Tuesday, February 14, 2017

What has your quest for top talent created; "meritocracy" or "elitism"?

Featured in LinkedIn, Dec 2016

Everybody is talking about hiring top talent! Companies like Belong.co are claiming to have written intelligent codes to reach out to top talent available on social and professional media. They also claim to know how to engage them best for all your top talent hiring needs. We heard the same about talentpad. They finally shut down! 
I think we often misunderstood top talent, as it is always a shifting value against the work/job content-context, people-colleagues and leaders, culture & engagement-information, creative freedom and independence, power of the purpose of the company, leaders and how that influences and aligns with the sense of purpose of top talent! 
Talent search and finding its worth is proven only in the long run!
Look back at all your top tier B/T school campus hires of past 5 years. How many of them have proven to be the best hires? How many big-fat salaried so called top talent hires have really made any noticeable difference to company and to the people around them? Have they really matched your expectations that you had from them?
Have you recognized and rewarded what they achieved? How many of your top talents have brought/attracted and referred top talent to your organisation (and not just for the huge referral fees that they got for doing the same).
Has your quest for top talent created "meritocracy" or "elitism"?
Meritocracy is democratic spread and acceptance of talent, "elitism" is creating class and divide that benefits a few and discriminates the rest!
I think the biggest challenge that we face today in hiring top talent in not availability but our inability to identify and attract them. Unfortunately, the Simplest definition of top talent in IT market today is (top 6 IITS+top 3 NITs and top 2 IIITs) period!
If this is called top talent pool, you got them without much hassles!
Beg, borrow, buy, steal that data from T&P offices of these colleges! Send these target guys, Diwali wishes in a fancy crafted email, telling about your company and people and culture (yes, that curated office interiors, ubiquitous ping-pong table, cool cafeteria, i-pod jacks, X box, BYOD, Pets@work, Parents@work, Kids@work, last Diwali party pictures/videos, 5 star food spread for lunch (that you had once when investors and client visited your new office, and fridge stocked with energy bars, Red Bull, etc, Happy employee's photos and videos telling what a great fun place it is! Some cute girl showing you office, funky-desks, pony tails, goatee, weird lines on over-sized t-shirts that some of those "cool" geeks are wearing since last 3 weeks without a wash!
Great! You built a great office, great marketing collateral, now you will have great talent queued up at your door! But in reality, they are not there! Hummm..
Then you hire a few agents of recruiting world! Good looking people, talking cool English and can pronounce terms like, data structures, algos, 'language-agnostic', "platforms", et al and they are ready for their journey, helping you hire the best talent. Honey trap does not work in recruitment! Have sensible people there who can talk customized after looking at each resume for specifics and details and not like a call-center sales exec! Typical recruiters fail big time, when it comes to understanding profile and specifics of the resume! No one likes to talk to a talking machine!
Before you let them out, train your recruiting scouts well! They are mostly half-baked and over confident! Getting away with, is not smartness! Mostly they get away empty-handed!
Recruiters take pride in calling themselves Talent Acquisition folks; most of the times, they do not even do check-list interviews well. Largely, they take pride in rejecting a good candidate by using defining words like, “too ambitious”, too aggressive”, too much of attitude”, “not flexible” and classic one; "not a culture fit"! Do they know that all these rejection words leads to the Hiring Managers getting the filtered/refined 'average', “tooth-less”, sometime, “spine-less” guys who will faint in real situations against expectations.
How can you select a “hero” when you have a shepherd selecting a horse for the derby? You are thinking of building a “A” player team with “B” and “C” player gatekeepers. Use them for graciously opening and taking the door. They can be trained to keep the doors, if they can do that well, every-time, keeping their false ego aside.
“I am convinced that nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people. At the end of the day you bet on people, not on strategies.” 
~Larry Bossidy


HR's career game and other play!



There has been some high profile leadership changes of late and this brought some HR leaders to talk about succession planning and career advancement, etc. But these pundits of HR feudal world did not ever create a written and announced career-path for HR people in their own HR organization, why? ‘Coz they are above suspicion due to some divine sanctions. Even Julius’s wife is not above suspicion!          
Career growth within HR happens unplanned and sudden and that throws all sense and sensibilities chucked out of the window. No plan or lack of it is the basic nature of HR. What growths we have seen are the need-based reactive and some just copy-paste fancy sub-functional title gimmick!
Have you ever seen an HR competency book? Have you ever seen an HR Capability Building Framework?
Have you ever seen any HR whitepaper on how to create super HR humans?
HR is a self-proclaimed department of Avatars! beyond candidate sourcing and employee file management. Growth is all mushroomed and fashioned by HR only. Business sees very little sense in what HR does beyond hiring related low-end support. Surprisingly, even for hiring for that matter, all senior positions of organizational importance are shared with Head hunting companies, who help arrange some resumes or at best arrange a call/meeting. That's it. End of HR. What more credit? Yeah! you issued an offer letter dictated by candidate or the Hiring Manager or both. Value add? You converted to PDF and emailed it to the candidate. Great Job! Well done! HR has fancy for titles! Human Capital Leader, Chief Happiness officer, Global CHRO, Global Chief People Officer.
Specialist roles that I have heard of are, 'Recruitment Specialist' now called TA and remains TA till time one fails to do good TA, say sourcing and interview coordination. If one fails to do a good job there, she is moved to the Generalist HR role and sometimes, Business HR role. No qualifications required. Just push the Peter Button! I am sure you are aware of the Peter Principle. Some people one fine day become L&D Specialist, C&B Specialist and some HRIS Specialist.
I feel pained to see the so called premier B school HR boys and girls positing shabby JDs on LinkedIn. Mind you these guys are only seen on LinkedIn when they are scouting for some junior jobs adverts. It is surprising these single and some double MBAs post jobs which have missing Job Specifications! Mind you these two MBAs are paid ~30 lacs each per annum to do such poor and low level jobs! Shameful!
I heard, one VP HR talk in a conference and he mentioned something not unusual but unfortunate. He told, C&B Manager is one who can work on Excel Sheets, and Who needs, training program? The L&D Manager. This appears horrible state of HR. Low on dignity and absolutely faceless to business.
We all know we are ruled or filled by mediocre bunch who created coterie, but that has become a very old story. Mediocre exists and has bred a new species, called 'Rocker' (Derived from the word rock-bottom hit in value of moral and ethics and delivery quality). You can as well call them the 'worst of mediocre' or the super child of the mediocre. This breed is growing like weed! The helpless, useless and ubiquitous. Habitat? Mostly MNCs, where HR lost its sheen decades back and has become the nappy changer, the leaking boat? Here you will find the VPs/Directors of HR will come from MSW background, especially in Bangalore. No HR background or C or D rung of MBA colleges.
Most of the time, they add a postal HR certificate or at best diploma from known shops like XLRI, etc. MBAs from SCDL never ever meant anything.
So what makes these unknown folks grow to the level of Glorious Incompetence and Ridicule?
A sucker hires a sucker and a C-player always hires incompetent and weak people, s/he can rule. An MNC apparel brand , well known for denim brands has a senior HR Manager at Bangalore, who is paid 45 lacs and has not a single HR formal degree. These insecure bosses hire weak and fake, they can rule and maintain their feudal status. This is the most shameful conspiracy! These weak and undeserving step children are those, who are Easy to manage, use, misuse, abuse! Who says, Casting-couch is only a Bollywood thing? This is the way, the Rockers are built and bred. You have examples like this all around you! Sometimes or many a times, we are creating these Rockers!
A simple analogy is, "Sucker creates a Lick-er" or Rocker!" Nothing new, we all have read million times, a B-player hires a C-player. C-player is no one but the poor lick-er!
Imagine, what will a Lick-er breed do?
The biggest joke is that HR is considered to be the people evangelists, the talent shapers, the harbinger of culture.
In this twilight era of HR, we are soon to get the shake-up! Year 2013 is a wake-up call.
HR is no more, a parking lot for the Lickers and their moms and dads, the Ass-h*** B players!
Will 2017 answer these concerns? I am confident, yes!
I was listening to MT HR conference at Bangalore on March 15th, 2013 at Hotel Ista. Ravi Venkatesan, erstwhile MD-Microsoft for India, made it clear to the HR folks in the room, that HR makes hardly any value add to business and his experience says, get a Business Guy in the HR role. S/he will do far better, if s/he has little bit of people development skills and attitude. Ravi's frustration with HR was very evident and mind you, he has been heading MS in India for more than 11 years.
Ravi knew he was making a big and timely comment and made it clear to the audience that he may have agitated the present HR folks with what he believes HR is today.
Ever thought, why Business Leaders like Ravi are frustrated with modern day HR folks, and I talk to scores of other Business Leaders and they fume and fetter they same way, when they share experience of working with their HR support team.
This happens as HR tells them "what they cannot do rather than what can be alternatives, possibilities". HR tells, what some policy says and they feel happy being in the position to say 'NO' to business!
Whenever Business guy approaches HR, s/he is prepared with what s/he is going to ask for and when they hear the HR guy not even thought or able to think and visualize in that direction, they say, "It sucks!".
Problem with HR is non-planned and non-aligned title-based growth!. This growth makes HR a dummy doll sitting in business meetings and answering in the most heard way, "Sir, we will get back to you."
Have they ever comeback?
Business needs HR leaders who align with business and many a times, shape business by integrating and adjusting the talent lever in the system. That is called business HR. 
Unfortunately, HR Business partner is the most loosely used/misused term in HR. Every 5-6 years experienced HR guy, who had worked across hiring and file and letter management, joining formalities and coordination is pushed to HR Business partner position.
I guess, the best deal would be, to allow and ask Business Leader to write the JDs and KPIs for the HR folks for the business and company and select the best by following a rigorous hiring process that may run for days together. Unfortunate fact is that HR guys/Lickers or suckers or stars are plugged into business units without even informing or involving Business Leaders. Give them the right to select and "Right to Reject" or else the Licker menace will haunt you in your sleep for years!