Tag Archives: HR CaseStudy

HR Story : Change our Vision

13 Oct

There was a millionaire who was bothered by severe eye pain. He consulted so many physicians  and  was  getting  his  treatment done. He did not stop consulting galaxy of medical experts; he consumed heavy loads of drugs and underwent hundreds of injections.
But the ache persisted with great vigor than before. At last a monk who has supposed to  be  an  expert  in treating  such patients was called for by the millionaire. The monk  understood  his  problem  and said that for some time he should concentrate only on green colors  and  not  to fall his eyes on any other colors. The millionaire got together a group  of  painters  and purchased barrels of green color and directed that every object his eye was likely   to   fall   to   be   painted   in   green   color   just   as  the  monk  had directed.
When   the   monk  came  to  visit  him  after  few  days,  the  millionaire’s  servants ran with buckets of green paints and poured on him since he was in red dress, lest their master not see any other color and his eye ache would come back.  Hearing  this  monk  laughed said “If only you had purchased a pair of green spectacles,  worth  just  a  few  rupees, you could have saved these walls and trees and pots and all other  articles and also could have saved a large share of his fortune.
You cannot paint the  world green.” Let us change our vision and the world will appear accordingly. It is  foolish to shape the world, let us shape ourselves first.
Let’s change our vision..!!
– Anonymous

HR Case Study: Sharpening your AXE

13 Oct

Sapna, Ramesh, Steve, Meera, Matthew, Vikas and so many others in the organization complained of work pressure, unachievable targets, peer pressure, time management and loss of work life balance. Despite working hard, their performance was going down and impacting organization’s bottom line.

Who is to blame for poor performance of employees and business? Ask line managers; they blame it on HR for poor hiring. Ask HR; they blame it on line managers for poor management skills. Ask me, I would say, the Axe???? Now you will ask what (the hell) an Axe has to do in performance management business? Let me tell you a small story…

Once upon a time, a very strong woodcutter asked for a job to a timber merchant, and he got it. The pay was good and so were the working conditions. For that reason, the woodcutter was determined to do his best. His boss gave him an axe and showed him the area where he was supposed to work. The first day, the woodcutter brought 18 trees “Congratulations,” the boss said. “Carry on that way!”.

Very motivated with the boss’s words, the woodcutter tried harder the next day, but he could bring only 15 trees. The third day he tried even harder, but could bring 10 trees only. Day after day he was bringing less and less trees. “I must be losing my strength”, the woodcutter thought.

He went to the boss and apologized, saying that he could not understand what was going on. “When was the last time you sharpened your Axe?” the boss asked. “Sharpen? I had no time to sharpen my Axe. I have been very busy trying to cut more trees for you.”

Yes, the ‘Axe’ has a lot to do in a performance management business. This “Axe” for better performance is an employee’s competencies and skills. In any organization the call to sharpen the Axe needs be taken by HR.
Ask yourself a question “Are employees working hard without proportionate results?”. If the answer is yes, then probably, it is time to examine your employee’s ‘Axe” and sharpen it. In highly competitive business environment, the gap between existing capabilities of employee and required capabilities to compete in the market place widens much faster. A business that cannot bridge these gaps gets wiped off (lot of examples are there).

What to do?

Step 1: Finding Blunt Areas
Like the supervisor in the story, you need to have an evaluation mechanism that can find the skill and competencies gaps in your workforce. This evaluation can be done by streamlining your performance management system so that it could provide better data on skill and competency gaps. These competency gaps extracted as output of Performance Management System should be used to design training and development programs.

Step 2: Sharpening Your Axe

Well-designed training programs (which are focused on developing skills and competencies necessary for a specific job) help you improve employees’ Performance significantly and relieve them from work pressure. You can be gin by identifying the training needs, managing course ware, co-coordinate with faculties, manage training facilities and obtain feed back from your trainees & their managers about the effectiveness of the program. For mid to large organizations, it is possible only if your HR is equipped with a Training Management tool that can keep the Axe sharpened all the while.

Next big question! Do you have an ‘Axe’ sharpener?


Pinal Mehta

Bill Smith – HR Case Study

10 Oct

‘Cobra’ Ltd;

‘Cobra’ Ltd is one of the fastest growing end to end IT services firms worldwide, incorporated at US, serving to long list of fortune 500 clients. One of its units established at Asia is engaged in Recruitment Process Outsourcing.

Bill Smith;

Bill Smith, MBA (HR), is recruited through campus placement clearing 4 rounds of interviews by Yen who is one of the technical head working in the same company for over 5 years. As such Bill doesn’t have any sort of base of technology since he is a commerce graduate. However he had quite a good experience of US mortgage and telecom (outsourcing) as he has worked for another call center in the past.

Being an HR professional Bill made no blunder during interview and made himself crystal clear about his non technical background and put his doubt whether he would be fit for the job or not. Yen motivated him by saying that he is highly experienced and has empowered a lot of non technical students.

Bill’s Team Members;

Finally Bill joins ‘Cobra’ even though he is yet to complete his degree 2 months later. Here he got highly cooperative batch mates – Mr. Paul, Miss Sophia, Mrs. Amro, and Mr. Alex. Except Bill, all are from IT background and each of them consistently motivates Bill and supports him to understand all the technologies. Bill is impressed with their behavior since even though there is a competitive atmosphere each of they are behaving like family members.

Paul is a sporty boy; succeeds in getting attention of anyone. Whole group enjoys his company as he possesses great sense of humor. Mrs. Amro is most experienced lady amongst the group. She is highly caring, empathetic and friendly. Sophia is very friendly and cheerful girl. However she hardly cares for others time, feelings or any promises made as she always loves to stay lost away in her own world with her own dreams. However she keeps the atmosphere live all the time.

Induction & Orientation;

On the first day of training all the members are informed that they are in probation of 40 days training program. At the end of which the company will decide as to which candidate would be hired finally.

First week training is taken by amazing trainer Mr. Bonanza, in which all knew each other and became the best friends.

Training by Nancy;

Second week onwards the team is handed over to another trainer Nancy. She has been serving the company since so long, and has been one of the best recruiter the company had ever seen. She is very smart, polite and focused mentor with friendly nature.

Nancy sends daily report to Yen as to performance of each trainee. The whole group passes through various technical and theoretical exams. Even though having poor technical command Bill succeeds in maintaining score of average 70 %, slightly at par with his team at around 75 to 80% However Nancy never gives any clear indication as to her satisfaction level from the performance of Bill, instead she keeps on instructing Bill to score more. She always notices the hard work, sincerity, ambition, and loyalty shown by Bill. However she never communicates any of these to Bill formally in the presence of any superior authority.

Yen and Bill;

Yen has hardly any interaction with Bill since the day he joined except for once or twice. He interacts only on weekend to give review upon weekly tests. On the first review he warns Bill saying that he speaks fast English. US citizens won’t understand it. Bill is little shocked as he never got such a compliment at his last job where he interacted with a lot of US citizens. However he starts working on the same constructively.

Bill’s improvement;

Within a short time he starts working on live calls to recruit IT people for various clients. He is found to be very smooth in calling. He is so comfortable in talking that discussion starts in a very formal way for a job however ends in a long lasting professional relationship. It would not be exaggerated to say that if any candidate speaks with him for more that 10 minutes s/he becomes a big fan. Bill keeps in touch by e-mail with all the successful candidates who are in process of selection. Within 2 weeks he closes around 15 candidates out of which 11 are US citizens. Bill feels satisfaction on his improvement. Moreover he starts grasping the technological parts rapidly.

Yen’s review on Bill’s performance;

On the month ending Saturday Nancy went on leave. Yen calls up Bill and agenda of meeting is to communicate following points –

  1. Yen is not at all satisfied with his performance, neither at calling part nor with technology part. i.e. ‘Communication & Technology’ are the grounds on which Yen wants to terminate him from job.

(Bill is confused as Yen had a last interaction with him when he gave him first warning, 20 days before. Moreover, there was not a single test on technology part conducted yet and still Yen directly came on negative conclusion without consulting Nancy even.)

  1. The current profile would not give him any long term benefit as the outsourced recruiting can’t help. (as much as work experience for the domestic recruitment can)

  1. Showing the picture of future where other employees with technical background would earn far better incentives where as Bill would be struggling just for survival, staying underperformer all the time.

  1. To suggest him to go for such a job that supports his qualification and can be helpful to his career few years down the line

  1. In a nut shell Bill is just wasting his time at this company.

Bill is frustrated on coming out of meeting. He is convinced with all the points except the first one of poor performance. However he doesn’t discuss anything about it with his lovely team. He feels like stereotyping attitude of Yen towards him. However Bill puts a strong wish to join the Corporate HR team of ‘Cobra’ which is engaged in domestic recruitment if he isn’t fit for the current profile since he has specialized in HR and possesses sound knowledge of that field. Yen consolidates for the same if there’s any opening there. They decided to meet on Monday again.

Last e-mails Bill sends at the end of Saturday;

Bill is matured enough to visualize that it is his almost last day at ‘Cobra’. He writes nice e-mails to each trainer he came across during a month wishing thanks and about his hearty feelings for ‘Cobra’. He also wishes a warm thanks to Yen in spite of little disappointment with his decision. He wishes thanks for all the cooperation, love and consistent motivation throughout the month given by his charming team members who made a unique place in Bill’s heart.

Nancy’s silence;

Nancy is the only close observer of team performance and always appreciated Bill for his die heart efforts for improved performance. She is the only person who is authorized to forward performance report to Yen. She has very friendly relations with each team member. She always takes personal care of Bill in any difficulties. On these grounds it can’t be predicted that Nancy might have given negative any negative feedback to Yen. In spite of all these facts Yen takes negative decision. So naturally, Nancy’s role becomes doubtful here. Meanwhile, on Sunday, Bill informs Nancy about Yen’s decision. However she just keeps quite and suggests for waiting until final decision.

During the Masters Bill came across many theories and case studies in HR about corporate politics, seniority, appraisal, hidden observations, investigation etc. all these things started striking suddenly when he started thinking of the role of Nancy in the whole play. Yet he isn’t ready to believe that Nancy could give any negative feedback about Bill.

Team’s reaction;

As such all team members are almost fresher, having their first job. None of them is able to understand what is happening and why when Bill suddenly declares that he would no more continue with them. All are surprised and shocked with the ground of poor performance on which Yen wanted to terminate him. Each team member is expecting something from Nancy as she is the only witness of all facts about Bill’s performance and other things.

Final Monday;

Finally on Monday Yen asks Bill to resign from job saying that there’s no vacancy at corporate HR team nor he is fit for the current profile. Bill requests him to give a little notice period so that he can search out for a new job. Yen replies in legal terms saying that in probation period there’s no notice period he can terminate anyone at anytime. He also suggests to speak badly about ‘Cobra’ if at new job the reason of leaving previous job is asked. It is totally unexpected and suddenly changed behavior. Just a little talk and Yen goes back to his work.

Bill’s reaction to Yen’s final decision;

Bill is wondering what has happened within a moment! It is the first job of his professional career and he is terminated on first month itself. He is frustrated because he is thrown out of company as a failure in spite of performing beyond expectations. He is not at all willing to leave his loveliest company in this way. He feels as if someone has taken away his dream from his sleep. All sleepless efforts for performance, sacrifice of study, opportunity cost of other jobs at campus, loyalty & sincerity, vision to rock up to top….. Everything goes in vain within a moment. He is highly satisfied with the company except the fact that he is being terminated on probably wrong grounds.

The Attitude of Bill while leaving the company;

However his institution inculcated sound corporate values during the professional course. He thinks that “Boss is Always Right”. If his employer is not satisfied it is of no value even if he puts 24 hours dedication for work. It’s not a matter of facts and figures but his ultimate goal is to give satisfactory return on investment to company which he somehow failed provide. Corporate doesn’t grow on the amount of efforts but on the ultimate results. In absence of win-win situation he isn’t willing to continue with the job. Instead of cursing for wrong decision of Yen he thinks that he gave right direction to his career. As finally he has to accept the fact he puts a resignation letter on the desk of Yen and prepares himself to start searching for a new firm like ‘Cobra’, a dream company.

Last wish of discussion with Nancy:

Lastly Bill wants to have a discussion with Nancy whose killing silence till the last moment is creating so many questions. He wants to express his whole hearted feelings for ‘Cobra’ (which has given him everything he expected as a dream organization) and a little doubt about his being terminated as well. He never wants to leave with a tag of failure. Even the reputation of his institution is at stake if he is terminated like this. However she is busy with her work and contact at this moment is not possible.

Last meeting with Ryan Smith;

Co incidentally while leaving for home Bill comes across Ryan Smith. Ryan welcomes him for open discussion about the matter. Here, Bill tries to communicate his true feelings for everything ‘Cobra’ gave to him and to justify his performance, a little criticism about Yen’s decision as well. Bill puts across the following major points to Ryan…

  • Being an HR professional Bill didn’t make any blunders during the recruitment interview taken by Yen as he very well understands that bluffing leads to failure when a candidate comes on actual work.
  • Bill clarified all his weak points well in advance including technical skills so as to decide whether he would be fit for the profile or not.
  • Bill just wanted to know at which decision Yen was wrong whether at a point of selection or at a point of rejection!
  • Yen gave motivating statement to join ‘Cobra’ saying that “the company provides extensive training subject to condition the candidate is ready to take up challenges and willing to work hard.” Bill feels that he has fulfilled his obligations well then also why Yen is not ready to give him time to prove himself.
  • All the positive feedback given by other trainers on his performance except Nancy’s silence along with scores of tests.
  • A sense of gratitude to company for providing such a great opportunity and the best people to work with.

This meeting proves to be the best one for Bill to come out of frustration. Ryan makes him realize that he is not at all failure, may be he isn’t fit for the current profile he is working upon. He adds that Yen is one of the senior most managers working with the company since so long so his decision would be true anyhow. However he offers for further training if Bill is so confident about his performance.

Since Bill is convinced with the reasons 2,3,4,5, and 6 except 1st given by Yen on Saturday meeting he refuses to continue with the profile. He wishes to work with Corporate HR team but even Ryan is helpless as there is no vacancy. Ryan also suggests him to work for core HR profile instead of RPO. (Recruitment Process Outsourcing) He suggests giving his reference at a new company and wishes all best luck for career.

Challenges for Bill on leaving ‘Cobra’;

  • Bill has lost all other job opportunities at campus during the stay at ‘Cobra’.
  • Only 45 days are left for final exams which are yet to be cleared for degree. Now whether to struggle for a new job staying in the same city or focus on study?
  • He already incurred heavy relocation cost. It’s now not easy to again go back and set up new house etc.
  • There’s a tag of failure on leaving the first job within first month which is a major hurdle in getting new job.
  • Family members have big issues with the company’s sudden firing decision.

Yen’s call back for Retention;

After an hour of leaving the work place Bill gets a call from Yen wishing great news that he wants to give him 2 more days to prove himself. But there’s nothing great for Bill now to continue with the same profile so he refuses to come back. Yen is shocked with the reply and becomes little upset. He starts speaking opposite about future, profile etc of whatever he conveyed on Saturday, but Bill has no trust on any statement given by Yen now. Finally they agree upon personal meeting along with Nancy within next 30 minutes. As Bill wanted to take feedback and answers of so many questions of whatever had happened from silent Nancy he agrees upon the discussion for retention.

Nancy Speaks out Finally;

This is the last professional meeting with Yen and Nancy. Yen states that he is really surprised when Nancy gave feedback after termination about Bill’s performance record and rate of improvement on Communication as well as Technical aspects. Nancy rated 7 out of 10 on Communication part. Bill has now no more questions with Nancy. She made her role clear there as per expectations. His curiosity comes to an end. He feels a great satisfaction as at least someone who truly knows all the facts has spoken out finally even though little late. Yen also tries to convince family members of Bill who are not at all agree to allow him to continue with the same profile. But Bill has lost faith on Yen and there are no hopes of further growth in the same profile as suggested by Yen. However Bill expresses his strong wish to continue with the dream company given a chance to work with Corporate HR team. The meeting ends with disagreement, yet on good terms.

Everything is lost except Long Lasting Relationship;

Bill respects whole heartedly for Nancy’s efforts and staying honest at all the time. As such there is no place of feelings and emotions at corporate world still Bill has quite a good affection with all the team members and his ideal trainer cum mentor Nancy. Even after termination they all meet frequently on holidays and have a feeling of team as a whole. Here’s the best thing ‘Cobra’ might have ever given to its any of the terminated employee.

The Story Doesn’t End Here;

The company and its HR need to do extensive research upon the following aspects…..

  • Is the top management taking notice of such issue or they’re just passes away like a usual hiring & firing case?
  • Which decision of Yen is correct for Bill – Selection, Rejection, or Retention?
  • Is Yen ready to take responsibility for any of his mistakes or still believes that he is right in all the decisions?
  • Why was Bill recruited if he had poor communication skills and no technical background? Should the company bring any intervention in its recruitment procedure?
  • Why was Bill asked to resign even before completing 40 days training program?
  • Usually existing employees start fearing for their job insecurity after such an issue. What are the HR practices at ‘Cobra’ to avoid it?
  • The major area concerned here is that even after being informed on Saturday why Nancy kept silence until Bill was finally asked for resignation on Monday? Is Yen a dominating manager? Is there an issue of Whistle Blowing for Nancy? Why Yen didn’t feel necessary to consult with Nancy before such a serious decision?
  • Why Bill didn’t choose to come back for the same profile even though Yen marked finally the improvement of his performance, ‘Cobra’ is a dream company for him, and he wishes to join corporate HR team? It’s said that “employees never leave their company they leave their Bosses”. Has this concept worked here?
  • Why there is a communication gap between Yen and Nancy even though Yen is the immediate supervisor of Nancy? Why did Yen not discuss with Nancy who was aware of in & out about the candidate before taking such a serious decision? Did he ever read any of the daily report submitted by Nancy about the performance of team?
  • A genuine employee had to leave his beloved company only due to communication gap between two managers. How constructive HR policies are to look after such issues?

Bill quotes negative words for ‘Cobra’;

“The company has set very high expectations for me. I would expect excellent work culture, best trainers, friendly collogues, opportunistic policies, and flat organizational structure just like ‘COBRA’ from next job throughout the career.”

– Pinal Mehta