Tag Archives: Onboarding

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.

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.

Battling The Talent Crisis

Mentoring Software

In the new organizational era, it appears we have a new buzz term: “talent crisis.” On September 19, 2008, BusinessWeek reported in an article called “The Global Talent Crisis” that, “Companies and countries will need more than 4 billion people by 2020 to fill knowledge worker positions. Projections indicate that there will be shortages between 32 million and 39 million people to fill these positions. The U.S. will have the biggest shortfall—needing as many as an additional 14 million people.”

To add to the bleak picture, consider this: A 2008 study by Deloitte Research found that one in three new hires leave a company within the first year of employment. The first-year turnover rate grew to 31.7 percent in 2007. In addition, according to Business Performance Management (BPM) Forum and Success Factors, which conducted a survey of over 700 human resource professionals (in cooperation with the Human Capital Institute), 98% of respondents said competition for talent is increasing in their industry, and 65% said it’s increasing to a “high” or “very high” degree.

As you can see, attracting, developing, and retaining top talent is likely to remain a challenge. What companies need is a proactive and viable solution to this challenge. Luckily, that solution exists: mentoring programs. Mentoring programs involve matching talented, experienced employees (mentors) with promising, less experienced employees (mentees). Over time, working one-on-one, the mentor and mentoree—and the organization—reap real rewards.

A successful mentoring program benefits your organization by:

  • Enhancing strategic business initiatives
  • Encouraging retention
  • Improving productivity
  • Engender collaboration across departments
  • Linking employees with valuable knowledge and information to other employees in need of such information
  • Using your own employees, instead of outside consultants, as internal experts for professional development

In this article, I would like to share how Mentoring can benefit your organization:

Attract the Best & Brightest

Your organization’s reputation is a huge incentive for eager and skilled prospects to join your organization. However, with ‘talent crisis’ this scenario changes. Think of it like this: if a prospective employee is deciding between a company with an outstanding reputation but a notoriously brutal work environment and an organization with an outstanding reputation and a proven mentoring program that grows and nurtures its top talent, which company will the person likely choose? A planned approach to a person’s career development, such as a mentoring program, has become a “must-have” for organizations that want to attract top talent. When marketing to prospective employees, advertising that your company has a professional and effective mentoring program can be a significant differentiator between you and your competitors.

Develop Your Employees into Tomorrow’s Leaders

Developing your company’s junior employees can be a daunting challenge. Where does a new employee go if he or she wishes to gain from the experience and wisdom of a more seasoned manager? Yes, new employees can always turn to their immediate supervisors and HR directors, but there is an inherent hesitation to do this because the new employee doesn’t want to appear “incompetent” or “weak.” Mentoring can provide not only the experiential wisdom, but also a supportive environment whereby the newer employee can share the real issues affecting success. During the mentoring relationship, mentees and mentors will discuss important issues, such as how to interact and work effectively with your top clients; how to get along and communicate with peers and upper management; how to understand and fit in better with your organization’s “corporate culture”; and how to deal with increased scrutiny; plus so much more. While baptism by fire often remains a popular strategy for getting new employees up to speed, it still makes sense to provide a safe haven—the mentoring relationship—where the associate can relax and let down his or her guard.

Retain Top Talent & See High ROI

According to the Deloitte Research study, “Research suggests that a company’s ‘HiPos’ are the first to be poached and are less likely to stay. Also, a study of investment banks found that when imported from elsewhere, stars rarely sustain their performance in the new organization.” The last thing you want to see is your HiPos walk across the street to one of your competitors. Talent retention affects the bottom line not only by reducing costs, but also by building an effective workforce. Companies often invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in recruiting talent but then stop there and miss the opportunity to get the best return on their hiring investment. Mentoring is a strategic tool that has multiple outcomes for your organization:

  • Demonstrate to new employees the company’s investment in their future with the organization
  • Create a more effective contributor to the company’s overall goals
  • Engender a sense of loyalty in employees

Succeed in Succession Planning

Mentoring is an ideal strategy for enriching your succession-planning program. In succession planning, you’re targeting individual talent to take on increasingly more responsible positions and eventually assume a major position within your organization. This requires solid experience and solid advice from seasoned employees. Adding mentoring as a method of pairing such individuals with your talent pool ensures that the right expertise will complement your succession-planning goals. Mentoring also ensures that your senior managers’ expertise will not be lost once they retire or leave the company. Rather, the expertise will be retained by having been shared with those who are poised to take their place.

It’s evident by now that mentoring programs can achieve many positive results when implemented in the most effective way. Also, read How DHL & Sun Nailed IT With Mentoring to know how you can implement a successful Mentoring Program.