Category Archives: Career Planinng

Real-time Employee Insights for Effective Learning & Development

HR guru Dave Ulrich once famously said ‘Abolish HR!’ ringing the alarm bells for the imminent loss of credibility of HR in organizations. To view it in the right perspective, out of all the functions in an organization, HR is the only one farthest from access to and usage of any form of real-time data. Sales has real-time customers and lead funnel data, finance has revenue and expenditure data and production has inventory, work-in-progress and finished goods data at their fingertips at any point of time. Unfortunately, HR has no real-time data around the employees on their competencies, skills, behaviors or values that the organization expects them to exhibit.

While HR is the custodian of competencies, there is no way for HR to know at what level the competencies are at a point in time in the organization. In the absence of credible data, many an HR initiatives fall flat on their faces.

Data driven HR, HR Analytics, HR Insights
Data-driven HR

However, with the advent of next-gen feedback solutions it is now possible to collect data around employees through feedback gathered from their peers on a continuous basis. Feedback can be collected seamlessly from employees which increases higher response rate and collects data that is contextually relevant. This data can then be analyzed using Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning methods to give important evidence-based insights into many facets of HR viz. Performance Management, Reward & Recognition, Learning & Development amongst many others. This article focuses on how continuous feedback can be used to power success of Learning & Development in organizations.

HR undertakes several Learning & Development activities for the enhancement of competencies necessary for carrying out the jobs well by employees. These activities are then calendarized for the year and communicated to various departments for them to nominate employees. While a lot of effort goes into this exercise, such activities are often plagued with no visibility of what programs will work the best to address skill gaps, loss of retention of learning objectives after the activities are over and no investment in competencies necessary for the future skill roadmap of the organization.

With continuous feedback, it is now possible to have real-time data that sharply focuses on programs that enhance the skills of employees, increase retention by continuous inputs around manifested competencies & behaviors and apportion budget on ‘missing’ skills in the organizational skill inventory. Such insights are available through rich analytics which the HR can use to be really future ready.

Continuous Feedback System
Continuous Feedback System

The continuous feedback system is a great way to enhance the L&D effectiveness of an organization. The cloud-based solution is easy to deploy, upgrade to keep up to the changing organizational dynamics and comes at a fraction of cost compared to conventional enterprise HR software.

It’s time for HR to take cognizance of the power of real-time data through continuous feedback and be in step with the other functions like sales, finance & production in the organization.

Selecting a Mentoring Software: Critical Success Factors you must consider

Mentoring Software for Corporate Mentoring Program
Selecting A Mentoring Software for Corporate Mentoring Program

The fact that you are here means that you are already an avowed advocate of the power of Mentoring in the workplace. And now you are looking at enabling your Mentoring Program with technology for ease and effectiveness.

Here is a quick blueprint on some of the critical success factors you must consider before zeroing in on the right software for your internal Mentoring Program:

The Right Mentee-Mentor Matching

The key to success of a corporate Mentoring Program is right Mentee-Mentor matching. The software should have a facility for matching based on skills, interests and strengths. This allows for a comprehensive matching leading to great outcomes of your Mentoring Program.

Does it have the necessary features in line with the current Mentoring practices and Technology trends?

Often Mentoring programs fall through the cracks because Mentors and Mentees are not able to find time to meet or talk in the midst of their work. A software that allows them to schedule sessions, pushes reminder notifications and even have quick chats through a messenger can be a great way to keep the Mentoring Program on-course.

It should also allow users (read Mentees and Mentors) to share feedback about the program through quick Pulse Surveys. Pulse surveys allow you to capture the feedback of the employee based on instantaneous  experiences.

Also, the Mentoring Program co-ordinator should be able to track the program health across geographies, departments in the Mentoring cohort to ensure the objectives are met and take necessary course correction. Further, the Mentoring software should allow you to measure the ROI of your Mentoring program. A visual data analytics dashboard in the software is a surefire way to do all of that.

Is it Customizable to your needs?

The software platform should be customizable to meet your specific mentoring objectives. Whatever be your objective  for running a Mentoring Program – whether you are running it for leadership development, succession planning, diversity & inclusion, knowledge transfer the  software should be agile and robust to support all your needs.

Is it Scalable for the size of the Mentoring cohort?

You could be initiating a Mentoring Program for a small cohort in a department or a large cohort across business units, the software should be scalable to support any number of users in your organization. It should allow flexibility to accommodate more users as the program gains traction inside your organization.

Is it backed by Research and Expertise?

While internal Mentoring Programs have been around for a few decades now, current mentoring practices are in line with the changing workforce demographics and realities of businesses facing competitive pressures. The software shouldn’t just be a technology tool and should be backed by a deep understanding of what kind of mentoring is aligned with the changing organizational landscape. It should also have a Customer Success Process to ensure that you are able to accomplish your objectives of the Mentoring Program.

Does the price justify your investment?

Last but not the least, the price of the software should be worth your investment. It’s also important to ensure that the pricing is simple and transparent.

Make yourself aware right at the beginning of your purchase process that it doesn’t have any exorbitant fees over and above what you pay per user. It’s advisable to schedule a demo with the software provider to understand the software platform well enough and make yourself aware of the price you are going to pay.

What To Do After The Employee Engagement Survey

The article written by Soumen Chatterjee, CEO NxtSpark, originally appeared in CEOWorld magazine in Aug 2016. http://ceoworld.biz/2016/08/05/whats-next-employee-engagement-survey

Employee engagement is not a mere buzzword anymore and has gained attention of CEOs and top executives in companies. In an ever-disruptive economy business leaders know that having a high-performing workforce is essential for growth and survival. They recognize that a highly engaged workforce can increase innovation, productivity, and bottom-line performance while reducing costs related to hiring and retention in highly competitive talent markets.Employee EngagementAmong the findings of a new Harvard Business Review Analytic Services report of more than 550 executives around employee engagement, it was found that while 71% of respondents rank employee engagement as very important to achieving overall organizational success, only 24% of respondents say employees in their organization are highly engaged.

In a separate study by Gallup’s on the State of the Global Workplace, it has been observed that only 30% of employees worldwide are engaged at work –  employees who are psychologically committed to their jobs and likely to be making positive contributions to their organizations.

But while most executives see a clear need to improve employee engagement, many have yet to develop tangible ways to measure and tackle this goal. However, a growing group of best-in-class companies says they are gaining competitive advantage through establishing metrics and practices to effectively quantify and improve the impact of their engagement initiatives on overall business performance.

Without effective Employee Engagement practices, a company is bound to lose it valuable employees to competition. As per industry estimates, it has been found that the cost of replacement can be as high as 400% of the cost to company (CTC) of a full-time employee (FTE). With such high costs of replacement in a highly disruptive economy, it can have serious repercussions for a company.

One of the proven ways of high-impact Employee Engagement is Mentoring and Coaching of employees. Mentoring and Coaching have a strong bearing on morale, productivity, leadership development and internal career growth. They can also be used for succession and planning and diversity initiatives.

Mentoring (and Coaching) is not only beneficial for the recipients but also for the people who are Mentors. Sun Microsystems (now a part of Oracle) ran a highly successful Mentoring program for over 13 years and saw higher retention and promotion rates amongst its Mentees as well as Mentors.

Mentoring Program in a corporate
Mentoring Program in a corporate

With the emergence of SaaS-based solutions, companies can now implement and run Mentoring and Coaching programs seamlessly across geographies. Right from correct Mentee-Mentor matching on strengths to real-time feedback and visual data analytics, such platforms provide insights into Employee Engagement initiatives of the company and assure a high ROI. Over a period of time, such data gets accrued and flow into useful Predictive Analytics for design of appropriate learning interventions, estimating employees-at-risk of attrition and crafting specific retention strategies.

These Employee Engagement platforms can also be used for Strategic On-boarding of New Hires to map them to senior leaders as buddies, ensuring they get into the “groove” early on in the company.

With rapid adoption of technology by HR teams, an increasing number of companies are using such Employee Engagement as a part of their People Management Strategy.  It’s time when any company which realizes people are its true competitive advantage will start investing its dollars in Employee Engagement platforms.

Don’t Abolish HR Yet!

Data driven HR

In an article written in Harvard Business Review, Dave Ulrich, a Professor at the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, and co-founder of the RBL Group, addressed a raging debate – ’Should we do away with HR? He goes on to say,

“The debate arises out of serious and widespread doubts about HR’s contribution to organizational performance. It is often ineffective, incompetent, and costly; in a phrase, it is value sapping. Indeed, if HR were to remain configured as it is today in many companies, I would have to answer the question above with a resounding “Yes—abolish the thing!”

In the light of the economic crises in the corporate world in the last few years and the changes that have also been precipitated by emerging start-ups, HR has to become future forward to stay relevant. HR professionals can help turn aspirations into actions by focusing on three things:  talent, culture and leadership.

HR professionals should then be the architects of talent, culture, and leadership as they help line managers deliver what they promise.

In the course of NxtSpark’s work on Talent Development, I work closely with organizations on challenges faced by them with their people – ranging from change management, competency development, leadership building, mentoring, etc.  Most of the times, our clients approach us not with the problem per se but with the manifestation of the problem. During our conversations, on how the interventions designed and deployed by us is going to help them, I have realized that their focus is usually on the episodes where the business manager has faced the challenges with his people in executing and implementing and they want overnight solutions. As is the case with any behavioral change, it takes time, a process and an environment that sustains the change.

Basis experience of working with the clients, I have sifted the crucial observations and parameters of making HR interventions work. Here are the top pointers on how to get the best out of such HR interventions:

Solve the problem, not the manifestation: Getting to the root of the problem is important. Most of the times the attempt is to address the manifestation rather than the problem itself. One of our clients had a challenge around their managers not being able to do ‘Next Level Thinking’. The workshop was then designed on what’s causing this challenge, providing conceptual frameworks for the participants to get equipped on the skills to overcome this challenge and simulating case situations to enable them overcome that problem in the workshop.

Align the intervention outcomes with the business objectives: This is perhaps the most important criteria to ensure success of any HR intervention. Without linking the outcomes with the business objectives the training becomes an ‘offsite’ to relax, network with other colleagues in the organizations and only to go back to their work with no clarity on what has been learnt and how to use in the workplace. E.g. if a communication skill improvement has been planned through a workshop, it should be linked to in what sphere the communication needs to improve – whether it is with the customers or internally with other colleagues of the team or another department. Having clarity around this ensure that the workshop has enough activities and modules to simulate the real situations in which those skills will be tested.

Don’t look for quick fixes: Business managers want overnight solutions to problems that have persisted for ages. When dealing with HR interventions, one has to realize that people base their world views based on their background and that has been built over years of experience. Once the change has been set into motion in a workshop, it takes a little bit of time and constant encouragement to reinforce and continue the process of change in the individual.

Ensure follow-through happens: After the training or the workshop, it’s imperative that the business manager provides necessary projects and assignments to the people who have gone through the workshop. These projects allow the people to implement the concepts that they have learnt and receive feedback on how they can improve.

Identify and track post intervention metrics: Metrics for measuring the success of workshops need to be identified in advance and then tracked at regular intervals. Feedback from peers, managers and customers can be taken to track the progress on the identified metrics. These metrics can then be processed further through Analytics tools to give insights on what can be done to improve performance, achieve business objectives, have sharply-focused training programs, design better compensation structures etc.

Creating Shared Journeys In The Workplace

mentoring coaching onboarding

In Homer’s “The Odyssey,” before leaving for the Trojan War Odysseus had left a wise and trusted fellow named Mentor to be the guardian and teacher of his son, Telemachus, during his absence. While this provides a root metaphor to Mentoring, the book entitled Seasons of a Man’s Life by Levinson, et al aroused the interest in modern day study of Mentoring and Developmental Relationships. Kathy E Kram’s seminal Mentoring at Work: Developmental Relationships in Organizational Life has provided the core concepts of Mentoring.

Modern day employees need mentors as much as Telemachus, especially in these times of corporate upheaval.

Shared Journeys Are Vital For All

Sachin is a graduate of the Harvard Business School and is a Senior Vice President for Sales at a Leading Pharmaceuticals Company. He has more than 20 years of experience behind him. At work, he is mentoring two people who have around 8 years of experience. They are neither in the same department as Sachin nor are in the same function. They are in operations department of the organization. He meets them atleast once in a month and shares his insights into the pharmaceuticals industry, the company and its hierarchy, its values and norms, the people in the company they should know, etc. The sessions are either initiated by Sachin or by the other two people. Sachin believes that this is not a one way road and he has himself learnt a lot in this ‘give-and-take’ relationship with his mentees.

Sankalp is one of the members of the core team at a thriving Start-up in India. He often realizes that people in the organization, while talented and driven, needs skills to manage their ever increasing teams in a dynamically changing start-up environment. He is currently mentoring 3 people, who don’t report to him, on important leadership facets. Sankalp had to build his leadership competencies all by himself and often struggled with a lot of dilemmas with no one to reach out to when the startup was a fledgling one. Sankalp believes that people in his organization should not have the same situation and has taken to mentoring with all the sincerity and commitment to groom leadership talent in the organization. In the process, Sankalp gets important insights into what drives younger, junior people, what are their challenges and what are their aspirations.

This has helped shape Sankalp into a better leader and has also helped the organization hold on to talented yet restless younger people.

Organizations Need To Adopt Mentoring As “Team Science”

Mentoring has been often referred to as “team science” that delivers the goods to all the stakeholders – the mentors, the mentees and the organization.  By adopting Mentoring, organizations have been able to develop emerging leaders, engage them productively and retain them for a longer term. It’s time organizations take to creating meaningful shared journeys a mantra for success in the workplace.

Setting Goals is Not Enough for Success of Mentoring Program

Mentoring Coaching Onboarding Software

What are SMART Goals?

The concept of SMART Goal appeared first in 1981 in Management Review and is now widely used for setting career, business, financial and health goals. SMART Goal helps in setting goals that are relevant and realistic.

While SMART method is a great way of setting a Goal, it per se doesn’t guarantee achievement of the Goal. What is required is a Process to achieving that goal.

Process for achieving SMART Goals

Scott Adams, the famous creator of Dilbert, in his book ‘How to Almost Fail At Everything and Still Win Big’ describes that the Process is more important than the Goal when it comes to achieving success.

The Process has all the steps built in that ensure incremental progress towards the goal. When the process is followed, one can work towards the seemingly  far goal and achieve it ultimately. Without the Process, one may just lose track especially when encountered with obstacles or distractions.

While setting Career Goals, a similar scenario may crop up. With so many distractions at work and demands on one’s time, it is possible to lose sight of the goal one is working towards. The Process ensures one can pick up the chips and start from where one left.

Further, with disruption happening all the time and all around us, the Process helps in ensuring goal achievement through a step-by-step approach of revisiting some of the inbuilt steps and modify them if necessary.

Process of Breaking down SMART Goals

The Process breaks down Goals into two sub-levels – the first level is near term which could be achieved over 3-6 months e.g. a certification required for achieving the Goal – and the second level is what could be done on a daily or a regular basis at workplace to achieve the first level objectives.

This Process ensures visibility of progress and enabling one to do course correction or bringing one upto speed on Goal achievement.

NxtSpark’s online Mentoring software is based on the underlying Process of Goals and breaking them down to two sub-levels to ensure maximum Goal achievement by mentees, because the primary purpose of the Mentoring Program of an organization is to achieve Goal achievement as many mentees as possible. The Mentoring software also has a way to record and indicate progress at each of the three levels.

NxtSpark’s intuitive, online Mentoring software is a combined effort of understanding Mentoring as a science and using latest technology, to bring the benefits to organizations and its workforce when conducting Mentoring, Coaching and New-hire Onboarding Programs. NxtSpark’s Mentoring software has been appreciated by industry leaders at CXO level and Mentoring Experts like Prof. Kathy Kram of Boston University.

Correct Mentor Mentee Matching Holds The Key

In order to make Mentoring Programs successful, an organization needs to make a significant investment of time and effort. However, investments made by the mentor and the mentee are even greater in terms of time and commitment.

It’s crucial then to make this investment worthwhile.  According to a research report by Catalyst, a leading nonprofit working for over 50 years towards building inclusive workplaces, Mentor-Mentee matching is the most important criteria for a Mentoring Program to be successful.

Successful Mentoring Software

How do you then do that? Here are three useful pointers for successful matching criteria:

Goals should be clear and objectively defined

Without having clarity around goals, it’s difficult to assess what kind of mentoring support is required. The mentee can approach this in multiple ways – self reflection, talk to peers and managers and take a self assessment for goal identification.

Clear Goals lead to Identifying support required

Once the goals are clear, the mentee would know what kind of skills are needed to reach the goals. The mentee can then reach out to the right mentors who have those skills or have overlapping interests and can help.

Matching Should Be Comprehensive

In order to ensure the match is compatible to the mentor mentee relationship, one needs to ensure that matching should be done not only at skills level but also at the interest level, personality type, etc. as they become crucial to the success of the relationship.

Matching with so many parameters can be complex and a manually daunting task. NxtSpark’s intuitive algorithm takes all the matching criteria into consideration and throws up the most optimal matches between a mentee and several mentors out of which either the Mentoring Program administrator or the Mentee can make a choice.

Outcomes Of Mentoring in the Workplace

 

Mentoring

According to a recent study by US-based HR Consulting firm Manpower Group, employers need to check with millennials regularly about their career path and development. Rather than annual reviews, focus on near-term objectives. Frequent conversations will enhance their career prospects and long-term employability.

The importance of Mentoring couldn’t be stressed more, especially with an increasing number of organizations doing away with their Annual Performance Appraisals as now it calls for regular connects and conversations around career progress and development.

Mentoring has several positive outcomes for the employee as well as the organizations and can be classified into the following:

1.   Behavioral

a.    Increase in Performance e.g. business success, sales performance

b.    Decrease in Withdrawal behavior e.g. organizational turnover, absence from work

c.    Decrease in Withdrawal intentions e.g. intent to leave organization

d.   An increased tendency to help fellow employees e.g., mentoring others

2.   Attitudinal

a.    An increase in situational satisfaction & attachment e.g., job satisfaction, organizational commitment

b.    An improvement in career attitudes e.g., career satisfaction, career expectations, career expectations, perceived employment opportunity

3.   Health-related

a. Reduced psychological stress & strain e.g. anxiety, pessimistic world view, work stress, role conflict

b. Improvement in self-perceptions e.g., self-esteem, self-efficacy

4. Relational

a. Improvement in interpersonal relations e.g., positive peer relations, peer intimacy, satisfaction with coworkers, peer support, supervisor support, relationship quality

5. Motivational

a. Increase in motivation and a higher involvement in work e.g., hours worked, career planning, job involvement, motivation, aspiration, career commitment

6. Career

a. Improvement in career recognition & success parameters e.g. pay, promotion rate, prestige of job

b. Competence development e.g. communication skills, problem-solving skills, work knowledge, goal setting ability

To know more about how your organization could benefit from Mentoring Solutions, write to us at soumen@nxtspark.com or info@nxtspark.com

How DHL & Sun Microsystems Nailed It With Mentoring

mentoring1Based on a survey it has been found that corporate mentorship is on the rise, with 71% of Fortune 500 companies offering Mentorship Programs. While initiating a mentorship program at the workplace may seem like a daunting task, the rewards the mentors, mentees and company reap are well worth the time and effort.

A 2013 a study examined responses from more than 830 mentees and some 670 mentors participating in Sun Microsystem’s program. Employee retention rates climbed 69 % for the mentors and 72 % for the mentees over the seven-year period of the study. The increased retention resulted in a savings of $6.7 million in avoided staff turnover and replacement costs.

Since 2011, DHL Express has run an advanced mentoring program so employees can learn new skills, understand the company culture on a larger scale and develop a career path. Through this, 60 % of the mentees advanced their careers at the company over the course of a year.

The important takeaway is that Mentoring can deliver outstanding results when executed using the right processes.

Almost every progressive organization has tried Mentoring at the workplace but a lot of them have failed to get the best out of it, unlike DHL and Sun Microsystems. In this post, I want to highlight four critical success factors for a Mentoring Program:

Drive it from the top: Mentoring needs to be driven by the leadership and needs to be accorded its due importance. It can’t be just another HR intervention left to run on its own and die its own death after a while. It has to be driven with strategic intent to retain and engage its top talent and spearhead the organization’s business objectives.

Have a clear purpose: Any Mentoring program needs to have clearly defined objectives right at the onset. It’s equally imperative that the objectives are aligned with the business goals of the organization else the Mentoring Program soon loses its relevance and disappears in thin air.

Provide budgetary resources: An allocated budget is required so that the Mentoring program can run with sufficient resources. Mentoring often requires some amount of promotion for visibility inside the organization in order to sustain the interest of the mentees and the mentors. The program may also entail mentees or mentors traveling once in a while for in-person mentoring sessions. Finally, a reward and recognition program to highlight the best mentors may also be needed.

Execute Mentoring using a scalable technology platform: Most Mentoring Programs fall through the cracks when there is not enough information around how the program is running. A robust Mentoring program needs extensive communication and coordination between Mentor and Mentee, the HR and the management team. The HR and the Management team want to look at the program health through dashboards that give neat analysis of the Mentoring Program. Cloud based SaaS solutions offer easy, scalable solutions that offer a quick ROI on the investment.

Equip your Mentors: Mentors need to know how to manage the expectations of the Mentees and how to follow all the Mentoring processes well. A training program at regular intervals for the Mentors is an absolute must, where they can clarify their doubts and can strengthen their Mentoring skills.

NxtSpark offers Talent Development technology solutions around large-scale Mentoring in the workplace alongwith assistance of training Mentors by a panel of industry experts. Write to soumen@nxtspark.com or info@nxtspark.com for more information.

Why Indian Businesses Need To Invest in Talent Development System NOW?

India continues to be fastest growing country in the world. Riding on this growth, Indian businesses have grown rapidly in the last 15-20 years and now compete with some of the best names in their industry across the world. Indian businesses are no more local, and have gone global both in terms of capturing overseas market and acquiring global companies and brands. Indian businesses have grown sometimes at a pace so high that there has been no time to lay down critical processes and systems that support this growth and scale.

People remain the key differentiator in driving business value. It’s people, talent and their skills that are driving innovation, creativity and pushing the boundaries of business. It then goes without saying that talent is the biggest ‘asset’ for any business which supports all the strategic initiatives of the organization.  Businesses realize this amply well this but the investments commensurate with the significance of Talent Development have not been made.

In the course of my interactions with clients, I have found many organizations are using old enterprise HR solutions which don’t address the needs of modern day Talent Development. Some companies have in-house developed software or even excel sheet based solutions which are fall short of catering to the needs of Talent Development in today’s organizations.

 

Benefits of a Talent Development Solution

For Indian businesses to compete globally, they need to have superior tools for Talent Development. A modern workforce needs a modern Talent Development Solution which can create real engagement with the employees, drive learning initiatives and give measurable results.

A Talent Development Solution with advanced analytics can even point out possible career paths for HiPos (high potential employees) inside the organization. From the perspective of attrition management, analytics can predict ‘at risk’ employees and give time to the organization to plan and retain top talent resources.

A comprehensive Talent Development Solution can help an organization:

  1. Retain top talent as organizations go on an exponential growth path
  2. Boost engagement & productivity to drive the strategic interests of the organization
  3. Increase training effectiveness of both internal and external programs
  4. Acquire new business projects based on organization’s talent repository

 

Implementation of Talent Development Solution

The implementation of a Talent Development Solution is easy and can run simultaneously with existing legacy HR systems, if there be a need for the legacy systems to continue in the transition phase. The breakeven of investing in Talent Development Solution can happen in a few months when the implementation happens in the right spirit.

Businesses must understand this imperative and strategically invest in Talent Development Solution to remain competitive, globally!