Practical HR: Small changes. Big Impact

Do you remember kaizen? A concept and management approach that took the world by storm in the early nineties reigned for about a decade and then bowed out to make space for what we call the ‘reboot and rehash’ principles of the hi-tech era. More on the ‘reboot and rehash’ later. While talking about Practical HR, we find it very useful to rewind and defer to the simple yet powerful philosophy of continuous improvement.

How do we, HR folks, make a difference to our customers each day, every day and inch closer towards that coveted role of ‘true business partner’? Cannot give you a map with exact coordinates, I’m afraid, but can definitely share a few experiences and ideas that have elicited remarkably consistent positive reactions from our business colleagues over the years.

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Here is a process that takes place at every workplace fairly regularly. A candidate has completed the selection process, reference checks have been carried out, and now we would like to make her an offer.

We will do a minor virtual role play here. Imagine you are the business/hiring manager and you need to make a decision on what compensation package to offer the successful candidate. You ask your HR person – variously referred to as HRBP (HR business partner), HRG (HR generalist) or HR Manager – for information and help.

Typical responses to your query will be:

  1. Hi, PFA C’s salary slip and the break-up of her current pay. Her current CTC is x, and her expected salary is y.
  2. Hi, I have attached C’s salary slip and the break-up of her current pay. Her current CTC is x, and she expects y. To set it in context, at this point we have 7 people in the org at her level. PFA the excel sheet with their salary details. Texted you the password for the file. This will help you take a decision.
  3. Hi, I have attached C’s salary slip and the break-up of her current pay. Her current CTC is x, and she expects y. If she stays back, she is likely to get z% increment on her fixed. Her expectation, therefore, seems over the top. We need to be mindful of internal parity too. At this point, we have 7 people in the org at her level. PFA the excel sheet with their salary details. Texted you the password for the file. This will help you take a decision.
  4. Hi, we need to agree on the compensation package for the candidate. I have attached a file with all the relevant information that you might need to arrive at a suitable offer. The information is grouped under the following heads:
  • Her current and expected salary
  • Break- up of her current compensation: Fixed, variable and benefits
  • Average increments planned this year at her level in the industry
  • Data and context of 7 of our own people who are comparators for this role
  • Exceptional circumstances that she would like us to consider

       Do let me know if you would like to meet and discuss further.

You the Business Manager will eventually need all the information respondent 4 shared with you and a little more to arrive at a satisfactory offer. For levels 1-3 much back and forth on emails, phone calls and incomplete information will result in precious time and resources being used up unproductively.  Decisions will get delayed by a week or two and the overall experience will be rated low by all three stakeholders – HR, business and candidate! Imagine the quality of decision making if you were to begin at Level 4. For the HR person, the leap from mere coordinator to trusted advisor is hard to miss in this illustration.

These small changes, enhancements, and upgrades done to let’s say a dozen HR processes will add up to deliver a pretty significant impact on the function’s ability to influence organizational decisions. Have seen it working in new and established businesses alike, ranging from small family-run manufacturing outfits to well-established swish private equity firms.

A couple of hours of additional effort is usually well worth it.

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