Friday, November 29, 2013

P2P [Pedagogue to Pathfinder]

An ongoing P2P programme at Invertis University

It does not need to be proved that Universities and Institutions are awarding degrees and diplomas to students who complete the curriculum and successfully clear the final examinations. It becomes a matter of concern for every University or Institution to address the issues regarding their placements and the image they carry about their Institution to the outside world.
Everyone agrees that the prospective recruiters are looking for ready-made material for placements, but to our utter dismay we find that the selection ratio is abysmally low – primarily because they find that the candidates were still way below their expectations, of course with a few exceptions, which does not offer any solace either to the recruiter or to the institution. The candidate too is frustrated and therefore we are left with a ‘lose-lose’ situation.
In our frenzy to overcome the situation we deploy personality development courses or administer mock interviews just about three months before the students are required to find their placements. Does it help? Our experience makes it very clear that the answer to this question is a clear and big ‘NO’! You cannot transform human beings in three months’ time. They need to be continually injected with inputs and on a regular basis to make them employable. We are not suggesting an exclusive faculty who would undertake this responsibility throughout the curriculum. These inputs have to come from all the teachers and at all times.
Most of the faculty members have academic experience and very rarely have a corporate or industry exposure. They need to be equipped to handle the situation and undergo repeated programmes, preferably one in every quarter, if not more, to hone up their skills in this area. It was the prerogative and responsibility of every teacher to ensure that their students became employable, come whatever discipline they teach. Therefore, if for example a Finance teacher talks about how to handle a Chartered Accountant or what were the reasons for the prevailing bullish or bearish market, it would not be out of place.
Prescribed courses have to be completed as per syllabus but they need to be embedded with examples from real life situations. Therefore it is no more a 9am to 5pm job for a teacher/professor, particularly where you are teaching a professional course, as it used to be in Universities earlier, when core academics was the focus.
We are experts in behavioural and attitudinal transformation, having cumulatively more than 150 years of transformation in the corporate and industry as also academic institutions imparting professional education. We undertake Faculty Development Programmes to instil what has been said so far in this letter. Our credentials have been proven in Invertis University, Bareilly, Jamia Hamdard University, Delhi and Mewar University, Chittaurgarh.
We would be only too pleased to help you out in your endeavour to bring about an acceptable brand image for your University/Institution through our programmes and interventions, and also do justice to the cause of education simultaneously.

Dhruva Trivedy lighting the lamp before starting a P2P Programme at IITM

Friday, March 29, 2013

Leadership - A process

Leadership has many facets. In fact it can be construed as a process chain, with interlinked stages.

Many years ago (much before the popularity of the transformational leadership theory) I wrote an article, when globalisation was just taking its shape in this country and the Scorpio Mahindra had scarcely been launched, perhaps it was 2002. This is just a reproduce of that article, which was published in Training & Management then. I realised that the article did not have a soft copy and also social networking on the internet was not so popular as it is today and therefore the reach of that article must have been limited. Here it is for all to read.

Perceptions may differ, but if one views any process, whether it be as complicated as the life cycle of any being or maybe as simple as having your bath or eating your food, one would observe that every process is a chain of smaller activities or stages. Leadership is a concept, which is a vital fac­tor for the success of any community, nation or group. I have always viewed leadership as a process, more so in the recent times. When the success of leadership is more dependent on the changing times and the cultural diversities, how can we standardise to perfection the static characteristics of leadership? If we agree to this argument, that the characteristics need to be modified periodically, you have to actually initiate a process! The figure displayed shows the stages that are linked, to form the process of leadership.

The process of leadership – a chain

Let us examine each stage of this chain or cycle. (Please observe that the first alphabet of every stage, if lined up together would give you the word L E A D E R S H I P)


A few years ago while I was conducting a training session I was informed by one of the participants that a facilitator that he had met in the recent past was titling himself as a 'learner'. I was not surprised at all because I was convinced that one who was facilitating a learning process first has to be a learner himself. Likewise, a leader who has to educate his team consistently has to be a keen learner himself! Where-­from, otherwise, would he be able to add to the knowledge and skills of his team members, who are constantly looking forward to him for 'his guidance and value addition? Believe me, no team member enjoys stale information anymore. Useful information keeps the group charged, besides helping to introspect for upgrading competencies and remaining contemporary!

* Evaluate:

The other day I was ushered into an on-going product sales training programme by a friend of mine, without my being aware of what I was heading for. The products did not lure me but the style of the trainer definitely did! She was emphatic about TEAM - Together, Everyone, Achieving, More! All that registered and perhaps evens a little more, that I could probably include in my sessions, but nothing much about the product and its sales, which was the objective of the trainer. As a leader also, one would have to sift through the information - flow and evaluate as to what was relevant and what was not, what could be given shape to and what could not be. Every piece of information and learning may not be contextual. The leader should be adept in such an analysis.


The evaluated information not only has to be registered, but the leader needs to plan and strategise as to how best he could utilise the information available. Although 'Project - Scorpio' was nearing com­pletion Anand Mahindra, the leader of the Project Team in M&M decided to hold back the launch of the product for 2 more years.

Information was available that the BPR exercises carried out in the organisation were yielding stunningly positive results. Anand Mahindra had to take a choice as a leader. He took a decision that the results be incorporated in the manufacturing lines planned for Scorpio and hence launched an intermediary model only - Bolero.


Whether they had acquired international or national fame and sta­tus, all leaders including corporate leaders, had missions to fulfil and each such achievement of a mission was exemplified by their actual demonstrating to their followers, their own learning and how they thought they could put it to use. Each leader, be it Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Gandhi, JRD or Ambani - one observes that every one of them spared not a single opportunity to put into practice in their own lives whatever they preached - because they wanted to demon­strate. At times they paid the price for it! But they did not stop demon­strating themselves. How would otherwise the team be convinced of the ways adopted? NR Narayana Murthy emphasises in all his inter­

views and his addresses that one has to lead by example.          '


The dictionary meaning reveals a very simplistic interpretation - 'to be able to understand someone else's feelings, because one has under­gone similar experiences' 0 Actually, in management, the word 'empathise' has been borrowed from the scientific studies and their application in the field of Social Work. Social Work depends heavily on counselling - both individual and group. Individual counselling is referred to as Casework and group counselling as Groupwork. In both forms of counselling, empathy becomes an important tool towards developing rapport. You are actually bringing yourself at par with the thought process and the frame of mind and the perception of the one you are counselling, without getting emotionally involved.

Every leader has to empathise with his followers to have a strong and intense following. The leader needs to be trusted by the team to deliver - empathising helps to achieve that trust, which needs to be reju­venated from time to time


Let's look at the traditional gurushishya parampara. Recognition was the path to motivation. Arjuna was recognised as the most accom­plished disciple of Dronacharya. Eklavya cut off his thumb to achieve a similar recognition, which motivated him further to shoot more accu­rately despite the absence of his thumb. Ramakrishna Pararnhansa recognised Narendra Dutta - more commonly known as Swami Vivekananda - who volunteered to carry the message of the Vedanta, round the world. Dr. Parvinder Singh, former Chairman and Managing Director and the builder of Ranbaxy's corporate empire, had recognised and named D.S. Brar, the then Head of Marketing, as his successor. Recognition is something that has to be inevitably provided to the team members by the leader, based on the performance of the team members, failing which the latter would not have anything to look forward to. We keep taking of motivation as an essential ingredient of leadership and team building. We ought to be more conscious about this consistent need for motivation through recognition in the ‘process of leadership’.


The need to chisel and sharpen the knowledge and skills that a leader assimilates and also to encourage and ascertain that his team members do the same is inescapable. Here is where the leader plays the role of an effective trainer and facilitator. Did not Mahatma Gandhi train and facilitate in his own charismatic manner the group of statemen who took over the reigns of independent India after it attained its freedom? Did not JRD train his successor Ratan Tata to deftly handle the corporate group companies of the Tata’s? In today’s changing scenario, NR Narayana Murthy states in an interview, “…core competencies…. Our people’s ability to learn a new paradigm of technology, to deploy it and provide benefit in terms of the quality and productivity of our people.” The point that needs to be driven home here is the ability to deploy. This is what adds to sharpening of knowledge and skills – both of the leader and his team members.


the competencies need to be constantly upgraded to attain those ‘heights’, where your competitor would not find an easy way to reach and you and your team, continue to achieve the unsurpassable ‘competitive advantage’ Dr. Deepak Chopra, the former chief of Staff of the Boston Regional Medical Centre, the noted author of many a book on health and a prominent speaker on leadership and entrepreneurship, was once asked as to what made him tick. He replied, “I think the main thing is that I really enjoy myself and I have a passion for what I do. There’s always something new round the corner for me every time I open my eyes. “whether they be the team members or the leader himself, they have to be geared to cope with change by ‘upgrading’ themselves and taking their competencies to those heights, from where competition is left far behind. Notwithstanding the success stories of General Electric, Sony, Shell which have their roots elsewhere in the world, Reliance, Infosys, Sahara of your country also have stories to tell about how they have left behind competition (for a while maybe!) by heightening their competencies with an effective leadership process.

*Innovate:          ­

Azim Premji, Chairman, Wipro Corporation, when invited by AIMA to deliver his address on ‘leadership’, on his receiving India’s most covered award – Businessman of the Year of Business India – states 2 points as characteristic of a good leader which were different from the usual explanations. A good leader is one who can among his team members, ignite imagination’ and generate excitement’. How would one do these if there were no challenges round the corner for the team members? One has to show the way up the value chain. Innovation is the buzzword and the answer to change and uncertainties. Once the competencies have been created and ‘heightened’ the implementation of the conceived innovation/innovations, commences Evidently, the leadership process being to firm up its foothold. Look to what extent Wipro Corporation has innovated! From a soap and hair oil marketing company, today Wipro is a giant in the IT sector and has moved on the IT enabled services with its taking over a major stake in Spectramind, a well-known call centre.  


Once one has been able to bring about the changes through innovation, the sharpened and the heightened competencies would speak for themselves – through performance. Performance is the end result, which shows the quality of the inputs received by the ‘leadership process’ at the various stages illustrated above. Performance is what other – particularly the customers get to see and feel gratified about. I am reminded of a colleague and friend of mine who vehemently prevented me from presenting a case study, which highlighted the incessant efforts that were made in a process for making a project successful, because the success was yet to be seen. Success stories are therefore indicative of performance. Performance needs to be practised so that it would lead to consistency in performance and give the final 'Midas' touches to the leadership process.

The bottom line is that the leadership Process Chain or Cycle is equivalent to going up the value chain – because the stage of learning sets in once again!  

Friday, February 22, 2013

How does the leadership in SMEs need to think!

Recently we had the opportunity of being invited to the 4 day exhibition organised by ACMA (Automotive Component Manufacturers Association of India) at the Pragati Maidan, New Delhi. Our intention was distinct, that we would do a survey of this vertical to find out how these organisations were now being driven. The last such interface was way back in 2002 with our clients JCBL situated at Lalru (Distt. Patiala, Punjab) which today stands out as a name to reckon with, in the bus body industry. An exact space of ten years had lapsed! We felt quite ignorant and left behind, although time and again we did connect with this world indirectly through other clients such as Eastman Industries. Amazingly, when we started interacting with people in most of these company sponsored stalls, we found that they were still being manned by the 'bosses' themselves. The front face of these organisations were still the owners and promoters even after a good ten years' period. 
Evidently there was one paradigm shift in the approach. Most of them were part of a global supply chain and therefore very conscious about competition and its threats. However, 'change'  was still an alien word. A passionate yearning prevailed amongst most of them, a yearning to be the frontrunners, but how would they ever do that? Words such as adaptability and innovative thinking left their jaws open, for a while, but they seemed to quickly revert to the belief...well everything boils down to profits! More the profits, the merrier the situation would be. There were a small number who desired to know how things could be improved and another very few who craved for hand-holding.
Essentially the leadership attributes need to be different for this segment. What immediately comes to my mind is a person who is prodigiously perceptive! 
Perceptiveness would keep his bearings in tact and make him a contemporary person. Unless a person is perceptive, he would not be alert and aware of, how his industry was responding to new benchmarks and practices and what his organisation needed to catch up with. (Else he would continue to 'securely' believe that all he needed to build on, was his profitability!) This realisation would push him towards becoming a visionary. 
He is on the one hand beleaguered with the anxiety that organisations of the same stature were moving ahead in terms of positioning themselves and that the competition was thwarting his organisation behind the others, while on the other, watching the others, his dream was becoming clearer - that his organisation needed to act as the harbinger in the field, his organisation was destined to master. Therefore he builds an intention to foresee and desire to see his organisation attain achievable heights. The dream that he sees or visualises is his vision and eventually he habitually begins 'dreaming'. That is when he begins to become a visionary!
Another implied but essential trait that this leader needs to air is the empathy factor - not only feel the emotions of his team mates but also channelise those emotions to align with his own, those derived from his own vision about the organisation. He has to recapture and amalgamate them, ensuring a die-hard proactive approach. Yes! He has to spend time on this by whatever means.
A combination and consistent evaluation and absorption of the few deliberations expressed here, would transmute our SME sector leader into a passionate contemporary businessman. His path is now laid out! 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The War for Talent - The PERCON Model

The Background The title, 'The War for Talent' is an idea that has been borrowed from McKinsey & Company, who published an article on the subject way back in 2001. The idea kept ringing in our minds and we kept observing at every step of our interface with our clients as to what really mattered and subscribed to ending the war. We were in the business of handholding and transforming organisations. The ultimate objective was to provide our client organisations a competitive advantage, which was only possible by establishing the most compatible and contemporary methods of work with the right approaches of the people positioned in the organisation that was in focus. 
The Theoretical Understanding  Competitive Advantage was a term coined by Michael Porter who deposed that superior performance reached through competitive advantage will ensure market leadership. Primarily a marketing concept, was later captured by Dave Ulrich to display the miracles that unique competencies helped to achieve this (Competitive Advantage) in an organisation. Ulrich went on to add to it the concept of value proposition - the HR agenda for the next decade. The entire stage was set to reduce attrition and retain quality people through these concepts. 
The General Scenario The question that remained to be answered in client organisations in this part of the world was how to implement them. And this was, despite globalisation. The concepts were believed to be too 'west oriented' and the argument was, that they would not be universally implementable - the usual cultural resistance to any change initiative. They believed that these were marvellous and brilliant concepts in themselves, but far from deployable. Promoters were averse to accepting any of these jargons and would not let you 'touch' them. They knew nothing else but profitability, as the required yield from a business organisation. No amount of convincing even through Kaplan & Norton's Balanced Scorecard could persuade them, that there were other measures too, for assessing the success of any organisation. And to make matters worse, there was a special lot, who would agree with everything that you suggested, but when it came to putting things into practice, there was a luke warm response which in turn affected the approach. The task that lay ahead of us was therefore gargantuan. There were three kinds of challenges that emerged when we did our Force Field Analysis: (1) The workforce (including managers) who accepted the modern scientific management theories, but challenged their adaptability, (2) the second lot who would refuse to think beyond financial gains and (3) the third who preferred to be where they were because they lacked the risk taking ability or the ability to say 'yes' or 'no' and act proactively.

The Internal Churning

This prompted Team PERCON to embark on every assignment in transformation, with greater caution, particularly while interacting with the promoters, the influencers and the starters/triggers. In all possibilities the priority was to understand and empathise with the woes of all or at least the three groups mentioned here. One had to oscillate between addressing a variety of concerns from work methods to attitudinal issues. Everything converged on cultural aspects. We therefore decided to examine all the cultural issues right from the scratch and concluded on a process shown in the figure above. We decided to seize the first opportunity to make things simpler and start at the beginning. 
Crystallising the vision was our first task. The translucent character of a vision is its peculiarity and most of the times, the promoters perhaps never had the blink to think about it, or they perhaps only dreamt of taking their organisation somewhere, which they could not define later and the thoughts were lost in oblivion. This is where we spent days together, to put these thoughts in words and help them to characterise their ultimate horizon for the organisation. Every action that the organisation followed thereafter was within this frame. 
The next area of our challenge, and perhaps the biggest one, was the identification of the value system that the organisation adhered to and what it needed to be embedded with. An example here may explain things better. An organisation in order to transform would need a core competence of resilience, which emerges out of innovativeness and an 'out of the box' approach. But if the organisation has been adhering to the value of obedience and in traditional terms strictly abiding by the instructions of the top leadership, this approach would never find space to creep in by any means. This gives rise to a situation of conflict between two sets of values - the values associated with obedience on one side and the ones associated with openness, curiosity and debate on the other. Dismantling the culture or value of obedience was not what we encouraged, but we kept showing the advantages of debates and querying over a period of time - best done in cross functional teams, for instance. Likewise all conflicting values were being addressed and tackled to develop an innovative culture. The biggest battles are fought here and smallest of victories leave a moment of rejoice and success towards change.  Guidelines for introducing a fresh value system were always obtained from Rushworth Kidder's Eight Universal Ethical Values

A business organisation is largely understood as, "an organisation set up by an individual or a group of people who collaborate to achieve certain commercial goals and is formed to earn income for its investors." The underlying theme here is indicated by the terms 'commercial', 'income' and 'investors'. Most organisations have their mission statements revolving around this theme. The appeal is for higher profitability and turnover. The evolution of terms, such as ‘return on investments (ROIs)’ also emerges from this mental construct. With constant interventions, persistent recall of the success factors of an organisation delineated by Kaplan & Norton stated above and the transition to a contemporary value system this perception begins to erode. Most of the times, the mission statement is susceptible to redefining or tweaking. Bringing in its acceptability amongst all, amounts to braving it out amidst defiance from various quarters - persistence is a competency one has to exclusively depend on.
The impelling factor that keeps playing as an undercurrent or even explicitly, is the motivational factor - whether self motivated or extrinsically inspired. The mission is deciphered into organisational goals and they in turn are converted to domain or functional goals. This is shown in the following example from TVS:  
TVS Motor Company – Mission

We are committed to being a highly profitable, socially responsible, and leading manufacturer of high value for money, environmentally friendly, lifetime personal transportation products under the TVS brand, for customers predominantly in Asian markets and to provide fulfilment and prosperity for employees, dealers and suppliers. 
In this statement, what are clearly observable are the organisational goals:
  • highly profitable
  • socially responsible
  • high value for money
  • environmentally friendly                                              
  • lifetime personal transportation products
  • in Asian markets
  • to provide fulfilment and prosperity for 
    • employees
    • dealers and 
    • suppliers  
In case the above emerge as the organisational goals, then the domain goals are also distinctly visible. Each of the above goals could be split to suit the goals of each domain. For instance, to make the company profitable, the marketing domain has to work out its plans for South Asia, prioritise on positioning and selling and therefore read its goals in that perspective. Similarly the HR domain has to work out alignment plans for rejuvenating the task force and the Operations domain has to pull up its socks to increase the efficacy of their processes and so on. From here on the job goals become clearer and the KRAs more easily spelt out.
This done, it is time that we slip back to from where we started, i.e., intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, which in turn help consistent efforts to attain these goals which in common parlance we call commitment. Here just involvement of people is not enough. Yes we are talking about engagement. Readers are requested to see the subtle distinction. Involvement can be donned (most of the times is) on someone, while engagement is aroused from within. Engaged employees and teams would work towards these goals and achieve them. The higher the commitment, the higher is the pace at which they can be achieved and the higher is the quality that would make them discernible.
Our description of the internal churning actually ends here but it isn't the end of the 'War for Talent' yet. What we need now are the processes, which should sustain the yields of this churning, and fetch the poise of an equipped organisation! The blocks and the arrows in the periphery denote that.  These protect the internal processes that have been depicted by the quadrants of the circle, which we have already discussed in the 'internal churning' section.

The Protectors

These are the rectangles at the periphery of the ‘circle’ divided into four quadrants discussed in ‘internal churning’ above. It becomes necessary to mention as to why we have decided to call them ‘protectors’. They are the processes, which consistently govern and safeguard the sustainability of what has been achieved through ‘internal churning’, and if not pursued would lead to retracting all efforts. Subroto Bagchi, Executive Chairman, MindTree Inc., in his book High Performance Entrepreneurs' suggests that if you have a vision to build a skyscraper, you cannot afford to keep plumbing provisions for a two or three storied house. Therefore the protection has to start at the stage of plumbing and what metaphor could be better, when we say that we have to start assimilation right from the grass-root point.
Let's examine the rectangular block at the bottom right. It speaks about Hiring, which is the entry point for anyone in the organisation. One has to be conscious about the method - where the requirement details such as the Job Description, Competency Chart and Job Specification have to be comprehended well and then only the sourcing activity should commence. The accountabilities and the role clarity should be significantly analysed and identified with, before any sourcing process starts. The approach has to ensure visibility about the cultural dimensions of the company to the candidate and the attitudes need to be well assessed, besides the knowledge and skill elements. What are being referred to here, is known to everyone and are laid down stipulates, but what is necessary here are the aspects of empathy and involvement with the organisation and also the awareness of the ultimate goals of the organisation. The people implementing these processes need to possess the intensity in each of these characteristics, else they should not undertake these tasks. Therefore it is recommended that the recruiting team should brainstorm and plan out to the minutest detail of the recruiting strategy. It is for sure that one insufficiently assessed candidate increases the recruiting cost in diverse dimensions, including the brand.
Let's go over to the next rectangle the one coloured pink and mauve and what you find here is the most significant contribution that the organisation has to make towards the fundamental settling down process of the newly hired person - onboarding.  "You hired that person to do a job.  Giving him the tools he needs to do that job and perform at a high level should be your top priority.....", says Michelle, the onboarding expert. We at PERCON would look at it as the process that entails a systematic and comprehensive approach to familiarise a new employee to help him or her to get "on board." It was important for new employees to quickly acclimatise to their new work environment and get to know that he or she was welcome aboard and also diminish the time for his or her learning. Chipping in with information such as performance expectations straightaway, would get to minimise misunderstandings, which often arise at this stage and lead to frustration, so much so that they could even result in a premature departure of a new hire. Research shows that the first ninety days are exremely critical and if one is able to clear that hurdle successfully, the journey for the new hire enables him or her to 'cross the bridge' successfully. As someone put it, onboarding was the bridge between the résumé screening, interviewing, and selection of a job candidate and the annual review measuring how that employee was doing in the job. This should not be confused with orientation, which on the other hand, is the event that usually takes place on the first day or even in the first week of the tenure of a fresh entrant and provides for a download of information about the organisation and a bulk load of formalities to complete.
Major efforts in onboarding are the responsibilities of the seniors to persistently open windows to usher in more role clarity. This calls for having done the home work well and having the job description and job specification in place with enough flexibility and space for tweaking the responsibilities to bring in more transparency in communicating them. The clarity has to be in the following areas:
  • Work Methods 
  • Time frames 
  • Work responsibilities
  • Customer-Supplier interface                                 
  • Work priorities
  • Performance expectations
  • Resources
Role Clarity and its diverse implications need to be understood in depth by each supervising manager. There has to be clarity in the understanding of each manager as to what was meant by role clarity how it should become a priority. This leaves most of us in a lurch as to how does each manager feel responsible to do this and this is where it becomes imperative for each manager to subscribe to the other role.
The other role is non else than mentoring. The organisation has to assign a mentor for each new entrant. Ann Rolfe, the famous mentoring expert defines mentoring as, "Interaction with another that facilitates the process of metacognition". Now what is metacognition? Taylor (1999) defines metacognition as “an appreciation of what one already knows, together with a correct apprehension of the learning task and what knowledge and skills it requires, combined with the agility to make correct inferences about how to apply one’s strategic knowledge to a particular situation, and to do so efficiently and reliably.” The mentor helps the mentee in doing that. The mentoring dialogue opens up  when the mentee mirrors on his or her personal exposure to a circumstance, concern or dilemma and then the mentor guides the mentee in collecting data from a diversity of sources, arrange and analyse the preferences and helps to choose from the alternatives the course of action, which would include planning and executing it. The process of re-evaluating the outcomes would continue in order to move up the learning and performance curve. Therefore there are no time-limits prescribed for this process and has to be an ongoing activity.
You have now ensured only fifty per cent of the protection that you need to offer to sustain what you have achieved through 'internal churning'.  
Therefore we move to the next protector rectangle, on the top left corner. We have seen how we have been able to facilitate the employee to mount on the 'track for progression' after his embarking the organisation and help him balance his journey within. In order to entail the seriousness attached to his association with the organisation, the meaning of his performance expectations (outcomes), need not only to be reinforced but also measured and such parameters need to be transparently communicated. This is referred to as defining performance (this also includes redefining if required). Defining performance would tantamount to chasing a mirage, if the employee is not looked after well. What we should be searching as his best performance would be possible for him to achieve, not only with the quality of assignments with added value but also what we are ensuring for his wellbeing, so that he puts in his best. Work related employee wellbeing is defined as follows,“that part of an employee’s overall well-being that he or she perceives to be determined primarily by work and can be influenced by workplace interventions.” The length and breadth of employee wellbeing would be that which includes development of organisational, managerial, social and physical workplace considerations as well as elements such as people’s physical and psychological health. This also includes employee wellness initiatives. Let's be very clear that we should not confuse this concept with that of the traditional employee welfare, where the underlying philosophy was to give away to the employees, so that the employees were happy and felt more involved with the organisation. Here the effort is entirely to build a 'bonding' with the workplace. A typical example would be that of Google! Organisations are to perceive this aspect with an openness that perhaps is more required than desired. It's not an expense; on the contrary it's an investment that has far reaching and protracted effects on the thrust needed for a paradigm shift. This is no more the prerogative of the 'knowledge worker' oriented industry alone and it is a pride to mention that even conventional organisations are following suit now. See how Unilever has worked on it too! The bonding that we are talking about here is employee engagement or talent engagement. The subtlety that we would like to focus on, is why we chose to use the word 'talent' and not employee. According to Marcus Buckingham the author of 'First Break All The Rules', managers have to recognise talents in every team mate - the power within!! Competencies are only subsidiaries to talents, which emerge from various factors but essentially the core of each talent is made up of passion.
 And the best definition of passion we have come across is by Ken Blanchard: Employee Passion is the positive emotional state of mind resulting from perceptions of worthwhile work, autonomy, collaboration, growth, fairness, recognition, connectedness to colleagues, and connectedness to leader, all of which lead to standards of behaviour that include discretionary effort, long-term commitment to the organization, peak performance, low turnover, and increased tenure with the organisation. 

Engagement of talent would be possible when the person possessing that talent is engaged with the organisation. The only way to acquire precision data about employee engagement in an organisation is to administer a qualitative and a quantitative assessment. The technique needs to be customised according to the values, the business strategies and the communication style acceptable to the organisation. But essentially when the survey is being designed, make it a point to cleverly partner the key employees performing the tasks for which engagement levels are being measured. This measurement has to be an ongoing activity, as organisations are continually evolving. While keeping in mind that engagement refers to the workplace bonding and not just keeping the employees happy, it's worth mentioning that even accountability contributes to engagement!
This brings us to the last of the four ‘protectors’ and that is where talent engagement takes us to – making the employer, the employer of choice. The employer of choice is an organisation where you find a clamour amongst the potential human resources to ‘bag’ a job with it. How would that happen? Today’s job-seekers are extremely discerning and conscious about what they are looking for and therefore would not opt for any and every job opportunity that comes their way. They weigh various aspects: besides other things importantly, the compensation package, the job content, the work environment, the career growth prospects, and of course the learning. The employer has to ask himself: Is he ready for this? Is he at the bottom of the ladder debating whether to climb, has he started climbing or has he probably realised that he was climbing into an undefined space (reminds me of Jack climbing the beanstalk, achieving success every time and finally settling down for some bagful of golden coins, the harp that played the music and the goose which laid the golden eggs, but Jack didn’t have competition and nor was he aware about obsolescence!) having to whip up an idea that was fresh and rewarding in terms of engagement. Two qualities that the organisation evidently has to promote besides whatever we have been discussing so far – innovation and experimentation and they have to be embedded in a set of values, ridden with trust and transparency.
When you become an employer of choice you have attained the employment brand. It is worthwhile to think and analyse at this stage, whether such a brand was possible to attain without a product brand or a corporate brand. Well yes and no!
Yes, because if you have a great employment brand, your product brand would improve as your brand managers are an engaged lot and would do anything and go to any extent to create that brand. The same would apply to your PR too and therefore you would have a great corporate brand.
No, in the early or nascent stages of an organisation because of the following two reasons: a. you need to be known in the market for whatever business you are catering to and b. you need to have humongous energies and resources in terms of persistence and patience to await the product recognition, on which rely the revenues of the organisation. Although we second the understanding that businesses survive because of people, the latter are dependent on the financial viability of the organisation, a fact, which we cannot ignore.
Having accomplished the employment brand, our agenda is two dimensional. We have achieved the Competitive Advantage mentioned at the beginning of this write-up, but we need to sustain that. The war is over but a new war begins? May be not a war, because you have already built the culture of promptness and perceptiveness, but a continuous combat and confrontation has to be faced in order to set new benchmarks and mark up with them. That is how one would have a sustainable competitive advantage and get over with the War for Talent!