Should you invest on Training and Education of Employees?

ciel blog - invest on training and education

All workplaces want their employees to be at their productive-best. They invest energies on creating the right environment to perform, setting norms and values, organizing work in a manner that facilitates value creation, incentivising employees, adopting the right tools and technology, educating and developing employees and so on. Can someone stack-rank these factors so that efforts and investments can be accordingly channelized?

Training is good, What’s new?

Common wisdom says, most human beings are keen to learn new things. Given a fear-free environment and adequate sense of independence, they would apply the acquired knowledge on their work. They would practice newly acquired skills and sharpen the saw over time. They will need lesser efforts of guidance and supervision from their bosses. They feel cared for and valued.

Sometimes, such initiatives enable employees discover interest in new areas of work; they move out of their comfort zone and take up new kind of work within the organization. It allows the employer to move their employees across various roles in the organization. And at the same time, it helps employees acquire knowledge on various areas of work and be future-ready.

The moot question here, “Is training and Education a feel-good factor for the organization and the employees equally or do they directly contribute in revenues and profits of a business?”

Who misses the Training Programs?

Is it the manager who wants the program to happen or the employee who wants the program? All of us know, it is the ideal scenario when the manager as well as the employee want training, are keen on acquiring new knowledge and sharpening their existing skills. Most organizational contexts are far from this ideal.

When a manager believes that continuing investments in training keeps his troop ahead of the curve and motivate them to do more, the manager drives the initiative. He or she finds ways and means of designing and organizing appropriate reinforcements.

However, in many situations, managers believe, time on such activities is wastage of work hours; they see many lacunae in the program and believe, it isn’t good enough for their context. Some of them profess that employees must learn on-the-job and self-develop by observing others at work, drawing upon the resources on the internet. They exonerate themselves from the responsibility of developing their people and ask the employees to figure out a way of staying relevant to deliver what the job demands. The leaders have a problem here with their managerial talent! Before any further investment is made on training, they have to invest on the managers across levels in the organization to own up and drive the learning initiative in the company; and use it as a driver of performance.

When the HR team drops the beat on training, the Managers across the hierarchy of an organization must see this drop and put efforts to bring it back. That’s the goal of a high-performing organization.

It takes two to tango!

Organizations can facilitate learning, encourage acquiring new skills and create opportunities to learn. However, the onus lies on the learner. That is why they say, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

There are employees who tend to consider a training initiative to be a torture; they fail to concentrate on the learning objective, stay distracted, look for the comforts of a classroom and do not value the efforts put by their bosses and colleagues in creating the opportunity for him or her to learn. Hence, it is important that participation in continuing education, training and development is voluntary. There are industry sectors and certain roles which need the employee to upgrade his or her skills and knowledge on a continuous basis. In this context, an employee has to stay hungry for more knowledge and new skills. When someone shows a contra-behaviour, it’s time to bring in someone amenable to learn and develop rather than struggling to change someone’s motives.

Training and education is valuable only when the manager uses it to drive performance and when the employee craves for it!



Future of the Job of a Recruiter

ciel blog - future of a Recruiter's job

Automation by bots is getting ubiquitous. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are catching up fast across industry sectors and a variety of jobs therein. More often than not, we are talking to a bot to enquire about a gym membership, buying a house, fixing an appointment with a doctor, checking availability of our favourite sauce in the store, placing a dinner order, booking a movie ticket, playing a game of chess and so on. The buy-suggestions that we see in our emails, the recommendations of trading an equity or a bond that we receive on our phones, the pop-ups that come on our screens are all by machines and algorithms. They know what products we are buying, the topics that we have an interest in and the people we are in touch with. They know with a fair degree of accuracy what we are most likely to do at a point of time. Does this phenomenon potentially render millions jobless?

As usual, there are two schools of thoughts here. Let’s focus on the job of Recruiters today. Researchers at University of Oxford published a paper in Sep 2013 on future of employment. Please refer to a graph in the study. 47% of the US jobs are most likely to be automated. The study says, the probability of automating the job of an HR Assistant is 90%; that for payroll and timekeeping clerks is 97%. What about the job of Recruiter?

ciel blog - graphic - future of a Recruiter's job

The Real Recruiter will always be in demand!

Jobs which require creativity, social skills and perception or intuition require human capabilities, robots are unable to match yet. Though Artificial intelligence has been rapidly developing, robots are yet to match our abilities to take a decision based on the gut-feel, intuition and emotions. Winning hearts isn’t yet in the domain of robots! Sophia has been granted citizenship, but in the near future, we aren’t likely to marry a robot; a robot is unlikely to conceive life, understand human feelings, sense deeper meanings in the words spoken, express them in the form of an art and so on any time soon.

A typical day of a recruiter has quite a few administrative tasks such as reaching out to the clients who have a need for talent, scheduling meetings, making notes of conversations, preparing documents, maintaining database of candidates, reviewing pipeline of orders, sending proposals, preparing offer letters and so on. Automation is already catching up on all these facets.

The interesting parts in the life of a Recruiter are to build one’s own credibility with the hiring manager and a candidate, ask exploratory questions, listen to the unspoken words, interpret human motives, study behaviours of individuals and groups, connect the dots to build a picture, use it to match an individual’s aspirations with the beliefs and values of an employer.

Are you the Real Recruiter?

Many recruiters these days have a very low level of skills in recruiting. They look for a detailed job description, use job boards to advertise the role, receive applications and manage the pipeline. This is excellence in execution of administrative tasks, soon a bot will do all of these without a glitch.

The Recruiter who works in the realm of discovering real needs, consulting the client on the ideal fit and advising the candidate on the ideal career choice is getting rarer. This is the Real Recruiter who will always be in demand!

It’s not late. Develop now!

Business world is getting increasingly competitive. Talent is one of the most crucial ingredients of the success recipe for an organization. They need the right-fit talent who is not necessarily from the best of colleges and the highest-paid in the market. The right-fit for a company is someone who matches their context well.

The Recruiter must be creative to spot all possible sourcing grounds and reach the target candidates. He or she needs to bring up all the insight about the industry to be able to understand the context of a candidate perceptively. Further, he or she needs to observe various events in an organization and the behaviours of its leaders to comprehend the operating values there. Last but not the least, the recruiter has to mix these perceptive abilities, insights and intuition with one’s social skills to be able to emerge as a credible advisor for the organization and the talent.

One has to consciously build these skills to emerge as a Talent Architect who is coveted by the Top Leaders of any organization.


3 Factors to consider while you boost your Organization Performance

ciel blog - performance boosting

Leaders at the top have the challenge of raising the bar and consistently deliver better performance. They are always hungry for ideas to brighten the future and energy to put those ideas into action. Given the resource constraints, they make choices and put all their energies along the chosen path. They stay the course until they are sure, the best has been given. What can they do to ensure that the performance is maximized and there is no regret in future?

Performance Ecosystem has to be Robust

HR Directors and Business Leaders know, the first step to a hi-performance organization is to define the understanding of success. They define the measures of success and assign goals for each of them. Then starts the flow-down to the bottom-most layer in the organization.

Organizations define KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) for each role and get the manager to define a SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound) goal for the employee. There are periodic discussions to evaluate the progress and make course-corrections. They typically follow an annual cycle when the manager has a formal meeting with the employee to review the year’s achievements and efforts, draws up a development plan for the future and arrives at a performance score. There are various methods by which the HR team sanitizes these scores and ensures that the process is consistently followed. Most progressive organizations have this ecosystem in place. Is this adequate to deliver the best results?

Many task-focused HR departments ensure that the string of activities are executed tirelessly. They make sure that the manager records his or her feedback, draws up the goals for the next cycle of evaluation and arrives at the performance score. This in itself is a herculean effort which must be applauded. Unfortunately, this is not yet the best!

The shareholders are looking for the best results. This ecosystem ensures completion of tasks but does not guarantee consistent results. We need total alignment in the organization, right from the top to the bottom in terms of organization priorities, measurement scales and use of the tools in a uniform way. That brings the robustness!

Simple Design works the best

All of us know, objective measurements are easy and scalable; number of KPIs should be 3 to 5 and not more than that. We also know, behavioral competencies are difficult to measure and are important. So, they must not be a long list of items and at the same time, should be defined in a simple way along with a rating scale so that they are understood uniformly.

Many organizations make the mistake of defining too many KPIs for a role. Nobody remembers them and hence, are not focused upon in day to day work. Some organizations have different KPIs for the same role and some times, these are not in sync with what the leader at the top is aiming at. Often leaders have no time to define KPIs for the business enabling roles. In such a case, business enablers in the organization run helter skelter, fail to align with organization priorities and need not be on company’s full-time roles.

Hence, we must have a simple KPI structure that permeates the entire company and is logically aligned with those of the Top Leaders. Moreover, they must be transparent and well-understood.

OpMech matters

Operational Mechanics (OpMech) gets into the nuts and bolts of implementation. Leaders on the top have to ensure that the rank and file knows what is valued in the company. They must know what is to be done when a customer complains, an employee has a personal problem, a conflict arises with the supervisor, a vendor asks for undue favours, an employee behaves rudely, someone has been consistently missing targets, two departments have disagreements, a news about the competition is heard  and so on. The response to these issues define an organization and are much more deep-rooted than the KPIs, Rating Scales and Performance Scores.

Leaders have to find a rhythm to methodically reiterate what is valued, set examples and surface the difficult conversations. These form the bedrock on which the performance ecosystem operates. If the foundation is shaky, the ecosystem operating on the top could crumble suddenly some time. Hence, it is critical that the Top Leaders set the tone to define what is right and get their next levels to make those things operational at the ground level. Thus, the performance ecosystem works reliably as a seamless virtuous circle.


Shaping Careers

ciel blog - shaping careers

Business has been changing fast due to changes in technology and socio-economic trends. The concept of life-time employment is changing to gig work. Engagement between employee and employer is getting redefined. One is valued as long as he or she is able to deliver an impact in the business and shows the flexibility to adapt to the changing contours of the business.

In the recent times, we see hectic activities in various industry sectors in the form of mergers, new investments and acquisitions to keep pace with changes in the external environment. One of the recent studies by CIEL on Indian Telecom sector shows, 69% of the employees have received less than 7% hike in their annual salaries; 50% of the companies are experiencing higher attrition levels and a significant proportion of the employees do not have a job offer at hand while leaving their employer. This clearly shows, they have to script a new path and shape their careers differently.

Agile Thinking

As the legendary story goes, elephants can dance; but, it is not easy to stay nimble all the time. As time passes, we gain experience, sharpen our saw in a particular way and tend to get into a particular groove. We tend to lose the edge. Many people do not keep an eye on the developments around them. At times, the developments could be internal such as the business desiring to change its focus; and some times, it could be happening in both the worlds : internal as well as external. We need to keep our eyes and ears open to the signals around us. We get caught in the trap of activities and lose our sight of the signals of change.

After taking notice of the changes, one has to believe in the fact that one could change course and get onto something new. Some times, the change required could be huge such as leaving a full-time job to starting a new venture. CIEL’s study shows that entrepreneurship is a serious career choice for people leaving a job in Telecom sector (73% subscribe to this view). One has to be courageous to take the risk of making the shift.

Continuous Investment

Some people see the writing on the wall. Yet they do not act on it. Acquiring new skills, reading relevant material, discussing with colleagues to make meanings out of the changes and planning alternate options are not easy. But, given the volatile world that we live in, they have to be done. We have to continuously invest on learning and development.

It is important to excel in the chosen field and sharpen the saw; at the same time, one has to take a little longer term view, say three to five years to assess if the current path looks clear and obstacles on the way are surmountable. If the path doesn’t seem clear, one must evolve alternatives to achieve goals of the career, allocate certain time of the day or week to focus on these priorities.

Happiness at the core

Shaping careers is not limited to reading the signals of change and investing time and energy to learn new things. Rather, it is about gaining happiness and joy through one’s achievements and results.

Many of us think that a successful career is about by the financial wealth, the job title and the endowments. However, the fact is that the core of a successful career is happiness; and the other factors such as money, authority and power are the outer layers. If one is filled with coats of outer layer without a strong core, it crumbles fast.

Hence, it is important, while shaping a career, we must discover what brings us into life, strikes a chord with the soul and injects energy. The ideal design is to align these with the environmental changes and opportunities.


Telecom Sector Jobs in India

ciel blog - telecom sector jobs

India has witnessed rapid growth in phone connections in the last two decades and emerged as the world’s second largest telecom network. At 423 million internet users, India is the second largest in the world. Urban tele-density is 173% and for the rural India, it is 57% now and increasing. Telecom technology has been continuously evolving; many new applications such as IoT, machine to machine communication are emerging.

One of the recent studies by ASSOCHAM and KPMG showed a bullish outlook in terms of creation of new jobs. And on the other hand, there is consolidation in the industry reducing the number of operators and hence, reduction in the number of jobs. Given this backdrop, what is in store?

This shall pass away:

The immediate issue of job losses and hardships is for real. The individuals and their families have to overcome this hurdle. There are sectors other than telecom; they value work experience of Telecom; for example, skills like sales, marketing, business enabling roles such as IT, HR, finance, general administration, legal are valued in several other sectors. Secondly, there could be a few opportunities in another player within the sector. Last but not the least, this is an opportunity to explore the paths that caught one’s attention but one did not pursue them due to several other reasons. For example, entrepreneurship, further studies, teaching are possibilities.

Over the last few years, competitors have dropped pricing in order to lure customers and been servicing huge debts leading to erosion of margins. The current developments of acquisitions leading to optimization of workforce will do a lot of good to the industry though the customers could eventually see gradual pressure on their wallet. Time will tell if the customer will see a corresponding value in the increased spend.

Stay on the cutting edge:

The sector is so competitive that the market players are busy in activities and they expect the employees to be running on a treadmill all the time. In the process, one keeps the muscles flexible and agile; however, the muscles do not necessarily build their strength and sustainability. One has to go for a different regimen to build strength and live long.

Many of us have the misnomer that the employer company is responsible for development of our skills. But, the reality is that organizations can only facilitate learning but the onus of keeping oneself fit and strong lies on the employee.

As technology has been changing and new methods of doing one’s job are in vogue, one must keep an eye on these, develop one’s skills on a continuous basis. Sectors like telecom have been seeing major changes in quick succession. It is an opportunity for a practitioner to be on the fast lane and learn from them. It is not only true for the engineering talent but also for all the functions in the sector. While the core of the business keeps evolving, all roles in the business have to be adapting quickly as well. And at the same time, it is a threat for someone who wants stability and resists quick changes. One has to be on the cutting edge all the time!


3 ways to spot a Fake Resume

ciel blog - spotting a fake resumeWe see professional resume-writers at work. There are websites which guide applicants to fake their resume in the name of presenting their credentials in a polished and professional manner. It is a global phenomenon that candidates glorify their resumes in order to make it impressive. Experience shows that some of these glorification or polishing leads to fabrication of facts and hence, lying. To make matters complicated and interesting, the resume is not a legal document and hence, the employer cannot do much after discovering a lie in the resume. Background verifications are mere postmortem; they do not replace the time and effort lost in recruiting the liar. So, it is crucial to be diligent right at the start than doing a postmortem. How can we suspect a resume to be fake?

Make the Right Start

Recruiters are often running against time. They have to meet their target number of resume submissions each day. Almost every role that they fill, needed to be filled yesterday! Given this backdrop, they are looking to complete a conversation with a potential candidate quickly.

The first conversation with the candidate is complex because the recruiter has to establish her credibility, build rapport, understand the candidate’s profile and aspiration, pitch the opportunity to attract the candidate, do a quick assessment of the fitment with the role and check the veracity of the information in the resume. All of this in one call!

Few years ago, it was a common practice for the recruiter to have a preliminary conversation with the candidate and follow it up with a personal meeting. However, the speed of business has increased tremendously and often the candidates do not have the time to have a detailed discussion. So, the recruiter has to accomplish the objective of finding a suitable candidate with a believable resume over a call.

Go over the details along with the candidate

As a common practice, one has to connect the dots between various pieces of information in the resume such as date of birth, age, educational qualification, colleges, universities, years of passing the examinations, full-time courses, part time courses, employment history, companies worked for, the salaries drawn, the accolades won along the way and the references. In the process, one can notice mismatches between information furnished in the resume and the statements of the candidate.

Given the experience of the recruiter, one can focus on the last five years to judge if the career graph makes sense and the pay at each stage seems commensurate with the positions held. Further, one can observe if the references are forthcoming, the degrees and the colleges seem genuine and the depth of experience is reflected in terms of the candidate’s knowledge of the industry, the company and the domain. This part is tricky and can be confusing for recruiters who are relatively less-experienced. So, when in doubt, one must get the senior to speak to the candidate for another round of discussion to take the final call on the candidature.

Evaluate and Discuss

Recruiters need to ask open-ended questions to the candidates. They need to understand the aspirations of the candidate and link them with the career graph. If the aspirations do not match the career graph in a pragmatic way, the recruiter must discuss openly with the candidate and reset his or her expectations. At this stage, the candidate can see that the recruiter is not impressed and his or her attempts of exaggerating the profile are visible to the recruiter. Most often, the candidate drops off the selection process suo moto and hence, saves time for the organization. Alternately, the recruiter drops the candidate. In either case, the search for alternate candidates starts immediately.

Had the recruiter not probed the aspirations and matched them with the career graph, the candidate would have gone ahead in the hiring process. In the event, the candidate successfully clears the next rounds, the organization would have set a bad precedence.

In 2012, Yahoo had to let go of its CEO on the issue of exaggerated resume. In spite of multiple discussions with experienced members of the Board and other agencies, the inconsistencies in the resume could not be spotted. The organization had to face embarrassment and lost precious time in the process. Hence, it is easier said than done.

The recruiter has to be unassuming, hold in-depth conversations with the candidate, pay attention to the details and apply one’s knowledge about the talent market to spot potential lies in the resume!


3 ways to minimise Offer Declines

ciel blog - 3 ways to minimise offer drop-outs

Until the early 2000’s, 90% of the offered candidates accepted the offer and joined work. As IT and Outsourcing industry boomed in India, opportunities increased significantly, especially at the junior and mid levels. Naturally, candidates maximized the gains for them. They shopped around looking for the best offer; current employers threw in a few interesting sops to retain the resigning employee.

These days, recruiters keep guessing if an offer will convert into a joinee. I have noticed, in certain sectors in IT, 40 – 50% offers drop off. Some organizations report 80% of their offers do not convert into joinees. 40% or 80% … it is crippling and unbelievably depressing! It is a major concern for the recruitment industry as well as for talent acquisition process. What can one do to minimize offer drop-outs?

Give the best offer

Candidates drop the offers due to several reasons. Most common reason cited by them is a better offer having come their way. We must go under the skin of this ‘better offer’. If we can make our offer the ‘best offer’, it will be hard to resist. Best offer is not necessarily the highest salary, rather it is the offer that matches the candidate’s wants and needs!

We have to understand what the candidate is looking for. Often, the candidate is not clear what is the best for him (or her) and what one must ask or demand. A recruiter must play the critical role of listening to the candidate, developing the vital rapport with him (or her), helping the person give a finite shape to those expectations and re-calibrating them along the lines of realism.

Gaps in this step point to the fact that the recruiter is shooting in the dark; the candidate might or might not find the offer interesting; there is all likelihood of the candidate going for a window shopping once he or she has received the offer from you.

It is critical to position the offer right in the mind of the candidate. The offer appears to be the best when it matches with most of the needs. It is the intelligent recruiter who discovers the needs well, redefines them, checks how the opportunity matches with the needs and then highlights how the offer is the ‘best offer’.

Get the Right start

The opening conversation is the most crucial in the entire life cycle of engagement with the candidate. Several times, the recruiter makes the mistake of offering the opportunity with a detail description and does not make an attempt of discovering the needs of the candidate. Naturally, the opportunity of consulting with the candidate to define and calibrate the expectations is lost.

The start is right when the recruiter is able to establish her credibility, gain attention from the candidate and listen to what could be a great career move for him or her. It calls for confidence of the recruiter, knowledge about the talent market, practice of having such discussions and ability to listen deeply.

Give a realistic preview of the Job … Do NOT oversell!

Some recruiters tend to over-promise. Candidates get impressed and start visualising the work environment, the boss, colleagues, future opportunities and so on. After they start on the new job, they encounter the reality which is hugely away from what they dreamt about. This disenchantment grows; at a certain point in time, one starts exploring other opportunities and walks out of the job. The employer organization loses invaluable time and hence, money. The candidate suffers from emotional distress, loses time and works hurriedly looking for alternatives. Sometimes, it may not be possible to find another opportunity and hence, one forces oneself to a sub-optimal engagement and hence, a disappointing result for the employer organization.

It is critical that the recruiter does not adopt any shortcut in the recruitment process. Rather one must invest time and effort in discussion with the candidate such that a realistic preview of the job is there in front.

In sum, the needs of the candidate have to match with the job offer and the candidate must have a realistic picture of the job. The recruiter must have a good knowledge of the talent market and listen to the candidate deeply so that she becomes the trusted advisor of the candidate. Offer drop-outs become less of a trouble!!!