09 December 2009

Some questions about HR

Q. Who does HR work for- the employees or the company?
A. The company for the most part. Not just because the company is the employer. That is obvious. Because HR is supposed to serve the needs of the company by aligning the activities of the employees with the company needs and goals.

Q. Should I enter HR because I like working with people?
A. No, in that case, retail sales may be your calling. HR work is a cycle- get em in, get em out. If you can't work at all points in the cycle, HR isn't for you.

Q. What skills should an HR manager have?
A. Analytical skills, Problem solving skills, get-it-done skills, negotiation skills, ability to work under pressure, a sense of humor, loads of EQ, a heap of IQ, resilience, knowledge of the local law

04 December 2009

80% More or Less

I was recently asked "So, what is Global HR" exactly? My thought it this: Human Resources Management as a discipline and function within any corporation tends to be about 80% the same no matter where you go. That is to say that HR needs to be concerned with hiring the best people for the positions, managing the performance and contribution of the people, providing the people with due compensation for efforts made and, at some point, managing the people up and or out of the organization.

Of course, laws and customs are different in each country so there are disparate restraints and flexibilities across organizations. But fundamentally, HR management is just about "people alignment".

So what about that remaining 20%?

That's where culture and customs come in to play.

For example, in the US people tend to specialize in a functional discipline and change jobs in order to advance their career within their field of specialization. In Japan, although specialties do exist, companies tend to raise up generalists who can shift from one department to another. Both approaches have their merits-- on the one hand, specialization breeds competency whereas being a generalist provides for employees who can better grasp the operations of the company and avoid "siloization."

02 December 2009

How Far From Reality?: Career Planning

In your opinion, how far from reality is this policy for career planning:
1)On target; this is true all the time.
2)Not quite; this is somewhat true
3) Never; this is so far from reality

"We support the development of all employees by encouraging job rotation. This means that employees should have the opportunity to develop their skills in different functions of the company by rotating from one department to another on average, once every three years. In this way, employees can better understand how the company functions while also developing their own careers within the organization."

01 December 2009

The Harmful Effects of Goal Setting

I believe in setting goals. I believe that the future of any endeavor is determined by the goal that is set today. But goal setting is not a guarantee of success, because the final outcome is only as good as the goal itself. So I would like to explore the harmful effects of organizational goal setting in this post. (In future posts, I will happily comment on the positive aspects of goal setting.)

Goal setting can cause myopia.
When the flight towards goal achievement is inflexible, the changing landscape around the goals may be ignored. Worse, the goal may be achieved but the cost of such achievement may be higher than the actual gain from the goal's success.

Goal setting can disable the team effort.
When goals become too individualized and personalized, the team effort may be dismantled to service the needs of the goal seeking individual.

Goal setting can demotivate.
The intent of setting goals is to harness motivation, but when the goal itself is faulty-- ie. beyond the means of the individual, or malaligned with the reality of the situation in which the goal is being pursued, actual achievement of the goal may lead to a loss of the individual's motivation, or worse, trust in the process of goal setting itself.

So what should be done to avoid the deleterious effects of goals setting gone wrong?

a) Goals setting should be seen as the map, not the terrain. In whatever process is pursued towards achieving a goal, there needs to be a reasonable and flexible method for making revisions/ modifications to ensure that the goals remain relevant.

b) When goal setting is part of a formal process of evaluation in an organization, it is imperative that the HR department, or some entity that is objectively distant, review the goals to identify any conflicts of interest, overlap or otherwise find malalignment in the goal achievement effort.

c) Further, it is necessary that the HR department, or some other objective entity, see to it that the goals that are set are reasonable in scope and nature and that the individual otherwise have the means to achieve the stated goal.


Having been involved in HR work as a consultant and internal manager for over 10 years, both in the US and Japan, this blog will be my forum for putting forth ideas, opinions and questions for debate regarding international HR issues.