The Millennial Masterclass

millennial employees

‘Managing the millennials’ is a topic that is being discussed in every boardroom. There is certain hawkishness in the way we approach the topic. According to me, understanding them and how they think is the first step to creating the workplace of the future. Here’s my take on a millennial’s world view and preferred work style.

  1. Live and love technology – Technology is here to stay and you have to embrace it…just to stay relevant.
  2. Share & Collaborate – Use social networks to share what you know/learn quickly so that may others can benefit.
  3. Work is an activity, not a place – ‘Office atmosphere’ is over-rated and traveling to work is passé
  4. Follow your heart – Figure out what you want to do and do it.
  5. Enjoy a variety of experiences – Variety is the spice of life. Try different things, learn from those experiences.
  6. Get to the point! – Be clear, direct and bold
  7. Work and life are intertwined – Move seamlessly from work to play, mix the two and enjoy them both. Learn to multi-task
  8. Learn and adapt quickly– Conditions change too fast to learn one skill and spend years developing it in the workplace.
  9. Meritocracy is the new seniority – Experience is valuable if it adds value in today’s context
  10. Live for today– Future is too far and unpredictable, live the life you want…today
  11. Take risks – Taking the safe path is a sign of mediocrity
  12. Simplify…gamify – Shift from complicating simple things to simplifying and gamifying complicated things
  13. Here and now – Instant feedback, Instant recognition and Instant rewards
  14. Challenge/Question everything – Question all basic assumptions… Have data…will accept!
  15. Information is the new currency – Information should be fast, easily accessible, free and virtually limitless.
  16. Informality – Cool, casual and chillaxed learning and work atmosphere

As much as we cherish and value the ‘traditional way’ of doing things, we certainly need to acknowledge and learn from the generation that has made ‘disruption’ a way of life! So project ‘managing the millennials’ should also include a module on ‘what we can learn from the millennials ’.

The Millennial Masterclass

Components of an effective Employee Development Program

‘Employee Development’ is identified as a key focus area by all organizations alike. It is also the one aspect of management most discussed for its failure to live up to the expectations of both the key stakeholders – the Organization and the employee

It is accepted by one and all that as part of an overall HR strategy, employee development initiatives increase the odds that a workforce will be willing, ready, and able to move into the roles that the organization needs them to play when the marketplace demands change.  So why do these initiatives flatter to deceive?

In my 15 years of experience in facilitating employee development initiatives for various companies, I have found that the success or failure of these efforts depends a lot on the employee. I say this because no matter what an Organization does, if the individual does not feel the need to develop him/herself, no amount of push will help.

This happens largely because as individuals we get into what I call as a ‘comfort cloud’ where we settle into a daily rhythm and habit of doing things and do not want to let go of the comfort. On the contrary, when an individual is passionate about his/her growth and willingly participates in a well-structured development activity, over a period of time, there is definitely bound to be growth.

With that said, can organizations do more? Yes. In a lot of cases, such initiatives mostly fizzle out in the last leg for want of a structured process of operationalising the IDP (Individual Development Plan). I have seen that a simple, automated self-service system where employees can upload their IDPs and monitor progress goes a long way in ensuring that the planned activities are completed in full and on time.

In my view, the following are few key factors for the success of employee development initiatives:

  • Organizations to establish a structured process and provide a technology enabled platform to set, monitor and review Individual development plans.
  • Managers need to buy in to the organization’s career development point of view. They also must be competent and confident in facilitating employees’ career development.
  • Last but not the least, individual employees need to pop out of the comfort cloud, expand their horizons and participate in the development initiatives with their complete mindshare.

I truly believe that if executed well; the payoff from focussed employee development initiatives can be substantial in terms of long-term loyalty and job performance.


Components of an effective Employee Development Program

From lack of data to the problem of plenty – the new talent management challenge

From lack of data to the problem of plenty – the new talent management challenge

Taking decisions based on data has always been a best practice, but the problem till recently has been ‘lack of data’ or ‘not enough data’ to enable good decisions. With quantification of talent management practices taking centre stage, the need for the right data has become paramount. With every HR professional gearing up for a data-driven HR practice and with the explosion of data analytics processes, there is a need to pause and consider the need to manage data properly and be mindful of problems due to data overload.

A small example (unrelated to HR but still relevant) is with reference to career planning. A middle school student till about 10-15 years back only knew about a few career options (even though there were plenty of options available) and suffered from a ‘lack of information’ syndrome. Today with Google and other search engines, the amount of information available on career options is mind boggling. When you talk to parents, teachers and students, they see a huge problem here; with so much data, the confusion gets compounded. The effort needed to sift through oceans of data and identify what is relevant to one’s particular need/context is becoming a key challenge today.

Back to the problem of data management and HR. It is a fact that even leading organizations feel overwhelmed and have difficulty making decisions with the mass of information available. One of the biggest challenges is drill down the data to gain meaningful insights, but if there is no clarity, it can become a big challenge too.

So what are the key issues one can think of with reference to management of talent data? I am outlining a few below and encourage readers to share their perspectives and experiences as well.

  • Human error: Human error is natural, and there is a tendency for people to go searching for data that supports their beliefs and biases and not the other way around.
  • Confusion over data ownership: Lack of clarity on ownership of talent data is a huge problem that affects HR Practioners. With some much data being collected real-time, if there is no clarity on who owns talent data, it can lead to a huge ‘opportunity loss’.
  • Lack of right talent and processes: If you have a lot of data but don’t have the right people and tools to make sense of the data, then you can be sure that the data will not get transformed into meaningful insights.
  • Over reliance on data: A lot of managers and decision makers feel the urge to try everything possible with data. But with so much data and limited time and resources available, it takes away the focus from critical issues if not properly prioritised.
  • The infrastructure conundrum: If an organization’s technical infrastructure is not up to speed to accept and interpret multiple sources of data, then there is little hope in managing or analysing the data for actionable insights.
  • Analysis Paralysis: The biggest problem of all is doing nothing with the data organizations have spent time, money and resources collecting.

With talent data becoming the hub for much of enterprise reporting, the talent analytics function has to be geared to support requests from all areas of the company: legal, finance, planning, payroll as well as HR. As demand for reports and analytics is growing, there is a definite need to focus on the right talent, processes and technology that would augment the HR team in managing talent data well to provide strategic inputs linked directly to the business priorities.

From lack of data to the problem of plenty – the new talent management challenge

The new r(e)volution in assessments

The new r(e)volution in Assessments

Having been in the assessment space for the last decade and a half, I am always looking for new methods and techniques that can offer value in the talent assessment life-cycle. The last couple of years have seen a lot of buzz on Gamification of tests. Can Games or Gamified tests be a game changer in the assessments space? I set out to explore the potential and pitfalls of this new methodology

So what exactly is a ‘Gamified’ test?

A Gamified test uses the interesting medium of games and puzzles to measure cognitive, communication and other skills. The idea of a Gamified test is exciting because of the following reasons:

  • A Gamified test takes away the boredom of a regular Q&A test format and makes it interesting for test takers.
  • Gamified tests are language-independent making them universal.
  • Academic scores and proficiency test scores are not always the best indicators of an individual’s skills. Gamified tests can be a great new method to measure actual abilities rather than stated and observed ability.
  • Since the assessment process is new and innovative, there is a huge opportunity to reach out to skilled people en masse.
  • There is a huge population of talented “self-taught” people who do not go through the formal education system. Following typical screening processes like exam scores, qualifications etc. does not help in reaching out to this population. Gamified tests on the other hand provide the perfect opportunity to reach out to the self-taught geniuses.

Where all can Gamified tests be used?

Gamified tests can be used to measure a variety of employment skills, attributes and abilities. I think the most effective use of a game is for assessment of skills like coding. Games are a great tool for displaying the application of knowledge. Can the person perform the skills they claim to know? This can be coding, operating simulated machinery or even what skills they use to negotiate or close a sale.

But people are also using games to evaluate creativity, problem-solving abilities, ability to multi-task, concentration, attention to detail and other types of skills. Some games can even be used to understand a person’s personality preferences.

The million dollar question however is ‘Can data derived from a test taker’s game score be linked to attributes of success in a given job role?

There is no doubt that Gamified tests need to be designed with specific set of skills in mind. The game must be carefully designed to measure what it purports to measure and that measure must be something valuable in the job..

So are we there yet?…My view is that Gamified tests will very soon become the ‘standard’ to measure a few specific skills, behaviours and for particular populations (students, technical folks).

The concept is still in its infancy and there are still a lot of gaps in establishing the reliability and validity of this methodology. But with the speed at which technology is advancing, we are sure to see a lot more people adopting this as an integral part of their selection strategy in the near future. Me, I am a believer!

The new r(e)volution in assessments

HR’s Data Conundrum

data conundrum

Organisations and processes within organizations are evolving faster than the speed of thought. Progressive organizations are very clearly establishing robust mechanisms to look ahead and not get bogged down in just managing current business-as-usual issues. With technological advancements driving the change agenda in organizations, it has become imperative to check if people who work with/manage the technology are evolving and adapting themselves at the same speed.

The most important driver of this change is data. How the use of data is transforming business and people management practices in organisations requires to be studied with utmost attention. Although one may argue that data has always been the core decision making tool in good organisations, there was always a limit to what could be done with data. Specifically from a talent management perspective, the scope for data analytics today is tremendous. The HR leader of today is moving from reactive, need-based data analytics to pre-emptive, predictive analytics that is going to change the way talent is managed.

To give you an example, from need-based, planned, employee engagement surveys, companies are moving into continuous, on-the-fly feedback mechanisms to be in touch with employees and their changing needs. Rather than take action after an event has happened, the future will see prediction and pre-emptive action.

One of the important aspects in this evolution is the need for specialists. There is a consensus within the HR community on the need for specialists. Recruitment which was once a part of HR is today an independent function handled by specialists with experience in sourcing, attracting and selecting the right talent. Talent analytics, in my view is certain to be an independent function in the near future and hence needs to be managed by specialists with a dotted line relationship with HR.

It would be fair to say that HR function has come a long way in the last two decades but is currently at a cross-road. Those in the profession who will embrace this data explosion and prepare themselves to ride it will clearly be the future leaders of the talent management world.

The goal of the talent analytics function of the future will be to turn data into information, information into insight and insight into pre-emptive action.

HR’s Data Conundrum