Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Right Person for the Job

Identifying the people who are more likely to succeed at a given job is a well-proven science with a 100-year heritage. The key is to hire based on what the job requires. While this seems obvious, organizations often struggle to clearly and objectively define job requirements, or they may have difficulty translating broad role expectations - "provide excellent service to new and existing customers" - from a job description into behaviors that can be measured in the hiring process. Designing effective hiring processes starts with a formal, objective accounting of job requirements, elicited from a representative sample of subject-matter experts who know the job requirements well, such as high-performing incumbents, managers or trainers.

Job analysis can be relatively quick and painless, such as an online survey of a representative sample of job experts, incumbents or managers, for example, when studying jobs that are common across organizations, well-understood from previous research, and that don't change much over time. Front-line manager or customer service assistant could fall into this category, as these jobs often involve similar elements such as coaching and supervising a team, and being friendly and service-oriented, respectively.

The job analysis process also can be detailed, involving onsite job shadowing by analysts, detailed focus groups and interviews, which makes more sense for unique jobs, new or changing roles, or situations where involving stakeholders to this degree makes the effort worthwhile, such as union environments or large-scale change management initiatives. Job analysis is also flexible enough to consider what the job requires today and what will be required in the future, if this is an important hiring consideration.

In general, the resulting job requirements generally fall into three categories:

1. Readiness:
What people need to be able to do on day one to be minimally successful.

2. Potential:
What the performance requirements are for acceptable and exceptional performance.

3. Fit:

What the working conditions are and what it is like to work there.

Once the job is understood, the recipe for designing a scientific hiring system is simple:

1. Identify the people requirements - what attributes make people succeed or fail in the role.

2. Determine which requirements the organization intends to select for versus those it will seek to develop in new hires via on-boarding and on-the-job training.

3. Build a formal assessment program to measure potential talent.

4. Assess who shows up and try to hire the best.

This can be easier said than done. Identifying people requirements is difficult; scientists have been studying this for a century and are still developing the answers. Moving from job tasks and accountabilities and company culture to tests and interviews that provide good predictive information, requires a deep understanding of previous research on job performance prediction, methodologies to reliably develop new instruments and exercises that perform as expected, and a careful, objective approach throughout to question assumptions and ensure quality. In short, to determine what exactly should be measured in candidates, organizations need the science of talent measurement. But one need not be a scientist to make some sense of a market saturated with various employment tests, traits, models and labels - just remember P = M x Q.

Motivation Multiplied by Qualification

A common belief is performance is determined by motivation multiplied by ability, or P = M x A. This formula is useful to help talent managers remember that success depends on people being able to do and wanting to do a job. However, the "ability" label could give the mistaken impression that being smart and sufficiently motivated is all that is needed to succeed at work. It's not.

Research across several decades makes it clear that other competencies beyond problem-solving and learning ability also predict success in most jobs, including personality traits such as conscientiousness, agreeableness and extroversion. Interpersonal skills, managing oneself toward goals, following rules and procedures, demonstrating creativity and a host of other soft skills or competencies are useful - often essential - for success at work. As jobs increase in complexity, a more holistic view of what ability means is needed to fit the evidence.

What about experience, the favorite of recruiters and hiring managers alike? Beyond competencies and ability, there is clear evidence that experience matters, just not the way it is usually measured. Science doesn't measure experience simply as time in a job or years in the industry. Although these widely used measures are easy to collect and straightforward to review and confirm, they don't predict job performance. Rather, experience is best measured as the result of these efforts - specifically one's knowledge, skills and judgment.

It is hard to imagine an accountant, software developer or industrial-organizational psychologist could be successful in his or her job without acquiring the requisite technical knowledge of these respective professions along with the skill and judgment to apply that knowledge effectively. By defining experience as the resulting knowledge, skills and judgment, employers now can accurately measure these accomplishments using standardized tests or performance exercises.

Interestingly, while one's cognitive ability does predict learning speed, time on task and focused practice seem to predict expertise in a given domain. Like the fable of the tortoise and the hare, although somebody smart is likely to pick up concepts more quickly, people who persist, learn from failure and adapt, and keep working to develop their skills over thousands of hours ultimately become experts.

Qualification may be more useful for the formula alongside motivation, referring to the combined set of abilities, competencies, knowledge, skills and judgment that a person brings to the job. So instead of P = M x A, more accurate is P = M x Q. Qualification also implies that these are not generic attributes applicable in every setting. Qualification is talent as viewed through the lens of a job role or set of performance requirements. It is oriented to improve talent decisions and organizational performance.



Factories Act,1948

1 Register of Adults workers
2 Register of Leave with wages
3 Accident register with Forms
4 Muster Roll and wages Register
5 Inspection Book
6 Register of Compensatory Holidays
and Over Time
7 Muster Roll for Exempted Workers

Contract Labour (R & A) Act,1970

1 Register in Form XIII

Payment of Wages Act ,1936

1 Register of wages ,fine , deductions
and advances

Minimum Wages Act ,1948

1 Wages Slips
2 ESI Act ,1948
3 Employees' Register of Contibutions
4 Accident Register
5 Inspection Book

Payment of Bonus Act,1965

1 A,B & C Register

Equal Remuneration Act,1976

1 Form D Register

Employees' Provident Funds & M.P.Act

1 Eligibility Register
Inspection book

Combating Office Politics

In overly political companies, individuals who are usually seen as problem-solvers are often marginalized if their initiatives negatively reflect on the "corporate order." It's a high-risk proposition, but it's up to HR leaders to take the lead in combating corporate politics.

In companies that are obsessed with politics and intrigue, individuals seen as problem solvers can rarely fix issues. In fact, problem-solvers are more likely to spawn new problems that weigh heavily on the organization's ability to serve customers and respond to market trends.

This is because most problem-solvers in such organizations avoid thinking about the political dimension of problems. For them, problem solving is apolitical and necessitates issues to be understood and analyzed, root causes identified and validated, and initiatives developed and implemented so that workable solutions eventually result.

Those solutions -- by and large -- are delivered in the form of processes and governance models, roles and responsibilities, training, automation, etc. Problem solving in this manner always conforms to the politics of the company or what I like to call the "corporate order."

No matter how hard problem-solvers try to fix problems, the corporate order always ensures that facets of the solution that they deem threatening to their interests are either lobbied away or sufficiently diluted before the green light is given for implementation.

Even the implementation of the solution is not secure from the prying eyes and ears of the corporate order. If they discover red flags that can expose their incompetence or heap embarrassment upon them, project and operational reports are skillfully manipulated to steer initiatives into paralysis or the initiative is given a death blow.

In such environments problem-fixers -- executives, program directors, project managers, line managers, etc. -- quickly learn to mold their thinking to accommodate the interests of the corporate order, even if it is detrimental to the corporate interests.

Subsequently, problem-fixers spend huge amounts of intellectual capital, invest considerable budgets and exert much effort in producing and delivering solutions that are fundamentally flawed both in scope and application.

From the outset, the purpose of such solutions is to maintain the status quo, i.e., to keep the executives that preside over the corporate order in power. Problem-fixers are only permitted to solve those problems that enable the custodians of the corporate order to meet their performance targets and maintain good relations with the board.

Problem-solvers who adhere to the purity of their thinking and are sincere to the corporate interests find it extremely difficult to conceal their frustrations in such working environments. They often clash with the interests of the corporate order -- many do so with a poor understanding of the political situation.

In the end -- depending upon the level of seniority and political influence -- they are either browbeaten into submission, contained but isolated, or their employment is terminated. This usually happens after a lengthy war of attrition -- often disguised in business jargon, so that unaware employees do not become suspicious and can be used as pawns in the ensuing power play -- and the company's resources, money and time are wasted in such pursuits.

Those problem-fixers who survive the onslaught are intellectually scarred and find it difficult to even attempt to solve future problems. They procrastinate, fearful that their solutions will be rejected by other employees who work under the shadow of the corporate order.

Such problem-fixers very quickly lose credibility and relegate themselves to problems they cannot solve.

If problem-solvers truly want to solve problems in politically charged companies, then they must seek the assistance of HR executives to take the lead in countering the corporate order. However, HR executives must go beyond the traditional techniques and models available to them before they engage in such an endeavor. To do so, they must excel in three areas.

First, develop a firm understanding of the corporate order and its political influence on the entire company.

Second, learn to think politically and not intellectually.

Unlike intellectual thinking, political thinking has no rules. Its source is the statements and deeds of those who engage in politics as work. Techniques such as generalization, modeling and analogies rarely work to uncover or counter the motives and plans of the corporate order.

Conversely, the corporate order is apt at exploiting such techniques to imprison those who challenge them in their thinking, thereby rendering them impotent.

Hence, it is incumbent upon HR executives to build a profound understanding of all the major players at work, their domains of influence and how they maneuver politically to safeguard their interests. In sum, HR executives, in close collaboration with problem-solvers, need to possess a crystal-clear picture about the political plans and actions of those who maintain the corporate order.

Third, for HR executives to be successful, they must have the courage to challenge the existing corporate order on behalf of the problem-solvers.

Challenge here should not be confused with mere confrontation with the guardians of the corporate order that ultimately yields a compromise -- this will never lead to proper change.

At best, the problem-solver's concerns will be accommodated by the corporate order, but at the mercy of their terms and conditions. Moreover, the problem-solver will be regarded by other employees as a lapdog of those executives under whose control the corporate order thrives.

To produce effective change, HR executives, together with problem-solvers, must expand the support base to include other executives willing to spearhead the cause, and then challenge the corporate order until it is reformed or reconstructed.

This is a high-risk strategy -- failure will certainly be a career-ending move for the problem-solver or even the HR executive championing the cause, but success will usher in an era of genuine problem-solving, propel the company to new heights and cement the position of the HR executive as an indispensable leader.