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Breaking the Glass Ceiling

Do you feel that you've gone as far as you can with your current employer? Despite knowing that you have much more potential, is there a limit for "people like you" in your organization?
If so, you've hit what's known as the "glass ceiling." This is the point at which you can clearly see the next level of promotion - yet, despite your best effort, an invisible barrier seems to stop you from proceeding.
Traditionally, the glass ceiling was a concept applied to women and some minorities. It was very hard, if not impossible, for them to reach upper management positions. No matter how qualified or experienced, they simply were not given opportunities to further advance their careers.
Today, there are many more women and minorities in powerful positions. However, the glass ceiling is still very real. And it's not always limited to gender or race.
Have you been pushed up against a glass ceiling? This can happen for many different reasons. Are you too much the champion of change? Do you have difficulty communicating your ideas? Are you quieter and less outgoing than the people who get promotions?
Whatever the reason, you have a choice. You can accept your situation and be happy with looking up and not being able to touch what you see… or you can smash the glass with purpose and determination.
If you do, indeed, want to break through that glass, here are some steps to take.
Identify the Key Competencies within Your Organization 
Key competencies are the common skills and attributes of the people in your company's upper levels. These skills are often tied closely to the organization' s culture and vision.
Companies that value innovation and strive to be leaders will probably promote individuals who are outgoing, risk takers, and not afraid to "tell it like it is." However, if you work for a conservative company (such as a publicly owned utility) chances are that top management are analytical thinkers, with a reputation for avoiding risk and making careful decisions.
Ask yourself these questions:
  • What are the values of your organization?
  • What behaviors does your company value and reward?
  • What type of person is promoted?
Understand what sets your company and its leaders apart. This is the first step toward discovering how to position yourself for a top leadership role.
Set Objectives to Align Your Competencies with Top Management
Once you know your target, set goals to get there. You're responsible for determining your own career direction. Be proactive and go after what you want, because it probably won't be handed to you.
Do the following:
  • Let your boss know that you want to work toward a higher-level position.
  • Ask your boss what skill areas you need to develop.
  • Work together with your boss to set goals and objectives, then monitor and measure your performance.
Remember to concentrate on areas of your performance that you can improve. Don’t set a goal to achieve a certain position by a certain time. This can be discouraging if it doesn’t happen. For example, set a goal to consistently demonstrate assertive and clear communication. If you achieve that goal, no matter what job title you have, you’ve succeeded!
Build Your Network
You should also build relationships with other people in your organization. You never know who may be in a position to help you or provide you with valuable information.
It's important to network in all areas and levels of your company. Many people tend to think it's best to make friends at the top. However, to be effective and actually make it to the top, you'll need the support of colleagues at other levels as well.
Try these tips:
  • Reach out to new people on a regular basis.
  • Get involved with cross-functional teams.
  • Expand your professional network outside of your organization. If you can't break the glass ceiling in your company, you may have to look elsewhere for opportunities.
Use the climate in your organization to your advantage. While "politicking" is often seen as negative, you can help your career by understanding and using the political networks in your company.

Find a Mentor
Having a mentor is a powerful way to break through the glass ceiling. The barriers that you face have likely been there for a long time. Past practices, biases and stereotypes, and old ideas are often long established at the top of many organizations.

Is upper management reluctant to work with certain types of individuals? Do they exclude certain people from important communications? A mentor can help you learn how to get connected to the information and people who can help you. A mentor can also be a great source of ideas for your professional development and growth.
Ask yourself these questions:
  • Is there someone in upper management you can approach to help you?
  • Will your boss be able to provide mentoring support?
  • Are there people with strong political power who can offer you assistance?
Build Your Reputation
Ultimately, the way to get ahead is to get noticed. You want people to see your competence, leadership abilities, communication skills, technical knowledge, and any other competencies that are typical of people at the top.
Develop your skills and network with people so that your name becomes associated with top management potential. To do this, you need to build a reputation as the kind of person who fits the description of top management. Visibility is very important. Remember, while you can see up, those at the top can see down.      Make sure that what they see is YOU!

Follow these guidelines:
  • Seek high-profile projects.
  • Speak up and contribute in meetings.
  • Share ideas with peers as well as people in higher positions.
  • Identify places where your reputation is not what you want it to be, and develop plans to change them.
Know Your Rights
Finally, watch for discriminatory behavior. Sometimes biases and stereotyping can cross the line into discrimination. It's unfortunate for both you and your organization when situations like this occur.
Don't just accept frustration and failure. Know that you're doing everything right, and arm yourself with a good understanding of your rights regarding official company policies and local laws.
Key Points
To get ahead and reach the leadership level you want, you need to champion and market yourself. That means proactively managing every step of your career. If you can't seem to break through a glass ceiling, you might have to work harder than others.
We can't all be exactly the type of upper management person our company wants. What we can do is develop the skills that the company values. Arm yourself with a development plan as well as the help of your boss, a strong network, and, hopefully, a mentor. You can then build and showcase the skills that will help you climb the corporate ladder. Push yourself beyond your comfort zone, and you may find new zones of opportunity.

Apply This to Your Life
  • If you're frustrated with your career advancement, consider the following:
  • Do you have a career plan in place? If you don't, now is the time to make one!
  • Does your boss, or anyone in your organization, know what your goals are? Unless people know what you want, they may keep you in the same position and assume you're happy there.
  • Do you feel alone and unsupported in your career goals? If so, who can help you change that? We all need to make our own success, but most people don't succeed all on their own. Ask for support and assistance – this is a sign of strength, not weakness.
  • What areas for skill development have been pointed out to you in the past? Are you making improvements?
  • Are you facing a glass ceiling? Recognizing that the ceiling exists is the first step… the ceiling won't be removed unless you do something about it.
  • Finally: apply some of the ideas in this article, and monitor your progress.
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HSCC(PSU) Limited requires HR Professionals Dec-2010

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Evil HR Lady: Seven Spectacular Career Comebacks

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Employee Retention- Manage your employees stability

I am going to write about the most serious problem that companies are facing these days that is Employee Retention. Attrition causes loss of skills, loss of expertise, drain brain, economic loss and finally it shakes the mindset of existing employees. This instability causes office environment to change rapidly and makes the system unstable. The organizations are continuously working on how to retain employees in dynamic environment. Many experiments have been conducted and trial s have been taken to minimize the attrition rate. Following are few tools and methods used in this era to control the attrition:-

1. Employee Reward Program- You can make a provision of Monthly or Quarterly Award (depending upon the budget) for the best employee, Awarding 2 or 3 best workers each month. The award can be in terms of gifts or money. If it is money then it should be divided into two parts, first part to be given with the next month salary and the remaining after 6 months. In this way he/she can be retained for 6 more months. These rewards shall be considered at the time of appraisal.

2. Career Development Program- Every individual is worried about his/her career. You can provide them conditional assistance for certain courses which are beneficial from your business point of view. Conditional assistance means the company will bear the expenses only if he/she gets an aggregate of certain percentage of marks. And entrance to that course should be on the basis of a Test and the number of seats to be limited. For getting admitted to such program, You can propose them to sign a bond with the company, like they cannot leave the company for 2 years or something after the successful completion of the course.

3. Performance based Bonus- The employee always comes to know about the profit of the company which is of course based on the strategic planning of the top management and the productivity of the employee. To get more work out of the employee, You can make a provision of Bonus. By this employee will be able to relate himself with the company’s profit and hence will work hard. This bonus should be productivity based. You can make sure that this bonus is not adding extra-pressure on the budget of Your Company and you can arrange this by cutting a part of the salary hikes and presenting it to the employees in the form of bonus.

4. Employee Referral Plan- You can introduce Employee Referral Plan. This will reduce your cost (charges of external consultants and searching agencies) of hiring a new employee and up to an extent you can rely on this new resource. On every successful referral, employee can be given a referral bonus after 6 or 9 months of continuous working of the new employee as well as the existing employee. By this you can get a new employee at a reduced cost as well as are retaining the existing one for a longer period of time.

5. Loyalty Bonus- You can introduce a Loyalty Bonus Program in which you can reward your employee after a successful completion of a specified period of time. This can be in the form of Money or Position. This will encourage the fellow employees as well whether they are interested in money or position, they will feel fascinated.

6. Giving a voice to the Knowledge Banks- First of all you should try to retain your workforce intact, as they are the intellectual asset of the company. And above that you can’t afford losing your knowledge banks. These are the people who stabilize the process. You can involve them in some of the decisions.

7. Employee Recreation- You should also let your employees enjoy in a light mood. You can take your employees to a trip or for an outing every year or bi-yearly. You can make use of this trip as well. You can start this trip with an opening note about the management views and plans, strategies etc. At the same time you can involve your top management into some of the fun activities as this will make feel the employees that they are very close to the management and everybody is same.

8. Gifts at some Occasions- You can give some gifts at the time of one or two festivals to the employees making them feel good and understand that the management is concerned about them.

9. Accountability- You should make each employee accountable so that he can also feel that he is as important as his manager. If he/she will be filled with this sense, he/she will seldom think of leaving the company.

10. Making the managers effective and easily accessible- You should make the management easily accessible so that the employee expectations can be clearly communicated to the top management, as it is impossible for the top management to reach each employee frequently.

11. Surveys- You should conduct regular surveys for feedbacks from employee about their superiors as well as other issues like food, development plans and other suggestions. This will make them feel of their importance and the caring nature of the company. Some of the suggestions might be of real good use for the company.

For a company, the workforce is like an intellectual property, both in terms of skills and money. A trained and content workforce can lead a company to new heights while a opposite one can hamper it badly. So, every resignation saved is every dollar earned.

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Study Clarifies Job-rotation Benefits

Study Clarifies Job-rotation Benefits Finally, here's hard data on why it's a good corporate strategy to rotate people from job to job. A study of Eli Lilly and Company's financial workforce not only shows us what the training and career-development advantages of job rotation are, but also what its pitfalls are—and how to avoid them.
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Talent assessment and segmentation

In the last post(Functional Competency Assessment Form), a method and format was described to find the gap between the present level and required level of competencies and subsequently a lead/lag ratio was calculated. Now the question comes where to use the lead/lag ratio? In this post the ratio will be used to identify and assess the talent and consequently to make  talent pool. This talent pool is a pool of potential candidates which may be considered for promotions in future and for succession planning. Further this exercise has vast applications. it may be used for cross-training, training need identification, multi-skilling, transfers to other departments depending upon the the skills possessed by the employee, skill based incentives, etc. Again this is a connecting post hence the methodology and step by step procedure may be read from previous posts. You may start it as:

1)Competency Mapping(CM)
2)What is competency?
3) Steps involved in Competency Mapping
4)Purpose and benefits of Functional Competency Mapping
5)Performance and potential matrix
6)Methodology for Functional competency Mapping
7)Employee Information Form(EIF)
8)Technical/Functional Competency Dictionary
9)Functional Competency assessment form
10)Now Talent assessment and segmentation 

Talent assessment and segmentation (TAS)

(Plant / Functional Head to identify career stage of the individual concerned based on the following criteria)
Manage Self
Manage others
Manage Managers
Individual   Contributor   having no direct   reports
Individual  having  2-  3  direct reports  in  management  /  non management cadre
Individual   having   more
than 3 – 4 direct reports in Management Cadre
   Reporting to Sr. Manager & Above
Reporting to        HOD /
Functional Head.
e.g. Shift Engineers, Assistant Engineer, Jr. Executive etc.
e.g.    Manager, Dy. Manager, Asst. Manager, Engineer.
e.g.       Sr. Dy.GM, DGM, AGM, Sr. Manager.
Entry level professional in a specific field
Technical professional or guide to a group of entry level professional.
Technical leader or guide to a group of professional.
Based on the above criteria, please tick the suitable career stage:
Manage Self
Manage others
Manage Managers

(Plant / Functional Head to identify performance of the individual concerned as per the combination of performance ratings of the last 3 times)
Performance Rating (Please fill last 3 performance ratings):
Rating 1
Rating 2
Rating 3
Performance Rating

Slotting to be based on 3 rating:
Scale (Please tick suitable box )
3 A / 2 A and 1 B
3 B / 1 A and 2 B
Any other combination of Performance Rating with ‘C’ but not with ‘D’ and ‘E’.

(Based on the individual career stage, plant /functional head would assess the competencies for the current
Career stage and  potential for the next 1-2 career stage based on the following scale)

Rating C (0 – 40 %)
Rating B (40 – 80 %)
Rating A (80 – 100 %)

Potential Assessment Scale:
(Please use following 3 Point scale to assess potential of individuals for current and next 1-2 level of the career stage):
If Lead lies between 80-100 %
If lead lies between 40-80 %
If lead lies between 0-40 %

From Potential and Performance rating, the position Matrix is found to be __.      Hence the Talent Pool is ________________.
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Functional Competency Assessment Form

Now when Functional/Technical competency dictionaries are finalized, it is time to assess the competencies and analyze the lead or lag that exists between the present level of competencies and required level of competencies. To analyze this, an assessment form has been designed which is user friendly and anyone can use it. Its easy to understand. The assessment form is a part of my earlier post where I mentioned the Methodology to assess competencies. There are fields or labels where data can be entered and final lead/lag may be calculated. Finally we have to calculate the (Y/X) ratio which will be used further to take necessary action. As this post is a part of my earlier posts, it should be read like:
1)Competency Mapping(CM)
2)What is competency?
3) Steps involved in Competency Mapping
4)Purpose and benefits of Functional Competency Mapping
5)Performance and potential matrix
6)Methodology for Functional competency Mapping
7)Employee Information Form(EIF)
8)Technical/Functional Competency Dictionary
9)Now Competency assessment form

Functional/Technical Competency assessment form




E Code


Grade w.e.f.

Date of Joining

Date of Birth


Appraiser’s Name


HOD Name


Exercises outstanding performance on this competency far exceeds acceptable standards
Exercises very good performances on this competency better than acceptable standards
Exercises quite acceptable performance on this competency and meets requirements
Performance on this competency is not quite up to acceptable standards.
Performance on this competency fails to meet acceptable standards.

Competency Area
Present Level
Required Level
Max. Lead/













                                                                                 Maximum Lead:  X    , Lead/Lag:  Y, Ratio: (Y/X)*100
*Note: Individuals lagging in required competency level should note be included in the Talent Pool Segmentation.

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