HCI Blog

Archive from May 2014

The Different Ways People Handle Ethical Issues in the Workplace

According to a Gallup poll, only 21 percent of people characterized business executives as having “high” ethical standards—a little above lawyers (19 percent), but below bankers (28 percent) and journalists (28 percent). Whether that’s deserved or not, it’s nevertheless true that executives set the ethical tone at their companies. But employees have the power to improve it.

Employees encounter ethical dilemmas at work all the time. A manager is having an affair. A co-worker is spending company time contacting headhunters. A team member is using information acquired at a former job, despite having signed a noncompete agreement.

We all have an inner guide that knows the right thing to do. We just don’t always follow it. For some employees, the ability to act ethically is strong and feels very natural; others need practice sharpening their ethical sense and learning how to apply it better in real-life situations.

We tend to react to ethical situations in the workplace in a specific way, depending on our background, level of training, and personality. Here are the four ethical types I’ve found in my work:


The conformist

He is an employee who follows rules rather than questions authority figures. One might think this person could be counted on always to do the right thing. The conformist might look the other way, however, if a higher-up were acting unethically. After all, a manager is supposed to be obeyed. This person will run into work-related conflicts unless there are strict rules and well-defined consequences for not following them.


The negotiator

This is someone who tries to make up rules as he goes. When faced with a sketchy situation—say, a co-worker is drinking on her lunch hour—this person might wait to see if the behavior affects his job in any way, to see if the drinking gets any worse, or to see if anyone else notices. The negotiator will eventually encounter ethics-related trouble if he is required to exercise judgment without guidelines, because this person changes the rules according to what seems easiest at the time.


The navigator

He is someone who, when confronted with a situation in which people are behaving unethically, is able rely on an innate ethical sense to guide her actions, even if these decisions aren’t easy. This person has a sound moral compass, which provides the flexibility to make choices, even unpopular ones. The navigator’s ethical sense imbues her with qualities of leadership. Other people respect, and count on this person. The navigator will succeed in most organizations but will leave a company that is unethical.


The wiggler

He doesn’t give a lot of thought to what is right. Instead, this person takes the route that’s most advantageous to him. For example, he may lie to appease a supervisor. The wiggler is motivated by self-interest—getting on a manager’s good side or avoiding conflict. The wiggler will run into trouble when others sense that he dodges ethical issues to protect his own interests.

The good news is that your ethical type isn’t set in stone. There are tools you can use to become a more ethical employee and problem solver. With practice, you can make ethical decisions more easily, and more quickly see and follow the right path.



SOURCE: BusinessWeek

Talent Acquisition: The New Frontier

New-age practices and tools like talent screeners help recruiters reduce cost, increase efficiency

Talent acquisition professionals in India are facing challenging times as the role of a recruiter in driving business outcomes has continued to increase over the years. Many factors have contributed to the increasing importance of the talent acquisition role. Recruiters have a greater pressure to hire high quality talent to fill fewer but more critical job positions.

The recruiter’s role has evolved a long way since the days when he was required to shortlist candidates from a few CVs, interview even fewer candidates, and ultimately make an offer to one. What makes a recruiter’s job more difficult is the fact that with the growing number of professionally qualified talent, the number of applications that a recruiter has to sift through everyday has steadily increased over the years.

At the same time, recruiters in India are also experiencing a very unique paradox— plenty to choose from but very few that qualify! Experienced industry professionals remark that although recruiters are seeing an increase in the number of candidates who have the academic credentials to be eligible for job positions, very few candidates meet the bar on quality to qualify for shortlisting.

NASSCOM’s 2011 India talent market research suggests that only 25 per cent of the talent from professional courses in India are readily employable.

What lends more difficulty to a recruiter’s daily job is the fact that he has very few tools at his disposal to identify the right candidate for a role. While the size of databases in job portals have steadily swelled, the services themselves have evolved very little to assist recruiters as well as job seekers to identify the right fit between a profile and a job opportunity. The reliance on professional profile aggregators such as LinkedIn has, therefore, increased and has become one of the major sources of candidate sourcing for many recruiters.

The number of academic institutions that offer professional degrees have increased, but many recruiters have expressed concerns on the quality of pedagogy in these institutions. Graduating batches do not have adequate skills to be effective in professional jobs. Owing to cost constraints and the demands of the consumer market, a company also does not have the time and space to groom talent.

The TA Leadership think tank (a People Matters initiative comprising some of the most experienced TA leaders in India) agree that the life of a recruiter has become even more complex because a recruiter is now held accountable for a hire. There is consequently an added pressure on a recruiter to have maximum efficiency and zero error while shortlisting applicants during candidate selections.

In order to make the talent acquisition process more accurate and scientific, some new trends are emerging in the space. These trends span across new-age practices, tools and technology and service-level innovations that are helping recruiting organisations spend lesser time and effort to hire the right candidates.

Talent screeners and job previews

Talent screeners are a great way for a recruiting organisation to filter in candidates with genuine capabilities for interviewing. Talent screeners are skill and situational tests based on experiences that a candidate is likely to encounter during the job. Depending on the results, a candidate will be recommended or discouraged from pursuing a job opportunity.

Another trend likely to pick up quickly in India is the practice of posting realistic previews about the job and the experience of working with the organisation on a career page. These help candidates map their needs and employment preferences with those of the organisation and select or reject opportunities.

Y.V.L. Pandit, Managing Director of SHL India, says, “Companies that are employing such tools for applicants are experiencing far higher hit-rates per opportunity compared to traditional processes.”

Intelligent background verifications and reference checks

While background verifications and reference checks have been around for a while, the rising number of incidents of recruiters receiving fraudulent CVs from under-qualified or over-qualified candidates have given rise to the need for additional checks and validations. Background check service companies are seeing a rise in demand from recruiting companies asking for non-standard verifications, such as social media profiling and informal reference checks.

Behavioural profiling and psychometric assessments

One of the key methods by which a company integrates business outcomes with the talent strategy is by identifying candidates who can take up leadership positions within the company in the future. Recruiting companies now look for measures far beyond aptitude and academic qualifications and hence, more evolved forms of assessment have become part and parcel of an organisation’s talent acquisition plan. These include behavioural profiling and psychometric assessments.

The importance of cautious social media branding

Social media employer branding has evolved from being an option for a recruiting organisation to becoming an integral part of the talent acquisition strategy.

Many progressive companies budget dedicated investments for social media as part of their annual talent acquisition plan. Yashwant Mahadik, Vice President & Head of Human Resources, Philips India & Global Lead Learning Strategy & Philips University, says, “Philips hires from campuses of leading business schools such as the IIMs, ISB and IITs. Recruiters at Philips engage with students in these campuses across the year through social media networks, case study presentations and other academic partnerships rather than engage in a one-time exercise during placements. This helps us build a strong employer brand in our target market.”

SOURCE: People Matters

How Employees Decide to Quit

Employee turnover is very much on the agenda this year. In fact, a report from OI partners has shown that 51 percent of employers surveyed in North America reported higher turnover compared to just 30 percent reporting higher turnover in 2012.

Unsurprisingly, the report also found that 78 percent of employers are concerned about losing high potential talent, and in fact, retaining talent was the number one priority this year, making it a higher priority than hiring new talent, which landed at number two.

As you can see, retaining and/or reinvigorating a superstar is seen as a more effective strategy than finding new talent to fill a gap left by a superstar. This resonates with other studies, which show that promoted individuals tend to outperform external recruits.

So talent management professionals should be focusing on staff retention and one of the ways to do this is to understand the psychology of why employees decide to quit, i.e. what is the psychological process of quitting?

I recently found some research called the unfolding model of voluntary turnover, which seeks to explain the run up to the decision leading to an employee quitting. The research, by Mitchell and Lee, identified five pathways to voluntary turnover, as shown in the image below.


Pathways, 1, 2 and 3

Pathways, 1, 2 and 3 to quitting, which account for around 65 percent of voluntary turnover, start with an initial jarring shock which prompts thoughts of quitting. This shock could result from occurrences such as being passed over for a promotion, an enforced pay cut, a new bad boss, a lower than expected pay rise, etc. In the majority of cases, the decision to leave is largely based around one event/reason.

In pathway 1 and 2, followed by just 10 percent of voluntary leavers, employees leave without another job in place in a short to very short period of time. These employees may be unreachable.

In pathway 3, followed by around 55 percent of all voluntary leavers, employees find a job before leaving meaning there is a relatively long period between the shock event and decision to quit, giving your business time to react.

Pathway 4A and 4B

In pathway 4A and 4B to quitting, followed by around 35 percent of voluntary leavers, the decision to leave follows after a long period of accumulated dissatisfaction resulting from a range of small negative events which accumulate in a ‘drip drip’ capacity. Most voluntary leavers who go down this path get an alternative job offer in hand; so, the time period between deciding to quit and actually quitting can be very long, once again giving your business time to react.

So, what’s the takeaway here? In general, the time between an employee deciding to quit and actually quitting is usually very long, meaning there should be ample time for businesses to turn the employee around assuming they have the appropriate systems in place to spot and remedy employee disengagement.

In fact, I believe that employers wanting to compete effectively in the war for talent should have systems in place to both identify and address disengagement before it becomes critical.


SOURCE: Recruiter.com

Five Global Trends in Talent Management

This is according to the Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (DTTL) Resetting Horizons: Human Capital Trends 2013 report.

The survey of over 1,300 organizations in 59 countries outlines 13 global trends that are driving critical business and human capital decisions. The report explores new approaches in HR, spanning from next generation leadership strategies and open talent economy to focusing on improving the execution of critical HR priorities.

Below you can find the top 5 global trends in talent management

  1. Next generation leadership; The majority of organizations (84 percent) say that developing future leaders is relevant now and in the next three years, but organizations must seek a new leadership model for the age of agility. “Although there is clear focus on developing the next generation of leaders globally, HR executives still need to develop a different approach around development. These strategies must be specific to the business. It’s pervasive and organizations must commit to getting the best results.”
  2. Accelerating organizational change; Eighty-seven percent of respondents see the way in which organizations view change as a top trend. “In today’s fast-paced environment, organizations need to adopt a new way of looking at change and become more results-orientated.”
  3. The war to develop talent Eighty-six percent of respondents reported the shift to development and upgrading skills as a critical trend. “As businesses struggle to fill critical positions at many levels, companies are putting renewed focus on building capabilities, not just finding them.”
  4. Boards are changing the HR game Eighty-two percent of respondents say a growing number of boards are focusing on the role and impact of talent on business performance and risk. This is a step away from the previous focus of boards which was centered on CEO succession and setting compensation for the most senior executives. “Today, organizations know that developing a strategy without considering the talent dimensions creates risks. Boards are recognizing that a business strategy often is a talent strategy.”
  5. Transforming HR to meet new business priorities Eighty-five percent of respondents indicated that organizations are developing HR capabilities that will not only support the business, but enable business strategy. “To fulfill its new role in accelerating business growth, organizations are using HR transformation to design HR and talent systems that can work across geographic boundaries, creating a framework that is flexible enough to support different business models.”

To read the report in full, please click here.


SOURCE: Global Talent Strategy

Top Athletes Use Coaches. Why Don’t CEOs?

Top athletes routinely rely on coaches to help them get even better at what they already do so well. Not so with CEOs, the top performers in their field.

Nearly two-thirds of CEOs do not receive coaching or leadership advice from outside consultants, according to the latest study from the Center for Leadership Development and Research at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, Stanford University’s Rock Center for Corporate Governance, and the Miles Group.

Most CEOs say they would welcome an outside perspective to advance their personal development. Nearly 43 percent of CEOs surveyed rated conflict management skills the area of most concern. Not far behind was sharing leadership (36 percent), listening and communication skills (both 32 percent), and planning skills (25 percent).

CEOs don’t see as great a need to work on their softer skills. Low on the personal development list: compassion (18 percent), interpersonal and persuasion skills (both 14 percent), and motivation (11 percent).

“It’s concerning that so many of them are ‘going it alone,’” says Stephen Miles, chief executive officer of the Miles Group. In an e-mail exchange, Miles explains why so few CEOs have leadership coaches and the best combination of “hard” and “soft” skills:

Nearly two-thirds of CEOs surveyed do not receive outside leadership counsel, but nearly all say they want advice. What’s stopping them?

There is still some residual stigma around coaching that it is somehow “remedial” as opposed to something that enhances high performance, similar to how an elite athlete uses a coach. But there really is not a single top athlete who does not have a coach, and what is also interesting is that most of the greatest coaches in the world were not the best players; just think of “Coach K” [men’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski] at Duke. CEOs should not have insecurity about this issue, and instead see coaching as a tool for improving what is already high performance.

Why are CEOs most interested in developing conflict management and delegation skills?

A CEO’s ability to share leadership and delegate is really about developing an organizational design that will optimize the entire team. By creating an effective complementary leadership structure—which brings in the members of the top team—the CEO can maximize the whole and get more lift. The CEOs who get this right with the correct people around them can excel tremendously.

“Soft” skills are low on the personal improvement list. Should that concern boards? Do these skills have a place in the CEO’s tool kit?

Putting into place this kind of a complementary leadership structure goes hand in hand with coaching and developing people—what some consider “soft” skills. But while many of the most successful leaders are not naturally the best coaches, learning a few simple tools and frameworks for increasing their effectiveness as a coach goes a long way to strengthening and developing the team—and has a strong positive effect on retention.

The challenge for the CEO is that coaching takes a lot of nuance: The goal is to not make someone feel badly about themselves, but to have the person get up the next morning and be excited about trying something new or doing something in a different way.

Is there a balance between soft and hard skills CEOs should strive for?

Conflict management is actually a combination of hard and soft skills, and is critical in the CEO role. Just about anything that gets to the CEO’s desk has an element of pleasing someone and making someone else unhappy. When the CEO avoids conflict, it can shut the whole organization down: Decisions are not made and problems fester, creating a domino effect of unproductive behaviors down the ladder. But conflict shouldn’t be avoided. A CEO who can manage and channel conflict in a constructive way can get to the root of issues, apply rigor to the team’s thinking, and, ultimately, drive the best outcomes. So cultivating this skill can be a powerful tool to help the entire organization.

SOURCE: Bloomberg Businessweek