Friday, February 27, 2009

Competent to the Core!

Seven core competencies to develop and sustain a competent workforce

With businesses getting increasingly global, organisations are making considerable efforts to don a global appeal. However, it is hard to win a good bargain in a globalised economy. Globalisation brings with it certain challenges that call for changes in the method of business execution. Organisations operating in the globalised corporate landscape have on them a huge responsibility that entails fine-tuning their existing processes. The major changes envisaged include an overhaul in the workforce deployment techniques, distribution and production patterns and networking with employees, customers, employees and suppliers. The global enterprise of today is positioned to leverage all possible sections of business that look promising from a value creation perspective. Interactions between different quarters of business, that include internal and external stakeholders, customers and suppliers is one of the most critical determinants of success in the globalised workplace. Understanding how different components of making a competent organisation are juxtaposed leads us to appreciate the role of workforce management in the making of a globally integrated enterprise.

Several drivers play a critical role in building a global enterprise. However, it is finally the involvement of individuals and their execution capabilities that determine its success. Hence, undermining workforce management in the globalised corporate landscape can sabotage the process of building an integrated workplace. Having underscored the role of workforce management in building and sustaining a globally integrated enterprise, organisations need to work towards developing core competencies that would help them manage their workforce with a perspective of delivering performance. While every organisation is fighting for its own space in today's era of extremism, only those that manage to build critical competencies, as a part of their workforce management strategy would succeed. Most successful organisations cite two or three factors as determinants of their success. However, experts believe that in order to maintain a sustainable growth story, organisations need to develop seven core competencies. These competencies are critical for developing workforce capabilities and meet the demands of today's dynamic corporate landscape. The onus of developing these competencies lies largely with HR, however support from other functions is important to lend a complete and holistic approach to the process.
The seven havens
As mentioned earlier, a competent workforce requires an organisation to build upon seven core competencies. These include:
An insightful understanding of workforce capabilities
The first and the most critical pre-requisite for building a competent organisation is a clear and insightful understanding of its workforce demographics and capabilities. Leaders need to assess their standing in terms of talent and skills vis-à-vis their requirements. In addition, they should also be able to make predictions regarding the changes that are likely to impact the demographic picture of their talent stock. In order to get the right insight into workforce demographics, HR leaders need to focus on facts that provide information about human capital data, performance graphs and skills deployment. A clear understanding of these workforce parameters is important for HR leaders to make informed decisions regarding workforce deployment.
Understanding the 3 "C"s of labour demand-supply equation
While most leaders appreciate the role of making informed predictions about the future talent requirements, not many manage it successfully. In order to make meaningful and reliable predictions about the labour demand-supply equation leaders have to carefully analyse and infer the components that could threaten to create an imbalance. Experts believe that three factors can greatly impact the labour demand-supply equation, these are: capacity, capability and culture. Capacity denotes an organisations talent inventory and ability to build on it to meet future requirements. Capability is an organisation's competence in terms of skills, strategy execution and knowledge management, while culture underscores the alignment of corporate values with corporate intent. These three factors put together determine the success of making a globally integrated enterprise.
Tapping informal networks
Social networking is an inevitable by-product of formal networking. It is one of the most reliable sources of undocumented information that provides important cues to leaders about how to get work done, who commands respect among employees and what really irks employees. The informal knowledge conduits that emerge as a result of social networking thus should not be disregarded. Instead, it should be leveraged to their maximum potential.

Instituting support systems to enhance employee performance
Organisations should provide employees a congenial work environment that not only supports their work style but also helps them enhance their performance levels. Self-service tools for instance, can be integrated into corporate working to help telecommuting employees. Similarly, organisations should work on creating knowledge banks that can reduce information clutter and cut down on the time that employees spend on gathering useful data. A few techniques to boost employee performance:
Encourage informal collaboration across global locations
Organisations should provide a platform for employees to pursue their personal interests. For this employees must be encouraged to form groups based on their common interest thereby giving them an opportunity to indulge in discussions, meetings and other creative activities to propagate their interests.
Emphasis on employee education
Providing constant inputs to employees through formal training programmes and education tools is important to keep the workforce motivated and updated. Such corporate initiatives can prove to be extremely beneficial in lending companies a sustainable competitive advantage. Research reveals that organisations investing heavily in employee education initiatives enjoy better economic gains than organisations that have a rather conservative training budget.
Institute effective employee performance review and feedback systems Organisations that have a formal performance review and feedback system are far more profitable than organisations that demonstrate a rather casual attitude towards performance reviews. Offering employees guidance and feedback at regular intervals is extremely important to ensure sustainable performance levels. Organisations that manage to successfully develop these seven core competencies are better equipped to face the challenges put forth by increased globalisation. However, leaders and managers have to bear in mind that while these competencies figure as separate entities, they cannot be nurtured in isolation. Therefore, an integrated approach to building these competencies is important for achieving the desired level of performance.

Continue reading...>>>

Performance & Position

A Priest dies & is awaiting his turn in line at the Heaven's Gates. Ahead of him is a guy, fashionably dressed, in dark sun glasses, a loud shirt, leather jacket & jeans. God asks him: Please tell me who are you, so that I may know whether to admit you into the kingdom of Heaven or not?The guy replies: I am Pandi, Auto driver from Chennai! God consults his ledger, smiles & says to Pandi: Please take this silken robe & gold scarf & enter the Kingdom of Heaven...Now it is the priest's turn. He stands erect and speaks out in a booming voice: I am Pope's Assistant so & so, Head Priest of the so & so Church for the last 40 years. God consults his ledger & says to the Priest: Please take this cotton robe & enter the Kingdom of Heaven...'Just a minute,' says the agonized Priest. 'How is it that a foul mouthed, rash driving Auto Driver is given a Silken robe & a Golden scarf and me, a Priest, who's spent his whole life preaching your Name & goodness has to make do with a Cotton robe?''Results my friend, results,' shrugs God.'While you preached, people SLEPT; but when he drove his Auto, people PRAYED’ It’s PERFORMANCE & not POSITION that ultimately counts. Continue reading...>>>

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tips to boost your self-confidence

At times, your level of self-confidence will determine how well you do in life. Here then are a few tactics that could help you increase your selfconfidence:

Avoid feeling guilty: Don’t feel guilty by constantly thinking about stuff that you should have done; if something is in the past, let it pass. Brooding over it will surely not help you to improve your situation. Try using the word “could” instead of “should” for everything. This will increase your conviction to get things done.

Set realistic goals

Setting goals will help boost your self-confidence. Try and set goals that are attainable. Choose something that you can measure, rather than something that is hard to measure. For instance, sign up for a course with the university and chart your progress Keeping track of how well you are doing there will allow you to feel positive about yourself and it will thereby increase your confidence levels.

Surround yourself with a positive environment: If there are things or places in your life that are sure to make you feel down then consciously stay away from these places. If there are people in your life who are constantly negative, its time to reconsider your friendship with these people since their association will only hamper your courage and confidence to venture into new tasks. Surround yourself with people who are optimistic and caring, people who respect you and value you for who you are. A network of supportive and positive-minded people will go a long way in boosting self-confidence

Stop being critical

Stop comparing yourself to others. Refrain from self-criticisms. You will always find something that someone else is better at. Constant self-criticism can make you feel discouraged and less confident. Choosing to focus on your positive traits will help you attain self-confidence.

Engage in some constructive tasks:

Take some time for yourself. Perhaps painting your nails or polishing your shoes will give you some enhanced confidence, especially when you see some wonderful results at the end of it all. These small yet overlooked chores does contribute towards in help you gain confidence. It is important to learn that you are worth making time for. You will never be able to adequately care for another person until you care for yourself, so take time to unwind and relax.

Think positive

If you find yourself thinking negative or critical thoughts, just try and erase it out of your mind. Your mind is like a computer, and you will be able to erase those negative thought patterns with practice. Then, once you have pointedly erased that negative thought, replace it with a positive one.
Further, write down your best traits, abilities, and skills on a piece of paper. Then when you are feeling down you can come back to this piece of paper to remember how wonderful you are.

Continue reading...>>>

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Recruitment in web 2.0 era.

If you're a Recruiter or HR Professional, 2008 may have been the first year that you actually heard the terms Web 2.0, social media or social networking. So you may be a little late to the game, but congratulations - you're here - so that's a start! And just so you know, I'm officially declaring 2009 to be THE year to get to know and effectively utilize social media tools that can help you in your career. To create your Personal Development Plan (gotta call it something you're familiar with so you'll feel comfortable), I'm recommending 10 tools that you need to implement or increase your involvement with in 2009. You'll get 5 in this post, and 5 in a subsequent post. You may already be using many of these tools, and if you're rockin' and rollin' with all 10 of them, then move to the head of the class! (Of course, you're probably already there since using social media tools has likely set you apart from your peers who haven't figured them out yet.)
1. Go where the peeps like you hang out on the web. The best way to get smarter about
something is to surround yourself with people smarter than you. There are plenty of options to choose from, including -, HRM Today,, and The Fordyce Letter Network - just to name a few. Check them all out, see which one best fits your niche and join at least one. Create a profile and set aside a few minutes each day to explore. Next, add some contacts and join Groups of interest. Work your way up to commenting on blog posts and forum discussions and participating in the live chats. Graduate to posting content and questions of your own as well as helping others. By participating, you'll be able to network with other recruiting and HR professionals who are dealing with and solving similar challenges, and you'll be able to build a community of like-minded folks who are willing and able to help you when you need it. If you're not involved with these groups, you're missing great information like this, this, this and this.
2. Learn how to use (really use) LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a no-brainer these days for business professionals. I'm regularly surprised to find HR or recruiting pros on LinkedIn with incomplete profiles (or worse, no profile), very few connections and no Group memberships. LinkedIn is one of the best on-line tools out there for
Personal Branding, Job Search, Business Development and Recruiting! An effective profile is your on-line business card, marketing brochure, Google-rank helper, etc. Create a great profile, connect to others, join and/or create Groups, participate in Discussions, ask and answer Questions, etc. Need help? Here are some great resources to get you started: Jason Alba's "I'm on LinkedIn -- Now What??" book and blog, the Social Media Headhunter's LinkedIn Recruiting Companion, Shally Steckerl's LinkedIn Cheatsheets, and the LinkedIn Blog for the latest news on what's new at LinkedIn.
3. Read more Blogs by becoming an RSS
Rockstar or Ninja. I started reading blogs early in 2008, and like most, I subscribed via email. Like most, I also get too much email, so I found myself moving blog posts to a "Read Later" folder - which I never got to. After discovering Google Reader (there are others too), I now subscribe to over 300 blogs, and I can skim through or read content at a much more efficient pace (and my email box is happier too). Some people get their info from books or newspapers - I read blogs and feeds. And I learn. A lot. Need some suggestions for your starter kit? Start with FOT's latest Talent Management Blog Power Rankings, Business School Directory's Top 50 HR Blogs, and Best 2007 Recruiting Blogs. (You can also find many smart bloggers who syndicate their feeds on and HRM Today.) Subscribe to several, and then add and subtract as you go. Pretty soon, you'll be up to 300+ blogs in your Reader too. Or not. It's up to you!
4. It's time to try Twitter. If you've been resisting using Twitter so far, then it's time to give in.
I resisted initially too, but since I started Tweeting in March 2008, Twitter has become one of the best resources I have as a recruiter, coach and talent consultant. Why? Because I connect with thought leaders who share what they're working on, resources, tips, links to interesting articles, etc. Twitter doesn't have to take over your life. Like you, I have a day job. Some days I check in a few times in between phone calls, interviews and client meetings, and other days I'm not there at all. And for those who say the people they need to connect with aren't on Twitter - think again. I deal mostly with senior level professionals and executives, and I have clients, candidates and potential clients/candidates following me on Twitter. Trust me. They're there - or will be. Need help getting started? Check out Why Recruiters Should Use Twitter on RBC, and my post over at CincyRecruiter's World on 10 People All Recruiters Should Follow on Twitter.
5. Figure out how to use Facebook for recruiting. I'm also adding this one to my own PDP for 2009. LinkedIn wasn't necessarily the place to be in early 2006 when I joined, and while recruiters were certainly some of the early adopters, it's most definitely the place to be now. Because I got in early and spent time developing my network and learning to use the tools, I'm ahead of many of my counterparts in using LinkedIn to develop my business, my personal brand and my relationships. I predict that Facebook will become an even more important tool for Recruiters and HR professionals in the future. Many companies are already effectively
utilizing Facebook to connect with and recruit young professionals, but I'm seeing more and more senior level talent signing up and trying to figure it out as well. (Translation - everybody's doing it.) Facebook has some cool tools for recruiting and employment branding. So stop thinking about all of the pitfalls of Facebook and just do it already! And when you figure out how to use it well, share your knowledge on all of the tools above.
Continue reading...>>>

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

McKinsey’s 7S Framework

Strategy: the plan devised to maintain and build competitive advantage over the competition.
Structure: the way the organization is structured and who reports to whom.
Systems: the daily activities and procedures that staff members engage in to get the job done.
Shared Values: called “superordinate goals” when the model was first developed, these are the core values of the company that are evidenced in the corporate culture and the general work ethic.
Style: the style of leadership adopted.
Staff: the employees and their general capabilities.
Skills: the actual skills and competencies of the employees working for the company.

The 7S model can be used in a wide variety of situations where an alignment perspective is useful, for example to help you:
Improve the performance of a company;
Examine the likely effects of future changes within a company;
Align departments and processes during a merger or acquisition; or
Determine how best to implement a proposed strategy.

How to Use the Model
Now you know what the model covers, how can you use it?
The model is based on the theory that, for an organization to perform well, these seven elements need to be aligned and mutually reinforcing. So, the model can be used to help identify what needs to be realigned to improve performance, or to maintain alignment (and performance) during other types of change.
Whatever the type of change - restructuring, new processes, organizational merger, new systems, change of leadership, and so on - the model can be used to understand how the organizational elements are interrelated, and so ensure that the wider impact of changes made in one area is taken into consideration.
You can use the 7S model to help analyze the current situation (Point A), a proposed future situation (Point B) and to identify gaps and inconsistencies between them. It's then a question of adjusting and tuning the elements of the 7S model to ensure that your organization works effectively and well once you reach the desired endpoint.
Sounds simple? Well, of course not: Changing your organization probably will not be simple at all! Whole books and methodologies are dedicated to analyzing organizational strategy, improving performance and managing change. The 7S model is a good framework to help you ask the right questions - but it won't give you all the answers. For that you'll need to bring together the right knowledge, skills and experience.
When it comes to asking the right questions, we've developed a Mind Tools checklist and a matrix to keep track of how the seven elements align with each other. Supplement these with your own questions, based on your organization's specific circumstances and accumulated wisdom.
7S Checklist QuestionsHere are some of the questions that you'll need to explore to help you understand your situation in terms of the 7S framework. Use them to analyze your current (Point A) situation first, and then repeat the exercise for your proposed situation (Point B).

What is our strategy?
How to we intend to achieve our objectives?
How do we deal with competitive pressure?
How are changes in customer demands dealt with?
How is strategy adjusted for environmental issues?
How is the company/team divided?
What is the hierarchy?
How do the various departments coordinate activities?
How do the team members organize and align themselves?
Is decision making and controlling centralized or decentralized? Is this as it should be, given what we're doing?
Where are the lines of communication? Explicit and implicit?
What are the main systems that run the organization? Consider financial and HR systems as well as communications and document storage.
Where are the controls and how are they monitored and evaluated?
What internal rules and processes does the team use to keep on track?
Shared Values:
What are the core values?
What is the corporate/team culture?
How strong are the values?
What are the fundamental values that the company/team was built on?
How participative is the management/leadership style?
How effective is that leadership?
Do employees/team members tend to be competitive or cooperative?
Are there real teams functioning within the organization or are they just nominal groups?
What positions or specializations are represented within the team?
What positions need to be filled?
Are there gaps in required competencies?
What are the strongest skills represented within the company/team?
Are there any skills gaps?
What is the company/team known for doing well?
Do the current employees/team members have the ability to do the job?
How are skills monitored and assessed?

Continue reading...>>>

Sunday, February 08, 2009


Competency-based interviews (also called structured interviews) are interviews where each question is designed to test one or more specific skills. The answer is then matched against pre-decided criteria and marked accordingly. For example, the interviewers may want to test the candidate's ability to deal with stress by asking first how the candidate generally handles stress and then asking the candidate to provide an example of a situation where he worked under pressure.
How do competency-based interviews differ from normal interviews?
Normal interviews (also called unstructured interviews) are essentially a conversation where the interviewers ask a few questions that are relevant to what they are looking for but without any specific aim in mind other than getting an overall impression of you as an individual. Questions are fairly random and can sometimes be quite open. For example, a question such as "What can you offer our company?" is meant to gather general information about you but does not test any specific skill or competency. In an unstructured interview, the candidate is judged on the general impression that he/she leaves; the process is therefore likely to be more subjective.
Competency-based interviews (also called structured or behavioural interviews) are more systematic, with each question targetting a specific skill or competency. Candidates are asked questions relating to their behaviour in specific circumstances, which they then need to back up with concrete examples. The interviewers will then dig further into the examples by asking for specific explanations about the candidate's behaviour or skills.
Which skills and competencies do competency-based interviews test?
The list of skills and competencies that can be tested varies depending on the post that you are applying for. For example, for a Personal Assistant post, skills and competencies would include communication skills; ability to organise and prioritise; and ability to work under pressure. For a senior manager, skills and competencies may include an ability to influence and negotiate; an ability to cope with stress and pressure; an ability to lead; and the capacity to take calculated risks.
Here is a non-exhaustive list of the more common skills and competencies that you may be asked to demonstrate:
Skills and competencies for competency-based interviews
Conflict management
Creativity and Innovation
External awareness
Leveraging diversity
Organisational awareness
Resilience and tenacity
Risk taking
Sensitivity to others
Team work
How competency-based interview questions are marked
Before the interview, the interviewers will have determined which type of answers would score positive points and which types of answers would count against the candidates. For example, for questions such as "Describe a time when you had to deal with pressure", the positive and negative indicators may be as follows:
Positive indicators
Demonstrates a positive approach towards the problem.
Considers the wider need of the situation
Recognises his own limitations
Is able to compromise
Is willing to seek help when necessary
Uses effective strategies to deal with pressure/stress
Negative indicators
Perceives challenges as problems
Attempts unsuccessfully to deal with the situation alone
Used inappropriate strategies to deal with pressure/stress

In some cases, negative indicators are divided into two further sections: minor negative indicators, i.e. those which are negative but which don’t matter so much; and decisive negative indicators i.e. those for which they won’t forgive you e.g. not asking for help when needed.
Marks are then allocated depending on the extent to which the candidate's answer matches those negative and positive indicators.
Here is an example of a marking schedule for the table above:
0 No evidence No evidence reported
1 Poor Little evidence of positive indicators.
Mostly negative indicators, many decisive
2 Areas for concern Limited number of positive indicators.
Many negative indicators, one or more decisive.
3 Satisfactory Satisfactory display of positive indicators.
Some negative indicators but none decisive.
4 Good to excellent Strong display of positive indicators

If the interviewers feel that there are areas that you have failed to address, they may help you along by probing appropriately. For example, in answering the question above “Describe an example of a time when you had to deal with pressure”, if you focussed on how you dealt with the practical angle of the problem but you forgot to discuss how you managed your stress during and after the event, the interviewers may prompt you with a further question such as “How did you handle the stress at the time?”. This would give you an opportunity to present a full picture of your behaviour. This is where the marking can become subjective. Indeed, if an interviewer likes you, he may be more tempted to prompt you and push you along than if he has bad vibes about you.

Continue reading...>>>

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Sourcing & Recruiting Tips: Google Custom Search Engines

Nothing wrong with search engines, but what about creating your own? Google makes it easy with their custom search engine functionality. You pick the sites you want to search (e.g., your favorite professional associations within an industry niche), and your results will come only from those sites. Use normal booleans and Google-specific commands in your strings, but get more targeted results. A couple of the many recruiter-created examples include and, for the top 150 advertising/marketing industry bloggers, Google's own picks, click your favorite category at or try

For example i have created a search engine put up on top of this blog to search India specific job portals for technology hiring updates as well market info about the companies hiring from the market using different job portals.
Continue reading...>>>