Human Capital Musings!

a peek into the human capital world…

Archive for the category “HR Communication”

Employee engagement and Leadership.


As a HR learner, I only keep on re-stating the fact that good engagement is just not about the cosmetics of some HR function initiatives – yes those initiatives do help to increase or better EE.

That said, unless the style of leadership is one that is intent on fostering a great workplace for the team, then no amount of other initiatives can save the day in bettering EE at that workplace.

This is also re-iterated in the article on building a sustainable engagement strategy by good friend Abhishek Mittal of Towers Watson, Singapore.

Two key takeaways from this work from the HR/EE perspective are enablement and energy. From a personal view point I would rate energy as the number one priority, and enablement later.

While what HR folks commonly call as a great work environment is a combination of numerous factors within the organisational framework, the crucial software in this whole application is the ‘leadership’ disk!

Keep all the other facilities which HR assiduously puts in place, but just remove the software of good leadership – the carefully cooked EE pie will crumble.

Energy and enablement are the direct results of a great leader for the different groups within the organisation.

This is easily evident, yet most of our organisations lack the HR framework to address this important people issue – in fact it goes to the extent of some of us assuming that – where there is the lack of an enabling and energizing leader, other elements in canvas – like compensation, additional responsibilities, better role, career path etc – will catalyze EE.

This is not true; and yet it seems to be least realised in our efforts of building a holistic EE program.

Energize and enablement are just a direct fallout of the leaders at different levels within the organisation. Not an inch more.

Its HR’s responsibility to make sure that necessary training and re-training initiatives are built in to make sure that a majority of the leaders can energize and enable. Sans this, all other investments in a robust EE program will just be an exercise in vain.

The question really is – how many of us in HR are willing to accept this, and work hard on making better leaders out of our people?!

(A note of thanks to Abhiskek Mittal for his insights).

Performance management – communication.


Any employee who gives his best in the organisation does so, anticipating a good, transparent and clearly laid down performance management process.

And speaking of performance management, while employers may have the best of practices in place – if the same is not communicated well to the stakeholder, the objective and objectivity of the exercise gets lost in a maze.

The value of  performance communication management for any employer brand is timeless! Jack Welch is quoted to have said this on performance management (ranking): “Ranking has been portrayed as a cruel system.  The cruel system is the one that doesn’t let anyone know where they stand.”

And where they stand can be only clear, when each engaged employee/partner is communicated of how his contribution to the organizational goals and revenues will be measured.

A lot has been said and written about how it is important and crucial to manage performance in an organization, not much emphasis has been laid on the importance of communicating it to the members of the organization – at all levels.

This leads to a lot of confusion, uncertainty, and most of all, shock and surprise when in the middle of the year/end of the year, the employees are measured, reviewed, and  evaluated by a process which they are not even prima facie aware of.

A lot of  times, such a performance management exercise, which is truly objective and equal to all gets perceived to be biased, and partial; the only culprit in this whole event is the absence of a well laid down communication strategy – within the organization to all internal stakeholders.

 

That strategy which will, well in time, at the beginning of the period or year under review, state in writing to each and every employee the measures and attributes by which his/her contribution will be done.

 

Lack of such communication will also have an adverse impact of the really performing lot in the team. Whilst they give in their best, which would have exceeded their division and business objectives, they would see that their not so performing peers also seem to hold the same stature and growth in a ‘patriarchal’ management (perceptions matter a ton).

This can be highly dangerous to the overall health and long term growth of the company. Unless people see a visible difference between where performers will stand – higher – and where non performers will stand – lower or out of the organization – the best of  performers will desert the organization.

Communication, in the right time and in a very transparent manner (with all the measures quantified, sans any scope for bias), will be a decisive differentiator that would enable all concerned to view the process as legitimate and objective. And once this happens, tremendous amount of discipline comes by in the way everyone views the short term and long term goals. And they also know how and where they will grow within, with the kind of work they do in the period under review.

This highlights the critical nature of the performance communication process, and the time and energy the HR team, the SBU heads, and the CEO ought to spend in making this exercise possibly the best communication amongst the employees. If there is one single exercise that would contribute directly to the top line and the bottom line of the organization, it is PERFORMANCE COMMUNICATION.

The best way to do this will be to create a sort of ‘war room’ that takes care of the whole communication process – planning, vetting, implementing at all levels top down, ascertaining feedback on whether everyone had understood their goals right through. And post the actual performance process, a check on whether what happened is as per the communiqué to each of the employee.

Are our organisations performance communication ready and does HR Communication/performance communication matter?

Musing on HR Communication.


I am one of the strong proponents of a strong HR Communication function as an integral part of the overall HR organisation. I also think that with the advent and integration of social media and the likes, and the age of the over-informed employee, it is only a prerequisite for an agile and successful HR function.

Some of my reasons for thinking so…

  • There is no denial that the HR leader and those in HR would be equipped by them self to inform the stakeholders about what is relevant and what HR deems as significant. This is now mostly restricted to HR operations, HR administration and EE related info. But given the constraint of time and ‘resources’, most of the times there is no emphasis on the import of a proper communication design. Having one by making the HR Communications pro take charge, will only greatly enhance the image of the HR function – this over a period of time. HR, as the proponents of the ‘employer brand’ MUST also ensure that even in the mundane, excellent standards and style of communication is in place. Who else  but a professional who is a combination of a HR and a communications pro to usher in this ‘best practice.
  • While HR facilitate the entire gamut of activities on the people front – from pre-entry to post-exit, a lot of times, even the best of ‘employer brands’ tend to screw up and self inflict ‘brand image’ injuries on themself, just because they are not equipped to deliver the right ‘communication’ – not the verbal stuff, but by the letters, mails etc. The HR Communications pro will take up the task of creating task specific communication templates (not static, but dynamic and audience specific).
  • HR is yet, by and large seen as the facilitator to the line management on a whole lot of people related activities – recruitment,  T and D, performance management, and so on. A well rounded HR Communications pro, who is fully conversant with the org and its HR, will be the best person to ensure that the ‘perception’ of the line management towards HR as a facilitator moves up the ladder. While the people in the core HR function can be seen as ‘content’ and the HR Communications pro ought to be the ‘delivery’ channel for HR.

Like can be seen above, the HR Communications professional who is an integral part of the HR team, can add a lot more ‘perceived’ and ‘tangible’ value to the HR Organisation – mentioned above is just a sampling of the value add.

To the question as to why the corporate communications or PR function of the organisation is not enough to add this value – the answer is this:

In most cases they are more glued on to macro image management, internally and externally – that may or may not have a desired impact with the employee and all the stakeholders. Also remains the fact that, the PR/corp comm people are fully engaged only in media related communication, which add only ‘leadership image’ value.

The HR Communication professional is the one who could play a great role in the ‘employer branding’ internally. And that can only add to all the buzz of ‘external branding’.

Its akin to creating the internal walk for the external talk.

Organisations successfully ‘walk the talk’ if a HR Communications pro is in place.

Stability or competence.. what would you say?


Few days ago,  someone had called me to get my opinion on which I would think is the deciding factor in getting someone for a role with my client organisation.

My reply was  – while I may personally opine that competency is of paramount importance and will score over stability, other things remaining the same, most of my clients would indeed feel uncomfortable sharing that view of mine. And so, from a client perspective, stability scores over competence…. Yes, most of my clients would rather appoint a more stable candidate than someone who could deliver much better. Period.

That said, it also made me think as to why most clients  – and assuming that these are just a sample of the whole universe – most organisations prefer to bet safe on a seemingly ‘stable’ person, leaving competence behind in the hiring process.

Could it be because of the following?

  1. The persons responsible for the hire prefer a safe bet, someone who has just been an ok and average performer, who will stay on for a while, thus proving the hirer right from having gotten a stable candidate onboard.
  2. The opposite of this – what if the decision to hire the more competent person happens to boomerang? What if he does not adopt and settle into the ‘culture’ of the current team (which is almost always masqueraded as organisation culture).
  3. Having someone who is extremely competent would means that there is a possibility that the incumbent is the smartest of the lot, and would upset the apple-cart for a whole lot of folks who are a product of the current ‘comfort zone’!
  4. Justifying the cost of the hire becomes much easier when the person hangs on for long, than otherwise. Apart from the cost of hire, numerous other HR metrics would look so good in the name of stability – cost of rehire, attrition and so on… ….expect offcourse the revenue/employee which could have been much  better with a more competent hire.

This is just a sample of what might contribute the right hire strategy of the organisation.

Little does the organisation or the HR therein realise that to have someone more competent – there also would be a need to work on appropriate engagement and ‘stay’ strategies – and this would indeed call for a little more proactive and evolved HR/leadership – than that may be needed to sustain a ‘stable’ employee.

Surprisingly, in the name of stability, is it the right thing to overlook what could have been the opportunity ‘revenue’ impact of the organisation in having someone more competent, even if it is for a lesser period of time – compare this with the ‘average’ revenues with stable employees.

And with the new gen workforce which is dynamic and organisationally ‘ephemeral’, I only think the organisations that advocate stability over competence will be the losers!

What do you think?

In HR, communication does have power! or does it??


How many of us think that performance management is just one of those annual HR rituals where a bunch of forms are shoved in across all the employee desks, with a prayer that there be godspeed in the exercise getting completed without any employee issues.

This is just a wish, and reality is far away.

Jack Welch is quoted to have said this on performance management (ranking): “Ranking has been portrayed as a cruel system.  The cruel system is the one that doesn’t let anyone know where they stand.”

And where they stand can be only clear, when each engaged employee/partner is communicated of how his contribution to the organizational goals and revenues will be measured.

A lot has been said and written about how it is important and crucial to manage performance in an organization, not much emphasis has been laid on the importance of communicating it to the members of the organization – at all levels.

This leads to a lot of confusion, uncertainty, and most of all, shock and surprise when in the middle of the year/end of the year, the employees are measured, reviewed, and  evaluated by a process which they are not even prima facie aware of.

A lot of  times, such a performance management exercise, which is truly objective and equal to all gets perceived to be biased, and partial; the only culprit in this whole event is the absence of a well laid down communication strategy – within the organization to all internal stakeholders.

That strategy which will, well in time, at the beginning of the period or year under review, state in writing to each and every employee the measures and attributes by which his/her contribution will be done.

Lack of such communication will also have an adverse impact of the really performing lot in the team. Whilst they give in their best, which would have exceeded their division and business objectives, they would see that their not so performing peers also seem to hold the same stature and growth in a ‘patriarchal’ management (perceptions matter a ton).

This can be highly dangerous to the overall health and long term growth of the company. Unless people see a visible difference between where performers will stand – higher – and where non performers will stand – lower or out of the organization – the best of  performers will desert the organization.

Communication, in the right time and in a very transparent manner (with all the measures quantified, sans any scope for bias), will be a decisive differentiator that would enable all concerned to view the process as legitimate and objective. And once this happens, tremendous amount of discipline comes by in the way everyone views the short term and long term goals. And they also know how and where they will grow within, with the kind of work they do in the period under review.

This highlights the critical nature of the performance communication process, and the time and energy the HR team, the SBU heads, and the CEO ought to spend in making this exercise possibly the best communication amongst the employees. If there is one single exercise that would contribute directly to the top line and the bottom line of the organization, it is PERFORMANCE COMMUNICATION.

The best way to do this will be to create a sort of ‘war room’ that takes care of the whole communication process – planning, vetting, implementing at all levels top down, ascertaining feedback on whether everyone had understood their goals right through. And post the actual performance process, a check on whether what happened is as per the communiqué to each of the employee.

I am confident that those organisations which do not have such a process in place will do so on a war footing!

So, does HR Communication/performance communication matter?

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