Tuesday, 11 March 2014
The 3E Conundrum
All through my professional span over last 25 years, I have been curious about the similar behavior most companies exude and their recruiting, training and developing efforts with employees. With silos and verticals becoming a reality in pursuit of specialization, the most common thread and the core/soul across organizations has been most undervalued and undermined in most organizations, while they claim they follow best practices in HR. Even professional managements have got stuck with a ‘process’ that departments follow to source, select, deploy, manage and develop talent in the organizations.
While this is routine for most, it remains a fact that the five of the above functions are performed by different departments or verticals in the value chain, viz.. Sourcing by HR, selecting by HR and functional head, deployment by functional heads, managing by functional managers and developing by training managers.
While these verticals or functions do ‘their’ bit, and contribute to input-process-output cycle, the basic quality becomes the single most critical factor in the success of this cycle, and that’s what I call the 3E Conundrum. Most managers I have interacted with in the recent times attribute their worries to strategies, markets, products, but rarely do they hit the nail, or even have the realization that the organizations that they run have fallen into the 3E conundrum trap.
The first E denotes ‘Education’ which is a sum total of upbringing that includes academics, beliefs and values, behavioral modification and societal influences over the years on the individual. This first E becomes an antecedent cue and impacts the way people (talent in this case) get conditioned to respond to the stimulus they receive in their professional and personal lives. Most invariably, the probability of success with candidates having a good past in the first E is quite high.
The second E denotes ‘Experience’ which is a congregation of the multiple situations a person undergoes and through his responses to such situations confronts further stimuli, continuing this cycle of cognitive learning over a long period of time. ‘Experience’ is nothing but a long stimulus-response-stimulus chain that is elicited by what we call ‘events’. In practical terms, his past journey through these events build up his experience and that can be his past job, his results, past cultural inflictions and his beliefs developed over time. This also colors perceptions both in a positive or negative way as the person weathers through his Experiences. Most organizations take cognizance of the second E with respect to the job requirements and overlook the larger picture, and inadvertently paving way for dilution in quality for a tactical purpose of manning a position and driving people with high task orientation.
The third E represents ‘Enhancement’, which is an organization focused agenda to build function specific competencies. Organizations are infallibly a whole of the people that it has, and their individual competencies built through first two E’s. Most organizational leaders agree that the third E has limited impact generally proven to be around 5-7% over existing competencies on a longish learning curve, as first two E’s have already had an impact on their learning behavior While this may sound little pessimistic, yet in real world, most organizations make significant effort and investment on training and development to only find either the impact fading away beyond a short period, or only a feel good, non measurable impact limited to feedback forms.
The fact is that sourcing and screening are two most important areas where a near zero error approach is what it takes for organizations to build sustainable talent pool. Passion coupled with people competencies across verticals, departments will need to be the key to success in resolving the 3E conundrum. Business leaders need to look at it beyond their functional silos to make their organizations successful.