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IIM Shillong HR Magazine

Issue 11 | MAY - JUN 2013

Interview with Mr Sourabh Vij HR Partner IBM

Editorial Dear Readers, We are really happy to bring to you this issue of TogetHR with all the exciting features. The ‘Cover Story’ , ‘What’s in HR for you?’ talks about what makes you suitable for the role of HR manager in a firm. It discusses in depth about the roles such as generalist to specialists like Organizational Development Practitioner and various other roles which a person can consider to have a career.

Faculty Advisors Prof. Rohit Dwivedi Prof. Sonia Nongmaithem

Team usHR

In the ‘Concoction’ section, we bring to you articles covering a variety of spheres in HR. The Article of the issue, “Managing Recession: The HR Perspective” talks about how innovation in HR policies can help an organization sail through turbulent times using smart recruitment, compensation policies and a host of other measures. Various dimensions of HR have been addressed in the article “The HRs and The Friendly Guys” that seeks to develop into the reader a new perspective and deeper understanding of this field. A look at “Towards Gender Equity in the Workplace” gives an insight into the causes of poor gender diversity management and how to overcome this hurdle. The significance of managing the newer workforce which has different perceptions and notions about the corporate environment is dealt with in “Diversity in Practice – Managing Gen Y Workforce”. Various tools that managers can employ for effective HR practices in their organizations can be found in the article , “Use of Psychometrics in HR – Need of the Hour?” backed by exhaustive research and innovative suggestions.

Apoorvaa P

The ‘Conflux’ presents to HR aficionados the interview with Mr. Sourabh Vij, HR Partner, IBM, wherein interesting questions find a place with thought provoking answers.

Lokesh Malviya

‘Contest with the best’ asks you to send in your internship experiences and win Rs.500 if yours is the best one.

Romita Choudhury Savitha B Tanya Beniwal

Team usHR has been continuously garnering your support and we warmly extend our gratitude for the same. Do write in to us with your feedback @ Happy Reading!!!

Team usHR


MAY - JUN 2013

Coverstory 12

What’s in HR for you? Savitha B | IIM Shillong The world of Human Resources has a lot to offer you for a career. It is not mundane or boring as the world claims. Read this issue’s cover story to find out for yourself the various avenues that an HR enthusiast has.

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Excerpts of Interview Mr. Sourabh Vij, HR Partner, IBM

Concoction 06

Diversity in Practice - Managing the Gen Y Workforce Saptak Bose | GIM, Goa


Towards Gender Equity in Workplace Prisoomit P Nayak | Wellingkar Institute, Mumbai


The HRs and the friendly guys Rama Sinha | TAPMI


Managing Recession - The HR Perspective Shujata Singh | IIM Shillong


Use of psychometrics in HR - Need of the hour? Bhavi M Patel | IRMA

Contest With The Best 27

Internship Speaks...

Connoisseur Speaks 25

Ask the Expert

Disclaimer: The views presented are the opinion/work of the individual author and The HR Club of IIM Shillong bears no responsibility whatsoever.

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HR Partner IBM

corner Sir, kindly take us through your experience and journey so far.


Mr. Sourabh Vij

enabler. Enabling the employees to approach the management with their ideas and concerns and on the other hand enabling the management to introduce and provide better and more profitable work culture.

I did not really start my professional journey with Human Resources and started as a Technical support executive. For three years I performed various roles and it was only then that I got interested in HR. I was working on a hiring and development project and I decided to pursue a post-graduation in this field. Post that I joined Tech Mahindra as an HR partner and handled projects on various BPO verticals. In 2010, I joined IBM as their HR partner and have worked on projects on product development and supported various business units. Sir, HR partners are generally expected to act like a bridge between employers and employees. How do you strike the correct balance as the HR partner at IBM? The conventional approach to business has changed these days. HR professional are no longer merely bridges between the employees and the employers. Their new role is that of an TogetHR | HR Magazine of IIM Shillong

Outsourcing and usage of social media in HR are the new buzzwords. IBM has outsourced some of its HR functions in recent times and has been active on social media fronts. Kindly throw some light on the factors that influenced this decision. Outsourcing these days is not just a choice. It is turning out to be an essential feature since a great percentage of recruitment is done with the assistance of external sources. On the social media front, IBM has a dedicated social media team that updates IBM’s presence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc. by posting results and new developments. This plays a huge role in the Employer Branding of IBM. IBM also has its presence on other E-recruitment fronts like, Monster etc. 4

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How HR keeps its seats at the table in this era of globalization is a big concern for all. What are the major challenges in this regard?

Analytics in HR is another domain that IBM is using very proactively. IBM uses HR analytics to position itself as a leading provider of HR and talent management solutions. Please tell us more on the same.

Globalization today is prevalent in all aspects of business and HR is no different. As far as challenges are concerned there are quite a few. One of the major one is managing diversity. With increasing number of professionals being recruited from varied backgrounds, enabling the workforce is a key focus area for IBM. IBM is also trending towards and beyond this by focusing not just on diversity but also on building diversity leadership. Another challenge is that of encouraging the minorities to come up. At the bottom of pyramid we have a lot of diversity but as we move up the leadership pipeline, the diversity is lost. As an HR professional my focus is not only on building the pipeline but also ensuring a proper and diversity encouraging pipeline management.

At the bottom of pyramid we have a lot of diversity but as we move up the leadership pipeline, the diversity is lost Analytics is one of the most important and focused area for IBM. We place it at great importance while designing the future growth plan and road map for all stakeholders, be it customers, clients or employees. HR and Analytics is like people and science which more often than not, do not work together. But using predictive and emotional analytics, forms and data points can be analyzed to observe patterns. For example we perform climate surveys to check the pulse of the organizations and club behavioral analytics to establish patterns about inclinations and trends.

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Lastly, IBM’s focus has always been on building innovation. Does that apply to HR practices as well? HR today is at a transforming stage, it is no longer a third party function. The HR functions at IBM are not limited to hiring and data collection, it is a part of the business! HR influences how the business works, grows and sustains. IBM has pioneered models for its HR functions. At IBM, HR not only provides but also advises.


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inManaging Practice Gen Y Workforce

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making their point and do not quite fathom the logic behind their older managers’ theory of “Do it right now because I am commanding.”

The workforce today contains four generations, with the advent of Gen Y. The Traditionalists, the Baby Boomers, the Gen X and now, the Gen Y. The workforce as they say is relentlessly becoming younger. This is subsequently leading to increasing levels of conflict between the younger and older employees reflecting each generation’s difference in values, attitudes towards work and authority, their ways of functioning, their degrees of socialization and their skill sets. This confluence of generations is thus an immediate concern for the HR managers who should aim at minimizing and eliminating these conflicts. Incidentally the Gen Y is coping quite well with the growing market competitiveness. They tend to work faster and better than their counterparts, are goal oriented and optimistic, have high expectations of their employers and themselves, seek out creative challenges and are constantly learning and evolving. Their confidence is technologically bolstered and they are proud owners of various electronic portfolios. Generation Y is much less likely to respond to the traditional commandand-control type of management still popular in much of today’s workforce. They are inquisitive because they have grown up questioning. They therefore question existing processes and ask if they can be remodelled and made more effective. They don’t believe in keeping quiet without TogetHR | HR Magazine of IIM Shillong

In an intergenerational workplace, the greatest challenge for a manager is to manage all quarters of his employee grievances and disputes in a manner that will achieve maximum profitability for the organization. The challenge with Generation Y is that they are whimsical and do not tend to stick to any job or any assignment for too long. They are multi taskers who can juggle their emails on blackberry while finalizing a deal with the customer on the cell phone. This attitude harms the organization to the extent that it not only increases their employee turnover ratio but also the training costs involved in training and later not being able to retain them. Conflict can also arise out of the difference in management styles practiced. Unlike the other generations who have existed in the organization being accustomed to the annual review system, the Gen Y demand for a constant feedback and


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recognition from their bosses. The major conflict arises when the older employees are dismissive of the younger ones’ abilities and vice versa, which is most common in organizations today. So the imminent question bothering the management is, ‘what strategy should I use to reduce conflicts and achieve effectiveness of performances.’ The Gen Y group are largely the uncharted territory for most managers today. They possess endless reserves of energy, unbridled enthusiasm and way surpass the technological expertise of their older counterparts. They should thus be coached in a manner where they are made to feel like the creative nucleus of the company. Gen Y employees put together on a certain project are more likely to yield successful results for the company. They should be allowed the voice to opine and should be entrusted with project centred work. Providing them with constant feedback and appreciation for their job not only makes them motivated to work even better, but is an indispensable tool in retaining them with the organization for a longer period. Competency Mapping and Reverse Mentor Programs are very important protocols when it comes to managing the Gen Y workforce. The manager should be able to gauge the domain of expertise of the employee while allocating projects to them. This would not only ensure better results for the organization but would

TogetHR | HR Magazine of IIM Shillong

also bind the employee with a sense of worth. Job conditions that cannot be achieved should not be allocated to them as the failure would only leave them disillusioned and disappointed. Training for these employees should focus on the strategic areas and not trivial ones and digital training could be highly effective owing to their ‘technologically wired chromosomes’. Being able to voice one’s opinions and the desire to be heard are the major attributes of the Gen Y workforce. Thus communication between employees and their supervisors become very important. Some organizations have brilliantly handled this issue. Motorola decided to use something called the ‘Minority Report System’ in their Human Resources. With the advent of this system, any employee could report his ideas to any higher level manager or to another division if that idea was rejected by his/her immediate boss. This was like a win-win 7

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situation. The organization would not lose any creative idea just because of one person’s hasty decision, and it would also positively affect the individual’s sense of self worth. Some companies are tackling the challenges of recruiting and retaining the Gen Y employees using creative strategies tailored to their characteristics. Instead of the uniform recruitment advertisements, Google used Encrypts on their outdoor bulletin boards for recruitment ads. Only those who would be able to decipher the code would know that job applications were being accepted. On the other hand, Apple Inc. retained a majority of its young workforce by simply using motivational techniques of awarding reinforcements to even the under performers who gradually became high performers soon.

comes to achieving organizational success. What motivates them is a little bit of Creativity and the challenges associated with it. As for a manager, managing the Gen Y workforce also becomes comparatively easy when their thinking caps have a feather of creativity attached to it. A creative HR Manager in this respect becomes an indispensible tool for any organization; as Danny Cox puts it

The Gen Y workforce has often been termed as brash, lazy, self interested, pampered and hopelessly derelict. However, little attention has been paid to the fact that this is a generation born amidst economic uncertainty and violence; they have been bombarded with graphic violence through horror shows and video games, sexually charged advertisements and Television. It’s very easy to point out the flaws in them, but the positive traits, in my opinion, far outweigh the negative ones when it TogetHR | HR Magazine of IIM Shillong

“A Creative Manager is the steam which powers the locomotive of progress”

Saptak Bose, GIM Goa


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Towards Gender Equity in Workplace

A diverse and inclusive workforce has a powerful impact in an organization. However most of the times, due to our inherent bias which is many times on a subconscious level the efforts which are required to improve inclusion and diversity are not up to the mark thereby not generating the desired results.

The major reasons driving poor gender diversity management in organizations is depicted below:

Benefits of Gender Diversity Multiple View Points– A study by the University of Michigan used mathematical models to prove that a diverse group involving women solves a complex business problem in a better way than a homogeneous group. Women constitute of almost half of this world’s population, knowledge base, talent and most importantly the consumer base. An organization will reap fruitful results if women are hired at the right places to include different perspectives, insights and abilities.

According to a piece in The Washington Post, collaboration, caution and longterm results inspire most women balancing the more risk-taking nature of menMcKinsey research results: Companies with three or more women on their senior-management teams scored higher on all nine organizational criteria than did companies TogetHR | HR Magazine of IIM Shillong


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with no senior-level women. Women can perform better than their male counterparts McKinsey’s and Pepperdine Analysis shows that companies with more women on their board outperformed their rivals in terms of top line and bottom line growth. Hiring and retaining women at all levels enlarges the company’s pool of talent at a time when shortages are appearing throughout the industry. Women inclusion in the workplace has also been addressed on a global level with the UN Global Compact launching the ‘Women’s Empowerment Principles’ that provides a 7-step blueprint to empower women in the workplace, marketplace and the community towards achieving a healthier bottom line

Success Stories Tata: Tata’s have come up with Tata (SCIP) Second Career Internship Program for women who have a professional qualification in Management / Accountancy / Law / IT / Design or Engineering, have a minimum of 4 years of work experience and who have taken a minimum of one year or a maximum of 8 years break in their career for personal commitments.

Siemens AG: Siemens AG provides flexible working hours to TogetHR | HR Magazine of IIM Shillong

promote educational purposes, with a 15 day examination leave/year and sabbatical leaves for upto 12 months; 6 Months of extra maternal leave to women with an extra month of pay; conducts Pink Day for Breast Cancer awareness and Cervical cancer vaccines are provided to employees at 1/3rd rates besides initiating Global Leadership Organization of Women (GLOW) group to include 150 of the top Siemens women from thirty-three countries, and its 160 Diversity Ambassadors are employees from more than forty countries.

Transformation into an ‘Gender Equitable’ OrganizationA Proposed Framework: A simple yet effective framework which would help organizations to systematically align ‘Gender Equitable’ with their Talent Management Process to reap its benefits is ‘A²E² Model’.

(A): Acknowledge - Research tells us

that ‘Gender Diversity’ in an organization leads to greater efficiency and management but, the number of women in higher executive ranks is dismal. Just awareness of such a gender barrier existing, would solve half the problem.

(A): Act - An organization can take the

following steps to break this barrier:


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Start with your team: Making your team aware of changing roles of a woman in the 21st Century through encouraging role reversals or learning through cross mentoring is essential.

preferred method to establish a system of checks and balances.

(E): Enhance - Once evaluated, steps can be taken towards integrating the model within the system of the organization.

Prepare the Status Quo: Look at gender diversity within the organization and issues that women face in their day to day chores. Introduce change management techniques like sensitizing the current employees on the problems faced by women - gender bias, stereotyping and how to accommodate them in the normal course. Identify Opportunity spaces: The organization should be looking at questioning men and women alike why women are not playing an important part in the executive roles. Opportunities need to be created from these conversations with the employees being to take comprehensive and holistic measures to address this issue. Resource Allocation: For gender diversity issue to be dealt successfully, a proper budget needs to be allocated if at all the mandate given at CEO’s level has to percolate down to all the levels. Accountability: Once a budget is allocated for this initiative, reports would need to be prepared describing all the expenses and particularly the progress.


There is a major talent war raging and as we enter into the 21st century, workforce diversity and effective talent management has become an essential business concern. This might be as a social responsibility, as an economic payback, a resource imperative, marketing or business communications strategy, or for capacity building. The reasons may be many but it is clear that the greatest benefits of workforce diversity will be experienced, not by the companies that that have learnt to employ people despite their differences, but by the companies that have learned to employ people because of them. Only when organizations genuinely change their work culture and address this unconscious bias towards hiring top female talent across levels we will be able to witness tangible results. Prisoomit P Nayak, Wellingkar Institute, Mumbai

(E): Evaluate - Every initiative

taken needs to be evaluated for it to be beneficial to point out the loopholes in the system and plug them. Periodic audits and feedback from the employees should be the TogetHR | HR Magazine of IIM Shillong


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So, if you are someone who is looking forward to be involved with the business, as well as have a flair for dealing with the way people work, then HR is the right career for you.

Various faces of HR: Step 1 – Decided that HR is the career for you. CHECK! From the days when HR was merely considered to be cost incurring, to now, where it is evolving as the strategic partner, times have changed and for good. It’s that time of the year when students join the likes of many top B-Schools all over India with the goals of becoming a world class manager. “So what are you going to specialize in?” is the buzz question that will be circulating amongst the students. Well, trust me, this is the toughest question that I have ever faced because, by now, I have mastered the answer of “Why MBA?” Don’t panic! You are in the right place. For all those who are considering giving HR a serious shot, go ahead and read. What exactly is HR? Have people told you that you have the good gift of gab and hence, you are apt for HR? #Myth number 1. HR is not just about talking skills or convincing people, that’s what sales people do. As HR personnel you are expected, not just to interact with people, you are expected to generate performance from people by facilitating them with all their needs.

So now, the second step is to choose the role that suits you. Let us look at various roles a person can explore in the field of HR.


If you are looking for a career in understanding every domain of HR and if you are looking for the keyword VARIETY – then you are tailor-made to be a generalist. This also means that, one needs to be very proficient in every aspect related to Human Resources. The management as well as the department heads will value your insights and hence, for you to be a good generalist, deep knowledge is a must.


The name says it all! The task of recruitment, resourcing and talent planning is the most crucial role for an HR manager. Why so? The company needs to ensure that it has the right person, at the right time, and at the right place in order

Many companies all around the world have understood the importance of a strong work culture and a better employer-employee relationship and as a result have understood the fact that HR personnel are in fact the life line of a company.

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It is important to identify if the employee is in the right role for him and if not move him to the job that will help the company to extract the best performance from the employee. Well, if you feel it’s not your cup of tea, don’t worry, HR still has plenty to offer.


to complete a task / work efficiently. The role requires you to meet the short term and long term labour requirements for the company in the labour market. The objective is to identify and attract the right talent for the business to provide the much needed competitive edge. The role also demands you to have strong networking skills as social media such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter etc. have been serving as the platform for hiring employees. It does not stop here. Nowadays, companies have started to aim at retaining employees for long term and are moving towards “Leadership Programmes”. Here is where as HR personnel, one will be required to step in and design programmes for talent planning or succession planning. The HR department is entrusted with the task of recruiting and integrating it with succession planning and performance management. It is also imperative that the HR personnel in Recruitment division pay more attention towards the current employees. The question “Why?” arises. The answer is simple!

TogetHR | HR Magazine of IIM Shillong

For any organization, the first and foremost task will always be - to have a continuous and consistent development as re-innovation or renovation makes a huge impact. As an OD specialist, you will have to make the process of change, a smoother one for the company and the employees. This according to me, is the trickiest job, as the change management programmes may not go down well with the employees and also the management might be pressurizing you to implement the change at the earliest. The OD specialist or OD practitioner also needs to understand that every change management program will have its own set of disadvantages and hence, must go the extra mile to explain the same to the employees who are generally affected by such changes. So if you think you have in you what it takes to be an OD specialist, do go ahead.


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After the recent incident in the Manesar Maruti plant, the need of the hour is good employee relations and many of the companies have started to realize this. Thus the demand for a specialist in Employee Relations (ER) has grown tremendously. What does an ER specialist really do? Well, they help in maintaining a healthy work relationship in the organization. They bridge the gap between the management and the employees by voicing the needs of the employees. But it also involves working for the management. One is expected to understand the organization goals and make the employees in alignment with those goals. The ER specialist must know the language of the business and also understand the value of the employee’s performance. ‘Trust and Just’ are the two important characteristics needed for a person who wants to be in the Employees Relations department. Are you game for it?


I am sure the word consulting associated with Human Resources must have kindled your curiosity to read on. So what does a HR consultant do differently from a consultant? Simple! As a HR consultant, you will be expected to work in co-ordination with many organizations and work on their behalf in dealing with employee related issues and organizational changes. This is not an exhaustive list. A wide range of activities such as implementing new strategies for the TogetHR | HR Magazine of IIM Shillong

employees and the employers, helping the company sail through the storm of cultural and organizational change, designing and implementing employee benefit programmes; reward and recognition programmes and what not! Don’t be surprised if you are asked to give shape to the leadership development programme – this role offers you a lot of scope. I hope that this article has made you wear your thinking caps. Just take your own time and decide whether Human Resources is your cup of tea. Apart from the mentioned roles, there are still a lot more left to discuss. For instance, you can become a specialist in Employee Engagement, International HR, Performance and Reward etc. The choice is yours, but there are a few factors that you would need to have, in case you have decided that your future is in Human Resources. So if you have the curiosity to learn about new things, if you are a decisive thinker and most important of all, if you are a skilled influencer (like me, of course) then , you definitely have what it takes to be a HR personnel. I can hear you guys asking me what I have decided for a career in HR!! As a matter of truth, I decided to write this article after I was confused on what to do with my future but I am 100% confident that in this search for the answer of our life, all of us will emerge victorious soon!! 15

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The HRs and the friendly guys

“I want to become an HR because I get along very well with people�, claimed my enthusiastic friend as we sat together discussing our subjects of interest. However, his candid assertion failed to strike a chord with me. Human resource management no doubt is about managing the human resources of a company and the first trait that you can associate with the function is being friendly and approachable. But does that imply that all it requires is getting along with people? Or is it more than that? Right from the time when one joins a company, to the exit interviews, there are several meetings and confrontations with the human resource managers. More often than not, they are because of a complaint or a grievance or a violated policy or glitches in the salary slip! Multiply that with at least five employees on an average per day and it will not be difficult to imagine how TogetHR | HR Magazine of IIM Shillong

taxing an HR manager’s job can get. Of course one cannot go about doing their work without an interaction with other employees, so getting along with people does have its advantages. But that stands true for every department and not just human resources. Getting along with people is a virtue required by every employee and more specifically by managers across the functions and units in any company. Like marketing or finance management, human resource management is another essential function of a company which runs on certain guidelines and norms like other functions to achieve a specified set of goals and objectives. Having said that, let us take a look at the Indian culture and societal norms and the changes which have happened in it over a period of time. Ever since independence, Indians have been moving towards a more flexible culture. There has been a gradual shift from a typical Asian culture to a mix of Anglo and Asians cultures. Earlier the culture exhibited high power distance, a predominant 16

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feature in the Asian culture. People were happy with the jobs they got and would not question the authority. With globalization leading to a number of Indians travelling overseas and their foreign counter parts coming to India, the work culture has seen a drastic change. It revealed a new dimension altogether at work, where jobs were more than just salaries and pay slips. Employees became more aware and sensitive towards their role, nature of work, work environment and did not falter in asking questions when in doubt. They became more vocal in voicing their opinions and issues if their valence was not met. Consequently, the role of an HR manager got more complex than ever. The HR fraternity which was confined to blue collared jobs now had a major role to play for the white collared elite as well.

the human resources of the company with its vision and mission. Their roles are more of business enablers but very often mistaken to be that of a psychiatrist. Companies have policies which may not go well with their employees. These policies are made keeping the best interests of the company in mind, but may not impress all the employees. The HR managers have to bear the burnt of such employees and deal with them several times in a day. This could involve much more than being a friendly person. Dealing with human resources can be more difficult than managing any other resource in a company. Capital resources maybe the drivers of profit and value, but they are ultimately driven by the human resources. With the ability to judge, perceive and understand human resources demand more than what meets the eye. HR managers always have to face situations where they have to deal with disgruntled employees. There are situations where they have to hand over pink slips, deny promotion, deny transfers, etc. Such situations can baffle any sane person no matter how friendly or approachable they are.

One common misconception people have about HRs is that they work for the benefit of the employees. However this misconception is partly true if we consider it to be a sub part of a

much bigger objective. How many times we have come across frustrated employees who have complained about HRs not being of any help with the problems they are facing in the company? HR managers, though, have to keep employee benefits in their mind; their main focus is to align TogetHR | HR Magazine of IIM Shillong

HR managers need to have the ability to sugar coat bad news or sometimes be aggressive. They need to be prepared for difficult conversations as well as ensure respect to the employees. On the whole, they need to be dispassionate and learn to distinguish between the job and the person. A successful HR is one who can strike a balance between good and bad. Being friendly is one dimension of a multi dimensional personality which an HR should have and definitely not the only one. Rama Sinha, TAPMI


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In the times of an economic downturn companies respond to the situation with caution, focus and with the ultimate aim of survival. Recession, an inevitable phenomenon, is the time when businesses worldwide are tested for their strength and capability to survive the hard times. Those with not only strong strategies but with the ability to team up survive through storm of recession to reach the shore. In tumultuous times, as other functions of the businesses come together to address the adverse scenario, HR has a novel opportunity to set up and showcase its value as a strong strategic collaborator. The human resource management team should bring on to the table innovative HR policies that could contribute to cost cutting by the organization and keep employees highly motivated to work efficiently so as to achieve ‘more with less’.

HRM INNOVATIONS The HRM costs are generally quite significant cost in terms of volume to the organization and hence during recession HRM functions have to be proactive. Innovation is easy when the business grows, but introducing innovative HRM initiatives during recession is a challenge. The key

reason being the top management, who only expects potential cost savings and count every single penny spent by the organization. The top management expects the HR team to develop or change the HRM functions to suit the recessional scenario at a cheap cost, adding to cost savings by organization. During an event of downturn some of the areas where HRM innovations should focus on are enlisted below: Rightsizing/ Downsizing To optimize the number of employees is the major source of cost cutting. It may not always be necessary to lay-off employees but a proper restructuring may also help which includes managing of upper level employees. The new structure can be designed to include only limited numbers in the upper-levels. HRM must evaluate current employees and their responsibilities which can help them to identify the positions that are expendable and combinable. Lay-off leads to the organization prone to risk due to its legal responsibilities and organization should be careful with it. Contract workers and non-permanent employees can be evaluated for downsizing based on proficiency. Also work sharing can be used as a tool to reduce the volume of lay-off. Smart Hiring Some businesses may continue to hire even during recessionary times. However, it becomes important during hostile scenario for the HR managers to not only recruit individuals who are

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should adopt these strategies but with effective communication. The performance management system should also be more clearly stated and the key milestones should be re-iterated.

highly talented and can add to profits of the business but also they should ensure that new hire is not likely to leave soon. Rapid turnover is costly as it requires reinvestment in recruitment. HR managers must keenly look for candidates who can acclimate to work soon to ensure a short learning curve and avoid slow productivity and reduced earnings. Training and development expenses can also be reduced by adopting innovative practices like on-job training, internal trainer or in-house training for new hires etc. Employee Evaluation Employee evaluation is of key importance to benchmark as well as track the performances. During economic downturn, it is important for the organization to ensure that all its employees are performing at optimum levels. Also this must be done carefully keeping in view company’s budget. For maintaining the financial viability of business it sometimes becomes necessary to freeze benefits as well as re-negotiate terms of certain employee contracts, and HR managers

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Re-designing compensation & benefits To cut down overhead operating expenses, human resource managers must have strategic plans for payroll expenditures. Resorting to parttime positions and reducing full-time positions can help in saving expenses on benefits like health care, vacations, employee stock ownership plan etc., hiring freelancers or independent consultants for some jobs and encouraging workfrom-home can be helpful in reducing overhead and operating expenses to some extent. Working in shifts and over-time working hours should be avoided.

Initiative to Increase Productivity and Efficiency HR managers should identify key employees that are asset to organization and try to retain them with strategic negotiation (as some employees tend to leave the organization due to changes in their compensation scheme). Motivation of employees in non-monetary form plays an important role to achieve maximum dedication from employees even after postponement of their benefit schemes. 19

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Conclusion HRM function during the times of recession is not just about cost cutting by employee lay-off but it is far more important and the responsibility of making the organization stronger to face

Effective Communication and Building of faith & trust Recession creates anxiety and fear among the employees which hampers their efficiency. HR managers thus need to interact with employees regularly to maintain their calm and composure, and should convey their strengths and weakness at the same time. The HR managers should try and show the employees a true picture of the financial health of organization which helps in creating a sense of belongingness among employees enabling them to contribute in a much better way. This also builds an environment of faith and employees are able to trust the management with respect to freezing of their benefits.

the downturn lies on the shoulders of HR managers. To handle the psychological trauma induced across organization due to sudden and unexpected recession is a challenging job which HR managers need to perform. With proper strategies and contingency plans HRM functions can be modified to address the adverse scenario. ‘Managing Change’ remains the need of the hour during recessionary period.

Shujata Singh, IIM Shillong

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Use of psychometrics in HR


Need of the hour

In order to ensure outstanding organizational performance, one of the most critical elements would be the selection and development of the employees. Research done at various locations across the globe has been successful in demonstrating that the psychometric assessment tools could contribute significantly towards improving the selection process for new employees as well as for internal promotions. Psychometrics is the study of psychological measurement which includes measurement of knowledge, abilities, attitudes, personality traits,

TogetHR | HR Magazine of IIM Shillong

educational measurement, etc. Psychometric tests include the tests that can be systematically scored and administered and are used to measure individual differences. They can be either ability tests that would assess the specific ability of the test-taker at verbal, numerical or abstract reasoning, etc or personality assessment tests which give a more detailed insight into the profile of the candidate that other methods of assessment cannot capture. In recent times, the human resource professionals have caught onto this buzzing field of research and begun to use the psychometric analysis in their job of hiring and promoting, in addition to their usual methods. And as the research and the opinion of the experts claims, from the assembly line operator to the filing clerk, and from the tactical layer of employees to the top management, there is scarcely a job for which psychometric tests has


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not provided helpful insights in matters relating to hiring, job assignment, transferring, promoting and even firing.

Research has proved that psychometric tests are generally more reliable and more valid than other techniques. Studies done in trade and industry has also proved that psychometric tests are about four times more effective than screening interviews. In times like today, where the staff turnover costs are indeed very high and identifying key staff from the large pool looking for opportunities is of great importance, psychometric assessments could be the next big thing that happened to human resource management. There are generally certain legal policies and directives that guide the conducting of the psychometric tests. Also, specialized training is required for the professionals to be able to conduct these tests, and to determine which tests would give the best results under the given circumstances and how the results can be interpreted appropriately and responsibly. Certain tests could be used only by psychologists or other suitably qualified and registered persons under the supervision of psychologists. The HR department when selecting the tests should ensure that whatever test procedure they choose, it should scientifically be valid and reliable, can be applied fairly to all employees and is not biased against any specific employee or group. A good and accurate method of job TogetHR | HR Magazine of IIM Shillong

analysis that is, breaking down the job into dimensions and competencies would help in this regard. Simple, verifiable tests for these job related competencies would also be required. Work sample tests or assessment centres could be used here. It would also be essential to keep a complete and detailed statistics of all the applicants at all stages of the entire selection process, so that it can be a safeguard against allegations of differential impact. If we see across industries and organizations, there is no fixed, generally accepted or standard selection procedure that is common to all. Depending upon the nature of the organization, the selection procedure could be fairly simple or very highly complex. It would also depend upon the task or job for which the people are being selected, as also the philosophy, vision and mission of the organization in general and the human resource wing in particular. A large majority of the selection procedures used by organizations today have their foundation in the ‘successive hurdle technique’. So, in order to get hired, the employees would have to go through various screening steps, successfully. At each step, a certain number of employees would be rejected and hence eliminated from the selection process. Psychometric tests can be of immense value and utility in the selection process, especially because of their objectivity and validity. But it must not be forgotten, that the psychometric tests can only be an aid to the final selection, one possible step of the whole selection process. They can never be used all by themselves and should not be treated as ‘the selection process’ in themselves. Thus, the psychometric evaluation can become one of the elimination stages or a hurdle of the total selection process and can be relied upon to point at prospective candidates, who would do 22

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a good job, if selected for the particular job. The whole sequence could be something like this –

Recruitment of candidates

Some of the psychometric tests that can be used by organizations as part of their selection procedure are listed below – Sixteen personality factor questionnaire South African Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale

Application forms

Intermediate battery Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory

Preliminary screening

Senior Aptitude Tests Career path appreciation

Reference Checking

High level figure classification test


Psychometric Testing

Interview: Human resource department

Interview: Line management

SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire SHL Customer contact styles questionnaire Thomas personal profile analysis Myers-Briggs Type indicator Group interaction exercise Presentation exercise In-basket exercise Structured-objective Rorschach test

Medical Examination

Nineteen field interest inventory High level battery tests Self-directed search questionnaire

Successful Candidates

Unsuccessful Candidates

SHL personnel test battery SHL technical test battery

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Thematic appreciation test

in each organization, for each specific job, the validity of the test battery being used has to be ensured.

Normal battery Academic aptitude test Programmer aptitude battery SHL management and graduate item bank SHL Critical reasoning test battery SHL customer contact aptitude series Perceptual battery Raven’s progressive matrices Mechanical comprehension Provided the issue of bias can be dealt with, the psychometric tests offer an inexpensive and timeefficient solution. The overall recruiting space across the globe, including that in the developing countries, which is seeing a wave of development across its culturally and linguistically diverse population, of dropping the old personality and aptitude tests altogether and taking to the new ability testing methods. However, there is no clear set of criteria for making these decisions, except for broad issues of bias and fairness and the availability of the local norms. The trend towards assessment centres and competencybased assessment is growingly evident. When used correctly and in conjunction with other data, the psychometric tests are invaluable for the practice of human resource management, but when used incorrectly, they do the discipline great disservice.

Ultimately, psychometric testing and development is undergoing an unstable period in the history of its use. It is a known fact that well developed psychometric tests are much more valid and fair than many other selection methods. Given the critical demand that are likely to be placed on the human resource management in the future, there is a need for collaboration between the test users to establish policies and to support research directed at providing the industry with usable instruments to identify talent fairly, effectively and efficiently. It must be borne in mind that competency-based assessment measures current ability or achieved competence, while the psychometric testing would assess the potential for development.

Bhavi M Patel, IRMA

Presently, it is of utmost importance that the psychometric tests be validated for the various organizations that use it or seek to use it. Thus, TogetHR | HR Magazine of IIM Shillong


Connoisseur Co n co c t i o n Speaks

I have been following your magazine Q for one year and I am particularly impressed

First we need to consider whether the A problem you are stating is apparently genuine.

by the way you handle queries in this section. My problem is a little unique. My husband and I am working in the same place. I am the HR manager and he is my superior. The issue is that my husband trusts his secretary a lot, but that man has been stalking me wherever I go. He is a very jovial person and everyone in the office has high regards for him. I discussed this behavior of his with my colleagues and they refused to believe me. I tried telling my problem to my husband as well but he is also not ready to hear me out and because of this we fight almost every day at home. Now please let me know how I should handle this issue as it is disturbing my family life.

The reason we are stating this, is because you have mentioned that this issue has already been discussed with some of the colleagues and they ostensibly do not feel the same way as you probably do. So, just attempt to confirm whether he is ‘stalking’ you in the office. Okay, you are doubly sure that, it is a stark reality that he is after you. What you can do is that, confront him and make it clear to him that you are unsure of what his intentions are by creating a disturbance in your office space. And reiterate to him that whatever his intentions may be, you are not comfortable with the way things are happening and you do not desire to carry forward this way. If he is inclined to listen to you, well and good, issue is sorted. If he doesn’t, then write a formal complaint and make sure that the person who is troubling you is given a warning before you take this up with the authorities. There is a possibility that the harassment might stop after the warning. The complaint can only be a last resort and should be done ‘if all else fails’. Write to us, if you need any more help in this regard.


I am working in a private company since the past 1 year. I do not have any problem as such but this is an ethical dilemma. My company is trying to terminate employees as a part of downsizing and this is mostly based on performance. They have shortlisted few people and now are starting to monitor their performance for the next 3 months before firing them. One of my friends in the company is also in the list. Should I warn him or not? Is it ethical or not ? Please help me. I am very much confused.

We are able to empathize with your A situation. When you took the responsibility of your

job in your shoulders, you planned and promised to dedicate your time, effort and energy towards the fruitful completion of the project handed over to you. As time proceeds, it so happens that the diligence erodes for some people due to various reasons and that reflects in the performance. This is exactly why the company has taken to downsizing based on this criterion. Now, make sure that the same doesn’t happen to you, in the sense that, your duty conscious attitude should remain ever the same, no matter whether the issue revolves around your friend or any other third person. This holds true because professional and personal lives are two very distinguished things and they don’t cross ways ever. So, one thing you can do is be a good influence to your friend, attempt to make him focus more on work instead of being lackadaisical towards it. But, in all certainty, this is the coercion you are exerting on him as a friend and it is better it remains just as a gentle shove, and must not in any case sound as desperation from your side. Let him earn his position and not rest in your shadows for his sustenance. We firmly believe that the shred of doubt that existed before concerning this issue has now been cast aside and you are clear about where your loyalties lie. Thanks you for writing to us.

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Co Connoisseur n co c t i o n Speaks


My problem is that my manager is not approving any of my suggestions that I am proposing for the employee appraisal or other employee welfare activities. As a HR manager with many years of experience I am confident that my suggestions are feasible and will show positive results but i have no clue why my manager is not ready to accept it. How do I confront him without straining our relationship?

You have mentioned yourself that A you have several years of experience as an

HR manager. So, the foundation by which we are basing our interaction to you is that the activities you are now suggesting will truly add value to the functioning of your company. The next issue that you should stand by and believe in is your long standing association in this domain. The reluctance of your manager to accept your thoughts might be because of the fact that he contemplates that you are not confident of your own achievements and that you might falter in your recommendations. Arrange a meeting with him, like a dinner if you enjoy a good rapport with him or even if you don’t (there should be an initiation for everything, even for establishing a friendship). Over the course of your discussion, put forth your opinions in a manner which confirms your confidence in your expertise, but an attitude in this regard might strike as a negative, which can go against you. Easy does it! And make your talk explanatory, clearly mentioning the results and attribute it to the plan of action that is in store. You will feel the transition in the manager’s mindset shifting in the positive, capitalize and steer your way!

Call for Articles & Participation Team usHR invites articles from B-Schools all across India. We are looking for original articles related to field of Human Resources. References should be cited wherever necessary. The best article will be featured as the “Article of the Issue” and would be awarded cash prize of INR 1000 Few of the good unpublished articles are put up in our blog: Contest Winner of every issue gets a prize money worth INR 500 along with a certificate of appreciation For other updates, check our Facebook page – “usHR-HR Club of IIM Shillong”. The issue details can be checked on our blog

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Co nte s t

Contest With the Best Internship Speaks

Use all your THINKING HATS to write your internship experiences in the best way and win prize money

All of us have started a new chapter in our corporate innings. The first match will always be unforgettable and the most exciting of them all. Why not document those memories and experiences? TogetHR welcomes you to share your internship experiences with us in not more than 500 words and help enrich the readers with the wisdom that you gained during this stint. Last date for sending the answers for Contest: Jul 10th, 2013 Email ID: Subject of the email: TogetHRContest11_CollegeName_Name of Person

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Announcement of Results The prize for “Article of the Issue” has been awarded to Shujata Singh from Indian Institute of Management, Shillong for her Article “Managing Recession - The HR Perspective”. She is awarded a cash prize of INR 1000 and Certificate of Appreciation All other authors whose articles are published in this issue shall also receive Certificate of Appreciation The prize for “Contest with the Best” of MAR - APR 2013 Issue has been awarded to Ayush Agarwal from Indian Institute of Management, Shillong. He is awarded with a cash prize of INR 500 and a Certificate of Appreciation Last Contest Answers: In the right order -> Blue - Douglas Murray McGregor; Red Robert Rosenthal; Black - Hawthorne Effect; Green - Threat Rigidity Effect; Yellow - Blind Ad

Instructions for Submission Article should not have been published anywhere earlier • The Article should have a single author • Kindly email your article with the file name and the subject as <Title of Article> _<Institute Name>_<Author’s name> by Jul 10th, 2013 to hrclub. Article must be sent in Microsoft Word Document (doc/docx), Font: Times New Roman, Font Size: 12, Line spacing: 1.5. The size of the article should be between 700-1000 words The cover page of the article should only contain the Title of the Article, the Author’s Name and the Institute’s Name Results of this issue contest and selected artilces shall be announced in the next issue of TogetHR

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Rajiv Gandhi Indian Institute of Management Shillong Mayurbhanj Complex, Nongthymmai Shillong - 793014 email: Mobile: +91 8730002445 c Team usHR, IIM Shillong

Published by usHR, HR Club of IIM Shillong

Togethr May - Jun 2013  
Togethr May - Jun 2013