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How to Create a Culture of Succession Readiness

Lets start with a quote "Failing to plan is planning to fail".
Every day for the next 18 years, 8,000 Americans will turn 65. That demographic includes today's 47-year-olds. The AARP estimates only about 37 percent of companies have considered how this brain drain will affect them in the next five to 10 years. The situation is not very different in India where retirement/superannuation age is 60 years for centre Government employees and all Public Sector Undertakings employees. A big chunk of employees are going to depart from the organizations in next years.
The skills leaving the workplace will create a knowledge gap that is hard to close. Therefore, leaders must think differently about their people assets and create a culture of succession readiness. Knowledge will be lost if preparation does not begin now.

Building in Readiness

Building a culture of succession readiness means learning how to observe, shape and reinforce the right behaviors for all employees to achieve and sustain success. Start with strengths.
Find exemplary performers and look at what they do. Leaders should capture what happens so they know which activities to teach, practice and reinforce. A succession-ready culture will create more capable performers as talent managers take on their most important role - developer-coach.
Open architecture describes a culture designed to teach or cross-train employees, providing them with multiple skill sets. This makes adding, upgrading or swapping activities easier, yet many organizations tend to pigeonhole their employees.
Tom Gilbert, a 20th century performance expert, created a formula to measure the performance improvement potential for every worker in a specific work setting. By looking at the exemplar, Gilbert demonstrated what the variance was in terms of possible - or potential - performance.
Some companies today use Gilbert's formula. Instead of assuming the most accomplished performer is uniquely different from the lowest performer, his work reminds that differences often relate to opportunity and contingency. With proper coaching - opportunity - and consequences for increasing skills - contingency - a performer at any level of accomplishment can advance.
Gilbert demonstrated that there is an acceleration curve, but not a bell curve, on performance potential. Extraordinary performance is shaped and limited only by workplace conditions, and those conditions are in the talent managers' hands.

The Fabric of Succession

Learn to ask a simple and clear question of top performers: "How did you do that?" and attend to the answer. Further, leaders should learn how to support behavior change in themselves and in others. Doing so will open the door to achieving a culture of flexible succession. Two major American business leaders who have incorporated these concepts into their succession planning are Laree Daniel, senior vice president, chief administrative officer for administrative operations at Aflac, and Denise O'Callaghan, senior director, learning and performance improvement for Express Scripts.
Some 40 percent of Aflac's operations employees will be eligible for retirement in 10 years. Daniel manages those employees, is mindful of those departures and is working to ensure those who stay have a sense of what their future holds at Aflac. Managers are measured by each employee's improvement. Daniel said that processes, systems and structures that surround workers can bring out their best, allowing individuals to achieve evolving potential. In such a culture, one need not be trapped by "where I am," but can strive toward "what I can be."
Aflac's emerging leadership initiative develops employee potential from the office floor to the C-suite. The program was specifically designed for high-potential employees to engage them in initiatives outside their typical roles so that they learn new things about the business and how it operates. This helps to mitigate risk of flight as bright, creative workers look to their futures. Plans are refined with each participant on a regular basis, sometimes weekly but at least monthly. In these roles employees are expected to demonstrate the values essential to being an Aflac employee in observable and measurable ways.
Any Aflac employee's path to increased responsibility requires becoming expert in behavior and, if they are to manage others, in coaching. Leaders are required to earn the right to be someone's coach. "We have a 'leaders are coaches' understanding in our culture, but there is an optional, extra step leaders can choose to take in order to achieve the designation of a certified coach," Daniel said.
Understanding how to shape and support behavior is the No. 1 skill Daniel and other Aflac leaders seek in supervisory candidates. Daniel and all others have developmental plans with a focus on what the company expects her to do to help employees succeed. Senior leaders engage in cross-training, through rotation and pairing, as do all other levels of the organization. This broader exposure generates new ideas, which are captured and incorporated into work processes where appropriate or considered for the future.
Creating a culture where managers are no longer command-and-control timekeepers and goal setters but rather coaches and mentors requires an understanding of behavior, the cues that get desired behavior started and the follow-up that keeps it going.
Demonstrating proficiency in the science of behavior means:
a) Pinpointing the appropriate results and behaviors for employees at every level.
b) Measuring progress at frequent intervals.
c) Providing regular data to each performer about his or her progress while arranging consequences that maintain, redirect or accelerate behavior.
d) Evaluating progress and celebrating accomplishment.
The manager's job is to take the present behavior and build on it for everyone's success.
Daniel said those who have the privilege of managing others must understand that their success is measured by that of their employees. She said she expects every leader to learn how to maintain, accelerate and celebrate individual achievement. Performance goals for managers - up to and including top executives - are linked to each person they supervise demonstrating progress toward individual goals.

Molding the Right Behaviors

Acquisitions require new behaviors and creating a new culture, both of which can present their own challenges. Two pharmacy benefit managers, Express Scripts and Medco Health Solutions, merged in April 2012 to become a company with more than 30,000 employees tasked to make the use of prescription drugs safer and more affordable. According to O'Callaghan, the organization has a flexible approach to learning that is consistent with the company's overall efforts to drive clients and members toward better decisions and healthier outcomes.
Express Scripts' research revealed that poor decisions typically reflect a gap between intentions and behaviors. By anticipating member needs and preferences, then earning their attention, the company can close these intent-behavior gaps. The company also extends the behavioral approach to its employees via training and coaching.
For instance, it will soon adopt a behavior-based rapid change process as part of a succession-ready approach. With rapid change, groups and individuals start with the end product, the end delivery and the customer interface in mind. From there, everyone in the system identifies how his or her specific behavior affects the end result and how the team can use that knowledge to work better as a unit. This promotes shared knowledge and cross-training at all levels, resulting in better understanding of every person's role in making the company successful.
"We can unify and solidify respect for the worth of every employee for the value they bring and the behaviors they engage in once we as leaders and managers learn to ask the simple question, 'How did you do that?'" O'Callaghan said. "Then we take that information, help others to replicate it and standardize our processes. We are all about creating an environment at Express Scripts where the best choices are also the easiest ones to make."

The Science of Behavior

Managers can look to a future where their role is that of coach. To coach well, they need behavior-based principles to guide their efforts and measure their effects. The following six items are critical, yet often missing in organizational efforts to create a sustainable succession-readiness plan.
1. Discover the employee behaviors that are reinforced or suppressed by a company's operational and HR systems, management processes, physical settings and technology.
2. Attain skills in the science of behavior, grounded in a belief that every employee is underutilized, to create a culture of individual and group potential for performance excellence.
3. Observe, measure and track individual skills based on what employees actually say and do. This kind of observed analysis can occur at every level. All employees can demonstrate excellence in their particular business environment, demonstrating worthy habits through deliberate practice. The mystery of effective senior leadership is not innate to a person, nor is it unobservable. A person's particular learning history and skills can be made clear and replicable.
4. Measure leaders, managers and supervisors by their direct reports' success. Understanding how to coach skill development is a useful tool for managers, helping them to build excellent habits. Blame for individual failure is absent in such a culture. Rather, the analysis is about what is needed to redirect or accelerate performance and skills development.
5. Create a culture of mentoring and coaching. This culture of engagement and respect requires managers to transfer critical skills to employees and seek opportunities for them. It is understood that leaders are not in such positions because they are the only ones who can lead; instead, they too are products of opportunity for repeated practice.
6. Understand that all employees are essential to success. As employees progress, they coach others. Continuous learning and supporting effective behavior from all is the expectation from the moment of hire in such a culture.
Robust succession is about scientifically applying good practices to behavior that create a level of fluency in problem-solving across many conditions and areas of company operations. It requires placing a new value on the potential of every worker and approaching that potential scientifically. As Gilbert demonstrated, the performance improvement potential of every person is unlimited among current top and bottom performers.
As much as things change, the laws of behavior remain the same. Talent managers can create a succession-ready culture to address, with optimism, a fast-approaching future.
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Skill Up on Office Politics

Whether we like it or not, politics is everywhere. Turn on the TV, any channel really, and there it is: politics. Get up and go to work, and there it is again: politics.

Despite its initial stench of nastiness, betrayal and lies, politics is actually a skill - and a worthwhile one.

Seldom have leaders or managers in any business or organization gotten to where they are without playing some form of office politics. And if they managed to get by without doing so, it's likely they got lucky, some experts say.

One such expert is Jack Godwin, a political scientist and author of "The Office Politics Handbook: Winning the Game of Power and Politics at Work." To Godwin, politics is about understanding and recognizing power. He said even workers who are turned off by the idea of politics could find use in becoming politically astute.

Chief Learning Officer spoke with Godwin about office politics as a leadership skill. The following are edited excerpts from the interview.

1. How do you define politics as a skill in the workplace?
Well, I'd say there are two elements of social and the personal. The social skills are important because politics takes place wherever there are people who are independent and where the distribution of power is asymmetrical. What makes people interdependent? The organization has a goal - some sort of mission that requires people to work together. What makes the distribution of power asymmetrical? Somebody has bureaucratic authority in the office - power by virtue of his or her position. Social because, well, there are at least two people.

The other half is a personal element, which requires self-awareness, self-discipline, self-control, and when you're talking about office politics you have to show people that you can police your own bad habits and not politicize situations inadvertently and unnecessarily. So there's a person and a social. The way I define politics, I say politics is about power, and any social situation and any relationship becomes political, becomes politicized, the moment power is introduced.

2. How is office politics different than the politics we're familiar with, like government politics? How is it the same?
Well, "The Office Politics Handbook" is really about politics for the rest of us - not presidents and prime ministers, but people who work for a living. Anyone who works in any kind of an organization has to contend with politics. So what's the difference? It's a matter of scale. Office politics - or as I refer to it throughout the book, micro-politics - takes place on a human scale between supervisors and employees. It's similar except for the scale.

3. How does a leader become politically astute?
This is a three-part answer. It has to do with situational awareness. First, you ask yourself: What is the degree to which the situation or the environment lends itself to personal intervention, your intervention? Second, what is your position and status? That is, are you strategically placed within the situation? And third, what are your relative strengths and weaknesses and what are the strengths and weaknesses of other individuals in the situation.

This to me is the inventory of situational awareness. This is an abbreviated version I go on at length about for half a chapter in the book. If you can read the field, read the players, calculate the power differential, list the alternative courses of action, consider the consequences of inaction and then make your move - all in a span of a few moments, a few seconds - then I would say that's an executive, that's a leader who is politically astute.

4. Is this a skill that can be taught?
I think it can be. What I would say is a skill is something that you could acquire by education, training and experience. So it can be taught, it can be learned. And the way you learn politics, you might say interpersonal politics at this level, is the same way you learn anything else - by studying and practicing. The more you cultivate your skills, the sharper they become.

5. Can a leader be successful without playing politics?
I think so, but I think it would take luck. More often I think the people who rise are already politically skilled. Take Bill Clinton. He loves politics, the art of acquiring and using power. He's a politician the way some people are a natural musician or a natural athlete. I don't mean to imply that anyone has the same potential any more than anyone can be a world-class athlete or musician. But you can learn to live up to your potential.

In the corporate world, a chief executive must have political skills regarding the external environment, right? There are always external stakeholders, shareholders, environmental lobbies and government legislators. I think you also have to be skilled internally.

6. Most firms would prefer office politics stay out of the spotlight. Should corporations teach politics as part of their formal leadership development programs?
I would say yes, corporations and business skills I think should give the same weight to developing political skills as they would give to developing good communication skills or good negotiation skills.

These are micro-skills, but they all fall into the same category - what we call people skills. ... It's always easier to work with any person who's got those technical skills but who's also got good people skills. Good communication, good negotiation and good political skills. So it's a question of when we use the world politics, or political skills, let's not automatically assume it's negative. The book is not about setting traps or playing dirty tricks on your co-workers. It's about creating a better environment for everybody, yourself included. Even if you never go on offense, there's nothing wrong with playing defense. There's nothing wrong with recognizing the political environment and being able to read that field like I said.
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Amendment in Labour Laws 2010- ESI Act, 1948 in India

Employees’ State Insurance (Amendment) Act, 2010

The Government of India through its notification in the official gazette dated: 25th May, 2010 has enacted The Employees’ State Insurance (Amendment) Act, 2010 to amend the earlier ESIC Act, 1948. The ESIC (Amendment) Act, 2010 has received assent of the President   on 24th May 2010.
Further, as per the Government of India Gazette Notification No. S.O.  1296(E) dated: 1st June 2010, the Central Government has appointed the 1st day of June, 2010, as the date on which the said Act, except Section 18 thereof, shall come into force. Amended Section 18 comes into force on 3rd July, 2010.
Following inter alia, are the salient feature of the   Employees’ State Insurance (Amendment) Act, 2010. 

1. These amendments will substantially improvise the medical and other benefits under the Scheme.  Emphasis has been given for development and expansion of infrastructure for augmenting the benefits under the Scheme. 

2. APPRENTICES COVERED:  
Benefits under the scheme have also been extended to apprentices and trainees employed under Apprentice Act and Standing Order Act. 

3.  POWER TO APPROPRIATE GOVERNMENT;
The appropriate Government is empowered to extend the provisions of ESIC Act 1948 to any other establishment or class of establishments, industrial, commercial, agricultural or otherwise after giving one month’s notice of its intention of doing so by notification in Official Gazette instead of notice period of six months. 

4. DEFINITION OF DEPENDENT EXPANDED:
Definition of “dependents” as contained in clause 6A of section 2 of the Act has been extended to enlarge the number of beneficiaries under the act such as:
A widow, a legitimate or adopted son below the age of 25 years and an unmarried legitimate or adopted daughter.
The age limit of the dependants has been enhanced from 18 to 25. 

5.  Dependent parents as per definition of “family” has been substituted so as to include;
“A minor brother or sister wholly dependent upon the earnings of the insured person in case the insured person is unmarried and his or her parents are not alive”.  It has been also clarified that dependent parents to include “Dependent parents, whose income from all sources does not exceed such income as prescribed by the Central Government”. 

6. SMALL FACTORIES ALSO ARE COVERED:
    The definition of Factory under Section 2(12) has been amended to expand coverage of smaller factories.  The amended Act covers all factories, which employ 10 or more persons irrespective of the fact whether the manufacturing process is being carried out with the aid of the power or without the aid of the power. 

7. INSPECTORS RE-DESIGNATED AS SOCIAL SECURITY OFFICERS:
    The designation of Inspector has been re-designated as “Social Security Officer” to enroll them as facilitator of the Scheme rather than to act as mere inspectors.   

8. VRS EMPLOYEES ALSO COVERED:
Medical benefits to the insured person and his spouse have been extended under circumstances where insured person retires under Voluntary Retirement Scheme or takes premature retirement.  In the earlier   Act the benefit was applicable only on attaining the age of superannuation. Proviso to sub section 3 of section 56 has been substituted to provide the same. 

9. NOTIONAL EXTENSION OF PREMISES:
Accident occurring to an insured person while commuting from his residence to the place of employment and vice-a-versa shall be deemed to have arisen out of and in the course of employment for the purpose of benefit under the Act.  A new section 51-E has been added for this purpose. 

10   NORGANIZED SECTOR EMPLOYEES COVERED:
A new Chapter V-A has been added to enable provision for extending medical care to non insured persons against payment of user-charges to facilitate providing medical care to the below poverty line (BPL) families and other un-organized sector workers covered under the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY).

10.   Exemption of a factory or establishment or class of factories or establishments from the operation of this Act will be granted only if the employees in such factories or establishments are otherwise in receipt of benefits substantially similar or superior to the benefits provided under this Act. 

11.   Section 91 A of the Act is amended to removing. retrospective grant of exemption from the provision of the Act.
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