The Sales team of a Pharma company was present for a project review meeting. John the project lead, felt excited to share his carefully researched presentation with his boss Sonia, and other team members. But he could not notice the same project zeal in his boss and can understand that she was stressed. It was apparent to other team members as well. Ignoring the tense atmosphere he carried out with his presentation and tried to involve the attendees. The session was going smoothly, with a proper explanation of all plan of actions required for the project. However, Sonia pointed out a minor error and berated John for not considering tiny points. She also accused the team of not putting in quality efforts. Her hurtful words embarrassed John and he felt disappointed, even the team was demotivated by Sonia’s harsh behaviour. The meeting could not be concluded and ended before the schedule.
As the week passed John and the team expected their boss to apologize for her behaviour. But Sonia didn’t however she was able to notice the team’s resentful and unproductive behaviour after the incident. She was remorseful over her harsh behaviour which resulted because of her wrestle with business continuity planning during COVID-19. She was feeling unhappy, apologetic, and was worried about losing out a collaborative team. Being an empathetic leader she has always inspired and empowered her team but the incident loosened the bond. Sonia felt remorse for her actions but was struggling to express it in an appropriate way.
We know, all of us make mistakes and disappoint people around us somewhere or the other. But accepting the mistakes and apologizing help us become a good leader, build trust and understanding in our relationship. It also restores the dignity of the hurt person, makes them feel comfortable, and strengthens our bond with them.
But apologizing is not always easy, it is sometimes challenging for many of us. As humans, we all like to receive a heartfelt apology, but giving it, is a challenging endeavor. An Apology doesn’t come easily or naturally for most people, because they fail to identify a suitable way to express it. So, let’s try to find out some alternative behaviour in Sonia’s case to express apology.
- Mention and discuss the important points in the presentation through email
- Sharing some important links for improvement in projects
- Write an email or message appreciating John’s performance in last projects
- Discussing a last successful project with the team
- Posting a picture of team achievements on social media or intranet
- Ask for assistance in a different on-going project
- Call on a team meeting to discuss the situation(COVID in this case) and brainstorm the ideas for a proper plan of action
- Arranging for a stress management program
- Organize a team lunch or get together
- Depicting a calm and caring behaviour
There could be numerous other ways to express regret and acknowledge fault but we struggle sometimes considering our position and image. Being a great boss doesn’t mean one has to be perfect all the time, what matters more is your readiness to acknowledge your faults and other people feel. And you would be able to do this only when you are an empathetic person. Empathy enables us to open our hearts and mind and understand the world from the perspective of others. Sonia was unhappy because she was able to identify her fault and was empathetic towards John and her team. Empathy not only makes you a successful leader but also plays a critical role in understanding and resolving conflict. It helps you establish trust and build relationships. Empathy shapes an individual and also transforms society. It develops an individual’s ability to humanize with others and create a better understanding of situations. This promotes harmony among people and helps in finding an easy solution to any conflict or problem. After all, empathy is not only an important trait in the workplace but also in your personal life as well.
So, let’s empathize to establish a better workplace and live a peaceful life.
Human Resource forms one of the most important components of any business. But in small or mid-sized companies (having 5-100 employees) development of an HR function is a gradual process that happens when the business becomes stable and mature. However, the growth period is the time when such companies face the greatest HR challenge. Mostly hiring senior HR professionals is not a viable option considering the increased cost. The focus on revenue generation, client acquisition, and improvement of product/services push the HR to the back seat. Inappropriate hiring, undefined policies, non-aligned processes, and lack of proper communication between employees and management are usual issues when the value of HR is not readily apparent. As the company and workforce grow, small business owners should be aware of the HR challenges, so they’re prepared to tackle such issues at the earliest.
Here are today’s most common HR challenges small companies face in the business –
- Hiring Mistakes – Small business owners face a variety of challenges when it comes to recruitment. The process is difficult and time-consuming because of no recruitment expertise. Improper handling of the hiring process can make the company settle for a candidate who seems to be a fit on papers but not suitable as job requirements. Employers fail to analyze recruitment strategies to identify, attract, develop, and retain talent as per their business needs.
- Chaos in record-keeping – Accurate and proper documentation facilitate decision making in the organization. Documentation forms the base of the HR function, but a casual approach to it can result in legal issues. Small businesses face challenges in record keeping because of lack of proper template, and formats. In addition to employee information, it is important to document company policies, procedures, and benefits to create a transparent working culture.
- Lack of formal Induction program – Induction is a well-planned program to acquaint the new joiner with organization, people, and workplace. Absence of a specialist to design, organize and conduct a formal induction program for employees pose a lot of challenges for SMEs, in the form of new hires fit in, role clarity, acquaintance with colleagues, and company culture.
- Unsystematic Payroll Management – Payroll is not just paying employees, where on one hand it ensures on-time employee payments it should also assure business compliance with applicable laws and regulations. Small businesses usually suffer in this domain because of unplanned processes and systems. The failure to collect correct information on time results in faulty and late payments with non-compliance, fines, and penalties.
- Improper Database Management – As the business grows the related information in the form of data increases. Eventually, the time and effort required in its collection also increase. But all these go in vain if this information and data are not properly handled, and organized. The absence of proper data strategy in small companies creates a lot of challenges in collecting, storing, sharing, and using data for business decisions.
- Compensation and benefits – Because of their attention on revenue, SMEs fail to do an appropriate compensation benchmarking. That results in an inappropriate pay mix for the employees. It would not be easy to attract talent if the company is not aware of the right amount to offer, to an employee. Along with this identifying an appraisal cycle, deciding on benefits packages like health insurance, retirement plans, training, and development programs are crucial factors for potential hires. Understanding them and deciding on a suitable mix is one of the key areas small businesses struggle.
- Unclear job description – Start-ups and small businesses often take a casual approach when it comes to assigning proper roles and responsibilities to employees. It’s usual to see everyone pitching in to do all kinds of tasks leading to confusion and resulting in inefficiency. One of my HR friends was discussing the same issue in her current organization and looking for a suitable strategy to address it.
- Talent retention – Even after having sufficient budgets some small businesses struggle to retain employees because of competition and unplanned retention strategies. When employees’ issues are not handled by proper HR management it is difficult to retain quality employees and impact the business growth negatively.
Small businesses face myriad other problems apart from above because of no in-house HR function or a specialized Consultant. This can lead to dis-satisfied employees and affect the ROI through employee turnover. But if we address all these challenges with a well-thought strategy their impact can be mitigated and the organization can be brought on the path of success. An experienced HR professional or Consultant can advise on critical issues and strategize the HR processes to maintain and sustain a growth pace.
Let’s check on the solution and strategy to address such issues and challenges in our next write up. Stay tuned and safe till the next edition.
In earlier days the Human Resource department used to be more about record keeping, compliance, payroll administration, and event planning. This confined HR to be in a monotonous job with limited skill sets required to deliver the job. Even now I notice some organizations viewing HR in the same traditional cocoon of an administrative and transactional function, but the good and smart ones see it as a more strategic function. In my previous article, I talked about the changing economy and the need for HR to adapt and transform them as specialized HR Consultants. I will try to focus on the required skill sets for HR’s to maintain pace with the change and remain strategically important for the respective department and organization
The role of HR is more complex as of now. Today’s HR leaders are now expected to be a broader thinker, tech-savvy, adaptable, and agile enough to deal with a diverse and multi-generational workforce. The focus for HR is now to become a worker-centric function, spending their energies in building the organization culture and becoming a trusted workforce advisor. The organization today expects HR to be more influencing, data-driven, and credible concerning stakeholder management and workforce planning. This pushes HR to up-skill in critical areas and thrust on a more promising consulting role to manage human capital effectively. HR professionals will need to equip themselves with following skill for future success –
- Business and Financial Acumen – HR professionals should focus on understanding the organization’s business, functions, and external environment in which it operates. HR needs to identify the Why, What, and How of any business as this will help in taking decisions aligned with business goals. In all the organizations I have worked I used to devote ample time with the Business Managers in understanding different mandates to understand the role, responsibilities, and the alignment of position with business results. This always helped me in identifying a suitable fit. Designing of processes was also easy with an acquaintance of the Manager’s pain points. The Financial domain is one of the important aspects which an HR should focus on. HR should be able to understand the cash flow statement, Balance Sheet, P&L account, and other metrics like Financial Ratios, ROI, Earnings, and Budgeting. A good way to gain this perspective is to consult with colleagues in Finance, regularly discussing the issues faced by the Managers and brainstorm supportive HR initiatives. Understanding the Business and Financial perspective can support HR in providing Consultation to senior management and help HR in aligning the HR activities
- People Analytics – HR people are now expected to be more analytical and data-driven. HR is fortunately involved in collecting a vast amount of people’s data, (almost 80% captured at the time of recruitment) which often remains unused. But the recent trends made HR analyze this data and link this with people’s problems. This can be used to attract, manage, and retain employees and improves on the ROI. To cite an example, an organization would be more capable of deciding on an appropriate pay mix if it is aware of the workforce demographics. The Recruitment process can be improved by the use of proper hiring metrics like CPH and Yield Ratio. Furthermore, analytics also help in testing the effectiveness of various HR policies and interventions. Companies like Ford, American Automaker, relies on insights gained through analytics in decision making for its workforce. HR can leverage the power of data analytics to make a better work environment, maximizing the productivity of the current diverse workforce of Millennials, Contractors, and Freelancers. The designing of proper programs, policies, and benefits for the current Gig workforce can also be addressed by creating a measurement system through data analytics
- People Skills – Technology doesn’t make the HR redundant, there is always a room for value addition if HR focusses on people. I see the future HR Managers as more of a Coach, Trainer, Motivator, Influential Leaders, and Change Managers. The current scenario of COVID-19 spread has impacted lives throughout the world, transforming the traditional workplace into a virtual world, making the workforce vulnerable to emotional distress and anxiety. Ensuring productivity and engagement now are primary concerns for every organization. In times like these HR should focus on social connection and engagement to maintain productivity levels, along with ensuring that employees feel supported, connected, engaged, and can take care of themselves and family. HR Should so focus on a new Consulting and influencing role equipped with skills of empathy, coaching, and leadership. A people-oriented HR professional would be able to guide individuals in their career prospects as well and coach Managers in becoming better people leaders
- Design Thinking – The concept of Design Thinking is transformational for HR as it brings a Human-Centric Approach to problem-solving. It brings an innovative approach to HR deliveries by organizing work and finding appropriate solutions based on people’s needs. Keeping the employee at the center of its delivery model HR identifies new approaches to design processes that deeply resonate with them. The process of Design Thinking starts with understanding the needs and frustration of customers with empathy, defining the problem, brainstorming solutions, choosing the most appropriate ones, and testing the applicability of suitable ones
- Compliance Mastery – Laws and policies are ever-changing and vary from state to state. The Corona virus pandemic has also impacted employee rights and lives together with employment conditions at workplaces. HR’s need to pay careful attention to relevant labor regulations while hiring, appraising, disciplining, and firing staff, failure to which can lead to heavy fines, expensive lawsuits resulting in discontented employees. HR needs to stay abreast of compliance issues by researching HR legislation and changes, attending appropriate training, seminars, and network with professionals who are tasked with the same HR responsibilities. In addition to this HR should also be flexible enough to comply with laws related to the Gig economy and remote workers to address concerns of the new economy
- Marketing or HR Branding – Marketing activities help HR in better talent management. HR professionals should be able to market the benefits, culture, and values of the organization. They should partner with the marketing team to develop scripting phrases, videos (like Employee Speak), and promotion on various media platforms. This helps HR in building an employer brand and creates a high-value proposition for the organization
All the above skills indicate that HR should transform as more specialized Consultants to cater needs of the rapidly changing world of work. As Specialists, they should equip themselves with a new range of skills, introduce new bold strategies, tools, processes, and metrics to create and sustain a successful employee experience for existing and future workforce
Human Personality – A Four-Dimensional Game
Human personality is a blend of multiple dimensions. Each dimension contributes to the quality of our life and affects the overall health of a person. Talking on a broader concept it is a full integration of our well being mainly into Physical, Intellectual, Spiritual, and Emotional domains of everyday lives. Career, Environmental, Financial and Social domains sometimes are also included, but they are external to one’s personality. The result of all this integration is to achieve and sustain a higher level of well-being and characterize an individual, family, and community as healthily, happy, and prosperous. The focus here is on individual personality domains with ideas for improvement in each. Considering the internal domains every human being is characterized by four important Dimensions as below –
- PQ – Physical Quotient
- IQ – Intelligent Quotient
- SQ – Spiritual Quotient
- EQ – Emotional Quotient
Physical Quotient (PQ) – This is the physical dimension that defines how healthy the person is. Your hearth is very important and so is to build strength, flexibility, and endurance. To achieve a healthy PQ one should focus on practicing healthy daily habits. In my view, there are four things which help you develop high Physical Quotient
- Taking appropriate food at the appropriate time and in appropriate quantity
- Physical exercise for at least an hour daily
- Taking sound sleep for at least 6-8 hours daily
- Spending leisure time with friends and family to feel relax and lighter
Intelligent Quotient (IQ) – This pertains to the level of Knowledge, reasoning, intellect, problem-solving, and decision-making skills of a person. This can be improved by maintaining a learning attitude so that your future becomes better than your present. We should always try to be a student throughout life be it Cognitive Domain, Skill Domain, or Attitudinal Domain. Small learning every day with an active and open mind leads to a life filled with passion and purpose. It also sharpens your mind and keeps your brain healthy and happy
Spiritual Quotient (SQ) – If we see it from a religious perspective its spirituality, but here I am not linking it to any organized religion or faith, rather trying to connect it with our inner self, our core thoughts and emotions. This dimension strengthens us to find inner peace of both mind and heart by adding purpose to our life, develop concern for other living beings and nature. People having high SQ can seek meaning and purpose in life with an open mind and inner peace. To cite an example – There is a Doctor who is working very hard but his intention is merely to earn money and have a luxury lifestyle, on the contrary a person in a similar profession is working to eradicate malnutrition from a country or whole world. Now both are working with the same efforts, making the same money and career but the later has a high SQ because the purpose is bigger and intended for well being of humanity. So developing a high SQ focuses on enriching our lives and that of others by sharing our special gifts, skills, talents, and resources with others through work or volunteering. Lastly I believe that we humans are built-in with spirituality within our core, it’s what, when we identify it and start living up to our potential for better, more satisfying lives
Emotional Quotient (EQ) – This refers to the emotional power and stability of a person. Emotional Intelligence is our ability to understand and regulate our own emotions in a positive way to communicate effectively, empathize with others, and handle conflict. People with high EQ find it easier to create interpersonal relationships, fit in group situations, and effectively deal with life uncertainties. They are apt in understanding their psychological state and correlate with the feelings and emotions of others to develop a win-win situation. Developing high EQ can help you excel in personal and professional life, forge stronger relationships, lead and motivate others. Some people are naturally good at EQ while others need to work on them. But the good news is that anyone can get better and improve their emotional intelligence. To improve on EQ one should work on below areas of emotional intelligence-
- Self-Awareness – It’s about recognizing, evaluating and managing own emotions
- Self-Management – Ability to get along with others and manage conflict effectively
- Motivation – Resilience to stay determined towards goals even after failures
- Empathy – Ability to put ourselves into someone else’s situation and responds to their feelings
- Social Skills – Includes communicating clearly, listening carefully, inspire and influence others
We naturally have our priorities, approaches, and aspirations to live life fully, however, research shows that it is important to maintain a balance among all these Dimensions to lead a fuller, more satisfying life. An integrated and holistic approach towards all these dimensions allows you to become the best kind of person as per your potential, skills, and talents.
So what dimensions do you feel are strongest and which areas do you like to work on? What are you going to do to optimize all these dimensions to feel more fulfilled and contented? Feel free to seek out for support from a friend, family, or a Counselor
I wish you the whole person’s health in all areas of well-being