Friday, March 2, 2007

Human Resources as I am experiencing it

HR in Startups (KPO's /BPO's/Consulting)–Some Reflections by an esteemed and much senior colleague recently led me to think about how we are organizing and setting up processes in our organization
As I had mentioned earlier we are a start-up into our second year involved in company research, which we offer through our patent-awaited product platform. Our business is niche. We employ people with proven academic track records and more often than not we are on the look out for very specific areas of specialization and skills. Given this, it is a great challenge for us to initiate robust systems so that we not only give a good base to our people processes, we also go a long way in developing and thereby retaining our valued workforce.
To begin with, we have two clear verticals within HR. One is responsible for Talent Acquisition and Employee Relations and the other for Talent Management.
As the owner of the second piece, I have my work cut out. We really do not have the luxury to expend a lot of resources on setting up processes and challenges are aplenty. Hence I often find myself doing a little bit of everything and thereby losing focus on the main piece (as has been mentioned in the post I tagged above). But we are learning fast.
The main challenges that I face as the owner of Talent Management piece are:
# A highly evolved middle management team, who have joined us looking for freedom to experiment, learn and get rewarded in the process. Are we able to give them that experience?
# A junior management team who have been loyal and have chosen us right in the beginning of our life and by virtue of their vintage have progressed up the ladder. How do we differentiate them on the basis of performance, valuing their loyalty yet building a meritocratic organization?
# Alternatives for our employees are many and varied. How do we engage them and maximize their satisfaction given the constraints of cost, organizational life stage and maturity of people capability?
# How will the Talent Management piece fit like the other end of a puzzle to make the rest of our processes like Talent Acquisition, Employee relations and separation a single whole?
# How do I hone my team and my own skills to contribute fairly?

To institutionalize Talent Acquisition processes,
# We have started building relationships with various sources like B school/special school campuses, manpower vendors and especially existing employees. Our co-founders have employed their networks, both online and offline and the resources of their alma maters.
# We have developed extensive Hiring Kits and have identified Hiring Managers across the different functions who’d partner with HR in the process
# We are in the process of drawing up behavioural and functional competencies for every role
# We are looking at various methods like BEI, Case Interview, Role Playing and psychometrics to capture the identified competencies.

Parallely on the HR operations front, we are looking at
# Selecting a cost effective HRMS (Human Resource Management System) meant for SMEs which has the flexibility to key in our specific customization demands and at the same time has scalability
# Cleaning and channelising processes like employee joining, induction (we have one of the best and most comprehensive induction programs for our Research Associates) and maintenance of employee database which have come to be in the last year of our existence before HR could formally take over
# We have outsourced payroll but right now we have cleared specific roles and work flows for the inputs to be passed to the vendors through appropriate checks and balances
# We are in the process of designing an HR page on the Intranet which can be later merged with the Employee Self Service on the HRMS

However the pressing need, right now, is to develop supervisory skills in our front line managers who are managing people of same age group and for the first time. I have been talking to individual trainers, specific schools and experts to arrive at a method to go about it. We need supervisors and they need to see growth in terms of compensation and designation to stay put.
I am also devising a performance management ethic for the organization from the Organisational Vision and Values. This would incorporate the Competency Dictionary we are otherwise developing and thereby take on the next level of career development and succession planning.

My friend here doesn’t think too highly of my efforts given the vision and dreams of his former colleagues who have co-founded this organization. However I see value in his concept of HR as a people supply chain function, I have always been a great believer of integrated systems in HR. And we are trying to learn from the world around as we trip and again put our act together.

You will hear more from me on our little milestones, successes and learning on this page.

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