- CEO’s Weekly Newsletter
- 20 Jul 2020
We were privileged to have multiple discussion sessions with Global HR leaders. The topics ranged from talent intelligence, diversity, and career progression. Through the course of these discussions, I realized several HR leaders have a very big vision and transformational plan. While that is an awesome thing to have, executing a big vision may often mean a delay in getting the results we need.
For example, let us say we set a reskilling goal that 20% of the new job openings should be filled through internal resources. This objective becomes a bit long drawn and takes significant time to implement and measure.
Rather, if we say we want to transform five call center agents into Digital Marketing specialists, the goal becomes a bit more tangible and helps you scale exponentially. We are calling this concept as Micro HR experiments.
Micro Experiment does not mean easy to do – it just means when successful, you can scale dramatically.
Like in any concept, this concept was inspired by the 2019 Nobel prize choice for Applied Economics. Many of you may know that the 2019 Nobel Prize went to Professors Esther Duflo, Michael Kremer, and Abhijit Banerjee were awarded the Nobel for economics.
The Economics world was stunned – because their work did not have the academic excellence that a Nobel prize work would normally bring. Post the initial shock; people realized the value of what they had accomplished. Over 20 years, they had conducted brilliant micro experiments to lift education and reduce poverty levels across the globe.
For example, in one instance, they proved that having variation in teaching methods may benefit the overall student population as opposed to more budgets for schools. This type of thinking, we want to bring into our research across location analysis, diversity, and reskilling models.
We have very interesting updates across various topics, and I am super excited to bring this to you
Several leaders asked us questions around progressions and when to promote a resource.
This is a very tricky layer of research – especially when doing it through the external lens. To complicate things, peer data is rarely consistent when it comes to studying levels.
For example, look at a very small subset of comparison metrics for a junior software engineer across the three companies. You have so much variability, and then the variability increases significantly.
So who is a senior engineer or a senior resource? Does seniority correlate only with Time? Or are there other variables involved in it. This is exactly the question asked by Researchers Sven Horak et al.; through the systemic studying of enterprises.
This experiment was done in South Korea, where experience often trumps everything else when it comes to promotion.
But the authors found that a truly senior resource brings in the following (not all the factors all the time necessarily)
- Need for creativity and technical competence
- Demonstrated courage in terms of experimenting with something new and driving it
- Ability to work across multiple generations (this is reality now)
- Desire for faster advancement
This was a great study, and I truly enjoyed it.
But the challenge is, our performance management systems never designed to handle and measure this.
For example, can we take generational feedback for an aspiring leader (Micro Experiment) and see what results maybe? Right now, peer feedback is a mash-up of generational viewpoints. Something to think about as a micro experiment (hopefully your Genz is not n=1)
Any conversation with an HR leader these days quickly get into Diversity. With all the worldly events, companies are truly working on getting Diverse talent.
Some interesting trends are for roles such as Business Data Analyst and IT data analyst; we see better diversity in places like Atlanta in the US, for example.
Women Python developers in Fukuoka – Japan talent is slightly getting better (all still in the statistical margin of error, but we see slightly better availability).
Women who code at London is a great initiative with about 6000 plus members across different technologies.
Of course, Diversity does not mean ethnicity and gender alone. When are we truly going to have a human psychologist design next-generation products?
Now the question is, what do you do to keep them and promote them post them joining. A 2019 South African study looked at barriers to Career Progression of Black African Middle Managers in South African Banks.
This study was done by Sive-Thina Mayiya et al.; relied quite a bit on field studies and interviews. So in this study, they tested Black African Middle managers about the barriers impeding their career progress. While the study brought out many issues, the main aspect that stood out was the lack of exposure to senior managerial duties.
I found this aspect pretty fascinating. Senior Managerial duties may mean different things for different functions.
In research, for example, debriefing the study directly with customers will be a very senior managerial responsibility. (in addition to other things). In tech, understanding and following code protocols and adapting to a higher degree of data security and privacy standards is a senior responsibility.
This may also have a broader career progression impact as this sort of Simulation may help across ethnicities and gender.
Maybe another Micro experiment is to start exposing your diverse talent to senior duties early on and see how that works over a period of time?
As work from homes, employee networking effect has gotten extremely complicated.
The power of in-person 1:1s and relationship-building lunch sessions are getting diminished every day.
Employee social networking platforms account for the majority of employee communication.
The dynamics of how this will play out in employee promotion and attrition is still being studied, A few papers in this area have theorized that employees who are unable to get the required attention through this network are susceptible to attrition.
Understanding these networks and how information is being shared through and across these networks is also emerging critical.
One fascinating study in this field is using a positive Gossips model developed by MIT and Stanford University professors Abhijit Banerjee et.al.
The professors theorized and demonstrated that in a rural community, vaccination rates improved significantly when the information is spread through people who are known to spread a lot of news among their community (rather than doing an information blast).
This is described in detail in the paper Using Gossips to disseminate information.
Now identifying corporate gossipers may be a tough task (or maybe not) for HR but maybe something here for you to ponder