Tag Archives: leadership development

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.