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Go; No Go

December 20, 2011 1 comment

Go; No Go

this is the basic quality check process. you run the finished or intermediate product through a series of filters or checks. If the product goes through, it is passed; if not, it is a reject.

The recruiting approach commonly being adopted by organisations across the globe are uncannily similar. The filters & tests change depending on what the company does and what they are hiring for, but the concept is same.  If the candidates pass through all the checks, they are selected, if they falter at any stage, they are out.

Human beings, unlike products, react differently to different situations and with different people. The filters themselves ( the people who evaluate or interview) are influenced by their perceptions & their own knowledge. Very often you find a candidate being screened by an HR person who has no clue about the role requirements at the ground level. The wsj article on why HR makes hiring mistakes touches on this. Two line managers may evaluate the same candidate differently.  The funny thing is that the fitment process does not stop at hiring but continues through-out the employee life cycle. Rarely is any attempt made at employee valuation.

In effect, the whole exercise is one of trying to fit the candidate to parameters that are , rightly or wrongly, pre-defined.

Imagine, you have a position to fill, you have a bunch of resumes ( most often already screened by someone else based on preset parameters) to look at.  How do you filter out the ones whom you want to meet ? Do you keep only the position in mind when filtering or do you keep an open mind to look for good talent ?

Let’s say you have shortlisted some candidates based on their resumes ( Go; No Go) and are now ready to meet them face to face. What are the thoughts in your mind when you sit down for the discussion ? are you looking for a candidates who fits in to your job description or do you propose to evaluate the candidate & see how they can deliver value to you ?

Do you start with a cost band in mind or look for the right talent pay for what it deserves ?

Do companies hire to stick to the budgeted numbers or are open to induct a talent even though the budget does not provide for it ?

These and many other questions at every stage in the process provide you a choice between fitment and genuine evaluation.

when we work with  fitment as the goal, we start with a few assumptions such as –

1. we have the exact and correct description of the role

2. we are absolutely certain of  the qualities/skills needed to execute that role ?

3. we are looking to fill a current position

4. the salary band we have in mind is reasonable cut-off

5. the qualifications ( not skills) we have decided for the role, are appropriate ones & anyone without those qualifications is not a good fit.

6. we look to hire the functional person within the candidate & not really worry about the person’s strengths/abilities in other areas.

What if we

1. start with the assumption that we know the JD but the boundary conditions are fluid

2. are looking to see as to what the candidate brings in, to play his role in this position

3. are looking ahead ( as to how a candidate may enlarge the role or add more value than envisaged)

4. focus on the skills & not qualifications

5. look at hiring the person as a whole, not just the sales or operations person within the candidate.

No doubt there has to be some process for filtration. No hiring manager has the time to go through every profile & to meet every candidate that applies for a job.

A good first step would be to keep an open mind while meeting the few screened & shortlisted candidates. To look at a candidate as they are & what value they can deliver as against trying to pass them through some filters.

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10 career suicide tips

June 4, 2011 Comments off

What a topic to take up on a weekend. Certain instances in last week have prompted me to write this post. As usual, the trigger point has been conversations with some candidates.  It is surprising as to how a large number of people unconsciously keep committing acts which side track their careers.

Here are some pointers which every employee should be conscious about (unless you have the self-destructive tendencies)

Tip #1 – Can’t stay at one place ?-  The best way to make your CV look like a travelogue is to keep hopping jobs every year or even sooner if you can manage that. Mobility after all is the way to go. and you can’t understand why that should be an issue with the next prospective employer?

Tip #2– The aimless wanderer – It takes some time for order to emerge out of chaos. I also hope to make sense of the meandering career that i have had till now. What do you mean there is no direction in what i am doing ? the dots will connect somewhere, sometime. Hello? . Hello…

Tip #3- Don’t research before you leap –

  • What they told me in the interview was different from the role they gave me later
  • I did not know the company was in trouble
  • I am not the start-up kind. i thought they were already established.

Tip #4– i know more than my boss, every time, all the time – it can happen once, twice may be. if it happens every time, you are really the chosen one . Your bosses don’t seem to know a thing. You just can’t agree with their decisions & thoughts. You make every effort to prove your point at every available opportunity.  Way to go. which way?

Tip #5 – i am the know-all. I finished my education when i did my professional course 10 years back. I have worked enough to know everything about my domain & my industry. My company will train me if they feel i need more skills. Where is the need to spend time reading books, attending seminars, Browsing & checking out new developments or to take that certification course ?

Tip #6– my knowledge is my property no sharing allowed. I have worked hard to gather this knowledge, do you think i will let you benefit from it ? Go do it yourself.  Why should someone what to know what i do & how i do it ? I will protect my domain till my last breath.

Tip #7– Complacency is my hallmark. I am comfortable with what I do.  A bit too comfortable to venture out of my cubicle. Don’t expect me to take up new challenges, initiatives,  and responsibilities. The only stretching i know is what i do at the gym.

Tip #8– I trust you to promote me. won’t you let the senior people know how well i am doing ? i am too modest to talk about my achievements, my colleagues in the office do it for me.I am sure my boss always puts in a positive word about me. I only wonder why nobody recognizes me in spite of  all my good work.

Tip #9 -My charisma will cover-up my incompetence. Not everyone is perfect. So what if  I messed up the last deal. OK, we lost that client last month. only 3 of my 4 projects are pending. But you know, i was the person chosen to take the CEO around when he visited the regional office. I make all arrangements for every office party. I have a tab on everything that happens in this office. That’s my network.

Tip # 10– Too busy to take care of  my Health. I slog & spend more time in office than at home, 7 days a week. have no time to take care of my body. had to take frequent medical breaks last year. Looks like i need a longer one this year.I hope my company will understand. Don’t be surprised, this is an increasingly popular road to finish.

These are just some of them. From your experiences, feel free to add more.

5 lessons from kids on giving Feedback

May 15, 2011 Comments off

When do you let someone know that you appreciate them ? How often ? Where ? How should this feedback be delivered ? Who should do it ?

Some simple yet very relevant questions when discussed in context of a corporate environment. But why only a corporate set up, these questions are relevant for everyday of our life. Family, Friends, Relatives, Business Partners, Vendors, Clients, Candidates ( even Strangers) – We all need & thrive on feedback . Ajit Kamath talks about appreciation as a soft skill in this interesting blog

Everytime we interact with someone or choose not to interact, we are giving feedback. It could be subtle or evident, but the message is passed on.  Every meeting, every discussion, every gesture, every phone call, every message conveys a feedback. In the real life, it is a 360 degrees non-stop process.

The most natural feedback givers are children. They are honest, uninhibited in their opinion and they move on once they have expressed themselves. They don’t wait for the right occasion, they don’t formalize their statements and they express with a strange indifference.

Here is what i have learnt from my son about feedback

  1. Give feedback on a ongoing basis. Don’t hold back when you want to appreciate. Do it immediately. There is no better time than this moment.
  2. Be balanced & honest in your appreciation. Appreciate the specific action without going overboard. Even a simple “Thank You” or “Well Done” may do the trick at times.
  3. Don’t wait for someone to do a miracle . Appreciate small acts and gestures & use the appreciation to raise the expectation bar. Celebrate small successes. a small achievement may be important to someone. Let them feel that it is important to you too.
  4. If someone is falling short of expectations, discuss how you can help to bring them up to the level. Make it clear to them that they need to pull up, without pointing fingers. a constructive suggestion on a regular basis works much better than a time bound appraisal.
  5. Don’t Criticize a mistake. It has already happened. learn from it, together, so that they are not repeated. Everyone feels bad if things go wrong. By criticizing/shouting, we only aggravate the pain & increase their misery. A continuous feedback process and help avoid blunders.
What is your experience regarding giving feedback ?

CSR as retention tool

April 28, 2011 Comments off

Performance  Appraisals are up in most of the Indian organisations and it is time to handle the tricky issue of post-appraisal employee attrition.  A recent report in The Hindustan times pointed out that attrition is Indian firms New worry .

Another report in Mint based on the Aon Hewitt survey puts the average attrition figure at around 18%. Leading the pack is the ITeS sector with 27%. Pharmaceuticals & BFSI ( excluding Insurance) stand at 21%.  This inspite of 12.9%  salary hike in 2011 ( following up on 11.7% for 2010).

An Economic times article  published last week proclaimed that organisations are offering handsome bonuses and larger roles to retain talent. Interestingly the same article points at another study by BTI consultants highlighting that “…Indian CEOs are becoming more focused on talent retention than acquisition…”

This sets one thinking as to what could  be some non-conventional methods for employee retention. is salary, role, designation etc enhancement the only way ? is there a non-materialistic option too?

On talking to a few colleagues, i came across certain methods being used by organisations to enrich lives of their employees and making the relationship sticky. The focus is on providing avenues for employees to engage in various activities where they can be themselves. These range from organizing informal family events, time-off to pursue personal interests, idea incubation to social involvement.

DnB transunion ( http://www.idotrust.org/) started a corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative in 2007  and chose to call it as Individual Social Responsibility initiative for the simple reason that they realized that CSR was nothing but a sum of all Individual social efforts of its employees. The organisation created a trust which was included as a stake holder in the company. Weight-age is given for employee participation in such activities in their annual appraisals. The corpus fund of the trust is made up of voluntary contribution from employees. The activities are all conducted by the employees themselves and cover healthcare, education & other social welfare projects. From simple activities like tree plantation to organizing large medical camps, employees participate whole heartedly and as per the testimonials on the site, it gives them a lot of fulfillment.

With more & more organisations actively encouraging their employees to take time out for such initiatives, Can such initiatives be translated into some sort of culture building & retention strategies ?

Why manage Candidate Experience?

March 22, 2011 Comments off

For the good recruiters handling candidate experience is a natural talent. Some thing they do as part of the recruitment process with or without being conscious of it. A great candidate experience helps the recruiter in more than one way.

Better Screening
First of all, the candidate opens up more than he/she would usually do. So recruiter gets to know more about the candidate, his needs and aspirations, strengths & limitations, hot buttons or even red flags and this gives a better insight of the candidate. This helps the recruiter know whether the candidate suits the role or not.

Better Offer Negotiation
Powered with this information recruiter can better engage the candidate. This would be of tremendous help during process delays or offer negotiations or notice buy out or competing offers etc.

Employment Branding
Another advantage is that the candidates who had pleasant experience are more prone to spread the word around about the recruiter, the opportunity and the company even if they don’t get selected. The employment branding piece remains intact or perhaps even gets added mileage due to the positive image being spread around.

Networking
Happy candidates will give recruiters more referrals and get you introduced their peers. This way every new candidate recruiter gets in to touch with and creates a positive vibes can expect to have his network increase by many fold.

From the web-Feb 2011

March 6, 2011 Comments off

Technology in HR

February 10, 2010 Comments off

“There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world, and that is an idea whose time has come.” said Victor Hugo. He might have been talking about the impact of technology in HR.

Convenience, Speed, Cost Saving, efficiency, connectivity, Transparency – from whichever angle you view, technology in HR is here to stay, and may be eliminate many HR jobs the way they exist today.

Technology, with all its self-service capabilities and 24X7 mobile accessibility increases chances for more outsourcing and lesser manned jobs.

So how is technology impacting the current HR functions and the way people interact with HR departments

Hiring : More and more HR professionals are realising the effectiveness and ease of connecting to potential employees through social networking sites like Linkedin, facebook and Orkut. A recent study points out that HR managers are scanning blogs and social networks to understand trends and look for innovative strategies. Blogs can also make or destroy a company’s reputation as an employer

Employee Relationship Management : We’ve already moved into a phase where employees are more and more being recognised as internal customers and therefore being treated with equal respect. With multiple work flow tools available, Employees now access most of the facilities online on their own. This not only saves cost and time, but also reduces the instances of interpersonal disputes. More importantly, it moves the HR professional away from the mundane administrative handling and offers a more strategic thinking opportunity. Above all, it increases transparency and reduces follow ups.

Training & Development : Technology brings down the requirement of classroom training by putting it on the company intranet in the form of learning modules. Not only does this allow employees to learn and relearn at their own pace but also enables supervisors to understand capabilities and inclination by analysing the online learning and outcome data. Further, latest tools can allow employees to share their learning and collaborate across geographies and time zones to deliver faster and thereby improve productivity. Online MIS tools can help employees track their progress. Some may point out to the missing human link in all this. What needs to be understood here is that training and development areas have become more learner oriented rather than teaching oriented.

Performance Appraisals : With all the information from day to day attendance to the employees daily activities and customer interactions being captured today, performance appraisals have become more objective , and rightly so. With multiple data and detailed balanced scorecard based assessments , a supervisor can move to a quarterly feedback system thereby allowing for course correction at every stage, rather than waiting for annual performance evaluation event. Data based evaluation brings down the discontent which is normally associated with appraisals as all the parameters get defined and are available to every employee daily. Many companies have moved to online systems where the MIS systems talk to the performance trackers and update the information daily to result in scoring that can be easily understood by the employees and supervisors.

While these are broader areas, technology is today helping HR professionals perform all their tasks, from joining formalities to exits, with ease and very high efficiency.

Categories: Discussions
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