Sunday, May 28, 2017

HRD Missionary: Professionalization of Professional Bodies

HRD Missionary: Professionalization of Professional Bodies: Professional Bodies and Office Seekers T V Rao Professional bodies like the AIMA, AMA, ISTD, NHRDN, NIPM, ISABS, ISISD etc. have c...

HRD Missionary: Professionalization of Professional Bodies

HRD Missionary: Professionalization of Professional Bodies: Professional Bodies and Office Seekers T V Rao Professional bodies like the AIMA, AMA, ISTD, NHRDN, NIPM, ISABS, ISISD etc. have c...

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Professionalization of Professional Bodies

Professional Bodies and Office Seekers

T V Rao

Professional bodies like the AIMA, AMA, ISTD, NHRDN, NIPM, ISABS, ISISD etc. have contributed a lot to the development of the respective professions and professionals. Indian Professional bodies, I am familiar with, have a great opportunity to contribute and have a long way to go compared to their counterparts in the west. For example, the American Society for Training and Development, SHRM, American Psychological Association, The American Sociological Association, The Academy of HRD, USA etc. have done enormous service to their professions. They encourage research, hold conferences, publish journals, conduct certification programs. In all this work, they involve most of the time the top-grade universities and scholars besides practitioners and executives. One thing remarkable about these bodies in other countries is the involvement of academics and scholars. In India whenever the academics and scholars were involved a good degree of research took place and over a period there seems to be a tremendous decline of the involvement of academics and scholars. Concerted effort may have to be made to engage the scholars to upgrade the quality of contributions of these professional bodies. Research and publications is the backbone of any profession. In the absence of them there is a risk of them turning out to be like clubs to meet the affiliation needs of those involved. Professional bodies should develop a plan of action and have self-renewal mechanism instituted to rejuvenate them and lift their quality and impact.

You Don't need to hold office to contribute to a Profession or a professional body

I have seen many enthusiasts’ wanting to be office bearers of professional bodies. I am a life member of NHRDN, ISTD, ISABS, ISET and AMA. I am not a member of NIPM nor AIMA. I conduct a HR Leadership event every year for AMA though I had never been an office bearer or on its Board. CK Prahalad used to come every year when he was alive, and gave a honorary lecture at AMA for the city of Ahmedabad. I always welcomed any invitation from and never refused to address any chapter of NIPM or NIPM itself whenever they requested me. NIPM even sponsored me for some global award even though I am not a member. ISTD also invited me several times for keynote talks etc. even though I was never an office bearer.  On the contrary, NHRDN for which I am Founder and first president never invited me for a keynote talk or as a key speaker in the last 20 years. They do invite me to attend their conferences or to say a few words, occasionally depending on the Chapter’s preference. This honor was given to me by NIPM and ISTD.

 In fact, I am not even on the Board of NHRDN for the last several years. I did not want to participate in the selection process of its office bearers except once in the last 15 years. Almost all decisions in the last 20 years have been taken without my involvement. About 18 years ago, when it was not picking up and activities were at the lowest, I volunteered to constitute a Renewal Committee and rejuvenated with the help of a large number of others including Aquila Busrai, Arvind Agarwal, P V R Murthy, Rupa Padki, Uday Pareek in 1999-2000. Once Arvind Agarwal was appointed the President in 2000, I withdrew and was like any other member.  My contention was, learning from Ravi Matthai, my time was over and it is for others to lead. However, this does not stop me from contributing to NHRDN as its member and founder President without  imposing my views.. 

Once in recent years, I requested for a small fund to recruit summer trainees to consolidate all the publications of NHRDN and put them together. Though the President agreed the Director General declined. I felt upset, but went ahead and spent my own money, hired the trainees and completed the task. The thousand and odd articles are now available on NHRDN portal. In recent times I saw members of some professional bodies taking up issues for positions on some of these professional bodies. I have also seen some members contesting elections and doing a lot of canvassing and after they get elected rarely turn up to events. Professionalism and sense of responsibility is missing among  some of them. I have also seen a few members who have taken it as a mission only to find faults in the governance system of these bodies. Good Governance is important. Transparency is very important. It is not enough to read out a code of conduct but it is more important to practice it and be available for examination of this practice. 

You don’t need to be a member of a professional body to contribute to it or to the profession it represents.  You can do it in many ways and you will receive the gifts you deserve. The most important gift your receive is the self-satisfaction that you made a difference. If someone is interested in serving a professional body as an office bearer, I would strongly recommend to these professional bodies to create positions to accommodate all those interested. Along with it there should be strict evaluation of their contributions and removal in the absence of their being able to fulfill their commitment to the body.  It is difficult to get volunteers who can spend time and if someone is willing please do not turn them away. Some of them may not know how to approach the body and some of them may even make the mistake of pointing out the legal validity of some of those who are elected.

Performance or Contribution Appraisal of Office bearers should be compulsory

Some members go out of way to canvass for getting elected for positions and once they are elected they don’t even attend meetings. I have come across one case when a President of a Chapter would not do anything and he would not also resign after having been elected as President. When an informal meeting as called and someone from the local university volunteered to take up the role, the president in office threatened the professor that he will be beaten up if he does not withdraw. The chapter never recovered from this and the city lost a great opportunity. I find it difficult to understand why some professionals go out of way to make issues and keep controversies alive. They should realize that they are harming themselves and the profession they represent without their knowing it. I also believe that professional bodies should not become mere legal entities in the name of good governance. What is needed is flexibility, creativity, sense of purpose and commitment to a cause. It goes without saying that these bodies should conduct their activities transparently, ensure all statutory compliance particularly in financial and accounting matters. 

If someone is not working they should be prompt enough to remove them and let the body function. Unfortunately, there is so much of local apathy to professional bodies in some places. In other places, there is intense competition to fight elections and take positions. Both have their downsides.
To avoid such things professional bodies should also have strict performance evaluations of all their office bearers every six months and even undertake a 360 feedback once a while. Performance evaluation by members (related members) is a must in professional bodies and the results should be transparently published.

In my view self-regulation is the key to success of Professional bodies. When office bearers take up positions they should publicly commit their time and other resources for building the profession and contributing to the body. Unless they do this they would be doing enormous invisible damage to the profession. It is not right and not ethical. 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Power of Incompetence and Powerlessness of the Competent

The Power of Incompetence and Powerlessness of the Competent
T. V. Rao
I always wondered if most Chairpersons, CEOs, MDs, Presidents, CXOs, CHROs really and genuinely interested in recruiting and using competent people as peers (colleagues at same level) or juniors at immediate next levels. Often good leaders are advised to be great leaders by getting team members more competent than them and when they choose employees more competent than them, the organizations really prosper. I have begun to feel that this remains mostly in theory and rare to find people like Dr. Vikram Sarabhai or Ravi Matthai or Abdul Kalam who are highly secure (emotionally) Institution Builders and always respected competence, recruited competent people and left them free to build institutions. As late Dr. Kamla Choudhry postulated Dr. Sarabhai and Matthai spotted competent people and built Institutions or centers around them.
Today it is perhaps rare to find such people and phenomena. It seems that no leader (CEO/CHRO/CXO or equivalent) would want to have more competent people around them as almost all of them be afraid of losing credit and fear of getting drowned in the glory of the competent colleagues or juniors. Only family family-owned business heads who made already a great success and achieved peak of emotional security seem to show this capability. Almost all leaders now a days want to maintain their supremacy and believe the only way to do that is by having normally less competent people around them.
I must clarify what I mean by competence- it is not necessarily domain competence but it could also mean attitudinal, emotional or style or some form of inadequacy that makes an individual more acceptable to their seniors but less impactful on juniors or others.  Competency is defined as knowledge, attitudes, skills, self-concept, emotional intelligence, values, traits etc. In academic world, I know the heads of many Institutions including those of some premier Institutions who ensure that positions a of importance is held by people who are less competent or at least have one weakness or the other which gives them a good handle of control over these leaders. For example, one Director always chose a “yes person” as his Dean or Head of the Department wherever he had choice. Some others recruit competent people and make them incompetent either by over boosting of their ego to a level of dysfunctionality, or pumping too much of their vision and styles and leave little choice for the person to use his/her other competencies. A Chairman went to search all over the world for a good CEO of International repute and pumped into is head a lot of ego that made the CEO partially incompetent by becoming rigid and exercising a high ego. He in turn chose an “Yes Person” as his next level and delegated whatever suited him.  Recently when a reputed Industrialist became the Chairman of an academic Institute and needed to choose a committee to assist him to rejuvenate the Institute, he chose a few members from his Board who either belonged to his fraternity or popular names and completely ignored members with domain expertise who could give him good inputs. It may not have even occurred to him that there are competent people. Normally the choice of the team member is based on one with who o feel comfortable rather than one who can contribute. That is where competence becomes powerless and incompetence becomes powerful. Remember the article that appeared in Harvard Business review on Competent jerks and Lovable fools (HBR, June 2005) The authors proposed that normally when people must choose people to help them at work, they use likeability over competence as a criterion. Many CHROs make sure that they don’t have highly competent HR Managers. or tend to choose who can surpass them as it will lead to ego clash or sharing of credit. This also explains the reason why there is no succession planning in most organizations including the PSUs and PSBs despite the need for the same being felt for the last over two decades. This is simply because of the “fear of competent overshadowing the incompetent”. So, Incompetence wins and the competence is shelved and sometimes retires unnoticed.
I would like now to turn the argument round to say that that it is not to your advantage if you are highly competent person. You should have some incompetence with you to be chosen to work with. One of the incompetencies is lack of time. There are some leaders who volunteer or get appointed as members of the Board, or Advisory Board, or Task Force, Committees etc.  Once in it, they rarely attend meetings as they are very popular and busy people. These busy and popular people re normally chosen as they rarely attend meetings and happily lend their name for the final report. This is another form of incompetence preferred by leaders. The Chairman of these committees want to feel that they have a “High Powered “Committee (who never attended any meetings! For example, if you form a search Committee to find the next president of a professional body or the Director of an institution what are your criteria? First criteria is the person who should have good track record and credibility. Second criteria are the person should have domain familiarity and some domain knowledge or some experience in search for competent people. A rarely asked question is on the interest of the candidate and time he/she can spare. I have seen many committees where the report is almost written by the Chairman or Secretary and few of his cronies and the Committee is used to give an online approval. What do you consider such type of members who give their “yes” response and feel happy to be called members of the Committee? I call them also incompetent people as their competence is not available to be put to use.
When five of us worked for the HR Committee of the Ministry of Finance called as Khandelwal Committee, there were five of us members: A IT Professor from IIT and a member of Bank Board, Another Private sector bank ED, A Successful Chairman of Bank of Baroda, Chairman of another bank and Chairman of the IBA, and a HR Expert. I understand that we were carefully chose. We worked for six months visited all Nationalized banks and held detailed discussions. At one time, we divided ourselves to look at our special areas of domain competence (for example a IT specialist looked at IT issues, strategy specialist looked strategies and so on). Of course, we also had ex-officio members who may not have attend all meetings but kept them I the loop all the time by continuously circulating minutes.  This one committee report that was accepted almost in toto for implementation.

Most of the time I have begun to feel that to be competent and aggressive is a disadvantage and you may be discredited as a difficult person to deal with or sometimes a person who only makes notice and may not have much to contribute. The at means your competence has made you powerless and you should have been incompetent in a way that the other members feel more secure to have you as a member. However, if you are too timid and shy and are not noticeable even if you are competent in many ways you may be kept out. If you are competent and shy you are incompetent. If you are competent and aggressive, again you are incompetent. Your competence makes you powerless. Your competence should be only to the level that makes others feel secure.  The challenge is to be incompetently competent or competently incompetent? A competent jerk who is lovable? Or a Lovable fool who is competent?

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

HRD Missionary: Ugly HR: You are your own Resource: Why Curse or D...

HRD Missionary: Ugly HR: You are your own Resource: Why Curse or D...: You are your own Resource: Why Depend on HR?                                                      T. V. Rao                             ...

Ugly HR: You are your own Resource: Why Curse or Depend on HR?

You are your own Resource: Why Depend on HR?
                                                     T. V. Rao                                                      

In recent times, while travelling, I found the number of conversations I hear from strangers are surprisingly filled with references to HR. The other day when I was travelling from Hyderabad to Ahmedabad, the girl next to me was on her cell phone for almost 20 mts until the doors closed. I could hear the word “HR” several times loudly. The other words in conversation slows down but whenever she uttered HR it was loud. In another group of youngsters, the other day at Pune airport were repeatedly talking about HR and having fun at them for doing some gafla in recruitment, posting and incentives. It looks today most people are concerned about HR and depend on them for recruitment, placement, offer letters, injustice done in fixing salary, change of jobs, pink slips, blue slips, no slips, transfers, vacation, change of boss, KRAs, incentives, accommodation, postings and so many things.
In all this, HR seems to have to faces: The Ugly face and the Happy face. Most of the time stranger conversations deal with the ugly face, and they seem to be on the increase. I get touched and sometimes pained that the term HR is applied for anything that obstructs you in fulfilling you desires. Originally when we decided to create a department of Human Resources Development it was meant to separate the ugly face of Personnel and create a new face which is for creating happiness at work through competence, commitment and culture building. I am not myself a HR person. If any I am student of mathematics, science, education and psychology by my degrees and created the first HRD department to make the place of work developmental and enjoyable. Over the years many departments have re-named themselves starting from Personnel to Training and Employee relations. The intentions were good but never the same as what we originally conceptualized. As a result, HRD has become a dirty department at times and strategic department at other times but rarely a happiness department. 43 year after the first HRD department was o conceptualized in India, and bodies like the National HRD Network have started with the primary purpose of promoting this philosophy and isntruments, there seems to be failure all over in achieving this goal. This is not to say everything done in the name of HR is bad. HR work has grown in complexity, contributed a lot to growth of firms, lifted itself to a strategic and Board level function. There are many HR people who have started in a big way using HR to ensure great places to work, enhance employee engagement, promote organization development, clarify and create a vison and values, promote learning and development at work place, create a learning organization etc. However, these don’t seem to dominate the common conversations among employees. The ugly face of HR seems to dominate the minds of most employees.

What is the way out? The way HR functions today in most organizations, I don’t expect much to change. The ugly face of HR is likely to be talked a lot more than the happy face of HR. In our country, we hardly remember those who do good to us but remember intensely and emotionally all those that annoy us or cause unhappiness. Most of what HR does is bound to cause unhappiness in the lives of almost every employee at some point or the other by denying what they desire. HR must totally change to be Happiness Responsible Department.  Even if it changes to become happiness department, most employees will hate it for giving more happiness to their neighbors or colleagues than to them by asking questions like why is he sponsored for foreign training and not me/ or why is he given access to self-learning material and not me etc.? Sometimes I wonder if our culture is by nature an unhappiness highlighting culture.
What is the way out? I am increasingly getting convinced that  spirituality at work place is perhaps a significant way out. I have come to believe that no one can help you grow, develop or become happy without your permission. In fact, we all should be facilitators and owners of our own happiness and development. We should not depend on HR department to create happiness and growth in our lives. HR departments are more likely to be disciplining, controlling departments besides diagnosing and developing departments. The latter occurs at group level and the former at individual level. Hence HR has difficulty serving individuals. So why not take charge of your HR. You are the master of your life, you are the planner, dialogue creator, actor, director, marketer and event manager. Why depend on HR department? If any they may be unknowingly creating constraints to be managed by you at times. So, take ownership and start playing your role as “Your own HRD Manager” and be responsible for your happiness, engagement, enhancement and growth. Don’t expect anything from HR. If they do something sue it to your advantage.
Advice to HR: Having said this my advice to my HR Friends is that it is high time you change your course of action. Gone are the days where you must take ownership for developing people. You must reorient yourself and convert the HRD department to be one of Human Response Development department. Your job perhaps is to help people to see sense in various organizational interventions and take charge of their happiness by altering their responses to various organizational or HRD interventions; be it training, Performance management, 360 Feedback, Assessment and development centers, recruitment, postings, incentives, facilities, leaves, job enrichment exercises and the like.