It's been 1½ year since I joined WebPlains, during this time I have seen, talked and meet with a lot of HR Professionals. Most of them were handling the recruitment function for there respective organizations. Most of them were plain English speaking crap. Some were intelligent and very few were shockingly genius. All of them were frustrated.
In our age and today's market conditions I think this statement can be made just about any function in an organization be it HR, or finance or Marketing or Even Software Programming J. But I found a fundamental difference here. Most of the people in function blame HR for bad policy making and stuff. Whom does HR blame?
Theoretically HR's job is to Hire bright people , ensure they get right environment to work and help functional heads to do a fair evaluation of there performance . In short to manage Human Capital . So much of HR Crap !
I can bet this definition is written by some PR Agencies and it is not remotely associated with the actual job of an HR Professional. Based on my experience I can say that after Marketing , HR is the most hated group in a organization . HR is another thankless job . like the way I was intrigued by the people's attitude toward sales and discussed it in my previous posting here I enquired about the cause of this hidden resentment toward HR .
My quest for answer took me to a friend of mine. An energetic young man in his late thirties , working as a HR head of leading IT firm .his colleague call him "SAGE" .
when I discussed it with him he smiled and said " It's a dirty secret of business world . why do you want to know it ? " when I insisted he said that " I will tell you my work history and that will explain a lot of things " so we decided to meet on weekend for coffee at barista near Signature Tower, Gurgaon .
what he told me was really insight full . I don't want to damp the impact of his narration so I am trying to produce his account as it is for you in First person. here is his Story in his own words ,which is perhaps the story Evolution of HR in India .Read on…...
" I am an MBA in Social works from a B Grade Business School and I have around 12 years of experience in this domain .In initial years of my work life I used to work in a Big MNC manufacturing firm in Gurgaon. Over there management's expectation from HR Deptt was fairly limited . We were called personnel department . Our job was mostly of paper work . leave application tracking, payroll , group insurance and maintaining cordial relation with Union etc .fairly routine work . given my middle class background I was happy doing that. I was not involved in core group of company and I didn't harbor any illusion of shaping the destiny of company . truth of the situation was that I needed company more than company needed me .
Than there was a fad of Quality enhancement in my company suddenly core team was highly quality conscious and every where you began to hear terms like " kaizen , poke yoke , Six Sigma , TQM , ISO etc . people in-general were happy with the initiatives . some said its because we really want to be known as a quality manufacturer of auto components . some said its because of the teaching of some spiritual guru of whom our CEO was a disciple .Some of my Sr. colleague who were eternal skeptic dismissed the whole idea of Quality and working condition enhancement as just another way to bring business . they said that our company want to have some business from the Japanese and Korean companies and these companies are very strict about the work culture and working conditions of there vendors . there stance was that it is not because our CEO wake up one fine day and realize that his employees are working in a filthy factory so it needs to be clean , prime motivation is to bag the order and collect the money. All this talks of loving your employee are absolute hogwash
I shrugged and dismissed that argument thinking that because these guys were working in bad conditions for past 30 years so this sudden change of culture might be a shock . it may be looking too good to be true so these guys are skeptical. After all you can't change much after a certain age . I should focus on younger workforce and ensure there buy-in for this projects .
I did it as a crusade and it was a success . but after a while the company fired a good lot of them and decide to fill the posts with temp workers . I was shocked an year back same core team was making a lot of noise about Employee being there extended family and crap . now even when all of the soon –to be - fired guys were doing there work properly they need to pushed out of the door.
I checked with a senior manager he said " Actually competition is brutal margins are wafer thin, so too increase our unit's profit we need to cut the operational cost . and the temp firm is providing the same set of workforce for 60 % of cost . "
I said "Workforce ?? its sounds too mechanical. we are talking about real living people here. who come to work here daily . how can you tell them the news ? and specially when we are still in profit . only margin is suffering because of market conditions . for god sake they are our extended family !! "
Manager smiled and patted on my shoulder "You believe that crap ? I thought you are much smarter than that " .
Yes I should have been smarter than that . I should know that Sr. Management's incentive depends on how much profit they show on quarterly basis . and buy this 40% saving there will be a 20% jump in profit and CEO will get a huge bonus . its all in numbers .
I did the bad work of breaking the news . it was terrible . it sucks!! there were some middle age workers who were there from past 20 years and they were so much part of this place that I can't even think of the factory without them and now I have to tell them to get lost . so that bloody CEO can have his annual bonus . To my great surprise episode went with a little agitation and lot of mourning . since that day everybody in plant was living in fear . Fear of being the next casualty of CEO s bonus . I was disillusioned . Job lost it's charm and I started looking for other options .
During My MBA I had done a project on " Managing a Diverse ,Cross Cultural Workforce " . somehow HR head of upcoming BPO firm noticed that in my CV . So in spite of my Manufacturing Industry background they gave me a job of Sr. Recruitment Executive . I was happy again . I thought that it's a new economy company , a knowledge economy firm . we all call each other buy there first name . we all are equal . it's a good place to be . it's not like my previous firm .
I was an idiot. This illusion lasted only for a week . after my induction and orientation course in BPO firm . my first assignment was to hire Cust. Support Exe. For a process which was being shifted to India . I got two set of envelopes in my cubicle . One was from Sales team in Head Quarter it contained details of process and client requirements and other envelop was containing Hiring guideline it was from our office.
Now if you want to understand the real meaning and philosophies of a BPO firm you should look at there hiring guidelines .
- If the candidate is exceptionally intelligent or qualified , don't hire him
- If the candidate is speaking good English and he look like a " good for nothing "bum hire him .
- If candidate is a bit energetic and analytic and have many interest . Avoid hiring them as they will eventually get bored and will leave
- While choosing among females prefer Single girl over married women and Outsider girl over Local girl.
- While structuring teams ensure there is a proper sex ratio . make a point to put a single girl in the team of married guys .
I very well understood the reasons behind these guidelines but still I didn't expect them to written in Black & White . Needless to say I didn't lasted there for long . I stayed there for few years . I watched how bright young fresher were recruited in chunks. Stuffed in pigeon hole like chairs with a headset and do a grunt work and consider it a career . I did the bad work of designing the advertisements which claimed that " Join XYZ BPO " and change the world .
I have heard about sweatshops in Bangladesh but after working in BPO I can say I have seen it first hand also . was there a difference ? yes It was a sweatshop with difference it had a vision and scale . soon it was acquired by a global IT service giant .
I moved to my current company 3 years ago . Back than it was a start up we had a hard time convincing people that we are not a fly by night firm and there job is secure here. After my last two experiences as HR I didn't believed it too . still for the sake of job I keep on doing it like a zombie . We are a mid sized company now with a decent brand we need smart guys and can't afford to mess up with a single candidate on the ground cost cutting to boost profit , we prefer smart all rounder and intelligent people who can take a leadership role when we will expand in coming future .
When we will expand ? this is a Q I fear most . my experience tell me that when a firm grows beyond a certain size .people loose touch with each other and Well defined tightly defined process are put in place . we being to do a Cost –Benefit analysis for every thing we do ? and somewhere in the process firm looses its soul.
Ms Excel Takes control and Power Point goes in background . people cry " this is not the company I joined " and they are right .After IPO whatever is soul which is left in group is vanished away . HR again became a instrument to deliver good bad or ugly news in a polished manner .
I am afraid of the day cause I knew my job in the firm will be over that day . I will have to move on .
Now the secret of the business world which I said in the start . there are two secret
MNC or Domestic , New Economy or Old Economy , IT or Airlines every firm says that there people are there biggest asset . if that is true HR Person should be the most important guy in the company ?
Than why don't we ever see a V.P( HR ) elevated to the post of CEO ? Why ?
second secret is more of a observation. in any firm ,attrition rates shoots up dramatically 2-3 years after IPO . Why ?
I can think of only one reason Business is not about managing people , its about managing money . CFO & CEO Runs the show here . HR is just a tool, an instrument to dress up their deeds in such a way that it is presentable .
HR knows the real truth and still ask people to believe in fables .that's why people hate him . but believe me HR is as helpless as anyone else in company ."
This is the confession of a HR Guy . I really can't do much about it because whatever he said is true . If your company is different please share it with me . I will ask my friend to check it .
Till than , goodbye !!
UPDATE: There is an interesting discussion about this post on CiteHR Forum . Read it here