Human Capital Musings!

a peek into the human capital world…

Archive for the tag “brand”

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).

Do you hire from your direct competition?


It’s now common, and rather inevitable, to poach from your direct competition. However, there are a few things you must remember…

1. Never start with ‘your company is in dumps…’. The candidate is willing to look at you precisely because of some perception close to that or any issue which may not be in the open… Re-iterate as to how life can be better in your place, rather than speaking the load of negatives about competition…. throwing negatives reflects badly on the quality of your HR function…!

2. Engage only in a relevant conversation, from the specific prospective employee point of view. Statements like ‘xyzee from your place came at our terms etc’ would only get you desperadoes’ and not the real stars… Remember, you are not a savior, and you want them for a business objective too.

3. Listen to the prospective employee point of view, instead of mouthing platitudes on how your company got people cheap… What if the prospective employee retorts ‘you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.. uh…’?!

4. Showcase as to why you are good, and not as to why the other company is bad. The employee comes from there, and has no need to hear his present company information from you.

5. Clarify roles and responsibilities, instead of only sounding like buying ‘human vegetables’. That is HR at its pits, and is a bad reflection of how you value people.

6. By taking names, of whom you got for how much, you drive the prospective employee to more comparison which could lead to inequity thoughts, and that would only harm your company interests… plus now those who have come in are ‘your employees’, and whatever you did and do, directly speaks volumes about your quality of hiring.

7. A simple “this is the best we can pay in your case” is good for everyone. Don’t throw open a pandora’s box by mentioning all irrelevant data.

8. Remember, you hire people for your company growth. If that is not the pivot, then you are harming careers, and also you company.

9. Good prospective employees are smart candidates… think otherwise, the cream will never fall for you verbal innuendo. And no book in HR advises innuendo as a prudent hiring practice.

10. Allow the prospective employee to speak, and for god sake, you listen. As they always say, two ears are to listen that much more, that speaking with one mouth. And if it’s a telephonic conversation, you have to listen that much more.

Remember, the prospective candidate, in these few conversations, sees you as a brand ambassador. And HR is indeed the best brand ambassador for your organisation.

HR professionals – Brand Managers! (repeat)


For so many years, it has been oft-repeated that the contemporary HR professional must be multifaceted, possess an understanding of cross-functional aspects in the organization, provide strategic direction, intent and inputs to the line managers, be capable and competent to sit on the board – in a nutshell, be not just a leader in HR, but a strategic think-tank that most across the organization can really look up to.

Times have changed, and here is the need for the new age HR professional to be a great brand manager.

A brand manager, who can clearly lay down the attributes that the organization stands for, craft a communication plans around that, and constantly iterate it, to the organization and to the outside world, which is populated by the target audience – prospective employees (internal clients), the external clients at large, and all those who matter.

Most of all, the crucial hat that the HR pro must be able to don with ease is that of a Brand Manager….  Unless he or she can be a smart and seasoned brand manager, it will be almost next to impossible for the HR Professional to win the war for talent and also sustain existing talent within – all this, amidst the intense fight for scarce talent, and a mad rush & scramble to recruit, retain, re-train, de and get the best out of people, here and now!

Creating the organizations brand value proposition can no more be just a role that the internal/external marketing team will do… the content which is so crucial for the success of any marketing program must come in from the top leadership, and it is only the HR professional who commands a place on the table, owing to the sheer cross functional value he can add, – who can drive the organizational marketing from within.

To re-phrase this, the core of the marketing program – that drives the BRAND of the organization – MUST be the onus of the HR leader in the organization.

For this, the HR leader must be one who can craft, articulate and strategize all branding efforts of the company, around the core values and messages that the organization stands for.

This besides, as for any product or service brand, the HR team must bear in mind that there is a need to reposition, re-package and re-invent the organization brand, time and again.

Its imperative to understand that the brand life cycle – call it, how much tangible and intangible results that communicating the brand can actually produce – is limited to a life cycle – as in PLC. At the laggard end of this cycle, like almost any PLC, the brand needs to re-invented, repositioned, or even completely re-launched…. This, by ensuring that the brand/organization reflects endearing values/benefits and at the same time, making the right brand noises in the right place (there is no great difference – for the outsider, a new Liril and a rejuvenated Infy or Wipro, could stand to communicate the same brand strength, energy and longevity!)

Who else but the HR leader know the so many P’s of the organization brand better than him or her….   While the internal marketing/branding team can go about the task of implementing the branding exercises, the strategic insight for the program must come in from the human resources head and the core HR team.

P for Product – the organization itself – encompassing its values, vision and mission – what the organization intends to be, and what it delivers end of the day – delivery of  not just the product or the services, but things like re-plough profits to be, the CSR program et al, the green commitment and so on.

P for Place  – the facilities, the infrastructure etc, the ambience, the kind of work culture, the hygiene issues which are unique to the company, how it can be a great place to work for a whole generation of employees.

P for performance – the performance of the organization measured by revenues and profits, can at best be the sum total of individual performances. It’s the HR’s onus to craft performance management programs across the organization to ensure the goals are achieved.

Akin to this, pick up any P component of the marketing pie, and one can clearly see the crucial role the HR leader can play as a branding professional.

As in marketing/branding any conventional product/service, promotion is the crucial P that determines win or otherwise for the marketing/branding efforts… and the promotion is continuous and consistent…  these could the the tangible and intangible benefits that the company can proffer to the current/prospective talent pool.

Besides this, branding is also about having great employee engagement tools – call it innovation in branding – how each organization has its unique EE programs in place.

The raison d’être of the HR professional as a brand manager is to create, sustain and re-create an endearing brand value proposition in the mind of the prospective buyers – here the employment market, and the employee pool, and the team within.

So, HR professionals as HR leaders in organizations are passé.  This is a new world in which every good HR professional is a marketing/branding specialist as well!

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