Psychometric Assessments – an indispensible tool for HR professionals


“Life is not about finding the right person , but creating the right relationships .”   
By: John Vijayarangam

Look before you leap. Test before you hire!  As leaders in the business of headhunting and Executive Search we are often approached by clients who want not just intelligent and technically competent,  candidates but also ‘good Leaders’ , and ‘team players’, and yes they should be candidates with ‘initiative and drive’. How would you really know from an interview session what the smooth talking candidates really have behind the facade of personality? Professional recruiters use a variety of tools and strategies to locate the star performers – those with a calibre are rarely discovered by the standard interview process that most companies use.
The key to success in business is money and people. The key to understanding people is personality psychology – getting to the root of the “nature of human nature”.

 Personality psychology answers three basic questions:

1) How and in what way we are alike;

2) How and why we are so different from one another;

3) Why we are different and why do we do what we do.

Psychometrics is the field of study concerned with the theory and technique of educational measurement and psychological measurement, which includes the measurement of knowledge, abilities, attitudes, and personality traits.

Personality assessments can be used at any stage of the employee lifecycle, not just for recruitment, and are an effective tool for assessing an employee’s development needs and planning for the future.

By using personality tests early on in the interview process you can quickly identify the most relevant candidates for the job by finding out key information about their working behaviour, such as:
• How they will fit in with your working environment
• How effectively they work as part of a team
• How closely they match the key competencies required for the role
• Where their strengths lie and where they will need more development.

What is Personality?
In common parlance, Personality has two meanings or two sides and it is important to keep the two meaning distinct.
On one side, we have the “view from the inside” or the “actor’s view”. What you think about yourself, or who YOU think YOU ARE. Your self-concept, your hopes, your dreams, you ego, values, fears, aspirations.
On the other side, we have the “view from the outside” or the “observers’ view”. What OTHERS think about YOU.  The YOU that we know. The person WE think you are based on what you reveal, your overt behaviour.
There are a few interesting points to note based on these two views.

• The view from the inside (The Actor’s View) is your IDENTITY. The view from the outside (Observers View) is your REPUTATION. Your identity is the story you tell yourself about you, and who you are. Your reputation is the story others tell about you based on your actions, performance, body language, etc.
• We use INDENTITY to explain your behaviour. We use REPUTATION to describe your past performance and predict your future performance.
• REPUTATION concerns WHAT you do. IDENTITY concerns WHY you do it.

The Hogan Assessment
One of the leading providers of Personality Assessments, Hogan Assessments, USA ( offers an interesting range of options for assessment of individuals.
The FOUR basic types of assessments covered by Hogan Assessments are:
1. The Bright Side of Personality – to measure normal personality based on the Five-Factor Model (FFM).
?  How does this person typically approach work and   interaction with others?
?   What strengths can this person rely on to facilitate his/her performance?

2. The Dark Side of Personality – to measure career-derailing tendencies including 11 patterns of behaviour that could impede work relationships and hinder productivity.
?  What tendencies could derail this individual’s career or performance?
?  How is this person inclined to respond when stressed, under pressure, or not self monitoring?

3. The Inside – to measure your ‘key drivers’ and find out ‘what makes you tick’. Your Motives, Values, Preferences.
?  What motivates and “drives” this individual?
?  What type of work environment will he/she consider most motivating?
?  What is he/she  striving to attain?

4. The Cognitive Side – to measure if you are a strategic or analytic thinker
?  How does this individual identify and solve problems?
?  How will this individual approach problems?




As HR experts we understand that we often have to dig deep and probe below the surface to check out the ‘true colours’ of an executive. We have found that Psychometric tools provide useful ‘handles’ for understanding, analyzing, and assessing individual before critical decisions are made. There are a plethora of assessments in the market and all quite good with each having their own significant strengths such as DISC, SHL, NBO, Harrison Assessments, FIRO (B) , Hogan, and several others. All have their own merits and demerits.


The key is to find out what your business needs, check out what solution best fits in with your needs and then go for it.
The key questions to ask before you decide on which ‘assessment’ to use are:
1. Do the tests have global credibility and reliability? How long have they been in existence?
2. Are the assessments truly tried and tested; do they have a reputed list of clients?
3. Do the authors of the assessments have world class credentials, qualifications, with publications, research papers, and case studies to back up the findings?
4. Do you have a sufficient menu to select from and decide what assessment to use and for what purpose?
5. Do you have options to select from the size of the report, the style of reporting, and a summary solution like a ‘Coaching and Counselling guide’ with options to pay for only what you need?
6. Does the vendor have a panel of trained experts available who will be able to analyze the results and give you in-depth analysis of the assessment results?

50% of the Hogan clients in the USA are in the Fortune 500  list which makes them a credible
vendor for Psychometric tool.

To conclude let us just say :

“ There will never be another now-
I’ll make the most of today .
There will never be another me –
I’ll make the most of myself  . ”

While  assessments are good for a deeper understanding of self and others the key is to use the data we obtain for making improvements in self  and others.







For more details and information about Executive Search, HR Consulting, or Psychometric Testing, please contact John Vijayarangam or email
Author is  John Vijayarangam Director & CEO of Potentia HR Consulting ,





















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Competency Based HR Framework


Given that organisations of the future will work in flatter structures where people not tied into reporting relations on a formal hierarchy ; we will need to ensure that  Team Leaders are  empowered  with a fair amount of  freedom and autonomy left to  accomplish a mission.

The success therefore of these organisations would depend on four conditions :
• Mission
• Competence
• Information
• Culture

• Mission : Clarity of the goals / mission of each group is of critical importance . Awareness of the total organisation mission and objective is also absolutely necessary to keep the various groups together working towards a common goal.

• Competence : Since people would be the main focus , ‘ Competencies ‘ of people will become the main building block rather than just ‘ jobs’

• Information : about the market , the company status , the competition , and the human side of enterprise .

• Culture : building a performance driven and internationally competitive culture .

Over  the last several decades there have been several interventions and stategies proposed by management gurus to strengthen and support implementation of HR applications  ( such as recuritment , training , performance planning etc) . HR professional have experimented with  MBO , Psychological testing , Sensitivity Training , OD, Quality Circles, and other strategies all with varying  degrees of success .  The most recent  concept / intervention is that of “ competencies in HR ” – which offers a very logical , practical , and productive strategy for make improvement in areas such as Recruitment ,  Training , and Performance Appraisal .

The recent research thanks to the pioneering works of  David McCelland / McBer combined with the research of  Daniel Goelman  have  thrown up  solid foundations / concepts that could bolster HR applications with  direct bearing on productivity of organisations .  Most HR divisions in leading  multinational have already  made rapid strides in implementing Competency based HR systems .
The objective of this paper is to review the applications and  examine the concept of “ competencies” .

This paper has makes references to the concepts / work done by David McCelland / Lyle M. Spencer and Signe M. Spencer.

A prerequisite to implementing a HR COMPETENCY FRAMEWORK  is to first have a  clear understanding of the concept of “ competencies” .

Competencies can be motives, traits, self-concepts, attitudes or values, content knowledge or cognitive or behavioural skills.

Some competencies can be taught easily and some are difficult. e.g. : Technical knowledge, behavioural skill are the easiest to teach . However the basic attitudes / values of a person , of traits is difficult to alter. Therefore in selection  the HR person needs to select for ‘ CORE MOTIVATION “  and then develop knowledge and skills. MOST ORGANISATIONS DO THE REVERSE.
A competency is an underlying characteristic of an individual that has a   cause – effect  relationship to superior performance. A competency predicts superior performance  which can be measured ( Spencer & Spencer ) .
• Underlying characteristic means the competency is a fairly deep and enduring part of a person’s personality and can predict behavior .
• Cause-effect  means that a competency causes or predicts behavior and performance.
• Measured (Criterion-referenced) – means that the competency actually predicts who does something well or poorly, as measured on a  scale .
Example- Lets take  “ empathy ” as a competency :
Empathy is a deep and enduring part of my personality ( underlying characteristic) which indicates that I may be good at counselling or customer service. This causes me to show more concern for people , or have better customer service ( casue-effect relatinship) . As a consequence of this it may be predicted that I will be an ‘outstanding’ counsellor compared to others who are rated as just average counsellors. ( the competency can be measured on a scale or criterion – referenced)

III Five Types of Competency Characteristics

1. Skill. The ability to perform a certain physical or mental tasks.

-Mental or cognitive skill competencies include analytic thinking (processing knowledge and data, determining cause and effect, organizing data and plans : eg : chess)
– Operating a lathe machine , car racing, painting.

2. Knowledge. Information  I have about the market for fabrics , yarn , and garments for export to Europe / USA.
3.Self-concept. A person’s attitudes, values, or self-image.

A person’s values are respondent or reactive motives that predict what he or she will do in the short term and in situations where others are in charge. For example, someone who values being a leader is more likely to exhibit leadership behavior if he or she is told a task or job will be “a test of leadership ability.” People who value being “in management” but do not intrinsically like or spontaneously think about influencing others at the motive level often attain management positions but than fail.

4. Traits. Physical characteristics and consistent responses to situations or information.

Emotional self-control and initiative are more complex “consistent responses to situation.” Some people don’t “blow up” at others and do act “above and beyond the call of duty” to solve problems under stress. These trait competencies are characteristic of successful managers.
Motives and competencies are intrinsic operant or self-starting “master straits” that predict what people will do on their jobs long term, without close supervision.

5. Motives. The things a person consistently thinks about or wants that cause action. Motives “drive, direct, and select” behavior to ward certain actions or goals and away from others.

The type or level of a competency has practical implications for human resource planning. As illustrated in figure 2-1, knowledge and skill competencies tend to be visible, and relatively surface, characteristics of people. Self-concept, trait, and motive competencies are more hidden, “deeper,” and central to personality.
Surface knowledge and skill competencies are relatively easy to develop; training is the most cost-effective way to secure these employee abilities.
Core motive and trait competencies at the best of the personality iceberg are more difficult to assess and develop; it is most cost-effective to select for these characteristics.

IV The Iceberg Model

When you meet and talk to people it may be easy to assess knowledge  and skills   such as knowledge of science , computers , ability to operate a machines etc,  .

However the more profound impact on the job at senior levels is depended on  motives , values , self-concept  are these are not easy to detect . …. these are  below the waterline ( the hidden side of personality ) – his core values and motives … these have a more significant impact on how he would do the job .

You could be looking a a very knowledgeable  chemical engineer however his motives may be to build bombs and not work as leader in a factory .







The competency framework helps organizations  build a ‘ competency model ‘  and use this model to recruit candidates confirming to the model, train them in the areas required , provide feedback during the performance appraisal process , and reward the high performers.

An interview techniques called the BEI  “ behavioural event interview” can be used to identify and check the competencies below the waterline .

Competencies play a critical role :

All persons in the organisation need to have a very clear notion of the ‘required competence ‘ for success in roles ( rather than jobs) and how these can be identified.

Steps for building Competency Models :  :
1) Panel of experts on target and feeder jobs – set direction and specify job performance criteria. ( key management team players )

2) Define tasks and characteristics thro Panel. Survey the existing job holders to obtain perceptions on which job tasks and personal characteristics contribute to success in the target and feeder  jobs .
3) Identify top performers in the target and feeder jobs using the performance criteria ( step one) .
4) Conduct in-depth interviews with both superior and average incumbents in the target and feeder jobs to find our what they do and how they do it. ( BEI)
5) Based on stage 4 . , develop a competency model of people in the target and feeder jobs. Identify those competencies that make the biggest contribution to outstanding performance . Also identify those competencies that ALL job holders have.
6) Analyse career paths by combining the survey ( stage 2) and the interview (stage 3) results.
7) Implementation options:
• computer-based tasks and competency inventories
• performance and potential assessments
• counselling
• career development and training

Building competencies can be a fun exercise and can add great value to the organizations key talents.

John Vijayarangam






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Interviewing Strategies – size him up and PAC him up

 “An appetizing smell , our mouth waters . it tastes good,  we swallow with delight  . An offensive  odor , mouth still waters,   we spit with disgust  . The same  saliva causing opposite reactions . Brain, perception , feelings , body , and behavior at work.” John McRan


Our business is people .  Quite often therefore we are asked by our clients to screen , shortlist , give an opinion , check out , test , or profile the competencies of the candidates we put up for final interviews. How do professional  headhunters  or HR professionals meet this challenge .
The standard process of scrutinizing the CV , a grilling interview ,  a BEI ( Behavioural Event Interview ) to check the critical incidents success  stories do throw up a lot of information . The Hay competency models   also a good guide to use while making your check list for reporting on candidates . However a closer understanding of Personality Psychology is required before we arrive at any conclusions . Hogan Assessments ( ) provide very useful tools for an in-depth analysis of competencies and are used globally by the Fortune  500 companies  and our experience with these tools have proved very effective in Indonesia. 
There are two views about personality :  

Assessing Personality

 View from the inside : when I look at myself I have an image or view about    ‘ sellf’ ‘ know only to me ,  my fears , my childhood experiences, my inner most secrets, my strengths, my weakness .

View from the outside : when others looks at me – they judge me from my ‘actions’ – my demonstrated behaviour  . This will have no relevance absoultely with what I think about me  .

We need to get a combination of both veiw to arrived a Personality . How to read someone like a book . I wish it were that easy . Its not easy , simply because people are far more complicated , intricately woven , and complex creations  .  The storylines keep changing , althought the author  and the subject are the same , there is far too  much to read between the lines.

As professional headhunters we are often asked by our clients to give us a summary of our immpression about the candidates we are interviewing , “  can you provide us with a personality assessment or competency profile of the candidates , before we take a final decision to appoint anyone ?”   By trial and error  companies have learnt that its not the  academic sore or the intelligence level ( IQ ) or  appearance  that determines success  on the job but the ‘ competencies ‘  required a a specific job .

The Competency Model from Spencer & L provide a very useful framework for sizing up candidates and it may be useful to take the elements of this . PAC  HIM ( an easy acronym to  remember)  can be used to size up candidates during the interview process or for selections of middle to senior level positions. These are the six cluster described by Spencer & in Competence at Work : 


P – Personal effectiveness  : This related to an individual Self Confidence , Flexibility , Commitment , Integrity or Self Control.
A – Achievement Orientation :  going for goals / targets, QC awareness, initiative , information seeking 
C – Cognitive skills : Analytical thinking / Strategic thinking
H- Human Relations / Interpersonal Sensitivity
I  – Impact & Influence Skills
M – Management : Leadership / Team Work / Directiveness

Smart CEOs know that  people are the key  competitive advantage regardless of economic circumstances or market challenges. An increasing number of  companies and paying more attention to selection procedures, and consistently investing  in identifying and growing their people.
Check out – what strategy for assessment does the HR in your organization use  ?  

Please send in views and comments to
Author is  John Vijayarangam Director & CEO of Potentia HR Consulting ,







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Human Capital & The Asean One Big Market – Talk show

Q & A  Talkshow – Asean Single Market – Human Captial

(  Talk show with Agus and John Vijayarangam )

1)    When organizations  in Indonesia want to expand their  business to other countries in ASEAN, what  will be the Human Capital Role or actions that would be required by companies ?

It is quite obvious that with the prospects of a Single Asean Market coming up in 2015 . The frame work for business will change with globalization , naturally the dynamics for managing HR will  change and a  paradigm shift will be called for in the management of Human Capital  . The three directly affected parties would be :

a)    The organizations going through change – to cope with the enormous  market opportunities

b)    The HR Professional – who will be faced a variety of new issues problems and priorities

c)    The Asean Executives – who would need to then start thinking  of either cashing in on opportunities in a Global environment or survival in a competitive global environment.

 We would need to draft out a  new roadmap setting out revised Human Capital Role and policies  in line with the planned creation of single ASEAN market .

It is not just the organizations / HR Professionals / or the executives who have to play a role but  the Government of Indonesia will have to get involved in looking at the maco aspects of HRD and  making dramatic changes in a) education b) Legal systems c) immigrations and cross –border movements d) socio economic policies and culture change programs for public sector executives .

Actually you if ask me  , as far as the Human Capital functional role is concerned ,  I think you will need Salt  AND Pepper in the Human Capital role .

 Answer : Five Part frame work :

a)    Strategic Planning for International HR

b)    Alignment of Organisation : Companies sometimes assume they can operate abroad the same way they operate in their home towns . in tune with Asean Market / International customer service / high expectations for   quality standards / and the associated training needs etc.

c)    Leadership : cross cultural leadership

d)    Talent Management : Recruitment of global manager / Training & Development for International standards / Compensations & Benefits Planning – with knowledge of international standards /

e)    Performance Culture  

2)    In facing the Asean single market in 2015 – how can executives / managers prepare for meeting the challenges? What competencies would you recommend we start building ?

Well you can have one big market for Asean but if there is little or no planning for the Human Resources it would be one big calamity for those countries who have not done the human resource planning for the huge opportunities ahead. One  is hard-pressed to think of a more important resource than human capital.

In fact, it would not be too much of an exaggeration to say that the global business center of gravity has shifted to the Asian region. It is a historic opportunity and countries that wake up to take up the challenge , will reap rich dividends.     

So what competencies can we build  ?     

    In our work with a wide range of international companies operating across many different markets and industries, it has become clear that the most successful business leaders consistently demonstrate a specific set of competencies. These competencies set this group apart from other managers. Successful global managers, particularly those leading the internationalisation of domestic companies, demonstrate these same competencies but in a very distinctive way. In our view these competencies fall into four distinct areas. These are:

a)    Business leadership

Business leadership in a global company has very specific challenges. In new markets, particularly new international markets, there is an overriding imperative to form strategic alliances and partnerships. Whether due to the need to gain distribution in a foreign environment, to gain lower cost production through scale, or to navigate the regulatory environment of foreign countries; the ability to build alliances and business partnerships is a key to successful business leadership in new markets.

b)   Functional leadership / Technical experts – global standards

Functional leadership is typically defined in terms of the specific functional skills an individual brings to a business situation. In the context of a globalising company specific functional skills are often critical and relate to the challenges facing the business, such as in the areas of marketing, manufacturing or logistics. 

c)    Managing Change / flexibility / adaptation skills  

 Global markets are typically characterised by rapid change and a high degree of uncertainty. Ability to lead teams in a changing environment / managing this change and Keeping the team focused and motivated is critical .

d)   Globally competitive Personality /  Resumes :  i) Communications – english / foreign language ii) International qualifications iii) Cross culture experts iv) International mid set : reading / personality / dress / personal leadership styles

To be successful working in another culture he or she must demonstrate a deep respect for, and sensitivity to, cultural differences. This does not mean however that successful managers ‘go native’. To the contrary, if the individual is to be truly respected by the local team, he or she must also remain grounded in his or her own culture and national identity. Finding this balance is a defining characteristic of the most successful global managers

3)    There is a lot of talk about Human Capital and its importance in the future could you briefly explain what exactly is human capital and how is this different from traditional Personnel management .

There are, two key principles that are central to the human capital idea:

 First, people are  assets whose value can be enhanced through investment..    As with any investment, the goal is to maximize value while managing risk.  As the value of people increases, so does the performance capacity of the organization, and therefore its value to clients and other stakeholders.

Second, an organization’s human capital policies must be aligned to support the organization’s “shared vision”—that is, the mission, vision for the future, core values, goals and objectives, and strategies by which the organization has defined its direction and its expectations for itself and its people.  All human capital policies and practices should be designed, implemented, and assessed by the standard of how well they help the organization pursue its shared vision.

In most traditional companies  employees traditionally have been viewed through the budgetary lens, and therefore they have often been seen as costs to be cut rather than as assets to be valued.

 4)    How can organizations start preparing their talents to compete in an International environment .

Organisation can start the following : 

a)    Change Management :The sooner companies prepare people for change, the more successful they will be. So companies are working towards organisation structures that are flexible and malleable. There is awareness that change management is one area that needs to be looked at, but no one knows how to go about it. People are still looking for the right way. Change has to be managed in such a way that it feels comfortable.
People hate change, and that is a global phenomenon. Nobody likes to see the status quo shaken. But changes have become part of life, and the frequency and magnitude of changes has also become higher than what it was 30 years ago. Some of it is of the companies’ own doing and is predictable, while others are due to global trends and are unavoidable.

Despite nearly two decades of corporate globalization efforts, many organizations still struggle to find managers who are comfortable and effective in the increasingly global economy. Most suffer both from a lack of cultural awareness when dealing with employees and partners overseas and from a lack of experience managing increasingly complex processes over long distances.

Though a few insightful corporate giants such as General Electric, Cisco Systems, and Intel have made strides in developing successful global managers, many human resources leaders and senior executives continue to be frustrated with the available skills and resources.

5)    But even so, there are steps companies and managers can take to better prepare for the challenges of managing globally. Our focus here is threefold: (1) to develop a clearer understanding of the challenges of managing people across borders; (2) to instill in new global managers an awareness of and an appreciation for the vast differences among the cultures in which they do business; and (3) to give global managers the tools and support they need to succeed.

  What does it take to be a great global manager?

Research suggests a number of characteristics, the most important being the ability to understand, empathize, and work with multiple cultures. A multinational company investing around the world will face clients and customers from cultures totally different from that of the home country. For example, business in Latin America is based very much on relationships of personal trust: One gets to know a Mexican or Argentinian boss before one presents him with a formal contract. In France, one deals directly with the powerful patron at the top. In Germany, on the other hand, written rules and procedures are all-important: A foreign manager seeking to speak to a German CEO will immediately be directed to the appropriate department head. In contrast to Germany’s strict written rules, the Japanese operate on strict unwritten rules, known as kata. Job security is considered in America to produce a mediocre employee, but in Japan, the lack of job security will do the same. The French admire intellectual prowess, the Americans short-term success; Australians are often wary of both.

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“Motivation is the art of getting people to do what you want them to do because they want to do it.” –Dwight D. Eisenhower
Excellence can be attained by focus on three basic  enablers:  people, process, and technology.  The smart CEO know that the  most critical is ‘  people’. It is your  people who define  the culture , the standards , and the performance standard – your Human Capital.
The value of your HC  can change depending on the strategies used , the caliber of your HR Department , and the attitude of the CEO .  With globalization and rapid change it is becoming increasingly clear today that  the companies with  smarter quality of  human resources  have the cutting edge in competition. They will always be one up on the competition, wave out to them and leave them way behind .  Improving quality we all know does not happened by chance it needs strategy and action.
Owners and top management need to balance between the three enables (people , process , and technology )  and spend the right amount of time and investment to have a closer   look at Human Capital to understand , evaluate , and plan ahead if they want to be one up on the competition. The choices are clear – invent in people or be left behind.  It is sometimes shocking to  see Top Management spending millions on technology and process but almost zero on people development.

What is Human Capital ? 
Simply stated it is the people in the organization  – all levels , all functions , all categories.  However there are two key  aspects that are central to the value to the Human Capital idea :

People are Assets and as with any asset the value can be enhanced or reduced depending on how the assets are maintained. Human Capital is a dynamic asset that can be refined, improved , and sharpened. 

Second, an organization’s human capital strategy must be shaped and aligned to meet the vision and mission of the company. HR policies and practices should be designed, implemented, and assessed to check how effectively they contribute to helping an organization to achieve its goals.

In companies where the concept of Human Capital is ignored people are looked at as ‘ expense accounts ‘ or as ‘ costs ‘ to be controlled or cut .  However, high-performance organizations recognize that an organization’s people largely determine its capacity to perform.

WHY do a Self Assessment of Human Capital?

Why do a master health check up?   The answer is obvious, if you don’t know your basic health parameters and take preventive action chances are your productivity will go down and the worst case scenario is you kick the bucket. The same could happen to organization.

 Part of the impetus for creating human capital organizations comes from the growing realization that improvements in HR can provide the competitive edge to business. CEOs who wake up to this reality reap the rewards. Those who continue to slumber and resist change will sooner rather than later get sacked or replaced. 

If high performance and accountability depend on the three enablers—people, process, and technology—then it is useful, first and foremost, for the HR Department to have a clear and fact-based understanding of its human capital situation. 

WHAT approach can I take for a simple assessment of my Human Capital? 

Before employing expensive consultants to step in to undertake an audit a simple checklist can be used for self-assessment. This article is by no means an elaborate plan for audit of HR. It is just an outline of the Five important  steps that can be taken to   analyze and plan, implement change, evaluate and continuously improve HC .

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Employee Turnover – are your staff running away from you to join the competition?

“Talent without discipline is like an octopus on roller skates. There’s plenty of movement, but you never know if it’s going to be forward, backwards, or sideways.” – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.  (author of Life’s Little Instruction Book)

You don’t need to work hard today to get higher bonus or salary increments – just switch jobs.  And  that seems to be the name of the game today . Well, think again .  Little do these job hoppers know that in the long run, besides leaving HR Directors  hopping mad, the end result will be a doomed  career  sacrificed for short term monetary gain. Resumes with too many job changes are either deleted on computers or consigned unceremoniously to the dustbin. “ If he has changed more than three jobs in the last five years , don’t waste my time – don’t send me that resume “  is the common guideline given to  headhunters.Today’s talented executives are looking for not just good pay packets , but  better working environments , better corporate image, better business ethics , fairer bosses , training & development opportunities . The big challenge is for companies to come up with creative strategies for retaining and motivating the top talents critical to the business.      
Not all staff  turnover  however is bad , and many companies celebrate  when an overpaid, low performing executive , joins the competition. Staff turnover  provides an opportunity to inject new blood , sometimes at lower cost into the workplace. Organization need to study and analyze the problem closely . However turnover leading to loss of business, low morale , low productivity , loss of market share  should be a wake up call for the organization. Most CEOs  would agree that it is cheaper to keep a good current customer than to acquire a new one. The same applies to employees.One of the best ways to reduce turnover is to recruit the right people in the first place. Go for the optimum fit rather than the best candidate , The guys who are  too smart may only be using your company as a  launch pad for the next job.

What can organizations do to stem the tide  ?

Retention is all about a) creating the right environment for enhancing growth and development b) formulating the right HR policies to be one up on the competition c) providing growth and development opportunities to ensure your employees don’t have to look elsewhere for this basic need.

There a no common remedy for reducing employee turnover . Each organization is unique and what may be a sure fire remedy in one may not work in another . The list below is  by no means  exhaustive – and is provided as a check list for review. How does your company compare against this ?  .  

If you have a retention problem  this may be just the tip of the iceberg  and further probing through a Employee Satisfaction Survey could reveal more symptoms of a deeper rooted HR issue  being the underlying cause of employee turnover.  If your organization is focused on growth, customer loyalty, new product introductions etc. then a strategy for  talent management and retention is a must. This strategy must be tightly woven to retain and nurture talent.

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What , How & Why of Competencies

Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue of excellence , but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do . Excellence , then, is not an act but a habit. “  Aristotle quotes

Over  the last several decades there have been several interventions and strategies proposed by management gurus to strengthen and support implementation of HR applications such as recruitment , training , performance planning etc. . HR professionals have experimented with MBO, Psychological testing, Sensitivity Training, OD, Quality Circles, and other strategies all with varying degrees of success. Quite a few companies today are talking the route of ‘ Competency Based HR Systems ‘ but few really understand the basics .

What are the basics ? 

  • WHY are Competency Models required for building excellence 
  • WHAT are competencies and how do you identify them  
  • HOW  can organizations implement Competency Models for making improvements in areas of  a ) Recruitment  b) Performance Planning and c) Training 
    WHY competency Models ? Millions of dollars are spent by the large automotive companies in developing a perfect model of a car or prototype before the start churning our cars in the assembly line . With a faulty model Toyota has learnt the hard way thousand are cars are produced with a defect cloned from the  ‘ faulty model ‘ .  Millions of dollars down the drain . To get the perfect car , you need the perfect model .It does not require  much IQ to figure out that to get the perfect Manager , you need a perfect model . Unfortunately  most organizations do not have a concept of this .And when we talk of ‘ behavioral models ‘ we enter the realm of an ‘ imperfect science ‘ , hard to define .  New entrants to organizations copy sometimes the wrong models , outdated models of behavior , or the boss , who may or may not be setting the right example to follow . The summary and result is we leave the grooming of skills and competencies of the most critical resource ( our human resources )  to  good luck  and chance.  The case is simple  and straightforward – with a good competency model – companies can hope to produce better managers. WHAT are Competencies ? 

    Competencies are underlying characteristics in an individual which can lead to excellent performance .  A competency predicts superior performance  which can be measured.  Organization would be better off looking for these competencies in new recruits to reduce the risk of new recruits turning out to be lemons. 

    A competency model refers to a group of competencies required in a particular job and usually number 7 to 9 in total. The number and type of competencies in a model will depend upon the nature and complexity of work along with the culture and values of the organisation in which the work takes place.

    The smarter HR Managers in leading organizations  have been using competencies to help recruit, select and manage their outstanding performers after Dr David McClelland, Harvard Business School Professor of Psychology, found that traditional tests such as academic aptitude and knowledge tests, did not predict success in the job. 


    Five Types of Competency Characteristics

     –Skill :  The ability to perform a certain physical or mental tasks.

    -Mental or cognitive skill competencies include analytic thinking (processing knowledge and data, determining cause and effect, organizing data and plans: e.g.: chess)

    –          Operating a lathe machine, car racing, and painting.

    2. Knowledge: Information I have about the market for fabrics, yarn, and garments for export to Europe / USA.

    3. Self-concept. A person’s attitudes, values, or self-image.

    4. Traits: Physical or mental characteristics and responses to events, conditions, and experiences.

    5.       Motives. : What do you keep thinking of or wanting 24 hours of the day. What do you keep dreaming of? What drives you to think act, and behave, the way you do?


    Five Types of Competencies :

    Five Types of Competencies


    How to Implement Competencies :

    The first step in implementation is creating a Competency Modle and undestanding the basic. If you have a retention problem  this may be just the tip of the iceberg  and further probing through a Employee Satisfaction Survey could reveal more symptoms of a deeper rooted HR issue  being the underlying cause of employee turnover.  If your organization is focused on growth, customer loyalty, new product introductions etc. then a strategy for  talent management and retention is a must. This strategy must be tightly woven to retain and nurture talent.


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