Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Attrition- the emperors new clothes?

I have been getting a lot of comments that I am stuck, like a broken record, on the "retention" bug-for almost a fortnight now. One can probably attribute it to the ERA convention coming up at Hyderabad next weekend .

Perhaps, it has to do with some of the observations I had during the same fortnight one has seen several retention strategies being rolled out. Maybe it needs to be looked at -at a more holistic manner than it has been treated of late.

1. Just yesterday I met a entrepreneur pal of mine -who till a few months ago was tearing his hair trying to figure out how to motivate his star employee- (whom he had promoted him late last year as a reward for loyalty and exceptional performance -but the person was just not able to scale up!). He was beaming - Since the time he let go the "star" a couple of months ago, he has been able to find a couple of imports- who came into the company with a fresh air, and have triggered off a series of events -which has enabled the company get on to the next level!

For a growing company, is retention indeed the panacea? Shouldnt we be looking beyond the surface?

2. There were several reports of companies in India hiring expats as a knee jerk rection to reduce attrition.

I would like to think that expats are best fits-when you wish to build the right culture a la Cisco and when one needs new technologies.

Infact I would anyday back a returning Indian -who has had prior Indian experience before going abroad- as a better bet as he would be able to bridge the ethos much better.

3. India Cricket League and its effect on BCCI .

As employers one does feel that prevention is better than cure! I think we get enough hints of unrest -from dissatisfied team members -before they actually venture to look out for options. Most often companies prefer to bend over backwards to appease such people-just as they put in their papers after getting juicy offers from elsewhere.

Dont doctors amputate -to restrict gangrene?

4. I came across an intresting comment on a blog post by Anurag Ashok today correlating the hiring plans to Peter Principle where in the author rightfully so, questions the wisdom of both the employees and employers falling prey. He thinks aloud

It is akin to the correction in the stock market and will be good for the economy, but while the correction lasts, there will be a lot of bankruptcies and loan defaults and trauma. Maybe there is a second chance, or maybe not – who knows ?

Arent there times when letting go (of the disgruntled/incompetent) - is a better strategy to retain the remaining talent in the company-lest it sends the wrong signals?

I shall be glad to have your comments...on what could be a healthy(?) level of attrition that a company should have.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Retention Strategy - Career a la carte

In line with the upcoming ERA conference at Hyderabad , I am tempted to continue on the "retention" theme for a couple of more posts.

Late last week, there was an article highlighting the attempts by India Inc's conglomerates to recruit and retain the best talent, by offering their people a buffet of career choices.

The article focusses specifically on L&T, Mahindra & Mahindra and the Tata groups leveraging ability to straddle across diverse sectors as a talent bait -'so that they don't get trapped in one company -as they could still stay in the group if they are excited about some new sector".

One can so easily see the USP now..action in the HOT sector. Most bright peope want to catch the tide -on the way up- of a sunrise industry!

It was interesting to note, about 2 decades ago, the emphasis was more on a career -and not just the role or a job. Hindustan Lever -HLL then had the most prestigeous management trainee scheme that promised a meaty grounding in the area of one's specialisation. A marketing professional could expect to have alternate stints in the field (sales) and then the corporate (brand management, promotion ) etc -so that one had a well rounded career.

In the seventies and the eighties, it was the DCM Shriram group -which probably prepared the 'best managers' - some of whom -stayed on in the group to take positions of highest responsibilities, while a several of them strayed away from the group, climbed the rungs of most top MNC and Indian companies. The tactic then- the group had two streams of trainees- one the Management Trainees -MBAs who would grow into Unit head positions possibly within 10yrs of experience -as distinct from the 'executive trainees' who were bright graduates who would rise to the head of departments in a similar period.

Instant gratification now?? Time will be the best judge -which is a better diet!!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Tryst with Destiny-India @60 yrs

There is a patriotic flavour in the air today!

As India celebrates the 60th anniversary of Independence, my thoughts are drawn to Mr Jawaharlal Nehru .

Well..yes, India has come a long way-and is "shining" now.

My dreams for a better India?

- the teaching profession attracts the best of people. For they are the builders of the future generations, and so ought to be paid the best salaries -in schools and colleges.

- the premier education institutes ( IITs, IIMs, Law Schools, et al) talk about the startups they have incubated -instead of the placement salaries. After all, their raw material is the creme de la creme, and the training/orientation is of the highest order-isnt it ironic today they all join the ranks of corporates whose systems are in place?

- channelise the youth and their energy to more constructive purposes than being cybercoolies working at odds with their bioclocks.

-use our prowess in software and consulting skills to ensure better sharing of natural resources among states, throw up solutions better than the obsolete 'bandhs/strikes'.

Simple. Doable. And urgent.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Job Satisfaction - most effective long term retention strategy

A recent Assocham survey predicts that job satisfaction is higher among middle level employees in India than those at the helm of affairs or those at competitive entry level positions.

The reasons?

Middle positions = Higher job satisfaction and quality of life

* Working hours which do not entail long shifts and spill overs after official work hours

* Lesser accountability and chances of being ‘hauled up’

* Greater flexibility to structure one’s working day

* Management has modest and more realistic expectations

* Greater opportunity for availing leave

* Clearer lines of reporting and debriefing

In contrast, Senior positions = More tension and stress

And the factors that led to their plummeting job satisfaction included

- their longer working hours have no defined ceiling. Most often clock in more than 60 hours of work/week compared to the mandatory 40-48 hours precedent in Europe& U.S.

-their overall accountability made them answerable 24X7 to not just one boss, but multiple bosses who went beyond plain and simple hierarchy.

- higher targets to achieve with expectations which most felt were unrealistic,

-the absence of a personal life and the inability to balance their priorities.

This led to frequent job changes, health problems and a distressed personal life.

Rising divorce rates in the IT sector are also attributed to Financial freedom, lack of time at home, and stress.

Is there a lesson for business leaders and HR professionals in attracting and retaining talent? Can we think of solutions before it is too late?

The labor arbitrage advantage that gave rise to the country's tech industry and booming economy is probably declining faster than many of us anticipated even a few years ago. The wage differential with the West is fast disappearing anyway!

So while business leaders are trying to learn how to create a culture of innovation to gain advantages through business-model innovation, supply-chain innovation, should not some of us in the HR fraterity be thinking of improving the internal (employee) customer experience??

ERA's conference- Aligning Recruitment to Retention-Hyderabad on Sept 1st

Come September, and its time for a National Conference at Hyderabad.

The theme of the 3rd National conference being conducted by the Executive Recruiters Association ( ERA ) is "ALIGNING RECRUITMENT TO RETENTION-the way forward".

Aimed at CEOs/Business leaders/Senior HR professionals and the recruitment fraternity, the full day conference is being held at ITC Grand Kakatiya Sheration on 1st September 2007.

An array of very eminent leaders from the Indian industry would be addressing issues of concern to their specific industries. The highlight of the day is a panel discussions from experts from across the HOT sectors today- Infrastructure, Retail, Biotech, IT /BPO-who would debating on the causes and remedies for aligning recruitment to retention.

The detailed brochure is here. Please feel free to reach the undersigned for registration details.