Saturday, January 15, 2011

Psychological contracts of engagement

The setting was truly inspiring. The introduction & the 'vote of thanks' were made by two XLRI alumni -each with over 2 decades of industry experience. Both referring to a Mentor -also another XL alumnus and their senior, who was instrumental in shaping their thinking in the formative years!!

The presentation was a teaser-to provoke one to think, and trigger the HR practitioners to stretch -but the icing on the cake, was the Q&A session that lasted longer (than the talk) as the patient speaker shared his wealth of experience!!

I was extremely lucky to have been present at the latest Formula One HR Consulting "Meet the Mentor" series of sessions conducted by NHRD Hyderabad, when Mr P M Kumar, Business Chairman, Group Corporate Development of the GMR Infrastructure was the Mentor. Coming from an authority –who has been closely involved in charting out a succession plan for Family businesses, he waxed eloquent to help us define 'institutions' as distinctly different from mere organizations.

While he did briefly allude that even families can learn from businesses, he was essentially conjuring up a platform for building leaders of high integrity and commitment to build institutions of integrity.

To me, as a recruiter, the takeaway was the way he described the way an organization ( that usually sees individuals operate out of ‘economic’ and ‘professional’ contractual obligations) to evolve into an institution –had to tap into the potential of building and nurturing a predominant ‘psychological’ contract or a ‘sense of belongingness’ being rooted in the engagement!

One could classify the hierarchy of members into 5 levels : associate, professional, institutional, co-founders, and Founding members *. (*the traits of each of these levels are very succinctly explained in the presentation-a copy of which is embedded here for reference. )

And the success of the talent management system depended on how one could promote conversions from each of these levels into higher level of commitments.

Yes, the speaker did hint how these traits could be easily tracked-and identified even as one was interviewing a newcomer into the organization. And quipped that one could get an inkling of the same- the way a prospective employee engages in the salary negotiation-is apparently a great indicator of the innate nature of the person! Would she/be bothered about the larger needs of the organization, compared to the immediate personal interest?

Reflecting on the the types of memberships, here are a couple of scenarios that I could immediately relate to-

-Haven't we all come across several instances in our own workplaces? Some join with a clear agenda of a stopgap arrangement. Some others come to leverage on the brands impact on their resume. Some want to learn a few competencies/new skills. A better salary. Maybe a balanced work life. Yes, one can so easily identify the varying shades of the ' membership' in our team , right? Whatever their initial motivation is, the challenge for any employer is to engage the persons, and see how best one can enhance the contribution or commitment.

- Why do we compare different folks in our team? I shudder to think that even as an individual, one shows different traits -across the various different engagements we have!

Let me take my own example. Am associated with a range of different organizations or clubs. Affiliations. Trusts. Alliances. Circles. Confederations. Cooperatives.Unions. Consortium.Guilds.Even outfits. And even as one reflects on the subtle variances of the vocabulary-it is not the 'same me' who is consistently effective in each of those bodies. In some places I am an active volunteer, somewhere I am a passionate founder-and a casual visitor at most others!

Isn't there some larger purpose in getting an increased engagement level from the same person? Often I reconcile trying to rationalize as I pay for the membership-and equate the value I derived! Some places I am content being seen as encouraging the event by just being present.In some places, by not being a hurdle to those contributing :)! Surely in some -in the firm's formative years, I did spend considerable time-and can afford to be hands off for a while?

And when one juxtaposes the employment perspective- it is revealing that all employees are paid a salary for being part of the organization. Yet- the engagement levels are disproportionate :)!

How do we address the conundrum?

As recruiters, can we make an impact in hiring potential 'institutional members'? Only then can we think of improving the conversion rates of 'associates' into 'professionals' and then upgrade the 'professional members to institutional members' and so on -and so forth!

I shall be glad to have more help identify potential institutional members. As usual, I welcome the offline comments to help shape careers!

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Jobs in India : What is in store in 2011?

One of the learning's I have had in the 26years in industry-is that not all the best jobs go to the best people-but more so to those who are in the right place in the right time!!

Juxtapose that with the information explosion happening all the time, it is insights which make the difference! And increasingly in the knowledge economy the onus is on the individual -to figure out her/his own USP-and plan & manage one's career..and gain a competitive edge. How does one know where the action in 2011 is?

It is not to difficult to get a job today. The key is making the change- that helps in maximising your value add right?

I am quite tempted to borrow a line from a leading 'intelligence platform' company : " it’s no longer just who you know that will make business deals happen but what you know about who you know tightly synced with when and where you should know it "

So, if one were to wager where the next wave of job opportunities are likely to be present-it would perhaps help to focus on where the investments are being made, right?

As the flow of risk capital into India rises on the back of economic growth, more private equity funds are leading buy-outs of promoter-owned firms, identifying professional managers to execute new company creation and backing professional talent to re-engineer existing companies!

India, during 2010, saw the PE investors invest $5.4 billion, a growth of 56 per cent over 2009 levels of $3.45 billion-with maximum investments have taken place in the power & energy sector, followed by real estate & infrastructure and banking & financial services.

1. Lately, we have been seeing more players steer towards more ‘platform’ style deals. Or creation of companies from scratch and rapidly scale them. These deals typically happen in sectors with supply constraints where attractive investment targets are hard to come by. We at Options are working closely with a bunch of enterprises in the power sector-that has seen PE firms back SPVs that have professionals with prior proven track record...

2. Re-engineering existing companies. One can see a lot of SMEs and mid sized companies that have attained critical mass to service local markets. For example, companies in the infrastructure services, logistics & supply chain and the food processing domains. Targets are typically businesses with succession issues, and first generation entrepreneurs.

3.By the way, going by the investments being made in- the PE players themselves may be on the look out for senior professionals with industry & operational skill sets- keeping with the 'control one's destiny' mantra as value addition!

Here is a link that would give you a heads up on some 'India-dedicated funds' and 'global funds with India focus'- who are scouting around for good companies to invest :)!!

Happy hunting! If you are looking for a change, change the way you are looking...

Monday, January 03, 2011

India's Highest Paid Executives

It is interesting to note some of the headlines in the media over the last week!

Given the general 'feel good' factor in the air, I wasn't surprised to see the latest issue of the Business India -that has a cover story on "India's highest paid executives' -available on the stands presently.

The editorial reinforces the obvious:
"-The upward pressure on salaries in the second half of the year-reflects the fact that business is booming.
-Gone are the days when there were increases across the board-today it is only the true performers who are getting rewarded
-There is anecdotal evidence that at CXO levels, the country has started attracting foreign talent. It has also stemmed the flow of talent abroad.
-If India is to become a knowledge centre -it must ensure that its system of rewards compares with the best. "

The main article-across 40 pages- goes on to list out a little over 3200 names of professionals drawing over Rs 50 lakhs annual salary in India-with over a third of them logged in higher than a crore pa.

Most recruiters would find the directory useful-as it is an indicative list of the companies that are doing better than their competition -and ability to afford such compensation levels. It is also enlightening that there are some firms that are usually low profile, and some others that merely pay its promoters handsomely :)!

Personally, I was able to locate a lot of familiar names amongst the list...some of whom I am in touch with, and some long lost pals that I can reconnect with! In this socially networked millennium-it is a wonderful pointer to folks who are either potential 'job seekers' if not potential 'hiring managers'!! Believe me, I am not even counting those -whose aspirations would now be triggered off -thanks to the 'season of resolutions' :)

However, it was quite disappointing to note that the source of the survey was essentially the annexure (ref Companies Act that mandates companies publish details of employees drawing Rs 24lac pa and higher)..and the sample size was hence very restricted-not just to the companies willing to share the information, but also since the list has more depth than width. For eg- two companies Kingfisher Airlines & Infosys account for one sixth of the universe indicated!!

If one were to expand the scope of compensation -to beyond the annual salary and commissions, and look at the impact of stock options too, one could get a more realistic picture!!

I am positive most of us in the recruitment fraternity would be aware a lot more professionals who haven't been featured in the list in 2009. And more so, since a lot more would qualify this year-considering most employers had an attractive 'variable component' included to reward performance.

Also consider the 2010 Asia-Pacific Wealth Report by Capgemini and Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management, the total number of HNIs (with investible assets over Rs 4.5Cr) in India stood at 1.27 lakh in 2009.

Can we dispute that India is a happening place? Or that globalisation has opened up avenues for global migration of talent? Or technology is aiding the spurt of the knowledge economy? Isnt there a case for considering a 'career' as an asset one must invest in..just as diligently as one looks at realty, gold, equity and the rest?

A la wealth managers, do we see the scope for 'private career managers'-who will help a professional manage the portfolio of career options better...beyond a mere job change? Or do we see corporates look at nurturing more 'talent managers' and ensure maximising intellectual ROI?

Yes, 2011 looks exciting....

Sunday, January 02, 2011

2011 :The year of consolidation?

We are two days into the new year-and perhaps the fact it began with a weekend-gave me an ample time -to reflect on the year that was!

If I were to pinpoint one factor that made a difference in 2010-it was the influence of social media. Even if we were to restrict our attention to the multitude of the new year wishes one could now interact with-it overshadowed all the traditional media one used in the past-the physical visits, phone calls, sharing of greeting cards, to the more in vogue sms/ IMs/ status messages! The advent of Facebook also means uploading photographic evidence too :)!

I had a strong suspicion that I blogged lesser last year. But I didn't realise it till a few moments ago, that it had dropped to my lowest frequency. Since the time I had first attempting sharing my thoughts on this medium in 2006 (53)! 79, 59, 62 were the number of posts in the subsequent dropped down to 36 in 2010..just one in every ten days!!

Perhaps it also had to do with the fact that twitter and Facebook also came into our daily lives, and so one had to allocate the bandwidth to them too..which being more instantaneous feedback & interactive engagements, to be wonderful excuses for one to indulge in 'the break'. Blogging needed one to be in the zone -to conceive and deliver, and still hope to be relevant in the fast paced world!

Personally, the year 2010 was one where I probably made a lot of experiments-in a bid to stay abreast with the changing dynamics of the way business is being done now. Not all of them clicked, but yes, each experiment -did enhance my learning's, and have contributed to the progress made during the year.

Well, we had a new logo. A new website. Launched a weekly newsletter only to abort it 4 months later-as we realised that our engagement with our stakeholders had to be lot more than sharing some interesting nuggets. The attempt has been to go beyond the popular perception of being 'resume peddlers' to become a partner to our clients for their hiring solutions, and be in the 'insights' business.

Made a few changes in the hiring strategy for ourselves. Some worked. Some boomeranged to become gains for our clients /competition, and a couple even left the profession being disillusioned :(!

Experimented with some new business models tinkering with the established practices and build in new processes that improved the accountability, and helped us partner with our clients lot more closely (faith eventually overcoming the initial inertia!)-to vindicate our belief!

I had also the occasion to travel to the USA, Canada, Hong Kong, and Malaysia during the year and meet like-minded professionals, within our industry, (as also as interact with other established professionals), benchmark best practices and make new associations.

Was lucky to exchange notes with other entrepreneurs, be part of volunteer groups to help incubate and contribute to the ecosystem that provides more opportunities for employment & employability.

Yes, the momentum is just right. What is in store for 2011?

We continue on the journey...the milestones are etched in our mind. New alliances. New partners. More collaboration. Explore opportunities for co-creation of services to improve our impact. Orchestrate the network of relationships we have built so far.

Yes, 2011..would be the year of consolidation for most of us!!