Identifying employees that have leadership mettle

Identifying people with leadership skills is perhaps the most important task for an organization that has its eyes on the future. Every organization has employees from across the rank and file with leadership capabilities that can take the organization forward. It is just that many of them never get to the limelight, as a result of which they leave out of frustration. In many organizations, even after such employees have left; the impact is never realized fully, because the reason for which they left was something the organization created in the first place.

Put a system in place

To avoid such a situation, the organization has to have an efficient system of identifying leadership skills in an employee. There are various ways by which this is done. The nearest and easiest person to identify a tyro with leadership potential is the manager to whom he reports. He is the most vital source for spotting and nurturing leadership skills. Rookies who have just begun their career will report to a manager who has no idea at the beginning about the new recruit’s potential.

The manager is the ideal person

This manager should be the first contact through whom the leadership skill is recognized and given shape to. With no prejudice towards that employee, the manager should make an objective assessment of such skills. The manager should try out by giving assignments and challenges in a graded manner. Since the novice is at the manager’s total disposal; he can try out various combinations and permutations of identifying skills.

Test the beginner in a variety of ways

He can start by allotting simple tasks. If the new recruit achieves the task with ease, he can be tried for greater roles, all of which demand good leadership skills. A good candidate is one who takes every task as a challenge and gets fuelled by greater complexity levels. Doing this consistently should be easy for the manager to locate and then if need be, refine these skills.

There are a few drawbacks

Often, the flip side of this exercise is that the manager could end up overrating an employee in whom he subconsciously sees a reflection of his own management style, which may be far from perfect. Spotting leadership mettle can suffer other drawbacks, too. There are innumerable instances in which a manager’s blue-eyed body is the one who is most favored for promotions.

Dealing with experienced employees

If this is the case of handling rookies, there are other occasions on which people with leadership potential are gifted to an organization on a platter. When employees are consistently denied leadership growth, one organization’s loss is another’s gain. All that an organization needs to do is to recruit the frustrated employee. Once he has been recruited, a simple thing the new organization can do is to give him opportunities of the kind he was missing earlier on. This will bring about many benefits by bringing the best out of him.

It will motivate the employee highly, because he is freshly out of the old organization. He will show the enthusiasm of a proselyte and work in the new organization till he drops dead. The other major benefit is that such an employee will be easy to retain.

Manager is important here too

Here too, the manager is the most important person in identifying leadership potential. Of course, since this kind of employee is not raw and carries some experience; it calls for different dynamics. The experienced employee may have ego issues with the new manager. Or he could have other issues like reluctance to carry out instructions. These factors have to be taken into account in such situations. It calls for handling such persons with suave. They would not like to be shouted at, which is a small luxury for a manager dealing with a greenhorn.

HR can help

For these bottlenecks to be overcome, HR has to step in. It can, in fact, initiate the entire process. To make sure that spotting leadership in the organization is a collective process and one that is free of errors of the type we saw; irrespective of the experience of the employee that joins the organization, HR can start identifying leadership potential from day one of the employee’s tenure.

It can interact with the manager on a regular basis and keep itself updated on the progress the employee that the manager has identified as one with leadership potential, is making. It could keep a close watch on this employee’s attitude towards work and life. It could be a good point of contact between this employee’s manager and the top management.

Ensure objectivity

Another important way by which HR can play an active role in the process is by placing or being a filter in the selection of the employee with leadership potential. We saw that there are a few drawbacks in the method of identifying leadership skills. HR is the best suited department to ensure that the manager does not show favoritism or is not erring in his judgment. It can use its own assessment skills to cross check and reinforce the manager’s choice. This will ensure that the organization reaps the best out of the employee with leadership potential.

There is one point that HR needs to address when it is doing this. HR itself has to be completely free of prejudice. If it is assigned the task of verifying the manager’s choice and carries a bad memory of the manager, it is likely to mar a bright prospect.

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Hiring strategies that demonstrate common sense

Any organization that needs well-suited and professional employees need to put effective hiring strategies in place. It is, after all, hiring strategies that give the organization the people it needs. When well-crafted, effective hiring strategies are in place; the hiring process becomes smooth. The most important benefit of putting sound hiring strategies in place is that they help the organization get the right fit, which is the perfect means to taking it along the growth path.

Many organizations have their own hiring strategies. Some are suited for some kinds of industries, while the same practices may not be appropriate in others. Generally, these are some of the hiring strategies an organization can think of:

Provide the most appropriate job description

The starting point for locating the best candidates is to fill the ad with the best and most realistic description of the role. This is the basis for good hiring strategies, because the candidate’s first point of reference to the new job is the job description. This is the handshake between the candidate and the company. Even small deviations from the actual requirement should be avoided. Making the job description as crisp and near to reality as possible is among the primary hiring strategies an organization can employ.

Avoid jumping to conclusions about candidates:

The HR in many organizations makes the mistake of jumping the gun when it comes to assessing the candidate’s abilities. A glib candidate is likely to be favored by most in the selection process. But HR and senior management have to understand that a good first impression is not everything. It may carry many misconceptions about the candidate, because many have the ability of masking their abilities and achievements with their excellent articulation skills.

Ask for proof of skills and experience

Experienced HR and management professionals have the ability of not getting swayed by such candidates’ sweet talk. What they do is to ask for demonstration of their qualities. They ask for specific situations where the candidate has actually performed as claimed. One of the easiest ways of seeing through such candidates is to ask for specific instances of a sales deal. They can then check with that company if that has been true.

Set their best employees as benchmarks

Another of the effective hiring strategies for organizations is to look upon their best performing employees as the point of reference while hiring new employees. Mature and experienced HR and management ask themselves how the candidate who is being interviewed measures up to the organization’s best employees. They assess the abilities in relation to the skills and abilities of the cream of the organization, and take into consideration factors like how their interview went, what were the sticking points and so on. Wise hiring strategies include methods of assessing whether this candidate has the potential to be among the organization’s best, how soon the present employee who is being interviewed will match up to the organization’s best, and what is needed to take her to that level.

 References:

http://www.rgba.com/article_hiringstrategy_.htm

http://www.hiringstrategies.com/products/profile_xt.htm

http://www.marketingpower.com/Careers/Pages/Hiringtipsandstrategies.aspx

 

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Employee Assistance Programs

Employee Assistance Programs (EAP’s), as the term suggests, are programs or initiatives undertaken by the employer to assist an employee in bettering her work. This is why Employee Assistance Programs are important for an organization to put in place. Employee Assistance Programs are helpful for both the employee and the organization.

How are Employee Assistance Programs helpful?

Let us examine how Employee Assistance Programs are a very useful tool towards improving productivity. Say, the employer allows an employee flexible working hours. This will mean less stress for the employee who now longer has to battle her way through the traffic leaving home at a time when her kid needs her attention. Isn’t this a great benefit to the employee? When employees are offered benefits like this, they are certain to be star performers. This is simple again, because the ball is now in their court.

When the employer has provided them the benefit or convenience they were seeking, they have no reason not to perform. In fact, it is a double edged sword for the employer, because it can now get the best out of the employee. It can even dangle the stick of blackmail! Employees will treasure their relationship with the organization and will have very remote thoughts of leaving for another employment. This way, Employee Assistance Programs are very powerful tools in facilitating a high degree of loyalty and productivity.

The dynamics of Employee Assistance Programs

A few things need to be understood when an organization decides to implement Employee Assistance Programs.

  1. Employee Assistance Programs are not for everyone: Firstly, these are not suited for everyone and for every kind of work. They are good for some kinds of work in the New Economy. Let us say a retail salesman wants to telecommute. How is this ever possible?
  2. A high degree of trust is required: Many a time, many organizations entrust confidential work to some of their employees. When employees who are given such work want to work remotely, organizations will need to put some checks and surveillances in place, which could defeat the purpose of the concept of Employee Assistance Programs.
  3. No program lasts forever: Another important element of Employee Assistance Programs is that these keep changing over time. A program that is good for implementation at one point of time may not be so a few years down the line. HR has to be discrete in deciding on this from time to time. Overall, Employee Assistance Programs need to be exercised with tact and have to be reviewed from time to time.

References:

http://searchcio.techtarget.com/definition/employee-assistance-program

http://www.dhrm.virginia.gov/genlbenefits/employeeassistance.html

 

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HR best practices

Like in every other field, there are best practices in HR, too. HR plays an important role in many of the organization’s decision making; hence, it is proper that there should be a set of HR best practices.

The foremost fact we have to bear in mind is that best practices are always subjective and prone to flux. Some practices may constitute best practices today, but could lose their relevance tomorrow. Or they could bounce back to the top of the list of best practices a day after tomorrow. HR best practices belong to this category. This is because most HR practices keep changing over time. Although they are relevant in the long run; the order of many HR best practices keeps varying over time.

So, when making a list of HR best practices, we have to admit that they are highly subjective and personal. There are no absolutes among HR best practices. A list for consideration:

Focus on the best quality recruitment

This appears like a no-brainer, corny best practice. But make no mistake: HR’s primary goal is to recruit the organization’s employees, who go on to become its lifeblood. So, when it comes to recruitment, HR should have the best tools for recruitment ready, and has to be very alert and efficient in making effective use of these. It should make sure that too much time is not wasted on looking out for candidates or on calling up the wrong ones. HR should be on its toes when it comes to the selection process. It should be nimble, smart and in complete alignment with management on the type of candidate it needs. It should further gauge the candidate’s temperament, attitude and outlook in quick time at the time of the interview. The best indicator of implementation of HR best practices is in how effectively and quickly HR fills up positions.

Creating and nurturing organizational culture

Next to recruiting, creating and nurturing organizational culture should be next in the list of HR best practices. HR’s thinking should be synchronous with the organization’s; as a result, the two should work harmoniously to create an organizational culture that unambiguously states what the organization is, and what employees should expect from it. Many globally recognized organizations are known as much for their products as for their culture. So, creating, preserving and growing organizational culture is one of the paramount HR best practices.

Enabling faster and complete automation

If HR has to move with the times and shed its beaten-to-death image of being the organization’s outdated laggard, it has to get a solid grip on automation. HR should take the initiative towards bringing about faster and effective automation. Today, software applications are available in the market for almost every bit of work that HR does. If it still chooses to stay behind and refuse to automate its day-to-day work; it will have only itself to blame for not keeping up with the times. The faster it moves ahead with automation, the greater the time it will have for its core functions. This should surely qualify for being among the important HR best practices.

 

References:

https://www.openforum.com/articles/10-best-practices-for-your-human-resources-department/

http://www.employwise.com/cafe-hr/hr-best-practices.html

http://hrdailyadvisor.blr.com/archive/2013/01/28/HR_Policies_Procedures_Masnagement_Best_Practices_2013.aspx

 

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Compensation strategies

Compensation strategies are one of the most important aspects of work. A satisfied employee is a loyal employee. Compensation strategies play a vital role in keeping or forsaking employees. Many organizations base their compensation strategies on substance rather than just financial reward. An organization’s pay rate may just be on par with that of the market, but it could be offering many other benefits that could more than compensate for the not-so-high salary.

Two differing packages

Let us examine two scenarios of different compensation strategies: Company A is paying as highly as the market rates each position commands. It pays no other “extras” such as bonus, incentives, share options and other such benefits. Its compensation strategies could be about bare body as one could imagine: only pay and minimal extras. However, Company A has put in place an employee policy that is difficult to match.

It offers day care for employees’ children, permits employees, especially mothers, to work from home during flexible and convenient working hours, enables subsidized education for children of employees, offers leased accommodation by which employees need not have to worry about paying hefty rents for their homes, offers free lunch at select hotels for families on particular days of the week, and discourages employees to work beyond office hours, so that they could concentrate on family work. These qualify for sound compensation strategies.

Less benefits, more pay

Company B adapts different compensation strategies. Its pay is in excess of what the rest of the market pays. However, it does not concentrate too much on family-oriented programs, but offers other benefits –in limited measure –like stock options and facilities such as transportation.

These are typical, contradictory scenarios where compensation strategies are worked out.

Based on organizational values

There is no fixed rule for how companies should keep compensation strategies in place. It is entirely up to the management to decide what suits them and the employees best. However, compensation strategies have to necessarily include something more than just the pay, or else they would be called just pay packages. Most companies decide what is best for them based on their policies and what they want to give their employees. The policy that works best is one that helps to retain good employees.

Reference:

http://answers.mheducation.com/management/compensation/compensation-strategy

 

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Why conduct career development programs?

Career development programs are a great way to move up along the career ladder by upgrading one’s skills. When conducted properly, they can go a long way in helping the staff advance in their career path. Career development programs are a means to ensuring that employees at various grades get the necessary skills that are needed for going up further.

Why are they needed?

One central question many people may be tempted into asking is this: if employees are in need of training, why were they selected in the first place? Isn’t an employee selected for the skills she possesses? The answer is to be found in the fact that a candidate may have most of the skills and experience needed for being in the job, but may lack that one vital skill that is going to make her more competent for the job. It is like being 90 percent qualified or skilled; the last 10 percent is fulfilled by the training program. This is the importance of career development programs.

What kinds of programs are needed?

Career development programs are generally focused on giving that finishing or final touch to the employee. The employees could carry closely related skills, but may lack in that one pinpointed aspect that is needed for finessing and refining the skillset. Let us assume some advances take place in the industry or some development or regulation requires adaption of new guidelines into the working area. This is where specialized career development programs help, because they are focused to the point and are tailored to help employees understand that one cog lacking in the wheel.

Parallel skills

Conversely, candidates could also be in need of a few skills that may not form essential part of the job, but could be good add-ons to have in order to improve their working life. A good example of this kind of training is English courses for nonnative speakers. With the prevalence of English becoming stronger with the advent of globalization, many organizations could train up their employees with something like conversational or written English. This type of career development program is aimed at supplementing their profile and making it easy for them to move into the mainstream. Many a time, putting technical or creative skills into better use could be getting inhibited because of lack of supplemental skills. A career development program that is well planned and structured could accomplish the goal of closing this gap.

Reference:

http://www.explorehr.org/articles/Career_Management/Career_Development_Program.html

 

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Use of psychometric tests by HR

Mature and professional HR in any organization realizes that its most important contribution to the organization is in finding the right people and more importantly, making the organization retain them. People are the most valuable resource in any organization, and nothing is more satisfying for HR than to provide the organization the perfect fit.

Resilience matters more than anything else

So, how does HR size up the “perfect candidate” for any suitable position? Of course, the usual parameters are skill sets, qualifications and experience. But there is something that is of paramount importance, something that is a far better indicator of a person’s suitability than all these, and that is the candidate’s temperament. While qualifications, skills and experience are more obvious, there is no hint in any of these that the candidate has the most important quality the organization looks for –tenacity. This is the defining difference between good and great candidates.

Something like IQ and EQ

We can draw a parallel between this quality and emotional intelligence. In the past, if a person had a good intelligence quotient (IQ), it was considered a hallmark of exceptional ability. But over the years, psychoanalysts came round to the conclusion that intelligence and knowledge in themselves were not a sufficient measure or necessary yardstick of a person’s ability.

They identified one quality that was far superior as a marker of their character, and that was fortitude. This is what is termed as emotional intelligence, or the ability to be intuitive and smart in crunch situations. This requires being able to think on one’s feet and come up with offhand solutions to any unforeseen situation, rather than rely on textbook knowledge, which cannot answer questions beyond a point.

Psychometric tests to gauge the candidate’s ability to withstand pressure

This, in a nutshell, is what smart candidacy is all about. Qualifications and experience do matter, but what is more critical is the ability to solve real-life issues, challenges and difficulties. A good psychometric analysis by HR will help identify these qualities in a candidate.

How does HR do it? One simple method could be to ask tough, or what are called smart questions at the time of the interview. A good candidate may have had a decade’s experience in handling and working on set systems, but the smart candidate is one who has known how to use common sense in resolving challenges. HR could pinpoint and ask for specific situations in which the candidate resolved issues using commonsense rather than application of rote knowledge. It could verify from its sources with the current employer if the claims were true. It could put a number of such posers to the candidate and come to some conclusion about this all-important quality of a great candidate.

Reference:

http://www.1stexecutive.com.au/improve-recruitment-/psych-assessments

 

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