Recent Trends in Human Resource Management

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Are Talent Leaders Only Using Half Their Resources?

Are Talent Leaders Only Using Half Their Resources?

Peter Weddle, CEO of HR and employment specialty publisher Weddle's LLC, said American workers - including talent managers - are struggling to achieve career success with half their brains tied behind their backs.

"Career success begins with a good understanding of who we are as individuals. Our characteristics, believes, principles, values, all of that you have to know before you can figure out what you're passionate about. The problem is that information doesn't come to us intuitively," Weddle explained. "We have to work at understanding what that unique person inside us is all about."

He said the challenge is that every person/worker has a preferred way of thinking about thinking about things. Creative people rely more on the right hemisphere of the brain and seldom use the left. Analytical people rely on the left hemisphere and seldom use the right. Thus, we end up only using half of our inherent talents.

His book, Recognizing Richard Rabbit: A Fable About Being True to Yourself, attempts to make it easier for the average worker to find out who he or she is, what he or she is trying to become and how to tap into inherent talents. Encouraging the reader to use creative energy to try and answer those questions, the book also offers a self-interview to explore the analytical side of the brain and reason through questions that may reveal what a person values, believes in and hopes to leave behind as a legacy at work.

Some of the questions include: Does the significance of doing something truly different influence how you feel about it? Are you affected by what you will have to accomplish in order to make a difficult change in your life? And can you really change the circumstances that affect your day?

The book's premise is based on research done by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi for his book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. Weddle said during the course of his research, which involved thousands of interviews with high- and low-profile workers, Csikszentmihalyi found that no matter what workers did or how long they'd been doing it, people often had optimal experiences when they were confronted with a meaningful challenge and then stretched to their limits and beyond to meet that challenge or accomplish a goal.

"The single greatest milieu in which that kind of goal stretching occurs is at work," Weddle said. "Recognize yourself in both dimensions of your life. Of course you want to be authentic in your personal or social relationships. You want to be authentic with your family and friends. If you do that, you experience an emotional state called joy. That's only half the story. If you're equally authentic and passionate about who you are, and you bring that person to work, you will experience a cognitive state called happiness.

"The bottom line is, be joyful, but be happy too. Don't forget that work is just as great an opportunity to express your own true self as the rest of your life is. HR people talk about work-life balance as if work has to be balanced with all the good things that happen in life. That's true, but it's also important to balance your life with all the good things that can happen at work.

"The fundamentals of our economy may be in trouble, but the fundamentals of our character are not," Weddle said. "This is the very moment when working strong is just as important as living strong. If you can do that in this environment, you can do that anytime. And that will serve you well for the rest of your working life."

[About the Author: Kellye Whitney is managing editor for Talent Management magazine.]

Sabbatical Saga - Best People Management

Sabbatical Saga - Best People Management

Taking time off or unpaid leave is now looked upon as a relief variation to the ongoing layoffs

Key Learnings:

Layoffs have become more of a norm today, and both the employers and employees are finding the entire process agonising

Sabbaticals and programmes like unpaid leave offer benefits to both the employer and the employees

The current economic slow turn has seen an increase in the number of employers opting to offer sabbaticals as opposed to layoffs

According to the website yoursabbatical. com, a sabbatical can be defined as "a planned job pause - paid or unpaid - whereby an individual takes time to rest, travel, volunteer, learn a new skill, or fulfill a lifelong dream before returning to work. Eligibility and benefits will also vary from company to company."

With so many layoffs happening, experts urge more and more organsiations to use sabbaticals as an easier alternative to 'distressing layoffs.'

Carol Sladek, a principal in Hewitt Associates' work/life consulting practice, says, "It's a longer-term solution than just saying, 'OK, today we're in trouble. We need to eliminate jobs.' Sabbatical is a good alternative- especially in an economic downturn."

Why sabbaticals?

Apart from doing away with layoffs, the benefits of offering sabbaticals are many. Employers look at it as one way of retaining their valued employees, re-engaging them, reduced turnover and no re-hiring costs. Despite the downturn, employers are optimistic of better days ahead. And keeping in mind this optimism, employers are in support of sabbaticals.

Sadly, many organisations are still unaware of all the benefits a sabbatical programme has in store. According to Hewitt Associates, 'only 4% of employers offer unpaid sabbaticals'. The primary reason for these dismal figures is the refusal to let go, whether it is leave or the employees. Also, many fear the loss of star performers. Will they ever return back or look for greener pastures?

To state, sabbaticals are an essential part of work/life balance and understandably helpful in the grim economy too. Hiring new set employees is financially precarious as the cost of replacing an employee is almost twice the salary. Given these restraints, employers are opting for unpaid time offs also known as sabbaticals. Sabbaticals initiate and promote 'cross training' amongst the rest of the employees. For instance, replacing the employee who has taken off implies that another employee assumes more responsibility and new learning of the job.

Sharon Klun, director of work/life initiative, Accenture, sabbaticals like the ones at her firm "could be a tool to help get companies through a bumpy economy."

Companies that offer sabbaticals

It is not surprising that most companies that offer sabbaticals have been featured on 'companies we want to work for', 'fortune 500 companies' and the 'best places to work for'.

Accenture has been one of the forerunners in espousing 'sabbaticals' as a great way to rejuvenate, reconnect and retain employees. With already a large number of work/life programmes in its kitty, Accenture came up with sabbaticals or unpaid leave after an employee survey revealed a massive appeal for the same. 'Future Leave' as the sabbatical programme is known at Accenture offers 'time off' that can extend up to three months and can be availed once in every three years.

The upshot of this programme is employees use this time off to learn new things, dedicate time to family, volunteer to help the needy or some even take a trip to the Himalayas. Rejuvenating is the key here. Since, the entire programme is unpaid for, the employees set aside some amount from their salaries every month. Once they have sufficient amount to fund their 'sabbatical' they take time off. The employees are enthusiastic about funding their sabbaticals. In addition to this, Accenture conducts 'personal engagement surveys' to comprehend how well these initiatives work in ensuring a fair and commendable existence.

At Deloitte, sabbaticals can be extended up to five years and during the unpaid leave period the employees have access to mentoring, small work projects and training at low costs. This is to ensure that the employees are not completely detached from the organisation. They believe that with these initiatives the "highly valued individuals, can re-enter the workforce and we would be at the top of their list to get them back, rather than leave the firm, get disconnected and not come back."

Sabbaticals, what it offers the employer and the employees'?

Let us list in short the benefits of a sabbatical to the organsiations:

1. Talent pool: Since the high performing employees stay on the payroll, the organisation retains talent, knowledge, expertise and also cuts re-hiring costs.
2. Attracts future talent: Organsiations with work/life balance initiatives are almost on every talented individual's wish list. Thus it helps in attracting potential talent.
3. Fulfilled workforce: The entire workforce is happy with such initiatives and the cross training involved is a learning process for employees.

4. Since it is seen as an alternate to layoffs employees, future employees and clients are happy. The repute of such organsiations are higher especially during tough times.
5. An encouraging workplace attracts and retains talents, commands greater credibility amongst clients and stakeholders and is seen as a whiff of fresh air in the market.

Sabbaticals for the employees:

1. Helps them rediscover themselves , relearn and paves way for deeper introspection

2. With this kind of awareness and refreshment, employees are better equipped mentally and physically to take on challenges at work once they resume work.

3. With sabbaticals, the commitment and loyalty of the employees towards the organsiations are deepened

The benefits of a sabbatical are manifold, from new passion for work, better creativity, and most importantly higher commitment of the workforce. Taking a sabbatical needn't be treated with trepidation; it is just another way to learn.

Kathie Lingle, Director of a global human resources association sums up the response to pressurising work environments as "Smart organisations are looking at how to keep people whole and sane with them."

Sabbaticals maybe the answer!

Reference: TheManageMentor.



History is full of people who were either blind to their faults and mistakes or refused to acknowledge them, and their pride was their down fall. How different things could have turned out if they would have been humble enough to admit when they were wrong.

What about you? Do you hide your mistakes? Or you take the courageous path of owning up to them? Believe me, most people will respect you more if you do. Sure, some people may rub it in or try to use your humbling for their own advantage, but that’s their problem and does indicate a weakness in your own character.

In the long run, character determines your worth. It’s not the easy successes that prove your mettle, but how you pick yourself up after a fall and try again. By acknowledging and going on in spite of your failures, you’ll also inspire others to not give up.

Failure is a step forward when you learn from it. Failure prepares the way for success by causing you to look hard at your plans and methods. If all those who had eventually succeeded at what they set out to do had stopped at the first failure, we’d still be back in the Stone Age! Aren’t you glad others took the advantage of their failures? Won’t you do the same?
Reference: Hari Nair

Friday, May 29, 2009

Organisational Change - HR Practices

Organisational Change - HR Practices

Best practices in managing organisational transformation.

Key learnings:
  • Organisational change aimed at improving work methods, productivity and business profits must be coherent
  • Enthusiastic leadership, flow of creativity and stability in procedure helps in reaching the goals

Jargons like organisational change and organisational transformation are often used theoretically and in management talk. The term organisational change is used in the context of companies that are undergoing or have just undergone a transformation.

However, organisational change management is not a 'one-month ordeal'. It is a process that involves rearticulating managerial, technical, financial and business aspects.

A McKinsey Quarterly online survey shows that only 38 percent of the global employees consider change as a positive effect on performance. And, 10 percent believe that most of such transformations are unproductive.

Change management

According to change management experts, two factors are critical for any transformation to click. One is vision or goal-the changes the company aspires to bring about. The second is sustainability. The sustainability factor refers to the unwavering energy, commitment and persuasiveness to reach the goal.

Defining the objective

A well-defined and comprehensive objective spells out the goal clearly for all the employees of the organisation. While different departments may have different approaches, the core aim of transformation remains unchanged. This distinctly clear system ensures an upbeat journey that promotes organisational health, participation of every employee and bottom-line profits.

Defining the role and time frame

A well articulated strategy ensures that there is no overlap of roles. It also rules out misinterpretation. Each employee has his defined role that is personal and challenging. Moreover, since the focus is on 'strengths', the definitive goal of 'effectual transformation' is accomplished.

When the time frame is set over a few months, the employees will be enthusiastic. Goals set over three or five years fall prey to dwindling employee interest. In such cases, the leadership of the organisation plays a very important part. For effective articulation of long term goals, involvement of employees and applying fair and apt metrics to track developments, it is important for employees to remain clued in to developments.

Sustaining energy and flow of ideas

Creativity and ideas are advantages that help sustain organisational change. Many a time, organisations discard ideas doubting their practicality. However, innovation is the key to reach people and bring about desired changes.

Most often, ideas from employees or leaders are considered deeply. Mutually inspiring organisations initiate creativity, responsibility and accountability. To encourage an 'idea sharing' work environment, leaders must espouse innovation and sharing thoughts that can bring about radical transformations.

Channelising energies

When leaders of an organisation announce transformation to employees, two extreme reactions are bound to happen. There will be employee totally gung-ho about the transformations and those who will be cynical. It is important to generate positive stimulation and help employees channelise their dynamism. Some companies reward 'ideas champions', while some appoint 'the master blaster'. Such steps energise the staff towards transformation.

"A smaller set of high-impact, briskly moving initiatives is more energising-and thus more sustainable- than a broader set of initiatives moving at a stately pace."

Seeing is believing

Any results of the transformation, however small, must be highlighted to ensure greater participation. Employees usually remain mute spectators to the brainstorming sessions and meetings that are part of the organisational change. The worth of such sessions is usually taken too lightly. However, even a small success during the transformation reaffirms employee faith in the process and the overall vision.

Learning curve

The transformational process is a learning process for leaders, management and employees. Open communication channels, suitable rewards and discipline are extremely important to understand the change. While the transformation aims at bringing about success in the organisation, individual growth and learning cannot be ignored. Experts rightly suggest that organisational transformations which focus on individual strengths create a more involved staff.
In today's highly dynamic market, being a flexible, employee centric and practical organisation is a plus. An organisational transformation is a dynamic process with multiple levels of planning and execution. However, the reengineering and rebuilding process can be an exhilarating expedition if the leadership has commitment and clarity.

Reference: TheManageMentor.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Cheer Leaders! Organisational Behaviour

Cheer Leaders! Organisational Behaviour

Ignoring tell-tale signs of employee depression can have adverse consequences on organisational well- being

Key learnings:
  • Mental well -being is as important an aspect as the physical health of the employee
  • Absenteeism, negative attitudes and unexplained behaviours cost the company in terms of money and healthy work culture

Absenteeism and lowered productivity as a result of physical stress and ill-health are causing a dip in the productivity levels of organsiations. However, depression and state of mental distress cause a lot more than just a drain in productivity levels.

Depressing facts:

Most often, depression is ignored and employees or individuals are told to pull up their socks and get going

  • When an employee is depressed it affects his working pattern and thinking
  • Depressed employees either think or worry too much or remain indifferent to situations and people around
  • Depression costs employers USD 44 billion a year in lost productivity

Absenteeism and presenteesim Organisational losses because of absenteeism are always accounted for. But, many a times, presenteesim causes loss in terms of productivity. Presenteesim as a consequence of depression can be defined as "the people with depression showing up for work but not functioning at anywhere near full capacity. Some examples are failing to return phone calls, turning in poor-quality work, missing deadlines altogether, not following up on new business leads, being paralysed with indecision, inability to face work at all, coming in late, leaving early, or not even returning from lunch, difficulty in getting along with coworkers, withdrawing from the social environment at work."

Sadly, many of us brush aside these things hoping that time will help us overcome difficult situations. Doctors however warn that it is very important to identify signs of depression among employees. Some apparent symptoms are:

  • Diminishing performance
  • Absenteeism
  • More mistakes at work
  • Complaining of disturbed sleep and falling asleep at work
  • Fatigued feeling all the time
  • Losing the cheer factor
  • Minimised concentration
  • Upsetting talk and worrying always
  • Displaying emotions at the drop of the hat
  • Remaining isolated from co-workers
  • Reluctance to join in informal meetings and fun outings
  • Irritability and emotional outbursts

Sometimes depressed individuals spread gloom and the learning and development of the work place can be affected. Any team member's unhealthy attitude can create tensions and affect performance of the entire team.

Role of the employer

When any employee or co-worker exhibits any of the above mentioned signs, managers should address the issue immediately. Many companies offer Employee Assistance Programmes that include mental health and psychological counseling. Research shows that work place depression can cost the organisation millions and experts suggest that employers must encourage their employees to seek professional and medical help.

Helping workers

Learn more and keep employees' informed about depression and how to handle co-workers exhibiting signs of depression.

Awareness is the key here:

Mocking and ridicule can worsen things. All said and done depression is a disease that is curable.

1. Alert: Depressed people are prone to causing mishaps. An alert work environment can thwart risks. Similarly, suicidal tendencies or tendency to harm own self and others are particularly high. An effective EAP must ensure the best medical aid to such employees.

2. Be non-judgmental: Managers are not medically certified to deal with depression cases. It is in the best interest of all to refer such employees to the medical team or experts.

3. Confidential matters: Matters like treatment for depression needn't be discussed with co-workers.

4. Stay flexible: Help the employee by offering flexi schedules during the time of treatment and allowances so that his absence from work doesn't pinch him financially. By working form home the employee can feel connected without the pressures of office cubicle.

The time to be happy is here Psychologists, say socialisation, being appreciated at work and fulfilled work place often are major happiness factors. These are in all likelihood detriments to depression. Simple stapes like

  • Doing a job you love
  • Pursuing a hobby that can help you feel better
  • Learning new skills
  • Taking professional help to improve at work
  • Creating a work/life balance

Doctors too urge managers and co-workers to eliminate bias against depressed employees. Many times the employee after the treatment puts in better efforts and drives higher productivity. Good managers believe that comprehending their staff's behaviour is as important as understanding their performance.

Timely interventions, medical help and supportive work environment can help employees cope with exhausting situations better and emerge confident and upbeat once again.

Reference: TheManageMentor.