Tuesday, December 1, 2009

5 ways to Tap into the Power of Skills and Competency Management

Its up to HR to not only devise the systems but also educate employees about the benefits of using them for self-appraisal, career development, and other processes.

How to get a handle on the knowledge and skills of your employees ?

a.)Identify key skills and competencies through surveys, interviews, focus groups and analysis. Every organization has unique needs and identifying the skills and competencies that drive success can boost performance and profits. The process of identifying the traits that lead to success falls somewhere between art and science. However, certain methods, such as interviews, surveys and focus groups can help turn attention in the right direction.

b.)Build a Management System that can track employee performance. Using a checklist, spreadsheet or specialized software application, an organization can track where employees are and where they ought to be. It’s also possible to share this information with employees, so that they can prepare for new assignments or better positions within the organization.

c.)Integrate skills and competency inventories with other HR systems, including recruiting, training and succession planning. A list of key skills can define the questions that a recruiter asks an applicant in a job interview or the types of courses an organization introduces through its training and development program. A desktop portal can provide an employee with a list of skills needed for a particular position, note the skills that he or she currently possesses, and serve as an easy way to sign up for a course.

d.)Keep in mind that skills or competency tracking isn’t a one-time solution; it’s an outgoing process. It’s essential to tweak systems and update the list of required skills periodically. This can also lead to changes in the types of courses an organization offers and the kinds of individuals an enterprise recruits.

e.)Don’t expect immediate miracles. Filling skill and competence gaps takes time, effort, and cultural adjustment. It’s up to HR to not only devise the systems but also educate employees about the benefits of using them for self-appraisal, career development and other processes.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Checklist for Modern Enterprise Learning

Today's corporate learning organizations are facing a barrage of challenges from every direction. On the one hand, the current business climate is forcing budget reductions, organizational consolidations and shifting program priorities. On the other, social and informal learning technologies are causing us to rethink investments and program deliveries.

If 2009 has a silver lining, it is that training executives in companies of all shapes and sizes are being forced to re-examine priorities, reduce waste and inefficiencies, capitalize on cost-efficient learning approaches and reorganize for greater business alignment.

In recent research around modern corporate learning, we found distinct commonalities among training organizations that achieve significant business impact. These characteristics are compiled into the short list below, called the Modern Enterprise Learning Index. Use this informal checklist to determine if your training organization is still operating in the past - or if it is ready to meet modern challenges and requirements:
a) Business and needs analysis.
b) Content development efficiency.
c) Scalable capacity.
d) Adaptability to multiple audiences.
e) Versatility with tools and technologies.
f) Business alignment and measurement.
g) Integration with talent management.
h) Timeliness and speed.
i) Focus on specific performance targets.
j) Globalization and localization.
k) Knowledge sharing.
l) Fostering of a learning culture.

Periodically benchmark your organization with others in your industry segment, as well as with organizations at large. Only with such comparisons can you determine how your organization really stacks up. Our research found that companies with rapidly changing products and services are more "modernized, " likely because they have had experience in building adaptable training programs over many years. The most successful training organizations operate as if their businesses are changing all the time, even if they are not. These organizations constantly re-evaluate and recalibrate their practices and programs.

1. Build learning environments, not learning programs:High-performing training organizations create end-to-end learning environments, not just training programs. For example, consider IT major solution provider sales leadership program. The initiative includes managerial coaching, a sales and product training portal and a series of formal training programs. The results have been stellar: The company increased sales productivity by more than 100 percent and reduced turnover by a significant margin.

2. "Formalize" informal learning:Three types of informal learning are now being adopted: social learning, which refers to all collaborative experiences including social networking, communities of practice and blogs; on-demand learning, which consists of learner-led activities such as e-learning and self-study using books, reference materials, videos and podcasts; and embedded learning, which refers to the use of content and systems such as job aids, which help employees solve problems and learn on the job. Organizations told us they were struggling with the idea of building informal strategies into program design, but we now know it's critical for success.

3. Rethink instructional design processes:While the concepts and principles of instructional design remain the same, the skills need to be put to new use - such as the building of information architectures, audience analysis, social learning and on-demand learning. Most designers are eager to take advantage of the new world of learning. You can leverage these skills at little to no additional cost.

4. Adopt new, cost-efficient technologies: With the proliferation of new tools for online collaboration - including messaging, mobile phones, Web portals and Twitter - it is easier than ever for employees to engage with each other. We found organizations such as the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, the U.S. Army, British Telecom, Symantec, Qualcomm, Sun Microsystems and many others are opening up their training content in a knowledge-sharing format. We call this "we-learning" - enabling employees to publish what they know and understand for the benefit of peers and co-workers. This kind of learning can be extremely effective and capitalizes on the knowledge assets you already have. Furthermore, information can be disseminated rapidly, far faster than developing traditional designed courses.

Don't miss out on the opportunity offered by the current financial situation. By modernizing your organization, you can increase the power and the impact of learning within your company.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Performance Management System

Managing Human Resource has been a challenge from the time immemorial as the legends and stories from our epics and literature tell us. We are presenting here a quaint tale from the stories of Akbar and Birbal to illustrate an ubiquitous HR concept.
Today all organizations big or small, new or seasoned are working rigorously on Performance Management System as the strong leverage tool for achieving the business results and in this regard every employees focus is going through a paradigm shift to Key Results Areas ( KRAs) and this is becoming an integral part of the performance evaluating process.
However only a very few are aware that the Man who conceived this idea and brought lots of laurels to this concept to the larger world, is some one from India !

Akbar the Great, the well known Mughal Emperor needs no introduction to any student of history.

One fine day Akbar summoned all his ministers to his chambers for a crucial meeting.

“I would like each of you to spell out your Key Results Areas for the year with specific period objectives on how the results are going to be achieved, “ he declared to the august assembly.

That set the entire team of ministers who decorated his cabinet to think and ponder. They knew that when Akbar demands there is no option but to deliver. Soon each of them made out their KRAs spelling out elaborate plans of action.

The only soul just not showing any excitement was Birbal. He seemed the least interested in the exercise that had set the mid night lamps to burn all over the palace. Birbal was a special decoration to Akbars Court and it was well known how the entire kingdom had benefited out of his wit and wisdom. However Birbals lackadaisical attitude to the new plans of Akbar did not amuse the emperor.

The place was idyllic, the time the morning hours, when Akbar was on a lazy ride with his pride of possession ”the black horse” that he met Birbal and enquired about his KRAs. Birbal did not have even the faintest idea of what he was going to deliver but not to be out done in this new exercise and as if suddenly he declared “I have finalized my KRA for the year !” He looked at the black horse near him and said, “ I will make this horse fly.”

Akbar could not resist the temptation to laugh it off but knowing Birbal he controlled himself and said, “ If that’s what you intent to deliver it’s perfectly Ok with me.”

Days passed into weeks and weeks into months and much to the concern and worry of the other ministers there was no sign of the black horse flying. The ministers knew that Akbar was quite serious about the new system that he had introduced and that he would just not spare anyone for non-performance.
One fine day when it was almost the end of the year the ministers met Birbal and enquired, “ You seem to be blissfully unaware that the year is coming to close shortly and your promise of the making the emperors horse to fly just does not seem to take off.” The chorus of their common concern could not be missed out in their comments.

Birbal was his usual unperturbed self. “ Look my dear friends, between now and the year end quite a few things could happen which makes me feel least worried” he said with his usual gay abandon. He further went on to explain in his own style the secrets of his confidence “ As I see things , I am not too worried. You see there are quite a few probabilities in my favor. Well, to just spell it out: before the year ends I could die all too suddenly! Or may be the black horse could contact some disease and die ! Or our emperor who is not getting any younger by the day could pass off peacefully! And even if nothing like any of these happens there is another possibility. He stopped for a while and staring straight at the other ministers and came out with the punch line “ Who knows ! By the end of the year that black horse may actually fly !!!”

The ministers were shocked and frozen to silence. Knowing Birbal they did not venture into an argument with him and left him alone with his theorem of probabilities.

History is not clear which of the probability worked in favor of Birbal. Anyway that should hardly matter to us. The very thought of such risky probabilities immediately brings to light the need to look into our own lot and start thinking.

Can we be as lucky as Birbal to shoot off the cuff ‘ a phantom like promise’ and rest be assured that something from somewhere will somehow save us at the end of the day ? Have we made some commitments to deliver, which like the flying horse seem to be almost impossible to meet ? What will happen if we survive in the organization till the fateful day (appraisal meeting) and have to face the immediate superior to discuss results ? What will happen if our boss is not going to be leaving the organization as we suspected and is definitely going to confront us at the end of the day? Will some of our KRAs turn out to become so obsolete that it would make no business sense by the end of the year and our achieving or not achieving will go unnoticed? And finally can horses really fly at a future date ? A host of such thoughts crop up in our mind and cause that uncomfortable churns in our stomach.

The basic fear that grips us could be strong possibilities of some impossible promises which we would have made meant to impress and not implement. Some of us would almost feel like leaving the story here and rushing to our desk to quickly check and review in case we too have by the slip of our pen inked in the “ Birbal like KRAs”

A wise man said “ Honesty to admittance of mistakes pay rich dividends especially when we show this quality not when our chips are down but when there is scope to make amends.” How true! It will not be a bad idea at all to get across the table of our boss right away and admit to those Birbal Brand of bad promises and substitute it with those ‘ Smart ‘ Ones that can seldom fail as long we are willing to sweat it out to succeed !

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Leader of Ethics: Set a High Example

One Executive recently asked me, “How can I worry about ethics when our company is fighting for its very existence in a hostile market ?”

I responded: “ You don’t have to put ethics on the shelf while doing battle.
Without ethics, even if you win you still lose.”

Every time we say or do something unethical, we chip away at the foundations of our moral character and reputation. To make a difference we must set examples of high ethics.

The prime purpose of businesses is to make profit. But when profits become the only measure of success, we lose sight of our shared values. When unethical business practices create unfair situations that go beyond a healthy competitive environment, we are in deep trouble. In a competitive market, doing business often involves beating out the other guy, getting the best of the deal, turning $1 million into $5 million. In this adversarial climate, clear definitions of ethics can be difficult. How do you know when an action is a brilliant tactic or unscrupulous double-dealing? One way is to ask yourself if this action might harm an individual or business.

No one ever said that being ethical is easy. We live in a world with more ethical gray areas. Circumstances pull at us every day, urging us to take the easy way out, to twist something just a little, or to close our eyes for a second. Acts of omission can be just as unethical as acts of commission. Saying and doing nothing can be just as unethical as the committed act. The distinction between what is legal and what is unethical has become blurred.

Human Values: Business problems are ultimately human problems and so human values must be applied to their solutions. These human values and solutions come from you and me.

The Good news is that profit motive and social responsibility can coexist and prosper when we operate with high ethical standards and compassion. The stronger our ethical behavior, the better leaders we become.

Harry J.Gray, former Chairman of United Technologies, said, “ How we perform as individuals determines how we perform as nation.”

Situational Ethics: Each of us makes daily decisions about our ethical behavior in various situations; thus we live with situational ethics. Since we are not perfect, we rarely operate consistently at the highest ethical level. Instead, the best we can do is to try to develop the wisdom and judgment to get as close to perfection as possible. For example, absolute honesty means never lie. That sounds like a good idea. But all of us have told “white lies” to keep from hurting someone’s feelings. We use our experience (wisdom and judgment) and our conscience (moral character and integrity) to tell us how far we stray from absolute honesty. If something is ethically or morally repugnant on a personal scale, it is equally repugnant in our jobs and professions. In both areas, the leader sets the standards, tries to live by them, and communicates the same expectation to others.

Shared Values: We need to work together for our common interests, hopes, and values, more than ever before. We must examine our personal standard of conduct – our ethics- and have the courage to turn the spotlight on our actions, habits and examples. Our differences are part of our great strength, but out of this diverse mixture must come a shared system of ethical values. You make a difference as a leader when you set an example of high ethics.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Big Vision

To create a BIG-VISION team or enterprise, apply the below mentioned four Keys.

1. Define Growth in Qualitative, not just Quantitative Terms:-

The focus of many leaders is to grow big, fast, by expanding revenue, offices, and headcount. These “growth companies” don’t have to be sustainable, viable, or ethical. But qualitative growth is about leveraging strengths to achieve an edge.

2. To Live large, you have to have a Big Vision:-

When the numbers fail, the economy tanks, or you have a losing season, your big vision inspires you to persevere. It’s your guiding light. The lack of guiding vision is why many companies experience high turnover, and why others sputter and fail at the first setback. The vision makes enduring challenges worthwhile. It distinguishes you, providing you connect vision with action.

3. Right relationship is a big-vision craft:-

Beyond “delighting your customers”, “ retaining human capital” or “winning the war for talent”, right relationship stems from wisdom or mastery practices, and becomes a pathway for qualitative growth, competitive distinction, employee morale, and customer loyalty. You seek to improve relationships with key constituencies, and create a sense of greater meaning that helps retain and motivate people.

4. If you want to live from the source, you can’t let the well run dry:-

Inspiration is fuel; burnout is the depletion of fuel. Many people are dissatisfied with their work, distrustful of rhetoric, and looking for greater purpose, meaning, and contribution. Meaning can’t be bestowed upon you- you have to create it. Big –Vision leader’s help their people see that the way they do their work, and the actual work they do, can be done masterfully.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Induction Programme plays a very important role in the successful absorption of individual in any organization. This is perhaps the reason why many organizations invest significant time and energy in this process.

And a wholesome induction in my view and from my experience of having Designed, Planned and Implemented 11 Induction Programmes for 367 New Inductees from various centers at C-DAC, Pune, would consist of the following essential elements.

This is what I call a WOW EFFECT- Welcome to our World

Induction Programme
Now you have the employee you wanted. He has come and joined you. This is the time for you to consummate the alliance, to build the real relationship. Induction is the time to set out expectations and to capture critical potential indicators.

Good Induction Programme
A good induction programme is about communication. Treat the new recruit with respect and as a mature and responsible individual. Welcome him and make sure that he is comfortable. Introduce him to all relevant people individually.

Undersell the Organization
During the induction programme, its imperative to manage the inductees expectations. Undersell the organization and the presentations as professional and business like as possible. The expectations you set here will come back to haunt you later.

Lay down Organizations Expectations
Time for you to lay down organizations expectations in terms of performance, professionalism and other values you want to espouse.

Clarity on Organizations Values and Policies
Walk the inductee through every policy and rules manual, this will help him know the organization better and will not feel lost once he goes to work.

Lay down the Performance Management System
Clearly enunciate your Performance Management System. It is very critical for an employee to know what is expected out of him and what the performance parameters are.

Overall Development
Also invest in Soft Skill programmes ( preferably in-house). It gives an inductee the focus on organization’s way of doing things i.e Communication and Team Building.

Buddy Programme
Design a Buddy or Mentoring Programme ( both are different approaches) to help assimilate the new inductee into your organization smoothly.

Strategic Approach
If we look at Induction Programme from a Strategic Perspective as opposed to a Procedural Objective, we would agree on the following:
· It is the first impression that the EMPLOYEE will get of the organization.
· It is the first opportunity for the ORGANIZATION to make a clear undiluted Communication.
· Induction Programme is CRITICAL to an employee identifying with the organization.
· An effective induction will facilitate HIGHER PRODUCTIVITY.
· And Achievement of the above shall automatically ensure higher/ lower EMPLOYEE
RETENTION with the organization.

Elements for Designing a Wholesome Induction Programme

Profile of the Inductee

The typical profile of an inductee would be

Comes from a different sized organization.

Orientation to a different culture.

Different Value System.

Different Quality Processes.

Concern if his experience and learning would be utilized.

Concern on his career progression.

Need for Information.

Objective of the Induction Programme
Familiarize the Inductee to the Organization, Team.

Educate the Inductee to Environment, Values, Vision, Mission, Quality Processes and Culture.

Integrate the inductee to the organization.

Provide comfort and manage his anxieties.

Provide information on all policies and procedures.

Provide information on performance culture and Expectation Management.

Strategic People Objectives of the Organization
Induction helps in the Retention Strategy (3 years or 30 years), manages anxiety, manages expectations, educates on processes, values and ethos, ensures seamless integration with the Organizations culture and environment.

Induction Module
Company Information- Corporate Presentation, Unit/ Branch Information.

Vision Statements- Our Commitment to Growth.

Mission Statements- How did we arrive at the Mission Statement, the reason behind it.

Exemplify and explain. Helps in IDENTIFYING with the same.

Values- what are our values and how do we fearlessly stand up for the same.

Policies and Procedures- HR Policies, Admin Policies etc have a presentation. Induction manual is generally not read nor understood by upto 70-80% of the Inductees.

Processes- What is quality to us ? what are basic quality concepts? What are he various project management tools inductees would require to use, work flow.

Performance Management System- How it works and what are the KPA’s, what is the career progression opportunities and what does it take to achieve.

Environment and Cultural Sensitization.

Team Introduction- Personal introduction to all relevant people in the team.

Sources of Information- Internet and Intranet, key people etc. Internet and e-mail policies.

Buddy Programme- Identify and Allocate a Buddy/Mentor to the inductee to facilitate smooth integration.

Soft Skills- Identify 2/3 soft skills critical to the business and do workshops to create experiential learning opportunity.

Feedback and Measure
We have through the Induction Programme laid down the organization’s expectations and the way of life to the Inductees, time to capture his assimilation ( through Quiz). To measure the efficacy of Induction, his feedback on how it could be better or what else he needed to know or be explained. This can be done through Quizzes, Structured Feedback forms, Informal Interviews, tracking him over a period of time.

Controlling and Improving
Inputs thus received should documented and used to make improvements in the programme, to the extent feasible.

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Talent Ten: How to find and keep Talent

Everything we do and the way we do it will be reinvented in the next few years, and those who reap the benefits will be Talent Masters.

Talent: I love that word. The key people and leaders are the heart and spirit of any organization, and yet most firms don’t even know how many talented people they are losing.

Here are 10 ideas to vault Talent from soaring rhetoric to strategic reality:

1. Be obsessed with the pursuit of talent:
Turn your company into a talent machine. Think talent, love talent and know where to find it. To win the great War for Talent, put it at the top of your agenda, and keep it there. Time counts. Obsession counts. Have a real people person become a Connoisseur of Talent. The pursuit of talent is either an obsession or you’re not serious.

2. Look for greatness and hire only the best:
If you are a genuine Connoisseur of Talent, you won’t settle for anything less than the best. You will leave a job open- and, indeed, stress out some others in the process- before you will fill a slot with a mediocrity. Great talent pools are not kind to those who can’t pass the muster. So, do your Great Talent Pool a favor: Stress them out a little bit, but don’t surround them with
mediocrities chosen to “fill the chair”.

3. Hold people to serious performance standards:
Some people perform better than other people, and talent likes hanging out with talent. Talented people love to be pressed. They love to play against the best. They feed off the energy and vitality and spirit and spunk of their colleagues. To be sure, all of this puts extreme pressure on everybody to have a reason for being. One will either display distinction or become road kill.

4.It’s a sellers market: Top talent, in any field, are expensive, perhaps costing 10 times an average person in their function. Top-performing companies pay what it takes to acquire other top performers and prevent them from leaving. Do I think pay is the answer in the Great War of Talent ? No. I believe that the sine qua non is opportunity, the chance to shine, quickly. And if one is given a great opportunity and responds with vigor, then one should be rewarded. When I hear bosses complain of “ high turnover”, I suggest: pay your people more!

5.Youth : Grovel before the young: In the end, the Internet will change everything. And who will be leading this parade? Twenty-something’s. This is a young person’s crusade. I am curious, but I cannot be na├»ve! When you’re under 25, you don’t know what you don’t know. It’s the Age of Intellectual Capital. It’s the Age of Curiosity Rewarded. (Rather than Compliance Rewarded.) We need people who…from the get-go…will talk back! Who are determined to get ahead….fast.)

6. Diversity: Mess Rules : Creatively and great leaps forward come from mess, meaning all kinds of people providing all kinds of ideas that crazily bounce against one another and cause a lot of chaos- and occasionally cause a great idea to emerge, which changes the world. Creativity comes from unlikely juxtapositions. The best way to maximize difference is to mix ages, cultures, and disciplines.

7. Women: Born to Lead: Many professional women are waiting to be called into action. This isn’t about political correctness or Affirmative Action. It’s about talent-talent whose distinguishing scars and marks match the new needs of the new economy. Women focus more on relationships and are less rank-conscious. Women are more self-determined and trust-sensitive. They are more focused on empowerment, intuition, emotional sensitivity, empathy, and patience; they have a penchant for planning, networking, negotiating and co-operating.

8.Weird: The cracked Ones. Let in the light! Go to lunch with the same old folks, and you’ll hear the same old stuff. Surround yourself with weird employees, customers, suppliers and competitors. Hang with weird; you will be energized. In the new economy, we desperately need those non-conformists, dissenters and rebels. Weird, quirky talent rules.

9. Opportunity: Make it an adventure: Create a cause, imbue people with a sense of passion, instill in them a sense of adventure. To win the War of Talent, there must be Battles Worth Fighting. The opportunity to be part of an adventure matters from the get-go. Great talent springs from and is attracted to the chance to pursue great adventures. To create a talent-obsessed enterprise, create a culture of adventure.

10. Leading Genius: We are all unique: Who understands talent? Your kid’s third-grade teacher. Teachers are in the talent business. They understand that each of the six billion people God put on this earth is a totally unique human being who is engaged in a totally unique learning and growth trajectory. Talent is a “one-at-a-time thing.”

Your career is certifies by the Talent that you spotted before somebody else, and then nurtured to the point that they performed brilliantly and made a giant contribution to the enterprise.
Sure, cool leaders have cool visions. And those visions can inspire the masses. But mentoring leadership or talent development leadership is perhaps even more important.

In the War of Talent, only those who put talent at the top of their agendas are likely to survive.

Friday, May 1, 2009

M & A : What's your DNA ?

Globalization has thrown open opportunities aplenty amidst increased market competition. Companies have realized the importance of remaining competitive in ensuring survival and growth; have resorted to measures, such as restructuring, alliances, joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions. Mergers and Acquisitions have become a common strategic practice and a tool to achieve faster growth and market leadership position.

As Feros, Lewis puts it: “ Mergers are People”. Hence, HR Strategy in any merger or acquisition process has to be an integral part of the business strategy. The business strategy in a pre-merger may be to look for a strategic fit in a partner. But to ensure that the strategic fit delivers results, in post merger, the people support gained through an effective HR strategy is essential.

The twin drivers- globalization and technology, operating simultaneously have ushered in the new Economy in more recent times. Organizations have been responding to such changes in the environment by organic growth or by acquiring/ merging organizations into their fold.

There are organizations that want to shape the future. They shape the rules of the game rather than being ruled by rules of the game. These companies learn to anticipate the possible directions that the future may take and begin to blaze the new path without hesitation. The leaders of these companies encourage their people to challenge conventional thinking and to create continuous renewal and progress. Renewal challenges the company to stretch and grow. For most of the companies, continuous renewal is more than a catchphrase; it is their culture. There are irreversible changes in forces that are driving these changes. We could call these the new economic drivers. There are three kinds of drivers with varying amplitude and time horizons, which will dictate the future of economy and the future of business.
They are :
a.) Short-term drivers.
b.) Medium-term drivers
c.) Long –term drivers

Will Culture make the difference ?
Generating a single wave of change is possible but the effects are seldom long-lasting or self-sustaining. When continuous renewal or performance is expected, and if the organizations have not created the right ambience for such an attempt, people become “smart dumps”. People have to be willing to accept the risk of change to create a self-sustaining cycle of improvement and an ongoing sense of renewal. That is possible only if employees know that individual and collective success can only continue if they embrace change as an opportunity rather than reacting to it in a crisis mode.

With today’s volatility in business, organizations should respond by placing one foot in the present and the other in the future- responding to today’s customer needs while preparing for tomorrow’s by striving to find the future first. Those who really succeed constantly adapt to the changing environment, managing the dimensions of competition, keeping pace with the design and technology marvels, applying scenario-planning technique, than casually talking about ‘aligning parts of the organizations’.

Cultural Assessment Tool
For any merger or acquisition to be successful, structures, leadership, culture and strategy are going to be critical. You can examine the firm at any level and the DNA remains the same, though functionality and character will change. The culture of a company gives it character and uniqueness that could be closet to biological DNA. Culture refers to the collection of values, beliefs, behaviors, customers and attitudes that characterize an organization. Each organization has a unique culture and hence, a unique DNA map. For assessing the cultural character of an organization, the organization could be guided by 14 discrete characteristics viz: governance structure, leadership roles/influence, power, how change is viewed, the basis of planning, the primary mode of problem solving, how control is exerted, communication styles/purpose, marketing focus, performance management, vision/values, how people are perceived, success definitions and guiding principles/assumptions.

Develop a Merger Competency Model
Companies have yet to learn the lessons from others. Up to three quarters of these deals destroy value that has been the objective of many mergers and acquisitions. Why ? Organizations that are high performers and who pursue their transactions as part of a disciplined and ongoing programme, link their transactions to clear strategic goals, and are organized for fast decision making and effective implementation. Most of the companies that have been failing in their M & A efforts have treated M & A , as occasional and major events.

A Merger competency Model that defines the merger leadership characteristics is important for professional success. The motivation is to develop a Merger Competency Model that would radically improve the ability of organizations to assess the environment, create structures, develop strategies and formulate policies that would attract , retain and develop leaders; thus retain the merger capability.

A merger competency model has been arrived at after considering the strategic objective and the key business drivers:
· Globalization
· Technology

The pointers are based on the experiences and the literature review for the components of developmental model, which has to be nurtured by the core team of the merged entity. The components identified are universally accepted dimensions
· Structure
· Strategy
· Leader’s Belief.
· Leader’s Approach
· Communication
· Process- Speed of Decision Making and Integration
· Handling People at Outplacement

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Tips to Recession-Proof: Global Marketing

How do you keep your sales strong in a sluggish economy? Nowadays, marketing seems to be a matter of building a better mousetrap and offering it to customers at a lower price and hoping they have a mice! But there are always things you can do that will keep you posting higher sales and profits regardless of the economic climate.
This is recession proof global marketing: Instead of waiting for the recession to end, you need to take aggressive measures now to insure that you will come out of it stronger than before. Companies that do well during an economic crisis are proactive, not reactive. They seek out new opportunities and respond quickly to changes in the marketplace. Here are some tips to use in your global marketing efforts:

I. Offer Something that will provoke a Heartfelt “It’s about Time!”
If you are hearing the same complaint over and over wherever you go- and you’ll hear complaints aplenty during a recession-then it’s time you listened. See if you create a product or service to solve a problem, satisfy a need or add value. These innovations extend product life cycle, expand the market place and open consumer’s imaginations. In a high-pressure marketing climate, you will need to improve your existing product or get creative and come out with a new one.

II. Great Sportsmanship Pays Off :

Be always on the “outs” with your competitors. This doesn’t mean being hostile or underhanded-it means out-servicing, out-performing and out-lasting them. Be a clean but keen competitor.

III. Make Yourself Available:

Be here, there and everywhere- that’s what gets and keeps the business. Attend the dinners and socials, show up for the sales meetings, participate in community affairs, return phone calls and emails, send noteworthy clippings, volunteer for charitable efforts. Keep yourself exposed during the slump and when the economy picks up your customers and suppliers will think of you first.

IV. Keep in Touch:

Don’t let your communication fall off when business is slow- if anything, step them up. If you’ve been communicating once a month with key contacts, increase it to once a week. Keeping at your business operations when nothing’s happening shows your character and commitment. We always remember the friends who stand by us when the going gets tough and business relationships work the same way. If you keep letting your customers and suppliers know how valuable they are to you during tough economic times, you’ll reap the rewards when things improve.

V. Dare To Be Different:

Cut loose and do something wild. Show some energy! Look alive! Put a sense of fun into your global marketing efforts. Send eye-catching subject lines in your emails that add spice to routine communications. Phone your customers once in a while so they can hear your voice and know they’re dealing with a human being.
Goodwill and good humour keep us all going, especially in a poor economy-so don’t be afraid to get a bit wacky. It will capture your customer’s attention and set you apart from the crowd.

Recession-proof global marketing means making your own opportunities and laying the groundwork for your own future prosperity. It all boils down to being ten times as persistent and creative as usual and taking charge to shape your own global marketplace. So don’t be cowed by grim economic reports. Be bolder than ever. You’ll not only survive- you’ll flourish!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Team Work, Leadership and Knowledge Management

During the 20th century organizations became increasingly aware of the power of the effective combination of leadership, teamwork and knowledge management. Although a lot of research has been conducted about these elements, very few organizations really get it right so that teams and the individuals within teams perform at their optimum levels. This article will primarily explore effective leadership and teamwork and will use analogies from Africa to explain these organizational elements.

The quest to find what makes the magic of great leaders has been unceasing and will no doubt continue for many years to come. The debate around the genetic versus the environmental production of leaders and leadership has by no means come to an end.

There can be few experiences more gratifying for one interested in organizational growth and development than to watch a team come together and begin to weave its magical web of success into everything the team does. I suppose it is possible for this to happen by accident but generally this success is the result of a desire of all the participants to work together to achieve a clear and common goal. It often includes an infusion of ideas and energy from interested stakeholders. It certainly involves a great deal of networking and sharing between the important stakeholders and indeed amongst the team members themselves.

In the African bush the Lion’s entire survival is predicated on his capacity to work as a member of a team. Without teamwork Lions have very little chance of survival. This applies particularly to the male Lion that has less than 50% chance of survival at birth. If he can survive to adulthood, the moment he becomes a threat to the dominant male in the group he will either be killed by the dominant male. On his own out in the wilderness he has less than 50% chance of survival. Often he will team up with another young Lion that has been expelled from his group. Together they will work out a “modus operandi” that will ensure their survival up to the day they decide to find a group to challenge for the leadership and thereby gain a brand-new ready-made family. Only the fittest and toughest male Lions survive the exigencies of life and are able to play their role as a dominant male in the group. This process also ensures that the gene pool is constantly reenergized and revitalized with genes from only the best males. How do we make sure in our teams that our selection process is such that we take only the very best for the team?

The other thing that the Lion teaches us is the importance of role clarity within the team, not only for the individual concerned, but also clarity about the roles of other members of the team by all team members. Without this clarity, fleet-footed and nimble young male Lions and Lionesses will attempt to pull down a Buffalo Bull and the lazy heavily-muscled male Lion may even attempt the impossible- to kill an Impala.

Another wild animal that has a great deal to teach us about the power of teamwork and in particular how important multi-skilling is in a team is the Wild Dog. The Wild Dogs hunt in packs and kill by attrition.

All the herding animals Like Buffalo, Duiker, Zebra, Wildebeest and Elephant have a great deal to teach us about the power of synergy and the , as yet untapped, resource of intuition. Great teams have these in abundance. When you watch great teams working there is a great deal of overt communication but there is also substantial subliminal and intuitive communication between the members of the team. This is not something that can easily be taught and certainly not something that happens quickly. It is a faculty that develops over time and requires focus and hard work to achieve and inculcate into each member of the team and the team as a whole.

Of all the animals, the Eagle epitomizes the best type of vision that great leaders bring to the organization. They are able to see both the big picture and each element of that big picture with great clarity and perspective.

One of the major misconceptions about leadership is that it is about the leader. If one examines the behavior and activities of the great leaders that have succeeded beyond all dreams and against all possible odds, it is clear that leadership is much more about followership. The simple fact of the matter is that without followers, leaders have no role. Great leaders therefore understand this dynamic fundamentally and have learnt to tap in, to be part of, and live, actively and energetically, amongst those who follow them.

Knowledge management has a number of characteristics; it is data organized into an understandable and clear framework, information that can be applied and knowledge that has been shaped by experience/life. Wisdom is when knowledge has been tested and shaped by experience and by the success and failures in the University of Life.

We know that the world’s best businesses have learnt that the route not only to survival but to growth and development in the new era economy will certainly include learning faster than the competition. Excellent teams are characterized by a culture of trust, openness and sharing, and a shared common vision. The important thing to remember here is that one cannot just focus on teamwork or leadership or knowledge management. The model that one builds for the business should be one that takes all three of these into account and builds an interconnected and synergistic plan. It must ensure that the three components are also part of every activity engaged in by business and in particularly training and development activities.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Leader’s Weaponry- Strategy

The shoe that fits one person, pinches another; there is no recipe for living that suits all cases,” observed Carl Jung in Modern Man in Search of a Soul. Jung wasn’t thinking about strategic management when he wrote that passage. But he could have been.

Managing a multi-business organization means managing the relationship between executives in the central office and those who run the business units or divisions. And strategy gurus notwithstanding, there is no one best way to do that. Rather, the best way always depends on the nature and needs of the businesses in an organizations portfolio, on the styles of the people working in the organization, on the company’s strategy and goals. Leaders need to know this and to act and plan accordingly. At many corporates, leaders are involved in all important strategy decisions; they only leave the operating decisions to branch mangers. And these organizations flourish. At other corporates, strategic issues are determined by managers in close touch with their markets. Leaders concentrate only on the operating ratios and financial controls. These corporations thrive.

Some leaders seek to shape the future with high-stake bets. The press loves to hype such life-shaping strategy because of their potential to create enormous wealth, but the sober reality is that most leaders lack the industry position, assets or appetite for taking risks which is necessary to make such strategies work.

In the area of business, risk-averse leaders hedge their bets by making a number of smaller investments. In pursuit of growth opportunities in emerging markets, for example, many companies are forging limited operational or distribution alliances. But it is often difficult to determine if such limited investments truly reserve the right to play in these countries or just reserve the right to lose. Alternatively, some executives favour investments in flexibility that allow their companies to adapt quickly as markets evolve. But the costs of establishing such flexibility can be high. Moreover, taking a wait-and –watch strategy or postponing large investments until the future becomes clear can create a window of opportunity for others.

Making systematically sound strategic decisions under uncertainty requires a different approach, one that avoids this dangerous binary view. It is rare that leaders know absolutely nothing of strategic importance, even in the most uncertain environments. Infact, leaders usually can identify a range of potential outcomes or even a discrete set of scenarios. This simple insight is extremely powerful because determining which strategy is best and what process should be used to develop it, depends vitally on the level of uncertainty a company faces.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Developing International Managers

As they say, every dark cloud has a silver lining. The twin drivers – globalization and technology , operating simultaneously have ushered in the new Economy into India in more recent times.

In studying the growth and diversity of international companies and the way in which they manage their global operations, what emerges is that there is a growing need for managers with international experience and ability. Such managers need to possess such competencies if they are to operate successfully for the benefit of their companies in international arena.

Organizations should use this slowdown to train future global leaders who are competent enough to think globally, appreciate cultural diversity, are technologically savvy, can build partnerships and alliances and share leadership.