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Archive for the category “HR Metrics”

Reverse mentoring – a less used, but potent employee engagement tool.


In the human resources function, most of us must be clearly able to articulate the values of a good, institutionalized mentoring process – as  a crucial ingredient in the pie that is organization development.

With good leaders acting as mentors, the mentees – mostly team members, reportee or a colleague – get to learn new technology, a new process in the organization structure, a new and innovative way to handle customers or close a sale. An organization that fosters a good mentoring culture and environment attracts talent that prefers to learn by the day, innovate, contribute and grow in the rungs.

With mentoring having been around for a while, and widely accepted at the personal and organizational level, the benefits are there to see for all.

Not the case with the opposite – I am sure there will be a lot of disagreement here – but the fact remains that ‘reverse mentoring’ is more in theory, that in practice.

Let’s look at a simple definition of reverse mentoring…. “a younger or less experienced Executive helps a more senior manager gain insight into areas, such as computers and changing IT technology, changing mindsets & expectations of the younger generation, new business concepts, thinking out of the box etc.” (with the transforming face of the Gen Y employee, you can just re-phrase this definition in a hundred more ways!)

Going back in history, ‘reverse mentoring’ as a concept in practice, had its roots probably in GE, where Jack Welch used it as a great tool to learn about the internet, technology applications, which later went on to bring in humongous changes in the way of work at GE. Those events, were a beginning to a transformation of GE as a technology driven organization, using the power of the internet to integrate the many components of GE – productions, suppliers, sales, marketing, and customers.

That was just the beginning though. However, it has somehow stuck on that ‘reverse mentoring’ is only powerful to understand new technology, innovation, trends in vogue and so on… It is such a wrong and misconceived notion that ‘reverse mentoring’ works only for those ‘cool’ things. Nothing can be far from reality and the real power from ‘reverse mentoring’.

Whilst it could have been true in a context then and earlier, it is far from true now. In fact this view only puts a cap on the immense potential of the concept of ‘reverse mentoring’, when institutionalized as a ‘strategic component’ of OD in any company.

Some of the areas where a well thought out, planned and implemented reverse mentoring program can help are – improving the processes, raking up ethics issues, strategy and strategic direction, better quality, a honest appraisal of leadership styles, impediments to real growth, bringing in an awareness of market reality and so on. The tangible and intangible value-adds could go on and on, as much as what the organization would want to build in the process.

With senior management, CXO’s and HR grappling for innovative ways to engage the work-force (the knowledge workers!), a prudent and thoughtful integration of ‘reverse mentoring’ in the overall scheme of HR/OD plan will be a must do. It will position the employer as a place where knowledge, critical and valuable inputs from the team and every individual are valued!

This is such a powerful ’employer value proposition’ in the clutter and race for real good talent!

To make reverse mentoring work and add real value, senior line management, the HR function, the CEO/CXO level, and even the board must commit to integration of ‘reverse mentoring’ in the overall scheme of things. This is the most vital need, as without this commitment, the organization can never get the real benefits of the process. Trying to implement reverse mentoring in isolation is as good as it not done at all.

Some steps that can make “reverse mentoring’ really work:

1. The HR/OD team works and gets a buy in for institutionalizing reverse mentoring in the overall scheme of things.
2. The team also gets a ‘reverse mentoring’ manual done, so that, when circulated, the manual makes clear what the process is, what the intent is, how everyone in the team, and in turn the organization can benefit.
3. Each individual program is documented as much by the reverse mentors and mentees; this brings in an element of measurement and seriousness to the program.
4. HR creates a mechanism for monitoring the progress or otherwise of the program. This can be spread across various functional areas, by bringing in the line management into the monitoring process.
5. Get the line management’s trust and confidence in each stage.
6. Identify the blocks to the process in the organization, and work on education/confidence building measures as the need may be.
7. Over a period, measure what positive difference the ‘reverse mentoring’ program’ has given the organization.

This is not an exhaustive and a perfect list. At best this can be a broad guideline; each organization must work with commitment on their own program that will work best for them!

‘Reverse mentoring’, if committed to, can be such a powerful ‘talent attraction’ tool, employee engagement tool, and ’employer brand proposition’. Isn’t it? And if yes, are we doing it in our workplaces??

 

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Teamwork tips… can be used in HR programs!


Teamwork is not rocket science, and mostly a matter of common sense. Here are 50 simple but powerful ways you could make teamwork work.

1.    Act with integrity; this is one quality that will make a great team.
2.    Credibility as a team-leader is mostly as good as only it is perceived. So       display credibility and act with credibility.
3.    Walk the talk; you get judged well only when you walk the talk. Example: if you are asking for quality work, it’s a given that you also would do the same. Doing the other way destroys credibility.
4.    Be enthusiastic; encourage the team to be enthusiastic as well.
5.    Never hire in haste, which makes waste.
6.    Educate the team on who your customer is, who your competition is.
7.    Create a mechanism to know what is happening in competition.
8.    Let the team know that the customer is supreme, and he is your most important asset.
9.    Give no room for politics in your team. At the hint of it, stem it at the root; and exhibit the fact that politicking is a strict no-no.
10.    Communicate personally as often as possible; use the phone; only re-iterate in written communication.
11.    Smile and laugh in the team, work need not be serious as most of us would think it to be.
12.    Share the joy of any of your team-members.
13.    Share and partake in their sorrows. Give a helping hand, in whichever way you can when a need arises.
14.    Make the team workplace a fun place to be; again laugh and smile.
15.    Show the team member how happy you are to have him/her in the team.
16.    Celebrate each of your team-members birthdays, anniversary… pass on gifts voluntarily.
17.    Have a vision statement for the team; in line with the organization’s vision statement.
18.    Make the purpose of the team clear – it could be revenues, number of customers, turn around time, producing so many units… whatever.
19.    Let this purpose be written down and shared amongst all team members.
20.    Set individual goals clearly – leave no ambiguity in this – make it measurable for them as well as you.
21.    Clear state the expected quality of work, and quantity of work – on a day, for  a week, for the month, and for the year.
22.    Go out of your way to help a team member reach the stated goal.
23.    Make each of them feel that he/she can confide in you.
24.    Understand and talk to them of their job-goals and career goals.
25.    Make learning a team habit. Encourage learning in any form.
26.    Train the team in relevant and contemporary work skills.
27.    Build the team on the strength of his/her personal qualities.
28.    Don’t brood on their weaknesses. Or pass comments on them.
29.    Make them aware of the business opportunities and threats, and the way to remain in a position of advantage.
30.    Build a lot of fun around the goals…  make work interesting…..
31.    Celebrate small milestones, by any team member, and shower praises in public
32.    Celebrate and reward team ideas, which would bring in better results, fresh insights, and knowledge to all – and celebrate this each and every time.
33.    Discourage yes-men. If two people agreed on everything, then one of them is redundant.
34.    Show the team members a growth path – a path that would be intertwined with positive contribution.
35.    Reward excellence. Abhor mediocrity.
36.    Do not reprimand team members. Grown ups don’t need to be reprimanded; they only need to be counseled or advised.
37.    Allow people to make mistakes, which are the only way you get a learning team. Sans mistakes, no new things are going to happen.
38.    Make corrections well in time; not once in a blue moon. Once in a blue moon corrections upset the person, you and the team objectives.
39.    Evince interest in each individual; know them a little more than professionally – their family, their interests, passion, hobbies etc.
40.    Go for lunch once a week outside the office campus; this is by far the best way to bond.
41.    Get the families of teams together once a month. If the teams are cross location, make it at least once in a quarter.
42.    Be transparent and rational in all decision making.
43.    Be objective and not subjective in any of your deeds at work, and related to work.
44.    Make incentive plans objective, simple and clear. Complicated plans lead to a lack of uniform understanding across the team. This colors judgment, and defeats the team spirit.
45.    Take personal interest to ensure that all pay-out timelines are adhered to by the organization and the divisions.
46.    State clearly that a performer would have a soft corner, and would be rewarded.
47.    Reward performers often. And for the accomplishments.
48.    Keep team meetings brief, and with a stated objective and agenda.
49.    Do not meet formally without a written agenda circulated.
50.    Build in a surprise element in rewards for small wins – this could be internal or external to the organization – could be a new client acquired, a new proposal, a cost saving measure, a new idea, whatever…

Employee engagement truths… who’s responsible?


Creating an engaged employee is not just the responsibility of the human resources function or the head of Human Resources of an organization. Most contemporary organizations, barring an exceptional few, leave the task of creating employee engagement to the HR head or the human resources team. the top management and the leadership teams get disconnected with the day to day rigmarole of employee engagement, thinking or presuming that it is what the HR function exists for. Nothing can be far from true and more disastrous.

Irrespective of which phase – nascent, growing or well entrenched and established- an organization is in, employee engagement is a function of the leadership and top management – the A team if you can say so (including the board), and times of challenge and uncertainty, are the best times to re-visit these fundamental tenets of employee engagement.

There is just no better time to work on building ‘employer value proposition’ than now.

The broad definition of ‘employer value proposition’ is striking a balance between the values, both the employer and employee derive from the relationship. For any organization, be it big or small, there is one (in fact ONLY) critical factor that can bring value worth more than its weight in of gold – it is to create, sustain, and grow ‘employer/employee value proposition’ by the hour, by the day, for the eternity of the organization. It will not be an exaggeration to state that the ‘eternity/successful longevity’ of the organization, is inextricably linked to how engaged the employee/the work force is.

What causes shock and a bit of dismay in any student of ‘employee engagement’ is thatemployee disengagement’ becomes a tool of first resort for the leadership of the organization, when the going gets tough.

 

The management and the leadership, which ought to communicate more than ever, which ought to engage more than ever, which ought to look at taking every single employee  of the workforce into confidence, in trying times, does the opposite – be incommunicado, shut transparency, resort to mass retrenchment, even cut on hygiene benefits, and in the quest to tide over these tough times, do everything that is a no-no.

Undoing this, when the times get better, will be a humongous challenge, and any amount of selling by the same leadership is not going to help – for every one negative step today, even four positive steps to undo later might seem insignificant.

So, more than ever before, it is today that the leadership of the organization must spend loads of time on employee engagement – for the better of the short/long term interests of the organization. Rather than get into a shell or a reclusive mode, the top leadership must communicate more, know employee concerns, address the inherent and time-sensitive insecurities and get to the pulse of every single member of the team – every issue that may seem greatly important and downright trivial should be.

Each and every decision that is taken, and impacts any corner of the organization should be communicated clearly to the employees. In a word, having a ear on the ground, to the last step should be the cardinal rule, now, more than ever. It is also leadership’s responsibility to create a proactive and dynamic mechanism, where every manager/business head/human resources function is committed to THIS style of employee engagement, in all sincerity – and a great amount of effort should go into creating a right perception of these decisions, because employee engagement is also about every measure is perceived by the stake holders.

In all this, precipitate actions could be looked at as a measure of last resort, and when they are resorted to, they also should be explained with reason to the whole workforce – unless this is done, the whole exercise gets defeated.

There can be numerous ways and methods by which what is stated in a nutshell can be implemented, depending on the team size, the line of business, and the competitive scenario – all that can be debated and a plan of action formulated on a case to case basis. And all gleanings in contemporary HR and employee engagement practices must be relied upon.

Leadership must, NOW, more than ever before be truly-truly committed to absolute employee engagement – and that will be a recipe that will sustain organizations in the long run – much longer that every single employee will be a eternal brand ambassador – the inherent value derived for the organization will be phenomenal, and immeasurable.

Are we right-sizing attrition?


With the advent of the Gen Y employee composition, attrition is one thing that keeps haunting any talent management/HR professional, in any part of the world. May be, this challenge is more pronounced for the HR pro who is in an India or China or Philippines, the famed off-shoring destinations of choice.

Too often, we keep seeing HR bodies and top employers dishing our statistics about the rate of their attrition, and how well it is contained or well within acceptable standards or international norms. One always wonders if there are any stated accepted norms which say so much % of employee attrition is healthy for the competitive survival of the organisational animal.

Here, is’nt it important that for competitive survival, rightsizing attrition would be a more appropriate and relevant objective. We must be hearing HR people and employers state that, for this fiscal we have achieved the goals of rightsizing the attrition which will have a positive contribution to the top-line and bottom-line of the organisation.

With right-sizing as a HR and organisational objective, the tasks also get inseparably tied with the performance management process, putting in place the systems for an effective performance improvement program (whatever be your organisational nomenclature) – one that is clearly focused on measurably improving individual contribution, and then planning the exit management of those whose goals and skills are not in alignment with the organisation goals.

Assuming that the Jack Welch theory on  the effectiveness of people in the organisational pyramid stands, the minimal healthy attrition rate is 10-15%, depending upon factors like the type of industry, skills sets, engagement factors and so on.

When right sizing attrition is in play, with the combination of all HR factors and tools, on the bottom percentile of non-performing or under-performing employees, the HR program interventions make some % of this bottom to move up one notch – make them  as acceptable level of performers.

Then, the resulting attrition related information gets stated like this – In our employee strength of so many people, about 200 were seen to performing below acceptable standards; thanks to our effective HR programs and interventions, we could move 70 of them into the ‘desirable performance zone’. By this, we could rightsize attrition to so many percentage, which we deem as desirable owing to factors that are unique to us an as employer!

The rightsized attrition figures also give a whole different perspective to the way attrition is looked at, from the organisational perspective.

Lets now on get to right-sizing attrition that the usual fight to bring down attrition.

 

 

Whats your “human-stock” value?


As human resource professionals, the constant question that lingers in many of our minds is – what is this value of people and people practices that we keep listening to, in any HR meet worth its salt.

You also have a ton of theory that advises the HR professional in each one of us to use HR and financial data of the organization vis a vis the best comparable players in the industry. The constant suggestion is to do this over a period of a few years, and see what kind of value the people at the top add to the organization.

It may sound complex – but in simple parlance, the import of such analysis will be felt with this analogy-

Suppose that the market capitalization, which is the sum public stock value of the company today, is USD10b for Imaginary Inc. Assuming that this evening a couple of your senior management folks decide to call it quits and join the competition, how much will the market stock take a beating tomorrow morning when the bell rings. If the mark-cap of Imaginary Inc will be beaten to USD 9b, then, clearly that is the kind of human capital value of the person or persons whom you risk losing in a whiff.

The same can be done not just for a person in the board or senior people, but even who is perceived as a crucial human capital asset across levels.

HR leaders will do well to devise what they think are appropriate metrics to value the people, in comparison with standard industry information. This can be stock market performance over a period of time, market share of similar players, the annuated growth rate of the top 5 in the space…. The choice of data is endless, and depends on the ease plus accuracy in using them for analysis.

Using such tools will not just enlighten the HR leaders on the value of their human capital, but will also make them contributors to any people decision in the board-rooms.

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