Recent Trends in Human Resource Management

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Stimulating Innovation and Change

All the giants like Montgomery Ward Woolworth, Smith Corona, TWA, Bethlehem Steel, and WorldCom went out of action in business. Other giants, such as Sears, Boeing, and lucent Technologies implemented huge cost cutting programs and eliminated thousands of jobs to avoid going broke. Today’s successful organizations must foster innovation and master the art of change or they’ll become candidates for extinction. Victory will go to the organizations that maintain their flexibility, continually improve their quality, and beat their competition to the market place with a constant stream of innovative products and services. Domino’s single-handedly brought on the demise of thousands of small pizza parlors whose managers thought they could continue dong what they been doing for years. is putting a lot of independent bookstores out of business as it proves you can successfully sell books from an Internet Web site. Dell has become the world’s largest seller of computers by continually reinventing itself and outsmarting its competition.

An organization’s employees can be the impetus for innovation and change or they can be major stumbling block. The challenge for managers is to stimulate their employees’ creativity and tolerance for change. The field of OB provides a wealth of ideas and techniques to aid in realizing these goals.

Coping with “Temporariness”:

With change comes temporariness. Globalization, expanded capacity, and advances in technology have combined in recent years to make it imperative that organizations be fast and flexible if they are to survive. The result is that most managers and employees today work in a climate best characterized as “temporary”.

Evidence of temporariness is everywhere in organizations. Jobs are continually being redesigned; tasks are increasingly being done by flexible teams rather than individuals; companies are relying more on temporary workers; jobs are being subcontracted out to other firms; and pensions are being redesigned to move with people as they change jobs.

Workers need to continually update their knowledge and skills to perform new job requirements. For example, production employees at companies such as caterpillar, Ford, and Alcoa now need to know how to operate computerized production equipment. That was not part of their job descriptions 20 years ago. Work groups are also increasingly in a state of flux. In the past, employees were assigned to a specific work group, and that assignment was relatively permanent. There was a considerable amount of security in working with the same people day in and day out. That predictability has been replaced by temporary work groups, teams that include members from different departments and whose members change all the time, and the increased use of employee rotation to fill constantly changing work assignments. Finally organizations themselves are in a state of flux. They continually reorganize their various divisions, sell off poor-performing businesses, downsize operations, subcontract non-critical services and operations to other organizations, and replace permanent employees with temporary workers.

Today’s managers and employees must learn to cope with temporariness they have to learn to live with flexibility spontaneity and unpredictability. The study of OB can provide important insights into helping in better understanding a work world of continual change, how to overcome resistance to change, and how best to create an organizational culture that thrives on change.Computerization, the Internet, and the ability to link computers within organizations and between organizations have created a different workplace for many employees – a networked. It allows people to communicate and work together though they may be thousands of miles apart. It also allows people to become independent contractors, who can telecommute via computer to workplaces around the globe and change employers as the demand for tier services changes. Software programs, graphic designers, system analysts, technical writers, photo researchers, book editors, and medical transcribes are a few examples of jobs that people can now perform from home or other non-office locations.

Ref: CiteHR

High attrition haunts manufacturing too

The manufacturing sector in India is growing almost at the same rate as IT. The attrition rate too in this sector is very high and is a major challenge to its growth. Pointing this out, T Parabrahman, managing director and chief operating officer of Kirloskar Toyota Textile Machinery, said that an acute shortage of manpower had hit every industrial segment in the country and the manufacturing sector was no exception to this.

He said though the manufacturing and service sectors are growing multi-fold, there is a severe shortage of human capabilities in India. "Though many companies like Toyota are running in-house training centres for new recruits and as part of the continuing education programme, we need universities and educational institutions to start training centres in association with industry to address the paucity of trained manpower," he said.

Citing a case, he said in the next seven years the country needs about 5 million lakh truck drivers.

Martin Voglsanger, Managing Director of Bosch Rexroth-India, who inaugurated the train-the-trainer programme, said Bosch Rexroth had designed proprietary didactic concepts that can be implemented in engineering colleges.

"With modern equipment and teachware, learning at a high level is possible now," he said. Wolfgang Wagner, former managing director of Bosch Rexroth-India, said the design, development and launch of Nano by the Tatas has proved that a high degree of innovation is setting in, in the Indian manufacturing sector. It is heartening to know that more and more Indian firms are participating in industry-academia partnership.

G L Shekar, chairman of the Implementation Committee of the Centre of Competence, said the Indian Automotive Mission Plan had predicted an output of $145 billion in the automobile sector with the creation of an additional 25 million jobs by 2016 in India.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Challenges and opportunities for OB

Understanding organizational behavior has never been more important for managers. A quick look at a few of the dramatic changes now talking place in organizations supports this claim. For instance, the typical employee is getting older; more and more women and people of color are in the workplace; corporate downsizing and the heavy use of temporary workers are severing the bonds of loyalty that historically toed many employees to their employers; and global competition is requiring employees to become more flexible and to learn to cope with rapid changes. The war on terror has brought to the forefront the challenges of working with and managing people during uncertain times.

In short, there are a lot of challenges and opportunities today for managers to use OB concepts. In this article, we review some of the more critical issues confronting managers for which OB offers solutions or at least some meaningful insights toward solutions.
Responding to Globalization:

Organizations are no longer constrained by national borders. Burger King is owned by a British, and McDonald’s sells hamburgers in Moscow. Exxon Mobil, a so called American company receives almost 75 percent of its revenues from sales outside the United States. New employees at Finland based phone maker Nokia are increasingly being recruited from India, China, and other developing countries with non-Finns now outnumbering Finns at Nokia’s renowned research center in Helsinki. And all major automobile manufacturers now build cars outside their borders; for instance, Honda builds cars in Ohio; Ford in Brazil; Volkswagen in Mexico; and both Mercedes and BMW ins South Africa.
These examples illustrate that the world has become a global village. In the process, the manager’s job is changing.

Increased Foreign Assignments: If you’re a manager, you are increasingly likely to find yourself in a foreign assignment transferred to your employer’s operating division or subsidiary in another country. Once there, you’ll have to manage a workforce that is likely to be very different in needs, aspiration, and attitudes from those you were used to back home.

Working with people from Different Cultures: Even in your own country, you’re going to find yourself working with bosses, peers, and other employees who were born and raised in different cultures. What motivates you may not motivate them. Or your style of communication may be straightforward and open, but they may find this approach uncomfortable and threatening. To work effectively with people from different cultures, you need to understand how their culture geography, and religion have shaped them, and how to adapt your management style to their differences.

Coping with Anti-capitalism Backlash: Capitalism’s focus on efficiency, growth, and profits may be generally accepted in the United States, Australia and Hong Kong, but these capitalistic values aren’t nearly as popular in places like France, the Middle East, and the Scandinavian countries. For instance, because Finland’s egalitarian values have created a “soak the rich” mentality among politicians, traffic fines are based on the offender’s income rather than the severity of the offence. So, when one of Finland’s richest men (he is heir to a sausage fortune), who was making close to $9 million a year, was ticketed for doing 80 kilometers per hour through a 40-kilometer zone in central Helsinki, the Finnish court hit him with a fine of $217,000.

Managers at global companies like McDonald’s Disney, and Coca-Cola have come to realize that economic values are not universally transferable. Management practices need to be modified to reflect the values of the different countries in which an organization operates.

Networked Organizations

Computerization, the Internet, and the ability to link computers with organizations and between organizations have created a different workplace for many employees – a networked organization. It allows people to communicate and work together even though they may be thousands of miles apart. It also allows people to become independent contractors, who can telecommute via computer to workplaces around the globe and change employers as the demand for their services changes. Software programmers, graphic designers, systems analysts, technical writers, photo researchers, book editors, and medical transcribers are just a few examples of jobs that people can now perform from home or other non-office locations.

The manager’s job is different in a networked organization, especially when it comes to managing people. For instance, motivating and leading people and making collaborative decisions “online” requires different techniques than those needed in dealing with individuals are physically present in a single location.

As more and more employees do their jobs linked to others trough networks, managers need to develop new skills. OB can provide valuable insights to help with honing those skills.

The typical employee in the 1960s or 1970s showed up at the workplace Monday through Friday and did his or her job in eight or nine hours of time. The workplace and hours were clearly specified. That’s longer true for a large segment of today’s workforce. Employers are increasingly complaining that the line between work and non-work time has become blurred, creating personal conflicts and stress. At the same time, however, today’s workplace presents opportunities for workers to create and structure their work roles.

A number of forces have contributed to blurring the lines between employees’ work life and personal life. First, the creation of global organizations means their world never sleeps. At any time and on any day, for instance thousands of General Electric employees are working somewhere. The need to consult with colleagues or customers eight or ten time zones away mean that many employees of global firms are “on call” 24 hours a day. Second, communication technology allows employees to do their homework, in their cars, or on the beach in Tahiti. This lets many people in technical and professional jobs do their work any time and from any place. Third, organizations are asking employees to put in longer hours. For instance, over a recent 10-years period, the average American work week increased from 43 to 47 hours; and the number of people working 50 or more hours a week jumped from 24 percent to 37 percent. Finally, fewer families have only a single breadwinner. Today’s married employee is typically part of a dual career couple. This makes it increasingly difficult for married employees to find the time to fulfill commitments to home, spouse, children parents, and friends.

Employees are increasingly recognizing that work is infringing on their personal lives, and they’re not happy about it. For example, recent studies suggest that employees want jobs that give them flexibility in their work schedules so they can better manage work-life conflicts. In fact, evidence indicates that balancing work and life demands now surpasses job security as an employee priority. In addition, the next generation of employees is likely to show similar concern. A majority of college and university students say that attaining a balance between personal life and work is a primary career goal. They want “a life” as well as a job. Organizations that don’t help their people achieve work-life balance will find it increasingly difficult to attract and retain the most capable and motivated employees.
Ref: CiteHR

Developing an OB model

A model is an abstraction of reality, a simplified representation of some real world phenomenon. A mannequin in retail store is a model. So, too, is the accountant’s formula: Assets + Liabilities = Owners’ Equity. Exhibit below presents the skeleton on which we will construct our OB model. It proposes that there are three levels of analysis in OB and that, as we move from the individual levels to the organization systems level, we add systematically to our understanding of behavior in organizations. The three basic levels are analogous to building blocks; each level is constructed on the previous level. Group concepts grow out of the foundation laid in the individual section; we overlay structural constraints on the individual and group in order to arrive at organizational behavior.

Basic OB Model, Stage 1

Individual level – Group level – Organization systems level

A dependable variable is the key factor that you want to explain or predict and that is affected by some other factor. What are the primary dependent variables in OB? Scholars have historically tended to emphasize productivity, absenteeism, turn over and job satisfaction. More recently two more variables deviant workplace behavior and organizational citizenship behavior have been added to this list. Let’s briefly discuss each of these variables to ensure that we understand what they mean and why they have achieved their level of distinction.

Productivity: An organization is productive if it goals and does so by transferring inputs to outputs at the lowest cost. As such productivity implies a concern for both effectiveness and efficiency.
A hospital, for example, is effective when it successfully meets the needs of its clientele. It is efficient when it can do so at a low cost. If a hospital manages to achieve higher output from its present staff by reducing the average number of days a patient is confined to a bed or by increasing the number of staff-patient contacts per day, we say that the hospital has gained productive efficiency. A business firm is effective when it attains its sales or market share goals, but its productivity also depends on achieving those goals efficiently. Popular measures of organizational efficiency include return on investment, profit per dollar of sales, and output per hour of labor.

We can also look at productivity from the perspective of the individual employee. Take the cases of Mike and Al, who are both long-distance truckers. If Mike is supposed to haul his loaded rig from New York to Los Angeles in 75 hours or less, he is effective if he makes the 3,000 mile trip within that time period. But measures of productivity must take into account the costs incurred in reaching the goal. That’s where efficiency comes in. Let’s assume that Mike made the New York to Los Angeles run in 68 hours and averaged 7 miles per gallon. Al, however made the trip in 68 hours also but averaged 9 miles per gallon (rigs and loads are identical). Both Mike and Al were effective – they accomplished their goal – but Al was more efficient than Mike because his rig consumed less gas and therefore, he achieved his goal at a lower cost.

Organizations in service industries need to include attention to customer needs and requirements in assessing their effectiveness. Because, in these types of businesses there is a clear chain of cause-and-effect running from employee attitudes and behavior to customer attitudes and behavior to an organization’s productivity. Sears in fact, has carefully documented this chain. The company’s management found that a 5 percent improvement in employee attitudes lead to a 1.3 percent increase in customer satisfaction, which in turn translated into a 0.5 percent improvement in revenue growth. More specifically, Sears found that by training employees to improve the employee customer interaction, it was able to improve customers satisfaction by 4 percent over a twelve month period, which generated an estimated $200 million in additional revenues.

In summary, one of OB’s major concerns is productivity. We want to know what factors will influence the effectiveness and efficiency of individuals, of groups, and of the overall organization. OB can take action by inducing suitable training to employees to achieve the productivity.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Absconding employees

A leading BPO to recently bear the brunt of a suit filed on them by an employee who had disappeared from work for more than a month and then suddenly got back one day to rejoin. The organization which had tried several ways of communicating and contacting the employee had to finally terminate him after all the efforts failed. The employee is now claiming unfair dismissal.

Quite often, employers are faced with the problem of an employee who simply disappears without any form of notification to the employer. Any employer who has had this problem is sure to have been faced with a disruption to his/her business. There have been many instances where an employee simply vanishes leaving the organization in a crunch. And to add more to this he/she emerges much later claiming the job. How does an organization handle such a situation in order to be fair to both, the employer and the employee?

When an employee simply fails to return to work and remains absent for sometime employer is confused regarding the exact law for termination of absconding cases. When an employee remains absent for sometime without any intimation, the employer has to act in the following manner. Firstly, on the second day of absence, the employer should contact the employee telephonically. If telephonic contact is not possible, then send an official communication within 2-3 days. Even there is no response is received; send an official letter which should be registered. The letter must enquire the reasons of absence and also mention the consequences. After a week of sending the first letter, the second letter should follow stating the necessity to appoint a new candidate for the post. The employer finally can seek legal advice and accordingly act to terminate the services.

Company can also frame a policy on uninformed absenteeism. If an employee goes absconding from work for seven days in a row, the company separates him/her from their system involuntarily on grounds of un-informed absenteeism. For any informed absenteeism of lesser than seven days at one go, they roll out warning letters to employees. A second case of warning and the employee is liable to be terminated with immediate effect on third instance.

A few companies try to contact such an employee through telephone and registered post. But if the absconding employee does not respond for more than a month, then they terminate his/her services and refuse to release their relieving letters.

Are there any solutions which can be offered to companies to curb this unethical practice? How stringent should an employer be in fighting this menace? Can you identify a probable absconder?

An appointment letter must mention the terms of service including un-notified absence. Legal action of terminating the service is possible. Other than the legal side, at the time of interview and selection, the candidate must be scrutinized – the mental set up, family background, etc., must be taken into consideration. Also, any new candidate must be under behavioral observation. In larger companies, the HR department should evolve a system of analysis. In smaller organizations, the concerned bosses need to be observant. Employees will have to be firm and company rules will have to be followed.

Though organizations follow very stringent background checks, absconding employees are a problem that no organization can totally evade. An employee, most likely to disappear tends to be highly volatile with a skewed career graph by virtue of age and job profile. Past employment history provides considerable insight into a person’s commitment to an organization. Once the candidate joins the company, his/her attendance record, discipline on floor and performance records may form the basis for predicting his/her stay at the company.

Therefore the companies must make sure that a thorough screening of all employees is done before getting them on board. Also keep a track record of all employees and try to read the mind and outlook of an employee. But if an employee had made up his/her mind, nothing can have done about his/her decision.

There are no typical solutions to this practice. Despite company policies and laws, the un-informed absenteeism cannot be abolished though these policies help firms to reduce such instances and help in reducing the impact of uniformed absenteeism on manpower deployment. However, well defined warnings and separation guidelines and the awareness of the same amongst employees is a key to compliance and adherence.

An interesting observation in such cases is the fact that many times, these absconding employees come back after long intervals and they claim that they have been unfairly dismissed. How does the HR department of a company react, when the employees themselves go missing, and the company becomes liable? The study of human relations and emotions is not only interesting but intriguing. The basic fundamental of the fact that no two people are alike or can be alike makes such studies very non-conclusive. Yet psychological studies over the years have shown that a general pattern ca be understood. The act of disappearing in itself is unethical and illegal. Therefore, such employees do not have any moral or legal rights. The management, however, must take the necessary legal steps to counter any claim the employee might make. If the absconding employee was unable to be contacted, then the returned registered letter is the legal proof.

Once the timeline for reverting back to work by an employee absconding is over, the employee has to be separated from the system. The employee has every right to present his/her side of the story within the defined timeline. It could be over any mode of communication. Any communication from the employees’ side only strengthens faith in the employee and his/her commitment to work. However, absconding cases have to be dealt with differently. Failure to communicate from the employee’s side leaves the organization in a lurch. The organization cannot wait indefinitely for the employee to return. In genuine cases, employers may reconsider the employee and re-hire him/her as he/she is already a trained resource for them. Even at Patni, if a disappearing employee comes back within a month, he/she is given a chance to explain his/her absence and is then considered for re-joining. Organizations now become smarter in their policies in order to fight this menace of disappearing employees. It is well understood that if the absconding employee has a genuine reason, he/she will be given a chance to justify his/her actions. But if the reason behind the absence is pure bad intention then it is time up for the employee.
Ref: CiteHR

Breaking an Impasse

Following these guidelines can minimize confusion:

1.Pay all striking employees what you (employer) owe them on the first day of the strike.

Secure the facility: Management should control access to the property. The company should consider hiring guards to protect replacements coming to and from work and to watch and control the picketers, if necessary.

2.Notify all customers, and prepare a standard official response to all queries.
3.Contact all suppliers and other persons who will have to cross the picket line. Establish alternative methods of obtaining supplies.
4.Make arrangements for overnight stay in the facility and for delivered meals in case the occasion warrants such action.
5.Notify the local employment office of need for replacement workers.
6.Photograph the facility before, during and after picketing. If necessary install videotape equipments and devices to monitor picket line misconduct.
7.Record all facts concerning strikers’ demeanor and activities and such incidents as violence, threats, mass pickets, property damage, or problems. Record the police response to requests for assistance.
8.Gather the following evidence: number of picketers and their names; time, date, and location of picketing; wording on every sign carried by pickets; and descriptions of picket cars and license numbers.

Other Alternatives: Management and labor each have other weapons they can use to try to break an impasse and achieve their aims. The union for example, may resort to a corporate campaign. A corporate campaign is an organized effort by the union that exerts pressure on the employer by pressuring the company’s other unions, shareholders, corporate directors, customers, creditors and government agencies, often directly. Thus the union might surprise individual members of the board of directors by picketing their homes and organizing a boycott of the companies’ banks.

The Web is another potent union tool. For example when the hotel employees and the restaurant employees union, Local 2, wanted to turn up the heat on San Francisco Marriott, it launched a new Website. The sight explains the unions eight months boycott and provides a helpful list of union-backed hotels where prospective guests can stay. It also lists organizations that decided to stay elsewhere in response to the boycott.

Inside games are another union tactic often used in conjunction with corporate campaigns: Inside games are union efforts to convince employees to impede or to disrupt production, for example, by slowing the work pace, refusing to work overtime, filing mass charges with government agencies, refusing to do work without receiving detailed instruction from supervisors, and engaging in other disrupt activities such as sick out. Inside games are basically strikes albeit “strikes” in which the employees are being supported by the company, which continues to pay them. In one inside games at caterpillar’s Illinois plant, United Auto Workers’ grievances in the final stage before arbitration rose from 22 to 336. The effect was to clog the grievances procedure and tie up workers and management in unproductive endeavors on company time.

For their part, employers can try to break an impasse with lockouts. A lockout is a refusal by the employer to provide opportunities to work. It (sometimes literally) locks out employees and prohibits them from doing their jobs (and getting paid). The NLRB generally does not view lockouts as an unfair labor practice. For example if your product is a perishable one (such as vegetable) then a lockout may be a legitimate tactic to neutralize or decrease union power. The NLRB views lockouts as an unfair labor practice only when the employer acts for a prohibited purpose. It is not a prohibited purpose to try to bring about a settlement on terms favorable to the employer

Lockouts are not widely used today; employers are usually reluctant to cease operations when employees are willing to continue working even though there may be an impasse at the bargaining table.

What interviewers look for?

The persons who interview candidates collectively are form the interview panel. Normally, the panel consists of three interviewers. However, there could be more than three. The logic given for interviewers in selection at B-schools may more or less applicable for executive jobs in business and industry as well.

The duration of an interview varies between five minutes and 45 minutes. However, the duration of an interview has no bearing on the final outcome; what matters is the quality of interaction that you have with the panel. Most interview panels comprise professors who work full time in case of B-school interviews and top managers from industry for business interviews.. Sometimes, the panel; of interviewers could also include a psychologist. Of late, some top B-schools are also including an alumnus/industry person to their interview panel.

Interviewers chiefly look for students who are suitable to pursue a management course at their institute and whether the have the potential to go on to become effective managers in the future. Candidates who have clear, breadth and depth of knowledge, and the ability to look at things in a balanced manner are sought. Interviewers also look at the moral and ethical value system of the individual concerned, and how the candidates will be able to contribute to the to the industry and the society at large.

Types of Questions asked in an interview:
The job of an interview panel is to determine whether you are a suitable candidate for a particular B-school. In this regard, they may put any questions under the sun to you and you are expected to answer such a question. On being asked personal questions, you are expected to answer in a mature manner, and not say. “This is a personal matter and I cannot answer this question”. You are not expected to give flippant answers to seemingly innocuous questions. Every questions is asked with a sense of purpose. Make sure that you answer with sincerity so as not jeopardize your selection prospects.

The questions that you could be asked in an interview fall under the following categories:
Questions related to your personal background
Questions related to your personality (strengths/weaknesses)
Subject / academic based questions
Questions on career planning
Questions on hobbies / extra curricular activities.
Questions on job profile ad other organization-related matters (for those with work experience)
Two important questions that are asked in most interviews at top B-schools are:
(a)Why do you want to do an MBA? (b)Tell us something about yourself.
The question at (b) is almost certain while recruiting business executives mostly in case of candidates with relevant experience.

Since such questions are more or less certainly, you should prepare for them well in advance, having a ready made answer to these kinds of questions will not help you as you could easily falter in the interview. What you would be better off doing is have broad reasons, which could form the basis for your responses in the interview. This would make your answer more natural rather than rote.

Most of the top B-schools ask a large number of questions on the subjects you have studied during your +2 and your graduation. These questions are essentially conceptual in nature. However, it is seen that students are unable to answers these questions successfully. By answering these questions correctly, you are sending out a message to the interview panel that you have taken the right amount of care to prepare thoroughly for the interview. Excuses such as “I studied this a long time ago,” will not be appreciated by the panel. You could be asked questions on career planning such as, where do you see yourself five years from now? You could also be asked questions on current affairs / general knowledge and the hobbies that you pursue. Answers to questions from these categories would be reflections of what you do in your leisure.
Ref: CiteHR

Work Fatigue

Individuals with a positive frame of mind wish that they had perennial energy so that they can race ahead to complete the tasks mush faster than planned or targeted. All of us want to stay charged 24×7, our bodies and minds don’t see to agree.

Some of us may be mentally drained out after eight hours at work, while others go blank in a couple of hours. Responsibilities and stress add to ones woes, and he or she may end up like a dead horse. If this seems like an every day situation in ones life, he or she need not fret.

Here are some quick recharge tips:

Sleep: Nothing refreshes more than catching a few minutes of sleep. Almost everyone feels tired at three or four pm and studies have proved that a short nap enhances employees’ productivity at work.

Music: This is a big mood enhancer. Listen to your favorite music for a brief period and mind has a soothing affect which in turn enhances the productivity at work after going back to work. Good music helps fight mood swings as well as it helps to get done with the task at hand. (prepare the report while listening to your favorite numbers and it may turn out to be an excellent one)

Play: Be it snooker, table tennis or playing any other game will de-stress you and raises your alertness levels. You can restart your task with renewed vigor.

Take a walk: Supposing your office doesn’t have a recreation room or is too uptight about employees doing ‘time pass’, we suggest that you get out of the office for a while. Take a walk or spend time talking on the phone with your loved ones.

Gossip: Bitching bout colleagues may not be a good idea but sharing light-hearted conversations or a few jokes definitely is.

If you have a good friend and colleague you can discuss your thoughts and get a few good ideas from him/her.

Surf: Browse through the internet and check out your favorite sites. May be you will see or read something that will revive your thinking process. You can also check out.

Meditate: Chant prayers or meditate for ten to fifteen minutes, as it will relieve your tensions and help you get more clarity thinking.

Arrange things: Stop thinking ad do some manual work like sorting out papers, arranging your work stations, files, etc. This can be active diversion to get refreshed.

Take a sip: A strong cup of tea or coffee might be effective to get your mind ticking but we wouldn’t advocate leaning heavily on addictives of any sort. But tea or coffee taken at the regular tea time or coffee break renews concentration and energy.

Contemplate: Spend some time alone and contemplate. A few moments of seclusion can help you get clarity in thinking.

Here are some facts about retaining recharge at work place:

Life is like a game and an individual has to play with work, family, health, friends and spirit. Work is like a rubber ball. If dropped it will bounce back but the other four aspects family, health, friends and spirit are made of glass. Assuming one of these are dropped they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged, or even shattered. They will never be the same. One must understand that and strive for balance in life.

However, it is the organization that needs to take an initiative to help the employees. Today, an employee is not looking at their employer just a job but they want the company to care for their work life balance and their well being. If a company addresses these needs, in addition to providing great career opportunities, they can be very successful in providing job satisfaction to the employee.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Handling Grievances

Hammering out a labor agreement is not the last step in collective bargaining. No labor contract can cover all contingencies and answer all questions. For example, suppose the contract says you can only discharge an employee for “just cause.” You subsequently discharge someone for speaking back to you in harsh terms. Was it within rights to discharge this person? Was speaking back to you harshly “just cause”?

The labor contract’s grievance procedure usually handles problems like these. This procedure provides an orderly system whereby both employer and union determine whether some action violated the contract. It is the vehicle for administering the contract on a day-to-day basis. The grievance process allows both parties into a “living organism”. Remember though that this day-to-day collective bargaining involves interpretation only; it usually doesn’t involve new terms or altering existing ones.

Sources of grievances:

From a practical point of view, it is probably easier to list those items that don’t precipitate grievances than to list the ones that do. Employees may use just about any factor involving wages, hours, or conditions of employment as the base of a grievance.

However, certain grievances are more serious, since they’re usually more difficult to settle. Discipline cases and seniority problems including promotions, transfers, and layoffs would top this list. Others would include grievances growing out of job evaluations and work assignments, overtime, vacations, incentive plans, and holidays. Here are four examples of grievances:

Absenteeism: An employer fired an employee for excessive absences. The employee filed a grievance stating that there had been no previous warnings or discipline to excessive absences.
Insubordination: An employee on two occasions refused to obey a supervisor’s order to meet with him, unless a union representative was present at the meeting. As a result, the employee was discharged and subsequently filed a grievance protesting the discharge.

Overtime: The employer discontinued Sunday overtime work after a department was split. Employees affected filed a grievance protesting loss of the overtime work.

Plant rules: The plant had a posted rule barring employees from eating or drinking during unscheduled breaks. The employees filed a grievance claiming the rule was arbitrary.

A grievance is often a symptom of an underlying problem. Sometime, bad relationships between supervisors and subordinates are to blame: This is often the cause of grievances over “fair treatment”, for instance. Organizational factors such as automated jobs or ambiguous job description that frustrate or aggravate employees also cause grievances. Union activism is another; the union may solicit grievances from workers to underscore ineffective supervision. Problem employees are yet another underlying cause of grievances. These are individuals, who, by their nature are negative, dissatisfied and prone to complaints. Discipline and dismissal are also both major sources of grievances.

The Grievance Procedure:

Most collective bargaining contracts contain a very specific grievance procedure. It lists the various steps in the procedure, time limits associated with each step, and specific rules such as “all charges of contract violation must be reduced to writing. Virtually every labor agreement signed today contains a grievance procedure clause. Non-unionized employers need such procedures.

Union grievances procedures differ from firm to firm. Some contain simple, two step procedures. Here the grievant, union representative and company representative meet to discuss the grievance. If they don’t find a satisfactory solution, the grievance is brought before an independent, third party arbitrator, who hears the case, writes it up, and makes a decision.

At the other extreme, the grievance procedure may contain six or more steps. The first step might be for the grievant and shop steward to meet informally with the grievant’s supervisor too, and there’s a meeting with the employee, shop steward, and the supervisor’s boss. The next steps involve the grievant and union representatives meeting with higher level managers. Finally, if top management and the union can’t reach agreement, the grievance may go to arbitration.

Sometimes the grievance process gets out of hand. For example, in the first half of 2001, members of American Postal Workers Union, Local 482, filed 1,800 grievances at the Postal Service’s Roanoke mail processing facility (the usual rate is about 800 grievances per year). The employees apparently were responding to job changes, including transfers triggered by the postal service’s effort to further automate its processes.
Source: CiteHR

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Staying Late in the Office

Narayana Murthy's views on staying late in the office. It's half past 8 in the office, but the lights are still on... PCs still running, coffee machines still buzzing... and who's at work? Most of them??? Take a closer look...

All or most specimens are ??-something male species of the human race... Look closer... again all or most of them are bachelors... and why are they sitting late? Working hard? No way!!! Any guesses???

Let's ask one of them... Here's what he says.... "What's there 2 do after going home... here we get to surf, AC, phone, food, coffee.. that is why I am working late... importantly no bossssssss!!!!!!!!!!!

This is the scene in most research centers and software companies and other off-shore offices. Bachelors "time-passing" during late hours in the office just bcoz they say they've nothing else to do...

Now what r the consequences... read on... "Working"(for the record only) late hours soon becomes part of the institute or company culture. With bosses more than eager to provide support to those "working" late in the form of taxi vouchers, food vouchers and of course good feedback,(oh, he's a hard worker... goes home only to change..!!).

They aren't helping things too... To hell with bosses who don't understand the difference between "sitting" late and "working" late!!! Very soon, the boss start expecting all employees to put in extra working hours.

So, My dear Bachelors let me tell you, life changes when u get married and start having a family... office is no longer a priority, family is... and that's when the problem starts... becoz u start having commitments at home too. For your boss, the earlier "hardworking" guy suddenly seems to become a "early leaver" even if u leave an hour after regular time... after doing the same amount of work.

People leaving on time after doing their tasks for the day are labeled as work-shirkers... Girls who thankfully always (its changing nowadays... though) leave on time are labeled as "not up to it". All the while, the bachelors pat their own backs and carry on "working" not realizing that they r spoiling the work culture at their own place and never realize that they would have to regret at one point of time.

* So what's the moral of the story?? *

* Very clear, LEAVE ON TIME!!!

* Never put in extra time " *unless really needed *"

* Don't stay back un-necessarily and spoil your company work culture which will in turn cause inconvenience to you and your colleagues.

There are hundred other things to do in the evening.. Learn music... Learn a foreign language... try a sport... TT, cricket......... importantly Get a girl friend or gal friend, take him/her around town... And for heaven's sake net cafe rates have dropped to an all-time low (plus, no fire-walls) and try cooking for a change.

Take a tip from the Smirnoff ad: *"Life's calling, where are you??"*

Please pass on this message to all those colleagues And please do it before leaving time, don't stay back till midnight to forward this!!!


Downsizings and Mergers

Firm’s often use downsizing – reducing, usually dramatically, the number of people the firm employs to better their financial position. Yet many firms discover operating earnings don’t rise after major cuts. Low morale among those remaining may be part of the problem.

From a practical point of view, firms can take steps to reduce the remaining employees’ uncertainty and to boost their morale. A post-downsizing program at Duracell, Inc., (now part of Dow), illustrates what you can do. The program had post-downsizing announcement activities, including a full staff meeting at the facility; immediate follow up in which remaining employees were split into groups with senior managers to express their concerns and have their questions answered; and long term support, for instance by encouraging supervisors to meet with employees frequently and informally to encourage an open door atmosphere. Other companies, such as the Diners Club subsidiary of Citigroup used attitude surveys to help management monitor how post-downsizing effort are progressing.

Regardless of why you’re downsizing, think through the process, both to avoid unnecessary consequences and to ensure the process is fair. Here are some guidelines for implementing a reduction in force.

Identify objectives and constraints: For example, decide how many positions to eliminate at which locations, and what criteria to use to pinpoint the employees to whom you’ll offer voluntary exit incentives.

Form a downsizing team: This management team should prepare a communication strategy for explaining the downsizing; establish hiring and promotion levels; produce a downsizing schedule; and supervise the displaced employees’ benefit programs.

Address legal issues: You’ll want to ensure that others won’t view downsizing as a subterfuge to lay off protected classes of employees. Therefore, review factors such as age, race, and gender before finalizing and communicating any dismissals.

Plan post-implementation actions: Activities such as surveys and explanatory meetings can help maintain morale. Similarly, some suggest a hiring freeze of at least six months after the layoffs have taken effect.

Dress security concerns: As with any large layoffs, it may be wise to have security personnel in place in case there’s a problem from one or two employees and to follow the dismissal checklist discussed earlier.

Downsizings needn’t necessarily suggest the horror stories the press occasionally characterizes them as. Information sharing in terms of providing advanced notice regarding the layoff, and interpersonal sensitivity in terms of the manager’s demeanor during lay-offs can both help cushion the otherwise negative effects.

One lawyer contends that when employees seek out lawyers after layoffs it’s often because they’re unhappy with the layoff was achieved. The people who will actually be announcing the downsizing and dealing with the employees need to be able to explain factually what is happening and what the employees’ rights are, and must limit their comments to what is true.

In terms of dismissal, mergers and acquisitions are usually one-sided. One company essentially acquires the other, and it is often the employees of the latter who find themselves looking for new jobs. In such a situation, the remaining employees in the acquired firm may be hypersensitive to mistreatment of their colleagues. Seeing your former colleagues fired is bad enough for morale. Seeing them fired under conditions that smack of unfairness poisons the relationship. As a rule, therefore:

1. Avoid the appearance of power and domination
2. Avoid win-lose behavior
3. Remain businesslike and professional in all dealings
4. Maintain as positive a feeling about the acquired company as possible
5. Remember that the degree to which your organization treats the acquired group with care and dignity will affect the confidence, productivity, and commitment of those who remain.

Resolving conflicts at work

Conflicts are inevitable between people at any time but the ones at work place can have a negative effect on ones performance and health. Handling work conflict can take its toll on most of us. There are some better ways to cope up with such negative effects or conflicts themselves. Here we are trying to outline the ways and means of not only dealing with conflicts but also approaches to avoid them as much as possible.

Conflicts at workplace are often a common concern for managers and seniors. The manager’s job is not only to allocate work and give guidance but also to make the team work as a close unit.
To be able to avoid conflicts in the team, it is advisable to have pre-meetings with team members:

1. Speak with each member about project objectives, deadlines etc.
2. The roles of each team members and the leader of the team through specific phases of the project need to be clearly defined.

In case conflicts arise a manager need to find out,

1. need to be quick to find out the details from his team.
2. need to then take an action immediately.
This is not the time to comfort troubled subordinates, nor is it appropriate to threaten them. A middle ground would prove to be the best bet for an objective fact-finding mission.
3. Schedule a one-on-one meeting with the troubled employee; begin by outlining the problem with clear, detailed facts ad examples.
4. Refer to previously documented objectives, illustrating how the current issue is specifically impacting those goals.
5. Find out if there are any barriers coming in the way of work. Try to remove them through training, intervention with other department, or by a re-evaluation of priorities based on the needs of the group.
There is a proper time to interfere in the event of a conflict. Before a manager says anything, it’s important to find out whether his involvement would help or hinder the situation. Stepping in to intervene between colleagues who are at odds with each other can be a touchy issue. Keep the following tips in mind:

A manager must make sure to come across as someone who is unbiased and open. He also needs to be a good listener and a creative problem solver. Above all, he must be trustworthy in the eyes of his team mates and discreet. Whether or not he can diffuse the conflict has a lot to do with how he is perceived by the two parties involved in the conflict. It would prove to be an advantage if the manager has the respect of the people involved.

Managing the conflict or differences is best done by understanding the conflict style because conflict can also be healthy and creative. The best thing is to handle it constructively.

Conflicts may arise between you and your boss, friend or partner or in people working with each other in close proximity for a long time and is common especially amongst those having the same goals but who disagree on the means of by which they can be achieved. Even a minor conflict can create tension, so it is important to know the root cause of it because often its magnitude is hugely out of proportion to the disagreement that caused it while sometimes the problem seems trivial but actually there may be some thing deep-rooted.

Today, work stress is a major problem that afflicts people. Basically, any argument can result in anger, anxiety and stress. These can then reflect upon overall health, giving rise to high blood pressure, headache or even depression. The sooner the differences are resolved the better. If one is not able to control his anger then h should seek the help through counseling.

When a disagreement occurs then one should not over react. If so then the ‘opponent’ will never consider the other person’s viewpoint. By not over reacting at least you will find some consideration from the opponent. There are people who can manage their differences well. Everybody can do it but for that one needs to understand the conflict style. If one is able to do this then it helps one to act differently as suggested by expert psychologists.

Recognize, which style you belong to and try and change. Conflict in work relationship is natural. Communication and compromise is the key here. Accusations are a big ‘no’. Do not let conflicts go out of hand.

The worker as a Resource

If we look at the worker as a resource, comparable to all other resources but for the fact that it is human, we have to find out how best to utilize him in the same way in which we look at copper or at water power as specific resources. This is an engineering approach. It considers what the human being is best and least capable of. Its result will be the organization of work so as to fit best the qualities and the limitations of this specific resource, the human being at work. And the human being has one set of qualities possessed by no other resource: It has ability to co-ordinate, to integrate to judge and to imagine. In fact, this is its only specific superiority; in every other respect whether it be physical strength, manual skill or sensory perception machines can do much better job.

But we must also consider man at work as a human being. We must, in other words, also put the emphasis on “human.” This approach focuses on man as a moral and a social creature, and asks how work should be organized to fit qualities as a person. As a resource man can be “utilized”. A person however, can only utilize himself. This is the great and ultimate distinction.

The qualities of the person are specific and unique. The human being, unlike any other resource, has absolute control over whether he works at all. Dictatorships tend to forget this; but shooting people does not get the work done. The human resource must therefore always be motivated to work.

Nothing brought this out better than the reports of the teams of European technicians and managers who came to this country under the Marshall Plan to study the causes of American productivity. These teams and there wee several hundred expected to find the causes in machines, tools or techniques, but soon found out that these elements have little to do with our productivity are indeed in themselves a result of the real cause: the basic attitudes of managers and worker. Productivity is an attitude was their unanimous conclusion. In other words, it is workers’ motivation that controls workers’ output.

This is particularly in industry today. For fear, the traditional motivation of the industrial worker has largely disappeared in the modern west. To eliminate it has been the main result of the increased wealth produced by industrialization. In a society rich enough to provide subsistence even to the unemployed, fear has lost its motivating power. And to deprive management of the weapon of fear has also been the main aim of unionism; indeed, the workers’ rebellion against these weapons and its use is among the main driving forces behind the union movement.

That fear has gone as the major motivation on is all to the good. It is too potent to be relied upon except for emergencies Above all we used the wrong kind of fear. Fear of a threat to the community unities; there is no greater stymies to effort than the common peril. But fear of someone within the community divides and corrodes. It corrupts both him who uses fear and him who fear. That we have got rid of fear as motivation to work so therefore a major achievement. Otherwise managing the worker in industrial society would not be possible.

But, contrary to what some human relations experts assert, to remove fear does not by itself motivate. All it creates is a vacuum. We cannot sit back and expect worker motivation to arise spontaneously, now that fear is gone. We must create a positive motivation to take its place. This is one of the central, one of the most difficult, one of the urgent facing management.

The human being also has control over how well he works and how much he works, over the quality and quantity of production. He participates in the process actively unlike all other resources which participate only passively by giving preconditioned response to a predetermined impulse.

In the most completely machine paced operation, the speed and quality of which appear to be completely determined by the machine, the worker still retains decisive control. It may be almost impossible to find out how he manages to beat the machine; but as the old Latin proverb has it, human nature asserts itself even if thrown out with a pitchfork or with a conveyor belt. And in any operation which is not the tending of semi-automatic machinery by semi-skilled operators, that is, in all work of a clerical, skilled, ethnical, professional or managerial nature, this control is practically absolute.

Ethical Behavior at work

Whether or not a person acts ethically at work is usually not a result of any one thing. For example, it’s not just the employee’s ethical tendencies, since even ethical employees can have their action influenced by organizational factors. So, the manager’s first task is to understand what shapes ethical behavior and then to take concrete steps to ensure that employees make ethical choices. Let’s look first at the factors that shape ethical behavior.

Individual Factors:

Because people bring to their jobs their own ideas of what is morally right and wrong, the individual must shoulder much of the credit (or blame) for the ethical choices he or she makes. One survey of CEOs of manufacturing firms explored their intention to engage (or to not engage) in two questionable business practices: soliciting a competitor’s technological secrets and making payments to foreign government officials to secure business. The researchers conclude that personal predispositions more strongly affected decisions than did environmental pressures organizational characteristics.

In any case, honesty testing shows that some people are more inclined toward making the wrong ethical choice. How could you rate your own ethics?
Organizational Factors :

WorldCom’s former CFO, pleaded guilty to helping the firm’s former chairman in masking WorldCom’s deteriorating financial situation. Among other things, the government accused him of instructing underlings to fraudulently book accounting entries, and of filing false statements with the SEC. Why, as a star CFO and someone trained to protect the interests of his shareholders, would the CFO do such thing? The CFO said that he took these actions, knowing they were wrong, in a misguided attempt to preserve the company to allow it to withstand what the CFO believed were temporary financial difficulties.

The scary thing about unethical behavior at work is that it’s usually not driven by personal interest. The results of one survey of the principal causes of ethical lapses, as reported by six levels of employees and managers. As you can see, being under the gun to meet scheduling pressures was the number-one factor in causing ethical lapses or most of these employees meeting overly aggressive financial or business objectives and helping the company survive were the two other top causes. Advancing my own career or financial interests ranked toward the bottom of the list. Thus at least in the case most ethical occurred because employees felt pressured to do what they thought was best to help their companies. Several years ago, three former CUC International executives pleaded guilty to federal charges. Authorities then called it the largest and longest accounting fraud in history. The former executive said they had done it to keep the price of the company stock high.

Having rules of the books forbidding this sort of thing does not, by itself seem to work. For example, in 2002 New York’s attorney general filed charges against Merrill Lynch, alleging that several of its analysts had issued optimistic rating on stocks, while privately expressing concerns about those same stocks. The allegations was that they did so (in violation of company rules) to aid and support Merrill Lynch’s investment banking relationships with these companies.

The boss’s Influence:

The boss sets the tone, and by his or her actions sends signals about what is right or wrong. Coring to one report for instance, the level of misconduct at work dropped dramatically when employees said their supervisors exhibited ethical behavior. Only 25% of employees who agreed that their supervisors set a good example of ethical business behavior, said that they had observed his conduct in the last year, compared with 72% of these who did not feel that their supervisors set good ethical examples.

A study by the America Society of Chartered life Underwriters found that 56% of all workers felt some pressure to act unethically or illegally and that the problem seems to be getting worse. Here are examples of how supervisors knowingly (or unknowingly) lead subordinates astray:

1.Tell staffers to do whatever is necessary to achieve results.
2.Over load top performers to ensure that work gets done.
3.Look the other way when wrongdoing occurs
4.Take credit for others work or shift blame.



Recently, a leading MNC in the country decided to lay off more than 500 of their employees from different verticals on grounds of poor performance. The organisation believed that they had given these 500 and more employees a chance to redeem themselves but all efforts seemed to have gone in vain as they showed little or no signs of improvement and were hence asked to put in their papers, voluntarily. Though, in the past, this practice was exercised by organisations occasionally, only in times of dire crisis; in today’s corporate scenario, there are quite a few number of organisations laying off people especially in bulk. There are such times in every organisation when they need to make a decision as to who has to be retained and who has to be let off, especially during situations like mergers and acquisitions, bankruptcy, poor performance, crisis etc. But today, there are ways through which organisations can help their employees under such circumstances by showing a little empathy, concern and a whole lot of counselling.


Though not an easy time in an organisation, such situations are known to arise when the employees least expect. Shiv Agarwal, CEO, ABC Consultants says that such situations can be planned or unplanned and the organisation has to be ready to face the grind. "The most common reason for an unplanned reactive move is a severe economic crisis – if the company faces a sudden financial slump, either in the country it is operating in or elsewhere. In the case of a planned layoff, the employees should be given adequate warning so that they can make alternate provisions. Their economic interest must also be looked after," he explains.

Once in the face of the situation, there is not much one can do to change anything. However, organisations have to be prepared in their own way and be ready with a plan of action to handle the situation. Experts say that having a plan of sorts can help them to break the news to the employees. "Before letting any of the employees off, no matter how large the employee base, the news has to be communicated to the 'laid off employees' and the reason too of doing so. Every employee needs to be told that they are being let off because the situation has called for it," expresses Sampat Shetty, VP, TeamLease Services Pvt. Ltd.

Vishal Khanna, Head, Management Development, Ceat Ltd. further explains, "There needs to be a strategically appointed committee involving people from all the affected functions for communicating such matters as HR alone may not be the only equipped function to break the news."


Experts say that while letting off people, it is the HR department that plays a very crucial role. It is at this time when they can help the heads of the department to evaluate and figure out who has to be let off and who can be retained. Agarwal explains, "The HR department should address the situation in a dignified and controlled manner. There are companies giving a few hours notice for its employees to pack up and leave. It is a very sensitive matter and therefore the process becomes tough and painful. There have been cases where the HR has handled the whole situation very badly and it has only showed lack of maturity and insensitiveness on the part of the company. At times like these, it is necessary that HR should announce layoffs in advance, giving their stockholders, employees and other participants advance notice."

Khanna says that HR's main role is to is to carefully and sensitively manage the decision making process, the communication process and the culture before, during and after the retrenchment as there is going to be a great sense of job insecurity and how the process is handled will define the future of the organisation and its employer brand in the market."


Laying off people is not an easy task, however in the end it has to be done. But experts today also emphasise that there are various ways through which they can help the employees in getting things back in order. "Companies usually say that bulk layoffs are done because the employees were not performing. This is done to avoid legal hassles etc. However, they could be a little more upfront and call it a kind of an ‘austerity measure' rather than putting the blame on the employees. Further, companies can hire counsellors to address the grievances of ‘to-be laid off’ employees and advise them on the prospects of employment. Professional consultants who address them are expected to take a positive stand. They collect the CVs and assure them of jobs elsewhere in the industry," explains Agarwal. Shetty adds that organisations can help these 'laid off' employees by giving them a second chance within the organisation. He explains, "These employees should be the first choice of employment in case an opening within the organisation opens up.” Another alternative that Khanna suggests is that some of these employees can be re-skilled or be put up in different roles and can be hired as per the work requirement. "The organisation can also provide them with positive service certificates and reference certificates to facilitate their employment search," he adds.

Agarwal further adds, "Companies should provide career counselling. Further, the job market leans heavily on referrals."

In the end, when employees have to be laid off, there is nothing much one can do about it. However, the organisation can help in their own way and keep in mind that when the time comes to hire someone new, they will think of their exemployees first.

Reference: Ramiya Bhas (TOI)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Organisational Policy & Procedures

Every voluntary/non-profit organization with employees develop human resources policies and procedures. They reflect the organization's values and need to be regularly reviewed and updated.

A POLICY is a formal statement of a principle or rule that members of an organization must follow. Each policy addresses an issue important to the organization's mission or operations.

A PROCEDURE tells members of the organization how to carry out or implement a policy . Policy is the "what" and the procedure is the "how to."

Policies are written as statements or rules. Procedures are written as instructions, in logical, numbered steps.

Policies often have a related procedure, which may be a section of the policy or a separate document that the policy refers to. The procedure gives numbered, step-by-step instructions for carrying out the policy.

Example: A vacation policy would say how much vacation employees are allowed. A related procedure would tell employees how to schedule their vacation time and get approval.
HR generalists are the "Jack of all trades", they are the 'relationship managers' of HR, constantly talking to business leaders and employees. Their focus is to gather feedback on the HR processes and to listen to the needs of the business and employees that is not getting addressed.

Monday, February 18, 2008

India's secret resource: Managerial skills

ONE of the best-kept secrets of India’s outstanding success in the IT area is the vital role of its management skills. Much has been written about the extraordinary technology talent of our human resource base, as also its magnitude. In fact, while we in India are acutely aware of the serious shortcomings in our education system, most people abroad are overawed by its sheer size and the growing reputation of institutions like the IITs. India’s globally pre-eminent position in IT off-shoring is generally attributed to the capabilities and motivation of its young software professionals, with low costs being only an additional or supplementary factor. Other success stories — from the Space and nuclear programmes to the Tata Nano — are also seen as the result of the country’s technological prowess. Yet, none of these could have been realised without exceptional managerial capability.

The little-publicised Indian Space programme has been phenomenally successful. The record of perfect launches of the work-horse PSLV launcher is the envy of other countries, as are India’s applications-orientated satellites. The design, production, testing and actual launch are all extremely complex tasks, involving dozens of companies, multiple locations, thousands of components and hundreds of technologists from a variety of disciplines. The organising and co-ordination of this is obviously no mean task, especially when it has to be done within specified — and tight — cost and time outlays. To do this within the framework of government rules and procedures requires organisational and management skills of the highest calibre.

The low-cost car from the Tata stable, the Nano, evoked great international interest about its design, materials and manufacturing. Its design and concept have already won much acclaim, even before its formal release. Yet, as much as the design, its success — even prior to hitting the road — is due to excellent management, which pulled together expertise and resources to create the unique automobile.

On a larger scale is the case of the Indian IT software and services industry. It has evolved from being merely cheaper to also being better (with its emphasis on complying with the highest quality standard), and faster in delivery. Each of these stages has had its own managerial challenges. Further, the success of the cheaper-betterquicker mantra has led to very rapid growth; handling such growth has itself required great managerial skills. For example, the IT-BPO industry is expected to recruit about 400,000 people this year, with the bigger companies each adding tens of thousands of employees. The tasks of screening, selection, training and retention/motivation of such a massive number of new recruits is a managerial task of considerable complexity. There is also the challenge of retaining the organisation’s core values and culture, when about a third of the employees are new recruits. Managing a global work force is another facet that, though new, is being well handled.

Over the years, IT services and BPO sectors have evolved, adding more complex and mission-critical tasks. Product development and IP creation has grown, and new segments — like engineering services, remote infrastructure management, animation and gaming — have emerged. The evolution of the industry, in a very short period of time, and integrating a variety of professionals — researchers and creative people, for example — has required dexterous management.

Handling the recession and the back-lash against out-sourcing in the US a few years ago, creating a large-scale BPO sector, converting an economic slowdown in major markets into a growth opportunity for outsourcing: these were possible only because of nimble and resilient management.

India’s mobile telephony sector presents another instance of excellent management. The phenomenal growth of this industry has necessitated high quality management. While the challenges of growth are similar to those confronting the IT sector, a major difference is that the service providers in telecom have to deal directly with tens of millions of customers, and very widely dispersed operations. Simultaneously maintaining good service, growth and profitability, while tariffs are amongst the lowest in the world, is something that could not have been done without first-rate management.

India’s exceptional capabilities in management are, however, not limited to the high-tech or knowledgeeconomy sector. Reliance has provided proof of these skills in the execution of its large refinery and related infrastructure in Jamnagar. By all accounts, the whole project was executed at far lower cost and in much shorter duration than comparable projects anywhere in the world. At the broader level, Indian managers are now winning praise globally and are much in demand in organisations around the world. The IIMs are beginning to be as well-known as the IITs. Yet, such recognition is largely restricted to a few stars: barring a limited cognoscenti, the capability of Indian management is, as stated at the outset, yet a well-kept secret.

Amongst those who have not yet fully recognised the importance and potential of India’s managerial skills is the government. Organisations and programmes continue to be run by bureaucrats (rather than professional managers) and as bureaucratic operations. Where there are exceptions, the results are immediately visible — the Delhi Metro is a good example.

Areas like health, education, rural employment and slum development are hugely under (if not mis-) managed. Critical programmes like rural roads and highways are faltering (in both, the achievement so far is hardly 30% of the year’s target). Despite our rapid economic progress, health indicators continue to be shameful — amongst the worst in the world — and acute shortages of power are endemic. Many of the problems are attributable to poor management. There is an urgent need to find appropriate ways of tapping private-sector managerial talent for public purposes. This may need the creation of special organisation structures with implementation leveraged through financial allocations. Inclusion of this, in some form, in the Union budget would be a good start.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Concept of Golden Boot

Basically the Golden boot procedures are applied in those companies where the work force is aged and company plans to introduce new blood into the company. This is possible only when there are vacancies in the company.

Now giving lucrative incentives to oldage people safely allow company to create new vacancies without arising any law obligations out of labor laws .

This practice is also applied when a company opt for restructuring for becoming more competitive or as a result of acquisition or merger.

Companies which are cutting their workforce also apply this policy, however this factor is not most dominating in this case.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Tactical side of Talent Recruitment

Talent Recruitment is the backbone of any professional organization. The tactical side of recruiting becomes ridiculously efficient with intuitive automation and unique features like Event Scheduler and eOffer that leave you with more time to deliver game-changing talent. There are few steps that need to be sophisticatedly applied in the recruitment cycle.

Broadcast a head-turning employment brand and create a no-hassle candidate experience with unlimited, audience-specific career portals and employee referral programs.
Eliminate the needle in a haystack feeling for your recruiters and candidates. Candidates describe their dream job and internal HR software should automatically match them to open requisitions that most closely match their interests and skills.
Focus your resources on the right candidates with integrated assessments, background checks, references and pre-screening tools.
Eliminate endless email chains and instantly connect candidates with the right hiring manager. Different Questionnaires support the interview panel with job-specific interview questions and real-time scheduling.
Electronic Offer
Seal the deal faster with eOffers, complete with electronic signature acceptance of employment terms, including preconfigured compensation and benefit packages.
Complete new hire paperwork electronically to help ensure compliance while on- boarding kicks into high gear.
Welcome new hires into the organization and provide them with the knowledge, tools and information to be productive from day one.
Support leaders with key data, analysis and insights into bench strength, recruitment efficiency, quality of talent and compliance vulnerability.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership

By: John Maxwell
Law of the Lid: Leadership ability determines a person’s level of effectiveness.
Law of Influence: The true measure of leadership is influence. Nothing more nothing less
Law of process: Leadership develops daily, not in a day.
Law of Navigation: Anyone can steer the ship, but it takes a leader to chart the course.
Law of H.F.Hutton: When the real leader speaks, people listen.
Law of Solid Ground: Trust is the foundation of leadership.
Law of Respect: People naturally follow leaders stronger than themselves.
Law of Intuition: Leaders evaluate everything with leadership bias.
Law of Magnetism: Who you are is who you attract.
Law of Connection: Leaders touch the heart before they ask for a hand.
Law of Inner Circle: A leader’s potential is determined by those closest to him.
Law of Empowerment: Only secure leaders give power to others.
Law of Reproduction: It takes a leader to raise up a leader.
Law of Buy in: People buy into the leader then the vision.
Law of Victor: Leaders find a way for the team to win.
Law of the big MO: Momentum is a leader’s best friend.
Law of Priorities: Leaders understand that activity is not necessarily accomplishment.
Law of Sacrifice: Must give up to go up.
Law of Timing: When to lead is as important as what to do and where to do.
Law of Explosive Growth: To add growth lead followers. To multiply lead leaders.
Law of Legacy: A leader’s lasting value is measured by succession.

HR generalist is first point of communication

HR generalist seldom does any design and development of HR processes and systems. That is the job of the specialists in HR, like Compensation, Recruitment, Training & Learning and Systems.

Because the HR generalist is first point of communication with the employees and business unit leaders they are the people who get to know the "bugs" in the various processes. In fact, the difference in the specialists and generalists is usually the focus. The specialists focus on the universality of people needs across business units and locations. The generalists tend to focus on the specifics of the business they look after and the exceptions.

Yes the head of HR role is a generalist role too. So if you aspire to be a VP of HR then you would be spending a large part of your career as a generalist :-)

The definition varies depending on the industry and organization

Career Plateau

It is a stage in the career of a person where the possibilities of his further growth are either blocked or minimized due to a set of various reason. The main reason being the policy of vacancy based promotion in the hierarchy, no matter how good you perform or how skilled you are, you will not promoted until there is a vacancy.

This is the situation mostly in the PSus where career developments are based on vacancy.

Other reasons being your knowledge saturation, health grounds , not able to handle latest tech. etc......

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

3 Components Of Motivation


Motivation is derived from a Latin word 'movere'. It is a process that starts with the physiological or psychological deficiency or need that activates a behavior or drive that is aimed at a goal or incentive.

There are 3 components of motivation:

1) Needs: They are created when there is a physiological and psychological deprivation.

2) Drive: also called a 'Motive', this is created by a deficiency with direction.

3) Incentives or Goal: Anything that elivates a need and reduces a drive is termed as incentive.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Barriers to Goal Setting and Execution

Listed here are 10 Barriers to setting - and executing organizational goals:

1.Lack of clear-cut responsibilities around the goals
2.Lack of a tracking system
3.Lack of an accountability system
4.Lack of commitment
5.Lack of buy-in from people who are expected to fulfill the goals
6.Ineffective communication
7.Lack of time or resources
8.Too many goals are financially driven
9.Focusing on too many or too few goals
10.Goals aren't tied to a longer-term vision

BOTTOMLINE: Get agreement on the appropriate goals for your organization. Write them down. Keep them close by. Get buy in and alignment from those executing the goals. Make them realistic and attainable.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Next Generation HR

What is next-generation HR?

Hewitt conducted a research on the future of HR interviewing over 50 academicians and HR chiefs of global organisations, people like management expert Peter Capelli from Wharton, Ed Lawler from the University of Southern California, Jeff Pfeffer of Stanford University and Dave Ulrich from the University of Michigan.

We also interviewed the HR heads of companies like American Express, IBM, Starbucks and Capital One. The conclusion we arrived at was that HR has to be linked to business outcomes. It has to move from a vertical-oriented strategy — recruiting, learning and compensation & benefits — to end-to-end processes like talent supply, leadership & key talent capabilities and high performance that cut across verticals.

HR has to be made accountable to deliver business solutions. The difference in this approach is the move from process mentality to functional mentality. A good example is, Cisco Systems which disbanded the recruiting function altogether as each business was doing recruitments on its own. It then appointed its senior supply chain executive in charge of the talent supply process.

The talent supply process, as opposed to the vertical functions, includes taking care of various stages from workforce planning to candidate sourcing to assessment and selection, on boarding & orientation and first year performance. It’s very important to avoid a linear growth model where revenue increase is attained by a similar growth in headcount.

What is driving this shift?
The challenge of talent shortage is the driving force behind this shift. HR is less of an art but more of a science. Look at various data points about people and connect it to the business performance. For instance, in case of a retailer, look at the high-performance stores and find out what HR practices distinguish those from the others like where are the people being sourced from.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Motivating Employees In The Changing Business Environment

In the past, business and workers had an unspoken, but very real, agreement.

Business said to the worker, “If you will sacrifice your mind, body, and spirit for the good of the corporation—or at least to what your managers say is for the good of the corporation—then we will keep faith in you. We will provide you with a sizable measure of job security and predictability and we will seek to provide you with a steadily improving standard of living.” Motivating employees was relatively straightforward, although seldom easy. It was a matter of a simple exchange, the employee’s loyalty and commitment in return for job security.

In the new economy, the days of lifetime jobs and simple commitments are over. Employers readily announce layoffs. Employees just as readily leave for better offers. In an ironic twist, the new-economy knowledge organization proclaims people to be its most important asset then treats them like they are disposable. Balancing the corporation’s need for flexibility with employee demands for respect and fair treatment is becoming increasingly difficult, and effective management of human resources is critical. How do you motivate your people to higher and higher levels of performance when all of the rules have changed? How do you motivate your employees when the simple exchange of the past isn’t simple any longer?

Last year, a project was designed identifying the best ideas shared by top management thinkers about workplace best practices to deal with a changing environment. And, in the 21st century, continual change will become the norm. Here are four practices most management experts feel are essential for getting the best performance from employees. These practices all focus on motivation.

1: Provide Meaning and Purpose in Work
Employees need to have a reason for their organization’s existence that extends beyond the stock price, next month's sales, and year-end profits. Companies must have a product, a mission, or simply a vision of the industry that employees find exciting and energizing. These employees may not be with you for the long term but, while they are part of your workforce, they want to accomplish something worthwhile.

Merck is a good example of a company that provides such a purpose. This pharmaceutical manufacturer promotes itself as a company that puts people before profits and backs up that commitment with action such as putting a below-market price on its anti-AIDS drug and giving away medicine to developing countries. Maybe that's why in a recent survey, 97 percent of Merck’s employees said they were proud to work for the company and 86 percent said they thought their work had special meaning. Merck demonstrates a higher purpose than profits.

2: Be Work/Life Friendly
Offer your employees a range of benefits such as flextime, compressed workweeks, telecommuting, job sharing, on-site childcare, banking and dry cleaning. More importantly, it means working with employees in a genuine effort to be flexible. The best companies today recognize that employees have lives outside the workplace and that they can no longer neatly separate work and family, career and the rest of life. These companies don't just help employees manage their lives outside of work; they allow employees to bring their life into their work.

3: Share the Rewards
In our knowledge economy, time is becoming increasingly disconnected from value. The number of hours a person works today doesn't count except when these hours add delay or unnecessary expense, and then they count against the company and not for it. Today, value lies in the knowledge and skill which are applied to create, innovate, produce, service, entertain, and excite—not in hours expended. This change in perspective is leading best-practice companies to replace traditional compensation systems that tie base pay to hours, position and job content with compensation systems that tie base pay to skills and/or competencies, and to provide incentives tied to group and/or company performance rather than to individual performance. The latter practice usually consists of some combination of corporate-wide profit sharing and/or stock ownership or options coupled with gain-sharing and/or group incentives in major operating units. Employees today want to share in the financial rewards of what they produce, and they want to be compensated for the value they deliver, not the hours they invest.

4: Open the Books
If you really want to motivate your employees, you have to quit keeping secrets. You have to “open the books.” Two practices that are not typically found in most organizations are critical:
Business and Financial Education. You must make a concerted effort to educate your employees about the business. This usually involves mandatory training for everyone in the company.
Information Sharing. By definition, open-book management means just that—opening the books, sharing information, giving every employee access to the financial and operating data.

In the old workplace, few workers expected meaning and purpose from their work. At most, they hoped for a measure of job security and a slowly rising paycheck. Most workers assumed that they had to adjust their lives to their employer’s demands and could expect little, if any, accommodation in return. Work and one’s personal life were to be kept completely separate. An employee might occasionally get a small bonus, but it normally amounted to very little and was presented more as a gift from his employer than as an earned share. Finally, every company kept secrets. Only those with “a need to know” were allowed to know, and the prevailing wisdom was that most employees needed to know very little. Times really have changed. Employee expectations are certainly much different. You can’t motivate them any longer with the offer of a simple exchange—their commitment and loyalty in return for a job. Maybe that is why these four essentials are so essential.