The data footprint that you leave behind can tell more about you than your spouse! Well, this is not some weird statement but it’s a fact. Let’s read how!

 

Big data is the big brother

In today’s digital world, the digital footprint that we are creating and leaving behind is creating our digital identity. Practically everything is now a days online.

Thank of the information you have across sources like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, WhatsApp, Google and more. It can practically tell everything about you, your personality and your likes and dislikes.

Add to it the card transactions you do at merchant outlets and online sites. The information we leave behind can really make a personal, professional and financial portfolio of the person. The world of data is equally exciting and scary!

Companies are taking advantage of the big data

Companies are investing time, money and efforts to do customer sentiment analysis, transaction analysis and purchasing analysis to predict pretty much accurately what you are likely to do next and prepare themselves accordingly.

One of the finest example of this phenomenon is the patent filed by Amazon for ‘shipping your package before you buy’ or ‘anticipatory shipping’. (Link – http://pdfpiw.uspto.gov/.piw?Docid=08615473).

The patent emphasizes on a growing trend among technology and consumer electronic and retail firms to anticipate consumers’ needs, even before consumers do. Today, there are refrigerators that can tell when it’s time to buy more milk and cheese, smart televisions that predict which shows to record and Google ‘s Now software, which aims to predict users’ daily scheduling needs.

Internet is going beyond traditional devices

With internet of things catching up, the access to data and our interaction with the data is going beyond the traditional devices such as laptops, smartphones and it will continue to do so for significant future. It will be on your refrigerator, television, heaters, air conditioners, cars, lights and many more such devices which traditionally only had been utility devices.

Think of the amount of that data it will generate and also the opportunities it will create to make ‘smart lives’

One of the topics that interested me while looking at the workforce of the organizations and putting together a talent management framework was the distribution of Gen-X and Gen-Y employees.  The tech-savvy, socially aware, rewards oriented new generation needs a different set of talent management practices.

Before we go in the talent management practices for this workforce, lets understand the different behavioral aspects of the Gen-Y and Gen-X employees within the companies.

 

You would have to scroll down to see the table of comparison.   

Aspect Gen-X Gen-Y
In general behavior Mostly restrained. Think before act. Mostly action oriented. Thinking is restricted to what action to be taken next.
Thoughts about leadership Do not mind being led by others. Values experience in the leaders. Wants to be in the forefront of action. Do not mind being led based on the behavior of leader, not experience.
Value towards experience Parental thinking towards experience. Do not mind being advised by experienced people even if personally do not like the advise. Siblings thinking towards experience. Experience is valued only if it helps them achieve something in their life. Mostly experience is irrelevant coz speed of change.
Thoughts about independence at work Need direction on where to go and then often pursue their goals without any intervention. Need to keep pushing towards goals. Need repeated nudges and status checks on how the work is progressing.
Need for feedback Regular feedback on how they are performing is needed. Mostly dependent on annual or mid-year appraisal feedbacks to know how they are performing. Equally receptive towards bad & good feedbacks. Need constant feedback on every work done. Want to be rewarded for every small achievement and always in need of social recognition. Do not prefer bad feedbacks as it is mostly hard to digest ‘how can I get it wrong?’
Thoughts towards rewards Freedom & self prestige More and more money, Repeated recognition of work
Value of training Learning is a way of self-development and to bring a greater good to self. Read more to keep abreast with the surroundings and its impact. Learning is necessary only if it brings any immediate rewards in terms of recognition, money, promotions etc. Otherwise its an overhead activity.
Thoughts towards Work hours Normally prefer scheduled work hours. 9-5 mentality is more common in Gen-X employees. Prefer flexi working hours. Do not like to be monitored on how much time spent in office. Spend more time in front of computers, not necessarily doing productive work. Be online till you get bored is the mantra.
Need of Work life balance Prefer to enjoy life along with friends & family. Need to spend time with dear ones to ensure that life is balanced properly. Mostly not self-centered. Heavily self-centered. Time for family is available only after time for ‘self’ is satisfied. Prefer to be online on social media than spend time with family chatting or reading.
Meaning of Loyalty Mostly committed towards the workplace. Mentality depends on how the workplace treats you as an individual. Being respected is a need but not must. Would not leave jobs for small issues at workplace. Committed until it keeps fueling their ‘me-myself’ ego and keep getting ‘exciting’ feelings from the workplace. They do not mind changing jobs as ‘experimentation’ until they figure out what they want from the job.
Meaning of money Money is necessary for having a safer and happier life. It helps gain financial freedom and independence in one’s life. More saving oriented and mostly think about future. Big spending need to be justified for value. Money is a way to keep them happy in their social life. Keeping up the lifestyle is more important than having a bigger bank balance. Spending is more to satisfy the lifestyle needs and have ‘how am I better than others’ feeling.
Conversational style Both talkers as well as listeners. Mostly think before giving advises. Empathise well with others when they are in conversation. The subject doesn’t necessarily need to be interesting to hold the longer conversation (i.e. a social issue) Mostly talkers and less of a listener. Keep giving advises even if they do not have any knowledge or expertise in the area of conversation. Can not hold non-interesting subject conversations, however can talk endless on interesting topics (i.e., girlfriends and boyfriends)
Experience vs Experiments Values experience of others as well as gaining self experience. Can learn from other’s failures. Often prefer to do it themselves rather than listening to elderly advise based on experience.
Ability of risk taking Mostly risk averse. Prefer to go with tried and tested path rather than radical approach towards goal. Since their thinking is base on experiments, mostly prefer taking risks and want dynamic rewards and radical changes.
Technology orientation Technology is need driven. All solutions do not need technology. Prefer human touch over technology. Technology is must and should be everywhere. More social online than in-person.

During the discussions in the day in two different meetings, I spoke with few friends about how the training & the planning for the trainings could effectively support the leadership development in the organization and help in teams and talent for future growth.

 

The topic of discussion was more on how the objective of corporate trainings have diluted from being strategy oriented to ‘task’ oriented.

 

Few interesting things that came out of our discussion were as follows,

  • Most of the training requirements are ‘technology’ oriented
  • The training requirements eventually are gathered by the Team Leaders with little help from managers
  • No strategic direction is set by Sr. management (apart from budget provision) so eventually the training identification does little to help future growth or leadership building
  • Very important topics such as succession planning, lead for growth, coaching, personal development planning, business transformation are not given its due consideration
  • Training is not powerfully used as a retention tool
  • The budget utilization is mostly done for the SE, SSE level (team members) to make them competent on the job. Very less attention is given to create MDPs & SMDPs.

IMHO, following should be the broad level objectives of the Sr Management & managers while planning the trainings for their teams.

 

Creating technically competent teams

Technology trainings essentially will always remain the backbone of the ‘IT’ companies. However all the technology trainings should be planned while asking the following questions,

  • Is this training going to increase the productivity of the teams? If yes, by how much?
  • Is this training going to improve the current working efficiency of the teams? Can the targets be revised due to this?
  • What is the direct benefit of this training for the teams in terms of Quality, Cost, Time?

If the technology training recommendations are not giving right answers to above questions, they need to be re-thought.

 

Having training plans tie up with personal development plans

I wrote earlier in one of my blogs about how the appraisals and the personal development plans are created ‘generally’ in the companies. Most of the times, they do not have any link up with the long term organizational growth, talent development plans and the individual development plans.

 

When the trainings are planned for teams and individuals, at least for the High-Performance-High-Potential people, they need to tie up with their individual development plans, team growth structures and the organizational growth plans.

 

Identifying the measures of training effectiveness

All the trainings that are provided to people in the organizations should be measured for effectiveness on the ground when the people go back to their work. Before identifying the training needs for the team, the managers should be clear about how they are going to measure the effectiveness of the training and what exactly is expected from people after they have finished their training.

 

Some of the questions that could help in planning for measuring effectiveness are as follows,

  • What change the training is expect to bring in the individual – self-behavioral change, behavior towards the team (team handling), more productive at work etc.
  • What is the category of the change? – Emotional (motivation at work etc), Subjective (can be seen at work),  objective (can be clearly measured)
  • What is the ‘delta’ of the change? Can you measure it?

 

Distributing the training content across hierarchy across competencies

 

imageThe training typically should be categorized in the following competency buckets,

  • Behavioral training – That affects interpersonal skills, personal leadership, managing people etc.
  • Professional training – That assists the role being played such as Risk Management, quality management, change management, project management etc.
  • Technical training – that affects the on-the-job results for technical jobs
  • Domain & business training – that makes people take right decisions about the business and its impacts across the teams and units

The image is a typical recommendation on how the trainings at different levels should be distributed and planned for.

 

Behavioral and professional training are very much even at the entry level because they define your organization culture.  The higher you go the, the means of the technology and domain training just becomes a refresher and should be to help people get an understanding of their work.

 

The budget of the training as well as the content of the training should always be a mix of above competencies for all levels.  After all, development of people and competencies are needed at all levels.

 

Include important organizational development aspects as a part of your training

As I mentioned above, once of the most overlooked aspect of planning the training within the organizations is how it contributed to overall organization building and development.  Some of the topics I mentioned above which needs to be looked into while planning the training are as follows,

  • Succession planning at all leadership roles
  • Lead for growth (people and organizations)
  • Coaching
  • Personal development planning for stretch roles
  • Business transformations

Although most of the above tie up very well in the leadership management & development, the trainings provide a great support towards the above. 

During my visits with companies to discuss how the talent management happens within companies, one of the key discussion point always was the process for ‘talent identification’.

We all know that ‘performance appraisals’ and ‘one to one meetings’ are common ways of communicating the messages down to people on how they are performing their duties.  On the other hand, some of you might also know about the try that WIPRO did to identify your top talent by asking their employees to go through an entrance test for promotion.

However, are these the only ways by which you identify your top talent?  Probably in a normal organization, yes.  So what are other ways of identifying your top talent?  Lets revisit some of the common tools and practices put in by companies to bracket their pool in to talented and ‘little less’ talented buckets.

 

Creating & maintaining talent grids

 

talentgridTalent grids typically helps the managers ‘place’ their people into right matrix blocks.  The talent grid is a matrix which is formed with grading people according to their performance so far, and what their supervisor feels about their potential.

 

The top right corner (High performance – High potential) is the people who have peaked in their current roles and have been doing extremely well and may need to be considered for future bigger assignments.  That is of course your brightest talent. The people under medium potential and high performance have been delivering well over their supposed capability and also should be rewarded for consistency. They may not be able to carry out entire projects on their shoulders but they thrive typically in the individual capacity roles.  The people in the high potential & medium performance bracket are the ones who need stretch assignments and could do better in roles where it requires lot of coordination and pushing others to get job done.

 

It is recommended that the talent grids are updated regularly (at least once a quarter) to ensure that your employees fit in the right block on the grid.

 

Annual appraisals & mid term appraisals

One of the most common ways of rating the talent.  We all know how the overall process works and the way people are taken through the goal-setting, mid term review, quarterly feedback and the year end review against goals cycle.

 

Although this is a mandatory process is all organizations, it does not give a fair comparison and reflection of top talent across organization.  This is primarily due to the fact that the goals are localized to the team the people belong to, and the comparison of teams often doesn’t hold well for top talent when it comes to so called ‘normalization’ phase during the appraisals.

 

While it has its flaws, this process is widely accepted as the natural talent assessment process which is heavily backed by corporate promotions, perk hikes and other benefits given to the employees.  However, if you ask the top talented people, if they feel really justified after their annual appraisals, I am sure many of them would deny.

 

Stretch assignments

In many companies, before giving promotions to people, they are put on something called ‘acting’ shoes for that role.  It means that while the individual is supposed to carry out all the activities related to the work, he or she can not take critical decisions unless backed up by the supervisor.  The stretch assignments are typically over and above your project scope and work that is done by the people in their existing roles. However, they are likely to give ‘opportunities’ to people who seem to think they can deliver better than what they are currently doing.

 

Stretch assignments should typically be the kind of organization wide or team wide tasks that are carried out by their managers or above. The good performers are expected to shine in the new given assignments and once they show promise, its expected that the management gives them their due reward.

 

Personal interviews & assessments towards senior roles

I mentioned earlier about the try that WIPRO did to introduce the personal interviews & assessments for filtering of the top talent. WIPRO has not the only company that been doing this work, quite a few MNCs (including Accenture) also apply assessment & personal interview filters to ensure that only the right talent which is suitable for the upper roles is given the priority.   Although it adds to the efforts to carry out the individual assessments and interviews, it definitely gives the people a sense of justice back that they have not been ignored due to ‘organization’ policy rules.

Continuing from my previous post about mindset of people towards corporate training and how any talent management initiative with the employees hits the rough road, in this post I would like to outline some of the challenges the IT industry faces towards managing talented people and also towards the overall in-house talent development concept.

talentitchallengesTalent needs way to grow

Where you like it or not, the talented people in companies can not be contained without giving growth opportunities for long.  You can keep them on promises only until a certain point.  If not your company, they would eventually leave you and join someone else who might recognize their talent better and reward them as per what they deserve.  So, you always have to mark your talented people in a separate category and pre-plan their growth and show them the path so they could retain the trust in you for their growth.

Limited bandwidth with HR

Although the HR teams are accountable for ensuring the talent management practices are in place and are followed, the limited number people strength in the HR, does not allow them to focus repeated and consistently over the progress being made in the project teams towards implementing these practices.

People managers & directors are busy with business

The project managers and directors are focused on delivering the business, so find little time to do actual handholding of talent reporting directly to them through their project. Since the talent development and implementing the practices a non business-core activity it is a always considered as a ‘tick-in-the-box’. Thus, it not getting the due attention and focus that it deserves.

The in-out game of training & development activities

The corporate trainings do help until a certain extent, but do not offer a sustained end-to-end development for an individual. The person feels good while in the training, but often lacks understanding on how to apply the learning back in his / her own project.  This further means that although the companies spend heavy money on arranging the trainings for people, the assimilation and application of the training is often left on individuals to carry out as per their own capability.