Human Capital Musings!

a peek into the human capital world…

Archive for the tag “talent management”

Do you “manage up” as an employee?


“Managing up” could sound something akin to maneuver, and be a sycophant to the higher ups, and something which is to be abhorred.

Not really. Managing up is an important aspect of a successful career, the art by which one is clear about what makes his boss succeed in his role, which has a direct impact of his own goal accomplished. It is vital for one’s career growth, if looked from the background that unless the boss’s goals are contributed to, there is little that can be accomplished in the team.

To manage up is not about being cozy or a yes-man to the boss. It is about being genuinely concerned about the boss getting to his goals and winning post. To that extent, it means a lot about understanding his mind, knowing his challenges and pressures, how is he working or planning to get his team to win and every thing which has to do with the departmental goals.

An individual who is not concerned about his immediate boss will be working in isolation; Consider the fact that every task of yours, is on one way or other aligned to your higher ups goals, and in turn the company goals, then, there will be a clear appreciation of Managing up.

Devoid of management jargon, managing up is the right way to contribute to the boss’s success and in turn for you to move up the organization’s hierarchy.

If you are reporting to a new boss, spend considerable amount of time knowing him from the workplace perspective. Some pointers to this understanding will be

What is he set to achieve? What are his goals? Getting this insight by formal or informal discussions with his is the only way that you gain a ‘boss perspective’. This is important, and many a times, his world will be so different from your world of work.

Is he an introvert or extrovert? If he is a man of few words, then he may be tremendously focused on tasks to be done, and subsequent discussions. An extrovert may be verbose and would like to hear a lot of views on how things are and how things can be

What is his communication style? If he is a reader, then he will like detailed reports on work, and then he will proffer his views. If he is a listener, then he will call you and team for a discussion, which will be a periodical review of sorts.

Discuss and set mutual expectations time and again. What is his expectation from you – for the year, for the quarter, for the month? And in turn translate that to the micro level expectations from your team. It will help knowing the expectations threadbare, so that you look good with a winning team. And this winning is not by your measure or your bosses, your company’s measure.

Managing up just about getting a peek into the the boss’s world of work, a wonderful perspective that will aid your career, in any organization.

And finally, it is so important for the boss to behave in a way that his co-worker can indeed contribute his mite to his goals, and in turn the organisation’s goals.

Deserve to be managed up, in a word!

 

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??

 

Hiring, for happiness


I have had some wonderful learning as a recruiter/HR professional and always ponder about ‘hiring for happiness’.

We have read and written volumes about hiring the right person with the best skills and competencies, but hiring for happiness is a class in itself, and doing so will only foster a great and happy work place. Needless to say, and I dont think anyone will differ – a happy organisation ought to be a productive and winning organisation.

Here are a few tangibles,  that hiring for happiness would bring in to the organisation, making life happier for the organisation, its team and its topline and bottom line.

Happiness is being self disciplined.

This is a most important differential that will add immense value to the workforce and the teams. Whilst there would be so many hazy and nebulous definitions of what happiness means to each one of us, the fact remains that happiness is rather simple – people who are more self aware, know what they are, understand their strengths and weaknesses, and understand the value they can bring to the table. Happy persons are grounded in reality, and aspire to achieve incrementally, by being sincere, illustrious, creative, and solution centric.

Happiness is being satisfied and contended.

Happiness comes from being driven by the self and one’s own inherent values. So when a happy person comes in in any role, is a satisfied person, and takes his work head on with remarkable agility, and with a happy goal in mind. The absence of dissonance is by far the biggest positive factor that would contribute to workplace productivity.

Happiness is being a better team player and co-worker
.

A happy employee, but for rare exceptions to a decimal percentile, is a good team player, and when many happy men and women are an integral part of the team, the performance is optimal, moving towards the team goals and corporate goals. The team comprising happy employees is a galvanised and energetic teams, that will be driven by happy leaders, who think that winning and happiness are just synonyms.

Happiness is being infectiously optimistic.

When someone at the workplace is infectitiously optimistic, he or she takes on any challenge headon, comes in with oodles of creativity, thus proffering solutions to workplace problems, looking at client and customer happiness as a goal, and crafting all products/services with mutual goals in mind. Happiness is the only state of mind that thinks win win which is the most desirable business strategy.

Happiness is being motivated.

Being in a happy state of mind, is being self motivated to accomplish ones’ personal and professional goals. In fact happiness creates a natural flow in the person that would not be possible with any other factor of motivation. Power, position, and money will rank far behind happiness as a facilitator to motivate. There are enough and more best employer surveys to drive home the point that the best paymasters are not the best and happy employers. And many leaders and HR professionals across the spectrum of diverse businesses will testify to the role a happy work force can play, and what money as a driving force cannot achieve.

As professionals, if each of us aspire to build happy teams, keep the customers and vendors happy, and keep the board happy, it’s the best possible winnning scenario. And the topline and bottomline can only be something everyone can be happy about.

Indeed, the best way to keep the employees at all levels of the organisaition is to keep them happy; might sound simple, but it would mean humungous efforts by the stakeholders, with HR in the drivers seat.  Employeee engagement can get to its best with the happiness of the employees and the workforce as its pivot.

What are your views on hiring for happiness, or happy hiring? 🙂

Know-all leadership!?


How many times, or how often do your see leaders at workplaces impose themselves by virtue of the position they hold? Quite often, if my own experiences are a  reflection of reality!

Little do such leaders realise that leadership, as a trait, is the ability to command respect not by virtue of the position they hold in the hierarchy, BUT, by the extent of knowledge sharing and value add they bring in to the team, and in turn to the organisation.

I must also add that many leaders have a great bouquet of positive leadership qualities that would be a great asset to the organistion – yet this habit of being a ‘i know all, you seldom know’ person fades all the best of other qualities in the persons leadership armor!

The composition of any team is essentially heterogenic. However homogenous and seamless HR or the organisation would want the team to be, it so happens that mostly, the process ends up in a team that is diverse and heterogenic.

This is so much true with peers at the same level, and in the same role in a team; and the leader of this diverse team has to possess the most balanced persona, to make sure that he gets the best out of this team, and also makes sure that the goals of the organisation and division are met.

Yet, many leaders lose this point completely. The attitude they carry to the team is “look, I am your boss”. Although they may not say this explicitly do this, they re-ierate this time and again, day in and day out, by their behavior, by the kind of language they use, and also in the way they constantly tell the team that they are leaders by virtue of their knowledge, and so it is they who know the most and best!”

This again is due to the fallacious assumption that the team is essentially less knowledgeable, and less learnt that the person who is leading, the so called ‘designated boss’.

Leaders must understand that this is the worst assumption they can make! And when you think that you are the best, the team does not co-create anything at all – mainly because, whatever they do, and create – the enviroment to make things bloom is not provided by the leader.

Such a mindset is a block for all forms of constructive action in the team, and will result in the best performers/potential resources in the team quitely walk away to better pastures.

So, are you a leader, who thinks that you know-all? And worse, send those vibes constantly to your team?

It is time you got aware of this singular negative behavioral trait and worked to overcome it.

Not just your team or organisation, even your career will take powerful wings!

Is your employer branding for real??


Honestly, am pretty tired of so many surveys and writings on why an employee will stay engaged in a company. Volumes of analyses are penned on why the employees need to be engaged with the best practices, contemporary practices, and ‘designer’ employee retention tools which are a great tool in the armor of the employer brand.

But, let me bluntly put across a few things which makes the employee hang on, and why he will not look elsewhere to do the same job.

  1. treatment with dignity – this is the bedrock. you do the best of practices and yet have a jerk as a manager in one of the functions, who loves and lives by stamping on the ego and dignity of his colleague, then with all the cosmetic engagement tools, you are not going to retain a soul, a good employee. so, spot the jerks today, and do something about their behavioral change if you can – a great service to your employer brand.
  2. a role appropriate to the skills and competencies – how many times does your HR/line/recruitment function jump and say “here’s a great talent”.. and you go ahead and hire the person just for the heck of showing the world that your ’employer brand’ is capable of attracting the best of talent out there. without any sense of what role and responsibility you will give the person – in your present and future ‘scheme’ of things? if there is nothing like that, then your ’employer brand’ is not just ruining another career, and even worse self-inflicting a blow on the face of your brand. so, think of a proper plan before you want to go out and get the best of talent – is your brand ready for such great talent?
  3. great talent is never retained by frivolous engagement tools. period. at best, the buzz you build around the ’employer brand’ with such fun tools may last for a month or so. even that, in this information age, is a stretch. great talent looks for real ‘meat’ in the job content, in the career path, in the span of control and challenges – besides off-course the best of money. notice that money will mostly come in the bottom of the aspiration ladder for someone who is serous about ‘growing’ a career. so, pay attention to the ‘meat’ your employer brand can proffer and spice it up with the money. as you will know, just the spice sans the ‘content’ food will be inedible and propel attrition, no matter what you do.
  4. is your employer brand a school of learning, and the best in that – most organisations which win the serious employer brand surveys are there mainly because they are solid learning grounds. every person who stays with you wants to grow, intellectually as well. and most times, people exit the organisation getting tired of doing the same thing, in the same way everyday. there is nothing called learning in your brand – if that is the case, then all the buzz you create around the employer brand will fizzle out in no time.
  5. work life balance – in this wired world, as we all get more connected, and telecommuting is the order of the day, it is no surprise that what is hit most is work-life balance. technology is meant to ease our lives, and help us get more productive; yet in reality the opposite has happened. our handheld work devices have got to our bedroom and kitchen – every ring or buzz hits the nerve even at home. it is time great employer brands offer real work life balance – to take it further, i would opine that today’s employer brands must have a documented work-life balance policy, which clearly facilitates each employee in being a balanced person (i have taken it too far? 🙂
These things have to be ingredients of your employer brand. If they are not, a whole lot of other ‘stuff’ will not serve the purpose of enhancing your brand value, other than just getting your some ‘news’ as a best ranked employer!

All the best for your ’employer branding’ life cycle.

Feedback to candidates… Do we care more or less?


Just get into the candidate’s shoes or wear his hat.

X Consultant solicited your professional resume for a job which you were not desparate; the person – consultant – who spoke to you assured that this is the best that could happen to you in your career. With an afterthought, you consented. A fortnight later, you call him up. He is busy in a meeting, unwell, or there is no response!

How does it feel? And would you ever go back again, to such a consultant? But day in and day out that is what most of us in the headhunting business do!

And that precisely is the reason that you don’t seem to build the kind of fabulous network that a winning recruiter does and wins too!!

Never be hesitant to get back to a job-seeker, with a feedback that is status quoist or even negative. Remember, the cause is none of your fault!

It is just that there was a mismatch between what the organization sought and what the jobseeker was able to offer on the table (just the interview table!) And how many job-seekers you think will take offense by your honest communication? None at all! In fact, the tendency would be to tell you, “its ok, please let me know when there is another opportunity!”

That sets the chain going! So make this a promise to you!! Never ever keep a candidate in the dark about the status! And here, you do not need to worry about one, who is getting through to the next round or gets the job offer! To him, you will anyway communicate as it is in your interest (and bill)! Take more care of the person, who did not get through with this client!! Tell him, this is what the client felt, this is where things went wrong or just that there was someone better! Or just that the company had nothing to communicate back on his candidature!!

A saner person understands… even if not at that moment you communicate, later when he broods on the matter!!

The successful recruiter will be one who reverts to each of his candidates with a timely feedback!! Scan through or speak to anyone in the recruitment fraternity and they would testify this fact!!

So, to how many of your candidate referrals did you speak today with a honest and timely feedback?? Take a few minutes off, and do it now! Be assured it will be worth the time you spend weighed in gold!!

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…

Does your organisation have an exit management SOP?


Most leaders among us believe that managing exits of employees is the HR functions responsibility. Nothing can be far from true. Good leaders make sure that employee exits are handled with care and finesse…  isn’t is often said that every employee is the organisations brand ambassador.

Loads of  care is taken by organizations in engaging employees when they are with an organization. The same care and attention is somehow given a convenient go, when an employee decides to part ways with the company for personal/professional reasons, what be it. Even worse, the process in mismanaged, for want of time and a want of an understanding of how critical  the exit process is, to the employer brand.

Here are 2 real life situations which speak volumes on what could be the best way of exit management, and which serves to beef up the employer value proposition (EVP) in the eyes of all stakeholders.

Victor has served the midsized company from inception, built the brand assiduously by bringing in clients, relationships, revenues, through team-building, and a whole lot of relevant and related tangibles and intangibles. In his stint of over 2 years with the organization, never has he sought any goodies, upped the ante,  nor voiced his environmental constraints, nd has accepted decisions of the company, owing to the market conditions with grace and poise. This, despite even a lot of monetary setbacks, and going back on benefits that are promised & legally binding; and a lot of initial promise on how he will have a skyrocketing professional growth, and how his role and compensation will grow as he meets his expectations.  Even when Victor has many setbacks on his personal front, he continues his work, sans any attention by the organization.

Time comes for Victor to move on, to nurture his personal and professional life as he desires.  He communicates this to the person above in the hierarchy, and his resignation is accepted, taking facts into consideration. He serves his responsibilities; in the interregnum before he is released, a senior most person in the organization comes up and tells him that he cannot go; that he will struggle for survival (issues like food and shelter?!), if he sticks to his decision. Veiled threats are held at him for no reason. It is harassment in its diplomatic form of sorts; many in the corporate office of the organization and even some erstwhile colleagues are pushed to throw muck at Victor; this continues even as he leaves graciously.  He quietly moves to take care of his personal and professional priorities, blind to most of this ‘throwing muck’.

Now to John; John has worked with a large MNC, a leader in its space in the country for a little over 2 years; his stint has been fine, his contributions being above average. His presence is always acknowledged by leaders in the organization, and those leaders make it a point to call him for anything that was to do with the good of the long-term interests of the MNC.

John, wanting professional advancement decides to move on, and communicates the same to his functional head. The head refuses to accept his resignation come what may.  The next morning, to the huge surprise of John, his boss flies in to his place from the corporate office, and expresses gratitude for the work John has done, and pleads him to stay. The boss says any issues can be sorted out, unconditionally, within the framework of the organizational policies.

However, John sticks to his decision, which is finally accepted half heartedly by the boss. The boss also advises John to facilitate in getting an appropriate person for John’s replacement, and also to help in the client transitioning etc.

In the meanwhile most national leaders from the organization continuously communicate to John, checking out is they can help and make him stay. John’s boss even went to the extent to advising the HR to check if John would prefer to report to someone else, yet stay back in the company.  HR also is constantly in communication, and checks what all separation issues need to be addressed; by when moneys of settlement are needed etc.

On the last day of John’s service, his boss again travels down to his location, and bids farewell with lavish praises. Most regional leaders of the organization and most teams were in attendance; even an hour before the close of that day, a functional head tells John to join his team, and he would take care of professional and personal needs.

To cap it all, John’s boss writes a mail to every employee in the company, across the country, and marked to all regional and global leaders, that John’s work at the company was great, and it was a matter of pride to have had him working for the company; wishing him the best moving forward. HR also ensures that all what is due to John is taken care off, without any need for following from his side.

From these real-life stories, it is very clear that John will be a great brand ambassador carrying the brand flag forever. Needless to say, Victor will be a bitter man, carrying only bitter memories.

(Both John and Victor are real life instances, with organisations that dealt with exits in a diametrically opposite fashion).

Managing employee exit, in commonsense parlance, is all about etching great memories of the organization, in the mind and heart of the exiting employee.

One step ahead, it is high time organizations had a formal SOP on managing exits well!

Hiring people… are we asking the right questions?


On January 15th, 2009, Captain Chesley Sullenberger made an emergency landing of his 50-ton passenger aircraft, US Airlines Flight 1549 – softly gliding it onto the Hudson River in New York City, saving the lives of all 155 people on board.

What he did was not only a feat, but also a testimony to his on-the-job skills, dedication and passion. Plain words would not suffice to express the feat of Capt Sullenberger.

What are the odds that you and me, as hiring managers, will find our Captain ‘Sully’ Sullenberger?  .

For most of us in the corporate/human resources space, the formidable challenge is to get the star hired out of the lot of candidates out there, be it a CXO or a frontline sales foot soldier. This singular ability to identify and hire individuals, who can excel at work, and beat the market – the raison d’etre of any winning organization!

The trick is probably looking at the candidate’s core competence and also what he is passionate about, at work or otherwise. Picture this: If you were the guy in charge of hiring pilots for US Airlines, how would you have identified Capt Chesley Sullenberger from the whole lot of aspiring and young pilots?

Or rather how would you not at any cost miss out on hiring the handful of Capt Sullenbergers from a thousand aspirants.

While there are surely many proven models on ‘how to hire the right person for the right job’, the most simple and cost effective way is to factor a few simple questions as a part of the hiring discussions.

In today’s rapid fire hiring processes, it is competency assessment on the basis of standard question templates that dominate rather than a few rudimentary but revealing questions.

One such rudimentary question is: What do you do in your spare time? What are you passionate about?

When Michael Balboni, New York State’s deputy secretary for public safety, thanked Capt Sullenberger for a job done brilliantly, he responded “That’s what we’re trained to do.”

But that was humility at its best, a singular hallmark of passionate leaders.

In an interview like situation (hiring), only a probing question on the Captain’s hobbies, life likes and passion would have revealed this:

When most friends were getting their driver’s licenses, he got his pilot’s license. For fun, he flew glider planes, which is what he did when he landed in the Hudson River with no engines. Extracurricular activity? An accident investigator for the Air Line Pilots Association and work with federal aviation officials to improve training and methods for evacuating aircraft in emergencies. This explains why he walked through the cabin twice, making sure no one was left behind before he escaped the sinking plane himself on that day over the Hudson river!

This might seem eccentric and obsessive to quote from what I read somewhere: “Obsessions are one of the greatest telltale signs of success. Understand a person’s obsessions and you will understand her natural motivation. That one thing for which she would walk to the end of the earth.”

Well, we are not hiring for those who would be willing to do that long walk, but only those whose probability of success on the job is above average, at least and excellent, at best.

So, are we ever looking for that little obsession for job-related skills – a receptionist excels in greeting people with a smile, and has to like doing that and being hospitable, a sales guy needs to be passionate about people and how the product and services benefit the customer, a recruiter is passionate about helping people shape their careers, a doctor is passionate about saving lives… this list is just endless depending on who has to be hired.

Puttting it in a nutshell,  only the right and simple questions throw up our ‘Captain Sullenberger’s!!

Are we ever asking the right questions while hiring?!

 

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.

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