Investing In People vs. Investing in Products

Talent is one of the critical factors in the success of any enterprise, be it a startup or a large corporation. But then, so are the products. So when it comes to deciding between the two, which one would you choose?

                              The increasing digitization of the workplace has put unprecedented pressures on businesses and workforce to innovate or lose their relevance in the marketplace. Given the premise that both organizations (by means of their products) and people need to be a part of this innovation practice, the next pertinent question that needs to be answered is: what is more important – people or products? Let’s try to find out.

Investing in people

Businesses are not run by robots, at least not at the moment. And until that happens, it’ll be people who will run businesses. The key to investing in people is to start with the most brilliant of the lot and nurture them into professionals with the highest skill set over time. However, to achieve that, the necessary amount of education required is often not provided by the employers.

   ” Managers often overestimate the strength of their team’s capabilities and knowledge.         This overestimation results in a ‘knowledge leak’ that cannot be countered with higher IQ among employees as a guarantee to innovation”.

The solution to this problem is a sustained focus on employee education. However, this solution is easier said than done as education is an intangible investment, the costs of which can quickly spiral out of control. The situation gets especially grim when the knowledge acquired by the employees is not implemented as expected to deliver desired results.

Investing in products

The old adage says ‘make your product so strong that people will be compelled to buy it’ is no longer applicable. While a weak product with weak marketing is sure to fail, a strong product with weak marketing can fail as easily as a weak product with strong marketing can succeed. In order to counter this, making both the product and marketing strong to ensure that the desired ROI is achieved becomes essential to the success of the organization. Therefore, it becomes imperative that enough attention is paid to the investments that go into product development.

However, in their haste to take the first movers’ advantage, businesses often ignore this fact and roll out the product with some bugs, and then follow it up with a series of improvements. However, if these bugs are too many, then the product will garner a negative review from the market and will die away slowly. Hence, a balanced approach that aims for an acceptable level of bugs in the product must be adopted before roll-out.

In conclusion

Trying to figure out which is more important – product or people – is like asking which is more important for sustenance – air or water. In order to truly succeed, a balance in investments between both people and product is essential. It will enable a business to procure and retain the best talent that can then be applied to develop the product to acceptable marketability levels. Updates are, and will remain an essential part of the product cycle. However, the end result of these updates must reflect the investments applied to both people and products so that the business does not suffer from consumer neglect and can claim its share of the success pie.

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Performance appraisals do not impact employee productivity: Survey

Performance appraisals do not impact employee productivity: Survey

In a survey of nearly 1,050 working professionals by TimesJobs on performance appraisals, 70% respondents said their bosses are not serious enough regarding the process and 65% feel it is not a true reflection of their work.

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Here’s how to overcome resistance in your workplace

Here’s how to overcome resistance in your workplace

By Devashish Chakravarty, Director, Executive Search at

You are continuously unhappy with your work and the solution lies in having a difficult chat with your boss.

Whether it is about taking leave during a critical project, being dissatisfied with your increment or having been criticised publicly about your work—you may find yourself avoiding that conversation.

A study says many people prefer having a flu or being pulled over by a traffic cop over a challenging meeting with their supervisor. Here’s how you can overcome that resistance and find happiness.


Choose your emotion
Psychologists say the moment your mind labels something as difficult, it starts generating reasons as to why it will not work out, making the situation appear far worse than it is. Tag the proposed conversation as an opportunity to find happiness and solve a problem. The moment you do so, you can adopt a more optimistic mindset and find the right communication to approach it.

Question the basics
Ask yourself the basic questions—what do I really want? What am I feeling right now? Will getting what I want resolve these feelings? What happens to my relationship with my manager because of this conversation? What situations will the new relationship lead on to? If you find yourself going around in circles or conjuring only negative scenarios, write down your feelings and the outcomes you seek. This will help clear your mind and focus on what really matters while letting go of events colouring your thoughts.

Get comfortable
Are you afraid that all your good intentions may come to naught the moment you are in front of your boss? Will you freeze into silence or blurt out the wrong things? To get comfortable with what will happen, do role plays. Find a trusted friend or family member and do two sets of role plays. In the first, alternatively play yourself and the role of a 3rd party neutral observer. This helps you explore illogical or counter-productive views that you may be holding on to.

In the second set, alternatively play yourself and your boss. This helps you explore emotional nuances and triggers arising from your boss’words or non-verbal cues. In both sets, experiment with different framings of the same situation.

holding on to.

In the second set, alternatively play yourself and your boss. This helps you explore emotional nuances and triggers arising from your boss’words or non-verbal cues. In both sets, experiment with different framings of the same situation.

Triggering the discussion
The second step is to initiate communication. Be professional in your approach. Seek permission for time to meet and discuss. Refer to common ground as the agenda. For example, “I wanted to discuss some thoughts about my performance and expectations”, when you want to discuss your increment. “I wanted to share inputs to improve team performance”, works when you want to resolve a conflict with a colleague.

During the meeting
Your body language speaks louder than your words. If you are afraid of your supervisor or are concerned because you messed up, your body language will convey negativity. To get the best outcomes, focus on breathing deep and slow to calm yourself. Sit straight and maintain eye contact to boost confidence.

Check your style
Approach the discussion as a mutual problem solving session. Your supervisor also wants the issue resolved so that both can focus on the path ahead. Be concise in your description of the situation and exclude minor points that could swerve the discussion into an undesired path. Pause and listen attentively to enable your manager to express herself completely. Reflect on what you understood to eliminate miscommunication.

The book, Crucial Conversations, shares the STATE acronym as a methodology to conduct your conversation. The first three tell you what to do i.e. Share, Tell, Ask, while the latter two are Talk and Encourage which tell you how to communicate. Share your feelings to open the discussion followed by your framing of what happened.

Thereafter request for and listen to the response. An opening phrase like, “In today’s meeting, I felt let down when you criticised my work though I was following directions received on email from my senior colleague. Could you help me understand what went wrong?” encourages professional conversation.

“You unnecessarily criticised my work publicly in today’s meeting though I was in the right because I followed email directions. Why did you do that?” triggers defensiveness or aggression and stalls progress.


Follow-up steps
Thank your manager for his time and inputs before leaving the meeting. If you have arrived at a common action plan, share a summary email with your manager to record it. If the meeting was inconclusive, schedule a follow-on meeting at the earliest reasonable time. Write an email to yourself or a note in a diary recording your version of what was discussed. This serves as a reference to help you deal with the consequences of your meeting or similar situations in the future.

Time alone
During the weekend or when you get some time alone, grab a coffee and your favourite chair and consciously reflect on the outcomes you achieved and how you will move on towards happiness. Also, think about how you approached and conducted the discussion and what could you learn from it to improve your on-going communication. Finally, congratulate yourself for overcoming your resistance and completing a difficult conversation with your boss!


Deal with yourself
Before initiating a challenging conversation, calm yourself. Identify your intention and outcomes you are seeking. If you are afraid of confrontations, rehearse responses to potential situations.

Get your facts
Deal with the communication logically. Marshall your facts about the incident, link it to written company guidelines where applicable and go through relevant emails. Exclude unsubstantiated opinions.

Plan to be wrong
Choose the mindset with which you will approach the discussion. It is possible for both parties to be right or there may be hidden facts. Be curious, listen well and hold off your judgements till the end.

Prop the stage
Choose the setting. A serious discussion during a company party dilutes it. An advisory in your office instead of the meeting room makes it one-sided. Keep a colleague present if you need a witness. Put your phone on silent.

End and follow up
Know when to end a meeting. If either party appears to be losing control of emotions, reschedule talks. Once outcome is achieved, do not stretch the talks. Follow up by checking on the progress.

No resume, no interview, no biases: Will this new hiring concept catch on?

Blind hiring is slowly making its way into the Indian recruitment market, where an applicant will be hired solely on the basis of analytical tests online.

By M Saraswathy

Consider this. You apply for a vacancy at a technology company and complete a series of online tests before being hired. No resume. No interview.

It’s a concept called blind hiring and is slowly making its way into the Indian recruitment market. An applicant will be hired on the basis of analytical tests to assess their competence and all that matters is a candidate’s suitability for a particular role, said Aditya Narayan Mishra, Chief Executive Officer of CIEL HR Services.

It could even be seen as a way to promote diversity in the workplace as the method rules out discrimination on the basis of religion, gender, race or qualifications.

Human resource experts say that no matter how rational an interviewer is, biases often creep into the recruitment process. In the engineering sector, women are often overlooked for particular roles.

At some companies, married women are not preferred in anticipation of a pregnancy and the maternity leave that will follow.

Blind hiring seeks to negate these biases and view all candidates through the same lens. The interviewer does not meet the candidates and their details are not disclosed.

“They are put through multiple aptitude tests and are hired based on their capabilities,” Mishra said. “You do not see where they worked and the degrees they possess.”

He said that such hiring practices are suitable for startups and new-age companies which hire for niche roles, adding that it is still early days for the concept.

It may be a while before this concept catches on at larger organisations, but HR outsourcing firms have already received requests from several Bangalore-headquartered startups to help build the ecosystem for blind hiring.

Companies are also seeing a cost advantage in being able to hire the right candidate in quicker time without having to spend time and money on travel.

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5 biggest reasons employees quit jobs quickly

5 biggest reasons employees quit jobs quickly

As you know all too well, it’s hard to hold onto new employees. Thus, onboarding programs were born. The problem is, there are several reasons onboarding may not be working. 

In fact, recent research by BambooHR, a software company, found that 31% of people have quit a job within the first six months.

This does not speak well of employers’ onboarding efforts.

To find out exactly what’s going wrong in the onboarding process, BambooHR surveyed 1,005 U.S. employees over the age of 24 to find out what has made them quit jobs in the past and what could be done to improve employers’ onboarding programs.

Why they’ve quit quickly

Here are the top five reasons U.S. workers gave for leaving new jobs shortly after being hired:

  1. Changed mind on work type (in other words, they were still deciding on their career path and it turns out they didn’t like the one they’d chosen)
  2. The work was different than they expected (in other words, the job description didn’t accurately reflect the position)
  3. My boss was a jerk (so employers need to be more careful about not putting tyrants in charge)
  4. Didn’t receive enough training (in other words, employees don’t want to be thrown to the wolves unprepared), and
  5. The job wasn’t fun (in other words, the job description failed new hires again).

What workers want from onboarding programs

So what advice did survey respondents have for improving onboarding programs?

Here are the four things they said they want most in the first week on the job:

  1. On-the-job training
  2. Review of company policies
  3. A tour of the company and to have their equipment set up and ready to go, and
  4. Being assigned a buddy or a mentor.

Respondents also indicated who they want showing them the ropes:

  • 33% said they want their own managers to do it
  • 28% said someone from HR
  • 27% said the department they’re joining
  • 23% said a dedicated trainer
  • 22% said a colleague, and
  • 19% said an assigned mentor.

For more interesting stats from the survey, check out the following infographic from BambooHR.

It reveals:

  • The five things workers want employers to do differently to help them stay
  • The types of positions workers are abandoning early, and
  • What HR pros believe ineffective onboarding is costing their companies.

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5 biggest reasons employees quit jobs quickly

6 Personal Strategic Planning Tips To Increase Productivity And Start Getting Things Done

6 Personal Strategic Planning Tips To Increase Productivity And Start Getting Things Done

There are a series of personal strategic planning techniques you can practice to increase productivity and improve the rate at which you start getting things done. These are methods used by the highest-paid and most productive people in every field.

  • Key To Personal Strategic Planning

Use the principle of ‘‘concentration of power.’’ This requires that you concentrate your talents and abilities where they will yield the highest payoff to you at the moment. It is the key to personal productivity and is essential to success in personal strategic planning.

In corporate strategy sessions, managers focus on the goal of increasing ‘‘return on equity’’ (ROE). The purpose of business strategy is to allocate the company’s resources in such a way that they yield the highest possible financial return on the equity invested.

Here is another kind of ROE for you. In personal strategic planning, your goal is to get the highest ‘‘return on energy.’’ Your job is to allocate your talents and abilities in such a way that you achieve the highest possible return on the mental, emotional, and physical energies that you invest in your work.

Your highest return on energy is almost always that task where you combine your unique talents and abilities with the specific needs of the situation. You then focus and concentrate singlemindedly on that one task, which is the key to getting things done efficiently.

Whenever you have a new job to do, ask yourself: ‘‘Does this job give me my highest return on energy invested?’’ Discipline yourself to increase productivity and apply your skills where you can achieve the greatest results for both yourself and your company.

  • Focus On Opportunities

Increase productivity by concentrating your strengths, and the strengths of others, on your major opportunities. Focus on the opportunities of tomorrow, rather than the problems of yesterday. Concentrate your best talents and energies, and those of your best people, on those few areas where major breakthroughs are possible.

  • Focus On Key Result Areas

Identify the key results you are expected to get by answering the question: ‘‘Why am I on the payroll?’’ Once you’ve identified your key result areas, work in them exclusively. This is an important component to personal strategic planning and can help you to increase productivity tenfold.

Each person has five to seven key result areas where they can make an important contribution to their job and to the organization. It is only when you concentrate your efforts on your key result areas that you will start getting things done and achieve the most significant results possible for you in the shortest period of time.

  • Increase Productivity By Setting Deadlines

To improve your personal strategic planning, set deadlines for important goals and stick to them. Deadlines force you to work harder and more effectively as the deadline approaches. A goal or an assignment without a deadline is usually an exercise in futility. It has no motivational force behind it. It creates no compulsion for closure. It is something that you easily procrastinate on and put off until the last minute.

In order for you to increase productivity and start getting things done efficiently, set deadlines for everything you do. Promise other people that you will finish certain jobs by the deadline.

When you promise others, you motivate yourself to fulfill the promise. When you place your honor and your ego on the line by making promises to others, you find yourself internally driven and motivated to start getting things done exactly as you said, on schedule.

  • Getting Things Done With A Steady Pace

Don’t hurry or rush around frantically to get the job done. Maintain an easy pace and work steadily. Remember the fable of ‘‘The Tortoise and the Hare’’? Highly productive people work with a certain rhythm that allows them to flow through enormous amounts of work without becoming stressed or anxious.

A hallmark behavior of successful salespeople is that they do one thing at a time. They do the most important thing in front of them, and they stay with it until it is complete. They set priorities and use excellent personal strategic planning techniques.

  • Thinking About Results

Result orientation, the ability to start getting things done, is a key quality of all peak performers who have excellent strategic planning skills. You can develop the ability to concentrate single-mindedly through practice and repetition, over and over, until it becomes an ingrained habit of success. Once you develop the skill of getting things done, the skill will serve you for the rest of your life.

Motilal Oswal Financial Services takes HR processes digital

Motilal Oswal Financial Services takes HR processes digital

Motilal Oswal Financial ServicesBSE 4.10 % is doing a complete revamp of its human resource processes through the use of digital and technology.

This includes a mobile app which enables employees to mark their attendance through cell phones by switching on their location or apply for leave or regularise attendance; using digital to move to a paperless office; introducing virtual learning classroom for staff; and using hiring analytics for improve candidate experience.

“Technology has become business itself and hence it is imperative to transform processes through the use of digital and technology while driving the business,” said Motilal Oswal, chairman and managing director, Motilal Oswal Financial Services.

“Our employees often used to be disgruntled about the attendance procedure and used to be stuck in the early morning queues outside the lift. So we launched a mobile app which enables our employees to mark their attendance via their cell phones by switching on their location,” said Sudhir Dhar, director HR at Motilal Oswal. The app also allows them to wish their colleagues on their birthdays or anniversaries, apply for leave and regularise their attendance.

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HR function has moved from being a black box to Glassdoor era: Jairo Fernandez

HR function has moved from being a black box to Glass door era:

Human resources teams need to adapt fast to the radical changes wrought by technology across industries in order to add real value to organisations, said Jairo Fernandez , senior vice president-HR at SAP for Asia-Pacific and Japan. In an interview to ET’s Varuni Khosla , he said HR will have to increasingly tap into a growing pool of talent that does not want to be employed full-time. Edited excerpts:

What is the state of human resources function in organisations globally, at present?
Every single industry is disrupted right now. The impact of technology in the last two years across industries has been radical. That’s completely changing the landscape of things — for instance, self-driven cars. There is a sentiment that the market is not finding real value in what HR does. HR, in many organisations globally, was not thinking strategically enough to add real value to the organisation.

How is technology likely to change HR as we have known it?
The use of technology has created a completely different challenge and opportunity, and HR has to be attuned to it. HR was earlier a repository of confidential information but now, with technology, so much employee-related information is generated and put on the cloud.

From a time when there was no information available, I think the HR function has moved from being a black box to the ‘Glassdoor era’. This has created the ‘naked organisation’ because companies are totally exposed on websites like Glassdoor for future employees to see.

How will the change in HR impact the future workforce?
The talent in the future will include payroll employees, workers and the external talent as well, and this is dynamic. A payroll employee may navigate to the external market. But a company must be made worth coming back to for that worker, whether they want to come back as a payroll worker or external talent. There are not enough people in the market who want to come and work full time. Millennials, for instance, need to be flexible enough in terms of not just time but also the projects they choose. Around the world, 30 per cent of the workforce is contingent, which isn’t employed with companies but works on a freelance basis. Going forward, this will change and nearly 40 per cent of the workforce will become contingent.

Why does a company need to tap into a contingent worker?
HR is the business of talent by definition. HR is motivating only payroll employees, but then HR is leaving nearly half of the future workforce out of this process and that’s going to be the make or break, or success or failure of the future.

HR needs to take into account the talent pool out there and attract them years in advance, even though they are external. In the future, companies will have to be a little less concerned about turnover but must become home for future internal or external employees.

The year 2017 belongs to HR data experts

The year 2017 belongs to HR data experts

Human resources departments around the world will experience profound shifts during the next few years, and it’s all being driven by a single factor — data.

Just as data and the insights it provides has changed many areas of business, it will change the way organisations recruit and manage their staff. The potential benefits for those who get it right are massive.

As we enter 2017 with the knowledge that HR must be able to show credible data relating to factors such as productivity, engagement, and performance.

Let’s check out three critical elements that will feature in your journey as HR Data Ninja:

Data-driven recruitment and management
Rather than using job descriptions, HR departments will increasingly focus their recruitment activity on staff profiles. These profiles will be based on high-performing people already within the organisation. What qualifications do they have? What experience do they bring? What personality traits do they possess?

A new data-driven approach will be taken for staff management too. Rather than promoting people on personal intuition or pressure from managers, decisions will be based on data gathered about their actual performance. Who has consistently met sales forecasts? Who has suggested productivity changes? Who is outperforming?

Such data will be constantly gathered and used to ensure decisions are based on solid evidence rather than intuition or personal opinion.

Looking into the crystal ball: Predictive analytics take charge for performance management
Ultimately, businesses want more productive employees. In an age where every dollar is important, raising employees’ productivity allows you to get more output for the same investment to drive your business forward.

In order to really utilize their employees’ best skills, businesses will look at their workers’ behavior more closely. Are they engaged? Are they happy? What interests them to stay involved within the company? We will see that cloud-based systems will take talent and succession-planning data, to help predict and make intelligent next-role recommendations and connect employees with mentors to help prepare them for that particular role.

Analytics can answer questions you might have thought previously impossible. Predictive analytics not only leads to the source of the breakdown, but also provides forward-looking insights that illustrate how an issue or employee may evolve.

Scouting the players: Businesses will get in the competitor game by identifying with consumers

In 2017, chief human resource officers (CHROs) will recognize that modern, intuitive application user interfaces and consumer friendly applications matter more than ever in the year ahead. While you can put a price on the cost it takes to integrate user experience into your solutions, the value gained from providing a simple, intuitive interface is unquantifiable. This is why many CHROs are looking for ways to create quality experiences that will delight instead of frustrate employees. \

Digital solutions are your gateway to collecting and analysing quality data. So, through the information gleaned from your digital HCM software, businesses will be able to determine how to best align talent strategies to business objectives and remain a top competitor in the workplace.

2017 is going to be an exciting, change-filled year. Through embracing the opportunities of data and analytics, the HR department of 2017 and beyond will become an even more vital resource for successful organisations. Here’s to 2017, Data Ninjas!

By Yazad Dalal

The writer is Head of HCM Cloud Applications, Oracle Asia Pacific

What Candidates Want: Korn Ferry Futurestep Survey Highlights

What Candidates Want: Korn Ferry Futurestep Survey Highlights

–Five Years Ago, Benefits were Top, Today it’s Culture and Tomorrow it’s Flexibility
-Study Points to Fiercely Competitive Fight for Talent
-Most Difficult Job Roles to Fill Vary by Region

A new global study by the Futurestep division of Korn Ferry highlights the intense competition companies are facing to find qualified candidates, and gives insight into the shifting top priorities of those candidates.

In part one of Talent Forecast, Futurestep’s global survey of more than 1,100 hiring professionals, 54 percent said it’s harder to find qualified talent compared to just one year ago. The same study found that identifying people with the right skills in a rapidly changing market is the top business issue impacting recruitment. Respondents also cited rapid business growth, millennial expectations and economic uncertainty as key reasons the right talent is difficult to find.

“Candidates with niche and specialized skill sets will become increasingly sought after as 2017 unfolds, and knowing how to gain and hold their attention should be one of the biggest priorities for talent acquisition professionals,” said Jeanne MacDonald, Futurestep global operating executive and president, Talent Acquisition Solutions.

Changing Priorities in the Workforce

Today: Culture
The No. 1 reason candidates choose one job over another today is “company culture,” Futurestep survey respondents said.
“Millennials are absolutely looking for culture and fit. They want to feel good about where they’re working and require a shared sense of purpose,” said MacDonald. “Gen Xers, on other hand, are more interested in taking their skill sets to a place where they can make an impact. Organizations with a culture of acknowledging that impact have a greater chance of retaining top talent of that generation.”

5 Years Ago: Benefits
When asked what the top reason was candidates chose a company 5 years ago, respondents cited “benefits packages.”
“Five years ago, the world was still reeling from the Great Recession, mass layoffs, and all-around jitters,” said William Sebra, global operating executive, Futurestep. “It only makes sense that candidates felt the need for a stable paycheck plus healthcare and retirement benefits. Today, workers are generally moving beyond basic needs to different priorities.”

5 Years from Now: Flexibility
When asked what would be the No. 1 reason a candidate would choose one job over another five years from now, the highest percentage of respondents chose “flexible working.”
According to MacDonald, a flexible environment – from working remotely to flex hours is becoming common across many industries. In addition, businesses are seeing changes due to the rise of the contingent professional workforce, or “gig economy.”
“Instead of looking for full-time employment, talented, high-demand people will take contingent assignments where they can showcase their unique skills and talents, then complete the project and move to the next gig.”
Seventy-three percent of survey respondents reported that they use a contingent workforce on either a regular or as-needed basis.

The Hardest Roles to Fill Vary Depending on Region
While respondents say that overall it’s harder to find qualified talent than it was just one year ago, the most sought-after candidate roles vary by region:

  • North America: Nearly one quarter (24 percent) of respondents in this region said that information technology (IT) vacancies are most difficult to fill, followed by engineering at 17 percent and operations at 14 percent.
  • EMEA: The most difficult role to fill in this region is sales (22 percent), followed by engineering at 18 percent and IT at 14 percent
  • APAC: In this region, research and development (R &D) and sales tied at 22 percent for being the hardest role to fill, and operations and engineering tied at 13 percent.
  • Latin America: Respondents said the most sought-after candidates are working in IT (23 percent) followed by sales at 17 percent and operations at 12 percent.

“No matter the region or position for which candidates are being sought, the stakes are high,” said Sebra. “Organizations that attract the best talent will be best-positioned to achieve their goals and succeed in today’s challenging and fast-changing business environment.”

About the Study/Report
Talent Forecast is a three-part global series by Futurestep. It contains survey data from responses garnered during a global survey of more than 1,100 talent acquisition and human resource professionals across several industries. The study was conducted in the autumn of 2016.

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