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Posts Tagged ‘leadership’

It’s not important now as “nothing is at stake”!!!

Posted by Anadi Upadhyaya on December 1, 2012

nothing at stakeAttitude of focusing only on things which can save you from the trouble-in-hand and ignoring the rest often results in a bucket full of important activities to be addressed later. When you ignore things till your job or image or commitment or ego is at stake, you often end up creating a mess.

When everything is important nothing really is important. Important, very important, really important, showstopper or using any other prefix in your communication indicates that it’s important but if almost all your communications have these prefixes then it’s time to retrospect as something is fundamentally wrong.

Just saying that “Planning is important and I invest a lot of time in planning” doesn’t work till you really practice it. Make sure that you are not using planning time as a resting time or for anything else. If you are putting less important things on watch list for review, do review it regularly to pick up an activity which has potential to be important.

Be it solving the business bottlenecks, succession planning, preparation for approaching compensation or promotion cycle or anything related to business; being proactive rather than reactive will save your business from risk.

Many things have changed with technological innovations but few things have not. Planning and periodic review of your plan is one such thing that was important, is important and will remain important. Being proactive and looking things ahead of the time is a must have leadership quality to master. Faking that you have this quality may work on few occasions but will surely put you and your business at risk one day.

Posted in leadership, management | Tagged: | 3 Comments »

Management by “Fear”…

Posted by Anadi Upadhyaya on September 18, 2012

Managing workforce by playing with their fear factor is frequently used but rarely acknowledged management practice. Strong Belief in formal power, frequent use of forcing as a conflict resolution technique and use of penalty as a motivational factor give birth to a manipulative organization culture where practice of management by fear nurture and maintained.

Employee’s fear of failure, fear of not receiving reward or recognition, fear of losing job or similar; many managers identify it quickly and use it as a tool to rule over the people. Manager’s own insecurity and short sightedness fuels it further as they promote culture of uncertainty and ambiguity to make sure that fear-factor not only exist in the system but also prosper.

When you work in a team, it’s natural that you will discover fears or shortcomings of your teammates, how you utilize this information, depends on your value system. Either you can exploit it by maximizing their fear factor for your benefit or you can help them to conquer fear. Either you can empower your team so that they can fight back or you can assure that they gradually lose their self-esteem and become more vulnerable.

Management by fear is a perfect recipe for business failure and a proof of broken employee engagement. It’s a responsibility of every leader to ensure that an organization treats its people with dignity, trust and respect.


If you are a victim of such a culture and it’s going beyond your tolerance limit, you may need to take help from your HR department. You may also count on a feedback mechanism which can help you to get your voice heard and answered.

Posted in engagement, fear, management | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

Brown nosers at work

Posted by Anadi Upadhyaya on August 10, 2012

King tales inspire so much to some people that they start behaving like a king and aspire to create their own kingdom at work. Behaving like kings, make them fall in the power trap. They enjoy formal power and want to hear only good things about them and their decisions. In order to safely survive and thrive in this culture, employees take help from a well-known and well-practiced technique called brown-nosing.

It would be incorrect to say that brown nosers are non-performers as you can spot some of the great performers too on this duty. Brown-nosing provides equal opportunity to everyone as its open for both performers and non-performers. Are you able to spot brown-nosing at you workplace? You can find people in below positions:

  • Prime movers, leaders who are knowingly promoting brown-nosing.
  • Experts, active participants and subject matter experts in this area. Role models for few others.
  • Victims, People who missed several boats at work because they did not opt for brown-nosing.
  • Change-agents, fighters who want to fix this culture and help people to get rid of this highly spreadable unhealthy syndrome.
  • Observers, who are observing this behavior without any participation.

You can best decide where you fit in. You may also want to change your position considering brown-nosing does work and helps people to get the desired outcome. But, in case you are trying to make your workplace free from brown nosers, you are really on a novel but a tough mission.

As this issue is related to human nature and does exist and practiced beyond the workplace, fix is not easy. You need to help your leaders, who are promoting this behavior, to get rid of this bad habit. At the same time, you need to empower your workforce so that they can choose not to be a brown-noser without any fear of penalty or failure.

Don’t turn a blind eye on this, who knows if you are going be the next victim of this disease.

Posted in learning, management | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

What does your attrition rate tell you?

Posted by Anadi Upadhyaya on July 18, 2012

Do you believe that you are doing great job just because your attrition rate is as per industry benchmark or lower than your competitors?

If you reward your entire workforce in almost same fashion, who do you think will stay with you between your performers and non-performers? If you don’t want your workplace to be a resting place for non-performers, you not only need to investigate reasons behind your employee’s decision to leave you but also to stay with you. You need to ensure that workforce holidaying at work is not the main reason for your lower attrition rate.

Knowing performer’s contribution to your attrition rate helps you to understand this number better and helps you to make required changes in your efforts towards addressing employee turnover. One-size-fits-all solution seldom works. You have to diagnose your people’s concerns in-depth before arriving on corrective actions. You need to verify early and verify often that your diagnosis is not only correct but also relevant.

It will be disastrous to depend only on the reasons recorded during exit feedback as truth may never prevail from there. It’s a mistake to expect correct feedback on your exit door at the time when “Do-not-burn-the-bridges” is the main mantra.

Neither the problem of employee turnover is new nor do the various claims to address it. Same age-old tactics to solve employee turnover problem will not give you new results. You should not dream to stop employee turnover altogether nevertheless you must try hard to save you performers. You need to understand why your performers are (or will be) leaving you. And try to address their concerns keeping in mind that:

  • No magic pill exists; you need to understand the problem before searching for a solution.
  • Conversation is the key; keep all forms of communication open.
  • Acting on employee’s feedback-data on time will save time and money for you.
  • Copying solutions blindly is a stale idea instead work on a solution tailored or designed for your need.
  • You must develop a culture of trust; nothing will ever work without it.

Posted in leadership, management | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Strategic HR

Posted by Sri Subramanian (@whosissri) on September 8, 2011

The CHRO and CFO oversee the two main assets of a company. They have enormous opportunity to add value to the CEO. Yet, they sometimes fall short of expectations.

Their strategic  function is not about setting solid guidelines on depreciation of capital assets, or putting together employee handbooks. Those may be required activities, and if not done right, may cause enormous harm. However, they are not leadership activities.

A good CEO can chart the strategic plan for the company. He can even channel the money, but it is much harder to channel the talent and get everyone aboard. This is where the CHRO can help. However, this involves changing the tone of the HR communications from mandates and legalese to influencing and enabling.

The strategic function of recruiting is not to enforce pay boundaries; it is to get the right people to fill the right jobs. The strategic function of performance reviews is not to get 100% participation; it is to foster career growth. The strategic function of succession management is not to make sure all critical jobs have successors; it is to help find the right successors, wherever they are. The strategic function of benefits is not to pass top heavy tests; but to provide benefits that are best provided via group enrollment. The strategic function of time cards is not to keep record of attendance; but to compute gross margin per product, so we know which products to continue to build.

HR’s strategic function is to breathe, speak, and live this, and to be able to see everything from the lens of the business. The rest is to HR what accounting is to finance. It may sometimes be essential, but it is not strategic.

I have been super lucky to work with HR counterparts who get this. They keep me from the legalese and the HR policies.  They share information with me. They suggest ways I can avoid obstacles. And they focus on helping me get the job done. This is business execution.

Posted in finance, hr transformation, leadership, strategic hr, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

The leadership cop-out, the employee hot potato

Posted by Meg Bear on December 3, 2008


Dan was talking this week about how real leaders do the right thing, even (or especially) when it means that you have to let a poor performer go.   You all know that I’m a big believer in job fit.  Finding a role that leverages your strengths is critical for success.  For some, finding the right role can be a process of trial and error, using our failures to course correct is a part of personal growth.  Sometimes coaching and role adjustment can turn a lack-luster performer into a star.   But we all know that there are times when the problem is not just job fit, it is job attitude.

When an individual has a negative attitude you are dealing with a cancer that impacts the whole team.  It is the job of the manager to resolve the situation quickly and fairly.  Too often, weak managers resolve their situation by creating an employee hot potato.  These disgruntled employees find themselves sharing (and often compounding) their negative attitudes across multiple groups as they bounce from manager to manager, each too weak to take action.

Moving performance problems around the organization is one of the worse kinds of management cop-outs. It is not honest for the individual and it is not good for the company.  It is not leadership, it’s cowardly.

I am well aware that the process of resolving performance problems takes considered thought and diligence.  Even when attempting to do the right thing, it is often not black and white.   We all want to make sure we have given enough chances to the employee and have done our best to coach them to improvement.  I would not want anyone to take this process lightly.  I would just like to encourage you all to make sure you are honest with yourselves that you are not perpetuating performance problems in other groups, because you are too lazy to deal with them yourself.

If you are not sure, get help from your HR team.  HR professionals can support you through the tough job of coaching the team member to acceptable performance or terminating.  It is the role of HR to make sure that the process is fair for the employee, the impacted team and the company.

Repeat after me, no more employee hot potatoes!

Posted in hr, leadership, management, teams | Tagged: , , | 6 Comments »

Leading the Informal Learning Revolution

Posted by Ken Klaus on September 19, 2008

Last week I attended the CLO Breakfast Seminar in San Francisco, hosted by CLO Media, where we discussed how to define, deliver and measure learning’s value to an organization – essentially how do we justify the time and money we spend providing learning opportunities for our employees.  Now the hippie in me needs to tell you that there is absolutely no reason to ever defend the time and expense of training your workforce.  Learning is an end in itself and I think in this case the ends definitely justify the means.  But the reality is most of us hippies moved out of the commune and into the corporation a long time ago, which means we do have to justify how we spend our company’s training dollars.


Truthfully, this used to be a far easier task, because the way learning was consumed (mainly in the classroom) gave instructors the opportunity to immediately evaluate the impact of the course material using surveys and assessments; but over the past several years learning has undergone some significant changes.  The classroom is no longer the center of the learning experience.  Social networking, the new informal delivery methods like blogging, wikis chats, forums, etc., and the introduction of millennials into the workforce have radically reshaped how employees both work and learn.


At last weeks CLO seminar, Bob Lee, Learning Solution Strategist for Cisco, stated that today most companies are still investing nearly 70% of their learning budgets in traditional learning methodologies (classroom training, self-paced desktop courses, webinars, etc.) even though nearly 70% of the learning employees consume is now through informal methods, like blogs, wikis, forums, chats, etc.  This means learning executives not only must adapt their learning programs to accommodate these new methodologies, but they must also lead the way in demonstrating the value these new tools bring to the organization.  The question is, how do we measure the value of informal learning?


At Oracle we’ve been using social networking and informal learning tools for a good while now, at least within the applications division, and from what I’ve observed there are some easy ways for learning administrators to gauge the value of informal learning brings to their business.  They can start by simply asking their employees – ask them which of these tools they are using, how often they use them, and how effective they are.  They should also ask how often the employee simply consumes information vs. how often they contribute to the knowledge base as authors, responders or reviewers; because I think active participation vs. passive consumption is the best measurement of the value these tools bring to your organization.


In addition to employee based valuation, learning executives must also link these informal learning methodologies to the employee’s profile, performance and development plans.  The simple fact is people want credit for the learning they complete and today most learning management systems only record the learning in which an employee formally enrolls.  Very few solutions provide a way to capture the informal learning (the 70% or more) employees consume; not to mention a way of integrating this content with performance goals and development plans.  Oracle’s Enterprise Learning Management application includes a supplemental learning tool that allows administrators to define and configure non-traditional learning methods like blogging, wikis, and forums which employees can then use to create custom learning records.  Afterwards, these entries can be associated with specific learning objectives and performance goals which are in turn reflected on the employee’s profile record.  This is one way to give employees credit for the informal learning they complete, but learning management solution providers must get beyond the traditional enrollment model and begin to rethink the way learning is delivered and consumed.

Finally, learning executives need to make a commitment to informal learning.  Peruse any edition of your favorite talent management publication, attend any talent management conference, or browse any of the talent management blogs on the internet today and what you will find is a vast dialogue on the social networking – informal learning – web 2.0 revolution.  This revolution is not something that’s coming – it’s here already; and learning executives ought to be the architects and champions of these new methodologies.  They should be leading the fight to demonstrate the value and effectiveness of informal learning – not only in reducing costs, but also in supporting and achieving the business objectives of their company; because learning methodologies will come and go, but good leadership will always be in-style.

Posted in leadership, learning, performance, profiles, social network | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

One for all, and all for one

Posted by Ken Klaus on July 1, 2008

I’m sure many of you will recognize the blog title as the rallying call in Alexandre Dumas’ story, The Three Musketeers.  One of the most memorable scenes for me occurs at the end of the story, at least in the movie version, when d’Artagnan is finally confronted by a man (and his posse) who has been pursuing him throughout the movie.  When the newly commissioned musketeer steps forward to face his enemy, the other musketeers Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 also advance and remind d’Artagnan, “we don’t just protect the king; we protect each other as well.”  At which point the four musketeers are joined by the entire regiment and d’Artagnan’s enemy drops his sword and runs for his life.

I’m fortunate to work on a team which has embraced the “one for all, and all for one” mind-set.  We have a shared set of values that define and guide our team: respect, honesty, collaboration, accountability, integrity, and sincerity.  We’ve learned the best way to ensure success is to cooperate with rather than to compete against one another.  We celebrate the accomplishments of individual team members and we support one another professionally as well as personally.  Most of the challenges we face as a team are project related – short deadlines, unexpected fire drills, software and hardware meltdowns, etc.  We rarely have people related problems, mainly because our management team takes quick and decisive action to address these issues, either by educating the worker on our shared values or, on rare occasions, managing them out of the organization.  Sadly, I know not all teams are as fortunate and interpersonal conflict can be a serious problem, especially when the team must deal with a bully.

Bullies are easy to spot.  They’re egocentric; they value their own ideas above the ideas of others; they take no pleasure in seeing others succeed; and they never say they’re sorry – even on those rare occasions when they admit to being wrong.  Dealing with a bully can be tough.  When confronted most bullies immediately assume the role of the victim.  They become defensive and often resort to empty threats, like quitting, or calling in a higher authority.  It takes courage to confront a bully and a manager must be prepared for the worst, because many bullies can’t be rehabilitated and must be managed out.

It’s difficult to understand why any manager would tolerate a bully for very long; but I think there may be a couple of reasons.  First, an inexperienced manager may not recognize or know how to address bully behavior when they see it.  Another possible explanation is that the manager wishes to avoid conflict at any cost and will often ask the employee who is being bullied to simply ignore the problem. They may even go as far as to ask the worker to censor themselves so as not to further aggravate the situation; but a manager who is unwilling to confront a bully only validates the bad behavior and undermines their role as team leader.

If you find yourself confronted by a bully, the best advice I can give you is to not play by their rules and to not go it alone. Bullies thrive on confrontation and expect a negative response. They want to see you get angry and frustrated. So do your best not to show them how you’re feeling. In the mean time, do talk with your manager and if necessary your HR rep. Also share your story with other team members in your organization, because the best defense against a bully is to maintain strong, supportive relationships: one for all, and all for one.

Posted in leadership, management, teams | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

Mistakes Are Just the Icing on the Cake

Posted by Ken Klaus on June 16, 2008

I have friend who is a total foodie. He has no problem spending Sunday mornings sprawled on the couch watching a full week of recordings from the Food Network. One of my his favorite shows is Ace of Cakes, which follows the adventures of master pastry chef Duff Goldman and his posse of extreme cake makers at Charm City Cakes. My friend thinks the employees at this company have achieved career nirvana: the perfect blend of fun, imagination, inspiration, and sugar. For the uninitiated, each week Duff and his crack team of decorators create edible works of art. From corvettes and roller skates to bulldogs and baseball stadiums, no challenge is too big. Their motto: You dream it, we’ll bake it, you eat it! Unfortunately, even with good planning and near perfect execution accidents happen. Some mistakes are made by the staff, like spilling food dye on a finished cake; while other problems are completely out of their control, like traffic jams, potholes and the weather. Fortunately Duff, ever the master of cool, is rarely phased by these mishaps. In fact he expects things will go wrong from time to time and tells his staff not to dwell on the problem, but to concentrate on how to make things right. Not surprisingly, some of the most creative moments on the show happen when things do not go as planned.

Over the years I’ve made some pretty spectacular blunders myself – from sending out emails in a moment of anger, to deleting a semester’s worth of grades a week before graduation when I worked as the Assistant Registrar at a small graduate school outside of Boston. A mistake our IT department spent the better part of their weekend fixing. I’ve also had to deal with problems that were out of my control, things like shifting project priorities, organizational upheaval, technological meltdowns, and psychotic co-workers – but that’s a topic for another post.

When things go wrong often our first impulse is to fix the blame before we fix the problem; when our primary focus should always be to make things right. Once the problem is resolved we should also take time and reflect on the how and why of our mistake. Though this process can sometimes be a painful exercise, I believe our most profound learning experiences happen not when we succeed, but when we fail – and very few individuals, if any, have ever succeeded without making mistakes along the way. Perseverance, not perfection, leads to success. So if success is the cake we enjoy when things go right, then let the icing on the cake be the lessons we learn when we fail.

Posted in leadership, learning, management | Tagged: , , , | 7 Comments »