Recent Trends in Human Resource Management

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Change Process as Problem Solving and Problem Finding

A very useful framework for thinking about the change process is problem solving. Managing change is seen as a matter of moving from one state to another, specifically, from the problem state to the solved state. Diagnosis or problem analysis is generally acknowledged as essential. Goals are set and achieved at various levels and in various areas or functions. Ends and means are discussed and related to one another. Careful planning is accompanied by efforts to obtain buy-in, support and commitment. The net effect is a transition from one state to another in a planned, orderly fashion. This is the planned change model.

The word “problem” carries with it connotations that some people prefer to avoid. They choose instead to use the word “opportunity.” For such people, a problem is seen as a bad situation, one that shouldn’t have been allowed to happen in the first place, and for which someone is likely to be punished — if the guilty party (or a suitable scapegoat) can be identified. For the purposes of this paper, we will set aside any cultural or personal preferences regarding the use of “problem” or “opportunity.” From a rational, analytical perspective, a problem is nothing more than a situation requiring action but in which the required action is not known. Hence, there is a requirement to search for a solution, a course of action that will lead to the solved state. This search activity is known as “problem solving.”

From the preceding discussion, it follows that “problem finding” is the search for situations requiring action. Whether we choose to call these situations “problems” (because they are troublesome or spell bad news), or whether we choose to call them “opportunities” (either for reasons of political sensitivity or because the time is ripe to exploit a situation) is immaterial. In both cases, the practical matter is one of identifying and settling on a course of action that will bring about some desired and predetermined change in the situation.

The Change Problem

At the heart of change management lies the change problem, that is, some future state to be realized, some current state to be left behind, and some structured, organized process for getting from the one to the other. The change problem might be large or small in scope and scale, and it might focus on individuals or groups, on one or more divisions or departments, the entire organization, or one or on more aspects of the organization’s environment.

At a conceptual level, the change problem is a matter of moving from one state (A) to another state (A’). Moving from A to A’ is typically accomplished as a result of setting up and achieving three types of goals: transform, reduce, and apply. Transform goals are concerned with identifying differences between the two states. Reduce goals are concerned with determining ways of eliminating these differences. Apply goals are concerned with putting into play operators that actually effect the elimination of these differences (see Newell & Simon).

As the preceding goal types suggest, the analysis of a change problem will at various times focus on defining the outcomes of the change effort, on identifying the changes necessary to produce these outcomes, and on finding and implementing ways and means of making the required changes. In simpler terms, the change problem can be treated as smaller problems having to do with the how, what, and why of change.

The Organisational Change Process

The Change Process as “Unfreezing, Changing and Refreezing

The process of change has been characterized as having three basic stages: unfreezing, changing, and re-freezing. This view draws heavily on Kurt Lewin’s adoption of the systems concept of homeostasis or dynamic stability.

What is useful about this framework is that it gives rise to thinking about a staged approach to changing things. Looking before you leap is usually sound practice.

What is not useful about this framework is that it does not allow for change efforts that begin with the organization in extremis (i.e., already “unfrozen”), nor does it allow for organizations faced with the prospect of having to “hang loose” for extended periods of time (i.e., staying “unfrozen”).

In other words, the beginning and ending point of the unfreeze-change-refreeze model is stability — which, for some people and some organizations, is a luxury. For others, internal stability spells disaster. A tortoise on the move can overtake even the fastest hare if that hare stands still.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Change Management- Continued

To recapitulate, there are at least four basic definitions of change management:

1. The task of managing change (from a reactive or a proactive posture)

2. An area of professional practice (with considerable variation in competency and skill levels among practitioners)

3. A body of knowledge (consisting of models, methods, techniques, and other tools)

4. A control mechanism (consisting of requirements, standards, processes and procedures).
Content and Process .

Organizations are highly specialized systems and there are many different schemes for grouping and classifying them. Some are said to be in the retail business, others are in manufacturing, and still others confine their activities to distribution. Some are profit-oriented and some are not for profit. Some are in the public sector and some are in the private sector. Some are members of the financial services industry, which encompasses banking, insurance, and brokerage houses. Others belong to the automobile industry, where they can be classified as original equipment manufacturers (OEM) or after-market providers. Some belong to the health care industry, as providers, as insureds or as insurers. Many are regulated, some are not. Some face stiff competition, some do not. Some are foreign-owned and some are foreign-based. Some are corporations, some are partnerships, and some are sole proprietorships. Some are publicly held and some are privately held. Some have been around a long time and some are newcomers. Some have been built up over the years while others have been pieced together through mergers and acquisitions. No two are exactly alike.

The preceding paragraph points out that the problems found in organizations, especially the change problems, have both a content and a process dimension. It is one thing, for instance, to introduce a new claims processing system in a functionally organized health insurer. It is quite another to introduce a similar system in a health insurer that is organized along product lines and market segments. It is yet a different thing altogether to introduce a system of equal size and significance in an educational establishment that relies on a matrix structure. The languages spoken differ. The values differ. The cultures differ. And, at a detailed level, the problems differ. However, the overall processes of change and change management remain pretty much the same, and it is this fundamental similarity of the change processes across organizations, industries, and structures that makes change management a task, a process, and an area of professional practice.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Change Management- Primer

Purpose and Audience

The purpose of this paper is to provide a broad overview of the concept of “change management.” It was written primarily for people who are coming to grips with change management problems for the first time and for more experienced people who wish to reflect upon their experience in a structured way.
Four Basic Definitions

In thinking about what is meant by “change management,” at least four basic definitions come to mind:

1. The task of managing change.
2. An area of professional practice.
3. A body of knowledge.
4. A control mechanism.

The Task of Managing Change

The first and most obvious definition of “change management” is that the term refers to the task of managing change. The obvious is not necessarily unambiguous. Managing change is itself a term that has at least two meanings.

One meaning of “managing change” refers to the making of changes in a planned and managed or systematic fashion. The aim is to more effectively implement new methods and systems in an ongoing organization. The changes to be managed lie within and are controlled by the organization. (Perhaps the most familiar instance of this kind of change is the “change control” aspect of information systems development projects.). However, these internal changes might have been triggered by events originating outside the organization, in what is usually termed “the environment.” Hence, the second meaning of managing change, namely, the response to changes over which the organization exercises little or no control (e.g., legislation, social and political upheaval, the actions of competitors, shifting economic tides and currents, and so on). Researchers and practitioners alike typically distinguish between a knee-jerk or reactive response and an anticipative or proactive response.

An Area of Professional Practice

The second definition of change management is "an area of professional practice."

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of independent consultants who will quickly and proudly proclaim that they are engaged in planned change, that they are change agents, that they manage change for their clients, and that their practices are change management practices. There are numerous small consulting firms whose principals would make these same statements about their firms. And, of course, most of the major management consulting firms have a change management practice area.

Some of these change management experts claim to help clients manage the changes they face – the changes happening to them. Others claim to help clients make changes. Still others offer to help by taking on the task of managing changes that must be made. In almost all cases, the process of change is treated separately from the specifics of the situation. It is expertise in this task of managing the general process of change that is laid claim to by professional change agents.

A Body of Knowledge

Stemming from the view of change management as an area of professional practice there arises yet a third definition of change management: the content or subject matter of change management. This consists chiefly of the models, methods and techniques, tools, skills and other forms of knowledge that go into making up any practice.
The content or subject matter of change management is drawn from psychology, sociology, business administration, economics, industrial engineering, systems engineering and the study of human and organizational behavior. For many practitioners, these component bodies of knowledge are linked and integrated by a set of concepts and principles known as General Systems Theory (GST). It is not clear whether this area of professional practice should be termed a profession, a discipline, an art, a set of techniques or a technology. For now, suffice it to say that there is a large, reasonably cohesive albeit somewhat eclectic body of knowledge underlying the practice and on which most practitioners would agree — even if their application of it does exhibit a high degree of variance.

A Control Mechanism

For many years now, Information Systems groups have tried to rein in and otherwise ride herd on changes to systems and the applications that run on them. For the most part, this is referred to as “version control” and most people in the workplace are familiar with it. In recent years, systems people have begun to refer to this control mechanism as “change management” and "configuration management." Moreover, similar control mechanisms exist in other areas. Chemical processing plants, for example, are required by OSHA to satisfy some exacting requirements in the course of making changes. These fall under the heading of Management of Change or MOC.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What is Pre – Employment Background Screening?

Pre – Employment Background Screening is a Practice adapted & followed by Organizations, Enterprise, Companies (IT, ITes, and General), Financial or any kind of Institutions to refrain or Prevent Bad Hire or effects and casualties from Bad Hire.

What are the Risks of Bad Hire?

Workplace Violence
Employee Theft
Falsified Employment Applications & Resumes
Negligent Hiring Liability
Workplace Abuse
Employee Frauds
Toxic Workplace Environment

Why Screen?

Earlier In the trusting era the wise & the famous quoted much on trust and man to be trusted, and there were times when statements of a person could be trusted. But Times have changed! In today's environment the order of the day is "Due Diligence". This service provides the "Critical Information for Informed Decisions", the value of which will save the company from financial and Reputation damages and harm.

Past Employment Verification

This is the most commonly sought test by the employers, as this test is conducted to verify whether the employment details such as Designation / Position Held, Employment period, Salary Package, Reason to Quit the Job provided by the candidate about his past employment are accurate and true.

Professional Reference Verification

Professional Reference Verification often plays vital role within final hiring decisions. The modus operandi to conduct this test is to verify the professional credentials of the candidate, such as his performance, Knowledge, Punctuality, Responsibility, Skills (soft & hard) and eligibility for rehire.

Education Verification

The modus operandi to conduct this test is to verify & authenticate the data and documents provided by the candidate are Accurate and not forged or falsified, such as the degree / qualification earned by the candidate, year of graduation or Period attended in case of undergraduates, Percentage Marks obtained etc.

Criminal Record Lookup

The basic idea to conduct this test is to confirm and verify that the candidate in past or present is indulged or convicted or recorded for any kind of offence criminal or any activity Bad in Law. The records are searched within the state police department; search is conducted on the basis of the address provided.

Personal Address Verification

The primary intention to conduct this test is to confirm the identity of an individual, this is to analyze whether the Personal Data provided by the candidate relates to him and there is no case of identity theft.

Drug Test Programme

The basic intention to conduct this programme is to assure that the candidate is not involved in any activity of consumption of legally banned drugs which may affect the performance of the candidate, environment of the office or any damage to the company.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Oldest Executive Search Firm

The executive search business began in the United States in 1926 when Thorndike Deland launched a business that charged a $200 retainer to find expert buyers for New York department stores. However, it was not until after the second world war that executive search gathered speed as part of the rapidly growing management consultancy business. It soon became evident to search consultants at McKinsey and Booz Allen Hamilton that the service might best be provided as a separate business. McKinsy moved out of the executive search business in 1951.

McKinsey left the search sector in 1951. H. Wardwell Howell, head of the McKinsey search practice at that time, left to found Ward Howell, which became one of the biggest global search firms (until 1998 when its American division was acquired and the rest of the company rebranded itself as Signium). Handy Associates also broke away from McKinsey. Booz Allen Hamilton, which maintained its search activities until the late 1970s, groomed many of today’s top search consultants. Among firms launched by its former management consultants are Boyden (1946), Heidrick & Struggles (1953), Spencer Stuart (1956) and Amrop Hever (1967).

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Boredom At Work Increases Stress.

Coming to work, chilling on the phone and surfing the internet all day, may sound like a dream job on paper, but in reality, it is more damaging than a stressful day. As the boredom boom sweeps across offices worldwide, many desi workers too, are wasting away at their desks, left unchallenged and uninspired. As an employer, you could lose your best employees. And as a worker, you could stop taking risks, forget how to think out of the box and be setting yourself up to be a job hopper.

On this Shwetambara Sabharwal ,Psychologist says- When you are not assigned enough responsibility, or not interested in the task at hand, you start brooding over other issues. Anxiety over the future and past professional problems begin to surface in an idle mind. You start wondering whether you are in the right job and whether you are incapable of handling responsibilities. That’s how non-productivity and boredom at work can increase stress levels.

In order to tap this, Bosses should:

1. Give employees more structured roles.
2. Make tasks varied and feedback-oriented.
3. Team leaders should set short-term goals.
4. Work should be result-oriented.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Are Your Employees Bored?

While having nothing to do at work is a miniscule part of it, the real boredom stems from a situation where none of the possible tasks that a person can realistically do at work, appeal to them.

Below are the six ways to spot the signs that say your employees are bored:

1. High absenteeism: When employees lose interest, they start bunking work.

2. Productivity dips: Boredom can get contagious, leading to an overall dip in creativity and productivity. This affects the company’s performance and market position.

3. Tolerance levels are lower: Tempers run high and tolerance levels run low.

4. Disinterested body language: One of the easy giveaways is body language. Watch out for dull, stooping employees, with low energy levels.

5. Employees are less forthcoming: One of the best ways for HR heads to spot bored, burnt out employees is to look out for those who do not participate in HR planned activities.

6. Increased work errors: When a good employee starts making consistent errors in work. The span of concentration is lower when work is repetitive or boring.

Recruitment in China is trending downward

Recruitment in China is trending downward, admittedly at a very slow rate, but it is still the number one issue for HR departments.

We all have our own understanding of what hiring is but it might be instructive to look at what hiring is not.

A. Firstly, hiring is not the responsibility of the HR department. This is a line manager’s problem, and only they can truly assess candidate fit with the job and the company. HR is basically the government. It is there as the standard bearer for candidate quality, and to ensure compliance with hiring policies. HR can add value in terms of understanding the psychology and motivation of both candidates and line managers so that a better outcome is ensured. The final decision lies with the line manager.

B. Hiring is not even a good fit with HR itself in many ways. Hiring is outwardly focused and subjective, which is exactly the opposite of most HR functions like payroll, org charts, succession planning etc. Hiring is more akin to marketing or branding and it cannot be fulfilled with a box-filling or bureaucratic approach. At the same time, hiring is not just about ill-defined issues, like quality and engagement. Hiring can and should be measured.

C. Hiring is not about waiting. It is an intense function that requires constant vigilance. Take your eye off the ball for more than a few days and you will lose momentum. Change companies on a regular basis and you will never be a good Recruiter.

D. It’s a candidate's market in China now so hiring cannot be about finding candidates at the lowest possible overhead cost. In this market you can be hiring efficient, and save your pennies, but only at the cost of hiring effectiveness. You can’t have both efficiency and effectiveness. Telling your GM how you have saved RMBXXXXX on headhunter fees and recruiter salaries will only fly if your hiring requisitions are being filled on-time, in time.

E. It’s not even about staff salaries. Hiring people does not become that much easier when you increase the salary. It is true that in the short-term you get ‘bums on seats’, but the kind of people you get are the ones that will resign in a very short time, and then you are back to square one. Seeking people with the right fit ie. those with 80% of what you want, will take longer but the net benefits are greater. The 20% that they don’t have will allow you to offer them coaching and training, and this will keep them engaged for longer period of time.

F. Hiring is not a gate keeping exercise. It needs to be inclusive, not exclusive. Candidate fit is not about filling your office with people who all fit your culture exactly. Monolithic cultures tend to die because there are problems out there in the environment that they are not capable of seeing. Diversity is not just a useful politically correct (PC) concept. It’s a survival mechanism.

G. Hiring is not solvable using job portals. These sites are an excellent start, and worth the money, but they are just the minimum cost of entry. They offer you a huge database of professionals to choose from, but this database has been worked to death already, by your competitors.

H. The hiring process itself is not an opportunity to tell potential new staff how fantastic your company truly is. Your company is fantastic, of course, but so is everyone else’s. On the internet they say that no one knows you are a dog, and in China no one knows you are the World’s-Premier-Manufacturer-Of-Novelty-Items. No candidate cares to hear this spiel because it means you are speaking to yourself, and not to their needs.

I. Hiring is not a jigsaw that the candidate has to figure out by himself. It needs clear Job Descriptions with a linkage to KPIs that will be assessed on a half yearly basis. The new China Labor Law ensures that this is now imperative.

J. The job of Recruiter is not a path to HR Manager, unless you have a special arrangement where you can do work in other areas, or your company offers job rotation. This is unlikely as hiring is such a demanding position right now. Despite what you may have heard, hiring is something you need to settle into for the long-term. If you love it, stay, because other HR jobs will probably not satisfy.

In the end, hiring is not a game you can lose. If you lose this game you lose everything. At the same time you can let candidates go if they are not the right fit.

Winning the wrong people is more costly in the long term than losing them.