Monday, December 3, 2012

Achieving one’s potential

Author: Shyaam Sunder
CKO & Vice President-Ramco Systems

Hans Christian Anderson’s tale, “The Ugly Duckling” is 150 years old but still relevant in the message that it delivers. It is a story of a barnyard bird that is jeered for being ugly in its childhood and then growing up to be the most beautiful bird of all – the swan. It’s widely regarded as a tale of transformation.

The author confessed that the tale was inspired from his own life. He was apparently ugly looking boy who had a good singing voice and a passion for the theatre which was mocked in his childhood and youth. He then went on to win the attentions of the peoples of the world with his creations.

The important point is that, the ugly duckling does not face any challenges in its transformation into a swan. By its natural growth it becomes a swan.

In Ramco’s Talent Management software recognizes that the transformation of an employee, from being a “Novice” to a “Leader”, should be enabled just as naturally.   While the standard processes of career planning and training enable this transformation, a lot attention is given to “employee speak” – that is employee’s changing views about their work and progress. These changing views act as powerful inputs in crafting the employee’s journey. Listed below are some of the “employee speak” mechanisms.

1.    Confirmation Appraisal: This appraisal is usually done 6 to 12 months after a new employee joins in. It captures the experience of the employee in these first few crucial months. It gauges their “fit” into the system and the maturing of the understanding of the business.
2.    Training Requests: Employees may request for training courses by way of this self-service mechanism
3.    Employees may record their feedback into annual or semi-annual appraisal systems
4.    Employees may record their suggestions, grievance etc.
5.    Their activity in knowledge banks may easily be gauged through analysis of frequency of visits and tests performance.
6.    Results from their social media and gamification activities may be combined for further analysis

The most tangible of the channels (of employee speak), hence a perpendicular, is usually the performance measurement (KPI) aspect. This cannot be the only parameter through which an employee is measured. A system that relies only on KPI measurement can never explain why an employee is parked in a certain grade for prolonged periods with the same average performance. How can anyone grow if they aren’t updating their skills or connecting with the outside world through professional networks is the question?

This also points to another important aspect of leadership development – locus of control. The louder the “employee speak” and more aligned it is to their career aspirations, the more independent the employee. This is in turn implies potential to work without supervision or an ability to manage their own time. This is how a leader grows – through a series actions that bolster their ability to perform and hence set direction.