Monday, January 26, 2009

Overcoming Innovation Barriers !!

Constant innovation has become an inarguable strategy for business survival. An organization's long-term viability can be ensured through consistent forward-looking analysis and a willingness to initiate change. Survival demands a response to this analysis, including investment in new opportunities. With such a powerful and straightforward strategy, why are so many organizations struggling to survive?

It is not uncommon to see frantic energy at a failing business yield nothing but continued layoffs. In a sluggish economy, even industry leaders can fail to recognize the need for change. There is little surprise when these companies fold or downsize. Many businesses recognize the need for innovation and embrace the concept, but struggle to put it into practice.

For many companies, a major roadblock to realizing outstanding business results is a difficulty using innovation effectively. Innovation is approached in a traditional fashion, through narrowly focused attempts to solve highly visible business problems. This approach often misses larger opportunities and fails to yield the most successful outcomes. Innovation's success is often limited by four major barriers:

Overwhelming Problem
Advisor Agendas
Solution Orientation
Overwhelming Problem
It is uncommon for most businesses to recognize and embrace the need for continuous innovation. Most often, organizations see a need for new ideas when they are in trouble - when there is a big, ugly problem looming over their business or industry. A new competitor causes profits to slide, a suffering economy threatens long-term viability, or perhaps there is a sudden introduction of new technology. These overwhelming problems generally result in an attempt at innovation. There is a sudden plea for help; potentially a panic. Someone yells "we have a problem!" and there is finally a call to invest in solving it.
For investment to occur - particularly in the face of sliding profits - the problem is usually large and well-established. This overwhelming problem is both threatening the organization's long-term existence and seriously affecting the current health of the business. Operating expenses have already been reduced, morale is plummeting, and no obvious options remain to fix the devastating problem.

At this advanced stage, often the only viable solutions involve organizational restructuring or significant new investment. Both options are ugly, time-consuming, and uncertain. When attempting to tackle an overwhelming problem, innovative options are drastically reduced in a stressed environment with limited ability to be proactive, take risks or make new investments.
While many companies have responded adequately to overwhelming problems, the real secret to handling these problems is to avoid them in the first place. Organizations need a mechanism to anticipate real-world concerns that could impact their business while maintaining the ability to proactively execute a wide variety of options to address these concerns.

Recently, much of the U.S. retail industry faced an overwhelming problem. Smaller retail chains were struggling against rapidly growing giants like Target and Wal-Mart. Several of these smaller chains folded. What did they do wrong? Many failed to recognize and respond to a brewing competitive problem before it became too late. By constantly trying to anticipate potential problems and gauge the subsequent business impact, these chains may have recognized a disaster in time to take effective action.

Some organizations invest in ongoing strategic planning and R&D to introduce innovation and avoid the surprise of overwhelming problems. For these organizations, innovation is usually highly focused on a predetermined number of active controls or decision-making areas. This allows organizations who may ordinarily resist change to be dynamic and innovative within specific areas of their business. For example, at a large product company new ideas may come from a funded research and development group, new marketing ideas may come from a merchandizing group, and new investment strategies from a finance group.

This innovation method works well when an industry, environment, or economic shift is recognized by a specific idea center. Frequently, however, these centers do not collaborate to create an overall innovative solution, or worse, don't recognize a potential problem or opportunity if it does not fit into a group's area of expertise. Taking this a step further, highly-focused industry or business expertise may keep an entire organization unaware of a potential problem or opportunity.

Organizations that may be over-focusing need the watchful eye of innovators with capabilities across disciplines and with expertise outside their industry to recognize and anticipate real-world problems that could impact their business. As an example, cross-industry innovators may take advantage of a technical advance used in one business sector and apply it to their own. The reapplication of carbon fiber technology is one such success. Industries wanting to benefit from the strength and weight of this revolutionary material have applied it in everything from tennis racquets and sailing masts to components of space shuttles and airplanes.

Advisor Agendas
A potential solution to keep from succumbing to both overwhelming problems and over-focusing is to solicit the assistance of professionals external to an organization that have a wide-range of expertise and a variety of business knowledge. For this to work, an organization needs to contract professional services well in advance of recognizing specific business problems. An advisor relationship is developed and the leaders within a business rely on the ongoing advice and counsel of these consultants to recognize opportunities and challenges where a focused company may not. However, consulting advisors raise the possibility of another innovation barrier.

It is important to recognize that the consulting world generates revenue by spending time on a client's problems, so one can imagine the motivation an advisor may have to "discover" concerns that need immediate attention. There is a price tag to every problem, particularly if the consultant is uniquely poised to solve particular types of problems. Due to this advisor bias, it becomes difficult to trust the validity of presented business problems.

In addition to advisor bias, there is a second issue with advisor agendas. The solution proposed to a problem may not be the solution a company needs, even if the problem is real. Assuming the consulting company is perfectly ethical and is completely in control of their own problem-identification bias, there still remains one difficult issue. Consulting companies are not paid to provide the most innovative solutions, even if that is what they are asked to do. Consultants are rewarded for developing a strong client relationship. They are paid to be advisors. Consultants are only successful when they tell an organization what that organization is prepared to hear and what the organization has the ability to change. If the organization does not have the money, time, people, or the ability to accept the most innovative and best solutions, those solutions will not be presented or even considered. The problems recognized and the solutions generated by a consulting company will be skewed by an organization's initial agenda and by the sanctity of the professional services relationship. If the best fix to a particular problem is to throw away a company's eighty year old business model and shut down the plant, you can bet no one will be proposing that innovative solution - or anything even close.

Organizations that are working with professional services consulting firms need to seek out and demand honest, unbiased problem recognition and need to hear innovative ideas, regardless of an organization's ability to respond.

Solution Orientation
The largest single barrier to successful innovation is that attempts are usually only made from within the context of a single, well defined problem. This solution orientation directs 100% of an innovator's creative energy at deriving the most appropriate answer to a single question.

We need a new toothbrush design that wows kids aged 4-7;
We need to hire a qualified Director of Human Resources by Q2;
We need to select budgeting software that meets strict selection criteria
These well defined problems and strict solution requirements rule out two creative avenues rich with potential rewards.
The first creative avenue applies innovative techniques to find problems ripe with opportunity rather than solutions to an already recognized problem. If an innovator is only approached with problems, there is never the chance to go hunting for opportunities. This forces the traditional innovator to rely upon others to discover and evaluate problems. Solution-oriented innovation leaves large areas of opportunity completely unexplored. A recent example is NASA's Near Earth Orbit program. It detects and tracks asteroids and comets that could approach Earth and pose a global threat. The program has only been in place for a few years, yet the global threat has always existed. The problem was addressed only when innovative scientists recognized the cosmic impact problem and communicated the potential repercussions.

The second creative avenue that bypasses a solution orientation is the creation of an environment that is free from solution restrictions. Restrictive requirements usually exist when someone needs a problem solved. No organization says "you can solve this problem any way you'd like." Problems - when confronted by specific organizations with specific needs - come with a whole list of real and understandable restrictions like controlled budgets and time constraints. Innovation may then be reduced to a compromise between these limitations. Remove these limitations and whole new innovative possibilities emerge. Examples of innovative products dreamed up without solution restrictions include disposable pens, post-it NotesTM, and broadcast radio.

Overcoming Barriers
Organizations are now waking up to these significant innovation barriers. It is no longer enough to seek innovative solutions to big problems when they arise. To make innovation work against large-scale problems, companies must now anticipate real world concerns early, understand the potential impact to their business, and act in time to realize positive change.

To realize concerns and capture opportunities early, organizations need to approach innovation using a team of diverse professionals with capabilities across disciplines and with expertise in several industries. These professionals need to focus primarily on generating creative insight and should strive to expose potential bias in their problem identification and solution restrictions. And finally, to capture the best opportunities for change, innovators need to become problem seekers, hunting down difficult-to-recognize innovation opportunities absent of specific problem solving requests.

There is an immediate and valuable impact of implementing these techniques to overcome barriers to innovation. Innovators should expect to provide insight into potential problems and opportunities while there is still time and resources to proactively address them, expose unbiased and unrestricted solutions and ideas for change, and uncover opportunities for problem resolution not possible when faced with the four barriers to traditionally applied innovation.

By Keith Hopper & Karl Rexer, Ph.D.
Complied By

Barriers to delegation

Despite these advantages managers can be reluctant to delegate authority. Managers often have a number of excuses for not delegating: “I can do it better myself”; “My employees just aren’t capable enough”; “It takes too much time to explain what I want to be done”. The real reason may be the manager is simply too disorganized or inflexible to delegate work effectively.

Other barriers to delegation are insecurity and confusion about who is ultimately responsible for a specific task – the manager or the employee. Managers cannot sidestep their responsibility to higher ups simply by delegating difficult or unpleasant tasks. They are always accountable for the actions of their employees – a fact that makes some managers reluctant to take a chance on delegating. Others fear that delegating reduces their own authority. Still others feel threatened if their employees do too good a job. Some employees on the other hand, want to avoid responsibility and risk. They prefer that their managers make all the decisions. These barriers can be overcome if managers follow certain guidelines for effective delegation.

Guidelines for effective Delegation:

The practice of delegation challenges managers and employee alike to pay close attention to the terms of their working relationships. Delegation will have a better chance of succeeding for all parties concerned, if they work to build trusts in each other. Here is one more situation where ethics comes to bear in day-to-day organizational activities.


The most basic prerequisite to effective delegation remains the manager’s willingness to give employees freedom to accomplish delegated tasks. This means letting them choose methods and solutions different from the ones the manager would have chosen. It also means giving them the freedom to make mistakes and to learn from their mistakes. Mistakes are not an excuse to stop delegating, but rather an opportunity to offer training and support.

A second prerequisite for delegation is open communication between managers and employees. Managers who know the capabilities of their employees can more realistically decide which tasks can be delegated to whom. In turn, employees who are encouraged to use their abilities and who feel their managers will back them up are more likely to accept responsibility. The third prerequisite for delegation is the manager’s ability to analyze such factors as the organization’s goals, the task’s requirements and the employee’s capabilities.

Tasks of effective Delegation:

The prerequisite just discussed are all important to carrying out the following tasks of effective delegation:

* Decide which tasks can be delegated. Many items can and should be delegated. Some of these are minor decisions and recurring chores. However, unusually demanding and challenging assignments may often be delegated to employees and will do much to develop them.

* Decide who should get the assignment. Who has available time? Does the job require special competence? For whom would it be an appropriate and useful developmental experience? Managers ask these questions when deciding which of their people should get the assignment.

* Provide sufficient resources for carrying out the delegated task: All the delegated authority in the world will not help the recipient, if he or she cannot have the financial, staff or time resources necessary to do the job.

* Delegate the assignment: In delegating the assignment, effective managers provide all relevant information on the task. As far as possible they specify the results expected, not methods to be used. Further, they cultivate a climate of free and open communications between themselves and the person to whom they have delegated the task.

* Be prepared, to run interference if necessary. Delegated tasks can get bogged down if resources are insufficient or if the person delegated to do the task runs up against resistance from others. Sometimes this happens because other kinds of power are to work. We can readily imagine a case where a transfer of reward power causes some third party to complain or try to go around the person was delegated the task.

* Establish a feedback system: Delegating managers establish a system of checkpoints and feedback so they will remain advised of progress and can offer advice or mid course adjustments if necessary. They select the feedback system carefully bearing in mind that the tighter their controls the less actual delegation is taking place.


Advantages of Delegation

Delegation is how to distribute formal authority throughout the organizational structure is a key organizing decision. Delegation is the assignment to another person of formal authority (legitimate power) and accountability for carrying out specific activities. The delegation of authority by managers to employees is necessary for the efficient functioning of any organization, because no manager can personally accomplish or completely supervise all of what happens at an organization.

Advantages of Delegation:

When used properly, delegation has several important advantages. The first and most obvious is that the more tasks managers are able to delegate, the more opportunities they have to seek and accept increased responsibilities from higher level managers. Thus managers will try to delegate not only routine matters but also tasks requiring thought and initiative, so that they will be free to function with maximum effectiveness for their organizations. In addition, delegation causes employees to accept accountability and exercise judgment. This not only helps train them – an important advantage of delegation – but also improves their self confidence and willingness to take initiative.

At Phelps County Bank in Rolla, Missouri, a loan processor researched, proposed and helped to implement a system of upward evaluations that is, employee reviews of supervisors. At Intuit, a software company in Palo Alto, California, a technical support supervisor organized a group of experts to assist in answering customer questions in highly specialized areas. Both of these small businesses encourage employees to suggest and implement ideas or improving operations.

Another advantage of delegation is that it frequently leads to better decisions, because employees closest to ‘where the action is’ are likely to have a clearer view of the facts. For example, a West Coast sales manager would be in a better position to allocate California sales territories than a New York based vice president of sales.

Effective delegation also speeds up decision making. Valuable time can be lost when employee must check with their managers (who then may have to check with their managers) before making a decision. This delay is eliminated when employees are authorized to make the necessary decision on the spot. At Nordstrom, associates are empowered to make many decisions on their own.

The Police Department in South Lake, Tahoe, California has discovered the value of delegating authority. When the former chief of police resigned in 1991, city manager Kerry Miler used it as an opportunity to change the department’s organizational dynamics and more toward more cooperative management. Outside consultants has recently recommended the setting up of a committee to address organizational problems. Miller began by allowing this committee, which now called itself the participative management team (PMT) to be involved in the selection of the new police chief. This proved an integral step. With choosing the chief the process finally went beyond just people airing their differences recalled patrol officer Rich Hogbin.

They realized that they finally were going to be part of the decision making process When they did that, we realized the sky was the limit. The PMT does not exercise the authority that should belong to the police chief; rather when an issue arises, the committee’s first decision is whether it even has the authority to deal with the issue. In some ways decisions take more time to make because they are researched and discussed more thoroughly but the overall response has been favorable.

Case of an entrepreneur who struggles to delegate:

During her 15 years as president and chief executive officer of West haven Services, an institutional pharmacy based in Perrysburg Ohio, Mary Lou Fox found that her creative, entrepreneurial spirit erected a barrier to delegation. As much as she wanted to develop a management team to succeed her, she failed on at least four separate occasions.

After failing on four separate occasions to make the transition to a new management team to succeed her, though Fox has decided that there is one obstacle left that she can confront; herself. She decided to change things she declared mentioning that the only thing she really have control over is her self.

With this in mind she immediately began delegating authority to her managers in order to start the process of disengaging herself from the company. This time the delegation was real and the work successful.


Power and Distribution of the Authority

Power is the ability to exert influence on other people. Power can be present in any relationship. In organizations, managers exert power. After all, we define management as the process of shaping – that is, influencing – what people do at organizations.

Still managers are not the only people who can exert influence at organizations. Employees say and do things to influence managers. And, as we saw in, there are many kinds of stakeholders outside the organization that can influence managers and employees. So any organization – like any relationship – is an open system when it comes to power. At Nordstrom associates and their mangers exert influence on each other, and associates take very seriously the influence exerted by customers. In fact, the extent to which managers give power to associates and customers is a distinctive feature of Nordstrom as an organization.

The sources of Power:

Power does not derive simply from an individual’s level in the organizational hierarchy. John French and Bertram Raven have identified five sources or bases of power. These aspects of power may be present in a variety of human relationships. In an organization, each may occur at all levels.

Reward power is based on one person (the influencer) having the ability to reward another person (the influencee) for carrying out orders or meeting performance requirements. On example is the power of a supervisor to assign work tasks to employees.

Coercive power based on the influencer’s ability to punish the influences for not meeting requirements is the negative side of reward power. Punishment may range from a reprimand to loss of a job.

Legitimate power (formal authority) exists when an employee or lnfluencee acknowledges that the influencer is entitled to exert influence within certain bounds. It is also implied that the influencee has a obligation to accept this power. The right of a manager to establish reasonable work schedules is an example of ‘downward’ legitimate power. A plant guard may have the ‘upward’ authority to require even the company president to present an identification card before being allowed onto the premises.

Expert power is based on the perception or belief that the influencer has some relevant expertise or special knowledge that the influencee does not. When we do what our doctors tell us, we are acknowledging their expert power.

Authority is a form of power. Specifically formal authority is legitimate power. But we often use the term more broadly in speaking of other kinds of power as well. When we say that someone is ‘an authority’ in a certain field, we mean that he or she knows a great deal about the subject and thus has expert power. When we hear that a suspected criminal has been apprehended by ‘the authorities’ we think of those holding the legitimate power of the government to maintain civil order. If the criminal is convicted, the judge has the ‘authority’ or coercive power to mete out punishment.

Formal authority is the type of power that we associate with organizational structure and management. It is based on the recognition of the legitimacy of managers’ attempts to exert influence. Individuals or groups attempting to exert influence are perceived as having the right to do so within recognized boundaries. This is a right that arises from their formal position in an organization. The basis for formal authority has been a continuing subject for debate in American society. And it should be scrutinized in view of what could go wrong with the use of authority.

The basis of formal Authority: Two views

What gives you the right to tell me what to do? This familiar blunt question implies that before we comply with an instruction we must be satisfied that the person issuing it has the right to do so. Where do managers get the right to direct employees’ activities? There are two major competing views on formal authority in organizations: a classical view and the acceptance view.

The classical View

1. Constitution guarantees right to own property and control business
2. Managers issues commands
3. Commands obeyed

The Acceptance View

1. Managers issues commands
2. Recipient considers acceptance
3. Acceptance/Noncompliance


Organization and Disorganization

There decades ago, the business historian Alfred Chandler proposed a way of thinking that has been widely adopted in American business (and that this text has presented) an organizational structure logically follows from and facilitates an organizational strategy.

Over the years, as managers have tried to make structure fit strategy this approach has resulted in managers building larger and larger ‘semi-permanent’ structures for their organizations. Those structures logically followed strategies designed to make companies bigger and more dominant in the marketplace. Today, many mangers are experimenting with very different looking organizational structures because they are experimenting – and succeeding –with radically different kinds of organization all strategy. James Brian Quinn calls these organizations, intelligent enterprises because their most important product is knowledge packaged as valuable services. And once you see organization as in the ‘service business’ Quinn and Tom Peters say, you’ll never organize like you did.

Three innovative kinds of organizational structures have evolved from this new approach to organizational strategy: (1) what Peters calls necessary disorganization, (2) the so-called virtual corporation and (3) what Quinn calls disaggregated organizations.

Necessary Disorganization: Tom Peters, powerful voice for business change for more than a decade is a leader in the charge against traditional organizational designs and structures. Indeed, in his latest book, he argues that disorganization is necessary in what he calls today’s “bonkers” organizational environment: How do you deal with a bonkers world other than with bonkers organizations peopled wt bonkers folks? My answer in short: You can’t!

Peters advocates organizational design processes that result in flexible and short lived arrangements of work activities; he predicts Tomorrow’s effective organization [deliberately in quotes] will conjured up anew each day.

What Peters asks managers to do is pay much less attention to organizational structures ad much more attention to working through problems jointly with people who bring different talents to the task, and who may even come from different organizations to work on that task . In this way, Peters claims mangers and non- managers can work much more creatively to deliver prompt service to their customers.

You can already see examples of the kind of temporary organizational arrangements that Peters describes and promotes. Take the construction of a new house, for example. A general contractor, in addition to overseeing the entire project for the customer might do the framing, siding, and windows work. The contractor might then arrange for plumbers, electricians, and painters to do their specialized parts of the job. Together all these people form a kind of temporary ‘ad hoc’ organization. Once the house is built, the temporary organization disbands – unless construction flaws appear –and these people go their separate ways probably to be part of other such ad hoc organizations. What is novel and potentially revolutionary about what Peters describes and promotes is its application in the mainstream corporate world, in the United States and beyond.

Characteristics of a New Corporate Model

The virtual Corporation

Today’s joint ventures and strategic alliances may be an early glimpse of the business organization of the future: The virtual Corporation. It’s a temporary network of companies that comes together quickly to exploit fast changing opportunities. In a Virtual Corporation, companies can share costs, skills and access to global markets, with each partner contributing what it’s best at. Here are the key attributes of such an organization.

Technology: Informational networks will help far flung companies and entrepreneurs link up and work together from start to finish. The partnerships will be based on electronic contracts it keep the lawyers away and speed the link ups.

Opportunism: partnership will be less permanent less formal and more opportunistic. Companies will band together to meet a specific market opportunity and, more often tan not, fall apart once the need evaporates.

Excellence: Because each partner brings its ‘core competence’ to the effort, it may be possible to create a ‘best-of-everything’ organization. Very function and process could be world class something that no single company could achieve.

Trust: These relationships make companies far more reliant on each other and require far more trust than ever before. They’ll share a sense of ‘co-destiny’ meaning that the fate of each partner s dependent o the other.

No Borders: This new corporate model redefines the traditional boundaries of the company. More cooperation among competitors, suppliers and customers makes it harder to determine where one company ends and another begins.


HRM Discipline - Demotions and Separations

Discipline is generally administered when an employee violates company policy or falls short of work expectations, and managers must act to remedy the situation. Discipline usually progresses through a series of steps – warning, reprimand probation, suspension, disciplinary transfer, demotion and discharge until the problem is solved or eliminated. Some ineffective managers may be asked to go for retraining or development, others may be promoted to a position with a more impressive title but less responsibility.

If demotion or transfer is to feasible seperation is usually better than letting a poor performer stay on the job. No matter how agonizing the separation decision may be the logic of human resource planning frequently requires that it be made. (Interestingly, a surprising number of poor performers at one firm become solid successes at another.

Union Carbide has approached discipline in an alternative fashion through what is called ‘positive discipline’. When problems arise at work, the supervisor confronts the employee. Although subsequent incidents are met with increasing severity, punishment is not the initial response. The first time an incident occurs, for example, an employee may be required to take a day’s leave (with pay) to think about what happened. At the same time, positive discipline encourages recognitions of good performance by employees.

As we have already discussed, the accelerated trend toward restructuring in today’s turbulent environment of increased competition has contributed to a growing rate of separations. As a result, some companies provide outplacement services to help separated employees find new positions.

Duracell, for example worked closely with outplacement consultants Pauline Hyde associates (PHA) when it closed its factory in Crawley, England. Even before the announcement of the closing PHA quietly contacted 5,000 companies about job opportunities, resulting in the posting of 100 unadvertised vacancies potentially available for Duracell workers. Then, immediately after the news of the closing was delivered, PHA counselors began meeting with employees on-site. Of the 300 workers, 150 were out of a job immediately with three months’ severance pay. Employees registered at the job shop, which was available to them whenever they needed it. The job shop had a firm orientation toward achievement, with an average placement rate of two people a day. News about job successes was posted on bulletin boards to generate optimism among the employees still working. In the end, 92 percent of those laid off found new positions through the out placement effort.

Rhino Foods, a $5 million specialty dessert maker in Burlington, Vermont, chose to avoid layoffs altogether by contracting out idle workers temporarily to other local businesses. Employee collected the salary the other company normally paid for the same work or, if the other company normally paid less than what the worker earned at Rhino, Rhino paid the difference. The costs that Rhino incurred were not insignificant, but Rhino management believed they amounted to less than layoffs would have cost. In addition, many employees acquired new ideas from the temporary employers such as one worker who returned from Ben and Jerry’s with suggestions for rotating breaks for production line employees.

It has become increasingly important for managers to establish and follow to the letter a policy on termination. For many years, it was accepted doctrine that managers could at their own discretion. Through legislative and judicial action however, employees have won an increasing number of complex rights. As a result, more and more companies are finding themselves answering charges of ‘wrongful termination’ in courts that seem to view jobs as a form of legal contract or property with roughly comparable rights. Judgments of wrongful termination change the doctrine of ‘at-will’ employment used in many jurisdictions.

To handle disputes about discipline and document their resolution, formal complaint procedures are common. At Federal Express, the discipline procedure includes formal grievance review process called the Federal Express Guaranteed Fair Treatment Procedure (GFTP). It provides for up to three levels of review: management review, officer review and executive review. Employees not satisfied with results of review at one level may resubmit the complaint to the next level. At each stage, both the complaint and the response must be timely and in writing.


Procedures to determine training needs

New employees have to learn new skills, and since their motivation is likely to be high, they can be acquainted relatively easily with the skills and behavior expected in their new position. On the other hand, training experienced employees can be problematic. The training needs of such employees are not always easy to determine and when they can be, the individuals involved may resent being asked to change their established ways of doing their jobs.

Managers can use four procedures to determine the training needs of individuals in their organization or subunit:

1. Performance appraisal: Each employee’s work is measured against the performance standards or objectives established for his or her job.
2. Analysis of job requirements: The skills or knowledge specified in the appropriate job description are examined, and those employees without necessary skills or knowledge become candidates for training program.
3. Organizational analysis: The effectiveness of the organization and its success in meeting its goals are analyzed to determine where differences exist. For example, members of a department with a high turnover rate or a low performance records might require additional training.
4. Employee Survey: Managers as well as non managers are asked to describe what problems they are experiencing in their work and what actions they believe are necessary to solve them.

Once the organization’s training needs have been identified, the human resources manager must initiate the appropriate training effort. Managers have available a variety of training approaches. The most common of these are on-the-job training methods, including job rotation, in which the employee, over a period of time, works on a series of jobs, there by learning a broad variety of skills; internship, in which job training is combined with related classroom instructions and apprenticeship, in which the employee is trained under the guidance of highly skilled co-workers. Sony uses a variety of these approaches to meet the training needs of its employees.

Off-the-job training takes place outside the workplace but attempt to stimulate actual working conditions. This type of training includes vestibule training, in which employees train on the actual equipment and in a realistic job setting but in a room different from the one in which they will be working. The object is to avoid the on-the-job pressures that might interfere with the learning process. In behaviorally experienced training activities such as simulation exercises, business games, and problem centered cases are employed so that the trainee can learn the behavior appropriate for the job through role playing. Off-the-job training may focus on the classroom, with seminars, lectures and films, or it may involve computer assisted instruction (CAI), which can both reduce the time needed for training and provide more help for individual trainees.

Management Development Programs:

Management development is designed to improve the overall effectiveness of managers in their present positions and to prepare tem for greater responsibility when they are promoted. Management development programs have become more prevalent in recent years because of the increasingly complex demands on managers and because training managers through experience alone is a time consuming and unreliable process. The investment for many companies in management development is quite large. For example, for years, IBM has required a minimum of 40 hours of human resources management training for all new managers.

Similar levels of training continue after this initial involvement. Some companies, however, do not rely on costly formal training approaches. Managers at Exxon for example prefer to nurture new talent by providing practical job experience. Thus executives at all levels are dispatched to key positions around the world to broaden their outlook and home their judgment.


Job description: What is next?

As forward-looking CEOs restructure their organizations with flatter hierarchies and empower employees to make decisions in a less encumbered organizational setting, new approaches to describing the work of the organization need to be developed. Traditionally, job descriptions have been functional and narrow, discretely detailing the scope and depth of a job and fitting the person to the job rather than the other way around. But the new environment of information driven work and changing technology dictates that decisions must be made at the drop of a fax. To maintain productivity and flexibility managers depend increasingly on utilizing the complex skills of the people they manage; they cannot afford to have them ‘boxed in’ by narrow job descriptions.

One organization that is grappling with this situation is the Exploration Division of British Petroleum (BPX) with locations all over the globe. The third largest oil company in the world, BPX was typical of large scale organizations in that it had accumulated layers of bureaucracy. Career advancement was based on time in grade and career success was equated with management title. So, to advance to the top levels of the company technical people such as engineers had to move over into management. Expectations of growth were built into the system.

Senior management decided that a radical change was needed. What they envisioned was a strategic shift to a more dynamic system that would challenge employees to gain and apply new skills demanded by the changes to the business. But if they abandoned the old job descriptions, what would take their place? Without formal job descriptions how would people know what their responsibilities were? The answer at BPX was to develop a new framework a set of skill matrices.

Each skill matrix describes steps in the career ladder from the lowest level to the highest along the vertical axis, and describes the skills and competencies that are required for each step across the horizontal axis. Two types of skill matrices were developed: One type guides the career development of people in management and the other type is for more technical people whose talents and expertise lie in individual contributions rather than management. This dual track system was developed by a multidisciplinary team of BPX staff from its many locations around the world. They developed descriptions for skills and levels of performance for job families rather than specific jobs, and they made the paths common on a global level (for example, the career path for drilling managers would be the same in Aberdeen as in Alaska) While the management matrix is common across all job families the individual contributor path is unique or each of the job families.

Existing management tracks were rethought, both of the new track systems were developed after much thought was given t how it ought to be done. In addition, generic skills such as problem solving, analysis, decisions making, and communication were applied to all jobs. The matrices are so detailed that an employee can identify what skills are needed to be successful in the future. Therefore employees can take responsibility for and plan their own career development.

The system has many advantages:

1. It saves time because the people in the current role revise the job and develop themselves without waiting for the HR department.
2. The dual career path system enables people to grow and advance in areas of their greatest strength, whether these are technical or business. That is, technical people can climb the career ladder without crossing over to management track; continuing promotion and increasing rewards can be achieved on the technical track as well.
3. Managers know what to expect of their employees and employees know what the company expects from them.
4. Both employees and managers are challenged continually.
5. Because the roles are not fixed or static, they are more adaptable to the un-predictabilities of today’s business conditions.

A turbulent, rapidly changing and highly competitive business environment will likely continue to be a fact of life in the twenty first century. Thus organizations must adapt to new ways of doing HRM. Traditional job descriptions are well-suited to the pyramidal bureaucracy but ill suited to the flexible, flat organizations needed now and in the future.


Workplace coaching of top end managers

India Inc struggles to fight the great talent war, and overnight create an army of top end managers and CEOs to take on the exponential growth in the industry it’s not surprising that corporate coaches are now popping up all over the place.

Increasing exam fever has a stream of executives and companies heading for that time tested strategy of private tuitions. After all if every other kind of celebrity needs a personal trainer, stylist, pet counsellor, speech therapist and so on, why should India’s executives be left behind?

Mostly, companies are still using coaches to help high performers achieve that critical edge, think strategy, and develop potential. The idea is to cut short the long gestation period that turns a high-performer into a leader of stature. Sometimes, they are also called in to help an executive overcome a weakness or skill-gap. Outsiders, professional executive coaches with a history of high performance and experience in management and HR, are fast becoming the preferred choice for companies.

An outsider, without any vested interest in the organization is in a better position to be accepted by the student and more effective in that he can stay neutral, but at the same time ask the tough questions without ruffling egos or internal feathers. The few executive coaches we have in India have their hands full these days.

Companies want things to happen very fast. Rightly and wrongly says an executive coach. Multinational companies like P&G, Unilever, and GE and some Indian companies like Aditya Birla Group, Godrej Industries, L&T and Mahindra and Mahindra, among others now have coaches working with some of their high potential executives.

It’s not mentoring (where a senior coaches) or counselling (where you seek help for emotional issues) but an outside coach is hired by the company to help realise a high performer’s true potential. Coaching is needed by high performers.

One primary condition has to be met before the learning process starts, the executive must be willing to learn. Only when the student is ready to learn a CEO coach is willing to teach.

The coach works for a set period of time, it could be 6-12 meetings depending on the student’s readiness to change, and each meeting sets some milestones in terms of the changes they hope to achieve.

The coach first helps to bring about change in awareness (knowledge). Then S/he then encourages the student to apply that knowledge so that S/he becomes skillful. They then encourage the student, through appropriate appreciation & recognition and discouragement, so the skill is converted into an attitude. This is called knowledge-skill-attitude-behavior cycle.

Some of the common problems that executives need help with these days are: how to manage time? How to have influence and garner support across organisation? How to motivate self and other team members? People issues are emerging as a key problem area, according to coaches.

Many executives need help in managing their emotions, because emotions are like virus and they spread easily across teams and organisations affecting productivity and environment.

Executives also need help in tuning their intuitive antenna, especially their ability to understand what’s said and what is left unsaid. MNC executives often need help in dealing with continuously shifting power equations as organisations go through global reorganisations or acquisitions and power centre changes.

Coaches begin work like doctors and start with a diagnosis. First, a 360 degree feedback process, lengthy interviews with team members and bosses (often many times), and psychometric tests.

”Behaviour under observation” is another technique coaches use, attending meetings, observing their executives at work, all done in a very transparent manner. People around them are very positive because they see the executive making an effort to improve himself, so they give feedback very sincerely.

Once coaches have analysed the executive’s strengths and weaknesses, they zero in on the top 2/3 issues they will work on. Coaches try and delve into a client’s mind and try and find a link between day to day problems and the big themes.


Positive attitude is rated as one of the best traits

We have met people who are always complaining either about their boss, their work, their home or social life. At the same time, we also see people who are perpetually smiling and are happy. Does this mean that they are blessed in life with no problems or difficulties? Or is it just a positive attitude?

Well, positive attitude is rated as one of the best traits. Being positive puts a person in command of his entire faculties.

Satisfied employees are more productive, work more diligently and enhance the organization’s brand value. Satisfied employees demonstrate commitment to service with every customer/client. Pessimistic employees, on the other hand, work to the advantage of your competition while on your payroll. They are usually depressed and transmit these emotions not only to fellow colleagues but also to the clients/ customers.

Considering the current market scenario, it’s important to not just stay put in your job and perform, but also to stay positive and learn to cope. The current economic slowdown is indeed de-motivating for many. For instance, a BPO worker says “Last year I did not get a promotion and a good raise because my boss quit just before my appraisal. My equation with my new boss was not very great, and he gave me an average rating as he did not know me well as a performer. Now, despite the fact that I have done well, the company may not consider promotions/pay revisions. So although I deserve a good hike, I may not get it!”

Now, such instances are common at workplace. There can be various factors contributing to negativity. Lack of clear goals, unfair treatment, unhealthy rapport with the boss are all factors that make an employee develop negative feelings.

Lack of awareness and insecurity results in apprehension; this in turn can lead to negative thoughts. It is the duty of the manager to keep his/her team charged with positive energy. So, what is expected of managers to pep up their team?

Set clear directions for the team and be fair in the treatment of employees. Managers should also set examples through their own behavior.

For example, there was a team member, who was not being promoted or recognized. He worked in the same position for almost ten years; he had reconciled to himself that he was not going to grow and that he was being tolerated. Then his boss started giving him responsibilities and reinforced his trust in him. The more he delivered, the more he got. The boss changed the trust quotient, and consequently the attitude of the team member also changed. The team member now heads the Admin team in another organization.

Not everyone is lucky to have a good manager. But remember its your positive attitude that will eventually help you chug along, while keeping up your momentum. So, what is it that helps keep you positive? What should you as an employee do to keep yourself in high spirits?

Well, for one, do some physical exercise everyday. It increases the flow of oxygenated blood to the brain and works wonders. Feel good about yourself. Develop one aspect of yourself-physique, language or anything else in such a way that you start ‘owning’ it. Sometimes we are snowed down by merely looking at the bad instances we are faced with. Start appreciating the positivity in your day-to-day life. Increase the gratitude quotient. It may probably not be as bad as it appears.

How to be positive:
1. Don’t get swayed by the negative energy around you.
2. “Corridor conversations” are usually negative; so stay away.
3. Associated with winners and learn from them.
4. Get a buddy who is always positive.
5. Be confident


Suggestions for succesful Team Building

You can go on and on about what are the basics to successful team building. After all, there is no fixed formula to what makes a group of people click on different occasions. But there are a few principles that are followed by almost every manager. Here are five secrets to team building that can help:

It is very important for a team leader to be honest to his/her team. S/he should tell them exactly where they stand within the organization. A team leader should convey the right information in a positive manner. Once your team members know their exact position in the organization, they will take your instructions in a better manner. Honesty is the best policy.

Be consistent about your communication with your team members. Remember, you will lose credibility with your team members if you communicate the same situation differently with different team members. For instance, if you rebuke a team member for his/her mistake, and spare someone else when s/he does the same mistake, you lose credibility. Also, make sure that you manage your moods at work. If you project a professional behavior, no matter what the situation is, your team will surely respect you. Consistency is the key.

Always be frank with your team members. If there is any bad news coming for your team or the organization, make sure you sit down for a meeting and share this important news with them. Avoid using phrases like “The management asked me to keep it secret”, “I don’t have all the facts yet”, “I don’t think the employees can handle bad news”, etc. At times employees are aware of the bad news even before their managers get to know about it. Lastly, employees would appreciate whatever information you share with them. Remember, they can handle bad news as long as their managers are concerned about them.

When you emphasize on feedback and insist on giving/receiving constant feedback, you build a bond of trust that improves your team’s performance. Make feedback a thumb rule. Your team members work hard, and by giving feedback you show that you appreciate their efforts and the difference they make. Let them know that you value their feedback, to make the work environment a ‘win-win’ situation.

People go to work because they want to make a difference at their job, as well as their lives. One of the best ways to generate team support is to involve them in solution creation process. Be it staff meetings, one-on-one sessions, workshops, etc, create an atmosphere that lets your team members express themselves freely. Try this, and you will be showered with innovative, proactive and practical solutions that are better than what you imagined. In short involve your team in team building.

Office work reminders:

To enable one to complete actions required in day to day office work irrespective of position following supports can help in accomplishing the tasks:
* Post-it notes: Stick them onto your computer, desk board. Post-its are a easy way to remember matters, especially stuff like making calls, sending mails or couriers. You can keep different colored post-it notes for different projects.
* Diary: For those, who are in the habit of checking notes every now and then, there’s nothing better than maintaining a diary. You can keep detailed information in a diary but make sure you highlight important matters so that they do not get lost in the clutter.
* Mobile reminders: You carry your mobile everywhere you go. So, let your cell beep as and when required to remind you of certain tasks you need to complete.
* Personal assistant: You could request your colleague to help you out in remembering important things, if s/he has a good memory. Just tell him/her at what time you would like to be reminded that’s it.
* Time table: If you have a slight memory disorder, you can do with a simple time table. Take a piece of chart paper and write down all the important tasks with a marker. Stick it on the desk and look at it every now and then.


Retaining your job

Even though most people need to be prepared for a possible layoff in the current economic scenario, there are ways to ensure that you are not the next target for your company. Here are some ways that can help you avoid being laid off:

If your track record has been poor, you have a few more months to set it right. Now is the time to try out all those bright ideas that somehow slipped out of your mind. If the performance or your output is directly linked to the number of hours you put in, the number of customers you meet, the number of sales calls you make, the number of inbound calls you take, etc, then now is the time to put in those extra hours and make up for the days when you fell short. Perform well.

It is possible that you may have generated conflict or got pulled into conflict for no fault of yours. Whatever the reason, now is the right time to mend your fences. Let bygones be bygones and just ensure that nobody has anything negative to say about you. Mend your fences internally.

Sit down and think of all those interactions you have had with your boss in the last one year. Were there occasions where you came across as lazy, impatient, tardy? If you have not sought feedback, do it now. Your boss is important.

Is your super boss or boss’ boss likely to oversee your appraisal? If you have not interacted with him or made an impact, do so now. Seek opportunities when you can to catch his/her attention and make an attempt to contribute in a way that you end up impressing your super boss. Your boss’s boss is important too.

In the last few months, you have had an argument with the HR over mistakes on your pay slip, delays in increment letters, errors in your leave balance, etc., be sure they do not have a score to settle with you now. HR is certain to be on any appraisal panel and will also be part of decisions on lay-offs. So make sure you have your network and friendships in place. Be on the right side of HR.

You may have thought sales is for dummies, but if that is the crying need of the hour in your company, express your willingness to contribute in some way or the other. If the company is looking for people who can multitask, express your willingness to be trained in a different area as well. Seek opportunities to multi-skill.

CEOs are always looking at ways to increase collections, improve sales, retain key clients and get more business from them. If you tell your boss that you don’t mind volunteering even after office hours and can contribute to any of these key metrics, you need not worry about your job. Make a difference to the bottom line.

Despite all your above efforts if you still lose your job then perhaps better opportunity awaits you.

Even those who are still employed are spending sleepless nights in fear of being sacked, or their employer turning out to be a fraud. All have one common query in their mails: Are there better job opportunities out there?

Our reply is a confident yes, thanks to constant enquiries from various firms, asking for people who can be recruited.

There are jobs even in these troubled times, possibly better ones at that. Whenever involved in any recruitment process, the advise to the top management is “Leader should make new men well-versed in knowledge of his ministers”.

So the first quality recruiters should look for in a candidate for employability is knowledge and a ready-to-learn attitude.


Idea Development

Unlike idea generation which is greatly stimulated by external contacts, idea development is dependent on the organizational culture and processes within the organization. Organizational characteristics, values, and processes can support or inhibit the development and uses of creative ideas. Commitment to the rational problem solving approached discussed increases the likelihood that high quality creative ideas will be recognized and developed fully.

The organizational structure also plays an important role. Rigid organizational structures that inhibit communication between departments will often keep potentially helpful people from even knowing that a problem exists. By creating barriers to communication rigidly structured organizations may also prevent problem solutions from reaching managers who need them. Management information systems (MIS) decision support systems (DDS)and expert systems store and retrieve generated ideas and aid managers in idea development. Recent advances in the networking of such systems are especially helpful for integrative problem solving.

Implementation: The implementation stage of the creative process in organizations consists of those steps that bring a solution or invention to the marketplace. For manufactured goods, these steps include engineering, tooling, manufacturing, test marketing and promotion. While a high rate of innovation often reduces short term profitability, it is crucial for long term growth. For example, the Swiss watch industry which operates by traditional practices and old fashioned individual craftsmanship has been in decline since the mid 1970s when more innovative competitors introduced new products such as digital watches into the market. When Swiss Watchmakers recently introduced new products such as the popular, inexpensive Swiss wristwatch, they were able to regain part of a market that had appeared to be lost to them.

For innovation to be successful, a high degree of integration is required among the various units of the organization. Technical specialists responsible for the engineering side of a new product must work with administrative and financial specialists responsible for keeping the cost of innovation within practical limits. Production managers helping to refine the specifications of the new product, must work with marketing managers, who are responsible for test marketing, advertising and promoting it. Proper integration of all these groups is necessary for a quality innovation to be produced on time, on budget, and for a viable market. Managers at organizations that are too rigidly structured may have a difficult time integrating such activities. In contrast, frequent and informal communication across an organization has been shown to have positive effects on innovation. For this reason, task forces and matrix type organizational structures which encourage interdepartmental communication and integration are particularly suited for generating, developing and implementing creative ideas and approaches.

Establishing a climate or organizational creativity and innovation:

As we have seen creativity is best nurtured in a permissive climate, one that encourages the exploration of new ideas and new ways of doing things. Many managers find it difficult to accept such as climate. They may be uncomfortable with a continuing process of change, which is the essential accompaniment of creativity they may also be concerned that a permissive atmosphere encourages the breakdown of discipline or cost control.

Promotion creativity through culture at Xerox:

At Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) organizational culture posed a potential obstacle to creativity. When Xerox chief scientist John Seely Brown, Ph.D took over PARC in 1988 he found that the existing culture did not support continued radical innovation. Together with Elise Walton, Director at Delta Consulting Group, he has worked toward building a more appropriate cultural architecture, the starting point was a plan called Xerox 2000, which provide a strategic view of where the organization would be in the year 2000. Anthropologists were hired to study the organization. They uncovered many interesting discrepancies. For example, Xerox came face to face with what Brown calls the ‘notion of a double blind – self canceling self selling of beliefs. Xerox articulates commitment to teamwork as evidenced by part of the company’s logo, Team Xerox yet hero-worshipping is deeply embedded in the corporate culture. These inherently opposite cultural tenets caused dysfunctional behavior that worked against creativity. Management aimed therefore at adjusting the organizational ‘hardware’ – structure rewards, incentives and so on and launched the new organization through a program dubbed “Good Start”. The key challenge is a dichotomy asserted Brown. Keep the restructuring as simple as possible, but realize that the details matter. The result is an organization comprising many new employees and many old employees in brand-new positions but united by a common culture developed to be more supportive of rapid innovation.


OD for teams or groups

In process consultations a consultant works with organization members it help them understand the dynamics of their working relationships in group or team situations. The consultant helps the group members to change the ways they work together and to develop the diagnostic and problem solving skills they need for more effective problem solving. OD – Organizational Development

Team building, a related approach, analyzes the activities resources allocations and relationships of a group or team to improve its effectiveness. This technique can be used, for example to develop a sense of unity among members of a new committee. Team building can be directed at two different types of teams or working groups: an existing or permanent team made up of a manager and his or her employees often called a family group, or a new group either has been formed to solve a specific problem or has been created through a merger has been formed to solve a specific problem or has been created through a merger or other structural change in the organization, which we will call a special group.

For both kinds of groups, team buildings activities aim at diagnosing barriers to effective team performance, improving task accomplishment, improving task accomplishment, improving relationships between team members and improving processes operative in the team, such as communications and task assignment.

CIGNA Corp. discovered that adopting project teams in place of its rigid management hierarchy improved communication and enhanced productivity Improving our working relationship involved drastic changes and the acknowledgement on both sides that something needed to be done claims president property / casualty claims systems and vice president product management and technical services. Once the need for change was acknowledged the teams were out into place. The company was divided into nine teams organized along business lines. The teams diverse composition now enables employees to share information about their areas of expertise the results are quantifiable. Reports of systems problems have dropped 63 percent, and systems fixes are now 100 percent accurate.

Diagnostic meetings may involve the total group or several subgroups and require only a brief time – a day or less – to identify strengths and problem areas. Actual team building requires a subsequent longer meeting ideally held away from the workplace. The consultant interviews participants before hand and organizes the meetings around common themes. The group proceeds to examine the issues, rank them in order of importance, study their underlying dynamics and decide on a course of action bring about those changes perceived as necessary. A follow up meeting at a later time may then evaluate to success of the action steps.

OD for Inter-group Relations: To permit an organization’s managers to assess the health of the organization and set up plans of action for improving it, the confrontation meeting may be used. This is a one day meeting of all of an organization’s managers in which they discuss problems, analyze the underlying causes, and plan remedial actions. The confrontations meeting is typically used after a major organizational change such as a merger or the introduction of a new technology.

OD for the total Organizations: These surveys feedback technique can be used to improve the operations of the total organization. It involves conducting attitude ad other surveys and systematically reporting the results to organization members. Members then determine what actions need to be taken to solve the problems and exploit the opportunities uncovered in the surveys.

Boston Consulting Group has helped many organizations deal with change programs. They recommend forming a Transition Management Team with the responsibility to lead the eight tasks listed.


Approach and types of OD activities

Many of the approaches to planned change are appropriate for solving immediate specific problems. Organizational development (OD) in contrast, is a longer term, more encompassing more complex and more costly approach to change that aims to move the entire organization to a higher level of functioning while greatly improving its members’ performance and satisfaction. Although OD frequently includes structural and technological changes its primary focus is on changing people and the nature and quality of their working relationships.

Finally, OD has been defined as,

A top management supported long range effort to improve an organization’s problem-solving and renewal process, particularly through a more effective and collaborative diagnosis and management of organization culture with special emphasis on formal work team, temporary team, and inter-group culture with the assistance of a consultant –facilitator and the use of the theory and technology of applied behavioral science, including action research.

This definition includes a number of important phrases. Problem solving process refers to the organization’s methods of dealing with the threats and opportunities in its environment, while renewal process refers to the way managers adapt their problem solving processes to the environment. One aim of OD is to improve an organization’s self renewal process so that managers can quickly adapt their management style to new problems and opportunities.

For Allan Willett, chairman and sole proprietor of Willett International organizational development involved bringing in outside help. In ten years he built the company into a significant contender in the fast paced product marking and coding business with an annual turnover near £ 50 million and a workforce of 600 employees around the world. He then recognized that the company had become more than he could handle alone. He therefore hired a group manager and organized a team of experienced professionals. He had to let them be managers. To do that he had physically to depart from the scene. Now he spends nine months of the year visiting overseas subsidiaries and distributors and concentrated on ‘the vision thing’. The company nevertheless continues to thrive and expanding the product base is an option currently under consideration.

Another aim of OD is the sharing of management power with employees, a goal indicated by the phrase collaborative management. Collaborative management means that managers put aside the hierarchical authority structure and let employees play a greater role in decision making. To carry out this change managers must consciously change the organizational culture – the members’ shared attitudes beliefs ad activities.

The development of teams and the empowerment of employees, both elements of quality programs often result in a more collaborative approach. But when employees at Milwaukee’s Gossen Corp, first began working in teams, they had trouble understanding their importance. Part of the explanation for their resistance is the US culture which values individualism rather than collective, collaborative behavior. The company improved communication and provided training with the goal of focusing employees on the company’s mission of satisfying the customer. Now, empowered employees strive to identify customer requirements and develop processes that will fill those requirements. Rather than worrying about pleasing their boss, employees can focus entirely on the customer.

A final key phrase, action research refers to the way OD change agents go about learning what aspects of the organization need to be improved and how the organization can be helped to make these improvements.

Briefly, action research involves -
(1) a preliminary diagnosis of the problems by OD change agents,
(2) data gathering to support (or disprove) the diagnosis,
(3) feedback of the data to organization members,
(4) exploration of the data by organization members ,
(5) planning of appropriate action, and
(6) taking appropriate action.


Recruitment in downturn

Recruiting firms are being told by uninterested clients to freeze hiring. Layoffs are no longer taboo. It’s time to re-work HR strategies.
Till just a few months back, department store chain Shopper’s Stop was busy chasing headhunters to find candidates who were “willing” to join. The tables have been turned; it’s the headhunters’ turn to do the chasing while companies play hard to get.
It sums up the impact of the global financial crisis on the Indian employment scenario. Shopper’s Stop, for example, has decided to be very selective in filling up new vacancies and will recruit only when new stores come up.
The slowdown’s impact has not been felt as yet as consumer demand is still rising 10 per cent year-on-year. But things could get a lot worse in the next 12 months if companies become tight-fisted on increments next year. If the salaried individual feels the pinch that is the time when retailers will face the real squeeze.
Future Group chairman agrees that their company, which owns large retail chains like Panta¬loon and Big Bazaar, has cut people cost by 1 per cent by linking salaries with performance, and is going “really slow” on recrui¬t¬ments. Human capability is infinite and multi-tasking is the order of the day.
The slowdown heat is not scalding retail companies alone. At least three top recruiting firms say they have received frantic calls from clients asking them to stop hiring at least for the next couple of quarters.
Enterprise software company SAP, according to sources, has sent an email to its staffers saying “all engagement with external recruiters must cease immediately”. There is a freeze on headcount and hiring, and all existing job vacancies will be cancelled. This includes temporary workers, interns, and students. Others are not far behind in freezing recruitments — especially at the entry level.
The worst fallout of this was seen recently at India’s premier engineering colleges. Several multinational companies withdrew job offers they had given to students of Indian Institutes of Technology at Bombay, Kharagpur and Delhi — a far cry from the days when students at IITs and Indian Institutes of Management interviewed companies to figure out if they were in a position to do justice to the students’ ability.
Just a couple of years back, McKinsey, the consultancy firm, estimated that India’s factories would need 73 million workers by 2015, which is 50 per cent more than today’s. And believe it or not India’s airlines were projected to add 440 new planes by 2010 to their fleets, which meant 3,200 additional jobs for pilots alone, and many times that for cabin crew, ground staff and airport handling personnel. About 40,000 vacancies were expected in the next three to four years just for cabin crew jobs.
Today, Jet Airways is still reeling under its experiment with layoffs. It first sacked 800 employees and announced that 1,100 more will be fired, but retracted the pink slips within 24 hours after a public and political outcry. Soon after the dust subsided came the reports that Kingfisher Airlines had slashed the salaries of its trainee co-pilots by 90 per cent.
In a sense, Jet’s decision was unavoidable. Indian aviation, a $6 billion industry, is expected to lose $2 billion in 2008-09 due to record fuel prices. The losses arising out of the global financial crisis, and the traffic downturn caused by the crisis, make matters worse. Jet has been watching the situation for some time in the hope of a reversal of fortunes.
India’s fourth largest information technology company, Satyam Computer Services, has already put some of its employees under what it calls a performance improvement plan. As part of their appraisal process, they could identify around 5 per cent of their associates under the performance improvement category and put them through a structured program. Now altogether after the scam at Aatyam computers the fate of about 40,000 employees is unknown. It is also possible that this is a ready made talent available for the competitors. Others such as Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Dell, Yahoo! and EDS (now a part of Hewlett Packard) have done similar exercises.
Wipro Technologies has put 4-5 per cent of its workforce under the scanner for “non-performance”. As the appraisal cycle gets over, a multi-layer review happens. Following that, people who have fallen in the lower quadrants of performance are put on watch. Some are asked to pull up and others are asked to move on.


Prerequisites for a call centre job

The call centre industry in India seems to be calling the shots. A research organization, Forrester Research, predicts that almost 3.3 million US jobs are likely to be outsourced by the year 2015. Director, Career House, estimates an annual growth rate of 60-70% in the BPO sector. The salary structures in this industry are at par with the best; in fact the reason why most fresh graduates gravitate towards call centers is because the average salary package starts at Rs15,000.

However, because of the monotony of repetitive work, health issues and a pressure cooker environment, call centre experience a high rate of employee attrition. Employees need oodles of patience to last in the mundane, closeted environment of a call centre. Clearly not everyone can survive in that atmosphere. So we help you figure out whether you are cut out for a call centre job:

Someone who has good communication skills, clarity of voice, is people friendly and flexible. Moreover a person should be self motivated because there is very little opportunity for managers to motivate their agents when they are working on such tight schedules. BPOs need people who can speak fluent English in a neutral accent. When referred to communication, we are not just speaking of a person’s vocabulary. It has to be solution based communication. We require people with an analytical mind who are geared to provide customer solutions.

The one thing that call centre employees need to constantly bear in mind is that they are representing a big brand and company. Since you are the first voice that the customer will associate with the brand, you need to sound impressive. You also need to know your telephone etiquette. Sweet talking all the way.

In order to establish a good working relationship and comfort zone with the customer call centers train their staff to learn the accent of the country they are calling and also attune themselves with the culture. Build relationships.

Some call centers encourage the staff to follow current events in that country so that they can relate a particular event as an example to the point they are making. Essentially if you have the basic English speaking capacity in place, a bit of industry and practice should make it possible for you to establish a good rapport with the customers.

When it comes to psychological make up, call centre employees need to be able to take pressure, not indulge in self pity and have a positive attitude. The ideal psychological profile of a call centre employee would be one who likes to follow procedures, hates change, is accurate and dependable. For out bound call centers, they would also need to be self motivated, extroverts and capable of handling rejection.

Many speak of the lack of vertical growth and promotions in a call centre. Even an agent with less experience can become an acting team coach; one can have friendship sessions with new joinees.

To be a good agent and have greater promotion prospects one should also study the competition. Have a USP vis-à-vis the competition to establish a better relationship with the customer and thus increase your success rate.

If you fit the bill, a call centre job can take you places. All it takes is a bit of initiative and a bit of flexibility to make yours a success story.

Prerequisites for a call centre job:
* Familiarity with computers and basic applications
* Good spoken English
* Clarity and a pleasant voice
* Flexibility with timings and night shifts
* Dependability
* Willingness to follow procedures
* Ability to meet targets
* Ability to handle rejection
* Ability to remain calm in volatile situations

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Difference between Human Resource Management and Personnel Management

Human resource management involves all management decisions and practices that directly affect or influence the people, or human resources, who work for the organization. In other words, Human resource management is concerned with ‘people centric issues’ in management.

The Human Resources Management (HRM) function includes a variety of activities, and key among them is deciding what staffing needs you have and whether to use independent contractors or hire employees to fill these needs, recruiting and training the best employees, ensuring they are high performers, dealing with performance issues, and ensuring your personnel and management practices conform to various regulations. Activities also include managing your approach to employee benefits and compensation, employee records and personnel policies. Usually small businesses (for-profit or nonprofit) have to carry out these activities themselves because they can't yet afford part- or full-time help. However, they should always ensure that employees have -- and are aware of -- personnel policies which conform to current regulations. These policies are often in the form of employee manuals, which all employees have.


ALTHOUGH both human resource management (HRM) and personnel management focus on people management, if we examine critically, there are many differences between them. Some are listed below:

i) Nature of relations: The nature of relations can be seen through two different perspective views which are Pluralist and Unitarist. There is a clear distinct difference between both because in personnel management, the focus is more on individualistic where individual interest is more than group interest.

The relationship between management and employees are merely on contractual basis where one hires and the others perform. Whereas, HRM focuses more on Unitarist where the word "uni" refers to one and together.

Here, HRM through a shared vision between management and staff create a corporate vision and mission which are linked to business goals and the fulfillment of mutual interest where the organization’s needs are satisfied by employees and employees' needs are well-taken care by the organization. Motorola and Seagate are good examples of organizations that belief in this Unitarist approach which also focuses in team management and sees employees as partners in an organization.

Relation of power and management: The distribution of power in personnel management is centralized where the top management has full authority in decision-making where even the personnel managers are not even allowed to give ideas or take part in any decision which involves "employees".

HRM, on the other hand, sees the decentralization of power where the power between top management is shared with middle and lower management groups.

This is known as "empowerment" because employees play an important role together with line and HR managers to make collective and mutual decisions, which can benefit both the management and employees themselves.

In fact, HRM focuses more on TQM approach as part of a team management with the involvement and participation of management and employees with shared power and authority.

The nature of management is focused more on bottom-up approach with employees giving feedback to the top management and then the top management gives support to employees to achieve mutually agreed goals and objectives.

ii) Leadership and management role: Personnel management emphasizes much on leadership style which is very transactional. This style of leadership merely sees the leader as a task-oriented person. This leader focuses more on procedures that must be followed, punishment form non-performance and non-compliance of rules and regulations and put figures and task accomplishments ahead of human factors such as personal bonding, interpersonal relationship, trust, understanding, tolerance and care.

HRM creates leaders who are transformational. This leadership style encourages business objectives to be shared by both employees and management. Here, leaders only focus more on people-oriented and importance on rules, procedures and regulations are eliminated and replaced with:

· Shared vision;

· Corporate culture and missions;

· Trust and flexibility; and

· HRM needs that integrates business needs.

iii) Contract of employment: In personnel management, employees contract of employment is clearly written and employees must observe strictly the agreed employment contract. The contract is so rigid that there is no room for changes and modifications. There is no compromise in written contracts that stipulates rules, regulations, job and obligations.

HRM, on the other hand, does not focus on one-time life-long contract where working hours and other terms and conditions of employment are seen as less rigid. Here, it goes beyond the normal contract that takes place between organizations and employees. The new "flexible approach" encourages employees to choose various ways to keep contributing their skills and knowledge to the organization.

HRM, with its new approach, has created flexi-working hours, work from home policies and not forgetting the creation on "open contract" system that is currently practiced by some multinational companies such as Motorola, Siemens and GEC.

HRM today gives employees the opportunity and freedom to select any type of working system that can suit them and at the same time benefit the organization as well. Drucker (1996) calls this approach a "win-win" approach.

iv) Pay policies and job design: Pay policies in personnel management is merely based on skills and knowledge required for the perspective jobs only. The value is based on the ability to perform the task and duties as per the employment contract requirement only. It does not encourage value-added incentives to be paid out. This is also because the job design is very functional, where the functions are more departmentalized in which each job falls into one functional department. This is merely known as division on labour based on job needs and skill possessions and requirement.

HRM, on the contrary, encourages organizations to look beyond pay for functional duties. Here, the pay is designed to encourage continuous job performance and improvement which is linked to value-added incentives such as gain sharing schemes, group profit sharing and individual incentive plans.

The job design is no more functional based but teamwork and cyclical based. HRM creates a new approach towards job design such as job rotation which is inter and intra-departmental based and job enlargement which encourages one potential and capable individual to take on more tasks to add value to his/her job and in return enjoy added incentives and benefits.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Comment Here!!!

Should companies block the hiring of Satyam employees?

Please comment on this!


Friday, January 9, 2009

Short and Nice Speech - Good one

Speech by Bryan Dyson (CEO of Coca Cola)

"Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name them - Work, Family, Health, Friends and Spirit and you're keeping all of these in the Air.
You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball.
If you drop it, it will bounce back.
But the other four Balls - Family, Health, Friends and Spirit - are made of glass. If you drop one of these; they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered. They will never be the same. One must understand that and strive for it.

Employee Termination continues Worldwide!

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T he global economy is in the doldrums. Nations are battling a nightmare called recession. Balance sheets are studied with a frenzy and companies are struggling to stay in the black. Yet, the saddest story of the financial meltdown is the common man. In less than 20 days this month, 30 well-known international companies have announced job cuts. Soft drink distributor Pepsi Bottling Group Inc is planning to slash about 3,150 jobs across US, Canada Europe and Mexico as part of its restructuring plan. This is expected to result in pre-tax savings of up to $160 million. "These moves will allow our business to better deal with the challenging macroeconomic conditions that currently exist, " Pepsi Bottling Group's chairman and chief executive officer Eric Foss said.

HSBC: 500 jobs

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H SBC Holdings PLC , Europe's largest bank (when market value is considered) , plans to cut 500 jobs in Asia due to the global economic slump , says wire service Associated Press. The cuts will be made in various parts of the business, including back office functions, with about 450 jobs in Hong Kong to be shed, the London-based lender announced to employees on November 17. In September, the bank announced 1,100 job cuts worldwide in the wake of the financial turmoil. HSBC has been hit hard by the financial crisis. The bank was forced to reduce the value of its assets by $4.9 billion in the third quarter, as the cost of bad loans in the US continued to mount and the credit market faltered.

Citigroup: 52,000 jobs

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C itigroup has announced it will cut more than 52,000 jobs in the coming months and reduce expenses by 20 per cent in 2009. It said it intends to reduce the total head count to less than 300 , 000 soon. In terms of expenses , the financial services major aims to save $ 50-52 billion in 2009. These cuts are expected to have a 'limited' impact on its India staff strength. Citigroup has about 22 , 000 employees currently working in India . Of which, 12,000 work for Citigroup Global Services Ltd. Citigroup had a workforce of 352,000 in the third quarter of 2008. In the same quarter , it reported a loss of $ 2.8 billion. In the first three quarters of 2008, Citigroup has reduced its workforce by about 23,000 persons.

Fidelity Investments: 3,000 and counting

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L eading fund house Fidelity Investments will cut about 1,300 jobs later this month, followed by another 1,700 jobs in the first quarter next year. This means Fidelity is looking at reducing its 44,400 employee-strong workforce by about 7 per cent. Fidelity Investments, which managed assets worth $ 3 trillion as on September 30, 2008, has seen its assets decline sharply following the meltdown in the stock markets.

Royal Bank of Scotland : 3,000 jobs

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T he Royal Bank of Scotland will cut about 3,000 jobs in the next few weeks. 'The positions will go in its global banking and markets workforce, spanning more than 50 countries. Jobs are likely to go in the City of London , 'said a BBC report. The bank has about 170,000 employees, of which about 100,000 are in the UK .

Sun Microsystems: 6,000 jobs

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S un Microsystems has said it is eliminating 6,000 jobs or 18 per cent of its global work force. It expects to reduce its costs by $375-450 million in the current fiscal. Sun Microsystems is also reorganizing its software organization into new business groups. Besides, it will implement a restructuring plan aimed at reducing costs by approximately $700 to $800 million annually.

United States Steel Corp: 675 jobs

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U nited States Steel Corp has laid off about 3 per cent of its production workers in North America as the global economic slowdown cut into the demand for steel used in construction, autos and appliances. The layoffs, effective immediately, include 500 employees in the US and 175 in Canada .

British Telecom: 10,000 jobs and counting

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U K-based telecom major British Telecom will cut 10,000 jobs by March 2009. About 4, 000 of the job losses will be direct BT staff, the remaining 6,000 will be from related employees. The cuts will mainly affect agency and contract staff and offshore workers, the company said, but sub-contractors and other indirect employees would also lose their jobs. BT has also said its India operations won't be affected. The move to cut jobs comes after the company posted an 11 per cent decline in pre-tax profits at pound 590 million for the September quarter. A report in The Telegraph said, 'BT has cut its headcount from 250,000 at privatization in 1984 to 160 , 000 today and indicated there is scope for more job losses. The company said 4,000 employees have already left the business this financial year and a further 6,000, mostly in the UK , will go by the end of March.' BT has a global workforce of 160,000.

Morgan Stanley: 19 per cent of its staff

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M organ Stanley has outlined plans to cut 10 per cent of its staff by the end of the year. The layoffs follow a 10 per cent cut made earlier this year. Morgan Stanley also plans to restructure its money management business by cutting 9 per cent of its staff. It was not immediately clear how many positions will ultimately be eliminated from the company's total ranks of about 44,000 employees.

Virgin Media: 2,200 jobs

T he Virgin Media cable group will be slashing 2,200 jobs, or 15 per cent of its workforce, by 2012. This will result in annual cost savings of more than pound 120 million by 2012. The group said it would not start cutting jobs until the fourth quarter of next year, with the majority of the role reductions taking place before the end of 2010. It also said the cuts were not related to the strained economic environment. Virgin Media was formed through the merger of Telewest and ntl in 2006; Virgin Mobile was later acquired by it. The group has already reduced 4,000 staff jobs after the ntl and Telewest deal.

Yell Group: 1,300 jobs

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Y ell Group, the publisher of the Yellow Pages in the UK , is planning to cut 1,300 jobs over the coming year , which is expected to reduce costs by pound 100 million.

The company has already cut 1,300 jobs since September last year, resulting in a saving of pound 150 million.

Nokia Siemens Networks: 1,820 jobs

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T elecommunications solution provider Nokia Siemens Networks said it will slash around 1,800 jobs as part of its restructuring efforts. The company is a 50:50 joint venture of Finnish cell phone maker Nokia and German firm Siemens. Nokia Siemens plans to cut about 750 jobs in Finland . It will also close its Hofmannstrasse site in Munich , Germany , which will affect nearly 500 employees. The company separately announced an agreement whereby its manufacturing site in Durach , Germany , will be purchased in a management buy-out. 'That agreement will result in the transfer of around 500 employees. At the completion of the planned headcount restructuring and employee transfer activities, Nokia Siemens Networks expects to have in the range of 10 , 000 employees in Germany , from an initial base of approximately 13,000, 'the statement noted. In addition, the company has planned reduction of headcount by about 50 in Egypt and by 20 in the United States .

Volvo AB : 1,000 jobs and counting

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S wedish truck and bus maker Volvo AB has said it will lay off 1 , 000 staff at its powertrain unit in Sweden and the United States as the global financial crisis continues to affect the demand for heavy vehicles. He said a number of consultants in Sweden could also receive notices. The Volvo group has previously announced layoffs of 2,000 workers at their truck plants in Belgium and Sweden and 1,350 workers at its construction unit. It has more than 100,000 employees worldwide, including its subsidiaries Renault Trucks, Mack Trucks and Nissan Diesel.

DHL US Express: 9,500 jobs

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G erman logistics giant Deutsche Post AG announced it would slash 9,500 jobs at its DHL US Express business and shut all service centres following the economic downturn. This is in addition to the 5 , 400-odd positions already reduced since the beginning of the year. DHL US Express will also close all ground hubs and reduce the number of stations from 412 to 103, said a company statement. As a result, its annual operating costs are expected to reduce to less than euro 770 million from the present euro 4.2 billion. The US international express network, with a total of 3,000 to 4,000 employees, will be re-tailored to the needs of the group's international express service customers.

Nortel Networks Corporation: 1,300 jobs

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G lobal telecom equipment vendor Nortel Networks Corporation, which reported a net loss of $3.4 billion on November 10, said it will slash about 1,300 jobs as part of its cost cutting measures for 2009. The firm had a net income of $ 27 million in the same period a year ago. Nearly 25 per cent of the reduction would take place this year and the rest in 2009.

General Motors Corp: 3,600 jobs

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G eneral Motors Corp, which plans to slow down production at 10 of its assembly plans, says it will indefinitely lay off about 3,600 workers.

To cope with the shrinking market demand, General Motors is also planning to reduce inventory though production line re-rates.

EW Scripps Co: 400 jobs

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F aced with a 20 per cent drop in advertising revenue, US media company EW Scripps Co has announced it would cut 400 jobs. Scripps also reported a Q3 loss of $21 million; in the same quarter the previous year, it registered a profit of $16.6 million. The Ohio-based company owns 10 television stations and newspapers in 15 US markets.

Scripps also hosts the National Spelling Bee, which is in its 78th year.

Ford Motor Company: 2,600 jobs

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B attling a net loss of $129 mn million in its third quarter, US car maker Ford Motor Company has introduced cost cutting measures including 2,600 job cuts. According to a company statement, it is also planning an additional 10 per cent reduction in North American salaried personnel related costs. Earlier this year, Ford had sold its two iconic brands, Jaguar and Land Rover, to Tata Motors for $2.3 billion.

Volvo: 6,000 jobs

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A s part of its restructuring plans, Volvo, a Ford unit, plans to cut 6,000 jobs -- including 1,200 agency employees -- worldwide.

Corus: 400 jobs

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B ritish steel giant Corus, now part of Indian conglomerate Tata Steel, will cut 400 jobs in its distribution business. A company spokesperson said Corus would consult its workers and have as many voluntary redundancies as possible. He added that the decision had to be taken because of a steep slump in the demand for steel and softening global prices. Corus's distribution business employs nearly 2,400 people at 36 sites in the UK and Ireland .

American Express: 7,000 jobs

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I n order to slash costs by $1.8 billion in 2009, US credit card group American Express will lay off 7,000 of its employees, amounting to around 10 per cent of its worldwide workforce. The company is also planning to suspend management salary increases, put a freeze on new hires, slash investment spending and cut expenses for consulting, travel and entertainment.

Bank of America : 7,500 jobs and counting

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B ank of America has said it will eliminate 7,500 jobs after buying Countrywide.

Thousands of more job cuts are likely as the bank integrates its acquisition of Merrill Lynch.

Development Bank of Singapore Group: 900 jobs

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E ven the Development Bank of Singapore Group -- Southeast Asia 's biggest bank when one looks at assets -- has not escaped the mayhem. It has reduced its staff strength by 900 employees in its battle to survive the global credit crisis and a 38 per cent slump in third quarter net profit. The cuts will affect its offices in Singapore and Hong Kong .

Mattel Inc: 1,000 jobs

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T he makers of Barbie and Fisher Price products have not escaped the economic crisis either. Toy maker Mattel Inc has announced it will cutting about 1,000 jobs worldwide. The cuts, which will affect 3 per cent its workforce and 8 per cent of its professional and management staff, will include a combination of layoffs, attrition and retirements.

New York City : 3,000 jobs

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T he economic downturn has hit New York City hard , with Mayor Michael R Bloomberg announcing the laying off 3,000 employees, cutting expenditure on several other fronts, rescinding a popular 7 per cent property tax cut and suspending checks for annual property tax rebates. These measures will save some $ 1.5 billion but the city will still be in the red.

AMD: 500 jobs

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C alifornia-based Advanced Micro Devices Inc says it is cutting 500 workers, or 3 per cent of its global staff, in its quest to return to profitability. The struggling chip maker has been facing problems -- caused by product delays and a costly acquisition -- even before the financial tsunami swamped the globe.

Goldman Sachs: 3,200 jobs

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