Firing? 5 things you should know!

In every HR professional’s life there comes a moment where he has to fire someone. Let the guilt seep in and remain in the heart for a long time. Whereas, on the other hand firing is a part and parcel of the profession and one has to take it like that, like conducting performance appraisals or processing payroll or publishing MIS. Right?

Wrong. Firing comes around to be the toughest task and no matter how many times has one done, the next time always hurts. For being the one to relay the bad news, to wear those horns of demon and being a non-human in the whole process.

Like it or not, firing comes under HR’s periphery and we have to do it. So how to extenuate the damage and to control the heat of that moment? How to do it wisely and with calmness? Here’s how:

  1. Know the reasons well of why you are taking this action-the reason to fire should be crystal clear to the personnel involved in this. Lot of times the senior management or delivery heads or project heads take the decisions and HR is puny memo re-layer which makes it a little messy when it actually happens. Knowing the background and the real reason of firing will make your ground strong and will let you handle the situation neatly.
  2. Know the employee’s background well, of that moment especially. You never know the employee whom you are going to fire must be having a tough time already at personal end or maybe it’s her daughter’s b’day or he just battled with a grave situation at family’s end like his father’s illness or so. You just never know if and when the employee is already down in dumps or sprightly all the more, at that point. Be considerate and do a thorough check, if need be postpone the firing for a day or two or plan it differently. It will certainly make it less burdening for you and a little governable for the employee.
  3. Keep your offerings ready. Many Companies offer a salary of the stipulated notice period to the employee, as per the offer conditions mentioned in the offer letter, and asks her to not report to the office with immediate effect. There are Companies who ask employee to write down a resignation letter in which case he is not issued a termination letter so that his career is not tarnished and he will be able to land up a job further. So whatever you decide, according to your Company’s policy and legal alignment, keep all the documents and offers ready.
  4. Be ready for handling the tumultuous situation at employee’s end.Of course, being asked to resign or being terminated is not easy for anyone. Especially, when one doesn’t see it coming. It acts like a blow and the employee with low emotional intelligence would possibly over react to the situation. Be prepared for that and it would be not wrong to say, be well armed! Have your team ready for taking actions based on the situation. There are employees who are problem makers,they would want to damage the atmosphere while leaving the premises.
  5. Think about outplacement. Give that option to the employee in coordination with your hiring team. This will not only make the employee feel hopeful but he/she may actually land up in a job within a decent time.

What are your strategies to handle firing? What are your take aways from your experience of firing exercise?

 

Your Potential, Assess It & En-Cash It !

Mostly by this time of the year Performance Appraisals are done in all organizations, especially IT sector. As an HR professional I’ve seen flurry of resignations flowing in post-appraisals. The moment the results are out, employees, disgruntled employees, exercise their option B- resigning from their current posts. Across the world, employees have the same tendency : To wait and see the result of appraisals and then decide whether to quit or stay another year.

To actually resign and move ahead is not the solution to the dissatisfaction caused by the appraisal. I think one should have more scientific approach towards evaluating one’s performance with an honest heart. I hear employees stating that “I have worked laboriously round the clock throughout the year”. “I’m always ready to stay back late and complete the given tasks”. “I never said no to any task allotted to me” and the likes. Whereas I would listen to these arguments empathetically, I would also want to ask them if they really really think that performance appraisals should be done (only) on these qualities of an employee?

If in an organization, appraisals  are conducted systematically, I’m sure there will be criteria clearly defining the need of the employee to state his/her experience, skills and knowledge put to right use in the year gone by. Late nights, always ready to work, come on weekends and holidays are like icing on the cake. What about the base efficiency that an employee needs to showcase, the perquisites that an employee needs to posses to hold the job and excel at it?

Before one argues or asks for re-evaluating one’s appraisal case, I think one should ask below questions to oneself and answer them honestly :

-Do I have the basic qualification to fulfil the job’s requirement?

-Did I work on the improvement areas that were explained to me in my last appraisal and in the interim ?

-Will I rate myself 5/5 on communication, team and time management skills that are required at workplace?

I would urge the workforce to assess themselves before they set out to get assessed by the reporting authorities. Once there is clarity about oneself, one’s abilities and capabilities, there would be less dissatisfaction and more positivism towards improvising oneself. That said, not all employees who are unhappy with the appraisals done for them are inadequate in their performance. There certainly are genuine cases and I’m sure Organizations cater to them in required manner.

Second Innings @ Ex-Employer? What should be your strategy?

Second Innings! Not an unfamiliar tag these days in corporate world. There are many professionals who tend to go back to their previous employer and start their second innings. Sometimes, even a third one! Why they leave is a separate story in itself but when they decide to rejoin, that’s when some things become very important and should be paid attention to. It certainly feels nice to re-join an organization where one worked earlier and enjoyed the stint. I’m saying enjoyed, since that should be the major deciding point where in one decides to come back to the same organization, unless of course there is a dire need to without being mentally prepared!

So while you may bask in the glory of rejoining your old employer and feel at home, once again, there are few things you should keep a tab on and always bear in your mind to have a successful journey the second time as well!

1. Never show-off. That you’ve been here, so you know anything and everything about the organization. You must be right that you know lot of things, but since you left there were others who took over and there sure are changes taken place, howsoever tiny those are. Never keep bragging about your times in the organization, you may mention some things here and there, aptly fitting the conversation but the tone and intention should not be to show-off!

2. Respect the changes. Don’t say it was better earlier or don’t give an expression as if the changes are good for nothing. People who made the changes, certainly have some reasons behind it, try and understand them. Soak the new environment, be happy that you are back to your  organization and the only purpose you should carry is to take it to the next level, not go back to where it was!

3. Keep a collaborative approach. Never try to show an one-upmanship just because you’ve been there earlier and you are a know-all. You might be wrong in assuming that you are well aware of all things taking place under the roof, there might be things which exist now that you are not aware of. After all processes change, people change and the relationships change too!

4. Be ready to unlearn and re-learn. Don’t think that you need nothing to learn in the organization like policies, processes etc. Show the readiness to unlearn and relearn. This will show a positive side of yours and people will be more than welcoming to have you in their team. Collaborative approach always wins hearts and makes it easy for everyone to gel well and work together.

5. Be humble. Don’t use big names and say they know you so well that it will be easy for you to get through the maze of processes. Respect processes. It is about respecting your organization. Let those big names also respect your humbleness!

So get set to re-join your ex-employer. Have a fruitful and lovely stay, yet again! Good Luck!

What is HR ?

I was in conversation with an Intern recently and this how it went:

Me: Which area have you chosen for your intern-ship?

Her: Recruitment.

Me: Why?

Her: Because I like it!

Me: What’s so great about recruitment? Doesn’t it get monotonous after a while?

Her: Yes, then I can shift in HR.

Me: What is HR according to you?

Her: Motivating employees by Performance Management, providing them incentives, perks, salaries etc.

Me: What else?

Her: Training.

Me: Any non monetary ways to motivate employees you know of?

Her: *blank*

Me: You can take a minute to think.

Her: *still blank*; Don’t know!

Me: That’s HR!

Her: *surprised* !!!!!

Image Source : Dilbert Website

Human Resource is a tough job, no doubts about that. You’ve to cater to so many employees at the same time. Moreover, the management thinks you are siding with employees and the employees tag you as management’s advocate! It is a very difficult situation to handle and you can spend your entire life proving that you want employee friendly policies which will not affect organization’s bottom line!

But the beauty of the thing is, if you conquer the above, that, for me is an HR. A brilliant Core HR ! There are several ways to deal with retention of employees, non monetary ways. As good as retention is a challenge, it is a beautiful thing to handle. Yes, I’m calling it beautiful, where most of the HR professionals might dread stepping into.

Although, there is no fixed formula to the above, but being available, listening to employees and letting them vent out makes a difference. HR is not only PMS or Perks or Policies but empathy and trust!

Each One Reach One

How important it is to meet employees, face to face, apart from answering / responding to their emails or phone calls? For HR personnel it is highly important to reach out to employees, know them, create that difference and bond with them.

Trust me bonding with employees gets easier when you talk to them face to face. There might be disgruntled employees around, you might not be able to solve their problems right away or maybe never be able to offer a solution to some of their problems, but even after that, talking to them one on one and lending your ears and time to them, will make a difference.

Sharing one of my recent experiences with you all:

One of our senior Technical Architect (TA) level employees, newly joined, emailed the network team to allow him to change his system’s wallpaper to his choice. A little background here: our company follows a common wallpaper policy, which means on any and every machine in the company, you’ll find same wallpaper with company logo. To break the monotony HR selects wallpapers every few days, sometime suiting to the festivals, months and days of the year and other times general. Overall, this policy has its own pros and cons. Anyway, so back to the case in point: Network team directed the TA to HR asking for my permission. The TA asked me to allow him to use his own wallpaper; he mentioned he wants to use his family photos, which keeps him happy and motivated the entire day!

What a noble & genuine thought. But I could not have decided to change the policy right away, without giving it a proper thought, because the very fact this policy was brought into the picture was due to some very strong reason. So, I had this little problem at hand to solve.

At first I replied to the TA, via email, explaining him whys and why nots of the policy. He wrote back with (self- explanatory) logic and still asked for the permission. I realized this is not reaching anywhere if I continued to play email-email with him. This will only irritate him and make him think that HR is adamant!

I decided to walk up to his desk. I met him, generally shared my honest view of how even I do understand the importance of having family pictures around, and subtly told him a no for that moment. He was more than willing to accept that ‘no’ and smiled and said “I understand what you’re saying, and it is important for you to guard the policies, it’s okay, I’ll manage pinning the photos to pin board at my desk”. All of this, with a humble smile.

What did I gain in this? His trust, that I saved being an employee getting disgruntled for a small thing and I saved him from creating an image of HR in his mind that we care least of employees’ feelings. I also became happy in turn, because the more you’re able to give happiness, the happier you yourself get!!!

In this case I could have carried on the conversation on the email chain and let him be, after all I was just saying no to him for a change in organizational policy, was I doing anything wrong? Nope! So I could have saved myself a round to his desk and would have done some of my other email writing work instead, right? 🙂 Wrong!

Employee connect is so very important. I know we’re in such an age where twitter, FB, blogs and the works, work. But even after these social media tools, I think face to face discussions win hands down.

We follow an internal policy of “EORO” which means each of the HR team members will touch base with targeted number of employees each month. Not with an intention and a list in hand, ticking off the names once the meeting is done, but with compassion, a little dash of casual meeting and with open ears: to listen, understand and reach out to employees to know the pulse of the organization!

Image Courtesy: HERE

Now tell me can an email or a virtual shout out do this magic?

Exercising the Exercising Option

Exercising! What does the word ring in your head? Weight loss? Staying fit? Size Zero for that matter? Well, look at it in a different way, it is a stress buster too along with the above mentioned advantages!

Before that, what is exercising, IMO…..It could be in any form: dancing, sports, swimming, gyming, walking, jogging, whatever includes your entire body to take part in it 🙂

I feel exercising is important for everyone, especially working professionals. Why this ‘especially’, you may ask, because most of us are in a sedentary jobs which doesn’t give us much scope to move around a lot in the day. The reasons I exercise regularly (apart from trying to lose on that tough flab which is so loyal to me, gah!) are as below :

-Motivated, Energetic and Relaxed- the entire day!

-I get more ideas, the grey matter gets oiled 🙂

-It breaks the monotony of my daily routine, adds some vigor!

-Let’s me meet those friends who are not work friends, not colony friends and not relatives! (I think this is the biggest advantage!!!!!)

-Changes my perspective towards things in life.

-Gives me very own ‘me’ time… (I love this one!!!)

-Let’s me be more efficient in whatever I do the entire day.

-Helps me keep away from attracting negative energies.

Image Courtesy: HERE

Technically, exercising increases your body’s metabolism, blood flow, purifies your blood and pumps in a lot of energy to keep you rocking for entire day!

Interestingly, looking at the growing importance of exercising among employees, organizations are now providing in-house gym areas for employees’ convenience and flexibility to take a break from work and rock that treadmill ! I heard recently that there are treadmill conference rooms also, which allows executives to exercise while having a meeting, it is indeed a kewl sounding thought but I have a little problem at that. By providing treadmills in conference rooms, we are not letting employees disconnect from work and let them set their minds free… the sole purpose of exercising gets diluted here, me thinks!

Because, I feel exercising releases your stress, work stress at that which is harmful if not taken out. One has to “learn” (note that, I’m saying learn) to not take the work stress home with oneself. Often we tend to take the stress home to our families who deserve better than this, trust me!

Taking work to our home, our families is a very common trait and is fashionably called as being workaholic ! Some feel proud admitting that they are workaholic…. however, this is another story altogether and calls for another post 🙂

So coming back to exercising, how many days a week do you exercise? Do you feel the same that I’ve listed above as a result of exercising? What’s are your views? Do share, would love to hear !!

 

Employee Engagement

I’ve so far maybe taken 100 interviews and what I generally ask to 3+ years of experienced HR professionals is “what do you mean by employee engagement?” and you’ve to bite yourself to believe this that 70% of the times I get an answer “to conduct activities for employees”.

Image Source: Here

Earlier I used to get upset with such answer/s and think that people are not ready to even think using a little of the common sense. But slowly when it started getting very common, I studied people deeper for this particular subject and realized ‘Employee Engagement’ is still not very much explored topic in lot of HR curricula.

I sometimes take lectures in B-Schools on ‘Connect between Industry and Theoretical HR’ and I touch base on employee engagement. Students do have some idea about what is engagement but there answers and eyes ask for more knowledge on this topic.

Employee Engagement, such an essential topic for core HR personnel. If you look at the industry today, you’ll find there are employee engagements specialists and it has become one of the domains in HR. A good EE score tells how very deeply engaged are your employees in the organization.

Engagement varies at various levels: work, profile, attachment towards organization, commitment towards one’s role, on call beyond duty. Engaged employees not only decrease the attrition rate but also function as your brand ambassadors.

Value them, empower them, care for them and cater to their needs. That said you’ve to know the difference between genuine needs and overboard needs 🙂 After all who said HR personnel job was easy?