Management guru Ram Charan in the latest issue of HBR http://hbr.org/2014/07/its-time-to-split-hr/ar/1 proposes that the “Its time to split HR”. His basic argument being`
“When I talk with CEOs across the globe who are disappointed in their HR people. They would like to be able to use their chief human resource officers (CHROs) the way they use their CFOs—as sounding boards and trusted partners—and rely on their skills in linking people and numbers to diagnose weaknesses and strengths in the organization, find the right fit between employees and jobs, and advise on the talent implications of the company’s strategy.”
He then goes on to propose the following
“My proposal is to eliminate the position of CHRO and split HR into two strands. One—we might call it HR-A (for administration)—would primarily manage compensation and benefits. It would report to the CFO, who would have to see compensation as a talent magnet, not just a major cost. The other, HR-LO (for leadership and organization), would focus on improving the people capabilities of the business and would report to the CEO”.
In my 25 years in the profession and having been an entrepreneur, an internal L-O ( as he describes it) person and an external consultant, I can’t help but bring a few ground realities to light
1. We have to build Human Capital Mindset : HR is at the table but may not have the seat closest to the CEO because ultimately the investors and the stock market want to see quarter by quarter profitability and ROI. How many HR metrics get talked about in an investor meeting? At the most you may see a Best Places to Work survey, which feels good. So until we are clear about the metrics investors value from a Human Capital perspective, we will always not be as crucial as the CFO.
2. The CEO needs to undersatand the true value of L-O: While I wholeheartedly agree and L-O should report to the CEO because of its strategic nature (and in any case the founders of Organisation Development in the 1960’s always proposed that, but since at the time there was no stategy function – they only found HR as the place to park it) I have been in situations where the CEO wanted change and helped drive it too. It was all very fine until it came to working with dysfunctions within his top team. That’s when we faced the most push back and ultimately as internal consultants had to relent. And the work became change for change sake.
3. Re think Finance: Putting anything under Finance will just defeat the purpose made here in point one. Finance typically comes from a mindset that people are cost. Which is why when the going gets tough the first thing to cut is spending on people development. If Finance has to become the “resourcing” function, then – “people are an asset” needs to become the true mantra
In summary, HR struggles because at the board level we are often not concrete about what we want from HR except rhythm of the business and feel good surveys. Lets put that on the table and go from there.
Gay Hendricks a psychologist in his book the The Big Leap (http://www.amazon.com/The-Big-Leap-Conquer-Hidden/dp/0061735361), talks about the Upper Limit Problem. Its about how we sabotage ourselves when we’ve reached greater success than we imagined.
Rajat Gupta the ex McKinsey Chairman is a good case in point. He was revered , respected and had an exemplary career. His rags to riches story was aspirational. He was an intellectual and made his footprint across the globe. But he clearly had an upper limit problem - a limited tolerance of how successful one can get. Somewhere deep down - maybe he had a feeling that he could never be a part of the billionaire club.
The upper limit problem manifests in self sabotaging. The stupid email you sent, or the wrong thing you said just as the deal was being signed, or trusting someone you know deep down may just betray you.
Each of us have an inner thermostat that determines how much success - professionally or personally we allow ourselves! That thermostat setting usually is programmed in early childhood. And, once programmed, our Upper-Limit thermostat setting holds us back from reaching a peak that is ours.
When I hit my Upper Limit, I strangely start to fall sick. So sick that I have to stay away from work and friends, and almost having to reboot. Recently just as everything was looking fabulous in my consulting business , I had the worst attack of laryngitis that took me away from work for three weeks!
So how do you know you're going into self sabotaging mode? And what do you do?
1. Look for patterns in your life. When have you had the most "down"? What were the circumstances? Is there anything in the current situation that is similar?
2. Understand and pin point your greatest fear? Financial Security, Personal Relationships or an Unfulfilled Career? Are you stepping into that zone?
3. And finally, learn to listen and DISCARD the inner voice. What is the inner voice saying right now? You cant do it.You will fail. or You don't deserve it. These are childhood programs we must erase consciously.
So, do you have an upper limit problem?
Do you like yourself? Can you write down a 100 things that you like about yourself? Most often people have difficulty getting to 10. Its fundamental, if you don't like yourself, and really like yourself, there is little you can offer others by way of coaching, mentoring or teaching.
In my work as an executive coach, I always spend time on understanding if the coachee likes herself/himself.
After having worked through the initial development feedback, goals and challenges, I ask them to do some homework.
1. On a scale of 1-10 how much you like yourself?
2. Break this down into Profession, Health, Finance and Relationships. How much do you like yourself in each of these areas?
3. Write down three paragraphs of instances when you really liked yourself. Example , when you gave a public performance. or when you nursed you sick parent. What exactly did you like about yourself?
Liking yourself helps others like you. You exude positive energy, are open minded and let everyone be open with you. Life doesn't feel so hard.
So, what do you need to do to really like yourself? Set a small goals and achieve them. Like exercise for 30 minutes everyday, call my mother every week or give my co workers positive feedback.
Start now and the world will feel like a very different place.
The obstacles to gender equity in India seem to be less about a “glass ceiling” and more about a “sticky floor”
(published in People Matters March 2014)
SEBI, India's market regulator, announced on February 13 that all listed companies in the country would have to appoint at least one women director to their Board. This symbolic decision is guaranteed to open up a thicket of questions: What stands in the way of corporates in India filling their pipelines with higher numbers of women leaders?
Indian women fare the worst among the Asian countries in terms of career progression. Starting with a low of 42 per cent university graduates, of whom 29 per cent join the ranks of first-time professionals, the numbers hit a dismal 9 per cent at the mid-to-senior management level (McKinsey & Company, Women Matter Asia, 2012).
Let us then zoom out to consider whether the economic, educational, and healthcare opportunities afforded Indian women is equitable. According to a World Economic Forum report, which quantifies the magnitude of gender-based disparities, India’s overall ranking is 105 among 135 countries and shows scant progress since the measure was created in 2006 (The Global Gender Gap Report 2012, p. 211).
Why should corporates care? There are grave implications to the country losing half its workforce and leadership talent. Economic progress and societal stability call for our urgent attention to gender inclusivity in our organizations. To be globally competitive, this gender gap must be closed.
To be fair, Indian companies are introducing a slew of measures such as on-site childcare, flexible scheduling and work arrangements, family leave, and extended childcare leave with re-employment. In keeping with global trends, Indian companies are also on a quest for role models for upwardly mobile women, and are embarking on programs of professional development, mentoring, sponsorship, and in-house forums led by women.
But we believe that women’s career advancement is a “wicked” problem. Coined by Horst Rittel, a design theorist and university professor, “wicked” means that the factors compounding the issue are inter-connected, there are a large number of people with conflicting opinions, and there is no template to follow to tackle and improve the situation. In addition, the nature of the gender inequities is almost always uniquely determined by local context and so there are no universal solutions.
This is why we undertook an in-depth study of gender equity in Indian business organizations. Our initial exploration has been fruitful and we are learning a great deal. For example, women today want to be women. The 80’s and 90’s saw women succeed because they became “men”. Now women do not feel the need to be men but to be themselves. Their feminine strengths of nurturing, empathy and connectedness can combine with masculine strengths of assertiveness, hard-headed negotiation and goal-oriented drive to deliver results.
Another obvious but not widely admitted “truth” is coming to light: Both men and women are equivalently ambitious about achieving impact and success in the workplace and desiring lives in which their emotional commitments to the family are honored. Our sense is that these deep and basic human needs cannot be quarantined or segregated by gender.
The obstacles to gender equity in India seem to be less about a “glass ceiling” and more about a “sticky floor”. A promising sign is that senior women who have been in the workforce for 15 or more years have figured out how to make their way through the career labyrinth and are more likely to opt to go up, not out. The more pressing issue is to provide stronger guidance and support to women during their critical junior-to-middle and middle-to-senior career transitions.
Our current situation in Indian business organizations calls for urgent attention and remediation. We believe that the need of the hour is to build holistic organizations by having conversations that resolve gender issues more systemically. In this way, the country can weave together sustainable business growth and socio-economic equity, which is the fabric of modern societies.
About the authors: Meena Surie Wilson is Senior Enterprise Associate at the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL®) and Kalpana Sinha is the CEO and co-founder of Cosmode Consultants.
My father grew up in a village in the most backward state in India and worked his way with a Fulbright scholarship to the United States in the late 1950's. He followed his passion became a pioneer in the Organisation Behaviour movement which at the time was a new field in management. Sometimes I joke and say I didn't have much of a choice in what I would do because I was so surrounded by the "OB movement" as I grew up. When i pause to think of why, I realise that my father exposed me to the profession by just letting me hang around him. And honestly I learnt a lot. Other than learning to be a what it means to be a top class professional, here is what i learnt as I followed him to his speaking sessions, conferences, board meetings etc.
1. People above designation : Janitor or CEO ,he always made it a point to see people as "people" regardless of office/power/designation. He made everyone he met feel good about themselves.
2. Preparation is the key : for every meeting he went very well prepared. Researched on the person/company, the questions he would ask and the notes he would write. He always followed it up with a thank you note, summarising the meeting. He was a class act
3. Stretch - always STRETCCCHH. Challenge yourself, next role, next assignment. take things on you half know and learn it as you go along. Learning is lifelong, embrace it.
As parents, we can only advise so much. But seeing what we believe in action help children imbibe it and use it forever. Happy Fathers Day
When one starts having similar conversations at different meetings, its time to draw a theme, sit back and reflect as to what may really be going on.
I've had a few recent conversations with individuals (all men) looking to staff their boards with a woman director. They often want a recommendation. As we progress through the conversation, we usually hit a point where I hear -" you know we would really like someone with "pedigree"". When I probe deeper into what they mean by pedigree , its often about someone with a "brand name", someone visible, seen in public and can makes heads turn (yes, pun intended). I always want to ask , so are the men on the board all pedigree? But hold myself back.
Here is what I actually say
1. There are typically three types of women leaders you will often see in the public limelight. Women who have built billion dollar empires (Zhang Xin in China), either on their own or family run. Second, CEO's of organisations who are given the mandate of being the media spokesperson ( Chanda Kocchar in India) and third, someone who has written a best seller ( Sheryl Sandberg in the US). So are you looking for reflected glory , or something else?
2. While having a woman on the board is a decision I totally support, I would like you to look a step further and look deeper at what the board really needs. The board is a team of people who bring in different skills to achieve a certain objective. Does this person bring in an unique skill to the table that is needed by the organisation? Example: Cybersecurity, Sustainability, Mergers and Aquisitions or Social Media.
3. It is also about chemistry. Bringing in someone who is in the headline news every other day may not be someone who "fits" with your company culture, purpose and values. You need someone for the long haul, who will support and help the organisation grow.
Now do you still need pedigree?
ped·i·gree noun \ˈpe-də-ˌgrē\: Webster
the history of the family members in a person's or animal's past especially when it is good or impressive
the origin and history of something especially when it is good or impressive
I have a childhood friend who is a top fashion designer. Whenever I am in her city I make it a point to visit her chic and upmarket studio. Other than wanting to catch up with an old friend, I'm always curious to learn about another industry and what may be applied to the work I do as a management consultant. I have questioned her over and over on business models, business plans, customer acquisition strategy- blah blah. But, I can summarize my learnings in three simple statements:
1. Be a trend setter - The Fashion Industry does not do market research on what customers want , because customers do not know what they want from fashion. They are waiting to be told and will follow. The industry captures latent need.
So, let your imagination flow, think future, think of elements that will help them outshine others and offer that product/service.
Question - What part of you business/job do you think you can set a trend in? It will set you apart for sure.
2. Customise.Customise. Customise - On every visit I've made to my friend's studio , I have always met a celebrity (another reason I drop in ;)). Movie Stars, Fashionistas, Rich Housewives. They come because they are treated very well, its the place to be seen and they get asked what they really need and feel good about what they get. They are the loyal customers who come over and over again.
Question - When was it the last time your client/customer felt great about what you delivered to them because they felt special and taken care of ( the emphasis is on the felt)?
3. Being "with" the right audience - These celebrities, bring in more celebrities - it works on word of mouth. Because they are seen at the right places wearing these clothes, and inevitably the conversation drifts to "who are you wearing"? its the classic snowball effect, especially before a new season.
Question: Are you meeting/hanging around with the "right" people, who can be your word of mouth at the right forums? If not start now!
Kalpana Sinha is a Leadership and Organisation Professional. Her blog has reflections from her work experiences of over 20 years.