Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Guest Post: Perceptions of HR

Author: Monika Manchanda

Thanks for the honor of asking me to write a guest post. It’s a great feeling and whatever else I wanted to say here…Prateek stole it from me! I am telling you guys it’s like he read my thoughts and then put them in the introduction to this post. Just kidding…

Let me get down to the business of writing the post.

When I started to write a guest post for an HR blog my first thought of was does the term HR mean to a person in any organization. If you run a poll in an organization, 80% of them consider staffing or recruitment as the HR’s primary function. This isn’t what I think. I personally think staffing or recruitment should only be a part of HR.

Off course, every working person’s bible - Wiki has to say about HR:

Human resources is a term used to refer to how employees are managed by organizations”

What role does HR play during an employee’s tenure with his/ her organization? I think the real HR work begins after a person is hired. Day to day activities like helping them settle down on the first day, legal formalities taken care of and introductions to the team made are things that a newly inducted employee looks forward too. They say first impressions count! The HR team must be able to handle the non technical trainings and most importantly handle the all important ‘Career Development’ aspect of an employee’s future in the company. According to me, the HR person must be able to gauge and understand a new employee’s goals’ and aspirations. They must be able to seamless integrate the candidate’s plans and the company’s plans. Over time a manager will have a clearer view of a person’s capability and determine their future goals within the organization but, the hope must be kick-started by a staffing expert.

Unfortunately, in reality a person sees the HR twice – the day we join a company and during the appraisal period. It always helps having a friend in the HR department! Or so it seems.

In most of the organizations I have worked in a career spanning over 9 years, I have noticed that all of them have only taken the hiring aspect of HR seriously. This creates a negative attitude towards HR in most of the employee’s minds; which is not necessarily true. However, one of my previous employers did a brilliant job in segregating and defining the various functions of HR. To say that it was helpful would be an understatement.

So, I will conclude this post with a simple expectation. I believe HR is the only section in an organization which has the capability of being transparent and communicable to an employee even before joining, to the day we leave a company. They are the face of a company.

About the Author:

Monika is a technology professional with over 9 years of work experience in the software industry. She has currently taken a break from corporate life and is enjoying time with her son, gardening, traveling and writing.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Avant Garde Bloggies Award

Thanks to @prateekgupta for nominating my blog for the ‘Avant Garde Bloggies Award’.

‘The HR Store’ has managed to find a place among the finalists for the ‘Best Professional Blogger Award’.

You can go here and vote for me. Thanks!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

What to do with a second job offer?

What should a person do if he gets an offer or an interview within a short time like 1-2 month of joining in a new job?

Would it look inappropriate on the CV to have worked for a month in an organization?


Did you go in search of another offer after you joined the current firm? Or did ‘Firm B’ call you with an offer after you joined ‘Firm A’. The answer lies in these questions.

If it’s the former case, that’s you went looking for an offer then the answer is, “Yes, take up the offer from Firm B”. I would say yes, because there must be something about your current offer that’s not working out for you. It could be any of the following reasons or more: compensation, role & responsibility, travel, benefits, perks, bad manager, work culture, etc. The lack of NOT having a component that you wanted most in an offer must have triggered your search for a better one. You should still bring it up with the current manager and see if you can work things out. I’m pretty sure they’ll value the time and effort gone into selecting you for the role.

Well, there’s not guarantee that the second offer will be any better. You can only hope that it’s better.

Now, let’s take the latter situation. That’ Firm B came with an offer after you joined your current firm, my answer would be, “No, let it go”. Even if it’s a tad better than the current one. Here’s why. You’ve already spent a month on the job and that would mean your team/manager has spent enough time & effort to get you to speed. You don’t want to screw them over by leaving them now. You’re sure going to burn bridges and might have long term implication. If you are in a niche market, it gets tougher; either the manager/team member will know someone in the other firm. Or at a later time period, you could interview with a Company that they might have joined. Rest assured; they aren’t going to pick you after your past act.

When you accept an offer, it’s a commitment you make. You don’t break that unless you have a very strong or valid reason. Further there’s no stopping Firm B from questioning your commitment. They’ll wonder if you’ll leave them just as easily for a better offer in a few months. Long term implications. Remember?

There’s even a remote possibility that Firm A will be ok with your exit. You can make only one mistake like this. Is the offer Firm B’s offer worth that move now?

If you still choose to go ahead with the second offer, I would suggest you don’t need to show the one month work period in your resume. It might be perceived as indecisive and that you might have taken a hasty or immature decision. Leave it off the resume.

Good luck!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Remote HR. Possible?

From my discussion with a reader:

Scenario: An employee works for a firm that doesn’t have an in-house HR team. Most of the HR related work (staffing, employee relations, performance reviews, general HR activities etc.,) are managed from a remote location. Email and phone are the best available options for communication. The HR person does visit remote locations once in a while to spend time with the employees.

Now, the employee is planning to quit, citing better career opportunities. Manager has initiated the exit process and asks HR to complete their part in the exit process. HR calls in from headquarters to conduct the exit interview. Asks employee the reason for deciding to quit and even tries their best to retain the employee. The HR has had very limited discussions in the past and have only stepped in when there’s a crisis. The employee isn’t comfortable answering most of the questions, because the HR person conducting the interview hasn’t even met/seen the employee.

I was informed it’s the same with other HR related activities too.

Leads me to ask: Does managing HR remotely work?

Well, if we consider the above scenario, the answer is a ‘No’. Managing HR from a remote location would mean that you still don’t get to feel the pulse of the organization. You really can’t expect employees to open up in a discussion with a HR person they’ve never met before. When it happens in an exit interview, you can be rest assured that it’s not going to be taken well.

Might have worked differently if it was a couple of employees working remotely and HR steps in to cater to their needs. It’s then a given, that HR will communicate only via phone/mail. It wouldn’t be possible to fly out to go meet just the two employees working remotely. Cost is a major deterrent. This is exactly the reason why managers are hesitant to let employees work remotely. In-person communication always has an advantage over remote discussions. Period. Agreed that there’s enough high-end technology that might help HR manage employees working in remote locations, yet, it doesn’t substitute for an in-person discussion.

Among various HR activities, employee relations top the list of HR activities that requires face-to-face interaction. Though emails/phone calls can answer the queries, it doesn’t allow one get a feel for non-verbal communication. That’s about 70% of every discussion! An exit interview provides a great chance to understand the reason for an employee’s exit. It could maybe even help with getting enough data for rehiring the employee in future. That would only be possible if you showed up in-person at the remote location.

There are a couple of repercussions that I can see stemming from having a remote HR team. First, managing cultural differences across locations can prove to be a challenge for a remote HR team. Second, future hiring can take a hit if either current/exiting employees voice their opinion on not having a local HR team to cater to their needs.

I’m not discounting the fact that there could possibly be a ton of advantages (cost, infrastructure, time, headcount, etc.,) which prompts HR team to work remotely. These costs will become negligible, when compared to the cost of losing great talent. Especially when you’re dealing with people who are helping you grow revenue, talking on behalf of your Company or bringing in good talent through referrals.

Choose wisely.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Should I quit?

Dear HR Store,

I have a query. Is it time to quit a company when an employee is depressed and stressed out? With end results sometimes leading to an employee in tears.

The problem can be attributed to a horrible manager and repeated escalations aren't helping as well.


Well, with the limited information that you have provided, my answer is ‘yes’. You should look for another job.

I really can’t think of a good reason to ask you to stay back in a job that’s only going to make it worse for you. That’s assuming you’ve done your part of having discussions/ tried sorting out any issues/ taken & given feedback, with your manager. It might not have worked out in your favor, but that effort is required to find out the real cause of the problem. Might just help you deal with similar situations in future.

You mention that you escalated the situation. Whom did you escalate it to? Was it his boss? Or HR? I’m keen to know.

Did you escalate the issues after having a candid discussion with the manager? Or did you escalate it to the next level without having a discussion with the manager? If it’s the former situation, then it’s fair since you went through the reporting hierarchy. If it the latter (by-passing reporting structure) that’s not a comfortable situation for your manager to be in and that could have worsened the situation. The second line manager will have only your version of the issue and he’ll then approach your manager for getting his version. You can bet your last penny, that if this happens, your manager isn’t going to be very happy with it.

Now, I’ll assume you must have spoken to your manager’s boss (second line manager), rather than with the HR. If that hasn’t worked either, I’ll have to assume that the second line manager has backed your manager’s work and stands by your manager. Their working styles could be functioning just fine for each other. In that case, I don’t think you stand a chance to counter argue or escalate. It will go eventually go against you. You could even try and get help from HR (employee relations). It might bring a fresh perspective to the issue.

Your references for future jobs might be dependent on the manager. Therefore, keeping HR informed might work in your favor, should the next employer try and reach them for your reference.

I do have one more question, are you the only person affected by your manager’s behavior? Or are the other members on the team equally affected? The answer should tell you the something about the manager’s way of dealing with things and you could then either align yourself to his way of working or leave. That’s a call you can take with some objectivity and which could also lead to some very truthful answers. It would be futile to try and change the way your manager approached things at work, unless he is the ready to sit down and have that one candid discussion. Better yet, be open to receive feedback. In your case, the situation seems to have gone too far for trying that approach.

Get your resume updated. Start applying for a new job. Get an offer in hand. And then quit.

Good luck!

Previous posts that might be helpful:

Are you hit by 'Hurricane Micro-Manager'?

Abusive Managers: Confront or Walk-out?

PS: I got these wonderful tips on Twitter from @preethe, who read this post. She suggests a couple of things that might work too. Thanks!
  1. Explore the option of changing projects within the same Company. That could lead to working with a different manager.
  2. Taking the issue to HR and then talking to the resourcing manager for a new project might solve the issue.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Candidate Tip - Part 5

Few months back, I had started the ‘Candidate Tip Series’ with the intention to answer hiring related questions from readers. The series was introduced in an attempt to avoid redundancy in replies.Further, I tweet these tips on my twitter account too using #candidatetip.

If you are a candidate, hope this helps. If not, you can help send this post to anyone searching for answers. I’ll continue to take questions and should you have one, you can send it to thehrstore@gmail.com

Looking for the earlier posts on candidate tips? Here’s part – 1, 2, 3 and 4

  • When asked for a good time to schedule an interview, don’t give a time when you can’t take the call! Use a 3-step process: Stop. Think. Answer.

  • I know it's your personal email account; but having 'corny' messages in your mail signature won't work in your favor in a job hunt.

  • Dear Candidate: I didn't call to listen to your ringer-tone song selection! Pick up the phone at the scheduled time for an interview.

  • If you choose send your LinkedIn profile instead of a resume, then ensure your LinkedIn profile is updated with details.

  • Please don't mention your Facebook/Twitter links on your resume (unless asked). Same as with blogs (here's why http://bit.ly/astvvv)

  • Changing your contact number is fine, but do keep the recruiter/interviewer informed. Common sense. No?

  • Avoid clich├ęs in your resume & you'll notice 2 pages is a lot of space to fill out your professional achievements. Try it.

  • If you've a post lunch interview, plan your food intake with care. Over-eating leads to 'burping'. Only Garfield likes it!

  • You might think you're friendly in your approach. But hugging an interviewer isn't the best way to greet! WTH were you thinking.

  • Sending gifts to an interviewer isn't going to get you the job! Doing well in the interviews will improve your chances.