How to stay competitive and create a great work culture to engage talent.
Q&A session with talent expert, Krishna Kumar, CEO of GreenPepper Consulting, a boutique talent strategy company in Kochi who helps in hiring, training and engaging people.
1. Many entrepreneurs say it is difficult to hire people and extract performance from them, what do you think?
Yes, in last 5 years, job markets have changed a lot. Earlier, job seekers were ready to work for lower salaries to start with and gradually prove to climb the ladder. Now people believe in quick wins. They want things work out fast. It means employers need to structure a fast track growth path for employees. They need instant rewards, good work environment, freedom and learning opportunities. They want startup kind of work culture which boosts creativity and energy.
Many people complain about not getting good people, lack of performance and unpredictable behaviors of new generation employees. It is time to reflect and create a new plan for the changing workplace.
Smart proven people will come at a premium. They will look for good management and growth opportunities. Employers need to constantly look at ways to excite them and motivate them to do things. They question strategy of employer and poses challenges always. So managing people takes 50% time or more sometimes of entrepreneurs and CEOs.
In this dynamic context, hiring becomes challenging and focused activities need to be in place to constantly seek talent using creative ways. It can be social and professional networking, observing smart talented people and relationship building ( we call it talent dating) intended for headhunting. This is a gradual but uncertain process which will be a key of any business. Talent doesn’t come easily. Conventional hiring processes are revamped and new open less egoistic ways are happening in talent scarce industries.
Are leaders ready to change their style of hiring for better talent attraction? It requires putting organizations interests before self interest. You need to shed ego and accept the market reality to woo talent. It requires deeper understanding of why talent acquisition is the only way forward for building any kind of business. Investors are now funding people, not ideas. Good teams get good investors. More than ideas, it is strategic to have good teams in place. Motivating and rewarding them can help in building a long term business.
In Kerala, people prefer to stay in organizations for longer term compared to other large metros as opportunities are lesser. Competitive offers, greater opportunities to learn and grow in other metros attract our star talent to try possibilities there. Lot of Keralites are ready to come back if there are good opportunities and professional management. We need to create a work environment which can boost growth, harmony and professionalism.
To bring talent to work in our organizations, we need a clear strategy. Employer branding, creative sourcing, employee referrals and headhunting are the new ways. Are you building a business which promotes employee learning and growth which can the business into a great organization. That has long term impact on profitability and reputation.
In Kochi, companies at Infopark who are involved in product development and niche skills outsourcing are on a hunt always. They do not stop it. Even when hiring needs are not urgent, they keep their lines open for proactive discussions. When the demand strikes, they make the process fast.
Managing people in their 20s ( we call them millennials ) is a big challenge for many managers. They believe opportunities are plenty and joining a company doesn’t mean staying for long unless there is huge opportunity to earn, learn and have fun! Many traditional businesses are facing challenges because of is new reality. They don’t get people easily. They need to change their attitude towards workforce and build a new work culture conducive for their performance.
2. What are new ideas for hiring sales talent?
Meeting people informally and sharing opportunities in their organization can create lot of interest and curiosity which can lead word of mouth and referrals. Sales talent is contextual. A guy who performs well in one industry may not work in another. But key behaviors and skills are universal. Nowadays, employers do strict assessment for sales hiring to reduce judgement errors. They do psychometric testing, multiple rounds of interviews and multidimensional hiring thought process to finally offer a candidate. Compensation will be fixed plus variable and making both equally attractive.
3. Mostly interviewing techniques fail, judgement errors happen, what can be done to reduce it?
The most proven technique is to interview more candidates, take notes while interviewing, understanding the candidate outside interview room, having a lunch with him, talking to his previous employers and his other references, communicating with him frequently to understand the nuances and dynamics of his activities, psychometric testing and in-depth HR interviews can help. But these processes must be fast as he it should test the patience of a good candidate thereby losing them in the war for talent as it is a competitive job landscape. Trust but verify is the key.
4. Once hired, what are the things to be done to ensure successful engagement?
First 90 days is crucial. Give him detailed induction, take his feedback, introduce him to team, make him comfortable, give specific assignments for quick wins. Everyone loves quick wins. Help him to achieve it. That way it engages the new employee. Give clarity on KPIs, Key Performance Indicators. Tell him what is appreciated and not. He should take off in 90 days. Prepare a take off plan. Talent is always demanding, managing the expectations and creating a direction towards performance is where high quality management is required.
5. What motivates people at work?
Healthy workplace relationships, opportunity to learn, appreciation, clarity of performance feedback are the key things. Money is important too. In a competitive market, employees compare their salaries with counterparts in other similar organizations, making them feel good or bad. Comparison is the death of happiness many cases. As an employer, you need to remind them how lucky they are to work in the company, by constantly communicating and engaging at work. Create a high energy workplace for faster results.
6. How to engage people at work?
Immediate supervisors and managers play a big role in it. Give him equipments and resources to complete the assigned task, upskilling him to do the work, giving specific instructions and feedback, discuss progress with him, encouraging healthy friendships at workplace, be genuinely interested in their learning and advancement, make him feel part of a mission and give clarity of how he is contributing to the organization. This approach works globally and we need to develop this as a process for engaging people consistently. Managers need to be trained properly in employee engagement. Recently, I did a two day workshop for leaders and co-founders of an award winning internet company in Bangalore on employee engagement and they appreciated it as it is crucial for their organization.
7. Many young professionals are difficult to be managed, they are smart, fast but inconsistent, how to manage them?
Many of them take jobs as earning opportunity and learn skills in a short span of time and move on to new opportunities faster. Smart people needs to be given opportunities to work on new projects, equip them with new skills, provide next orbit things which scare them thereby challenging them to prove their mettle. Many young techies get bored. They need assignments which challenge their skills. So putting them on tough tasks can help to engage them. Creating a young and happy work culture can help them to work better. Managing them is not a event, it is a constant affair.
8. What kind of work GreenPepper do in HR space?
We now work with technology companies in talent search, learning and development and turnkey services for foreign companies to set up teams in India. In India, we are based in Kochi, Bangalore and Mumbai.