Holding your humans

Updated: Apr 29 2006, 05:30am hrs
A common point made in a recent survey of scores of top-rung executives in the process of changing jobs was their complaint that companies dont communicate meaningfully. One in three employees spoken to, according to Executive Access, the firm doing the survey, complained that they werent clear or couldnt relate to the companys goals. In all, two in three apparently felt agreed clarity on such vision was lackingand remember, these were senior people speaking. Middle and junior-rung staffers would have felt even more, if not distinctly, out of the loop.

To say companies realise the big hurdle to growth are people or the lack of them is a platitude, right up there with sentiments on removing corruption or reforming education. We are told, in one business survey after another, that HR heads are being involved more in business than ever before, that most progressive corporates have been steadily upgrading the role and responsibilities of HR heads, that there is a huge and rising demand for such professionals who also have a wider business understanding. Would that the reverse were as true, that there is a huge demand for market savviness as long as it comes with a keener understanding of what makes good HR culture. It is one reason why business magazines institute annual rankings of best places to work in the employee sentiment in these places is quite atypical.

There is a considerable dichotomy between the needs of todays economy and the reality, as noted above. This is supposed to be a knowledge age, with people being urged to invest in marketable skills and in upgrading these regularly to remain relevant; any class X pass who asks for help in getting a job is told the old chaprasi-peon-clerk type of jobs are gone or going and to invest in acquiring more relevant and higher skills. Success in doing so ensures dissatisfaction at employers who cant ensure enough of a feeling of relevance and growth. Systems to map each staffers needs and preferences, to connect teams to the bigger picture, to evoke and utilise feedbackIndia Inc falls way short.