How does HR change in ‘Experience Economy’

ciel blog - experience economy

Recent study by Barclaycard who processes nearly 50% of UK’s debit card and credit card transactions, showed that customer spend in department stores, consumer appliances and vehicles have come down significantly while the spend on theatres, pubs, restaurants and cinemas have gone up. Many people do not want to spend money buying cars, homes and stuff; rather they would like to spend their time and money experiencing new environments, unique places, innovative practices, first-of-its-kind feelings and so on. Thanks to social media, they can flaunt all they have! And the friends and friends of friends make their posts go viral. That’s the experience youngsters are looking for!

If someone goes shopping or watching a movie, it’s a complete experience that she or he is looking for. Hence, the need is to go beyond what the shop sells or what the theatre plays. The shop has to think how it engages a customer right from the stage of pre-buy to long after the buy is done and provide an engaging experience. That is why modern-day theatres are turning into multiplexes complete with experience zones, food-courts, loyalty programs and are integrated with shopping centres, hair salons and game zones.

Today, owning stuff is not critical and does not necessarily reflect status, rather people are concerned about where they watched a movie, what holiday they went on, what they did there and where they had food and so on. It is not so much about what they bought as about the experience they had while buying. How is HR adapting on the face of this rise of a new economy called ‘experience economy’?

Candidate Experience all the way!

It is not a new theory – in the last two decades, business leaders and HR leaders alike, have stressed the importance of candidate experience. However, what has changed is about the ‘here and now’ impact of an experience that is not so good. Our smart phones and social media are a potent combination for the fire to spread and at the same time, has the potential to accentuate a positive experience.

HR Team has to be on its toes all the time to watch out for any negative comment and neutralize it at the earliest. Similarly, they need to gather the positive experiences and showcase those. It’s not natural for people to be spreading positive experiences as much as they do for negative stories. So, the HR team has a task at hand to create the right environment and spread the positives. It’s the experience which matters.

How is the Employee feeling now?

Each day at work is different for everyone in an organization. Employees work with their peers, sub-ordinates, bosses, also in some cases, with external stakeholders. Each interaction is a moment of truth and each moment adds to the overall experience. It is natural that all interactions do not become great. When the sum of all these experiences is above the mental image of a good day, the employee is happy. When majority of the days do not turn out to be good, it’s a trouble!

HR Team has to be tuned to the early signals and intervene at the right moment. Sometimes, HR teams are busy addressing various issues and hence, have no time to switch on their receivers. They do not make field visits, gather no relevant intelligence and hence, can at best operate in the reactive mode. Typically, organizations wait for the results of the annual employee satisfaction study to take action. But, it’s too late in today’s world! They have to find the energy, bandwidth, interest and capability to listen to all signals coming from the workplace so that appropriate actions can be taken in time.

Build the enabling infrastructure.

Often, the HR leaders and the Business leaders are well-intentioned to listen to experience of candidates as well as the employees. The HR team is capable of tuning into the vibes at the workplace and taking corrective actions. In spite of all the right things in place, execution suffers because the employees aren’t sure if they should be honest and genuine while interacting with the HR team and the senior leaders. They might be apprehensive because of unfavourable experiences in the past.

Leaders of the organization set the tone and show the candour in making decisions. This goes a long way in enabling the communication systems to work and collaborating with external centres of excellence to improve organizational processes.

In the days to come, as more and more people are going to be focused on the short-term and concerned about the experiences, HR has to ensure that agility and holistic approach in whatever it does right from talent attraction, assessment and acquisition to engagement, maintenance and development.

Ref: http://www.cielhr.com/how-does-hr-change-in-experience-economy/

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What’s your To-Do List for the New Year?

Ciel blog - New-Years-Resolution

This is the time of the year we talk about New Year Resolutions. And very soon, most of us forget about them. Some of us wonder what a good starting point is. Let us explore this!

Recognize Inefficiency Traps

We live in times where instant noodles and fast food are the order of the day, binge-eating is commonplace and speed is celebrated. We are expected to be tech-savvy and connected all the time. Managers are expected to be decisive and quick on their feet. Surely enough, these social norms are a result of the technologies that surround us. In the late nineties and early 2000’s, we saw most industries improving their productivity. However, in the last few years, there hasn’t been any such drastic changes in the outcomes. The disruptive technologies such as cloud computing, social media, AI and robotics haven’t been able to provide a quantum leap in individual productivity. Why?

We have definitely been able to automate many manual tasks and made life simpler. However, at the same time, we have been growing impatient, losing our calm, engaging in meaningless conversations and worrying way too much about tasks which are not in our control. These traps encourage inefficiency. Recognizing these and staying away from them is the need of the hour.

Agree on the moot point in a conversation

Our world celebrates action, recognizes boldness and expressiveness. Many of us think it is our duty to express. In our urge of forming an opinion quickly, we tend to jump to conclusions and react rather than trying to understand. We see conversations going astray because the parties aren’t listening to each other; rather their mind is busy strategising a counter-point.

We love the social networks but do not exhibit collaboration, sensitiveness and understanding in our day to day work. We announce to the world that we are feeling awesome while the truth is that we are feeling miserable. This is a dichotomy that we see at work each day. Our world will be a better place if we invest time and efforts to understand where the other person is coming from and what the moot point is. Since we are in a hurry, we react to the other person with the assumption that we have understood the point well.

Communication lessons taught us something called ‘feedback’. The listener is expected to check back with the speaker if his understanding is correct and accordingly, takes the next step of action. This lesson has gone out of the window. Can we go back to the basics and understand the moot point in any discussion? We will understand others well and be efficient in our actions.

Stay calm and healthy

One of the major issues plaguing our society is lifestyle diseases. Our pace at work combined with our insecurities and the volatility of our business environment exposes us to several peaks of emotions each day. Naturally, our body and mind gets hurt along the way due to the steep falls and rises that we ride on.

We hear advice on food, exercises, sleep, relaxation and various therapies. We find them difficult to practice because these address the symptoms merely. Unless we engineer at the root of the issue, the health troubles will not go away and hence, productivity will not improve.

I wonder why we have become restless, busy and prone to illnesses while the previous generation did not complain so much. There have been changes in lifestyle, right from the food that we eat, the amount of rest that we take, the variety of conversations we engage with and the modes of entertainment that we indulge in. All of these link to our state of mind. Can we loosen up a bit, be a bit more easy-going, identify a few variables which are less controllable and stop worrying about them? Calm minds stay healthy and do more!

Ref: http://www.cielhr.com/whats-your-to-do-list-for-the-new-year/

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/

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/

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/

Do you build consensus?

Image result for participative leadership styles

Democracy is the largest form of governance in the world now… close to 60% of the world’s population live in democratic nations. Our societies value freedom of speech, majority view and the power of making choices. Organizations are microcosms of our societies and hence, we behave the same way at work. We expect our leader to be consulting us, acting upon our views, figuring out the majority view and updating us about the state of affairs from time to time.

Long and Arduous

Leaders often are worried about the time it takes to arrive at a decision if they open out the process to their team. Given the diaspora of our society, it is natural that the manager gets wide-ranging opinions and perspectives. Firstly, it takes time and effort to explain the issue to the team; secondly, it takes time to listen to the opinions of people. And most importantly, given the diverse suggestions one receives, it is not easy to decide. In the leader’s mind, there might be something very compelling but the team might not be seeing it with equal fervour. So, the leader takes time to re-position the issue and repeat the process. This is undoubtedly a long and arduous process.

Apply it in the right context

It is not possible that a manager builds consensus for each and every decision. As long as the guiding principles and values are clear, governance becomes easy and non-controversial. So, first of all, organizations need to create appropriate methods and platforms to co-create the guiding principles which determine the way of life. Secondly, a manager must recognize when the issue is complex either because of the inter-dependencies or it has a conflict with one or more principles. Those are the situations which need a larger involvement of people at different levels of the organization.

This is easier said than done. When one opens up the issue to the larger audience, various possibilities come at play. Some people see various lacunae in the capability of the boss; some people come up with utopian ideas due to their lack of knowledge or experience; some people in their quest of coming under the spotlight raise various issues. So, a manager ends up spending a lot of energy in cancelling the noise.

One needs to know which level of the organization needs to be involved and to what extent in the process. At times, discussions with colleagues help simplifying the issue and evolving new possibilities. Hence, participative style of leadership has to be applied in the right context!

Sustainable method

It is unlikely that the manager or the leader knows all. And at the same time, one must have the humility to learn new perspectives and develop solutions in collaboration with others. While making a decision, one has to be clear if the decision has a long term impact on the organization. For example, evolving the 3-year strategy, introducing a new product, launching a new advertisement, entering into a new wage agreement with the union, modifying the rewards scheme and so on have far-reaching consequences on the organization.

An organization can ill-afford to let all such decisions rest squarely on the shoulders of one person or a handful. While building a consensus takes time and calls for efforts to dialogue, it is critical to invest these efforts for the long term health of the organization. Participative style on all strategic issues for the organization assures sustainability.

The leader has to know when to apply democratic style and involve whom in the process.