Download a Copy of HR Book of Blogs

This Time, It's Personnel

Across many units and departments that make up a company, HR department is the most maligned. Even when a situation has nothing to do with HR, we still get the butt. To this end, many HR professionals have gone ahead to correcting misconceptions employees have about their HR.

This has metamorphosed into vibrant HR communities in the online space where blogs, tweets and posts are shared two-four-seven on wide ranging people-related issues in the workplace. Several Social Media platforms are now being used to explain why we do the things we do .

With learning becoming more social and collaborative these days, David D’Souza conceived the idea of pulling together global HRsters to come up with writings for compilation into a book. Spurred by the success and great reviews of Humane,Resourced, he crowdsourced other sixty nine people for a second.

This Time, It’s Personnel is out and it’s selling real fast. Interesting and diverse strands of HR all make the book a must have for everyone. The book reveals how passionate we are about our people and the business. It gives a peek into the future of work and also preaches inclusivity. All the chapters are mouth watering!

More importantly, all the proceeds from the sale will go to charity. I think it is a bold way of showing how much we care. Many thanks to all the contributors and those who worked behind the scene to compilation of the Book of Blogs.

You can download the book here.

Bashir Baba is a contributor to This Time, It’s Personnel and can be reached on @El_De_Bash

 This piece was first published on LinkedIn on Nov 8th, 2014.


Social Media and Learning

The internet would definitely contest for a top finish if inventions by Man were to be graded. An offshoot of the internet wonder is social media which enables people living poles apart to socially interact. The fast growing number of platforms and applications available testify to the level of interactions that go on on the internet. Needless to say that there is a massive piece of information available on the internet.

While I admit that these information are directed at different end users, I am curious on the actual amount which constitute learning. If the amount of blogs, monologues and other writings that are churned out daily are anything to go by, we should have productive employees and flourishing businesses. The reality on ground is not commensurate to the number of business writings available in links and posts on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and other social sites. If this is so, it becomes imperative to begin to look on how much learning takes place on Social Media.

For learning to have taken place, there has to be a shift in processes which will lead to improved outputs. If however results are dwindling or a business is rooted in the same position even after learning interventions, it then calls for concern. As interests in learning on social media is gathering momentum, it is pertinent to sound a note of caution. Some of the materials available on social media for learning are not practicable. In academia, social media contents do not make it onto peer-reviewed journals. I think the business community should also be wary of what they use from social media.

I agree that there are lots of experts to learn from on social media but I think some posts and writings are generic. Even within an industry, no two organisations are the same; each with specific needs. Contrarily, individual and organisational learning resources on social media are not company-specific. Yes, it is a source of general information and knowledge but not a solution to your business learning needs.

Consequently, companies investing in social media learning and neglecting the traditional on-the-job and closed space learning need to have a rethink. I’ll suggest more of the investment on learning should be directed towards the traditional approaches and social media majorly be used for business promotion and service delivery. If however there are businesses that have harnessed the potentials of social media learning, how were they able to achieve that?

Please drop your comments below.

Bashir Mudi Baba can be reached on Twitter @El_De_Bash

What are your areas of weakness?

Being humans, we all have our frailties. There has to be that habit or skills that need development. While it is easy to come up with those strong attributes and excellent work ethics that make up the individual being, the same cannot be said of our weakness. As individuals, we often do not admit our weakness even though a third party would easily identify this. A third party here means that person who relates with us regularly at a close range. This ranges from supervisors, colleagues and even our spouses.

The intriguing question this piece is probing is why it is difficult to individually come up with one’s own weakness. A regular interview question is to ask a candidate his area of strength and weakness. As a HR person, I have heard candidates give ‘not-too-intelligent’ answers when responding to the weakness aspect. The probability of ‘strength and weakness’ question coming up in an interview is almost one. Consequently, It is expected that most post people would rehearse their answers before appearing at interviews. Yet, most answers we get are not genuine and are ‘crappy’ at the same time.

Apart from job candidates, interview experts are also evasive on tips to answering the tricky question. The common advice is for candidates to stress on efforts they are making to correct identified weakness. Whatever that might be! I do share the constraints of coaches and mentors in attempting to render adequate counseling on the ‘weakness question’. Most interviewers are never explicit on the question. Weakness could be in the areas of skill sets or behavioural traits and other psychological competencies.

If interview experts and counselors are evasive on ‘weakness-question’ because of its ambiguity, it is then proper to turn to recruiters and other HR professionals who sit at interview panels. Mostly, the question is being thrown to elicit certain information or reactions that would help the panel in making a sound judgment on suitability or otherwise of a candidate. Are we expecting candidates to be upfront on their weakness? If the answer is yes, then most candidates do not tell the truth on this.

It is imperative we revisit those generic interview questions because candidates are likely not to be truthful with their responses. What we ask at interviews are set of similar and pre-determined questions. It is like a list of commandments which are meant to be stuck to that in so doing we shy away from probing questions and miss out on good fit. It is high time we reviewed our interview strategies.

The title used for this piece is borne out of the need to evoke changes in the way we conduct interview. It is also genuinely aimed at getting an answer to the ‘weakness-question’ as I have always wondered why individuals are never forthcoming on this. If it is also so important for employers to know the weakness of a would-be-employee, it is more important that the question is asked without any form of vagueness. It is only then; career coaches and mentors can give appropriate guidance to their wards.

Bashir Mudi Baba can be reached on Twitter @El_De_Bash

How Gutsy are you in your Job Search?

Desperate times call for desperate measures. This cliché statement is best relevant when you are in the job market. The bills are piling up and your Bank Manager is not ready to grant you additional overdraft. It is like the whole world is going to crash on your head. You have been called up for a couple of interviews but have not succeeded. You are hoping to get some positive feedback from Recruiters.

Rather than live on hope, you need a lot of guts to get out of your predicament. Alfred is a young graduate of Marketing from University of Coventry who advertised himself at the Waterloo Station in London. He did get a job with a Recruiting firm within days of putting himself up. If Alfred had guts, Adam was more daring. He emptied his bank account to put up a bill board ‘begging for a job’. Some people might see this as going to the extreme but I really do not think so.

If you wont tow the line of Adam, have you thought of sending a recruiter an email or adding your interviewer up as a connection on LinkedIn? You can even ask daring questions in an interview. I once did. I was invited for an interview as HR Manager for an NGO that serves as an umbrella body of people with different political persuasions. The pay was good and the working environment serene as I would have loved it but I had my concerns. There were threats to the survival of the organisation which I took up with the panel. The leader of the interview team felt visibly infuriated with my question. The NGO closed shop afterwards.

If you stick to the ground rules of CV writing and other conventional ways of job searching, I wish you the very best. People have sent me unsolicited e-mails to find out if I have a role for them. I have always tried to respond to such e-mails and have even called some for interview. However, other people might find it rude and wont respond to unsolicited mails. It wont hurt a fly, so why not try it.

The job market is a tricky place to be in. Sometimes super credentials are not enough in landing you the dream job. You might have to resort to the use of guts if you have any.

Reports from Employees

It is good work ethic to respond to emails and return calls recorded on voicemail. For job candidates, they expect recruiters to give feedback on their performance at interviews. As Managers, we expect feedback from our team members on assignments given. In general, the workplace is never efficient without adequate and appropriate feedback.

If responses and feedbacks are necessary elements of the workplace, it is disturbing to note that some employees do not render reports after attending learning sessions or conferences paid for by the company. With the increasing requirement by most businesses for HR to justify its strategic importance, not rendering reports of training activities attended by employees will further undermine the significance of the HR department.

The essence of training would have been defeated if an employee returns to work as if he had just stepped out to lit a cigarette and back. It is expected that an in-house session is organised for team members that were not nominated for the training. This is to be facilitated by the returning employee. Consequently, knowledge is transferred across the team and does not remain with one single individual.

The impact of a learning activity can be measured when everybody understands expected outcome and putting into practice what has been learnt. ROI on training interventions has received enormous interest from organisations. This cannot be measured when employees do not render reports on training attended. Having invested in the development of employees, it is only appropriate for companies to be able to measure returns on their investment.

Reports are additional learning resource to every organisation. Employees need to upload reports on company’s portal to make it accessible for all. Do we even have libraries in our organisations? This is a topic for another day. If reports are to be a source of reference within an organisation, it means they should be written in a standardised manner.

HR has a critical role to play in ensuring employees give reports on return from every learning activity. As employees move up on organisational ladder, their mastery of report writing should be topnotch. This needs to be enforced by HR. It is also a way of entrenching leadership traits in an organisation by paving way for employees to learn from one another. Let the journey begin…………………..

Bashir Mudi Baba can be reached on Twitter @El_De_Bash



Leading Change and HR

Businesses tend to consolidate on their competitive advantage using several management techniques like content marketing, competitive pricing and product change, mergers and acquisition (M&A). Irrespective of the business process that is being adopted, it is sometimes accompanied with changes across the organisation. The Human Resources (HR) department is pivotal to the success of the strategic change.

In the case of Merger & Acquisition, attention should not only be focused on assets and financials of the organisations that are involved. Often, equity composition and share value dominate the transactions while the peoples-issue are left till late. Sometimes, HR issues are attended to after consummation of the M&A which might lead to employees unrest and lack of engagement.

As due diligence is being carried out on fixed assets, short and long term liabilities, it is also important to carry out diagnostic HR of the organisations from the word go. An assessment of available talent, organisational culture, salaries and HR policies of all the companies that are involved in the merger.

Huge wage bill is something businesses would want to avoid aftermath of a Merger and Acquisition exercise. Consequently, it is imperative to have a projected workforce size for the new business, desired skills and experience. With these, an effective manpower plan can be designed.

An effective Manpower plan should reveal the number of surplus employees. Then, you begin to calculate the cost of pay off using existing policies on severance package. Where none exists, appropriate sections of relevant Labour Laws on lay off should be applied. This way, number of litigations can be minimised if not completely avoided.

With the required and adequate workforce in place, job schedule and proper placement are next on the agenda. Salaries and other benefits should be harmonized and communicated to employees. Culture change initiatives are necessary for the new group as a clash of culture is prevalent when companies fuse into one.

At the point of assessing available skills and talents, areas of development would have been identified. Learning and development plans need to designed and should begin forthwith. Periodically, surveys on engagement and job satisfaction are carried out to measure the level of success achieved and identify areas needing attention.

HR is the champion of change and should lead the change process of any organisation. It is however surprising to see departments like Business Development, Research and Development in the forefront of changes taking place in some organisations. This is not dispensing the importance of other departments, successful change is strongly dependent on a buy-in from employees and HR is best at achieving that.

Bashir Mudi Baba can be reached on Twitter @El_De_Bash

Power of Networking

It is often believed that graduates of Ivy schools like Harvard, Oxford and Cambridge get the best available jobs. If you think this belief is a myth, then a simple Google search of people clinching the top jobs on Wall Street or the techies at Silicon Valley might convince you otherwise. This can partly be attributed to the high rating of the universities and majorly to the strong network of alumni across the world.

The power of your network may determine the extent of one’s level of success in life. While growing up, my dad would say to me “go out and build a network of friends, its an investment with huge rewards”. True to his words, I have benefited immensely from the network of friends I have. The benefit of networking does not necessarily have to be material gain, the value of ideas and knowledge that can be tapped from hordes of people that make a network is beyond measure. And when you learn, you grow.

With the advent of social media, networking has been made a lot easier. However, some people do not make the advantage of the New Media. This is evident from posts, updates and hashtags on different social networks. The vast amount of knowledge available on social media is unquantifiable that it is impossible to keep tabs on every article and blog. Consequently, begin to screen your contacts on social media by networking only with those that add value to you.

As a Human Resources professional, I have read several resignation letters and also conducted quite a number of exit interviews. Some people not only leave their jobs but also destroy the friendship they have built over the years with colleagues. Whatever happened to referrals from former colleagues? This is a mistake often made by some of us.

Self development is always a good way of building your network. When you read wide, you begin to develop critical thinking and your thought processes will improve. If these thoughts are penned down, they will attract a wide coverage with a corresponding growth in network. This way, you will begin to influence others which can lead to you becoming a leader in your field.

There are a host of opportunities to network. Meetings, conferences, coffee shops are avenues to meet people and build a network. Please do share your experiences with networking by commenting below.