Article: Flashback 2013: Top stories of the year

Strategic HR

Flashback 2013: Top stories of the year

As the year draws to an end, we take a look at the stories that made an impact in the past 11 months
Flashback 2013: Top stories of the year

The universal outcry about the policy change at Yahoo! is actually a reflection of the changing demography, blurring gender lines and the inclination of the people to pursue lives that fit what they truly want to be


This year, the focus was back on leadership and ethics when the Ranbaxy whistle-blowing case grabbed global headlines


It has been a busy year…so many developments and so much to write about. Whether it was India facing jobless growth, or the Ranbaxy whistle-blowing issue that raked up questions on corporate governance on a global scale, or the new Companies Law taking effect, the churn that corporate India has been facing has been tremendous this year.

Though succession planning is important, companies ignored it at their own peril even for a top position like the CEO. Things came to a head in the middle of the year, when many major multinational companies were without a clear idea of who would take over the reins once top level managers started leaving. Soon, the banking sector was in the news for the very same reason. Many banks saw a change of guard at the top-level and what was interesting about that was many women had ascended to the corner office. Of course, the question of whether HR heads are ready for scaling the ladder to the corner office is still out there.

Of course, this introduction would not be complete without mentioning a couple of firsts this year – The Power Women issue in March and the NHRDN-People Matters B-School Rankings 2013. As an HR magazine, one could not ignore the perils of downsizing in a slowing economy. Though hiring seems to have picked up towards the end of the year, it is still early days to comment on whether businesses have decided to make downsizing an integral part of their business strategy. What is going to change the face of the HR is Big Data. Big Data insights can predict the behavior of talent with the level of accuracy to allow an organization to identify a typical profile of people that it should invest in, revolutionizing the way the business operates. Here we present to you the excerpts of the Best Stories of 2013 from our past 11 issues.

January 2013 – The Turning Point

The HR industry in India can potentially leapfrog into a groundbreaking innovation market as the country has access to advanced technology and technical skills. Compared to other mature HR service economies in the West, most experts believe that there are sizeable opportunities in India yet to be explored. The future of the industry will be largely driven by a combination of social, cloud and mobile technologies and the need for specialization at an industry, skill and local level will drive consolidation and pave the way for large homegrown public companies. The industry, however, will continue to be affected by the low maturity of the HR function in India.

February 2013 – For Whom the Bell Curves

The normal distribution or the ‘bell curve’, most memorably introduced into performance management by GE has now become an article of faith and an essential and inalienable part of performance management systems. Yet, its efficacy has been less than satisfactory. Most managers and employees have very few things to say about it. Left to them, they would do away with it. The application of the bell curve in performance management assumes that in any workforce population, performance will follow the normal distribution, with the majority of the employees tending towards the average, a few above it and a few below it. This implies that performance is relative and not absolute.

March 2013 – Are You A Slave To Your Inbox?

Checking emails incessantly has become a part of our professional DNA. While one cannot undermine the central role that email plays in conducting our daily business, research indicates that bad email hygiene can quickly become the singular reason for heartburns and stress. Literature suggests that apart from causing annoyance to colleagues and managers, excessive emailing may create an environment of politicking and mistrust, stifling productivity and efficiency within an organization. Here are five factors to bear in mind: Don’t check emails first thing in the morning and the last thing at night; do not plan meetings over email; check emails in batches at scheduled intervals; check the length of your email; subject line does matter.

April 2013 – A Tale of Two Options

Marissa Mayer’s decision to ban work from home at Yahoo! has ignited an international debate over workplace flexibility. And one month down the line, the rumor mills are still humming. The universal outcry about one policy change in Yahoo! is actually a reflection of the changing demographies, blurring gender lines and the inclination of the people to pursue lives that fit what they truly want to be. In HR terminology, flexiwork allows an employee to better manage the time and place in which they work.

May 2013 – NHRDN-People Matters B-School Rankings 2013

It is the only ranking to have involved more than 30 senior corporate members in its design and execution. Sixteen years ago, Business Today along with independent research agency Cosmode jointly carried out the first B-school ranking. Since then, there has been a plethora of rankings and surveys leading to cynicism and confusion among B-schools and aspirants. It is in this backdrop that the National HRD Network, in a first of its kind endeavor, joined hands with People Matters to enquire about the true picture of the current B-schools so that aspirants can make an informed decision.

June 2013 – The CEO Path

Historically, heads of HR haven’t been contenders for the CEO’s post as they were perceived to be lacking in financial acumen and business knowledge; this despite HR professionals running large HR budgets and driving complex organizational strategy and delivery. The first problem was the desire itself: A People Matters opinion poll revealed that half the number of HR heads didn’t have the desire to aim for the corporate top post. So what is holding them back? HR professionals are never put on a mat as hard as a line person. Secondly, CEOs have a personality type that is quite different from those who are in HR by choice and the psychological transition from HR to CEO is the most difficult to make.

July 2013 – Break the Silence

The fraud at Ranbaxy Laboratories raised serious questions about the regulatory oversight in India and beyond and the legal frameworks that govern organizations in the country. The fraud shifted the focus to whistle-blowing. However, speaking up and questioning accepted norms doesn’t come naturally to collective and high context cultures like India. Most people choose not to speak out because they fear retaliation or they think the organization will not support them or nothing will be done about it even if they report it. Despite a long list of scams in India, lack of protection to whistle-blowers, official apathy and lack of incentives hurt corporate governance in the country.

August 2013 – Hiring a CEO; The People Century

Over 44 per cent of companies in India hire CEOs who are external to their companies. Recruiting and retaining leadership talent in India is notoriously challenging. Research has revealed that CEO tenures are declining globally. Most Boards shortlist candidates based on a history of good performance, but this may actually be a deterrent. In most CEO hiring scenarios, Boards run the risk of lobbying and politicking. The People Century was an ode to HR’s march in India, a timeline of momentous events in the function and how it has evolved from the age of blue-collared workers.

September 2013 – Don’t go into HR because you like to work with people

Madan Nagaldinne, Head of HR (Asia Pacific), Facebook, talked the traits he looked for in people leaders. Don’t go into HR because you like to work with people, it is a dangerous analogy. If you are thinking of making a career in HR or you are in HR and are thinking about where you can add value, you need to have a point of view on how your organization can win in the marketplace through talent. You need to have a strong point of view on what is the value that you as an HR professional are adding or helping your organization to innovate and stay on top of what they are doing in the market because you understand talent.

October 2013 – Right Sizing, Q&A with Rudy Karsan and Fear Your Strengths

Rightsizing is a global reality with reports of lay-offs coming in from laptop makers to auto majors. We are in the midst of the second recession this decade. If in the last slowdown, it was mostly techies and investment bankers who were facing the boot, this time the net has been cast wider and has snared media professionals, auto workers, contract labourers and telecom officials. Job cuts are a necessary pain that the companies must carry the burden of. Besides the cover story, an interview with Kenexa Co-founder Rudy Karsan also made the mark. Fear Your Strengths was about how strengths become derailers if the leaders do not balance forcefulness with their ability to nurture.

November 2013 – Banking on Women, Q&A with K. Ramkumar

In a country where boys are prized over girls and where many women quit work after marriage and child birth, there has been a surprising rise of women leaders across financial institutions. The country’s top three banks in the country – SBI, ICICI Bank and Axis Bank – are led by women. So is the National Stock Exchange, the Indian arm of JPMorgan Chase, HSBC and Fidelity International. The Indian arms of the Royal Bank of Scotland and UBS were headed by women. ICICI Bank ED K. Ramkumar talks about his journey from a student union leader to the Board of ICICI Bank.

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Topics: Strategic HR, C-Suite, Campus Recruitment, Watercooler, #GlobalPerspective, #TalentConversation

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