Sometimes, a deadline may end up being a blessing in disguise. That sort of thing happened to me last month when a former student from a local management school where I had taught Performance Management (who goes as @Ximekochi on Twitter) reached out to me and sought my help to answer some questions the class had come up with as they were preparing for the Final Placement season.
Last month had seen me taking up a new retained HCM Leadership role for a Thiruvananthapuram based IT SME client which meant that I'd be traveling from Kochi to Thiruvananthapuram every week - so finding time to respond to their 'deadline' was going to be tough. Thankfully the train journey allowed me to take some time out to respond to them. I'm pasting the responses as a blog post below:
1. How can one identify and approach a mentor in the initial stages of a management career in the organization ?
My answer was in two parts:
A. Identification of a Mentor: Keep your eyes and ears open and seek out people who asks a lot of relevant questions and takes interest in the business activities which are beyond their own role in the company. Such people are usually the ones with a high ‘Initiative’ level and hence there is high chance that they would find time to provide support for anyone who they feel is in genuine need. Another option is to ask someone who joined about 6 months / a year before you and take their views about the person who helps the most. Chances are that you will end up with a list with common names.
A Senior HR person from the company is another resource who can direct you to a mentor.
B. Reaching out: Show genuine and visible interest in a topic connected to the business. Ask probing questions and listen in deeply, taking care not to give your judgements about the situation? The above category of mentors will seek you out – and provide help and guidance. This is what I’d call a ‘Pull’ strategy for mentoring yourself. Also remember that Mentoring (unlike coaching) is driven by the mentee.
2. What is your view on GEN Y companies without HR?
My view is that Human Capital Management (I’d call it HCM as against HR – capital deemed more valuable than resource) tasks can be undertaken by anyone who has a keen interest in exploring possibilities and can connect to business context – So Titles / Designations does not matter. For Startups / GenY owned firms – the key would be for the founding team to identify this need early on and assign that role properly to a core team member / early recruit. For most Startups, a Long term view (2-3 yrs is very long for startup journey) is not clearly visible and hence investing on a separate role player for HCM role may not be practical / even necessary. In my opinion, a good line supervisor can take care of his / her Human capital needs for a considerable time period. The need for a separate role will be felt when the company grows in headcount eg. Above 50 or 100 members.
Another area which I’ve seen as a drawback for firms without such a role player who have scaled quickly (due to various good reasons) is the lack of adherence to local statutory provisions which can end up disrupting their growth itself at a later stage.
3. While recruiting candidates for the post of HR, What is the one striking factor you would expect?
I’d look for High level of Empathy, Curiosity and Listening ability / interest when I’m hiring for entry level HR roles in general. Once I’m able to assess the candidate well for these three competencies – I’d ensure that the person gets freedom to learn and grow.
4. In the current scenario, is it important to concentrate on maintaining diversity or emphasizing performance?
Diversity for me is a proven method / approach towards ensuring creativity in teams. Creative teams in my opinion have higher chances of exceeding performance expectations of business– think about Google / Apple and you’ll be able to connect to this approach. Diversity can have various possibilities of which Gender, Culture, Age, Geography are few examples which a firm can customise for their specific situation / business need.
5. What are the major talent branding trends ? (To this one, my response is on assumption that they meant Employer Branding)
Use of ‘Pull’ strategies for Employer Branding is the general Trend among progressive companies these days. Among the various practices in this area, using existing employees as Brand ambassadors or Brand Advocates is something which is getting refined as a separate approach in the recent past. This has it’s origins in context in which the Internet and social media in particular have grown in stature as a branding tool/ medium. Companies have entrusted this to their Marketing teams now but I see this growing and becoming a joint effort or collaboration opportunity for HCM and Marketing teams very soon.
Over past two weeks many of them (students from XIME) have called me excitedly to share the news of them landing their first job !
Looking back, I guess i would not have made this material without that 'Deadline' which to me was an opportunity to help my students, and their call inadvertently helped me by making create this blog post - another promise which i made to myself. So truly a Win-Win.
Looking forward to hearing views and comments from my readers.
I also found this article on Inc magazine to have some trends to watch out for - if you are a new entrant to corporate world.
Best Wishes as always...