Posts Tagged ‘Human Resources’
Tuesday, August 11th, 2009
The New York Times reports on the growing trend of American college graduates seeking refuge from rising unemployment at home by accepting entry-level jobs in China. “They are lured by China’s surging economy, the lower cost of living, and a chance to bypass some of the dues-paying that is common to first jobs in the United States,” according to The Times. But what happens when they return home to the United States? Jonathan Woetzel, a partner with McKinsey & Company in Shanghai, tells The Times that Chinese work experience is not an automatic ticket to the top, nor is it noted by employers as an accomplishment on par with an Ivy League education.
This news may come as a disappointment to repatriates, who often feel like their organizations do not recognize or value their international experiences, according to research by Smeal’s David Harrison. This disillusionment often leads to the repatriate’s departure from his/her organization.
“Repatriates who come back from international assignments have paid a huge price,” Harrison says. “They feel like they’ve sacrificed a lot. Just as importantly, they have a whole new, global or international identity for themselves that they would like to see reinforced by their firm. They are no longer who they used to be, and their firm—which asked them to sacrifice friends and sometimes family during their expatriation—is not validating who they are now.
“They come back with an expectation that all the new knowledge they’ve gained will be used by the firm, they’ll be paid more, and have a nicer job with more responsibility; but, for the most part, they’re severely disappointed,” Harrison says. This disappointment leads to tensions of identity distress, which often leads to turnover.
To combat these effects, Harrison recommends that employers recognize and validate repatriates’ international employee identity by involving them in international operations, giving them the chance to utilize the skills they learned abroad while contributing to the organization. Employers can also use repatriates as a resource to prepare other expatriates and repatriates with their transitions.
Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009
In the latest issue of BusinessWeek, Ernst & Young Partner Billie Williamson offers tips for managing employees who work remotely. “A lot of companies are now looking at having people work virtually,” she writes. “It’s easy to accommodate differing schedules, schedule meetings on short notice, reduce travel expenses, be more ecologically friendly, and decrease unproductive travel time.”
Telecommuting also results in higher morale and job satisfaction and lower employee stress and turnover, according to research by Smeal Ph.D. student Ravi Gajendran and David Harrison, Smeal Professor of Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management. Gajendran and Harrison examined 20 years of research on flexible work arrangements, including 46 studies of telecommuting involving 12,833 employees, and found that telecommuting has mostly positive consequences for employees and employers.
“Our results show that telecommuting has an overall beneficial effect because the arrangement provides employees with more control over how they do their work,” Gajendran says. “Autonomy is a major factor in worker satisfaction and this rings true in our analysis. We found that telecommuters reported more job satisfaction, less motivation to leave the company, less stress, improved work-family balance, and higher performance ratings by supervisors.”
Their study, “The Good, the Bad, and the Unknown about Telecommuting: Meta-Analysis of Psychological Mediators and Individual Consequences,” was published in the Journal of Applied Psychology.
Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009
In Sunday’s New York Times, Smeal’s Barbara Gray is quoted in the “Career Couch” column about how to handle annoying and irritating colleagues. Gray says that a colleague who really grates your nerves could be your “nemesis,” or someone who irritates you on a psychological level unrelated to work.
In a 2007 article she penned for Smeal’s annual report, Gray offers some advice for negotiating with these nemeses:
We need to learn to “handle” our emotions, rather than hiding them, and remain open in the face of the other’s strong feelings. When it seems like your opponent is pushing all your hot buttons, it’s best to take a moment to assess the situation and confront the emotions that you’re feeling. This process is what I term “negotiating with your nemesis,” and mastering it makes negotiations with other people much more productive.
… In order to counteract our nemeses and their potential for emotional escalation, we must understand our reactions and learn how best to deal with them. The following steps can help in this difficult task:
1. Label your opponent’s behavior (to yourself). It’s okay to tell yourself that your counterpart’s behavior during the negotiation process is disturbing, distasteful, or even despicable; it may well be just that. But you must separate this judgment from the emotion you experience.
2. Label your own feeling. Take the time to notice and experience what you are feeling before you react. If you have a strong reaction to your opponent, this may be your nemesis. It’s perfectly fine to step away and calm down before returning to the negotiating table.
3. Step outside of your comfort zone. Handling emotions while negotiating can be upsetting. This process will likely make you feel uncomfortable. It’s important to recognize this and understand that both your reactions and those of your counterpart are normal and worth examining.
4. Identify and examine the assumptions that lead to your emotional reaction. Feelings arise when an assumption or taboo that we hold is violated. Finding the root assumption and realizing that it may not always be true can help us deal with the emotions that arise.
5. Express your own feelings appropriately. Rather than acting out your emotions, explain how you feel about the action of your opponent and why. This will help you express the emotion appropriately and ensure that your interests get a hearing without escalating the conflict.
Tuesday, May 26th, 2009
“Concerned a brain drain could hurt its long-term ability to compete, Google Inc. is tackling the problem with its typical tool: an algorithm,” according to The Wall Street Journal. “The Internet search giant recently began crunching data from employee reviews and promotion and pay histories in a mathematical formula Google says can identify which of its 20,000 employees are most likely to quit.”
According to Smeal’s Maria Taylor, director for learning solutions for Penn State Executive Programs and co-author of Human Resource Transformation: Demonstrating Strategic Leadership in the Face of Future Trends, “Google may revolutionize talent management the same way it revolutionized how we find and use information.”
More from Taylor:
Google’s recent announcement that it is testing a mathematical formula to predict employee departures is a marvelous example of an organization drawing on its core competency to solve new problems. In this case, Google is synthesizing seemingly disparate sources of data into relevant information to help to solve its talent retention challenges.
This mathematical approach is clearly consistent with Google’s data driven culture. The question is: How well will Google combine this tool to build a viable system of talent management that is consistent with its culture?
Google’s identity is built upon user and employee focus. A visit to the Google Web site shows the emphasis on innovation, individual contribution, and the team in links such as the “Ten Things Google has found to be true” and “The Google Culture.” The new tool will be successful if it facilitates the organization to keep true to this culture and uses the information provided to raise the engagement levels of those who are identified as at risk. High tech plus high touch equals high impact.
Organizations that are successful in developing and retaining great talent share several characteristics: genuine focus on the mission and success of the organization as a whole, unique opportunities for employees to feel like they can make a difference, the belief that one’s contributions will be appreciated and recognized, and real involvement of leadership at all levels in developing talent. Talent and leadership development programs are successful when executed as an integral part of the greater whole of organizational growth and success.
To the degree that organizations can identify the important factors in retention and success, mathematical modeling and data-driven decision tools may become important components. However, their true success will be determined by implementing an integrated program that considers organizational as well as individual success and growth.