Training: Changing Times

December 24, 2009 1 comment

Internet must be the greatest discovery of the 20th Century. And it changed our lives (personal, professional and social) like never before. From communication to commerce, technology percolated in everything.

As a HR professional it was interesting for us to reflect on how it has changed the function and what lies in future.

Here is the shift I have observed in the training function:

From To
Training Sessions
Formal sessions with clearly defined learning objectives running for 2 to 5 days Semi formal sessions with smaller duration targeted at incremental learning
Highly experienced Trainer with mastery on the subject  Younger trainers with experience on a niche tool/ technology
Role of HR
Training Coordination  Talent Management

Have you spotted some trends? Feel free to share your views…


Social Security and Family System

February 22, 2009 1 comment

 When we analyze root cause of a problem, usually we probe the same system. For example, while solving organizational problem we study the organizational environment and systems. However, at times the root cause lies in another system or environment. Here is a case:


US social security is in crisis. Starting 2017 huge number of employees will be retiring and government will not have enough funds to provide the retirement benefits.

Reason: Scholars in America argue that the payroll taxes are lower and the benefits paid are higher. This is taking the social security program in trouble.

Here is another perspective:

In US, 90% population receives some form of social security benefit. Hence there is very high dependence on government. As life expectancy increases this problem aggravates.

People will live longer but general health will deteriorate. This will place huge burden on government funds.

 While a prosperous and advanced nation like US suffers from this problem, how come India is shielded from this crisis?

 The answer lies in our Family System: In India only 7% population is covered under social security. Yet, the other 93% people have some arrangement to take care of them when they grow old.

 The joint family (siblings staying together with family) as well as the combined family (parents staying with children) system takes care of this.

Even in nuclear families, children usually support their parents staying in hometown. The family system provides for the ‘old age benefits’ without depending on government.

 The family system also shields people from impact of economic downturns. If a person looses his job, he can turn to his brother or parents. In rural India, you would see good diversification of income sources. One brother looks after farming and other works in some factory. In case of drought, employed brother supports both families. In case he looses job, both families earn through farming!

A cultural practice can be a source of strong economic system! What do you think?



Transfusing new blood into HR

September 20, 2008 Leave a comment


Recently Wall Street Journal published an article about companies reaching to non HR professionals to lead HR. Microsoft has got Lisa Brummel, the corporate VP of the home and retail division to head HR. Qwest moved Teresa Taylor the EVP of their wholesale markets to take over HR.

Taking a cue from there or even otherwise, few Indian companies are toying with the idea. However, organizations must ensure that a strong second line HR leader is available in the team to support the non-HR ‘HR Head’. Success of the new leader to a large extent depends on this core HR person who facilitate the transition in following way:

HR Perspective– While the non HR leader can bring delivery/customer perspective, the core HR person is required to direct the new leader in core HR issues. Leader coming from functions like sales and marketing may overlook HR Operations part which is the backbone of HR department.

HR Retention– A strong HR person is also required to manage the HR team itself. Change in HR leadership tends to disturb the existing HR team and the team needs someone who can direct them during this phase.

While getting new BLOOD into HR is an exciting idea, the ‘cross matching’ should be done seriously to avoid ‘transfusion reaction’.

 What do you think?

Categories: Talent Management Tags:

The Most Disliked HR System

July 28, 2008 1 comment

Most of the organizations have successfully (?) migrated to the online Performance Assessment System. However, users across organizations are still unhappy about the functionality of the online system.


While the assessment process largely depends on the company philosophy, the HR team has great scope to design the system. Half of the troubles will go off if the system is designed carefully.


Here are some of the inputs based on my experience as a user as well as process owner:


Ease: The system should be easy to operate. Preferably a desktop icon that takes employee to performance monitoring page for current assessment period should be available. Else, there should be a direct link available in Employee Self Service portal. It sounds simple, but in many organizations the employee still needs browse through number of links and filters to visit the self assessment page.


User Interface: An unanimated look puts employees off from visiting the assessment page. Well articulated tips related to respective stages in the process may help employees. Nice performance quotes/ graphics can put a smile on their face as they browse through.


Openness: In few companies, employees can record important points against the performance criteria throughout the performance period (from day one!). This saves employee from remembering the details till the end of assessment period. This also enables supervisor to periodically review the assessment and put his feedback. Thus, there are no surprises for any of the side during formal assessment.


Simplicity: PAS is one of the most complicated HR system, more complicated then the actual process. This is primarily because the architecture is finalized by the IT department which is concerned about the software and database aspect. Ever tried to change supervisor for employees shifted from one unit to other? Employee, current supervisor, past supervisor and HR all waste their time to get this done. A ticket system with proper authorization can automate and simplify such routine tasks.


This is not exhaustive. There will be many other ways to improve the system. Can you share some based on your experience?


Beyond just charity

July 8, 2008 1 comment


“Give a fish to a man and you feed him for the day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for life”

Charity is the easiest (and therefore, most common) way to contribute to the community. However, it is not a self sustaining model since funds can not flow in forever.

Therefore, we need to focus on solutions that help the less privileged become self reliant. Fortunately there have been many positive developments in the field of community contribution recently that enable the “have nots” to stand on their own feet.

Small Saving Group is a highly successful model corresponding to this philosophy. I would like to share a personal experience with this model.

Professional organizations outsource lot of services which can be easily performed by unskilled people. Tea counters, book binding work, stationary counters, waste management and housekeeping are some of the areas.

Our experience with Tea Counter and Book Binding is very encouraging. We invited a Women Small Saving Group to manage the tea stall in our cafeteria. The women were thrilled with this proposal and quickly gathered their resources to take on the challenge. They visited tea stall in city area to learn how they manage load at peak hours. Within a week they arranged for necessary services like LPG Connection and Milk supply.

CSR team came forward to groom the women in terms of their get up, communication, maintaining quality service etc. Employees also welcomed this gesture and encouraged the women from day one. It’s almost one year now since we started. And the experience is really reassuring.

Four families have got employment through this initiative and the income is pretty decent. This also inspired other members of their SSG to approach organizations for similar services. We are happy that a small gesture from our side made a difference in their lives!

The initiative was appreciated by many voluntary agencies and it was also mentioned in newspaper (link to newspaper article in Marathi language ).

Factory Farming and Rise in Foodgrain Prices

June 12, 2008 1 comment

Foodgrain prices have zoomed up in almost all parts of the world. Ironically, last year agriculture production was normal and there was no famine. 

Fingers are being pointed to Economic slowdown or Ethanol or Oil Prices. Arun Firodia in his article in Economic Times rightly pointed at increased meat consumption for the present crisis. The author feels that if meet consumption reduces, there would be enough food for everyone.


However, meat consumption is increasing at an alarming rate and therefore the solution has to be based on the assumption that there would be great demand for meat especially in the developing countries. 


In developed countries Factory Farming is practiced for cattle breeding. Cattle are maintained in huge factories and are fed on foodgrains instead of grass. Inefficiency is built in the food chain as cattle eats huge amount of food to produce meat.


In developing countries the cattle breeding is largely decentralized. Great amount of meat is supplied by farmers and small breeders. Availability of huge farm waste and grazing grounds help reduce foodgrain intake by the cattle.


The demand for meat is increasing rapidly and big corporations are entering the market to fill this demand. Developing countries can not afford Factory Farming which consumes huge amount of foodgrain thereby reducing per capita foodgrain availability for the citizens.


Strengthening animal husbandry at village level has its merits:

  • Good use of farm waste as feeder for cattle
  • Generating employment for rural youth and curbing migration
  • Lesser risk of animal diseases and minimizing its impact


The demand for meat is going to rise. It’s up to the developing countries to decide how much foodgrain they want to waste or save on raising the cattle.



Categories: Economy Tags: , , ,

Personal Interest for Professional Success

May 3, 2008 Leave a comment


All successful people have one thing in common: they are interested and fully involved in what they do. Interest makes a person go that ‘extra mile’ and is the key to work satisfaction.


However, ‘interest’ is seldom given priority in career decision-making. Career planning and job choice are not taken seriously in early stages of life particularly when parental influence, peer pressure, unsolicited advice and popular trends have great influence on decision-making.


Wrong career decisions make life miserable for the individual, and result in under-utilization of resource in organizations. Career decisions must therefore be made with great care.


BLISS Analysis is a decision making tool developed for career planning or validating choice of job at any point in career. BLISS Analysis takes into account five key parameters: Benefits, Limitations, Interests, Skills and Sacrifice, which form the basis of first the Personal Profile, and the Career (or Job) Profile. The analysis fosters introspection and the profiles present information about the person and the job in concise form allowing comparison between the two.


If the profiles match closely, then the career or job is likely to be suitable. If the profiles are contradictory, the person should re-think that particular career move.



Personal Profile

The BLISS Personal Profile is biographical sketch of the candidate in terms of what the person expects out of the job or career.



 Career Profile

The BLISS Career Profile is biographical sketch of the job or career in terms of what it offers.


The two profiles should be compared to see how career profile compliments the personal profile. Obviously, the closer the match between personal and job profiles the career move is more likely to be suitable.