Monday, September 21, 2009

Keep The Faith! - People Management

Key learnings:
Staying committed to corporate talent management in a downturn is the only way to ensure better future
In addition, setting up EAPs can help organisations address fears of lay-offs and job cuts and keep employee morale high

Hold ground and hang around! This is what Mc Donald’s, Caterpillar and Coca-Coal HR chiefs are telling their people. The three giants are not giving up yet on their talent management initiatives. When other corporate houses are packing up their talent plans, the trio is going all out to give their talent management initiatives a facelift.

According to Cynthia McCague, HR chief at Coca-Cola, there has been no change at all in their hiring intent. The company plans to stay course and do everything it can to hold and attract talent for future business needs. The soft drinks giant employs more than 90,000 employees and has a focused framework for employee development.
Ditto at McDonald’s. The company is going ahead with its million dollars programme for talent management. At Caterpillar too economic downturn has done little to dampen its talent plans The Company plans to spend a whopping USD1.5 billion for its training and talent management initiatives. The figures are staggering because of the changes happening around.

Lessons from corporate Gullivers
The talent management story at the world’s most celebrated corporations is surely worth admiring. However it is also worthwhile to spend time and mind in understanding how and what is it the companies are doing differently that is shielding them from the economic wrath.

An analysis of the talent management practices at the three corporations revealed that the three of them were doing the same. The little differences that figured were mainly because of the differences in their industry practices.
At McDonald’s...
McDonalds’ has had a cushy time despite the downturn, since the footfalls in the restaurants‘ global locations have only increased with recession; considering that restaurants offer affordable fast foods. Thus the rod was spared for restaurateurs. This apart the company stands out because of its relentless efforts to boost its workforce abilities, providing the best possible growth opportunities by aiming for talent management initiatives that strengthen employee engagement and also build commitment and loyalty. Further the company has also started certain talent management programmes at the stores with competent training and development initiatives. The Company has also started commitment surveys at the stores including the franchisee stores. This has helped the company learn about the way employees feel about serving for the fast food giant.

An interesting change witnessed by the McDonalds store managers is that since recession set in, the number of job applications at McDonalds has doubled. People are pouring in with their resumes like never before. “This is a mark of the relationship quality that we share with our employees,“ says Floersch, the HR chief at McDonalds.
At Coca-Cola...
Coca-Cola is shielded from the rough weather like McDonald’s.The company is doing rather well for itself while giving others “simple moments of pleasure”! Apart from the regular talent management initiatives, Coca-Cola has set up employee assistance posts (EAPs) to help employees address their fears and concerns about the future of the company and their growth in it. According to McCague, family and friends of employees talk about their concerns and help address their fears about people lain-off around them. The EAPs aim to ease the fears and concerns of the employees and their families by spending time with them and letting them know with exactness the real picture.
At Caterpillar. ..
No shield, yet there! Manufacturers of earth movers are not shaken by the tremours around it. The giant continues to stand tall and how! The company plans to infuse USD 1.5 billion in its talent management drive. The company is clear about keeping its workforce intact. Caterpillar announced a 35 per cent pay cut for senior executives and 15 percent pay cut for other employees but they discussed with the employees about pay cut before communicating their purpose to them.. According to Sid Banwart, the firm’s chief HR officer taking employees into confidence is the only way to move forward in a crisis.

The company has also rebuffed its internal employee development programme. When asked about poaching competitor talent Sid was blatant in stating the organisation relies heavily on its internal talent pool and therefore does not feel the need to look outside.
Final thoughts
The common denominator underlying the three success stories is their commitment to nurturing talent and believing in spirit that man and not machine is supreme. Leaders of the three corporations have also showed that talent management and employee recognition are not mechanical that can be turned on or off based on the external environment. Following it with great seriousness and sincerity since corporate success is all about winning people and not robots. Thus, organisations irrespective of the external environment should hold stead and stay committed to its people and make the most from the crisis!
Reference: TheManageMentor.

Reorganize and Recover In a Challenging Economy

In March, Profiles International researchers conducted a comprehensive review of organizational design and talent management practices to identify best practices in organizational restructuring.

It polled companies on how well they believed their organizations followed these practices and how well they would be prepared for a major reorganization and redeployment event. Nearly 800 people from multiple industries participated in the survey. Based on the data, they identified the following strategies for reorganizing and redeploying employees in order to succeed during a recession.

1. Know how each job supports the organization's key objectives. Seventy-six percent of participants expressed some uncertainty about this point. An organization may be behind the curve if job designs have not changed with a revamped plan of action. If employees are performing their jobs the same old way, they are thwarting progress. Top leaders must buy in to the strategy and share it with employees so every worker knows how to put the plan into action.

2. Consider internal and external candidates for open positions. Twenty-eight percent of respondents were certain they looked inside their organization first for the best candidate. Internal hiring demonstrates confidence in a company's training practices of and employees. Such practices encourage top performers to take initiative and exercise creative thinking. Less training is required in crucial aspects of the job, such as the scope and connections to other employees and departments because internal hires already know how the company works.

3. Use objective evaluation criteria based on known outstanding performers. To ensure each worker fits the job, measure how top employees in the same position perform. Then apply the same assessment to candidates for the position and see how well they match the top performers. This approach works because it applies objective standards to the position instead of using subjective standards or "hiring with your gut."

4. Apply a consistent selection process to all candidates. Only 24 percent of respondents were certain their selection processes were objective and fair. This is important, not only because talent managers want to do the right thing, but also because legal challenges to employee selection standards are expensive. The best employee selection process ensures selection standards are job-related, validated and standardized.

5. Include key stakeholders in the employee selection process. Seventy-three percent of business leaders in the survey were not certain the most important members of their organizations were involved in this critical process. Key stakeholders are those affected, for better or worse, by talent operations, those with an interest in what talent leaders do and those who influence talent managers' actions.

6. Train interviewers in selection process. Profiles' research reveals an opportunity improvement. Fewer than 20 percent of participants are certain their interviewers receive adequate training. Once talent managers decide to use structured interviews - those in which questions and tasks are chosen beforehand to ensure consistency - it is imperative to coach interviewers. The process is more likely to go smoothly if interviewers understand it, buy in to the reasoning behind it and know what to do. The unstructured interview will not enable talent managers to identify the best candidates.

7. Conduct comprehensive reference and background checks on job candidates. According to the survey, only 34 percent of respondents utilized such information. Leaders might view reference or background checks as unnecessary when they "know" someone is right for a position. Employment experts estimate nearly one-third of all resumes contain false or exaggerated information.

In today's economy, most organizations face pressure to reduce waste and maximize efficiency. For many, this means making difficult personnel decisions to eliminate positions that do not add sufficient value to the organization and either eliminating or redeploying people to those roles. The stakes are high with little room for error, but with proper assessment and coaching systems in place, companies can position themselves to survive the current conditions and thrive in the future.

[About the Author: Jim Sirbasku is co-founder and CEO of Profiles International Inc., a human resource management solutions and employment assessments provider.]