Sunday, August 03, 2014

HR Lessons from India's defeat in 3rd test at Southampton

HR Lessons from India's defeat in 3rd test at Southampton 

Man Management is all about keeping the flock together & getting best of them always. Historically Indian Teams have the tendency of revelling in short term success & faltering at series subsequently. The recent loss at Ageas Bowl is shocking as the team was expected to steamroll Poms, instead we were beaten in our own game of spin by lesser known Moin Ali 

Here are my 12 lessons for all of us.

1. The thin line between Confidence & Over Confidence which the leader has to carefully tread was breached by the Captain while choosing the personnel, this did affect the final result 

2. When you loose your best performer, the ideal thing to do is to go to your next best or senior player ( in this case it wad Ashwin, who for mysterious reason gets dropped), instead India handed the 282nd Cap to Pankaj, who bowled well in patches

3. Some of the players are struggling to produce results, as a leader one has to spend time with performers like Kohli, Dhawan & Shami, making them feel important & ensuring they play out of their skins

4. A happy dressing room is a performing dressing room, similar to settled work teams who produce better results, it is leader's job to keep them cheered. I see the players jaded & under pressure

5. When the team comes together, it follows TUCKMANN's 4 quadrant of FORMING, STORMING, NORMING, PERFORMING, this is an ever evolving process, the Leader has to understand where each player fits into it, to bring the best as mentioned in earlier point

6. I feel Kohli has reached a stage where he needs to be reminded of his NEED FOR ACHIEVEMENT (NAch) as in the Achievement Motivation Theory, a Champion & Legend in the Making like him is too precious to be left on his own, Can THE WALL help him please

7. As I had mentioned in my previous post, Jadeja's previous success is only harming the team now, than doing good, he is neither a wicket taking bowling option or stable no 7 batsman to be carrying, Leader has to let go his ego to play a team for winning than going with lotteries like Sir Jadeja

8. I remember speaking to one of the India's greatest fast bowlers, Srinath about how the 2003 WC Team had multiple off field captains in Sachin, Anil, Sri, Rahul & Viru to help Sourav in the decision making, the empowerment showed in India's show then, who are Dhoni's men in the current team, I don't see much of his interactions with Kohli, Gambhir & Ashwin on field at least

9. The Shared Leadership will not only help the Captain but also team in general on such a long tour. The Leader should Trust & feel Confident to have such a core team

10. The Captain's Merry Men's ( Dhawan, Rohit & Jadeja) contribution in bowling & batting are 45.5 & 24 respectively not including Dhoni's. This clearly shows backing the wrong set of personnel, having played the game, I can only tell such prolonged supports sends wrong signal to others & discontent brews within the team

11.The post match comment about justifying horrible shot by Rohit Sharma was no different from the shot by Stuart Binny in the Lord's match, yet one man was penalised by way of getting dropped & the other was defended, this again proves that if you are in the good books of the captain, you can get away with such crime. The leader has to show impartial judgement with the team for the better dressing room atmosphere

12. I feel the off field happenings had certain bearings on the mindset of some players, it's important for the leader to keep them focused on immediate goal as well as long term goal ( winning the match & the series in that order).

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

HR Lessons from Team Sports

Team Sports teaches us lot of HR lessons, one has to look at it with great deal of interest & prism to decipher the goods & deltas, I shall be writing about Indian Team starting with India's Tour of England, the series of writing will have good things as well as deltas analysed with my experience as Cricketer & a HR Person

HR Lessons from India's famous win at Lord's


1. As a leader go for the kill with your best man, give him all the right tools do so, as was evident in field placings for Ishanth Sharma's bowling
2. Let the team know who is the LEADER during the crunch times like asking Sharma to bowl short right at the stroke of lunch when most batsmen tend to switch off & back them
3. Winning is a habit, great leaders have gambled small losses for big gains, so giving extra runs to buy wickets was a clever thought
4. Clever understanding of the rules of the game & Desi Jugaad which ensued he had 3 fielders behind legs by standing back to spinner was a new thing in cricket history, it clearly shows Leader's out the box thinking ability
5. Backing your known set of personnel will yield the desired results, ask Jadeja, Ishant & Vijay. This is what famous Steve Waugh did with all conquering OZ side
6. As a leader, one should learn from the past ( Jo'berg & Basin Reserves) & try to live in the present situation to not to make same mistakes, which resulted in a win
7. Having Plan B & executing it to perfection like Bouncing the Batsmen worked wonders in conditions known for Pitch it Up plan. As a leader to come up with that plan spontaneously was a masterstroke


1. When you pick a player, you have to give him the confidence, this is also so true when we hire a new employee in the team, Dhoni's whatever reason for not using Binny to full extent is inexplicable & defies the logic of picking him. 
2. Making a player unwanted can dent his confidence for long, how captain & think tank handles Binny fiasco will be keenly watched by me.
3. When you are producing results people may not see through your lack of personal contribution, but moment the results reverses, the Leader will be put under a microscope. Dhoni's glove work has never been a sight to behold, in the match today, he looked horrible for pacers, standing back to a spinner was the last thing
4. The innings by Jadeja in fact may do more harm to team & himself than good, the individual has come good after 13 innings with the bat & with ball he was efficient & not effective, the Leader should know when to let go the personnel for his as well as team's good. He is actually blocking the place for an effective wicket taking bowler as well consistent batsman in Ashwin
5. Couple of players like Kohli, Dhawan & Shami look jaded for whatever reasons, as a leader one has to spend time with such performers to bring a sense of purpose in them, the best man who did it with players is sitting the commentary box, The Prince of Calcutta can be tapped to know more of it 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

How to reduce Subjective Rating in Performance Evaluations

Most companies use Feedback and Ratings from their employee performance appraisals to drive decisions around compensation, promotions and training, then ensuring consistency in their employee reviews is critical. Even if they’re not using performance evaluation data to make these decisions, employees need to perceive a sense of fairness in their reviews. A perceived lack of fairness quickly translates into employee dissatisfaction and disengagement.

Many companies use subjective performance appraisal systems due to lack of objective performance measures. In these cases, supervisors usually have to rate the performance of their subordinates, using such systems, it is a well established fact that many supervisors tend to assess the employees too good (leniency bias) and that the appraisals hardly vary across employees of a certain supervisor (centrality bias). We explain these two biases in a model with a supervisor, who has preferences for the utility of her inequality averse subordinates, and discuss determinants of the size of the biases. Extensions of the basic model include the role of supervisor’s favoritism of one particular agent and the endogenous effort choice of agents. Whether inequality averse agents exert higher efforts then purely self-oriented ones, depends on the size of effort costs and inequality aversion.

But how do you achieve fairness across the board, or even within a particular role, when so much of the evaluation is subjective?.

Since managers are individuals, and bring different experience and expectations to their role, it’s important to give them some guidance, and a framework to work within to eliminate some of their subjectivity from the equation. Here are some techniques we use with Clients, which has helped in reducing the Subjective Feedback from the PMS.

1.       Providing ongoing trainings to both Appraisee & Appraiser about the PMS

2.       Multi-rater feedback for if possible for all roles or at least critical roles in the company

3.       Secondary manager or third-party reviews

4.       Detailed behavioral descriptions of competency demonstration

5.       Creating a Dictionary of Subjective Ratings to choose from as part of the PMS tool

6.       Have Even Number Scale to reduce the Central Tendency Error

It’s also a great idea to have your HR team compare ratings between departments, especially for individuals performing the same function. It’s not hard to spot trends in ratings when you look at the bigger picture. In the same way you could tell how “tough” a teacher was by looking at their class average, you can get an idea of how consistent and fair your appraisals are by comparing scores between departments, and year over year. Your HR team can then intervene to ensure greater consistency and fairness.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Process Vs Results

Few days ago a cricketer who was worth a place in state junior team and hailed as one of the replacement for the Great Wall of Indian Cricket in Karnataka Cricket; was not able to make good scores off late came to me to talk about what’s going wrong with him.

The conversation is as follows.

Cricketer: While I am playing the way I have always done, but not being able to score more runs consistently. Do get to score 50s, 70s once in few months but not so much that I get to play 1st class cricket for the state.

Me: Hmm.. Sounds so familiar, tell me more about it, when was the last time you scored big, what all you did right and what you did a day before and after that.

Cricketer: Last time it was a 75 against a team which had good first class cricketers. Coming to think of it, I had good 2 days of nets and just before the match, it was good mental frame I was in. Post the match I thought I should do the same more often.

Me: It set me thinking, which I always believe in, that it is more of process and process which will result in better quality results. I call this: ‘IF YOU HAVE THE “RIGHT” PROCESS, “DESIRED” RESULTS ARE JUST A MATTER OF TIME.’

The more we started speaking, I was convinced that the guy realized more of his mistakes and talents (which to be fair with him was the right thing to do) and insights  on “practice” and “smart work”.

This brings me to the topic ‘is result alone matters or the process also has a role to play in getting the desired results time after time’

Taking cricket analogy as discussed with my international cricketer friend, The difference between 1st class cricketer to that of an average Joe on the road is the “repeatability of the process of shot making or bowling a line consistently over a period of time, of course coupled with talent and hard work..

If someone like Bret Lee is thundering at 150KMPH ball after ball and the batsmen is coming down the line and driving the ball towards “covers” or “extra covers” it’s not because of the talent alone but also because of the time spent at the nets making the whole process repeat ball after ball, day after day and year after year.

An organization where I consult, have a very good business which is showing double digit growth year on year while the markets struggle to do it. By their own admission, the product sells itself with very little or no marketing effort. (For USD 400 Million turnover their marketing budget is USD 2, 00,000 per annum).

However the organization has no process or any repeatable work culture. Since we have started putting process in place, what we found was with the same resources and effort, they could go to next levels of sales (Projected for this year in USD 600 Million), with proper process in place.

While not dwelling much in to the details of the case, I would like to bring in to perspective the thought while what matters are “results”, equally important is “Process” which produces the results

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Talent Management Trends in 2013

The two challenges Organizations are facing today are the combination of growing markets (a need to expand globally or into new products and services) coupled with a need to hold back costs. While the economy is expanding, business executives remain afraid of committing large sums of cash to growth - a problem well documented in the business press.  What this has done is create a talent squeeze. Organizations are finding skills gaps, headcount gaps, and leadership gaps in their workforce which they must fill to grow - yet they do not have the resources to dramatically increase salaries to compete for labor. As a result, we are seeing a tremendous focus on sourcing and recruiting strategies, internal career development, and leadership development.

These problems are very business and organization-specific. In some cases the challenges involve a shortage of critical skills which create shortages in particular job roles. This takes the form of shortages of production engineers in the oil and gas industry, regional managers in the retail industry, nurses in the healthcare and insurance industries , or mid-level managers in manufacturing and most industries.

Human Capital is becoming increasingly important for organizations of all sizes and shapes across the world. The workforce is made of Gen Y and Gen Millennium at the entry& mid levels, who are more adept at technology than any others, who will be more than happy to spend time on internet learning new things than spend time in class rooms. The learnability is attaining different and new meanings. The retention of high potentials, increasing engagement, gender balance and equality, and age diversity will continue to dominate the happenings as it has always been, I feel 2013 will be marked by this increased phenomenon of people management, where technology plays a vital role.

1.       Employee- Led & Manager- Supported Career Planning: Organizations can explore deploying organic (viral) strategies which assess both the employees’ “needs” & their personal “offer” (skills, abilities, intangibles) against the “offer” & “needs” from their organization. While this assessment allows for an evaluation of employee-organization alignment and/or gaps, it serves a few more purposes, including increased communication, enhanced development planning, assessment of cultural and performance fit for achieving shared success.

2.       Increased Engagement Initiatives: The initiation of mindfulness at work to let managers deal with stress and anxiety more effectively. In other words, more attention to well-being at work; The growing focus on intercultural awareness and leveraging diversity to achieve individual, team and organizational goals. Companies are starting to recognize and harness diverse leadership approaches and perspectives.

3.       Talent Acquisition: The ability to search companies’ career pages and apply through smart phone will be a one to look out for. I also think more companies will be investing in their employee value proposition for 2013, followed by making sure they are working through internal barriers for hiring top talent. Customer relationship management tools to build future talent pipelines will still remain hot. But I believe more companies will start to invest in SEO strategies to attract top talent.
4.       Talent Management is a Business Problem, not an HR Problem : I feel there is a critical need to understand that talent management is not an "HR process " but rather a "business process" which must be implemented through line of business executive leadership. Talent management strategies, should be developed in the context of your particular business strategy.

Friday, March 09, 2012

There won’t be any other honest cricketer like Rahul Dravid any more.. End of an Era

So aptly said on CRICINFO website by a fan “Indian bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down.. Indian bridge was falling down in olden days!! DRAVID-Build it up with iron and steel, Iron and steel, iron and steel, Build it up with iron and steel, THE WALL OF CRICKET!!

The last of the few gentleman left in cricket. I doubt if there'll ever be another like him. World cricket will be poorer with his exit, good luck to him and thanks for the memories. Game with its increasing penchant for entertainment and gimmickry will be hard pressed to produce cricketers of his immense quality.

RSD symbolized greatness with simplicity which is tough to see today. He is not just an idol for cricket fans but for anyone who wants to aspire higher things keeping firm feet on the ground . He epitomized Indian middleclass better than anybody in any profession. His work ethic showed us what it was like to be the consummate professional, his selfless choice to open or keep wickets just to help the team out, taught us about humility and sacrificial giving, his adaptability to the shorter forms showed how an old dog can indeed excel at new tricks and finally his tender portrayal of our great nation in delivering the Bradman oration revealed the depth of his love towards the country.

"There is no more comforting sight in test cricket than Rahul walking to the crease to take guard". When McGrath-Lee, Donald-Pollock, Akram-Akhtar were rewriting the bowler-batsman equation in cricket, many batsmen have played spin bowling better then Rahul, but the last 30 years has not seen a better batsman to the fast, swinging ball. In 1999, when India was summarized by Australia, a commentator saw the sweat on Dravid's brows when facing Mcgrath and quipped that 'it seems hotter out there for the batsmen'. That sight was testament to all that Dravid is about - mental concentration and visibly painful but breathtaking adherence to technique. It is easy to throw your bat and ride a lucky streak a la Hyden, Sehwag &  many others to become great by being aggressive. But that’s not test cricket. Kudos to the Dravid family for this colossus, this unique servant of the game who bows out serving as a master class in mental toughness

As a man himself many times in the past has said, he is OK to be the second best in an era when GOD played alongside. If he were to be born at any other time he could have been the best of that time (not that he is not now).

You deserved to retire at home to a standing ovation, but knowing you nothing matters more than Team’s cause. THANK YOU LEGEND

Friday, January 27, 2012

How can HR Lead Change

During my interactions with many HR Leaders, I found out that seldom they involve in major organization wide changes, the lack of participation can be attributed to varieties of reasons like inclination to change, business knowledge, being in the comfort and not willing to take things head on.
Though it's rare, here's an indicator of what is possible. One of the HR Leaders working in Health Care sector whom I spoke to : learned that the senior team was wanting to launch  "relationship-based care," a comprehensive cultural change program to focus doctors' and nurses' attention on patients and their families. He offered to have HR involved to address the people aspects. He showed them how HR could weave relationship-based care and continuous improvement into the fabric of this community hospital in central New York, for example by hiring and promoting the right people. He was at the table with them as they planned training and communications, and as they decided how to reward people who took on improvement projects.
When I talk with leaders of process improvement activities about the role of HR in change, however, I generally hear that HR is bureaucratic and a brake on innovation. Others say that HR is under-utilized. In most organizations talent management is left to direct supervisors.

Dave Ulrich, a professor at the University of Michigan, has identified three human resource processes that are critical for embedding a culture such as continuous improvement: (1) talent flow, (2) rewards, and (3) training and development. Changing any of these to support continuous improvement presents challenges to HR:
  • Talent Flow: By recruiting & career advancing the people based on their fitment with the organizations vision of growth (mindset & behaviors)— and letting go those who don't —People see what is happening and adapt their behaviors accordingly. The problem for continuous improvement is that managers tend to hire for expertise, not for behaviors such as improvement. One of the HR Leader, told me, "We hire what the manager wants. We hire a Solutions Architect, who is great at working with Technology. We have seldom challenge managers to look more broadly. We introduced HR business partners twelve months ago and asked them to advocate HR policies. They struggled. They kept getting mired down in minute details, e.g., manpower request forms."
  • Rewards: Reward systems can change and reinforce behavior. The aim of a reward system is to turn goals into measures of behavior and outcomes, then allocate rewards based how employees perform against the measures. Continuous improvement demands that people not only carry out their jobs, but improve their work too. HR people typically don't have the operational experience, expectation, or permission to engage line managers in changing rewards to encourage operational improvement. For example, One of the Leader tells me that his hospital needs to reward process improvement to accommodate healthcare reform, but that HR can't initiate the changes from its position; modifications to rewards have to be made by senior leaders.
  • Training and Development: Training courses and development investments send messages about what matters. At the same time, they offer leaders skills and tools to act on those messages. To support continuous improvement, these investments have to focus on making work better. Few HR organizations will promote improvement training unless it's driven by senior leadership, even though they may recognize it as what the organization needs.
What are the root causes which one needs to overcome for HR leading change? I see three:
  • Politics: To sustain improvement activities, HR should use its power and influence to help leaders focus on customers, long-term business results, and building capabilities in their people — not a personal or HR agenda. Yet if HR gets out in front of improvement activities.
  • A Support Relationship: As described above HR should be at the table with senior leaders to weave HR into improvement programs. Before HR can offer advice to the organization, it needs to be a partner — not just support. The CEO and executive team often view HR as an expense with a transaction focus, rather than adding value with a strategic focus. HR has to operate as a partner that adds value to make the case for their role as a partner.
Look beyond ‘Being Inbred’: HR hires HR experience, and HR has historically been mainly engaged in personnel, compliance, and transactions. HR professionals without operational experience have less credibility and aren't comfortable giving operational advice. "HR doesn't think like the business. HR professionals don't know which knife, fork, or spoon to use when they're at the table."