Wednesday, November 18, 2009

"IT" is from Mars & "HR" is from Venus

"IT" is from Mars & "HR" is from Venus
We’ve all heard the saying “Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus”, but when it comes to standardizing on a global human resource management system (HRMS), the same could be said for an organization’s Information Technology (IT) and Human Resource (HR) departments. In order to close the gap between these two departments, and create a happier co-existence, IT and HR departments should heed the advice of Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus author John Gary, and learn how to communicate more effectively to ensure the needs of each are taken into consideration and that an emphasis is placed on creating a peaceful union of organizational equals.
Let us start with the following assumption:

HR understands what communication is necessary and the manner and timing with which it must presented to achieve strategic outcomes, while IT understands the security imperatives and has the ability to understand the capabilities of the underlying toolset to achieve these outcomes.
The HR Mandate
As organizations strive to build and sustain a high-performing, satisfied workforce, they place an even greater emphasis on the effectiveness of the Human Resource department. Today, the HR department is viewed as a critical contributor to an organization’s bottom line, facilitating the organization’s ability to attract top-talent, reduce turn-over and control the high cost of benefit enrollment and utilization. However, to be truly effective, HR needs to have the right combination of people, processes and technology in place to achieve success in this area. With the help of HRMS technology, organizations can now provide a number of strategic functions designed to automate a range of functions, including employee assessment or satisfaction; time-to-fill or cost-to-hire statistics; employee performance index; revenue-to-employee or productivity-to-employee metrics; turnover rate; etc. While few will dispute the value of an organization’s HRMS, the road to adoption can be quite challenging, and requires careful consideration and cooperation among all stake-holders, especially IT.
The IT challenge
While companies increasingly rely upon technology to streamline their business processes and create a competitive edge, they are quickly realizing that if they are to truly optimize their IT investments they must first work to align IT with their business goals. This is particularly true with Human Resource Management Systems, which need to be treated as more than just mere infrastructure or ‘back office’ applications, given the major impact an HRMS has on an organization’s overall business strategy, competitiveness and profitability.
Five HRMS Considerations Designed to Bridge HR and IT

In order to make the most of their HR technology investments, organizations must be sure to communicate the over-all goals and objectives of the HRMS and solicit input from both HR and IT. Careful consideration must be made to ensure that the solution can improve the organization’s business processes (not just recreate old paper processes); create efficient workflows with approval mechanisms, provide compliance reporting; and integrate all of the major components of HR, including compensation and benefits administration, recruiting and training administration, and strategic measurement tools like Metrics, Performance Management and Succession Management.
To ensure a long-term, successful co-existence among HR and IT, organizations should speak in terms that each department will understand and jointly select a solution capable of supporting the unique needs of both. More specifically, organizations should adopt an HRMS capable of supporting the following five criteria:
1. Scalable Infrastructure: Meets Current & Future Needs
To ensure the longevity of the HRMS, organizations must look for a solution that is capable of meeting the current and future needs of human resources, while reducing the involvement of the IT department. The HRMS needs to be scalable and highly flexible so that once IT deploys the system, HR can use it to support the needs of its existing employees and extend the system to include new employees (as the company grows--either organically or through mergers and acquisitions), benefits plans and/or business processes. The solution should also be capable of supporting multiple language profiles so that all users/locations can leverage a single, global HRMS platform in order to achieve an accurate picture of the company’s HR goals and objectives, on a global scale, without having to seek additional IT support.
2. Strong Reporting & Query Capability: Ensures Compliance & Internal Requirements
The HRMS should also have the ability to support various HR and compliance-related reporting needs, including Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO), Military/Veterans (VETS), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), Wages and Filings (W2’s and 1099’s) etc. To ensure the long tem success of the system, IT teams should look for a solution that combines data from multiple systems, has built-in report writer features, offers native language and SQL query capabilities to ensure easy access by any level of user, and supports unlimited security profiles capable of defining the fields, tasks and actions that are permitted by each user. In doing so, HR professionals can easily add fields and tables to reflect the changing business and data needs of the organization, securely locate & disseminate information to appropriate and authorized stakeholders, generate sophisticated reports that comply with internal and external regulations and provide sophisticated HR-related metrics and data to senior managers for decision making and goal alignment.
3. Workload Automation: Organizes Tasks & Improves Process
In order to support today’s “do more with less” work ethos, it is also important to look for an HRMS that supports what is commonly known among IT departments as “workload automation”. Long recognized by the technical staff for its ability to seamlessly incorporate event-driven activity with calendar and scheduling functions, work load automation allows HR teams to organize daily tasks, prioritize work, and improve their process efficiencies. Leveraging automatic, user-defined ‘triggers,’ HR teams can set up email based alerts, notifications and reports that allow them to focus on more strategic tasks, improve communications and respond faster to employee requests and organizational changes.
4. Tight Integration & Import/Export: Reduces Redundancies, Improves Accuracy
Some other important HRMS considerations - ones that are especially important to IT folks involve the tight integration of (and turn-key interfaces to) other HR-related systems such as single sign on, email server integration, active directory, LDAP, third party payroll services, benefit carriers, or other internal legacy systems and the ability to import data from other source systems. This is a particularly important as Human Resources professionals strive to create a central point of access capable of streamlining their HR processes. The system should also enable them to eliminate redundant data entry functions, increase data integrity (by having the ability to import historical data form outdated legacy systems) and more importantly, provide additional analysis and reporting to other team members as needed. Lastly, organizations should consider an HRMS that is capable of easily exporting HR-related data to other software utilities such as Word, Excel, etc. In doing so, HR teams can provide additional analysis and reporting across the organization using existing systems and popular formats without the need for additional IT involvement. With improvements in architecture and with the proliferation of Web 2.0 traditional imports and exports can be reduced to Web Service requests that allow the posting and exchange of information to become seamless and automatic. This kind of advance allows the manager and employee to be managing data without worrying about the administrative task of running an import or an export to manage the integration of systems.
5. Advanced Workflow: Eases Use & Promotes Self-Service

The final, and perhaps the most important HRMS consideration, involves the system’s advanced workflow functionality. Leveraging user-configurable menus and role-based forms, HR teams can automate time-intensive and multi-step/multi-person processes such as life change events (name change, new dependant, etc.); new hire activity, terminations, training, etc. As a result, Human Resource professionals will enhance their productivity, reduce their training and administrative expenses, ensure faster and more accurate transaction processing and lower the cost of collecting and delivering HR-related services throughout the enterprise. IT and HR departments alike should look for a solution that is capable of being deployed online, with Employee Self-Service (ESS) and Manager Self-Service (MSS) portals, to encourage easy and secure access among employees, to document company procedures and workflow, and to ensure compliance with mandates such as Sarbanes/Oxley. By selecting an HRMS that supports advanced workflow capabilities, HR and IT groups can optimize and extend the technology platform to drive bottom line efficiencies and profitability.
Put simply, if an organization is to build and sustain a high-performing and satisfied workforce, then a fruitful relationship between HR and IT must exist. So instead of thinking in terms of Mars versus Venus, IT and HR professionals should consider these five easy requirements and use them as a means to openly communicate their goals, objectives and system requirements. In doing so, and by giving proper consideration to people, processes and technology, you and your organization will be well on your way to a long-lasting, satisfying marriage of HRMS equals who are working together to meet a mutually satisfying goal.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

During recession kind of turbulent times, HRMS can help CEO, you know why?

It is true that recession had hampered our growth rate but we are not in a bad economic situation when compared to some of the developed countries. Positive signs are there in some of the industrial segments and IT. Unfortunately certain segments in our economy are very much affected, many people lost job and many investors faced bankruptcy. If we look back to our economic history, these are quite temporary and we can regain our growth rate very soon.
In US,whenever something happen to business front, investor will immediately go for bankruptcy suite or say goodbye to all employees. But here in India, our management style is quite different. Most of the organizations are not running on credit and investors used to save money during good times to manage unexpected ‘no sale/fall in businesses’. Survival rate of companies in India has been deep routed to excellent management expertise. Recently somebody in US commented that in the coming years, it would be very difficult to get skilled people in US for IT jobs because students are not opting IT (this can be in the outsourcing context).This can be a strategic mistake or a bottleneck in US in coming years.
Let’s come back to India.Except some of the MNC firms operating in India, layoffs are not common here.But we lost considerable number of jobs in garments and construction sector in selected geographical locations. This can be partly due to economic downtime or huge export loss to United States. In some segments, we can see substantial amount of correction. For example, a builder may find difficult to find a buyer for his deluxe apartment worth Rs.1.5 crores till the market regains its momentum.
HR Managers are facing unusual challenges in organizations which are not recession proof. There is pressure from investors to get more output to beat recession,where as employees are looking at increased benefits or pay hikes. Board will be requesting to come up with countless analytical reports with zero down time.Many are working on profile GAPA and realigning corporate goals and communicate across organization. HR folks managing scattered organizations and that too using paper office are facing many difficulties in delivering quick information as well as realistic inference to corporate management. Many used to work late nights at office or failing to manage personal life. This made CEO or HR Heads of the organizations to buy and install HRMS on a war foot basis. Even though advertisement budget across companies are reduced, market research and business intelligence expenses are not at all freezed and companies in that segment are getting more projects (this reveals that there is tremendous need towards inferences based on accurate information). Accuracy and relevance of any decision related to people and processes and certainly credibility of HR department itself is very much depends on quality of information available.

There can be a decline in sales of enterprise software license which cost more than Rs.25 lakhs but I think demand for Integrated HRMS suites [Employee Information, Leave Management, Attendance Tracking, Payroll, Exit Management etc] selling at Rs. 5-25 lakhs is still consistent. Small and Medium enterprises are moving towards subscription model and SAAS is getting its grip over there.
Today,Investors are not considering HR Department as luxury but as strategic business partner. HRMS is considered as an efficient tool to streamline processes, an inevitable decision support system and a cost effective tool to enable new age HR Road Show (online) and to boost employee motivation.
During recession kind of turbulent times, more proactive resource management, decision based on live data, employee self service, more transparency in terms of organizational, team and individual performance are so critical. HR Department can market Corporate as well as HR initiatives to employees through HRMS.

Friday, July 10, 2009

360 Degrees Performance Appraisal

An Outlook.
  • Contemporary 360-degree methods have roots as early as the 1940s, however, there is some disagreement regarding the exact genesis of the technique.
  • Despite these disagreements, one point that most scholars can agree on is 360-degree performance appraisal has historical roots within a military context.
  • During the 1950s and 1960s this trend continued in the United States within the Military service academies.
  • At the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, the midshipmen used a multi-source process called “peer grease” to evaluate the leadership skills of their classmates.
  • In the corporate world during the 1960s and 1970s, organizations like Bank of America, United Airlines, Bell Labs, Disney, Federal Express, Nestle, and RCA experimented with multi-source feedback in a variety of measurement situations.
The Concept
For example, subordinate assessments of a supervisor’s performance can provide valuable developmental guidance, peer feedback can be the heart of excellence in teamwork, and customer service feedback focuses on the quality of the team’s or agency’s results.

The Process
The Appraisers
It’s Contribution:
  • The 1st line supervisor is often in the best position to effectively carry out the full cycle of Performance Management.
  • The supervisor may also have the broadest perspective on the work requirements and be able to take into account shifts in those requirements.
Cautions to be addressed:
  • Superiors should be able to observe and measure all facets of the work to make a fair evaluation.
  • Supervisors should be trained. They should be capable of coaching and developing employees as well as planning and evaluating their performance.
It’s Contribution:
  • Self-ratings are particularly useful if the entire cycle of performance management involves the employee in a self-assessment.
  • The developmental focus of self-assessment is a key factor.
  • Approximately half of the Federal employees in a large survey felt that self-ratings would contribute “to a great or very great extent” to fair and well-rounded PA.
  • Self-appraisals are particularly valuable in situations where the supervisor cannot readily observe the work behaviors and task outcomes.
Cautions to be addressed:
  • Research shows low correlations between self-ratings and all other sources of ratings, particularly supervisor ratings. The self-ratings tend to be consistently higher. This discrepancy can lead to defensiveness and alienation if supervisors do not use good feedback skills.
  • Sometimes self-ratings can be lower than others’. In such situations, employees tend to be self-demeaning and may feel intimidated and “put on the spot.”
  • Self-ratings should focus on the appraisal of performance elements, not on the summary level determination. A range of rating sources, including the self assessments, help to “round out” the information for the summary rating.

It’s Contribution:
  • Employees report resentment when they believe that their extra efforts are required to “make the boss look good” as opposed to meeting the unit’s goals.
  • Peer ratings have been an excellent predictors of future performance and “manner of performance”.
  • The use of multiple raters in the peer dimension of 360-degree assessment programs tends to average out the possible biases of any one member of the group of raters.
  • The increased use of self-directed teams makes the contribution of peer evaluations the central input to the formal appraisal because by definition the supervisor is not directly involved in the day-to-day activities of the team.
  • The addition of peer feedback can help move the supervisor into a coaching role rather than a purely judging role.
Cautions to be addressed:
  • Peer evaluations are appropriate for developmental purposes, but to emphasize them for pay, promotion, or job retention purposes may not be prudent always.
  • Generally, the identities of the raters should be kept confidential to assure honest feedback. But, in close-knit teams that have matured to a point where open communication is part of the culture, the developmental potential of the feedback is enhanced when the evaluator is identified and can perform a coaching or continuing feedback role.
  • It is essential that the peer evaluators be very familiar with the team member’s tasks and responsibilities.
  • The use of peer evaluations can be very time consuming. When used in PA, the data would have to be collected several times a year in order to include the results in progress reviews.
  • Depending on the culture of the organization, peer ratings have the potential for creating tension and breakdown rather than fostering cooperation and support.
It’s Contribution:
  • A formalized subordinate feedback program will give supervisors a more comprehensive picture of employee issues and needs.
  • Employees feel they have a greater voice in organizational decision-making.
  • The feedback from subordinates is particularly effective in evaluating the supervisor’s interpersonal skills. However, it may not be as appropriate or valid for evaluating task-oriented skills.
  • Combining subordinate ratings, like peer ratings, can provide the advantage of creating a composite appraisal from the averaged ratings of several subordinates.
Cautions to be addressed:
  • The need for anonymity is essential when using subordinate ratings as this will ensure honest feedback.
  • Supervisors may feel threatened and perceive that their authority has been undermined when they must take into consideration that their subordinates will be formally evaluating them.
  • Subordinate feedback is most beneficial when used for developmental purposes. But precautions should be taken to ensure that subordinates are appraising elements of which they have knowledge.
  • Only subordinates with a sufficient length of assignment under the manager should be included in the pool of assessors. Subordinates currently involved in a disciplinary action or a formal performance improvement period should be excluded from the rating group. Organizations currently undergoing downsizing and/or reorganization should avoid this source of PA.

It’s Contribution:
  • Customer feedback should serve as an “anchor” for almost all other performance factors.
  • Including a range of customers in PA program expands the focus of performance feedback in a manner considered absolutely critical to reinventing the organization.
Cautions to be addressed:
  • Generally the value of customer service feedback is appropriate for evaluating team output (there are exceptions).
  • Customers, by definition, are better at evaluating outputs as opposed to processes and working relationships.
  • It is a time-consuming process.
Important factors in 360 degree feedbacks
  • The mission and the objective of the feedback must be clear.
  • Employees must be involved early.
  • Resources must be dedicated to the process, including top management's time.
  • Confidentiality must be assured.
  • The organization, especially top management, must be committed to the program.
To the individual:
  • Helps individuals to understand how others perceive them.
  • Uncover blind spots.
  • Quantifiable data on soft skills.
To the team:
  • Increases communication
  • Higher levels of trust
  • Better team environment
  • Supports teamwork
  • Increased team effectiveness
To the organization:
  • Reinforced corporate culture by linking survey items to organizational leadership competencies and company values.
  • Better career development for employees
  • Promote from within
  • Improves customer service by involving them
  • Conduct relevant training
  • It is the most costly and time consuming type of appraisal.
  • These programs tend to be somewhat shocking to managers at first. Amoco's Bill Clover described this as the "SARAH reaction: Shock, Anger, Rejection, Acceptance, Help".
  • The problems may arise with subordinate assessments where employees desire to “get the boss” or may alternatively “scratch the back” of a manager for expected future favors.
  • The organization implementing this type of performance appraisal must clearly define the mission and the scope of the appraisal. Otherwise it might prove counter productive.
  • One of the reason for which 360 degree appraisal system might fail is because the organizations attempt to assimilate the 360-degree method within a traditional survey research scheme. In traditional survey research, investigators attempt to maximize data collection with as many items/questions as possible and with large sample sizes. In the case of 360-degree appraisal, creating measurement instruments with many items will substantially increase non-response errors. In addition, large sample sizes are not typically possible considering that perhaps 4 or 5 sources will rate an employee’s performance. As such, statistical procedures that rely on large sample sizes in order to ensure statistical validity might not be appropriate.
  • Organizations must consider other issues like safeguarding the process from unintentional respondent rating errors.
  • The culture shock that occurs with any system that creates “change.” And especially with a modern system like 360 degree performance appraisal; must be taken care of.

  • Because many of the more conventional performance appraisal methods have often proved unpopular with those being appraised and evaluators alike, 360 is gaining popularity with many managers and employees.
  • It offers a new way of addressing the performance issue.
  • When used with consideration and discipline, feedback recipients will feel that they're being treated fairly.
  • In addition, supervisors will feel the relief of no longer carrying the full burden of assessing subordinate performance.
  • The combined effect of these outcomes should result in increased motivation, which in turn improves performance.