like and which color or race they belonged to. What matters in leadership is 'what you are known for'. We all have learnt, 'we live in deeds, not in years'! This is not a Harvard created statement. This is simply the value statement of leadership. 
Let's not use term 'leadership' so casually as we do! Let people earn it! And also, let's not use leadership examples of only the oft repeated names like Steve Jobs, Jack Welch, etc. Talk about leadership of all those leaders you see around, who may not be visible on billboards and on covers of biographies, but their creation that changed our lives and that touches our lives everyday! 
Do we have leadership celebrations day? Like Teacher's day, father's day, mother's day, can we have "My Leader's day"?

Two short stories below (told by Don in an interview in 2008)

Robert Woodruff, the legendary builder of the Coca-Cola company, held a dinner for all the top company executives to celebrate the 50th anniversary. In effect, his message was that he didn’t know what they were there to celebrate. He said when he looked back over the 50 years at the mistakes that had been made and that were continuing to be made and at the opportunities that had been missed; he was shocked that they had survived 50 years. He said if the company were to continue doing what it had done over the past 50 years, he believed no one would be around to celebrate the 100th anniversary. That little talk set the stage for the leaders of the company to continue to reach out, expand, and broaden their dimensions. It took courage for an Atlanta-based company to go outside the United States.

When Jim Cantalupo came in as CEO after McDonald’s had gone through six or seven years of lackluster performance. He met in New York with the analysts. He stood up and said, I’m probably not going to talk to you for the foreseeable future because I have a lot of work to do in the stores, and I’m going to spend my time and effort, and that of all of my associates, to fix the stores. When we do that, you’ll be able to make up your own mind. He died a year and a half later, but he set the pattern. If you look at what’s happened to McDonald’s in the past several years, it can be attributed to that simple, honest statement. There are good examples of people in the business who are not going to let some analyst decide how they’re going to run the business.

Nothing works unless it works through relationships. Nothing is possible unless you do it with and through others

Success is a journey and not a destination. The minute you believe it’s a destination, you’d better ask for the farewell party.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Are you ready for a star candidate?

"Let your top performer walk away"
"Do not hire the best".
"Candidate is too good for us"

We have heard many such gospels. What matters is context. Hiring is not always for the best. Hiring is a "best-fit", scientific hiring! But is JD is a good boundary for defining a best-fit? What is a quantifiable measure of a good-fit?

Have you heard of the term, "scientific hiring"? Wonder what is this? Is this a robotic exercise of hiring by putting candidate under every test battery and finally stamp it out "Tested", "EC" (Europe Compliant), etc.
It is actually not. Scientific hiring is the process that is consistent and integral and does not change due to context.
I have heard people questioning the validity of”JD based" interviewing” and times sanctity of a “Resume based interviewing” too?

What shall be done? Do we do a “candidate based interviewing”? How do we do that?

·        Ask a candidate, what motivates/excites him to apply for this position?
·        What does he think this position will offer him?
·        What all skills and experience he thinks, he will learn and hone on this job?
·        What all factors will define success of this role? How does he measure his success on the role? What does he think is detrimental to the success of this role/position?
·        Talk about achievements?
·        Talk about risks he/candidate took in his professional role ?
·        Talk about a serious conflict he had with his seniors/points of disagreement, where he had a different view, at times contrarion to the senior's views/views largely held by higher up/s? Talk about conflict with the team that he managed, his approach and why that approach?
·        Where does he think his seniors should have helped him and he rather did not get that support?
·        Who does he attribute his success to and why?

Most of the people will say, 'team', boss, peers, mentor, many people at different times and at times my gut feel, strong belief, etc. This is good, talk about a situation where he attributes his success to his gut feel and strong belief? These questions differentiates deeply between a task-jockey against a thinking and application guy, a learning and un-learning guy, an adaptable and success oriented guy, a person aware of eco-system and sees in them a code and support mechanism to succeed, etc.

What are the types of fit in hiring?
·        Culture fit. - Lives by the values that core values, core principles define and appreciate. May not stipulate as rules. Not prescriptive but reflective.
·        Team fit- Can be a great team player
·        Technology fit- Quickly learns technology and yields the best out of it to meet requirements, can leverage and optimize
·        Customer fit- Empathetic, compliant, responsive, dependable, enslaves client
·        Geography fit-Culture neutral, highly pervasive, socially apt and highly
·        Manager fit- Can be a best complementing factor to manager, meets her/his needs, can ease out manager of lower end responsibilities thereby helping manager climb up and create/innovate
·        Process fit- Perfect fit for the current process, a machine, robot, loves process, has no life outside process.

Decide what suits you best to have an objective subjective assessment!


How to test for Integrity and Honesty in an interview

Emotional Intelligence or EI, everyone knows has been a popular topic for leadership discussion. An emotion oriented tool to lead one to be better understood, empathized, connected, related, engaged and cared and give the same feelings to others and all these are good behaviors that determine a healthy relationship where people thrive, together. Watch the words, biblical as it may sound, “thrive together”!

This place is an anti-cut throat competition place. Brotherhood! Benevolence!

How can we use EI at interview to select a right-fit, for selection, success of the candidate and success of the role? 
Questions shall revolve around, understanding self-drive, passion, decision-making, inclusiveness, empathy, 'subjective objectivity' into the decision-making process, wider and deeper outlook to consider all factors, situations, people, environment, culture, and overall seeing and positioning oneself under lens of EI scrutiny all the time and in all such situations of human/emotional interface, etc. the UI (user interface) must always be attractive?

...and then begins the talk ...

What was the situation? (tell me about a situation when you had to take a quick decision on ramping up (staff-augmentation?)/down-sizing your team..)

-
What was your exact role? (What were those key expectations from you, do you think?)

-
What were the circumstances? (What circumstances, you think had led to the situation with management and what were situations at people's end and your end at that point in time to meet this need)

- What did you do exactly? (exactly)

-
How did you do it? (yeah! please tell me in steps)

- What were the consequences? (and were these consequences anticipated,? How did you respond to them?)



Now you have a deep-dive into the maturity, depth of experience of the person and his approach and candidate’s self-governing principles, capacity to manage emotions vs. ruthless needs of the job at hand and make communication inclusive yet decisive will reflect a factor called "personality"! See how you look like and project the other in front of you: a hero, a villain or a victim! And how do you sound, appear and act like: Hero, villain or a victim! In the story of situations and circumstances, we all appear like either a hero, villain or a victim or if you are in audience or reflecting on a bye gone story, whose side do you sit it what is your character!

Integrity comes after establishing that there is a personality! A defined being with a set of values and mechanism to respond to time, people and tasks!

Measuring EI is not possible. What is possible is to understand the depth of one's ability to comprehend situation, articulate the needs, build an approach,  plan it thoroughly, act decisively considering all factors and stakeholders and arrive at a result. 
It is a serious process of interviewing as you are trying to measure the un-measurable and unless process done with absolute 'integrity', it will just lead to huge pile of notes and they all will be so diversified for different candidates. 

Only 'integrity' gets integrity!

Cross-sectional view into personality and EI layer would pop-out if the values, approach, principals are challenged and there comes out "integrity" or absence of it!
There is no other exclusive way to find out 'integrity'. It is only through immersed listening, watching and over all experiencing of the theatrics! 

Normally to test or check integrity, questions are asked like, "Quite late you found that the last report sent to the client had major errors and now you are already late and team has left and it is long weekend, correcting it will require good 10 hours of team effort at least, what would you do in this situation?"

"What are some of your failures, you would like to talk about?"

Here, what an interviewer would expect is 
"Honesty": first proof of 'integrity', second, "take the right decision of owning the task and look forward", irrespective of "consequences on self", third, "keep others informed and lead like a superhuman" to correct the mistakes" to save client, respect and pride for 'company, brand, team etc.

Do we not know that people can tell all these when they respond. A smooth talker will pass the test. We will not have lie detector or an expert to read "micro-expressions". You go by gut-feel or what you 'feel' like.

So, how do we write a report on candidate's key strengths which are "Honesty", "Integrity", which are so critical to one's success in any role, especially when it is a leadership role?


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Companies don't have any good way to measure innovation like they do for execution

To quote Dee Hock: "Never hire or promote in your own image. It is foolish to replicate your strength. It is idiotic to replicate your weakness. It is essential to employ, trust, and reward those whose perspective, ability, and judgment are radically different from yours. It is also rare, for it requires uncommon humility, tolerance, and wisdom"

Companies don't have any good way to measure innovation like they do for execution. Vijay Govindarajan explains this real well in his book "The Other Side of Innovation." 
Unless the CEO creates or supports something analogous to PMO (project management office) called IMO (innovation management office), it is very difficult to get the execution team to collaborate with the innovation team. 

How do you identify the 'genes for innovation' in any interview? What is an inventive mind? Does invention happen only when one consistently endeavors to thing through an unthinkable issue? How many instances a company has where they believe and provision for entrusting the rights to 'experimentation' in employee's hands? How many companies have rewarded brilliant failures and punished average successes?

Whose KRA and KPI is innovation? Top bosses, R&D folks? Everyone to some extent? It is not defined. Unfortunately everyone thinks it is an R&D lab that works on innovation and their job is 'discovery'. 
If that is the case, then innovation will be an academic pursuit and will not encompass organisation's services or product lines.

If people are in their comfort zones, they will not innovate. Does that also mean that if you have more stable organisation, you have more people in comfort zones and you are not innovation fit?

Like pharma companies, either a company is inventive drug company or a generic drug maker. Generic means operations and sales. Inventiveness means new breakthroughs and market leading products and services and make huge margins. 
Question remains who is responsible for innovation and like the CEOs who do not make consistent profits are fired, are we firing the sitting ducks for not innovating? 
There are R&D centers where there are managers and directors galore and not a single innovative and market success product in 10 years. 
Companies live too longer on average products. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

HR-A and HR-LO: What an start-up needs

HR-A for sure as basics shall not be missing and more than that it must surprise a new employee so much of process and policies, guidelines, documents, SOPs, already in place. All employee related information shall be made available at the ESS page. Holiday List, Policies, Calendar of events, Contacts, addresses, employee profile, Company's presentations, corporate brochure, training calendar, Events update, picture gallery, blogs, Polls, surveys and analysis of interesting finding, some employee personal blogs, creativity, passion, forums, etc.


  • Time and attendance
  • Leave management
  • Payroll
  • Policies
  • Hiring-R and S
  • Joining, Life cycle, promotions, transfers, exit management
  • Compensation design and total rewards framework
  • Orientation program details of content, program design, Slides and Feedback research, New on the NEO!
  • Training programs list-Calendar-Training outline, expected timelines
  • Training archives
  • Blogs
  • Forums
  • Newsletter
  • Podcasts, Videos, Seminars, Info-graphics
  • Contest, awards, adventure-team building, Social responsibilities. 
  • Core values
  • Vision and mission
  • Fun & creativity walls and posters, collage on "life@company" 
  • Wall of fame
  • Awards ceremony-Celebrating people behind our success!
  • Upcoming events!- Lectures, workshops, CSR


The HR-LO:

  • Track competency forums- Track leads, track principals, track young turks!
  • Leadership forums: Business leadership, tech leadership, Operational excellence, Inventiveness and creative thinking.
  • Talent spotting-career design-progression framework-succession planning
  • Mentoring-Leadership pipeline
  • Review and feedback
  • Skill building-capability building-cross-functional skills building

Sunday, August 3, 2014

PRACTICE makes PERFECT: The 10000 hours rule!

The 10000 hours rule and how it works. Malcolm Gladwell talks about the 10000 hours rule in his book Outliers. 
Interestingly, there is way to expedite it as you see below in the infographics!

  • GET A COACH: इन्हे ढूंढना आसान है। They are easy to find as they wait for someone spirited.
  • SURROUND YOURSELF WITH LIKE MINDED INDIVIDUALS: They help you shape and refine your thoughts. You will find toughest support and toughest challenges here.
  • BUILD EXPERT HABITS: Think, act, behave like an expert; poised, thoughtful, mindful, humble and unassuming
  • DON'T WASTE TIME ON SMALL STUFF:This is distraction. Stay away from small stuff. They pull you down and drain your energy. Not worth your time.
  • DELIBERATELY PRACTICE: This is forceful act on yourself, Discipline yourself by yourself.
  • TEACH OTHERS: This is the best way to learn. Choose your audience from a mix of people.
  • FIND SOMEONE TO KICK YOUR BUTT WHEN YOU FALL OFF TRACK: You need to be friend with or be a mentee of someone who equally loves to lash you when you are off-track.


Leadership: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences & Personal Attributes!

There have been tonnes of debates on Leaders Vs. Managers. This went to the extent of vilifying managers as donkeys, idiots, senseless, moron, machines, robots and tools! This is so unfortunate that the attributes which makes one a leader is defined as a superior gene, that are available with only certain people. Like people evolve by experiences, leadership as a concept is also evolving with age and experiences.







Like kinds of intelligence (http://skyview.vansd.org/lschmidt/Projects/The%20Nine%20Types%20of%20Intelligence.htm)

 The theory of multiple intelligences is a theory of intelligence that differentiates it into specific (primarily sensory) "modalities", rather than seeing intelligence as dominated by a single general ability. This model was proposed by Howard Gardner in his 1983 book Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. Gardner articulated seven criteria for a behavior to be considered an intelligence.

Gardner chose eight abilities that he held to meet these criteria: musical–rhythmic, visual–spatial, verbal–linguistic, logical–mathematical, bodily–kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic. He later suggested that existential and moral intelligence may also be worthy of inclusion.

 In the context of knowing leadership, it is advisable to read the Situational Leadership Theory.  (The situational leadership theory,is a leadership theory developed by Paul Hersey, professor and author of the book Situational Leader, and Ken Blanchard, leadership guru and author of The One Minute Manager, while working on the first edition of Management of Organizational Behavior (now in its 10th edition).The theory was first introduced as "Life Cycle Theory of Leadership".During the mid-1970s, "Life Cycle Theory of Leadership" was renamed "Situational Leadership theory".)


  We need leadership at all the levels; thought leadership to execution excellence, marketing to services, concepts to products and services, dreams to realities. A brilliant idea from a genius may find no takers, if there are no leaders who can find sponsors for those ideas, thought leadership does not see light of the day. China led in manufacturing excellence, which was execution. Anyone who runs with an idea, products and services ahead of the herd is a leader and all those who make this mission possible, are leaders. We need leaders at all levels and unless the whole value chain is not filled with leaders, leadership vision do not travel the desired path and direction with magnitude. Leadership creates the obvious difference for anyone to notice by its interventions. A leader is someone who brings that change, everyone needed and knew about but no one took it up. To sustain leadership position, one needs systems, processes and there we need managers. If managers are not leaders, leadership advantage may be short-lived.


  I would like you to relate leadership with intelligence and that will help us find what behaviors are called intelligent and what all intelligent steps that a leader takes that makes him a leader. Leader has to be insightful, visionary and that is not possible unless he has certain unique and evolved levels of intelligence.


  Special intelligence makes a leader out of ordinary people and there to some extent genes play a role but intelligence is the set of behavior that defines all essential ingredients for the best results in any situation but to apply them is the real thing. A leader applies them taking advantage of opportunity, taking risks, move with courage and is ready to face resistance, criticism and push-backs on the way! Here certain values of individuality that is again built out of experiences and convictions in a leader helps him accomplish goals!


  So, leadership has two components; ingredient and toppings/dressing/seasoning, wherever you call it.


Saturday, August 2, 2014

Compensation & Benefits is actually costing and budgeting

~70% cost of running an IT or services company or even a knowledge based consulting organisation is towards infrastructure cost and salary and benefits cost.

Revenue-cost=profit. (Revenue minus cost is profit). Profit is key as it is key to expansion, growth and diversification, etc.

Many services companies bag projects and then look for filling positions to deliver them either internally or externally. Internally, they may find resources who fit the bill or else hire from market at the cost that fits the budget. Salary is a cost and cost is decided by looking at operating cost and gross margin on the project. Who said, there is something called C&B. Ask and accountant and he will calculate your cost of resources and tell hiring the hiring budget. Ask project manager to write job specs as he writes project specs, send that to HR to post jobs and let the project manager interview and select. HR shall offer as they have the budget. If HR says guy is not accepting offer as it is less by 30% from his expected salary, the project manager says, give him 20% as I will ask him to manage some other tasks as well. HR even does not know how and why the project manager agreed to raise the salary, the real reason and so offer is made and you have done a C&B job. Well done! That is C&B.

C&B is not a brahmanical hegemony! It is just a cost calculating function. They play with mix of Base/fixed component, Variable/Performance Incentive/Bonus/Rewards and Benefits, employer brand management cost (Welfare, lifestyle, etc)

Any educated person can read and understand a C&B concept book, starting to understand the cost of services and therefore cost of service provider, complexity, scarcity, availability of skills and so the capacity to hire within a band or range. Where do you hire from and where do you lose your people to is one generic concept to set your cost bar. But many companies believe in few sharks at the top who can lead the average bundle of folks and therefore set the cost differently at different levels. High-end topping skills like 'analytical thinking', 'decision-making', problem-solving', 'Insight-building', etc are top end cost over degrees and experiences and one can follow the 20% to 40% ratio as project nature and profitability may be considered.

Talk to any business leaders, for whom  HR hires from market or campus, he would have thought of margins and then he would look at billability and resource cost + bench cost to tell them what budget he has and that becomes the C&B. Name changes but it is all accounting.

C&B is costing and data entry, data keeping. C&B follows what guidelines business gives them after looking at the salary survey report. Market report as well help them in finding what competitors are paying and so correct or re-position salary as strategy may be.
You need to watch your 5 close competitors at max.

It will be interesting to see, how and when has C&B published a job-evaluative, market researched and compared C&B data to management that tells the following-

1. How many of our employees are paid much over the band for what they do?
2. How many are paid over the band
3. How many on the band
4. How many below and quite below the band?

Many a times dumb HR and companies change title to match salary and they go for coffee for bringing this great company-killer solution. MNCs are most screwed in India as they harbor the most awful HR folks many a times who keep HR sound like esoteric and keep people guessing. They buy expensive reports and deploy consultants to show they are doing something like CIA and they would 'completely revamp company processes', make them top company. What happens is , you all know!

Leave C&B to Finance and Accounts and let CFO manage that. HR can  administer by printing letters and data-entry into systems. In that case, we may not need C&B Manager.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Career options and pathways in Human Resources

Career moves are very mysterious yet very much logical. In HR, you may observe, there are professionals who moved always in Indian companies in last 18 years of their career, people joined in recruitment function and remained there, folks joined in training and remained there. While you will find some moving across HR functions without even having a formal HR degree. How does that happen?
It all happens, when opportunity comes to you and you make it!
Factory Managers, Chartered Accountants, Engineers, all of them have made their way into HR and have traveled across functions, locations and roles. Career in HR requires quite a lot of flexibility, ability to produce results, build relationships, develop people and culture, etc. But most of the places, when I talk to people outside HR, they say, HR folks are busy. Doing what is often times a question but it is true they spend lot of time in admin work, operations. After systems implementation to manage HR functions, HR's role has remained limited to data entry and pulling reports.
There are pathways into being HR business partner and help them with hiring through recruitment department, get them compensation bench-marking, through C&B department , getting them some training through L&D, etc. Business expects you to do clerical job and job of care-taker rather than an active HR evangelist, OD and learning and talent engagement and development expert.
Ask a top HR boss, how many culture experiments he has done with the organisations he worked with and he will have no answer. Even top bosses in HR just maintain department. Give lectures, write for newspapers, HR magazines, go to conferences, etc. All personal publicity.

If you have to define your career path in HR, you need to own it and develop it by self-regulating and being decisive and committed to your cause and that may ask you to be different than other HR folks. Risk is there as you may have to look for change and not many HR folks are ready to experiment and delve into areas of expertise, that may be challenging . If you can take that challenge, ask for that role, keep pushing by producing quality and compelling materials in that area, make presentations, write and publish research papers and remain active on HR platforms, real and virtual. HR is a service oriented job and you need to be in the mind-set of service giver and be wiling to people delight and comfort.
At the same time, you may be working under tremendous pressure from top management, who will ask you to  drive their agenda through you, how unrealistic, unpopular and agonizing that maybe. Here you have to balance by playing a servant role or quit the job. HR's job is to deliver good to business and if that means taking certain unpopular decisions, it shall be taken..
Create your own path if you do not suck up. Talent managers must acknowledge first, what the test bed looks like before starting a talent war/revolution on the grounds!  

What is this HOLACRACY

The Holacracy® system was incubated at Ternary Software, an Exton, PA, company that was noted for experimenting with more democratic forms of organizational governance. Ternary founder Brian Robertson distilled the best practices into an organizational system that became known as holacracy in 2007

Holacracy is a fundamentally different “operating system” for organizations — it revolutionizes how a company is structured, how decisions are made, and how power is distributed.
During the 4-hour meeting, Tony Hsieh, founder, talked about how Zappos’ traditional organizational structure is being replaced with Holacracy, a radical “self-governing” operating system where there are no job titles and no managers
The term Holacracy is derived from the Greek word holon, which means a whole that’s part of a greater whole. Instead of a top-down hierarchy, there’s a flatter “holarchy” that distributes power more evenly. 
CEOs who sign on to Holacracy agree to cede some level of power. The advantage is that they get to view their company through an entirely different lens. But it’s an adjustment for both leaders and employees. Zappos, which has 1,500 employees, will be the largest company to date to implement Holacracy.

Twitter Co-Founder Ev Williams is one of the system’s early adopters; he uses Holacracy to run his publishing platform Medium, which has around 50 employees.
Brian Robertson, the founder of the management consultancy HolacracyOne. 
build the healthiest possible system where people thrive”, 

Through Cultural experimentation, it became clear that we needed to focus at a process level as well — we were growing pretty quickly, and the lack of clarity in structure, process, and decision-making was becoming painful.
Through Agile methodology, software companies started seeking novel ways to organize.
Agile calls for self-organizing teams with the power to make decisions about how they’ll work together to deliver results, a structured company as a collection of self-organizing teams and get out of their way as best one could. Agile calls for adaptive planning and responding to change vs. predictive planning and control mechanisms, and it offers lots of concrete processes to enact those principles at a software development level, so we adopted and adapted them for our context. 
Agile calls for visual project boards and information transparency, which we took to heart — our walls were floor-to-ceiling corkboards in some places, covered in useful project data

And agile calls for a feedback-driven evolutionary approach to design and delivery, for providing customers with an empirically-grounded and continuous flow of value, so we integrated that at the process level and instilled it in the culture.
David Allen’s Getting Things Done method (“GTD”)
Facilitator’s Guide to Participatory Decision-Making by Sam Kaner

Source: Medium article by Brian Robertson; Wikipedia, 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

What's an HR interview


Our first encounter with the word HR happens at campus interview time. Sometimes earlier if you went for an interview at internship time. It really was difficult for me to figure out 'how does an HR person look like, what an HR person would like to look at? What will he/she ask me and how should I answer that?

They are normal human beings, they look, feel, believe and think as any other human being. They also interview for jobs, they also meet HR people at interview.
Now normal? Good.
One more thing, HR people, who are those in HR function/role. They may be HR people by qualification. What does that mean? That means, they have a degree or a diploma or a certificate course in HR. They may have read some HRM books, lots of articles, some HR concepts and therefore, they become qualified by learning HR books, theory, concepts, case-studies, research papers, would have participated in many projects in HR and would have learnt ropes of the HR business and how an HR evangelist, specialist, Catalyst for change/change agent, talent spotter, talent manager thinks, acts and behaves. Though there may be many people in HR, without such degree, background. Remember Mohandas Pai, who headed HR at Infosys when he was a Chartered Account and a CFO of Infosys, before he took mantle of HR. Even Shalini Pillai, a CA and earlier Business Partner at KPMG, heads KPMG, India HR. Santrupt Misra, who heads Aditya Birla Groups, HR and OD was a plant manager. 
So not to fear, you will meet people who , let's assume currently manage HR function and you are interviewing with her/him. You do not need to know their background. That won't help much, unless you are interviewing for an HR position.

HR interview is a sanitizing  interview. It reiterates the position, role, description of role and responsibilities to a candidate. It fist ensures that candidate has sufficient information about the role/position, expectations, other factors related to job like, location, type of job, terms and conditions associated, basic eligibility and ongoing needs on the job. Once they have ensured candidate knows this, they start conversation where they expect candidate to give them an overview of who they are and what education, skills and experiences they have that they talk about in context of the job. What behavioral attributes they have that would make them become successful on the job. They try to gaze candidates interest in the role, company. They also try to check if candidate has certain constraints and aspirations that may come in the way of his or company's decision making on him/her for the role. 
What aspects of the job candidate understands well and how does he want to apply his experience and skills in the new role? What support he needs on the job to be able to meet expectations from him.

HR interviewer wants to know how and why the candidate has taken key decisions in life , studies and career and what is his thinking and decision making skill like. What are his motivators/drives and what personal attributes does he think are his strengths and weaknesses. How does he consider role and contribution of his manager, seniors, team members, juniors, others in his work environment. What are his natural and preferred work-style, leadership style, how strong are his problem solving and decision making skills, how good he is in his communication, in terms of articulation, structure , focus, assertiveness and balance.
How does he handle conflicts and differences of opinion, How he works in a structured and organised workplace. HR people watch you as much as they listen to you, but in any case, you need to be yourself and do not assume anything. Listen carefully, sound taking interest, allow them to complete their questions, sometimes they may mix two or more questions in one question. Take time, segregate questions and tell them which question you are answering first.
They will ask about your short-term, long-term goals. Tell them how you see yourself learning and growing in the organisation, how do you think you will add skills. Do not give fancy goals. They just want to know if you are thinking in the direction of being more useful to the organisation by adding skills and taking up higher responsibilities. Do not sound too ambitious by telling that you would like to be a VP or CEO if they are on very long-term horizon, they sound amusing but carry no value. If you say, how you would like to lead a group and function that takes care of say digital marketing, product development, anything that is relevant and adds liner value to the company or if it is an inventive company and pays high regards for research and development, them express your interest in working in that direction in your role and grab an opportunity to work, support new product line, etc,

Though companies believe in diversity but they certainly look for certain character in each candidate they interview to hire. HR looks for those few characteristics and they can be as simple as, Honesty. accept what you do not know, accept what you did not notice, read or understood, tell the truth! Confidence and maturity, here they look for abilities to work independently, unguided, unassisted. Can they manage communication with business with people they have met for first time and with those, who are placed higher in position in the organisation, with ease. Humility; This is important and shows in body language, smile, appearances, demeanor. 
Enjoy, it is fun!

Pic courtesy: Glasbergen!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

You actually do not need a real HR: Facade works, use them

HR does orientation and training and they help new folks learn how to get to speed and performance in any organisation.  They help people know what makes them successful and how they can expedite their learning and contribute at their peak performance. HR folks help people feel great about the workplace by creating a lively and welcoming environment that promotes learning, excellence and culture of reward.
All that looks like the management book dream expectations from HR and we find  them not playing such roles in words, spirit and passion. Why? Because they most of the times struggle to make sense to people as people know what is there in the policy books and all such information which HR used to master as they were written and interpreted out of secret HR books and vaguely written HR policy books. Now all this information is available and people manage all their needs on HR side easily. Now HR feels like, what to do, as people hardly need anything from these super specialty people. Of course employees approach HR when they find their employment data wrongly presented on HR systems, appointment letter has mistakes, bills are not reimbursed in time and correctly and accounts guys tell that , they do not have information from HR on such payments. I got 2 and half month's salary on my first month's salary at an MNC which hires people from top B and T schools only. Same is not true for people in HR. My joining date of 5 Jul was interpreted as 7 May.

I have heard from many employees that their appraisal letters, bonus letters, had several mistakes , several times. This may be individual characteristic but overall HR being considered a parking place, is such an ugly joke to people they serve, such a regressive thought! 
Richard Rekhey, CEO, KPMG India rightly positioned his most successful Partner from business role to head HR function. This truly defines that if HR has to take directions, vision and everyday instructions on people matters, from their masters in business, then why not people in business run HR themselves as they may not like to lose transmission loss or divergence from their vision of HR, which is mostly derived from the business, right? If business people define business success and strategy, they can manage HR better than anyone else. If only an HR degree is a reason to position someone in HR roles, which is related to living things (humans), who have brains, emotions, aspirations, and can be unpredictable too, needs someone very intuitive and refined and evolved. Time to re-think on HR as Ram Charan wrote in HBR in Jul-Aug, HR shall split into HR-A and HR-LO . A for Admin and LO for Leadership Organisation. Welcome move. 

I think much of HR's plight is due to its image as being Management's agent. Since HR gets most of directions from business and many employees who maintain relations with management directly, actually find all decisions are driven by business and so HR is just a tool! Puppet, right?
Time to change from tool to solution to business enabler, an SME who can bring business insights from people (resources, talent, leadership, risks, Capability, Aspirations, etc) into business planning and strategy. How many HRBPs to HR VPs ever do it? How many of them have even gone above the Admin of HR? This HR does not do as this is very high capability/risk area for HR to enter unless HR leader has free hand and CEO is a powerful leader. Most of the times HR's interventions in matters like,  Resources, Talent, Leadership, Risks, Capability, Aspirations, etc, make HR sound like trade union leader, anti-management or anti-some business leaders, tech heads, who in turn wage a war against HR guy and finally that HR leader is pushed outside the discussion room and at times fired! 
Why should an HR guy take HR leads that are written in the dream books of HR? Why would HR person take such risks and destabilize her life, EMIs and then go job hunting? 
Remember, big shifts, turnarounds happen only in 1% places, other places HR programs are emotionless copy-paste boring facade! Blame business not HR!  

10 signs HR is dead in your organisation

1.   When your top leaders shy away from talking about HR. 
2.   When no one cares what the hell HR is doing these days.
3.   When your top performers tell you they do not remember, when was their last talk with HR.
4.   When your vendors tell you that it is very difficult to reach and get response from your HR.
5.   When your new employee is too hesitant to ask HR about something as small as, when would I get my NEO plan?
6.   When your HR guy talks at employee gatherings, as a speaker and people dig into phones or food.
7.   When HR is just a 'dropbox' which sucks questions of significance and cannot give solutions on the fly.
8.   When your HR managers and senior positions talk 80% time about admin stuff.
9.   When your HR gets to know of people issues from employee's managers as escalation.
10.  When it does not matter when HR people come and go to office and what they do through the day.

Interesting read below when you know what Richard Rekhy, CEO, KPMG India, told in an interview to 'People Matters', May 2011.

I have kept something I once heard very close to heart. When I met the CEO of a large consulting firm in New York some time ago, he said something that just stayed with me – “Pick your highest performing business partner and make that person the Head of HR”. People are the most critical asset in a consulting firm, so you need to put your best person in charge of your people. It made absolute sense.
------Richard Rekhy, CEO, KPMG India in an interview to 'People Matters', May 2011----

I personally believe that if we care for people the result will be high performance. So, when I became the CEO, I took the opportunity to ask one of our best performing partners – Shalini Pillay - to take on the reins of managing HR and ensure that we give our people the best. I chose her because I wanted someone who was a high performer as well as passionate about people . In fact, I’ve had such a keen interest in people that I had offered myself for this role to my earlier CEO, so that I could make a difference and transform KPMG India to be on of the best places to work. I believe it’s the most critical role, because you would be responsible for the most expensive asset in the business – our people.
------Richard Rekhy, CEO, KPMG India----

Friday, July 25, 2014

Workplace rules!

In one of the exit interviews, someone told me that, initially in his career, he used to feel like he is working with friends, but later he realized that he actually worked with 'colleagues'. This statement has shaken me up, as a truth that most of us do not realize. While friends can be your colleagues, all colleagues , not your friends!
As Gallup employee engagement survey also asks out of 12 important questions, one which asks, "do you have a friend at work?'. Would this not mean that you may have colleagues but they may not be your friend.
Also heard of collegiate work culture. We keep reading and listening about  'friendly' work place, etc. They all mean that, though humans have an emotional need to have a friend, colleagues are social relations only.

Things like these do not erupt all of a sudden when one hits the workplace. They actually exist even in schools and colleges. I have found many of my schools horrible in terms of emotional value. I saw lots of morons in schools but yes, met many friends, who were so open to discuss our mind. At work place things change and  we become careful about anything we say, anyone we talk to, go around with, etc. You are watched and you never know you become friend with someone who may not have a good perception based value. Things were not different even in childhood, when we got warning if we were seen with people who did not carry a good image and reputation. Does not matter , how good they were with me and I may not have experienced anything bad with that guy.
I have heard a great sermon for workplace, "here you come to work". Find your life, friends, fun and all that outside. World is too big.
It is always good to have a rich and engaging personal life, full of relationships, passion, hobbies, charity, whatever. There is risk if you are 100% at work and want to give 100% and you are not with people, who find you a pain to work with as you do follow ups, you escalate matters, you express unhappiness when things do not go professionally well. Chuck this habit.
Who told you that only you care about work, client, etc? Start believing in others and then allow them to behave the way they do. Emotional intelligence tells us to know about our emotional states and how to manage them while being aware and watchful of other's emotional states and managing other's emotional state too.
Chill out.
No one wants you to be a 100% professional. No one can become 100% professional. No one is. Do not become 'odd-man-out'. If you are not like others, you are just not an alien, you are against the group and maybe a threat to others. You create disharmony and unrest. Individually people may like you, appreciate you but in group setting you are painted as a 'pain in ass'. You cannot kill the group mind-set, group can kill you with the speed and surprise, you would never have imagined.
Never attach emotions to work. They are disease and only you die, others joke at you and call you a jerk!, a fool and an assh***!

Take work like work! Be professional but follow the rules of the land. It is like being aware of all traffic rules in the US and then drive. It does not matter if you are a seasoned driver in India. Rules are different and follow them. Manage the workplace and then you fit the culture and you will have a long haul.
Watch the workplace shape you and you get shaped. If you are a square peg, round yourself up to fit the round hole there.
I have made mistakes in my career by considering that I can change workplace culture and failed after initial success as no one likes to follow codes of work ethics, professional values. They are good for the walls!

If you are a change agent, you will be crushed. Look what happened to Steve Jobs to Baba Ramdev to Durga Shakti!
Seek life and values in personal space please! I have learnt it and now if one calls me inhuman, devoid of sentiments, selfish, spineless, I will be unfazed as I am not here to interfere in the law of land and destiny that God has fixed for anyone. When I came in the way, God told me, "do not interfere in my decisions". You are not law! You are not an agent of God! Even if you think you are, see what happened to Jesus!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Relationship between a desired attrition and incidental attrition.

When I look at how attrition has been categorized, I see two ways, if not more; voluntary vs. involuntary and functional vs. dysfunctional.
Up or out philosophy vs. life-time employment firms, rare skills and hard to build competencies to average operations skills, what suits your business and structure can be very different. Company A's top performer joins company B and here he becomes a poor performer and then he moves out or is shown the door. Puzzling to categorize this attrition. Attrition driven by culture and business and people values? Lot many companies wish, their identified laggards and petered out (On whom Peter Principle has applied) leave but they remain there, creating glass ceiling for a performer and then he quits looking for a place that provides growth opportunities. Here I see a relationship between a desired attrition and incidental attrition. All companies would agree that their desired attrition shall be 'x' percentage, identified by stack ranking people and then planning a counsel out approach for them. Look at how Microsoft has planned for 18,000 people over span of 2 years. This gives a clear idea that companies have a 'Desired' rate of attrition that is expected and worst comes that when this does not happen 'Incidental' attrition takes place where people who want to move up and want to work with smarter set of people, move to a smarter and progressive company that follows 'meritocratic' culture. Incidental attrition sometimes takes place within weeks of joining. I have normally categorized attrition into 2 brackets; Induced by internal factors vs. triggered by external factors. Simply put, "to get out of here' vs. 'to get in there'. There will always be companies for good people. Good people need good people. Other type of attrition is 'aspiration-led' attrition. Here I have seen employees jump 3 companies in 2 years or less. Market inequality creates attrition due to its own brand value that simply means, better standing in society, better pay and benefits, lots of other privileges. Can we blame any company for being so rich and fancy causing attrition at other places? Can we blame a company for been less rich and not providing high-end benefits and social/corporate standing or ‘prestige’ as Vault.com says is a reason for ranking consulting organizations by employees or candidates.
Voluntary attrition highlights what is ‘ignored’ in the organization as well as what is made available by competitors. All a matter of choice and decision of leadership.