February 27, 2010

Zeitgeist 2010

The Human Resource Study Circle[HRSC] in Madras School of Social Work organized an HR seminar called 'Zeitgeist 2010' on 23rd February.

The seminar was aimed at capturing the 'spirit of the times'... 'the better times' we are living in today...

Dr Fathima Vasanth, Principal, MSSW delivered a very inspiring speech on how we should embrace the opportunities of these times but not forget the lessons from the recession.

Mr N T Arunkumar, CEO & Director, Dun Bradstreet TransUnion ADC during his key note address spoke on the need to recognize the advent of social media and the impact it's creating today. It was interesting to have a deeper understanding about how social media is giving increasing power to the consumers.

He spoke about his childhood when he got inspired by his father[who worked in a factory] who once told him that ' it's what you do from 5 to 9 that matters more as a people's manager than what you do from 9 to 5'.

He cited examples of how the employees used to line up to meet his father for advice or solutions after office hours.

He also said that HR should no more be in the comfort zone of calling itself 'a mere facilitator'.

I also loved the leadership principles and core values followed in his company which are as follows:

  • Act with a sense of urgency.
  • Demonstrate a passion for winning
  • Raise the level of collaborative process
Core Values:

A- Applaud intelligence, knowledge and commitment
S-Simplicity in process, product, development and communication
C-Customer first, Firm next.
E-Excellence in everything we do, no tolerance for mediocrity
N- Nurture development of people and community
D-Delivering without excuse every time

However, what inspired me the most was when he said that it's more important to have the attitude of a winner than being a winner.

Mr Venkatesan Varadarajan, Vice President Center Head, MindTree Ltd spoke on how HR is getting aligned with business realities.

While speaking on the company's culture and employer brand, he said how it's a top priority for the HR team at mind tree to provide the employee with a balancing act on 6 important aspects like family, health, intellectual, social,career and wealth.

Mr Mohan Kumar, Executive Director-HR, Nagarjuna Oil Corporation Ltd spoke on the business and HR opportunities in times of recession.

He said that the major opportunities for HR in a recession are:

  • Re-engineering HR systems and processes.
  • Review organization structure.
  • Sharper performance management.
  • Development of in-house training.
  • Employee engagement initiative.
  • Communication.
This session proved to be a great learning.

MS Rangesh, Vice President-HR, Orchid Chemicals & Pharmaceuticals Ltd spoke on the great importance of value creation and speed generation by HR in these times. He said that the main duty of HR professionals is to touch the soul of it's employees [I guess in these times of HR being in the quest of becoming a strategic partner to business, we might be at the risk of forgetting this fundamental duty]

Mr K K Davis, Vice President-HR, Oracle Financial Services Ltd spoke on employee engagement in post recession times. He spoke on how his company has been successfully keeping it's employees engaged on the basis of Gallup Model.

He said that enlisting the front end supervisors as the active partners in employee engagement in the post recession is the key. He also focused on the importance of recognizing the contributors to emotional needs and intellectual needs of employees.

An employee engagement matrix in the company is based on the variables of the extent to which emotional needs and intellectual needs are satisfied in the employees.

Mr Vijay Tadepalli, Vice President-HR, Mahindra Satyam during his valedictory address emphasized on the 4 pillars of new economy- Employees, Investors, Customers and Society. He encouraged the students to have enthusiasm, positivity, clarity of thought and high level of EQ in order to become better HR leaders.

February 24, 2010

Join the HR Confluence movement now!!!!!

Hi all,

A few of us early practitioners and students of human resources began connecting online a few months ago to discuss the future of the HR practice in India and where we as the early practitioners can contribute to that future.

Many candid discussions, blog posts and tweets later, this community has now become ‘HR Confluence’ – a group of like minded, progressive HR practitioners with one strong mission – to make a difference to the HR Community in India with revolutionary, original thought! Through an aggressive social networking initiative which we have already sparked off, we hope to challenge the existing myths and misconceptions about HR that exist today.

We see ourselves now on our way to becoming HR 3.0 – A generation of HR professionals with its pulse on the future!

Our initiative includes:

The HR confluence blog:

The HR confluence Facebook community:

The HR confluence Twitter group:

We invite you to come be a part of HR Confluence and help us in our journey to HR 3.0! Please be a part of our groups, visit all of our pages listed above and leave us your comments and email. Your opinions will add value to our cause and generate more avenues for all of us to be a part of!

We look forward to having you on board!

Jai Ho HR Confluence!!!!

February 23, 2010

Why do they hate HR????

[Warning:This one is a long post]

I came across a community in facebook called 'I hate HR because ' recently. Within a few weeks since it's inception, today it's 140 members strong. The discussions are often very heated up but I feel it's a must for the HR community to recognize the anguish of the members.

Let me point out a few reactions of it's members:

  • They sit there all day, looking pretty and throw their weight around. I mean what do they think they are up to? When there's a party to be planned, event to be organised, posters to be hung... they're there. But where are they when u are facing an issue with ur boss....or when u need clarification abt the appraisal/increment.......
    or when u feel u r stuck in ur bloody dead-end application-support job????? At that time, they vanish faster than students in Phatak's class!!!!
  • First of I am not from HR Team at all but I do have a very strong interaction with the HR team while staffing. It depends mostly on the companies what HR processes they have implemented and how much their people are adhering to it . In some companies I have see HR assigned to particular departments , having bi-weekly call with the teams and understanding their concerns/grievances.

    The major problem with the HR teams where we find them little lacking is they always are looking at figures to achieve irrespective of how that figure needs to be achieved. Most of the time my experiences have been very bad with the HR in terms of resource mapping. They always match the right people to wrong requirements. And most of the time we Delivery team end up correcting those.

    Apart from these in some of companies I have seen HR being so rude with the employees that they do not understand a very important that Delivery teams are bread and butter for them. I guess the basic characteristic of an HR person should be that they should never loose their temper and gravity.

    More later !!!!! need to go home now :)
  • Firstly, the winter project of HR will show how vella and jobless they are.. Is keeping discussions in FB a winter project.. OMG.. i cant blive it..

    Secondly, there is nothing apart from pfaff in HR. not without reason, IIMs decided to go without HR.. HR can only give a rosy picture of a lily.

    Thirdly, HR people change words like changing clothes.. todays' hr words will not b thr tomorrow. they take credit of something goes right but when something goes wrong, they blame others.

    Lastly, HR people are very very overpaid when compared to other specs. they r wasted assets in any organization..

    Can anyone say NO? even here, the first 3 posts here are anti HR.. this discussion is usleess acc to me.. there will b 90 posts against HR while 10 for them..
  • Alright!!! Abuse time!!

    Seriously though, apart from all the rants here against HR, which I fully endorse, my biggest grouse is that how can anybody in HR claim to "evaluate people's performances" without having any experience or any clue what most people are doing? In other words, how the hell can freshers be part of HR in any company?

    From what I've seen most senior people of HR in companies have shifted from other functions to HR after MANY years of service. This makes sense.

    And i hate the HR language in many companies. Hyping up mundane stuff and the like. Put a lid on the excessive, unnecessary, beautifying, ornamental language and talk like normal people. Then we might listen to or read what's being said or written.
    Alright, you got me there. We still won't listen to or read what you say or write. It's still gonna be pure pfaff.
  • I faced certain problems and misunderstandings with HR:
    1)They never processed my leaves, payments etc on time. I mean the whole world wants us to complete targets, work in progress etc, but it wouldnt hurt them to do their work which is to aid the fellow employees
    2)They always left at 5:30 pm, and this is not because we "the other workers" didnt do our work efficiently
    3)They mostly get saturdays n sundays off!

    M i wrong? pls correct me of so.
  • I dont understand what they really do.. OK they sit and make the compensation, do benchmarking.. But are so many ppl required for that?? is it necessary for ppl to do an MBA to makes us play floor games??

So the above is a pulse of only a few members. I wonder what would be the intensity if everyone in the community starts participating in the discussion.

I fully recognize what the members have said but I do not endorse them completely.

Here are a few of my views on the above mentioned issues:

  • One big reason why we are hated is because we deliver a lot of bad news. When it comes to providing a promotion letter, its your boss who wants to do the honours but when it comes to handing over the termination letter, the job is expected to be done by the HR team. This is just a simple example. There are more complex bad news which are delivered by the HR.
  • Yes!!! We are the ones who organize the parties for u all and you still hate us :-(. On a more sincere note, we are beyond organizing parties and fun activities. Try and recognize the intent behind organizing the activities. It's to make you guys feel special and happy. It's just that we gain a lot of visibility while we are putting the right ballons in the right place or getting the right cake for you guys. We do not get noticed when we are engaged in your performance appraisal or when we are recruiting the right guys for your team or organizing the training for you.
  • If we are vanishing from your sight when we are actually supposed to answer your queries then we are doing a terrible job. The job as such is not wrong. It's not being done properly. You need HR to answer those queries so let's not blame the function. Blame us because in this context we are doing the right job in the wrong manner. You can do a lot to change this. Communicate to your business leader that the HR guys are not doing the right job. In many cases the HR to employees ratio is absurd and unreasonable. If you feel so then communicate it to the right guys.
  • I am not a spokesperson for IIMs but if the information about HR not being included in the specialization is true then it's genuinely sad. I must not comment on this issue but feel tempted to say that it might be [I repeat I said 'it might' be] because students are looking for specializations which offer better pay packages. It's no secret that Banking and niche marketing jobs pay you well...Really well ;-) . But I am sure that HR as a subject must be given it's due importance in IIM. Also let's not consider IIMs only. XLRI is one of the best B school in asia and has produced a fabulous list of HR legends :-)
  • There is another concern from a particular point above which I would like to address regarding 'how can anybody in HR claim to "evaluate people's performances" without having any experience or any clue what most people are doing?'. It's you [self evaluation] and your boss [superior] who is involved in the performance evaluation [in most cases] and HR helps to set the system and process in place [Sounds easy but it's not] and facilitates the performance evaluation process [Again sounds easy but it's not that easy ;-)]. If incase the HR guy is the only person who is evaluating your performance then please quit the company [there is something seriously wrong in your company].
  • As far as HR jargons and ornamental language is concerned, I feel that jargons are there even in finance or marketing or operations. Don't hate us for the language we use [unless anyone uses unparliamentary language or abusive language]. At the risk of being repetitive, I am again saying that hate us if we do not do our job properly but do not hate us for our job.It's important to us and even more important for you.
  • Another accusation about HR being 'HR people are like frogs in the well of HR world' might be true in few companies. In any company which is of great repute and legacy, the HR function is a complete strategic partner who is creating genuine value for business. It's just that we have the risk of only getting noticed while we are throwing a success bash party for you.
  • My request to the members of the facebook community is that their thoughts about HR are extremely passionate. Passionate because of various reasons. May be they have been victim of bad HR decisions or unpleasant experience with HR guys. There are many more possibilities. But let's recognize that the possibilities for solutions are also unlimited. We would have not existed without you guys. So make some more effort in telling us how we should improve. Let's collaborate atleast here :-)

February 22, 2010

Is he interested in getting trained???

I had an intense discussion on the recent trends in training and development last Sunday during the HR Sangam meeting at ISTD,Chennai.

A special thanks to Mr. Prem Kumar who is an accomplished corporate trainer and runs his own venture called Vibrant Consulting. He was the speaker and made a very impressive presentation on the topic.

During his presentation, I could understand how training and development has evolved over the years. Thankfully, the evolution has been for the better. However, the evolution has not been recognized by many corporates.

The most evident result of the evolution has been that corporates are considering training as an investment and not cost. But then how many corporates are doing so????

If the huge reduction in training budget of many companies during recession last year is considered then it can be lucidly understood that the evolution has not been recognized by too many companies.

But this post is not about that. It's about a simple observation which I made as Mr Prem made his presentation.

It is about the simple fact which we overlook many times. Whenever we are trained on any domain or subject or work that excites us, the training works marvelously . Similarly, if a passionate cricketer is given training on classical music. He is most likely not going to enjoy the training and neither will he learn any skills in classical music.

Hence, recruitment has a direct correlation with the success of training & development. Let's go back to our text book which says that the purpose of recruitment is to get the right person for THE RIGHT JOB in the right time. The 'right job' is the job for which the associate is passionate about and through which he can contribute in a sincere manner to the organization. Providing the training to the associate for his right job would be so much more interesting and fun.

It's not about making the job easier for the trainer. It's actually about doing the right kind of training for the right set of people so that both the trainer and the trainee can contribute to the company in the right manner.

I feel it's important for even the corporate to take some sincere lessons from the movie 'Taare zameen par'
. The logic is same for teaching as well as training as far as this particular context is concerned.

One interesting point made by Mr Prem Kumar was about giving a small assignment to the candidate during the interview process. If he shows considerable interest and passion towards doing that assignment then his interest & orientation towards the job can be considered suitable.

Training is a process that aims towards genuine learning which translates into sincere performance. We shall never be able to reap the real benefits of training if we do not impart it to the right set of people.

It's not like our school days when we have to score equally well in both history and chemistry. Let's realize that we have grown up considerably ;-) and it's fine [or rather right] to impart training to the right set of people with the interest they are passionate about. And it all starts with recruitment. It remains the first check point........ ;-)

February 13, 2010

Learning from 8th MMA Student's Convention

I have always been fond of MMA Student Conventions. In 2005, I was the National Finalist in Paper Presentation and in 2008, I was the national finalist in Debate competition. However, I lost the finals in both occasions :-( . No other competition has humbled me the way MMA student convention has.

This year I could not participate because I was in Bangalore for Industrial visit when the preliminary round took place. But I did not miss the opportunity to learn some great lessons as a student delegate in 8th MMA All India Management Student's Convention.

Following are a few of the learning which influenced me a great deal:

  • Manish Sabharwal, Chairman & Co-founder, TeamLease Services made a very interesting point that the youth needs to proceed in the future with a softer heart, tougher mind and great ideas as we are blessed to have been educated in Urban India with loads of opportunities.
  • Dr T V Somanathan, IAS, Secretary to the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu stressed on the need for being true to oneself. He sighted perfect examples for the same. Some of my favorite one's were 'it is perfectly fine to celebrate both Shiv Ratri as well as Valentines day', 'It's perfectly fine to apply Vibhuti on the forehead while attending a party'. He even told us to balance between our showing respect towards boss and being candid while suggesting ideas to the boss.
  • Padmaja Alagaganandan, India Business Leader-Human capital Mercer while speaking on the topic 'challenges in the global village' encouraged students to not get threatened by any culture. She spoke on the importance of respecting other cultures and having a willingness to learn & appreciate. She stressed on the fact that we should show greater commitment towards team work and execution.
  • Mr Binu Philip, Director-HR, Microsoft Corporation (India) Pvt Ltd : The competencies for success for Gen Y are Business Acumen, Impact & Influence, Agility, Resilience, Change adaptability, Interpersonal awareness, System thinking, Understanding change dynamics. He said that during a career transition one should follow a three steps process of Match, Pace & Lead.
  • Ms Nayantara Kothari, IFMR Ventures, Rural Drinking Water Network Enterprises delivered a very passionate speech on how she made her own transition from a student to a professional. She explained how in the corporate world one is tested every moment and how their individual performance impacts the entire company.
  • Mr Murgavel Janakiraman, Founder & CEO, Consim Info Pvt Ltd spoke about the 4 Ps of entrepreneurship namely Purpose, Passion, Perseverance and Progress. He explained each of them with powerful examples.
  • Mr Sarath Babu, Founder & CEO, FoodKing Catering Services Pvt Ltd delivered an inspiring speech on how he faced various challenges in his life from early days of poverty to this present day where he is able to empower so many lives as an entrepreneur. He encouraged budding entrepreneurs to never give up and and be ego-less. He said it's perfectly fine to start small but one should grow constantly.
  • Mr Viren Rasquinha, COO, Olympic Gold Quest made a candid presentation on why India performs poorly in olympics. His views were frank and specific. It was great to know the kind of work Olympic Gold Quest is doing in order to improve Indian sports. Truly admirable!!!!
  • Mr Vishnu Mohan, CEO Asia Pacific and Global Brand Managing Director, Havas Media in his very convincing presentation on how social media is impacting the new age society. The presentation was full of interesting facts. One clear inference drawn from the presentation was that the future of generating, spreading and leveraging ideas is not based on one way communication but on conversation and context.
  • Mr Karti P Chidambaram, member, AICC encouraged the youth to be more aware of politics and participate in it more actively. He said in order to bring about real change in society, one has to become a part of politics.
  • Ms Anuradha Oza, Senior Associate, Human Capital, Mercer speaking on the topic 'quest for happiness' told us that in order to choose a career one has to first find out what they truly love doing, then find out what they are good at and finally how one can make a living from it. I particularly loved a statement she made towards the end when she said that all of us have the potential to paint our own future and we need not buy anyone else's painting.
  • Mr Abhijit Bhaduri, Chief Learning Officer, Wipro Ltd delivered a speech straight from his heart. He told us about his initial confusion in choosing a career to which I personally could relate . He told us how his book got rejected by publisher multiple times but he kept trying as his wife had once told him that 'you are not looking for multiple rejects. You are in search of a single 'Yes''. And indeed one publisher did say yes to him and I got my favorite author. It was inspiring to know how he manages his time inspite of being a passionate and high profile HR professional, author and also pursuing all his hobbies. He finally told us to never stop dreaming and never compromise on the little pleasures of life in meeting old friends or continuing the favorite hobbies.
  • Mr Vinoo Titus, ED, SmartKapital Venture Associates provided two models of happiness namely the Drowning Man model & Love making model. The Drowning Man model is about deriving momentary pleasure after coming out from a tough trouble like in case of a drowning man. Love Making model is about having happiness in the beginning, middle and even the end of the process. He said in order sustain happiness in work one should persue meaningful goals in life. In order to sustain happiness one should find pleasure in work or a pleasurable work.
The convention was indeed a good experience with loads of learning.

February 11, 2010

Which leadership style suits Gen Y the best???

Gen Y or Millennials or Youngistan[in the Indian context] seems to be capturing the thoughts of various thought leaders like never before.

They are the 'maximum' in terms of the number and also in terms of the impact which they collectively create in Corporate India. Today they are more prominently creating impact in managerial or executive level. But soon they would be holding leadership positions. Hence, it's extremely important to understand them and the possible leadership style they would adopt for success.

I myself belong to that generation and would present the following observations about my generation as an insider[These are pure assumptions and intuitive in nature]:

  • We are impatient...
  • We prefer following our passion...
  • We aim for prosperity rather than security...
  • We look for recognition and fame...
  • We love doing transformational activities rather than transactional activities...
  • We do not readily approve of hierarchies...
  • We look for logic in most of our activities...
  • We love having some serious fun....
Considering the few points above, I believe that when Gen Y will gain prominence in leadership positions, it will have the following implications:

  • They themselves will be dealing with subordinates who will be having humongous desire for transformational activities.
  • They will be required to sincerely try and infuse transformational element in every transactional work of their subordinates.
  • They will have to clearly communicate to their team members on how each of their activities would play a transformational role in business.
  • The Gen Y leader must know that 'putting right people in right job' will gain greatest relevance than ever before. He has to correlate the team member and his passion.
  • The Gen Y leaders need to be 'FUNNY'.
  • They must learn how to set their team members or subordinates free and yet exercise a subtle but effective control over them.
  • He has to be the sounding board of his team members and must keenly listen to their ideas and feedback.
So is it going to be autocratic style or democratic style or free rein????

I do not have the answer. You got to ask someone more intelligent but this post might help ;-)