Monday, September 20, 2010


It is not always easy to come up with a concise and straightforward definition of terms such as the above, more so when there are a lot of authorities who are involved in giving different constructive views of such terms.

In simple but concise terms, Talent Management (TM) is the harmonization and management of talents in a firm, company or organization. Talents here comprises employee educational qualifications, skills, strengths, trainings acquired, traits, habit, motive, knowledge, abilities, potentials etc. It is very true that all activities carried out in an organization revolve around Talent Management.

Every organization practices TM in one-way or the other. The difference between an organization and another is mostly in the area of the degree of involvement. In so far as a firm is involved in Recruitment, Selection, Placement, Training and Development, Performance Management, Reward / Compensation /Benefit handling, then Talent Management is practiced.

Essentially Talent Management involves;

· Recruiting: Does the firm have a formal recruitment processes to recruit internally or externally?

· Career Management: Is there clarity in the career path for the employees?

· Succession Planning: Are there clear-cut plans for who steps into which position at which time. This involves matching current potentials with future organizational demands.

· Performance Management: This should be able to tell us how each staff performs in his/her present responsibilities. A very good performance Management should be able to unfold the following; those who need to be rewarded, those who need to be cautioned, those who need additional responsibilities, Staff training and development needs, Promotions, Demotions etc.

· Reward Management: Talent Management will not succeed without a system that clearly defines performance results. Average, Superior and Outstanding performers in an organization should be rewarded differently otherwise outstanding performers for instance will not be motivated to work harder.

TM should not be solely the work of the HR department alone, all Middle and Line Managers have roles to play in every successful TM in an organization.



We all know that business is all about people. The success and failure of every organization depends on the quality of people found in the organization. Sourcing for and recruiting the best hands in an organization is not just all it requires. For an organization to grow and stand out in its industry, the best set of people should be sourced, selected, recruited and retained.

Employee retention is of paramount importance and a critical issue in an organization. Retaining your best hands ensures customer satisfaction, improved sales, satisfied co-workers, effective and balanced relationship between staff and management, effective succession planning, general growth of the culture and ethics of the organization.

One very important adage says that if one does not value the importance of knowledge, then one should try ignorance. This goes a long way to explain the benefits of sourcing, recruiting and retaining the right staff in an organization. The cost of frequent employee turnover in an organization can be felt in the areas of the cost attached to selection, recruitment, orientation, induction, training and developing such staff. Failing to retain a key employee is very costly infarct more costly than recruiting a new one.

Employee retention is very important also because of its societal perception. When a firm starts loosing its staff especially the good ones, it does not say well about the health of the firm to the society. Employee retention is one of the primary measures of the health of your organization. If you are losing critical staff members, you can safely bet that other people in their departments will not be comfortable most especially when you are loosing such staff they are looking up to. Exit interviews with departing employees provide valuable information you can use to retain remaining staff, but most companies do not even care about conducting an exit interview when they have staff exit.


Employ the best staff available in the Labour Market: The very first and important tip to retaining your staff is making sure that you go for the best staff the labour market is ready to offer. Most recruiters compromise this by employing their friends, brothers, sisters and relations. The result of this is that the norm, culture and ethics of the organization are always pushed aside.

Satisfy your employees: A satisfied employee knows exactly what is expected of him at all times. Creating unnecessary and unhealthy stress in a work in environment keeps people on edge and always questions their job security.

Authority and Responsibility lines should be clearly stated: An employee should be able to have a clear knowledge of his daily, weekly and monthly expectations as well as his line of reporting clearly stated. Both the supervisor and the supervised should feel valued at all times as employee turnover may result when any feels unvalued.

Avenue for Feedback: A good firm must provide an avenue for a total and complete feedback structure. The firm should be able to solicit ideas and provide avenue in which people are comfortable to say their minds. Employees should feel belonged to the firm, provide ideas, suggestions, citicise, and be heard. Any thing less than this will make the employee feel deprived and not belonging to the firm.

Develop their Talents and Skills: Training and development is very important in career Management. A well-trained staff will be motivated to add value to him self and his organization. New trends and technology is evolving now and then, and all firms should be able to update their staff with current information and technology at all times.

All staff should be treated with fairness and equity: Staff salary structure should be clearly defined, career path should be clearly established and staff should be rewarded accordingly with performance and not because the staff is related to the CEO or GM.

Recognition: When a staff achieves a great feat, he should be recognized and rewarded accordingly. Nothing motivates a staff like recognition for performance met.

DON’T threaten a staff with his job: Give a staff a target and encourage him to do his best. Do not keep on hammering in his ears that you will sack him if he does not perform. This may add to him not performing as he will become nervous and be on his toes to look for other opportunities outside instead of concentrating to do his job.

Your staff must be REWARDED, APPRECIATED & RECOGNISED. Thank you, well done, that’s a good one, cudos etc makes a staff feel rewarded and happy as well as being motivated to do more. Also monetary rewards, gifts and bonuses are tools to retain your good and performing staff. Where these are lacking when a staff is performing, makes the staff to look for where he will be appreciated for a job well done.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010



The role and functions of the Human Resource Manager is evolving and expanding with the change in competitive market environment and the realization that Human Resource Management must play a more strategic role in the success of an organization. Organizations that do not put their emphasis on attracting and retaining talents may find themselves in dire consequences, as their competitors may be outplaying them in the strategic employment and filling of their human resources needs.

With the increase in competition, locally or globally, organizations must become more adaptable, resilient, agile, and customer-focused to succeed. And within this change in environment, the HR professional has to evolve to become a strategic partner, an employee champion or advocate, and a change agent within the organization. In order to succeed, HR must be a business driven function with a thorough understanding of the organization’s big picture and be able to influence key decisions and policies. In general, the focus of today’s HR Manager is on strategic personnel retention and talents development. HR professionals will be coaches, counselors, mentors, and succession planners to help motivate organization’s members and y so doing ensure their loyalty. The HR manager will also promote and fight for values, ethics, beliefs, and spirituality within their organizations, especially in the management of workplace diversity.

This write up will highlight on how a HR manager can meet the challenges of workplace diversity, how to motivate employees through gain-sharing and executive information system through proper planning, organizing, leading and controlling their human resources.

Workplace Diversity

Workplace diversity include, but are not limited to diversity in age, ethnicity, ancestry, gender, physical abilities/qualities, race, sexual orientation, educational background, geographic location, income, marital status, military experience, religious beliefs, parental status, and work experience.

The Challenges of Workplace Diversity

The future success of any organizations relies on the ability to manage a diverse body of talent that can bring innovative ideas, perspectives and views to their work. The challenge and problems faced of workplace diversity can be turned into a strategic organizational asset if an organization is able to capitalize on this melting pot of diverse talents. With the mixture of talents of diverse cultural backgrounds, genders, ages and lifestyles, an organization can respond to business opportunities more rapidly and creatively, especially in the global arena which must be one of the important organizational goals to be attained. More importantly, if the organizational environment does not support diversity broadly, it will risk losing valuable talents to competitors.

This is especially true for multinational companies (MNCs) who have operations on a global scale and employ people of different countries, ethical and cultural backgrounds. Thus, a HR manager needs to be mindful and may need to use a ‘Think Global, Act Local’ approach in most circumstances. The challenge of workplace diversity is also prevalent amongst most Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). Thus, many local HR managers have to undergo cultural-based Human Resource Management training to further their abilities to motivate a group of professional that are highly qualified but culturally diverse. Furthermore, the HR professional must assure the local professionals that these foreign talents are not a threat to their career advancement. In many ways, the effectiveness of workplace diversity management is dependent on the skilful balancing act of the HR manager.

The Management of Workplace Diversity

In order to effectively manage workplace diversity, a HR Manager needs to change from an ethnocentric view ("our way is the best way") to a culturally relative perspective ("let's take the best of a variety of ways"). This shift in philosophy has to be ingrained in the managerial framework of the HR Manager in his/her planning, organizing, leading and controlling of organizational resources and this must be captured from the broad view of the firm.

As suggested by experts, there are several best practices that a HR manager can adopt in ensuring effective management of workplace diversity in order to attain organizational goals. They are:

Planning a Mentoring Program-

One of the best ways to handle workplace diversity issues is through initiating a Diversity Mentoring Program. This could entail involving different departmental managers in a mentoring program to coach and provide feedback to employees who are different from them. In order for the program to run successfully, it is wise to provide practical training for these managers or seek help from consultants and experts in this field. Usually, such a program will encourage organization’s members to air their opinions and learn how to resolve conflicts due to their diversity. More importantly, the purpose of a Diversity Mentoring Program seeks to encourage members to move beyond their own cultural frame of reference to recognize and take full advantage of the productivity potential inherent in a diverse population.

Organizing Talents Strategically-

Most companies are now realizing the advantages of a diverse workplace. As more and more companies are going global in their market expansions either physically or virtually (for example, E-commerce/Marketing related companies), there is a necessity to employ diverse talents to understand the various niches of the market. For example, when China was opening up its markets and exporting their products globally in the late 1980s, the Chinese companies (such as China’s electronic giants such as Haier) were seeking the marketing expertise of other countries before they could break through the foreign markets. This is because these marketing talents were able to understand the local indigenous markets relatively well.

With this trend in place, a HR Manager must be able to organize the pool of diverse talents strategically for the organization. She/he must consider how a diverse workforce can enable the company to attain new markets and other organizational goals in order to harness the full potential of workplace diversity.

An organization that sees the existence of a diverse workforce as an organizational asset rather than a liability would indirectly help the organization to positively take in its stride some of the less positive aspects of workforce diversity.

Leading the Talk-

A HR Manager needs to advocate a diverse workforce by making diversity evident at all organizational levels. Otherwise, some employees will quickly conclude that there is no future for them in the company. As the HR Manager, it is pertinent to show respect for diversity issues and promote clear and positive responses to them. She/he must also show a high level of commitment and be able to resolve issues of workplace diversity in an ethical and responsible manner without defeating the objective.

Control and Measure Results-

A HR Manager must conduct regular organizational assessments on issues like pay, benefits, work environment, management and promotional opportunities to assess the progress over the long term. There is also a need to develop appropriate measuring tools to measure the impact of diversity initiatives at the organization through organization-wide feedback surveys and other methods. Without proper control and evaluation, some of these diversity initiatives may just fizzle out, without resolving any real problems that may surface due to workplace diversity.

Motivational Approaches

Workplace motivation can be defined as the influence that makes us do things to achieve organizational goals: this is a result of our individual needs being satisfied (or met) so that we are motivated to complete organizational tasks effectively. As these needs vary from person to person, an organization must be able to utilize different motivational tools to encourage their employees to put in the required effort and increase productivity for the company. The issue of motivation is something that HR managers should be very careful with as what may seem a motivation to one staff may not be to another.

Why do we need motivated employees? The answer is survival and continuity of the company. In our changing workplace and competitive market environments, motivated employees and their contributions are the necessary currency for an organization’s survival and success. Motivational factors in an organizational context include working environment, job characteristics, and appropriate organizational reward system and so on.

To be effective, an organizational reward system should be based on sound understanding of the motivation of people at work.

Profit/Gain-sharing programs generally refer to incentive plans that involve employees in a common effort to improve organizational performance, and are based on the concept that the resulting incremental economic gains are shared among employees and the company.

In most cases, workers voluntarily participate in management to accept responsibility for major reforms. This type of pay is based on factors directly under a worker’s control (i.e., productivity or costs). Gains are measured and distributions are made frequently through a predetermined formula. Because this pay is only implemented when gains are achieved, gain-sharing plans do not adversely affect company costs.

Executive Information Systems

Executive Information System (EIS) is the most common term used for the unified collections of computer hardware and software that track the essential data of a business' daily performance and present it to managers as an aid to their planning and decision-making. With an EIS in place, a company can track inventory, sales, and receivables, compare today's data with historical patterns. In addition, an EIS will aid in spotting significant variations from "normal" trends almost as soon as it develops, giving the company the maximum amount of time to make decisions and implement required changes to put your business back on the right track. This would enable EIS to be a useful tool in an organization’s strategic planning, as well as day-to-day management.

Managing EIS

As information is the basis of decision-making in an organization, there lies a great need for effective managerial control. A good control system would ensure the communication of the right information at the right time and relayed to the right people to take prompt actions.

When managing an Executive Information System, a HR manager must first find out exactly what information decision-makers would like to have available in the field of human resource management, and then to include it in the EIS. This is because having people simply use an EIS that lacks critical information is of no value-add to the organization. In addition, the manager must ensure that the use of information technology has to be brought into alignment with strategic business goals of the establishment in general.


The role of the HR manager must align with the needs of the changing organization. Successful organizations are becoming more adaptable, resilient, quick to change directions, and customer-centered. Within this environment, the HR professional must learn how to manage effectively through planning, organizing, leading and controlling the human resource and be knowledgeable of emerging trends in training and employee development.To cap it all for  a modern day HR manager to be at his best in his duties, She/He must see himself as a strategic partner to his firm and the Top management must accept him/her as such.


HR professionals with the right skills can contribute to a Six Sigma initiative at both strategic and tactical levels. This article describes the areas in which HR should play a role in Six Sigma and discusses how HR professionals can increase their chances of being included in Six Sigma decision-making and implementation.

Chances are you've heard of Six Sigma, perhaps in connection with General Electric, the company that made it popular in the 1990s. You may even know that Six Sigma uses statistical techniques to improve processes in both manufacturing and service industries. But did you know there is an important role for Human Resources (HR) in this sophisticated process improvement approach? Or that Six Sigma initiatives are unlikely to succeed without HR's help?
HR professionals with the right skills can contribute to a Six Sigma initiative at both strategic and tactical levels. This article describes the areas in which HR should play a role in Six Sigma and discusses how HR professionals can increase their chances of being included in Six Sigma decision-making and implementation.

To appreciate the important role HR has in Six Sigma, it is important to begin this discussion by having an understanding of what Six Sigma is, all the roles played by others in a Six Sigma implementation, and the factors critical to a successful implementation.

Six Sigma Defined

The term "Six Sigma" is widely used to refer to all of the following:
A structured method for improving business processes. This method, called DMAIC (define, measure, analyze, improve, and control), is supported by an assortment of statistical tools.

A statistical measurement of how well a business process is performing. A process that performs at "Six Sigma" produces only 3.4 defects out of every million opportunities to produce a defect. Processes that perform at lower sigma levels (such as one sigma or four sigma) produce more defects per million opportunities. It is possible for a process to perform at an even higher level (and thus have even fewer defects), but Six Sigma has become popular as the standard for excellent process performance.

An organizational mindset in which people make decisions based on data, look for root causes of problems, define defects based on customer rather than internal requirements, seek to control variation, track leading indicators of problems to prevent them from happening, etc.

Six Sigma Roles

Six Sigma has a martial arts convention for naming many of its professional roles. The chart below describes how these roles are typically defined.

Table 1: Six Sigma Roles And Responsibilities

Sponsor: Senior executive who sponsors the overall Six Sigma Initiative.

Leader: Senior-level executive who is responsible for implementing Six Sigma within the business.

Champion: Middle- or senior-level executive who sponsors a specific Six Sigma project, ensuring that resources are available and cross-functional issues are resolved.

Black Belt: Full-time professional who acts as a team leader on Six Sigma projects. Typically has four to five weeks of classroom training in methods, statistical tools, and (sometimes) team skills.

Master Black Belt: Highly experienced and successful Black Belt who has managed several projects and is an expert in Six Sigma methods/tools. Responsible for coaching/mentoring/training Black Belts and for helping the Six Sigma leader and Champions keep the initiative on track.

Green Belt :Part-time professional who participates on a Black Belt project team or leads smaller projects. Typically has two weeks of classroom training in methods and basic statistical tools.

Team Member: Professional who has general awareness of Six Sigma (through no formal training) and who brings relevant experience or expertise to a particular project.

Process Owner :Professional responsible for the business process that is the target of a Six Sigma project.

Leaders and Champions usually receive high-level training on the technical aspects of Six Sigma and specific training on how to lead an initiative. At the "Belt" level, each candidate is assigned an initial "training project" that he/she will work on during the formal training period. Candidates attend classroom training for a week, work on their projects for three weeks, return to class for another week, and so on until they have acquired all the skills appropriate to their role.

HR's Role in Six Sigma

As with any major organizational initiative, many factors contribute to success. Some of these factors will fall within HR's area of responsibility, such as those discussed below.

Black Belt Selection and Retention

Having the right people in the Black Belt role is critical to the success of a Six Sigma initiative. The training investment is substantial for this pivotal role. Further, Black Belts are the visible "face" of Six Sigma. They help shape the organization's impression of Six Sigma, and, consequently, the willingness of many to embrace the initiative. Therefore, you want to pick Black Belts very carefully. (Some organizations only select Black Belts from among those who have already been identified as "high potentials.").

HR professionals can help the Six Sigma Leader find the right people for Black Belt roles and ensure they remain in those positions for the typical two-year rotation. Potential HR contributions in this area include:

Building a competency model that will help identify candidates with the right mix of technical, team, and leadership skills and abilities.

Creating job descriptions that help candidates fully understand the position and expectations prior to signing on.
Developing a retention strategy that will help ensure Black Belts complete their rotation and the organization recoups its investment in training and development.

Rewards and Recognition

Rewarding and recognizing Black Belts and Six Sigma teams is more complex than it may appear. Black Belts join the Six Sigma initiative from various places in the organization where they are likely to have been at different job levels with differing compensation arrangements. Determining whether and how to make appropriate adjustments in level and compensation now that all these individuals are in the same role is both tricky and critical.
Similar complexities are involved at the project team level. Six Sigma projects led by Black Belts typically result in savings in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Deciding how the team should be rewarded and recognized and who should get credit for what is not easy. Yet ignoring these issues can result in resentment, reluctance to work on Six Sigma projects, and the potential failure of the overall initiative.

HR professionals can help the Six Sigma Leader tackle the challenge of establishing the right rewards/recognition. Potential HR contributions in this area include:
Analyzing existing compensation arrangements to identify the extent to which those arrangements will support the Six Sigma initiative.
Creating a strategic compensation plan that will better support Six Sigma.
Developing a non-monetary reward program for Six Sigma teams.

Project Team Effectiveness

The work of Six Sigma is done mostly at the project team level by a Black Belt leading a small team through the steps of the DMAIC method. If the team itself does not function well or does not interact effectively with others in the organization who ultimately have to support and carry out the process changes, the project probably will not be successful. Given the typical project's potential payback, failure can be expensive.

HR professionals can help the project teams work together more effectively. Potential HR contributions in this area include:
Ensuring team leaders and members get training and/or coaching in teamwork, conflict management, communications, dealing with difficult team members, and other team effectiveness skills.
Providing teams with tools that allow them to diagnose their own performance and identify when and where they need help.
Acting as a resource for Black Belts who encounter team-related challenges they cannot surmount.

Creating a Six Sigma Culture

Many Sponsors, Champions, and Leaders look to Six Sigma as a way to change an organization's culture to one that is more data-driven, proactive, decisive, and customer-oriented. But they often have little idea about how to achieve successful culture change.
HR professionals can help executives approach culture change in a way that addresses the underlying business goals without creating organizational resistance. Potential HR contributions in this area include:

Working with Six Sigma Sponsors, Leaders, and Champions to identify elements of the culture that might hinder the achievement of Six Sigma goals.
Advising on change plans that will target those specific cultural elements.

Identifying how Six Sigma can be rolled out in a way that works with, rather than against, the current culture.

Change Management and Communications

Introducing Six Sigma into an organization is a major change that will have a profound effect on a broad group of stakeholders. Managers and employees at many levels of the organization will be asked to engage in new behaviors. In many cases, those leading other initiatives will see Six Sigma as a source of competition for resources, executive attention, and organizational power. Others may see it as an indictment of their past performance. Many will be confused about how Six Sigma fits with the large number of other ongoing organizational initiatives.

HR professionals can help reduce the uncertainty and anxiety surrounding Six Sigma and increase the levels of acceptance and cooperation in the organization. Potential HR contributions in this area include:
Drafting a change management/ communications plan that addresses the people side of the Six Sigma rollout.
Helping create a "case for change" that describes:

The reasons for and benefits of Six Sigma.

How the organization will help employees succeed in new ways of working.

How Six Sigma fits with other ongoing initiatives.

Counseling Six Sigma Leaders and Champions on how their behavior can help or hinder Six Sigma's acceptance throughout the organization.

Being Included in Six Sigma

Just because HR professionals can play a role in the success of Six Sigma, it doesn't automatically follow that they will be asked to participate. Unless you are in an organization that views HR as a partner in all business initiatives, you may have to push to be included in Six Sigma.

HR can greatly increase its chances of being included in the Six Sigma initiative by:

Ensuring HR professionals have the right skills and knowledge.

Marketing its potential contribution early in the initiative.

Gaining the Right Skills and Knowledge

In addition to HR/organizational development-related areas, HR professionals need a familiarity with Six Sigma itself. Without a basic knowledge of the DMAIC method, supporting tools, roles, jargon, and even simple statistical methods, HR will not have the credibility it needs to be considered a potential contributor to the initiative.

The time to get this knowledge is now. Even if your organization is not rolling out--or even considering -- Six Sigma today, there are two reasons why it's worth a HR professional's time to become familiar with the concepts now. If the organization does decide to implement Six Sigma, there won't be enough time to catch up. HR has to be involved at the very beginning of the initiative. In addition, there are many applications of Six Sigma to HR's processes themselves, e.g., the payroll process, benefits administration, selection, and recruiting. HR might even consider setting an example for the rest of the organization by adopting Six Sigma techniques to enhance its own processes.

Marketing HR's Potential Contribution

The marketing challenge is twofold. First, senior executives may not believe that the people issues are just as critical to Six Sigma's success as are its many technical components. In that case, HR will need to sell the importance of the people side. Second, executives must perceive HR as being able to make a significant contribution on the people side of Six Sigma. Besides ensuring that it has both the required skills and knowledge described above, HR can also meet these challenges by:

Gathering data that supports the need for attention to the people side of Six Sigma. Potential sources include Six Sigma publications, case studies, conference sessions, and executives in companies that have already implemented Six Sigma.

Deriving lessons from previous organizational initiatives in which people issues and/or HR actions played an acknowledged role in success or failure.

Meeting with senior executives to discuss their business/Six Sigma goals and then identifying areas where HR could provide very specific and measurable help.

Speaking to Six Sigma Leaders and Champions in the language of Six Sigma, not the language of HR. These executives are typically interested in improving efficiency (i.e., internal cost) and effectiveness (i.e., what the customer sees as "defects"). HR needs to understand what the executives care about and pitch HR's services in relevant terms.

Taking the lead and applying Six Sigma successfully within the HR function..

HR has a substantial role to play in the success of a Six Sigma initiative. But it will have the opportunity to contribute only if its professionals have the right skills and knowledge and are able to show Six Sigma executives the value they can add. Gain those skills now and make sure senior leadership knows how HR can help support the success of the initiative. Only then will they realize they just can't do it without you!

Written by: Aon Management Consulting/Rath & Strong's Vice President Mary Federico and Senior Vice President Tom Thomson.


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