Hire Smart

ciel blog - hire smart

In our world of smart phones, high speed computing and intense communication, everything has to happen fast. Enterprises are often not happy with the pace of execution internally as well as with their external stakeholders. They hate to see positions lying vacant because of the fear of missing opportunities in the market.

Line managers are busy to describe what they need and the HR managers have no time to sit down with the line manager and agree on the requirements. At the same time, candidates look around for possible choices when they decide to apply for a job opportunity. They are not sure what kind of a role and employer they should be searching for. So, there is a lack of planning at both the ends and hence, hiring is damn difficult. How can an organization be smart in dealing with these complexities?

Do not waste time with CVs!

Marquee employers have researched extensively to understand what kind of talent fits them the best. They have tried to perfect their recruitment process by comparing the prediction of a recruitment process with actual performance of the new joiner in 6-12 months’ time. All these studies haven’t yet yielded a formula that is universal.

Normally, companies use a pre-written job description document to kick-off the hiring. Recruiters typically pick a few keywords from the document and dig into several databases to find a few CVs that have a high occurrence of these keywords. They speak to these folks about the job and push them to attend a job interview. Many candidates are open to check their market value and have hardly anything to loose; so, they agree to attend the interview without giving it a good thought. Interviewers normally review 20 CVs and interview 5 candidates before they choose one. Does the process have to start with a CV?

These days, CVs are not a good indication of what the candidate brings to the table. There are several resources which help a candidate produce a CV that matches the job requirement well. Secondly, interview as a tool is not highly reliable and hence, an applicant who answers well in an interview is not necessarily going to be a successful employee.

Can we define the business challenge the role has to deal with and the outcome expected? Based on these, can the recruiter develop a job description for the role, interview the candidate accordingly and provide a few paragraphs about the applicant justifying why you should interview him?

We do not need CVs. Let us conserve the time which is normally used to read up CVs of applicants. Rather, ask your Recruiter to give you a note of recommendation for the candidate. This note will be a good overview of the candidate and at the same time, triggers thoughts for the interview.

Go beyond the obvious!

We know there is no perfect-fit in this world. We have to always settle with a close-fit or the best-fit. All line managers do not like to believe this. They keep interviewing candidates with the hope of discovering the jackpot. It becomes an endless loop!

Sometimes, interviewers go along predicted lines of matching qualifications and past experiences of the candidate with their mental picture of an ideal candidate. One can manage the impressions of the interviewer in such a context because the desired responses are well-known.

One has to go beyond the obvious and deep-dive into the realms of behaviours, beliefs and attitudes of a candidate. Interviewers must be trained to ask open-ended questions, follow-up conversations, hold the discussion in an unbiased manner, rate the fitment as per pre-agreed rating scale and write a good summary of the findings. This is easier said than done. Organizations with mature HR processes invest on these infrastructure. Ideally, each interview must focus on specific aspects and explore deeply on just two to three aspects.

More than one conversations are essential

Google follows a Rule of Four where 4 experienced Googlers interview a job applicant and the total of their scores forms the base of hiring decision. There are similar such practices in other organizations as well. The idea here is to look at the fitment from a diverse perspective.

Candidates prefer a quick conclusion to their application process. Enterprises want quick closure of their open positions. Yet several challenges leave both the employer organization and candidates frustrated with the long cycle times.

One of the ways to deal with this dichotomy is to schedule multiple discussions back to back at one go. This helps candidates and the employer organization to assess one another holistically for a potential fitment. Moreover, the interviewers or assessors get an opportunity to compare between the candidates and firm up their mind.

Senior leaders play an important role in making the hiring process smart. Their commitment to make the process stable, reliable and robust is the first step. Else, the war for the best talent remains as a rhetoric and doesn’t reflect on the ground.

Ref: http://www.cielhr.com/hire-smart/

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Should you allow your people to work from home?

ciel blog - work from homeWe understand the pros and cons of working from home or tele-commuting. Significant amount of research has been carried out on the subject. The Third Wave of Virtual Work is an interesting read.

Though all forms of work cannot be carried out remotely, with growing concerns about traffic, commuting hours and the environment, employees are happy to tele-commute. Moreover, advances in technology have transformed the way we communicate, make decisions and collaborate at work. These days, it is pretty easy to work together on a virtual platform. Organizations save costs on physical infrastructure and employee welfare.

Yet some of us do not feel comfortable working out of small offices and home offices. Some feel under-motivated to perform at their best when they are physically removed from their colleagues. Hence, organizations are flexible in configuring their workspaces and the policies around tele-commute. Such flexibilities give rise to confusion in defining and administering HR policies. Sometimes, workers think that virtual-working will impede learning, affect career growth and attenuate their social skills.

Given this complexity, when should one promote remote-working?

How much collaboration and intuition is required at work?

Individual contributors like a writer, researcher, trainer, carpenter, plumber, electrician, draftsman, statistician, tele-caller, customer service by emails, documentation executive, accountant and so on work for long stretches of time independently. They do not need continuous guidance from their supervisor; neither do they need an interaction with another co-worker to complete the piece of output required from them. One can work from anywhere in these cases as long as one is certified for his or her proficiency in the job.

Many a times, the job involves trouble-shooting unknown issues or rarely occurring challenges. One needs to be on-site to observe the events, diagnose the problem, discuss with the others to explore solutions and develop new ideas. Though we have advanced methods such as video-conferencing, live chats and so on, in these situations, nothing compares being together and tapping into one another’s thoughts and capabilities in a seamless manner. Non-verbal communication and group dynamics play an important role in such tasks.

If you are flying a plane, driving a car, treating a patient, giving care to a child, taking order in a restaurant, playing a physical sport, receiving a guest in the hotel lobby, cooking a meal and teaching a kid, one needs to use one’s physical presence to communicate empathy, use intuition and deploy human energies. While technology such as artificial intelligence, robotics, high-speed computing and super-fast connectivity are developing fast, we haven’t yet seen machines which are able to replicate human behaviours. These roles cannot be remote-worked.

Do you have well-defined Performance Standards?

It is common knowledge but many many organizations in the world find it very difficult to define roles, structure the deliverables of a role and define the output in an objective manner. Employees remain busy in tasks and activities, but the deliverables are often not very clear to them. They think, each day is a new day and look forward to what their supervisor asks of them. They seek inputs, guidance and supervision.

The lack of clarity could be due to ignorance or assigning low priority to organization-building or inability to design a performance management system. In either case, remote-working becomes impossible. The supervisors do not trust the judgement of their direct reports and prefer to monitor them closely. In this kind of an environment, one cannot allow tele-commute.

Do you Walk the Extra Mile to Care for the Employees?

It doesn’t need a pundit to advise us that employees need to be cared for. What’s the fuss? Humans value freedom and independence, but at the same time, they need recognition, challenges and confidence of others. They need to experience the trust of their colleagues, team members and superiors. They need to connect with the purpose of their work.

Remote workers or virtual workers often are out of mind because they are out of sight. This happens when an organization has both kinds of employees in the same team. The virtual workers feel neglected; their commitment weakens and the vicious cycle of performance starts. It becomes difficult for them to recover from it. Employer brand takes a beating. Though tele-commute increases the talent pool and supposedly, increases retention, in this situation, one’s ability to attract talent goes down and productivity of such employees suffers.

The senior managers in an organization have to see the merit in tele-commute and drive the program passionately. They need to make sure that the work is designed well for individual contribution, the employees are continuously trained, work is defined well in terms of targets and performance indicators. And the remote-working employees must find an emotional connect with the organization and the work.

Ref: http://www.cielhr.com/should-you-allow-your-people-to-work-from-home/

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!

ref: http://www.cielhr.com/should-you-invest-on-training-and-education-of-employees/

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.

Ref: http://www.cielhr.com/future-of-the-job-of-a-recruiter/

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.

ref: http://www.cielhr.com/shaping-your-career/

Is your Age just a number?

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A fifty year old salesman is looking for a change from his current job. He is a graduate and has been selling electrical appliances all his life. He understands the consumer preferences well; knows about the products thoroughly. He is skilled well to make a sale happen and has been meeting his targets. It should be easy for him to get a new job based on his proven track record, knowledge and expertise. Will the Top retailers hire him? Will the consumer durable industry welcome him with open arms to retail their products?

Age plays an important factor in recruiting decisions

Recruiters and employers alike, are prejudiced towards hiring a certain kind of people. They subconsciously choose people who match a set of criteria. Age is one such unspoken criterion that interviewers and assessors apply while deciding.

Two-thirds of our population are below the age of 35. Hence, a lot of managers in the mid to senior levels are in their youth. Given the social norms that we grow up with, most Indians are not comfortable to supervise someone who is senior to them by age. So, subconsciously they look for younger people to work in their teams. Age plays an important role in getting chosen for a job, not the skills alone.

And it is often believed that the younger people are energetic, dynamic, ambitious, quick-learners, tech-savvy and willing to adapt. Many people think that the older people are rigid, inflexible, slow, impatient and among the spent-force. Naturally, there is just a handful of jobs such as a trainer, a teacher, a singer, a chef where grey hair is valued.

No Law that prevents discrimination based on age

In the US, it is unlawful to enquire about the age of the applicant in an interview. In India, our constitution prevents discrimination based on caste, creed and religion. Age is not one of these. Hence, an employer can decide to use age as a criterion for their decisions of recruiting and retirement. Legally speaking, there is nothing wrong in using age as a filter. Organizations do look at the age of the applicants to judge their suitability with what the role demands. They tend to figure if the applicant will be able to cope with the stress, work schedule, challenges and demands of the role. This kind of judgement is not among the best HR practices. However, interviewers and assessors follow such methods most often than not.

Make way for the young

Many organizations in India are on a growth path. So, it is easy to promote someone into a bigger role, offer greater responsibilities at a higher salary. Hence, the ageing manager does not obstruct the individual growth of his or her direct reports, rather the experience and maturity of the senior are leveraged often in the organization. This sounds like a fairy tale. Does this happen routinely?

Certainly not! Workmen do not follow this kind of a growth path. Secondly, most organizations do not get on this dream run. Since our economy sees inflation, costs keep increasing each year. As someone ages in the same role, the cost goes up without a comparable increase in the impact. The only way an organization can deal with this situation is to rediscover new ways, transform itself and optimize its cost structure. So, the old guard has to make way for the young in order to optimize the costs and inject new thinking.

Age is not just a number. As long as it correlates with the impact delivered, it is hale and hearty.

 

Can we create a gender neutral environment at workplaces In India?

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There have been debates around glass ceiling for women, inadequate participation of women in the Board rooms, inequality in pay, discrimination against women while recruiting and inadequate social infrastructure to support women at workplaces. These debates have been taking place across the world over the last few decades.

The debate continues…

We can already experience a huge change in India when we compare a workplace in the early 90’s and now. Number of women employees at work vis-a-vis men has risen rapidly; number of women students in the higher education courses such as Engineering and Management has increased manifold; many Boardrooms have women. Some of these changes have happened due to changes in legal provisions and some due to the peer pressure in the society. These days, firms provide paid maternity leaves for six months; some offer sabbaticals and friendly policies around pregnancy and early stages of motherhood. Governments make special arrangements to ease the woes of women in commuting to work, attending to strenuous tasks, working at odd hours and so on. There are additional safeguards such as Prevention of Sexual Harassment Act to dispel fears of women to come to work. All these are aimed at increasing participation of women in the economy and its GDP. In spite of so many changes in our society, the debate hasn’t been put to rest.

Let us not be fanatic about gender equality!

 

We have seen families in their overzealous drive to scale greater peaks of achievement in the realms of financial and professional status, compromise on building social capital for their future. The next generation that gets ready to join the workforce bears a set of values which are very different from their parents. Social scientists are studying this phenomenon. The jury is still out on that. However, one thing is for sure : fanatic rush to achieve a set of goals is not the same as focus and determination to achieve them.

We have seen senior executives of large multinationals chasing gender diversity targets and going on a recruiting spree to achieve that score. Does this overdrive get the organization the desired assets and human capital? Not always! The cost of such overdrive outweighs the results that we land up with.

Should each workplace reflect the gender ratio of the society?

As per 2011 Census we are 940 females per 1000 males. In 2001, it was 933 per 1000. This is nearly 49-51; should all organizations ideally have their workforce in the same ratio? If we are fanatic about gender equality, we will force every organization to reflect this.

Are we ready for this? While this could be a highly desirable situation and a socio-political masterstroke to pursue, it is not feasible at this point of time. We do not have so many women available for work. Reasons behind poor supply of women talent for work are plenty. Right from social dogma, economic need, availability of social infrastructure to opportunities, there are many factors.

Moreover, nature has created the bodies of men and women differently; it has created unique capabilities for each of them. We must not ignore them. We should leverage on this diversity rather than trying to fix everything with the same brush.

And at the same time, we must not typecast some roles with a certain gender as was the practice decades ago. Women need not be compulsorily raising children, growing families and providing care to the others. The point here is to argue against the mindless drive to achieve equal participation of men and women in each and every walk of life.

How can organizations deal with this?

We have many challenges at hand; we have to evolve pragmatic solutions.

When we see the rural vs urban India, we find more women in rural India participating in the labour force (27%) than in urban areas (16%). This could be due to the limitations in our social systems and economic realities. Women in the urban India are educated and capable as much as their men counterparts. Factors such as lack of support systems to take care of the young and the old in their families are a big obstacle. Organizations can leverage on this unemployed and under-employed diaspora by redesigning their work. Some parts of work can be done with no supervision, at hours the employee finds convenient; the organization has to build systems in such a way that one can find solutions when he or she faces a challenge. Needless to say that IT and the intent of the leadership are big enablers here.

We have seen several small organizations fearing the prospect of maternity leaves and the costs. While the intentions are noble and genuine, many of them find it too much of a disruption and too expensive. Secondly, we know how young mothers struggle to balance the demands at work with those at home. This is one of the big reasons why so many women drop out of the active workforce for many years in their prime and more often than not, find it difficult to return to the productive work life. Organizations have to influence the Government of the day to improve the social security measures, bear the costs and provide utilities such as creche, play schools and so on which people at large can avail. Currently, they are too few and far between.

In summary, we see this as a journey that has to be undertaken by the government, the society and the organizations at the same time towards leveraging the talent and capabilities that men and women possess. Social systems have to keep evolving so that the girls in the families do not fall behind when their parents prioritize the possibilities. The drive towards having equal participation across genders is mindless. Let this be based on the talent and capabilities only. If that makes 80 women and 20 men, so be it!