Wednesday, April 11, 2007

People processes in the New World

My colleagues, in the profession, and I have often discussed on integrative people processes in organizations by which we mean that the entire organizational life cycle of an employee will be governed by a single vision which in turn will touch his/her org life at various stages through regulations, interventions, development and transition. Often all the well-meaning efforts by Business Managers and HR get nullified due to lack of integration and a larger vision on people processes flowing from the Organisational Vision and Goals.
Those thoughts were at one level.
As I read, think and talk more and more on the level playing field in economies and societies across the world, I wonder how the integrated HR Value Chain will take shape in the New World in Transition.

We ‘do’ it differently Now
The concept of business has changed. We no longer conceptualise, design and manufacture goods to be sold across the road. We mostly create digitized services and pack them through fibre channels across the world. When we do create products (like the baby products I referred to, in my previous post) we do all of it real-time. We do usability studies in emerging economies where there is a booming population with huge purchasing power, design it in talent rich places; get the final zing from the sophisticated expertise of the Old World and manufacture it where the regulations are friendly, labour cheap and assembly lines are tireless. My organization defines, designs, creates and populates a product platform in India and offers it as a digitized service (SAS) to clients in the US. We do the information mining, texting and structuring in India and thereby hone our clients’ decision making skills in the developed financial markets abroad. It is all about across the time zones, climates and culture. (Our CEO even names his blog page on a time zone)

Different HR realities in the ‘differently done business’ world

Talent Acquisition
Talent is spread all over the world and the employer-employee relation is undergoing major change. It can be a contract defined by content of delivery, time period, expertise and knowledge sharing rather than a full time commitment basis a work-day.
We are increasingly using professional networks/international organisations (e.g. LinkedIn, Ryze, SHRM, IEEE etc) to search for the expertise and social networks (e.g. Orkut, Tagged) to break into communities of professionals to understand their preferences and views before we can even think of offering to hire them. We are consulting employment law experts from the country of the consultant to define specialized contracts. We lure them with our flexibility to let them work virtually, pursue their research/interests, maintain their greater life goals and yet lend us their expertise.
In this scenario, our age old teaching of understanding body language and using graphology to read behind the façade of the candidate are redundant. There is talent with its characteristics and you buy it, much like browsing the shelves of huge marts to pick up a brand of cheese or chocolate.

Retention—do we aspire for it at all?
The challenge is that statutory laws are unique and diverse and professionals like us are looking at international certification to have a window into the lives and laws of our well spread employees.
Then there are those corporates who have taken over behemoths in developed countries which already have established norms, benefits and commitments made to the employees. It is a challenge for HR to maintain those and yet create value through higher ROCE on people.
However it is interesting to note how the level playing field has made certain age groups of population across the world quite homogeneous. Given a certain socio-economic eligibility, most new entrants in the job market eat, talk, dress, learn and get entertained similarly across the world. But they might have different aspirations given their society and upbringing. And that is the most difficult thing to catch for so-called ‘Talent Magnets’. But since the life cycle has been drastically brought down, what we rather do is manage and document tangible knowledge and let go of the rest.

Organisational Intervention—unique, every moment
is no longer a planned process across structure, systems and processes. We are amoebic in structure, we do as the Romans do and we set processes to see value gets created. Our talent is not committed to us beyond this moment.

That’s the end of the story or creation of a new story, whichever way you wish to look at it. Hence diversity and cross cultural sensitivity is of such prime importance for managing people across boundaries. People and organizational development is no longer a singularly defined method.
How we pan out the original organizational goal through such diverse and multi-cultural lands and people should be our primary concern now.

In the flat world, while at one end, there is immense scope for People Professionals to make a difference by being flexible and insightful and by seeing the storm before it hits us, at the other end, if you ask me, it is the death of my profession especially as I have been told and taught in school.

Today’s People Professionals
1.Ought to be soothsayers or naysayers with the ability to tell the business logically where they should tread in search of value through human-effort.
2.Cannot be vague and without data-points. The age of rhetoric in managing people processes is over.
3.Should be hard core sellers of ideas. I increasingly see myself as a seller of my vision and idea to the Business.
4.Should provide customized solutions once the ideas get sold.
Should have the implementation ability to pull off the idea and the solution to create credibility and
5.Should stay in the ‘business’ by reinventing themselves everyday. I no longer have a set process of dealing with my people and it gives me cold sweat.

People professionals like me might be increasingly crowding themselves out of sleek businesses. And that led me to think of this post. However while starting with modes of integrating the HR Value Chain, I concluded that while we are planning to shape up we might just get shipped out…so much for a cliché!

Hail the soothsaying People Professional with a third eye on the effervescent flat world.


Krish said...


Why sound so low...? Label yourself as one that sees HR as a function that replaces people driven systems to system driven people.

Get a life !

Marisol said...

Interesting to know.