Monday, July 20, 2009

Core Virtues

The handbook of Character Strengths and Virtues identifies six classes of virtue,-made up of twenty-four measurable character strengths, as shown below:
  • Wisdom and Knowledge: creativity, curiosity, open-mindedness, love of learning, perspective.
  • Courage: bravery, persistence, integrity, vitality.
  • Humanity: love, kindness, social intelligence.
  • Justice: citizenship, fairness, leadership.
  • Temperance: forgiveness and mercy, humility and modesty, prudence, self-regulation.
  • Transcendence: appreciation of beauty and excellence, gratitude, hope, humour, spirituality.

Foregoing will create a positive psychological capital which will rest on: resilence,optimism, self-efficacy, and hope People will thus be healthier and happier, both physically and mentally.

Contributed By:
Prof. D. P. Chattopadhyay
(Globsyn Business School)

Monday, July 6, 2009

Appreciation of employee sensitivities by HR professionals

It goes without saying that the executives of HR departments in any organization will have to be sensitive to the needs and feelings of people working in the organization. This need arises from the various departments when there are performance, attitude and disciplinary issues.

But quite often the managers of various departments like production, projects, operations, mainteanace, marketing, sales, Finance etc., who are also to act as HR managers (as every manager is an HR manager) as they are the people who directly engage the employees as action happens at their end, stay away from employee sensitivities. For example, it is easy to brand an employee to be an under performer and condemn him or her easily rather than to get into the root cause of his poor performance. It is so because it is too tedious and difficult to get into whole issue relating to its background and to do root cause analysis. It beats the logic when we accuse an employee to be a low or poor performer especially when HR people along with the concerned functional professionals quite often boast of high quality recruitment and selection. A very few HR professionals facilitate the process of making the leaders/managers of line departments to appreciate the behavioral aspects of the employees, what do they expect in turn to deliver, what is causing them to slow down or fail etc. Mostly the problem is two-dimensional, one, employee’s internal aspects (his/her assertion, interpersonal skill, personality traits like introversion, sociability etc.,) and the other the external aspect i.e. interface with his manager based on qualities of manager (like his personality traits, aggressive, no-nonsense approach, expecting employee to be totally self managed with high self discipline and self reliance, viewing employee as a ready made resource to perform at peak always and thinking that employee is paid for such position, being very logical and always expecting employee to be highly dependable etc , without even caring to ensure developing the employee’s ability).

Unfortunately neither the manager will be a person of high understanding about the employee nor the employee will be an assertive and an extravert person. Employees mostly expect their bosses to understand their feelings well and treat them accordingly. Before we look into as to which boss has that kind of time to spare we should look into whether managers have that kind of competencies to appreciate the feelings and mentor the employee. The bosses are either ill equipped to handle this or they donot have time for these issues.

Quite often the technical managers or leaders are only designated as so because of their excellence in their technical work or performance. But they really lack managerial, leadership and human relational competencies. This can be even checked by looking into as to how many soft skills and behavioral skill training programmes they attended, forget about their acquiring the competencies in those areas.The fault is not theirs entirely and it depends upon several other factors like top management’s commitment to develop leadership, the promotee’s ambition to lead etc.

Another aspect is even if the employee is a high performer his performance can be affected adversely for the reasons like,
  1. Any personal crisis
  2. Lack of clarity in the career growth
  3. Lack of higher aspirations
  4. Mismatch of personal values and organizational values
  5. Mismatch between organizational objectives and personal objectives
  6. Family problems
  7. Health problems
  8. Behavioral/psychiatric problems
  9. Addiction to alcohol, drugs, and sex
  10. Perceived difficulty in taking up stressful assignments though capable
  11. Imaginative difficulties when the job demands relocation due to transfer etc.
There can be varied reasons because of which the employee may not be comfortable in the organizational environment and his/her performance may go down.
Being specialists in HR the HR professionals are equipped to go deeper into the behaviors of employees and this specialized skill should be applied without fail.
To develop these skills a high aptitude on the part of HR professional should be developed.

Hence the following approach is suggested,

  1. HR professional’s individual aspirations should be mapped.
  2. A strong value system has to be developed to focus on treating people with dignity, sympathy and empathy.
  3. Effective communication skills have to be in place, with focus on the ability to listen actively and with empathy.
  4. Strong counseling skills have to be developed.
  5. Should also take the role of a coach and mentor.
  6. Should be able to use Johari window to guide the employees.
  7. To appreciate and care for the feelings of fellow humans, sensitivity training is suggested though organizations like ISABS,ISISD etc.
  8. Out bound training to HR professionals and line managers are suggested through organizations like Pegasus, near Bangalore.
  9. The HR professionals should use their creativity to design out bound and semi out bound exercises and games.
  10. HR professionals within the organization should be able to conduct the learning programs and
  11. Should take the help of eminent HR senior professionals to conduct the specialized programs.

HR professionals should be prepared to appreciate the sensitive areas of organizational working. Hence there is a dire need to make the HR professionals in the organization to be trained on the practical aspects relating to the following ares. The list is not exhaustive but indicative.

  1. Mapping the aspirations of all the employees in each department with regard to their career and suggesting goal setting process.
  2. Basic motivational process and goal achievement process in the organization.
  3. Knowing blocks to the goal, appreciation of failure, frustration and defense mechanisms.
  4. Vision exercise for each department.
  5. Values exercise.
  6. Principles of coaching and counseling.
  7. Helping employees in their personal crises.
  8. Cases for discussion.
  9. Communication and presentation skills.
  10. Negotiation skills.
  11. Stress management and conflict resolution skills.
  12. Using emotional intelligence.
In light of the current day pressures on employees due to challenging environment, appreciating the employee sensitivity and dealing with it effectively is a matter of paramount importance. Hence the HR professionals should rise up to the occasion to facilitate higher employee performance through addressing the key issues of diagnosing the pain areas of employees in behavioral aspects and help the managers and leaders of all other departments in an organization.

Contributed By:
Dr. A. M. Rao
Head – HR
Satyam Ventures Engineering Services