Recent Trends in Human Resource Management

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Tips to Keep Your Job during a Recession

Tips to Keep Your Job during a Recession

The state of our economy is in demise. People’s current financial situation is unpredictable and tentative. Every time one watches the news or looks at the headlines in the newspaper, it seems as though there is more and more bad news concerning the recession. Even large, prosperous companies have experienced serious downturn. Employees suddenly find themselves jobless or with reduced hours without inviting the situation. People who previously considered their jobs secure are now faced with possible lay-offs.

If the company you work for is slipping significantly, there is not too much you can do to alter the situation. However, many companies, although they have to make cuts, will survive and endure. If you want to be amongst those chosen to keep the boat afloat, then there are several things you can do to help your chances.

Go through extra effort at work. With many companies, layoffs are unavoidable. However, some companies can use the occasion to eliminate difficult or under-performing employees.

Here are a few things you can do to improve your chances of keeping your job during a recession: (The resources for these tips can be found at the end of this article)

1) Take Credit For Your Accomplishments.
This does not mean that you have to brag to let management know that you are doing a good job. It simply means that you should keep them in the loop. You can do this by creating a paper trail. CC your boss on appropriate emails that relate to the progress of specific projects and important deadlines. Also, make sure to forward short updates and summaries of ongoing projects to your supervisor intermittently.

2) Avoid Asking For a Raise.
If you are aware that your company is making cuts and know that their budget is tight, do not ask for a pay increase. By asking for a raise in such times, you can put yourself at the top of the lay-off list.

3) Do Extra Work.
Stay busy. If you have some free time, ask your boss if there is any way you can help out and if there is additional work to be done. This will increase your visibility and value to the company. Although volunteering to do extra tasks is a great way to keep your job, do so only if you can complete it in a timely manner and if it does not deter you from your original tasks.

4) Be Visible.
Enhance your visibility by attending and participating in meetings, offering creative, new ideas and taking part in company outings. Be sure to let people (preferably those in higher positions) within your organization are aware of your existence. Moreover, do not make your boss have to look for you. This is the wrong time to take an extended vacation. When you return, your position could be eliminated. Also, do not come into work late, that is negative visibility as people will notice.

5) Build Up a Relationship With Your Boss.
Talk to your boss, your boss’s boss, and their boss. Get to know your boss, preferably on a work-related basis. Build up and maintain a strong relationship with them, and make sure they know about all your contributions to the company and the valuable work that you do.

6) Be Conscious of the Company.
Make sure you know what and how your company is doing. Keep your eyes and ears open. It is important for you to stay abreast of events within your company, your industry and nationally. By being well informed, you will advance your personal worth.

7) Avoid Gossip.
Gossiping can possibly end up getting you into trouble. Make sure to stay happy and positive. At times like these, people can become unhappy and despondent. Misery loves company and you can generally find huddles of groups talking themselves into a group melancholy. It is best to avoid them as nothing good can come from it. Keep your sunny and positive attitude and boost the morale of others.

8) Come Up With New Ideas.
Be creative and conjure up new ideas on ways your company can make money or be more efficient. Become a part of the solution by helping your company develop ways to cut costs. Furthermore, possibly mentor someone in the organization who may be experiencing difficulties. Your time will not be in vain.

9) Update Your Skills.
Keep up-to-date of all the latest technologies, trends, and other skills related to your work. Educate yourself. Think of ways to complement and enhance your current degree. If you do not have a degree, strive to get a degree or at least a certification of some sort. Make sure your boss is aware of your intent to continue or develop your education. Companies dispose of people whose skills are outdated and replace them with people who have more relevant and modern training. The benefits of enhancing your education and skill set are two fold. Firstly, it can make you indispensible at your current job. You may even be asked to take on more responsibility. Secondly, if you lose your current job, it will be easier to find a new one.

10) Observe The Job Market.
You should always have a backup plan. Passively look for jobs so that you have a head start if you are laid off. Network with previous employers or colleagues so that you can contact them in you ever need to. Update your resume, return agency' phone calls, and start picturing where else you might like to work just to be on the safe side.

11) Become Indispensable.
Become a specialist at some aspect of your companies business. If you have acquired knowledge or skills that your colleagues do not possess, it makes you more valuable, important and irreplaceable to your company. Be an asset to your company.

12) Become a "Can Do" Employee.
Employers like it when they can give you a problem or task and know that it will be undertaken promptly and resourcefully. Your bosses will notice this, and your value within the company will grow.

13) Stay Put.
Evade the thought of moving to a new employer unless you are totally confident that your present company has no future. No matter how good the job is or may sound, being the new member of the team makes you highly vulnerable in these economic slumps.

14) Stay Smart.
Make extra efforts to go into the office smartly dressed. Do not let your standards drop. It may sound hard to believe, but being a smart individual could mean the difference between keeping and losing your job.

15) Don’t Be a High Maintenance Employee.
Be easy to work with. Avoid complaining. Make sure to uphold your professionalism at all times. Furthermore, avoid taking too many sick days, arriving late to work, or taking excessive vacations. Be as efficient and accessible to your boss and coworkers as possible.

16) Get to Work Early & Stay Late
This does not mean that you have to work until midnight. However, try to avoid being the first one out the door when the clock strikes five. With the current economic storm, putting in a few extra hours is an investment in your future.

17) Minimize Personal Activity.
Keep personal calls, emails and text messaging to a minimum during the workday.

18) Give Your Leaders a Break.
As much as we may find objectionable certain actions of bosses, it is important to realize that they really do not take pleasure in having to lay off their people. Endeavour to ease the leader’s load and help them protect and preserve your department.

19) Stop Complaining.
A good attitude goes a long way. At times like these, management is looking people who can boost morale. In addition, happy, positive workers are less likely to get laid off than people who seem to have an aversion to what they do.

20) Be Likable.
It is not easy to be light-hearted when financial situations are rocky. However, research by Tiziana Casciaro and Miguel Sousa Lobo published in a 2005 HBR article, "Competent Jerks, Lovable Fools, and the Formation of Social Networks," found that when people need help with getting a job done, they would typically opt for a friendly and pleasant co-worker rather than a more competent one.


Resources:

http://www.hr.com/SITEFORUM?&t=/Default/gateway&i=1116423256281&application=blog&elementID=1234479098459

Monday, February 23, 2009

Staffing Firms Implementing New Services

Survey Reveals Majority of Staffing Firms Implementing New Services and Investing in Marketing

The “How is Your Firm Adjusting to the Economy” January 2009 survey investigated the tactics Staffing Firms are employing to transition to the new economic situation. The most profound statistic was over 58% of those surveyed reported implementing new services and re-positioning their company to attract new clientele. 52% of the firms are investing in more marketing and a sales force increase as the major strategic effort.

The survey went on to explore staffing firm predictions for the hiring return and major concerns for 2009. Surprisingly, 57% predict the staffing downturn will lighten by the end of Quarter 3 2009, returning to near normal hiring conditions by fall. 65% of firms surveyed feel the overabundance of resumes flooding the market and resume quality issues to be the two major concerns for 2009. As the talent pool continues to expand, firms are struggling with the quantity versus quality conundrum.

Over 7,500 Staffing Firms and Independent Recruiters were surveyed. This survey was conducted between January 16th, 2009 and February 6th, 2009.

In summary, the survey found these key points:
• 52% are investing in increased marketing efforts and a sales force increase as the number one strategic effort for business development
• 58% are implementing new services and re-positioning their company to attract new clientele
• 57% predict the staffing downturn will lighten by Q3 2009
• 65% of staffing firms find the overabundance and quality issues of resumes the number one concern for 2009

“With the weakened economy and raising unemployment rate across the US, the exponential increase in the talent pool is causing real issues for staffing firms and the recruiting industry as a whole. It is important that staffing firms work towards improved efficiency and possibly technology solutions to help make sense of the mess,” Sean Bisceglia, CEO TalentDrive.

Ref: WWW.HR.com

Innovative Recruiting Lessons

Innovative Recruiting Lessons

The March 2009 issue of Fast Company lists its take on the 50 most innovative companies in the world.

As I read their analysis, it seemed evident that the lessons learned about what makes a company innovative could be directly applied to the recruiting industry. With this perspective in mind, here’s how I’d translate business and product innovation into recruiting ideas.

Some of them are wild and crazy, but then again, they might just work.

Innovative Recruiting Lessons Loosely Interpreted from Fast Company

The order shown below is my ranking of the ideas themselves. The Fast Company ranking is also shown.

1. Amazon #9 on the Fast Company list. Innovative idea: developing the Kindle ebook based on the idea that you should focus first on your customers’ needs when delivering products and services, not some preconceived idea of the way it should be. Application to recruiting: if you want to hire top people, first figure out how they find career opportunities, why they engage with a company to evaluate a specific opportunity, and why they select one job over another. This seems so obvious, yet when I look at how most companies write ads, screen candidates, keep them interested, and make offers, it’s great advice. Maybe you should be reading this on a Kindle.

2. Intel #6. Innovative idea: created teensy chips for targeted market applications. Application to recruiting: stop posting big, boring job ads on career sites. Instead, use Twitter and micro blogs targeted to narrower audiences, or push your jobs using aggregators to specific functional sites.

3. Team Obama #1. Innovative idea: empower your customers to participate more actively using the latest online technology. Application to recruiting: create talent communities. This is a search engine optimized talent hub grouped by job class that’s easier to find than an individual posting, and certainly more inviting. This micro site funnels candidates to a prospect pool to be nurtured using some CRM tool. To capture their attention, prospects can interact with recruiters and hiring managers without applying, just to get more information. What an idea! Imagine allowing customers just to look around and easily compare products before buying one? Now that’s a recruiting idea worthy of consideration.

4. Google #2. Innovative idea: continuous innovation. Application to recruiting: always improve what you’re doing, use consumer marketing concepts to reach people before the competition to establish a competitive advantage, and try stuff out even if it doesn’t work. Application to recruiting: just about everything you do now should be reconsidered. It fact, maybe have the recruiting and sourcing department report to marketing or be run by someone who is customer-focused?

5. Hulu #4. This is the TV-on-the-Internet company. Innovative idea: make a site that’s easy to use and fun, and easy to create by getting rivals to work together. In this case, Fox and NBC Universal. Application to recruiting: make it easy as possible to have prospects find your site and get engaged. As part of this, maybe recruiting should have its own dedicated IT staff. There are just too many rivals for the corporate IT department’s attention, so this way you could try more new things faster.

6. Apple #5. Innovative idea: offer great design, charge premium prices, don’t stop innovating, and be green. Application to recruiting: Make your jobs different than the competition; offer something unique; sell on career growth, not compensation; and be green.

7. Hewlett-Packard #12. Innovative idea: partner with non-related companies in order to offer your customers a unique and custom product experience. Application for recruiting: Partner with non-traditional organizations outside your company to attract a different type of prospect. For example, you could partner with Trump Casinos and invite recent MBA grads to a poker championship (it’s been done by Harrah’s) or develop some type of online competitive interactive game for your sales reps.

8. Cisco #5. Innovative idea: continue to act like a start-up. Application to recruiting: don’t be bureaucratic. This means HR, comp, legal, and the OFCCP shouldn’t be driving the design of your hiring processes. This doesn’t mean you’ll be out of compliance, it just means you won’t be boring.

9. Pure Digital Technologies #7. This is the company that makes the Flip video recorder. Innovative idea: make the product easy to use and offer customers a chance to interact with it by customizing it. Application to recruiting: rather than have prospects find a specific job, drive them to a talent hub of all comparable jobs. At this warm-up page let them interact with recruiters, find related jobs or have them design an “ideal job” by describing the work they enjoy the most and are great at. Then let your ATS bring forth what “best fits” for them. At the extreme, maybe let candidate’s create their “ideal job” and then repackage the jobs you have open to fit this.

10. Ideo #10. This is the top design company on the planet. Innovative idea: the company has grown from just designing products to transforming systems to designing for behavioral change. This means adapting the product or service to incorporate a benefit, like saving the planet or at least getting better gas mileage. Application for recruiting: stop thinking about just hiring people to fill jobs, instead, think about offering careers. You’ll need to understand the behavior criteria your prospects use when looking and comparing positions to start this process. To implement it, you’ll need to apply every one of the ideas mentioned above.

We’ll be discussing these and other innovative recruiting ideas on my Recruiter’s Wall blog. So join and participate. There’s only one criteria — be innovative!

As I review the other innovative ideas on the Fast Company list, there seems to be a number of common themes or principles that stand out as guidance. For one thing, all of these ideas are innovative. As obvious as that sounds, being innovative is hard, because you’re fighting the status quo.

So if you want to be innovative, expect lots of naysayers, a bit of ridicule, and some grief.

Start small. Being innovative doesn’t mean copying someone, it means being first, but copying can help to prove your point and establish your bona fides. Trying out lots of different ideas until one sticks also seems to be part of being innovative.

Continuous change and constant renewal seems to be another aspect of this.

What’s also interesting is that these companies have always been innovative; it’s part of their corporate DNA. So it’s not a surprise to see any of them on the list. This becomes a chicken-or-the-egg problem for recruiting, then. Can a corporate recruiting department housed in HR ever become risk-taking and innovative?

Perhaps not, but since all of these companies are doing fairly well from a competitive standpoint, being innovative certainly has a significant ROI that can be demonstrated. Maybe it will take some gutsy person to make an innovative pitch to the CEO to get the process started. This alone is pretty innovative, so show some guts and get going.

Ref: www.HR.com

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Is the current global meltdown beginning to affect the Indian youth?

Frowning faces, twisted eye-brows, shrugs and shudders are amongst the most common expressions radiating from people all over, irrespective of their profession, class, age, experience and all those parameters which, in a utopian world, would have ensured infinite glory, if not job security and certain future. What started out as a sub-prime lending crisis in the U.S. has now transformed into a 'shock wave' giving everyone a taste of the tremor it beholds. And nobody is left untouched by the present global financial fiasco - not even the youth community, which had only recently understood how grave inflation could be.

Being an engineering undergraduate, it's not difficult for me to explain how the ready-to-step-into-the-corporate-world-undergraduates of different engineering domains are facing a bolt from the blue. With lay-offs, pink slips, downsizing, and other scary synonyms hitting the front page of the newspapers, students aren't quite surprised to learn long before that a number of traditionally top-recruiting companies won't even be visiting the campus, forget recruitment. The companies that did visit reflected the current scenario in terms of the 'infinitesimal' number of students finally recruited and their relatively meagre pay package. Even young graduates who had, some years ago, successfully made into different MNCs echoed similar sentiments.

Having said that, 'there are always two sides to a coin'. The lucky side tells a different story altogether. The chain of events over the last fifteen months or so culminating into the present global meltdown, although sad, has both inspired and pushed the youth to develop a completely global outlook and take calculated steps in all their ventures. They have quickly understood that this scenario requires an utter professional approach and it's time we took things not for granted. This thinking is reflected in their future course of action. The best example would be that of the IIM students, a major number of who are more interested in self-ventures, as entrepreneurs, or committing to a 'start-up business'. Now, as entrepreneurs, they would ultimately create a wide range of avenues for others, thus, countering situations like that of now.

'In the medieval times, being unable to read and write was a curse. In the modern era, lack of monetary knowledge is a curse'. The youth today has quickly realized the practical importance of these words and therefore, there has been a gradual and steady inclination towards getting the basic skills right when it comes to finance and its derivatives. It won't be an exaggeration to assume that soon there will be a time when the global-financial-system-management wouldn't lie entirely in the hands of the 'grey-beards', which is apparently the case now. Moreover, it all works out good for a country, in particular, which can be rest assured of a strong economy largely impervious to foreign influences. And more so in case of India, which houses around 55 per cent young and eager-to-learn blood.

Another very important lesson learnt is the perils of globalization. For some time now, the youth of India, to a large extent, had an undimensional outlook towards globalization which had largely, and not entirely rightly, influenced their approach to various opportunities. Now would be a good time to rethink.

By and large, the current financial crunch has affected the Youngistan in more ways than one. Arguably, the positive impacts far outweigh the negative ones, and in due course will prove its worth.

Ref: http://www.timesascent.in

Friday, February 20, 2009

How Recruiters and HR Can Work Together?

How Recruiters and HR Can Work Together?

In the business world we have a short list of traditional sources of interdepartmental friction. One of these “hot zones” is the intersection of HR and third-party recruiters, who can easily find themselves at odds.

HR departments often view third-party recruiters as obstacles, while recruiters know that if they can get their best résumés in front of a hiring manager, they’ve got a shot at making a placement. If recruiters are held up by HR bureaucrats whose own need to control the candidate flow overshadows their desire to bring talent in the door, headhunters are sunk. As a result, it’s common to find tension between internal HR people and outside recruiters. Is there a path that allows internal HR and external recruiters to work together for maximum gain?

The Recruiter’s Role

In my experience, the greatest service a third-party search partner provides to the organization, besides the strength of his or her candidate database and relationships, is the intermediary role a search pro performs during offer negotiation. I pride myself on good listening and negotiating skills, but if I’m inside the company, I won’t have the same credibility with a candidate that his ally, the outside recruiter, has.

So it makes sense to let the recruiter handle the delicate job of negotiating between the employer (“our offer is good enough already!”) and the candidate (“they’re dreaming if they think I’ll take this job for that salary”) when the stakes are high. We do it when we buy or sell a house. We know that our trusted Realtor won’t be as emotionally bound up in the negotiation as we very well may be. It’s the same in a high-level offer negotiation process—a place where the middleman can get us more quickly to a handshake and save egos in the process.

As a CEO, managing partner, or division president beginning a high-level search in your organization, it’s critical to sit down with your chosen search partner and your HR chief and work through the common issues that divide these two players. What can easily happen in the absence of such a kickoff meeting is that the search consultant creates a tight one-on-one communication bond with the business leader so that the HR person feels left in the dust.

A Profitable Partnership

Feelings are one thing, but the bigger issue is that without the input of your organization’s Minister of Culture—a/k/a HR chief—your search will be hampered by a lack of a critical perspective. At every stage of the process—initial screening of candidates, the interview process, or the delicate negotiation phase—the quality of the hire you end up with will be affected by the level of participation of your HR chief, the one person most likely to know more than anyone else (including top management) about how things work on the human side of the business.

When I was a corporate HR person, I learned to invite my search partners into the office once every six months or so for a check-in meeting. In this way I learned that partnering with trusted search colleagues is one of the highest-yield moves an HR leader can make. Search pros will tell you things that candidates never would (e.g., “no one will work for Jane Smith any more—she’s a terrible manager”) and will fill you in on the state of the local job market with a level of detail you’d never have time to acquire on your own.

To cultivate a partnership, however, an HR chief has to let go of many an HR leader’s favorite office tool: the presumption of control over the process. The fact is that in a typical, intense, high-level search, the HR chief won’t be the conduit for much or most of the information that is exchanged. If your No. 1 candidate is suddenly presented with a competing offer, your search pro is going to reach whomever he can reach first—whether that’s the HR leader, the CEO, or the CEO’s assistant.

Cooperation is Key

In an effective senior-level search, the time-honored paradigm, “all information passes through HR on its way to the hiring manager,” won’t hold. Communication has to take place instantly, and important decisions may happen on the fly. With a high level of coordination and respect for individual talents, this can work to an employer’s advantage. When hierarchy and bureaucracy creep in, typical responses run along the lines of, “I don’t care what you and our CEO discussed. All new VPs get three weeks vacation, and we’re not budging for this candidate.” And believe it or not, negotiations with candidates can fall apart over things as seemingly small as a week or two of vacation.

HR chiefs and recruiters can be pivotal in one another’s success. As one executive recruiter said to me, “Like most HR people, you chat with candidates maybe one or two hours a day. The rest of the time you work on other things, like executive comp or performance management or employee communications. All I do is cultivate talent and sell your company and my other clients to the talent marketplace. Isn’t that worth my fee?” With the right partner, it is worth the fee—and more

Ref: Liz Ryan / Business Week


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Layoffs not the Best Solution in a Downturn

Layoffs not the Best Solution in a Downturn

"Will I able to survive in my organization or will my organization survive in this bad time?" is a question which every person is asking himself/herself these days. In today's phase of economic recession, every organization and employee is concerned about his/her fate. Companies are trying to cut costs as much as possible and the most common way to do that is ‘layoffs’. Small, private firms do not have as much pressure to cut costs if the owner believes it is possible to ride out the storm. Conversely, in a public firm, even if a CEO is inclined to seek alternatives to layoffs, pressure from shareholders and analysts to cut staff might be too great.


Layoffs are done to save money; unfortunately, they are usually a short term fix, detrimental to the companies. In a study of 531 large organizations, three quarter reported having cut pay rolls. Out of these 85 per cent that sought higher profit, only 46 per cent saw any measurable profit; 58 per cent sought higher productivity but only 34 per cent saw even the slight increase; 61 per cent wanted to increase customer service but only 31 per cent achieved this. So layoffs are not the best option even in the period of economic recession.


Many companies fail to realize that they have already invested a huge amount on training and development of their employees. A company can save for a short term by conducting layoffs but it also has to spend more in training a new batch of employees once the economy picks up.


A company may lay off employees, but in the process it creates an atmosphere of uncertainty which causes others to leave the organization. The first ones to leave the company due to uncertainty are usually the ‘best’ people. The ones who stay back are stressed most of the time. Thus, the climate of uncertainty followed by a layoff always results in reduction in not just the quantity but also the quality of staff.


The first question to ask before any layoff is - Is the need for the layoff driven by having too many employees or too little profit? Using a layoff solely as a cost cutting measure is highly not recommended; removing valuable talent and organizational learning by laying off employees only makes a bad situation worse. And it reduces the efficiency of remaining resources as well as the potential for future growth. Scott Paper laid off 10, 500 employees in the mid-1990s. In the years that followed, Scott was unable to introduce any new products and saw a dramatic decrease in profitability, until it was eventually bought out by competitor Kimberly-Clark. If the answer is too many employees, the management needs to look at the organization's business plan, not its head count.


Whatever the route, layoffs is a toxic solution. So except in few circumstances where laying off is the only option, the management should try other options like job sharing, pay cuts, reduced working hours etc. These measures, most of the time, are sufficient to pass out a bad phase.

Ref: Kamal Kapoor

Career Transition Technology for Managing Downsizing

Career Transition Technology for Managing Downsizing

Career transition technology provides a sustainable solution for handling downsizing. It addresses the interests of employees and the strategic momentum building needs of companies

The economic slump is forcing Indian firms to downsize for reducing operational costs. But in many firms the story is different. Downsizing is bringing in more headaches compared to the immediate cost savings. It is diverting the attention of the company from imaginatively navigating through the difficult times. And ironically, it is setting the tone for further downsizing in future. Is there a way out, could there be a twist to the ending? Yes there is! Career transition technology provides a sustainable solution for handling downsizing. It addresses the interests of employees and the strategic momentum building needs of companies. It involves three steps:

Preparing the organization: The first step is to train/coach, HR managers and line managers how to handle the separation meeting, how to emotionally anchor the separating employees, how to stay connected and help them to move on with lives. This process is transformational. From the concept of employee as a legal contract, we move on to a boundary less relationship. Transition management creates a boundary less community of strategic and trusting relationships.

Handholding the separating employees: You cannot build a new life with an old baggage. You cannot realize your true value when you become your biggest skeptic. Typically, this is the mindset of an employee who is asked to go. Handholding him/her involves coaching in groups or one to one for letting go off the negativity, helping the person to define career options through a systematic process, building skills in self marketing, counseling spouse where ever required and assisting the person in taking the right career decision. The coaching typically ends with the person planning how to onboard into the next organization and create the right impact within the first 100 days.

Energizing and aligning the existing employees: Being honest saves lots of time of both the employer and the employee. Tell staying employees what is happening and why it is happening. They will want to know if the management has a strategy beyond down sizing. It’s very funny, but in most cases it's a big NO. Do not worry. Get employees engaged by asking them “If they were a CEO what will they do to turn around the company and put it on the growth path?” Again this process is transformational. From being a ‘meetings manager’, one starts becoming a ‘transformational leader’.

Beyond managing downsizing, Career Transition Technology has varied applications. When you hire laterals, when you promote people into truly new roles, when people retire, when armed forces join civilian world, transition coaching support can actually help people to understand their new role and settle into the same effortlessly. Probably, Career Transition is an answer to effective leadership. After all, the leaders who are trying to address the downturn are also the same people who have created the downturn in the first place.

Ref: Kanti Gopal Kovvali

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Reengineering Management: The Grandest Challenges

Reengineering Management: The Grandest Challenges

When the National Academy of Engineering recently offered a list of “grand engineering challenges” — everything from developing methods for carbon sequestration to reverse engineering the brain — management consultant Gary Hamel thought, why not do the same for business management?

What should be the great, ambitious goals for advancing management into the 21st century?

Hamel offers a list of these potential challenges on a Harvard Business Publishing blog, 25 Stretch Goals for Management. The list came from a two-day convening of top business and social thinkers including Eric Schmidt, Peter Senge and James Surowiecki.

Here are five ideas that made the final cut. Check out Hamel’s post for the full list.

Ensure that management’s work serves a higher purpose. Management, both in theory and practice, must orient itself to the achievement of noble, socially significant goals.

Reconstruct management’s philosophical foundations. To build organizations that are more than merely efficient, we will need to draw lessons from such fields as biology and theology, and from such concepts as democracies and markets.

Redefine the work of leadership. The notion of the leader as a heroic decision maker is untenable. Leaders must be recast as social-systems architects who enable innovation and collaboration.

De-structure and disaggregate the organization. To become more adaptable and innovative, large entities must be disaggregated into smaller, more malleable units.

Empower the renegades and disarm the reactionaries. Management systems must give more power to employees whose emotional equity is invested in the future rather than in the past.

What would you add to the list?

By: Sean Silverthorne

About Author: Sean Silverthorne is the editor of HBS Working Knowledge, which provides a first look at the research and ideas of Harvard Business School faculty. Working Knowledge, which won a Webby award in 2007, currently records 4 million unique visitors a year. He has been with HBS since 2001.


Silverthorne has 28 years experience in print and online journalism. Before arriving at HBS, he was a senior editor at CNet and Executive Editor of ZDNet News. While at At Ziff-Davis, Silverthorne also worked on the daily technology TV show The Site, and was a senior editor at PC Week Inside, which chronicled the business of the technology industry. He has held several reporting and editing roles on a variety of newspapers, and was Investor Business Daily's first journalist based in Silicon Valley.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Driven by Emotions

Driven by Emotions

MANAGING EMPLOYEE EMOTIONS HAS BECOME EXTREMELY IMPERATIVE FOR EMPLOYERS IN TODAY’S CORPORATE SCENARIO. WITH A WIDE ARRAY OF EMOTIONS THAT EMPLOYEES EXPERIENCE DUE TO STRESS, LONG WORKING HOURS AND PROFESSIONAL DEMANDS, THE NEED, FOR COMPANIES, TO ADDRESS THIS ISSUE IS EVEN MORE

Employees’ moods, emotions, and overall dispositions have an impact on job performance, decision making, creativity, turnover, teamwork, negotiations and leadership. People are not isolated 'emotional islands’ at work. Rather, they bring all of themselves to work, including their traits, moods and emotions, and their affective experiences and expressions influence others. Without an emotional-management component, a work environment can become toxic. To be in complete control of your workplace, you also need to be a master of emotions, both yours and your employees'. “Emotional intelligence” which has been the buzzword in psychology and education is now being talked about in business circles as well.

The emotional conundrum

It is a known fact that an employee’s output is a function of his/her motivation level and competence. Motivation is primarily driven by emotions. “A motivated employee is far likely to be more committed, focussed, attentive and energetic – all valuable aspects in determining the quality of the output produced. And thus, the organisational efficacy and success is significantly linked to the employees’ emotions,” expresses Sugato Palit, Head – Human Resources & Communication, Perfetti Van Melle India Pvt. Ltd.


According to Neeta Mohla, Joint MD, InspireOne, “Research shows when people ‘feel’ good, they produce good results. Leadership, in fact, is all about creating the right emotions in people and ensuring that these emotions help the individual and organisation create the right results.” Amitabh Hajela, Vice President and Global Head of Human Resources, EXL Service concurs, “An employee forms the backbone of any organisation. Managing employees’ emotions becomes extremely important at a workplace. Any emotion displayed at a workplace by an employee is driven by his/her motivation and it has a direct impact on the performance of that individual.”

Emotions galore

Since, employees spend most of their time in the office, they are bound to experience a wide array of emotions which can be both positive and negative. “It’s very difficult to define all the emotions that crop up. Anger, frustration, lack of faith, detachment and jealousy are some of the most negative. On the brighter side, there are positive emotions such as passion, optimism, commitment and pride for work and these are the emotions that eventually have a positive influence on the overall work environment,” informs Sudhir Singh Dungarpur, President and CEO,Q2A Media.


Talking about how negative or positive emotions or attitude have an impact on an employee’s performance and also the organisation’s performance, Palit shares, “There is always an influence, or what, in managerial parlance is referred to as a ‘rub-off effect’. A cheerful, enthusiastic employee is very likely to have a similar effect on his or her colleagues. A wet blanket, on the other hand, is extremely likely to have the opposite effect.” Mohla adds, “One of the most predominant negative emotions is that of fear towards supervisors. Fear leads to inability of individuals to come up with new ideas, suggestions or problem solving behaviours; over time, this can lead to a ‘one brain organisation’. There is always a human tendency to feel more negative than positive. That is one of the roles of the leader: to ensure that emotions are always managed well.”

Handle with care

Since so many emotions are being experienced and felt at the workplace, it becomes imperative for an organisation to manage these emotions of employees well and also deal with them intelligently. Hajela explains, “We, at EXL, follow an open culture where employees are encouraged to express their emotions, worries and any issues that they face. Programmes such as ‘Coffee with Rohit’ (Rohit Kapoor is the President and CEO of EXL), town halls with the CEO, etc., provide them an opportunity to engage themselves with the company leaders on an informal platform.”

According to Mohla, some methods that can be adopted to manage emotions at the workplace are to train leaders to be good coaches and ensure there are forums where people can talk. “We have a buddy system for new people because we understand that new people need some emotional connect, initially. We also enhance engagement and positive emotions by creating fun events or team work opportunities,” she maintains.


Palit says, “In terms of involvement, we have specific groups created out of the second line of command and empowered them to take organisation level decisions proactively, and pass on the empowerment down the line. Our open, transparent and apolitical culture has helped us in creating a vibrant, energetic and enthusiastic ambience in which all employees are encouraged to give their best,” expresses Palit. Similarly, at Q2A Media, it is believed that emotions can be contagious; they travel from one person to another, and so it is important to know the employee’s pulse. “We try to maximise employee experiences and view employee complaints as ‘emotional opportunities’. We make use of constructive criticism as it helps in addressing areas that need improvement, without beating down an employee,” says Dungarpur.”

Hence, it is a proven fact that emotions can't be separated from the workplace and are critical to a business’ success. A successful organisation will find ways to manage employee emotions, control emotional flareups and have a healthy environment.

Tips to manage emotions at work:

>> We can't always control feelings of stress, but we should make an effort to control the disruptive emotions that they may trigger.
>> When you experience an emotion, just notice. Identify what emotion it is that you are experiencing. Pause before you respond. This is the way to gain control over your emotions rather than allowing them to control you.
>> You cannot think and feel at the same time. Separate the emotion from logic. If you are upset or emotional and you cannot think clearly, take time-out to experience the emotion. Don't repress the emotion; you need to understand the reasons behind your emotional response.

Ref: Times of India

THE REBOUND EFFECT

THE REBOUND EFFECT

Re-entering the work world, after a career break, can be both, intimidating and exhilarating. Several prospective employees, making a comeback, are often faced with challenges that other job-seekers don’t come across. Hence, to address this issue, organizations are introducing initiatives to ensure a hassle-free transition

The reasons why employees opt for a career break are plenty-to look after an ailing family member, pursue higher studies, recover from an illness, explore other cultures, or simply relax—whatever your reason for taking time off, eventually, it will be time to return to the workplace. The task of resuming work isn’t easy if you have to restart your career in an entirely new workplace. Getting back into the groove, is the biggest challenge for several employees, but organizations are willing to make their transition smooth by implementing initiatives, for the same. “Companies, today, are addressing the various complexities associated with attracting the right talent. Also, the money invested towards the process of re-employment and re-training of new employees is also exorbitant,” says Madhav Sharan, senior client partner, Korn/Ferry International.

However, in an endeavour to curb costs, several employers, today are keen on introducing ‘career break’ initiatives and are even making it a part of their organizational agenda. “Today, measures like offering favourable maternity leave policies and flexible working hours, etc. to women employees can go a long way towards instilling a sense of pride in them of being associated with a company that cares and enhancing employee motivation. However, such initiatives are not restricted to women only. Male employees, although few, are enjoying paternity leave benefits as well,” adds Sharan.

But, there are a few things that an employee must consider, while on a career break, so that the gap doesn’t affect his/her growth prospects. According to E Balaji, CEO and Director, Ma Foi Management Consultants Limited, “A professional must be mindful about the duration of the break. A career break should not be for a longer time period as getting back, after a long break, into a dynamic industry would be difficult, especially in today’s cut-throat competitive scenario. There are possibilities that the industry would have undergone a transformation and catching up with the changing trends could be a daunting task.” “Also, when a person takes a break, voluntarily, then he/she must have a plan of action for the future. This also includes plans and activities he/she would like to pursue, post the break. If the person wants to change the vertical, job role or job location, then he/she must start acquiring new skills, in a quest to fit in, easily, in the new role,” opines Desikamani, Founder and Director, Mentor Learning Services. According to industry experts, if an employee goes on a break to pursue higher studies, then he/she must ensure that he/she does it from a reputed institution as the degree/diploma will help better his/her future career prospects. “Also, it is good to maintain relations with your work world and one should constantly network through professional associations, alumni associations, e-groups, social networking sites, etc,” suggests Sharan. Also, after the break, if you are joining the same organization, don’t expect things to be the same as you had left it. Be ready to accept change. According to Desikamani, “One must be able to convince the recruiter the learnings derived during the break, more effectively. Also, if your skills are relevant and you are capable of learning, then getting back is not an issue at all.”

Getting back into the groove could be challenging but a helping hand from the organization could make the transition, a smooth one, for you!

Ref: Times of India

Friday, February 13, 2009

Turning Problems into Opportunity

Turning Problems into Opportunity
Problem-free organisations are a rarity in this competitive world. Nevertheless, many organisations have been economically successful. What distinguishes such organisations and helps them stay ahead of competition is not a mystery. However, it definitely requires an understanding of the organisational mechanism.

The differentiator

Winning organisations too look for quicker and easier means to solve problems. However, what differentiates them from the unsuccessful ones is their ability to search for workable solutions. They delve deeper to find out the root cause of problems. Such detective work, which brings to light the fundamentals beneath the surface problems, is called deep organisational diagnosis. This diagnosis demands committing of time and effort. Winners are ready to give all the commitment required to convert their problems into opportunities.

Case I

A company had been experiencing poor sales performance and the reason attributed was waning motivation. The top management assumed that redesigning the incentive compensation plan could reenergise the sales staff. The company followed a “do-it-now” philosophy, and the plan was developed and implemented almost immediately.

Sales figures escalated but the underlying problems nevertheless remained undetected. Probe revealed that there was little meaningful communication among the various departments and this led to absence of genuine teamwork. The top management also identified cultural barriers to the flow of communication. Distrust aggravated the situation.

Deep organisational diagnosis had helped the company open doors for creative thinking and identifying opportunities. This gave the company a competitive edge.

Case II

The Chief Executive of a company was disillusioned with the performance of her department heads. Surprisingly, there was little effort from the heads themselves to resolve their problems. Interdepartmental rivalry loomed large and the department heads were highly disorganised. The CEO felt an urgent need for a management training programme. Hence, a training expert was appointed who designed a training schedule taking the CEO’s observations as the basis for diagnosis. The courses focused on problem solving, team building skills, time management and conflict resolution.

However, the situation never improved. Techniques presented through the training sessions were never implemented. The assumption was that the skills imparted didn’t solve managers’ perceived problems. The CEO who initiated the training programmes quit shortly thereafter.Failure to improve organisational performance could be attributed to incorrect initial diagnosis. Training programmes can identify the need for imparting a skill only when the need for such skill arises. They can however not be used as tools to prevent problems.

The new CEO of the company followed the approach of deep organisational diagnosis. She probed deeper into the managers’ unproductive behaviour and reasons for interdepartmental conflict, also the reasons for not identifying problems much in advance. Probe revealed that the managers were themselves never properly managed by their coach, the former CEO. Their ineffective work habits were also ignored to a great extent. They did what they found fit for their organisation.

The new CEO identified two remedial measures for the company. A general management system to review the management practices. The second one being, managers must be managed. They need greater clarity of roles and the CEO expectations had to be matched with their potential. Thus, deep organisational diagnosis helped the company gain better insights into the action plan for success.

Road blocks

Deep organisational diagnosis is essential and many organisations realise its advantage. However, many organisations are invariably unable to get out of the mire of problems. This is because, they do not identify the following barriers to organisational success.

Edginess: This a common symptom exhibited by organisations showing initial enthusiasm to emerge winners. Quick action leads to faster results and individual rewards. Hence, the temptation to hurry up things is pervasive. However, this could be a barrier to identifying deep-rooted problems.

Simplicity: Simplicity is a virtue, but not in deep organisational diagnosis. Diagnosis must follow the uncharted terrain and not a straight-line approach to solving problems.

Panicking: The fear that deep diagnosis will trace the problems towards those in positions of higher organisational power is another hindrance to long-term success of an organisation.

Skill deficiency: Lack of appropriate skills despite the motivation to diagnose the root cause for surface problems could mar organisational success. Skill deficiency is considered to be resulting in organisational problems more than individual problems.

Broader perspective: Root causes are cross-boundary issues that require visualising the organisation as a macro-system functioning beyond a single specialisation.

Hyper competitive pressures: The accelerating pace of innovation and competition requires organisations to be always on the run. Only then can they survive and excel in their area of business.

The irony

All barriers to success along with hyper competitive pressures pose a paradox. The irony is that as the organisational issues are on the rise, the time available to understand those issues is decreasing. Ideally companies should differentiate between surface and underlying problems.

A Ten Step Escape strategy

Caught between the market forces and organisational complexities, organisations look for escape strategies. A ten-step strategy would help companies face organisational challenges.

Understand the irony: Managers must be made aware of the ironical trap they are caught in. The first step in breaking the paradox is to understand the paradox.

Evaluate ROI: Time invested in identifying the root causes, before plunging into an action effort, always pays-off well.

Tap the creative vent: Innovative ideas lead to better performance. The knowledge- and growth-creating potential of deep organisational diagnosis helps organisations follow the path to success.

Apportion time: Managers must be encouraged to apportion time to optimise their organisation’s potential, keeping in mind the importance of problem solving and planning.

Systems approach: Managers must be coached to view organisations in systems perspectives. They need to emphasise on a complex network of processes and relationships.

Development programmes: Managers recognise the need for well trained management and therefore place greater emphasis on management development programmes. Development programmes must include lectures on differences among symptoms, superficial causes and root causes.

Use diagnostic tools: Analytical methods to solve problems and identify the core issues must be used and effective action taken.

Creative bent: Kindling the creative fire in the managers can challenge them to tackle the diagnostic process.

Driving forces: Employees taking the initiative to deal with underlying issues need to be rewarded. Also they must be provided sufficient time to unravel tricky issues.

Embed the process: The value-generating power of deep organisational diagnosis is efficiently used when managements incorporate it into the fundamental thinking processes. This internalisation leads to continuous organisational improvements and transformation.

Finally

Deep organisational diagnosis is not a simple affair. Time and determination are the prime requisites to change the deep-seated habits of puzzling symptoms of underlying problems. However, investing in these valuables is worthwhile and nets enormous profits.
Ref: TheManageMentor.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

How to Coach Your Boss

How to Coach Your Boss

At the core of every toxic working environment is the toxic boss, manager or supervisor that breeds it. All roads go back to the manager. And if the manager isn't willing to change, then it's a safe bet that nothing will.

That's why to impact long lasting change; managers need to upgrade their style and approach to managing their people. The toxic boss is still alive and thriving. Sure, no breakthrough news here but what if you, as the recipient of this type of management style, could actually do something about it?

Knowing the type of boss you have, their limitations, their management style, their priorities, what drives them and how they communicate, helps you determine exactly where you stand, and what you can expect from them. After all, if you're looking for more individualized attention, support and training it may not be realistic to expect that from your current boss or even possible for that boss to provide you the support and training you need. And if that's the case, at least you now have the evidence to make a more educated and informed decision regarding whether or not to stay in your current position.

So, what can you do to turn around your boss's style of managing and how they communicate with you? Here's a twist. Start by coaching and supporting them using these three simple steps.

First: Coach Up. What can you to do support your boss? Most are used to their employees coming to them with problems and complaints. It's an interesting reaction you get when you approach them with, "Hi Mary. Listen I know how much we're all under the same pressure to produce and for you I can only imaging that it's even more intense. So, I just wanted to ask you what I might be able to do for you to possibly take some of that burden off, or if there's anything you see in my production or performance that I could be doing better which in turn we'd all win."

Next: Create the Opportunity to Discuss Expectations: The law of reciprocity applies. After you've determined how you can make his life a little easier, eventually, your manager can ask what he can do for you, which is your opportunity to ask if you can discuss the management style that you best respond to and how you want to be managed.

Finally: Set Your Boundaries: Bosses don’t know boundaries. Like it or not, through many managers eyes, their #1 responsibility is to run the company, not worry about your feelings. So stand up for yourself and establish your role, but always give 100%. While most of the time not premeditated, people, especially your boss will continually test you, over and over again, in the sense of what they can and cannot get away with when it comes to making requests and demands of you and how they can treat you. While a large percentage of people might initially be scared or intimidated to say something to their boss, in fear of some type of consequence or fallout, most of the time, managers are clueless about how they treat people and often don't even know they're doing it! Don't be surprised when you drop off this article on their desk, and they in turn, thank you for it. So, re-train all the people around you, including your boss, how they can respond to you in a healthier, non-toxic way.

(About the author: Keith Rosen is the Executive Sales Coach™ that top salespeople and managers call first to develop a team of champion performers and boost their sales. A best selling author, Keith has written several books including the award winning Coaching Salespeople into Sales Champions. Inc. magazine and Fast Company named Keith one of the five most influential executive coaches. He's been featured in Entrepreneur, Inc., Fortune, TheStreet.com, Hoovers.com, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. Keith is a frequent guest correspondent on News 12 and has appeared on Fox Business )

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Employers Believe Hiring Will Improve as Unemployment Numbers Worsen

Employers Believe Hiring Will Improve as Unemployment Numbers Worsen

Despite some bleak employment news this week, a large number of executives appear to be bullish on a need for talent.

More than three-quarters of executives surveyed by Korn/Ferry International Inc. say demand for talent will increase more in the next five years than in the previous five.

In addition, 52 percent predicted a recovery in 2009, with 35 percent saying it will be the second half of the year before there are signs of improvement. Another 39 percent said labor market challenges will linger until 2010.

Half of executives looking for jobs said they are “very confident” in their abilities to find one in 2009 that meets their expectations.

The Korn/Ferry report, released Thursday, February 5, arrived as the number of initial jobless claims in the U.S. climbed 5.9 percent the week ended January 31, the Department of Labor reported.

There were 626,000 initial claims for unemployment filed, up from the previous week’s revised figure of 591,000, according to the report released Thursday, February 5.

The Labor Department report corresponds with the most recent Monster Worldwide Inc. employment index, which fell 13 points to a reading of 118 in January. It is down 42 points from a year ago.

“The fact that employers have chosen to begin recruiting in 2009 on a cautious note is not surprising given the uncertain nature of the global economy,” said Jesse Harriott, senior vice president and chief knowledge officer at Massachusetts-based Monster.

“However, there are a few bright spots, including recruiting activity in public administration as well as in the agricultural sector. Furthermore, online recruitment activity still remains higher than levels seen during 2003 after the last recession.”

Monster’s index is based on a review of online job ads taken from a selection of corporate career Web sites and job boards, including Monster.

Someone Is Getting a Raise—But Perhaps Not You

Someone Is Getting a Raise—But Perhaps Not You

To the employees who thought 2009 was the year of the pay freeze: You were wrong, at least so far.

Contrary to the sour economic mood, employers are giving salary increases averaging 3.1 percent in 2009, according to a survey of 1,000 employers by human resources organization “World at Work”. Only 10 percent of employers are freezing salaries of their workers, both “World at Work” and Hewitt Associates report in separate surveys of employers.

Still, wage growth is slowing and is expected to slow further. Companies projected lower salary increases in December than the 3.8 percent increase they had anticipated when “World at Work” surveyed companies in April about projected salary increases for 2009. As companies revise their budgets, they are lowering raises. Still, it’s better than nothing—which is what about one in 10 employers say they will give non-executive-level employees this year, according to the study.

“Organizations are scaling back, but there seems to be a very clear effort to reward employees,” said Alison Avalos, practice leader for Scottsdale, Arizona-based “World at Work”.“If you have a job … you’re in a good position to receive a pay increase this year.”

In another survey, Hewitt Associates reported that 50 percent of U.S. employers are cutting salary increases for 2009. Perhaps more important, 35 percent are laying off workers and 39 percent have instituted hiring freezes.

Other economic indicators paint a much gloomier picture: The Dow Jones industrial average has dipped to below 8,000 from a high of 14,000 in October 2007; the Consumer Confidence Index dropped to another historic low in January, the Conference Board reported January 27; and the Bureau of Labor Statistics also reported last month that in 2008, salaries increased an average of 2.6 percent, less than the projection for 2009 by “World at Work”.

Conference Board economist Ken Goldstein said changes in wages often lag behind declines in the economy and lost jobs.

“With a loss of half a million jobs in November and again in December, and very likely in January, wage growth will slow even more over the next few months,” Goldstein wrote in an e-mail.

According to “World at Work”, executives were more likely to take a pay freeze. About 17 percent of employers surveyed said executives would not receive a raise in 2009.

Across industries and regions, businesses reduced the raises they originally planned to give employees. Half the businesses responding to the survey said their company’s financial performance was worse than in 2007 and that they anticipated a decline in business this year.

Contrary to expectations, hard-hit industries such as manufacturing and finance were no more likely to reduce payouts than other industries, despite receiving federal bailout money.

“It seems those industries are no more affected than any other,” Avalos said. “Everyone has scaled down to the same degree.”

Manufacturing companies said in April that white-collar workers would receive a 3.8 percent raise for 2009, equal to the national average. In December, when the latest survey was taken, the industry reported that white-collar workers would receive an average 2.9 percent raise.

Financial companies projected in April that they would increase salaries for white-collar workers an average of 3.9 percent; as of December that number was 3.2 percent, in both cases just above the national average.

Depending on how one looks at it, the small percentage of workers who had their pay frozen will not see their overall buying power drastically reduced. The Consumer Price Index, a major indicator for gauging inflation reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, rose 0.1 percent as of the end of 2008 compared with a year earlier, as the drop in fuel prices brought overall costs down.

Ref: Jeremy Smerd

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Effective HR Practices

Effective HR Practices

Change is an ongoing phenomenon in every organisation. Organisational change promotes activity in a work place and is a sign of positive growth. Why should HR practices be evaluated? HR practices need to be evaluated to know how effective they are and if the objectives of implementing that practice is achieved. If there is a significant improvement in employee’s performances and organisational performance, then such a practice is effective


Reasons for evaluating the HR function:


Marketing the HR function

. Providing accountability
. Promoting change and developing the current state of the organisation
. Assessing the financial impact on implementing HR practices

Primarily there are two approaches to evaluating HR effectiveness:


The audit approach focuses on reviewing the various results of HR functional areas. Emphasis is on Key performance indicators and customer satisfaction measures.


The analytic approach focuses on either determining:


. Whether the introduction of a program or practice has objectives and results defined
. Estimating the financial implications towards implementing a practice
. Benefits to employees and organisation as a whole, on implementing such practices.

Perspectives to improving the effectiveness of HR programmes

The change model perspective: For new HR practices to be successfully implemented, acceptance by customers, managers, top management, and employees is essential. This will determine the success or failure of the HR practice. The process of change is based upon the interaction among employees, formal organisational arrangements, and the informal organisation.

What are the change related problems that might arise when such programmes are implemented?

. Resistance to change from employees or external members
. Control of the whole programme
. Owners responsible for monitoring change
. Task redefinition

Benchmarking: Benchmarking is another practice to improve organisational performance standards. The practice of finding examples of excellent products, services, or systems is called "best practices." This technique can help companies learn form one another and compare one another’s standards.


Managers need to consider several things when benchmarking:

. Information about internal processes should be collected to compare with best practices of other companies.
. The purpose of benchmarking must be clearly identified, as must the practice to be benchmarked.
. Top management must be committed to the project.
. Descriptive and quantitative data should be collected to implement benchmarking.
. To ensure broad coverage, managers should gather data from companies within and outside of their industry.

What is the best way to implement HR practices?

. Overcome resistance to change by involving employees as much as possible.
. Manage the transition using effective communication
. Shape the political dynamics by seeking support of key, powerful people.
. Redefining tasks by using training

Ref:TheManageMentor

Friday, February 6, 2009

Downsizing: 7 Steps to Help Employees

Downsizing: 7 Steps to Help Employees

The November 2008 U.S. job loss report was staggering. More than 500,000 jobs shed in one month, the worst one-month job loss since December 1974. That brings the 2008 job loss total to 1.9 million. And according to a New York Times report on the job loss situation, deeper cuts will probably happen in 2009.

The HR department isn't always involved in making the decision to downsize; however, HR is in the driver's seat when it comes to orchestrating a smooth transition for everyone who's affected. And although you may not make the layoff announcement, there are many things to consider as you prepare to deal with the anger, grief, and stress often associated with downsizing.

Emotionally prepare yourself. Recognize the fact that you may grieve along with the employees. Part of this step means getting ready for the psychological effect the layoff will have on everyone, including the "survivors." Employees who are left behind are often sad and anxious because they have lost friends and are concerned about their own job security. Some feel guilty that they are still with the organization when others are gone. In addition, they will be required to do more with less, a challenge that may initially seem impossible.

Prepare for the downsizing announcement. You may not actually make it, but you will be asked to explain to the employees what to expect. Always focus on layoffs with respect and dignity. Write down what you plan to say in describing your roll in assisting the employees who will lose their jobs. Then practice out loud until you feel confident. Expect anger and sadness in response to your message. The more prepared you are, the easier your job will be, and the more helpful you can be to the employees.

Consider how you can help. In-house outplacement services can assist those who must find other work. Find out what is available in your community to meet the needs of the unemployed. Be empathetic and willing to go the extra mile in helping your laid-off population. Keep in mind that your "survivors" are watching you and the way you handle those who are leaving.

Minimize the effect of downsizing. Do whatever it takes to win back the trust and commitment of your remaining employees. Show the "survivors" how to be change-resilient; it's essential to overcoming the obstacles. Define exactly what is changing and what isn't. It's not uncommon for your "survivors" to believe that everything is changing when, in reality, most everything is staying the same. You need the "survivors" on your side more than ever now that you are, in many cases, short-staffed.

Communicate early and often. Honesty should play a major role in everything you do and say. These are the people you depend on to keep you in business. Tell them what you know and what you can share. If you aren't allowed to tell them some of what you know, try to explain why.

Be accessible to those who are left. As busy as you are, if employees feel they can't get your attention, you are in trouble. Commit to returning e-mails and phone calls, and make sure employees know when that will happen. During the time of uncertainty, the more accessible you are, the easier it will be for everyone to adjust to the changes.

Be a cheerleader. HR has a major responsibility in redesigning, training, and employee engagement, especially after a major layoff. Employees are looking to HR for guidance in filling in the gaps and getting the right people in place to do so while managing the social pressures that are inevitable with layoffs. Remain positive, set goals, and help others who are struggling with what they are being asked to do.

About the Author: Carol Hacker is an HR consultant and seminar leader who ranks among the experts in the field of recruiting and retention issues. She's the author of 13 highly acclaimed business books. Carol can be reached at (770) 410-0517 or carol@carolhacker.com.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Success Endangered - Organisational Behaviour

Success Endangered - Organisational Behaviour
Employees in today's people driven organisations are provided with enormous opportunities to satisfy their entrepreneurial instincts than their predecessors. Though they have an opportunity to start companies, lead business units and run projects individually, not many are successful.

Waldroop and Butler have identified five behaviour patterns - The Impostor, The Meritocrat, The Hero, The Peacekeeper and The Procrastinator, which affect success.

The Impostor

People with the Impostor syndrome unconsciously feel that they are placed too high and do not belong there. They believe that they are pretending in their position and are afraid that someday people might find out. Every person has strengths and weaknesses. An individual's knowledge of different areas differs. Waldroop suggests, "Don't blame yourself. Buy yourself some time. Fake it - that's fine. Act as if you're going to win, do your homework, and the rest will take care of itself".

The Meritocrat

Meritocrats are persons with great ideas but fail at the implementation stage. Their frustrations in not being able to act upon their idea come in the way of success. Waldroop suggests that the person when presenting his ideas to a manager should present them as if they were not yet fully formed. Use phrases like - 'This is what I'd like to do, but I want your thoughts as well'. In that way they are more likely to avoid confrontations.

The Hero

These people are ambitious and work too hard to achieve their goals. They are compulsive in nature and do whatever it takes to get wherever they want to be. They are more commanders than leaders. Organisations run by these people are characterised by burned-out, exhausted and disgruntled employees. Such people can confront the situation by recognising the early signs of burnout.

The Peacekeeper

Peacekeepers are generally perceived to be calm and avoid conflicts. While organisations benefit from conflict that can create new ideas, peacekeepers are most uncomfortable with conflict as they lack experience in handling conflicts. Waldroop suggests that they should learn to handle conflicts.

The Procrastinator

Butler says, "Procrastination has a lot to do with shame". Procrastinators put off doing something because they feel that completing the task will lead to shame in some form. Their sense of shame arises from fear of challenges. Though they do not lack in skills their fear of shame unconsciously becomes a hurdle to success. According to Butler, the best way to deal with it is to stay with the feeling and experience it.These behaviour patterns not only obstruct the success at workplace but also hinder individual success. The best way to counter them is to identify and deal with them systematically.

Looking Beyond Return On Investment

Looking Beyond Return On Investment

Organisations are increasingly investing in automating HR applications and employee self-service tools. These result in improved services and cost reduction. Organisations, now, recognise the benefits of business value for long-term.

HR departments have been focussing on saving costs on people and paper. With changing times, perspectives too have changed. Today, HR experts and practitioners believe that modern Human Resource Management systems (HRMS) have successfully reduced HR staff and improved their operational efficiency. Now, the focus is on better productivity and added business value.

Course of action

Automation of processes does not necessarily imply reduction in staff. It gives HR the scope to play a strategic role in business. HR now utilises tools that result in effective time management. To ensure a ‘positive business impact’ of investing in HR systems, its business plan should be based on


What it is expected to achieve?


Outcomes and efforts that would be recognised and rewarded by the organisation
What employees must achieve to deliver these outcomes?

Business outcomes decide the use of technology to redesign processes.

Greater value addition


In most organisations HR doesn’t share the HRMS data with other departments. This is in order to maintain its confidentiality and control. Sharing the data can add great value to the business. It saves time and money. Hence, organisations must invest in such systems.


HRMS is the strategic approach to ROI (return on investment) that balances investments with returns expected. It reduces the risks involved. Thus helping HR gain greater credibility.


Ref: TheManageMentor.