In today’s Indian corporate scenario, succession planning, as a practice is no longer just for the CEOs, as many organizations are now implementing the same, at junior and middle levels too. -- Corporate's individual opinions on layingoff employees during drastic situations --
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The concept of succession planning is not a new one. However, with the changing trends in India Inc., it has reached a different level altogether; the level of the junior and middle level employees that is! Experts claim that succession planning, at these levels, is also as important as it is at the CEO level.
Ramesh Parthasarathy, Project Manager, Atos Origin India says that succession planning has given him the opportunity to professionally grow within his organization. “It has provided a vision and a goal as to where my career is headed,” he adds. Though many may think that succession planning at the junior and midlevels may not be as important as planning for top-level executives, experts disagree to this. They say that no matter what the level the employee is in, it is necessary that there is a plan chalked out for them as well. “These levels of management form the foundation of an organization, and if we can build a sustainable foundation, it is bound to stand tall and powerful. With the succession planning process of identifying and preparing the junior and mid-level employees through mentoring, training and job-rotation, the organization will be able to sustain, if not improve the quality and quantity of work,” explains Debi Prasad Das, Head HR and Atos Origin India.
Vishal Gupta, CEO of Seclore adds that the employer must gradually increase the roles and responsibilities of the employee and thus create a “slow and steady” mechanism for succession planning. Experts say that succession planning, at these levels does have a lot of advantages. “It, to a large extent, ‘prepares’ an employee to step into large shoes. When the employees’ mindset is prepared to deal with greater responsibility, it can enhance their confidence and inspire them to deal with larger tasks,” concludes Das.
Ritu Pande, Head-Corporate Communications, Seclore Technology explains how succession planning has helped her, “The willingness to support and teach my team and subordinates has held me in good stead throughout my career. In fact, this particular trait of mine has convinced the management to put me into crucial marketing/communications related roles, whenever a sudden vacancy comes up, simply because they know that I would be able to shoulder the attached responsibilities of the position, as well as ensure that a team gets built around it”.
The verdict is out: succession planning is the need of the hour and imperative to an organization’s growth.
During these turbulent times when several companies are resorting to drastic measures like laying off employees, there are a few who think otherwise. These are organizations that are recruiting despite the downturn, thus giving the adage “every cloud has a silver lining” a whole new meaning.
A majority of companies in India are trying to be selective while planning their workforce, compensation and benefit cuts for this year, even as they anticipate a decline in their company’s business performance, next year, reveals a new Mercer survey, ‘Leading Through Unprecedented Times’. The survey states that Indian companies are likely to curtail overall hiring, while continuing to hire talent to fill shortages in key skill-sets. Another interesting fact that the survey reveals is that most companies in India still hope to avoid significant workforce reductions. However, it also states that a deep or prolonged economic downturn could force more drastic action. “Clearly, what the survey indicates is that while workforce reductions will occur in India, there will be hiring which will be selective and skill based, and most companies believe they can avoid significant workforce cuts,” expresses Padma Ravichandar, Country Leader, Mercer Consulting (India).
S Y SIDDIQUI, Managing Executive Officer (Admn), Maruti Suzuki India Limited: “Our expansion plans and recruitment intentions continue to remain unaltered. We are specifically looking at strengthening the R&D capability of our company. And in this quest, we have already planned to scale up our manpower requirements for our R&D functions to almost 1000 employees, by 2010-11. The number of engineers hired has shot up from a little less than 300 that were recruited in the beginning of last year, to around 600 now. Recently, the company has recruited a bath of 250 Graduate Engineers Trainees (GETs) too. We have undertaken many initiatives to bring down costs, across operations but neither is we holding back our recruitment activities nor are we handing over pink slips to our employees to cut costs. The current situation does raise a lot of concern but we view it as a short-term phenomenon and are confident that India will emerge as a strong economy, in the near future”.
PRASHANT BHATNAGAR – Director, Hiring – Sapient India: “Hiring the right talent is the greatest challenge in today’s business environment and a prerequisite for succeeding in today’s ever-changing global scenario. According to me, lateral hire integrate faster and hence, are able to adapt themselves to the changing corporate scenario and mould themselves as per the specialized demands of their job roles. Since we have a diversified model of business, recruitment is a major necessity and hence, we are continuing looking for talent that can add value and contribute towards the organization’s growth, especially in the fields of trading risk and management and interactive marketing. We plan to hire around 200 people, quarter on quarter. Due to the US financial crisis, we foresee a slower rate of employment. But one of the positive outcomes of the same is the reduced levels of attrition as employees, today, are more stable and job hopping, certainly, is not on their priority list anymore”.
RR NAIR, Director and Chief Executive, LIC Housing Finance: “As far as our organization is concerned, we continue to record a healthy growth in the current year and do not foresee any slow-down, in the near future. The recruitment activities will be in tune with our expansion plans and we will continue to hire for various positions, across different specializations. We believe that investment in human capital pays dividends in the long run, as it is this resource that forms the backbone of any organization”.
SENTHIL KUMAR P, Director – HR and Administration, Cairn India: “Cairn India, along with its partner ONGC is undertaking an important project in Rajasthan. We have embarked upon an intensive recruitment campaign, to staff up its Rajasthan operations with more than 300 key positions, for various roles filled through this drive. The first phase of recruitment campaign received 6000 applications for the 300 advertised positions”.
These organizations are going against the tide and proving that there’s still a pool of opportunities waiting to be explored. All you need to do is follow the right path and grab them!
TOP INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
If you know the answers to these questions, you won’t be caught on the wrong foot at the interview
TOO MANY JOBSEEKERS are thrown by the questions asked at the interview and stumble through their answers. But many of these questions are to be expected. Study this list and plan your answers so that you’ll be ready to deliver them with confidence on D-day.
What are your weaknesses?
This is the question everyone dreads the most. Handle it by minimizing your weakness and emphasizing your strengths. Stay away from personal qualities and concentrate on professional traits. For example, “I am always working on improving my communication skills to be a more effective presenter”.
Why should we hire you?
Summarize your experiences: “With five years of experience in the financial industry and my proven record of saving the company money, I could make a big difference in your company. I’m confident I would be a great addition to your team”.
Why do you want to work here?
The interviewer is looking for an answer that indicates you’ve given this some thought and are not sending out resumes just because there is an opening. For example, “I’ve selected key companies whose mission statements are in line with my values, where I know I could be excited about what the company does, and this company is very high on my list of desirable choices”.
What are your goals?
Sometimes it’s best to talk about short-term and intermediate goals rather than locking yourself into the distant future. For example, “My immediate goal is to get a job in a growth-oriented company. My long-term goal will depend on where the company goes. I hope to eventually grow into a position of responsibility”.
Why did you leave your last job?
If you’re unemployed, state your reason for leaving in a positive context: “I managed to survive two rounds of corporate downsizing, but the third round was a 20% reduction in the workforce, which included me”.
If you are employed, focus on what you want in your next job: “After two years, I made the decision to look for a company that is team-focused, where I can add my experience”.
What can you do for us?
What makes you unique? This will take an assessment of your experiences, skills and traits. Summarize concisely “I have a unique combination of strong technical skills, and the ability to build strong customer relationships. This allows me to use my knowledge and break down information to be more user-friendly”.
What salary are you seeking?
It is to your advantage if the employer tells you the range first. Prepare by knowing the going rate in your area, and your bottom line or walk-away point. One possible answer would be: “I am sure when the time comes, we can agree on a reasonable amount. In what range do you typically pay someone with my background”?
If you were an animal which one would you be?
Interviewers use this sort of psychological question to see if you can think quickly. If you answer “a bunny”, you will make a soft, passive impression. If you answer “a lion”, you will be seen as aggressive. What type of personality would it take to get the job done? What impression do you want to make?
· What is wholesome leadership (WL)?
WL is leadership, which comes from a deep connection to the heart, and also exhibits skill in action. This gives a leader the courage to have a large and an ethical vision. It allows him/her to enable others to act because they see the latent power and beauty hidden in each person; it helps them encourage the unfolding of spirit.
· How can organizations incorporate this?
We need to first get top leaders to see the “business case” of WL to lead balanced lives themselves, walk the talk and create a thought field of wholesome leadership in their organizations.
· What are its negative repercussions?
When people are in touch with their deepest awareness, they may discover their true-life purpose. This may lead to changes in career choices. HR must be ready with a career planning process to ensure that a developed “wholesome leader” is indeed given the opportunity to flourish entrepreneurial within an organization.
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