Director - HR, Alcatel Lucent
Gerald is currently withAlcatel-Lucent,heading HR for the RD Center, he brings along of 18 years ... more>>
How many times have you as a business leader approached your HR BP, to discuss new salary benchmarks, only to be told that "The current benchmarks are market benchmarks, and we cannot do anything about it"?
Have you as an employee reached out to your HR BP, to check if you could use your leave a bit differently, to accommodate your much sought after certification, only to be told by the HRBP, that "you can apply for leave and proceed, but we cannot make a change for a single individual, as it will be termed as a precedence"?
Arent all these responses granted by people who are supposed to be supporting the Business and the employees? Arent all these responses so very standard, that employees have stopped reaching out to the HRBPs for any help / solution? And finally, hasnt the HRBP lost all semblance of credibility versus the both the business and the employees.
Where did HR go wrong? A profession that is considered the only noble profession in the universe of business, suddenly looks to be lost in the woods, and is now at a crossroad - looking for a respectable direction. This is in no way to state that HR as a function has lost its relevance you still have one of the finest HR leaders in Wipro, CTS, ICICI, and a very (very) few others.
I guess the answer to our current predicament lies in our love of a "Single / Standard / Organization Wide Policy".
A standard promotion policy, a standard salary review policy or a standard performance bonus framework have all long lost their relevance and we yet flaunt the same policies. When was the last time that your business delivered a "standard" product / "standard" service to 2 different clients? When was the last time that your Sales Leader went to a prospective client and said well, this is a standard solution that we have - buy it if you want to, or else take a walk? Can a business afford to live that kind of arrogance versus the market? Not at all..... Absolutely No!!!
If a business has understood the very fundamental of designing and delivering a different solution to different clients, why does HR still flaunt a Single Standard Organization Wide Policy? Rubbish!!! It clearly means that while the business has understood and learnt the importance of designing a situation / need centric solution, HR still believes in having a single standard policy for each People practice. It is much like every patient going to a hospital gets administered a paracetmol to begin with and if the ailment continues to persist then everyone gets a standard antibiotic. You'd say ridiculous and funnily, we continue to resort to such antics!!!
Now compare... a normal organization - and my very limited understanding is still more limited to the IT space, has teams that range from Service Desks - Internal IT support teams, to Finance Back Office teams - catering to financial transaction processing to local statutory reporting, to software engineers - and this breed is prevalent everywhere, to system architects, to solution architects, to business analysts and finally to top end researchers. Most organizations have the whole nine yards and more.... and yet HR flaunts a single policy for all groups of employees.
Imagine now that the service desk executive with about 3 years of experience gets INR 4 Lakhs and an additional INR 20000/- (@ 5% of Salary) as bonus on target achievement. And the organization follows a performance plan that ensures an annual performance review, followed by a market driven salary review and the company driven bonus plan - and this is uniform across the board.
Why on earth in such an instance would the Service Desk executive want to stay with you - all for INR 20000/- that he is not even guaranteed to receive at the end of the year. In all probability, he will end up receiving half of the sum after waiting for 12 months the other half having evaporated due to the company not meeting its target. And do you genuinely believe that INR 10000/- received at the end of 12 months holds any huge relevance in his life. If you do believe, then you live in a medieval age!!!
Consider the other spectrum of the range.... the pure play researchers..... (Ironical, that we still believe that Performance Incentive is a great motivator for a researcher)!!! They too are subject to the same ignominy of the "Standard Performance Review", a "Standard Salary Review" and a "Standard Performance Incentive Plan". It is much like having a cricket scoreboard on the side line of a swimming pool. A swimmer needs different performance criteria versus what a batsman needs, and clearly a pure play researcher needs a different guidance.
Let me cite another example..... most orgs have an Education Support Policy / Tuition Fee reimbursement Policy for its employees.... and it is so boringly standard, that it may actually act as a deterrent for long term engagement of employees. The principles of the policy are the same.... An employee can undertake a standard course - certified by the Technical Board of the University, and that is certified by the business HR as relevant to the business, and the company will bear 75% of the cost of the course on the "Successful" completion of the course and the employee will have to be "bonded" for 12 months after the completion of the course. The max that is allowed under such a scenario is about INR 2 Lakhs.
Now consider this.... a Service Desk Executive who wants to do a Masters in IT - and the course costs INR 1.5 lakhs. All is well.... but what about a newly appointed first time Manager who wants to pursue a Management Course offered by the IIMs. That costs a bomb... at least INR 8.0 Lakhs for an 18 month course... and while the policy can cover the costs partly, the employee still has to sign up a bond for 12 months... Why doesnt HR come up with a different limit for different groups of employees with different conditions? Though the need exists, not many HR teams have gone ahead and created a solution for this situation.
Much on similar lines, I guess the need of the hour is to be situation centric… totally. And then embark on the journey to deliver a "Solution" - a solution that is realistic, that is more situation centric, that is linear and that has no complications that need an HR BP to interpret.
No two teams are alike, and no two teams have the same intrinsic drivers. And no two teams have the same performance criteria and no two teams are equally critical to an organizations success... if this is the real case, why on earth does HR still drive a single policy for all the needs felt by different groups.
Go ahead and create something that is meant for the here and now... something that actually helps engage folks... something that helps business retain its core / critical talent so they deliver to the clients.
Simply put my message... "Try Something New!!!"
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