Article (April-2018)


What makes the multilennial organization work

Dr. Ganesh Shermon

Designation : -   Managing Partner

Organization : -  RiverForest Foundation, Canada


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Achieving business objectives
Why are some firms different than others? What are the factors that influence the nature of a firm and its impact on business performance? Is there an ideal firm for all types of organizational culture? CEOs & HR managers have frequently coped with such vexing questions. HR function is now in a state of turmoil and in many situations undergoing radical transformation. Internal customers gain influence, ultimately being able to specify what services, and how much of them, they need. In addition, internal customers can expect service providers within the shared services business unit to be responsible for, and responsive to, meeting their service requirements. Service providers, on the other hand, can expect to have their performance evaluated objectively as a result of having measurable criteria in place. This shift makes it easier for staff service managers to understand what service is expected, when, where, and how. Eliminating ambiguity has the desirable effects of reducing conflict and improving communication, lowering costs, and improving satisfaction and delivery of internal services. Business managers seek the need to outsource, downsize and redeploy HR activities out of the company. In many situations HR has been asked to define their role and measure their contribution to the business. Some ask of its relevance to businesses today. And many believe that this is a function that can be dispensed with. Why? Perhaps the answer lies in understanding what makes the new multilennial organization work. In the last part we saw the dynamic aspects of integrating millennials with mature workforce to derive synergies in their capabilities, competencies, skills, behaviors and performance. We believe that organizations like individuals go through an identity formation process. Organizations are born, go through their formative years, mature, expand their sphere of influence, procreate, contribute and die or metamorphose into a new identity. The organizational identity is formed through these stages of development of identity. At each stage of development, the organization experiences an identity crisis and effective resolution of this crisis aids and advances the process of identity formation. The unique way in which these crises are resolved creates a unique identity for each organization.
By understanding our multilennials change objectives, we will be able to drive a high level of success during the multilennial implementation. The objectives are as follows:
a) Transition from a millennial to a multilennial organization.
b) Demarcate and define workforce demographics.
c) Improve the efficiency and cost effectiveness of HR, benefits, and payroll services by tweaking a unique system independent of another for each of these segments. Rewards and motivations would differ.
d) Significantly enhance end users' capabilities to access and analyze HR information - skills and competencies would vary.
e) Improve the overall HR effectiveness by focusing on value - added activities such as acquisition, retention, and development of diverse yet talented employees.
f) Improve the overall effectiveness of HR by positioning the organization to focus on more value - added activities such as talent acquisition, mature workforce retention, team leads amongst mature leaders.
g) Enable the firm to more effectively manage its integrated workforce.
h) Utilize an updated multilennial platform, and take advantage of other HR-enabling technologies in order to improve efficiency and effectiveness in HR.
i) Empower managers and employees, while simultaneously reducing HR administration costs, through the strategic use of employee and manager self - service.
j) Sustaining a changed culture.
k) ROI capture of this integrated organization.
In, "HRM trends in India - Strategic HR Review - 2015" - a professional perspective, Pramila Rao from Marymount University, VA, responds, on Talent crunch : "With the aging of the population and the phenomena of demographic dividend occurring, India has a large number of young people looking for jobs. There are lots of educated (postgraduate and graduate applicants) individuals who are unemployed. According to the Labor Bureau of India, the unemployment rate is estimated to be around 3.8 per cent. 
Excellence is not an act, but a habit; establishing a cult of excellence, horizontal synergies, rewarding flexibility and creativity does this. Discerning competencies can be put forward by elimination of non-value-added functions, activities, layers and large span of control. Employability does not depend on applicants' caste, gender, age, though a decade ago, such demographic criteria might have been very significant.
Today, with trends of affirmative action and globalization, organizations are becoming more socially conscious that they should not discriminate applicants based on these factors (caste, gender, age). Though the number of applicants that organizations receive for any position is large, getting the right person - job fit is a big concern for managers across all industries. Organizations are struggling to find the right applicants that can work well in a corporate background. Indian organizations tend to be very hierarchical even though the country is in a state of transition with globalization, etc. While local organizations and multinationals, such as Google and Facebook, might disagree with such trends, leadership still follows a graded system. The relationship between superiors and subordinates can be synonymous to those of parent and children. The leaders are often seen as benevolent yet autocratic. There is also an inherent cultural assumption that the Indian leader knows it all. And this stems from a lack of trust in a 360 perspective.
In a multilennial context there are some prerequisites for building a trusting workforce :
a) Courage to Trust.
b) Willingness Communicate at all times.
c) Courage to share knowledge, information and, feelings.
d) Willingness to listen irrespective of, who is saying it and courage to accept what is right instead of who is saying it.
e) This plays into various roles.
f) Mechanistic aspect of communication : To work as a link across boundaries of roles, structures & jobs. 
g) Development aspect : For sharing knowledge, learning, training, growing, and feedback.
h) Emotional aspect : For empathizing, listening, understanding and relationship building.
i) Organization building : Culture building through acculturation, socialization, and communicating organizational expectations.
Many leaders hesitate to ask their subordinates for help or advice. The concept of reverse mentoring is very slowly picking up in some progressive organizations". Companies will need to specify the type of flexibility they are prepared to offer. At a minimum, they may want to provide an option for people to stay in their roles and extend their tenure for a few years after retirement. However, this is not without its challenges. Among other things, extending the careers of those near retirement age may block promotions for younger workers rising in the organization. The success of a business transformation initiative rests on the value created for your business owners. Your ROI will be determined through the sustainable operational improvements accomplished by utilizing your financial system, and implementation of the corresponding processes to support the redesigned environment.
Our experiences with ROI implementations and process improvements have shown that organizations undergoing this type of change typically take advantage of three primary opportunities for ROI :
a) Operational improvements.
b) Linking best-in-class processes to the financial system.
c) Strategic improvements.
d) Transformation Strategy and Plan : Development of a detailed implementation plan for COEs, Corporate HR, and site HR partner migration to move the organization from its current transactional - focused state to a strategic, best - practice organization, including change communications.
e) Organizational Infrastructure Operationalization : Detailed organizational design, job design and competencies, and HR performance metrics.
f) Workforce Migration.
g) Organizational migration must be in sync with multilennial implementation and service center design and implementation.
h) Transitioning HR from transactional to strategic is an evolving process.
i) Business - focused consultative HR roles require increased competency requirements for HR professionals and provide increased job satisfaction.
The challenge is to take an enterprise wide view of these value opportunities and pursue them through one coordinated effort during the course of the project. Not only will this provide you with a platform to achieve maximum value, but it will also allow the firm to pursue these efforts with the least disruption to ongoing operations. Measuring ROI does not start upon project completion. The focus on achieving business case benefits must be integrated into every work plan, task, and deliverable. A sponsor's active participation and shared ownership of the Enterprise Program Office and key project roles is a vital part of ensuring that progress against planned ROI is considered each step of the way.
Driving the benefits of a multilennial program
The success of a business transformation initiative rests on the value created for your executives and shareholders. The key determinants of value creation, or ROI, will be the sustainable operational improvements accomplished by utilizing your HR system, and the ability of your HR system to enable a firm to identify enhanced, short - term, and long - term strategic objectives.  Our experience with such implementations and process improvements has shown that organizations undergoing this type of change typically take advantage of the following primary opportunities for ROI :
  • Market Reputation
  • Social Responsibilities
  • Short - term priorities
  • Operational improvements
  • Strategic improvements
  • Cultural Changes
  • Workforce Characteristics (Age, Experience, Special Contribution, Learning Index)
The challenge is to take a holistic view of these value opportunities and pursue them through one coordinated effort. Not only will this provide you with a platform to achieve maximum value, but it will also allow the firm to pursue these efforts with the least disruption to ongoing HR operations. The following information focuses on the operational and strategic improvement opportunities available.
Operational improvements
A multilennial Talent System will provide the foundation on which significant operational improvements will be based, such as a dramatic decrease in the time your HR staff spends on administrative activities. Operational improvements are the result of outcomes such as reduced system costs, enhanced systems functionality, streamlined processes, reduction in employee headcount, and increased empowerment for line managers.
Establishing the Administrative Foundation
A key objective of this project is to create a common culture and a platform for human resource management practices, data and reporting throughout an enterprise with a focus on achieving the following;
  • An integrated management play in working with a diverse workforce
  • Significant efficiency improvements by eliminating time and errors due to redundancies, resistance to change, reimplementation costs
  • Necessary information can be updated online by your employees and managers based on their experiences in working together
  • Shadow and legacy systems that do not interface with a new system can be eliminated
  • Organization around a new HR delivery model, in particular, the concept of a centralized HR services
  • Redefined stakeholders and owners to this play
Strategic improvements
Strategic improvements are longer - term benefits derived from strategic, organizational, process, and programmatic changes. Once an HR function is efficiently and cost - effectively delivering administrative services and your strategic processes are linked into the system, the opportunity exists for you to expand the focus of HR to execute more value - added activities that impact the organization's profitability.
As the firm's new processes are implemented, staff will have greater opportunities to focus on more value - added HR activities that speak directly to organizational objectives. Since line managers and HR professionals will no longer be occupied with time - consuming administrative activities, they will be able to focus their time on strategic HR objectives in addition to creating solutions that measurably impact a firm's bottom line.
Enabling HR transformation 
Through this transformational implementation, the firm will help create momentum for HR function to transform itself to meet an ever - changing business needs and by ensuring that HR business process designs and HRMS configuration enable future HR functional initiatives and optimize the functionality of a techno cultural system implementation that will provide the base necessary to maximize the strategic value of a diverse HR department.
To facilitate this transition, change leaders of the multilennial program, will continue to work with the firm on HR transformation initiatives by building on the work already completed and by redefining the role of the HR organization. Translating the conceptual design of the new HR organization into practice will require the development of detailed HR job descriptions, HR competencies, and HR organization design. Essential to the execution of the transformation initiative will be the design and implementation of a competency - based strategy and process to reallocate, reassign, and/or recruit resources in the new HR organization. While a major focus of the transformation effort is on preparing the HR organization for the change in role, it is important to have an equally focused effort on the change and communications effort for the organization as a whole to ensure a firm is ready to accept HR's new role.
The timing around the rollout of the multilennial transformation is intricately tied to the HR system, process, and service center implementation timeline. A diverse organization where a variety of workforce demographic is seen together, as operational efficiencies are achieved in the delivery of HR services, the HR organization will have the capacity to assume the new role and the organization will be more receptive to that role.
Redefining talent acquisition approach and process
Through this joint effort in planning an overall HR transformation initiative, one should that understand that one key strategic improvement opportunity is to redesign talent acquisition process with a focus on the following guiding principles :
  • Proactive, common workforce planning approach
  • Standard, streamlined talent acquisition process that can be implemented across the organization
  • Prioritized acquisition of skills most critical to an organization
  • User - friendly process for candidates and hiring managers
  • Clearly identified roles and responsibilities in an organization designed to support the talent acquisition process 
  • Streamlined back - office processes and technology - enabled support systems
  • Management information that provides leading indicators of performance
A KPMG LLP research indicates business benefits in building a diverse organization, for example, 
a) Achieve tangible and intangible benefits from an integrated enterprise wide talent management system that aligns millennial and mature workforce - multilennial.
b) Schedule a distributed placement process with a judicious mix of millennial and multilennial workforce.
c) Achieve as much value as possible through optimization of centralizing/decentralizing learning and processing functions and processes.
d) Maximize the use of automation and technology - People, Process and Technology.
e) Improved operational reporting (i.e., using statistical accounts to track non-financial data for reporting purposes : centralization, learning, planning, staffing, performance metrics, pay information, discharge volume, etc.).
f) Reduce organizational risk (i.e., being able to compare departments across the enterprise for internal benchmarking purposes).
g) Significantly enhance end users' capabilities to access and analyze financial information.
h) Improve the overall effectiveness of every line function by focusing less on manual day-to-day processes (i.e., entering journals, tracking assets, etc.) and focusing more on strategic value - added activities.
i) Utilize an updated business platform and take advantage of other enabling technologies in order to improve efficiency and effectiveness.
Another challenge is confronting the role age currently plays in determining pay. Older workers currently tend to earn more than younger workers, since salaries rise with promotions and tenure. Questioning the link between age and salary opens up possibilities for nonlinear career moves, enabling older workers who want to work longer to shift with dignity to lower - paying positions that offer the benefits of lesser time demands and less responsibility. It also addresses one of the major reasons for inflexibility in corporate retirement policies : Companies often seek to retire older workers in order to reduce their payroll, since the ratio of cost to productivity for highly paid older workers can be unappealing. It is important for companies to create options that recognize that, for some older employees, salary may have plateau - or they may want to consider accepting lower pay in return for greater flexibility in a multistage career."
Donald J. Bodwell writes, "High Performance teams are created with a mission or purpose in mind. This purpose or mission should be expressed in the form of a written charter. Over time teams develop their own set of norms. Norms are rules or guides for team behavior and decision making. The idea of using teams to solve problem and achieve results is based, in part, on a concept that the collective brain power of a team far exceeds the ability of any manager". By integrating the talent acquisition redesign effort with the multilennial system implementation, a firm will be better positioned to develop a more comprehensive, high performance team, long - term focused talent acquisition solution through a greater understanding of the functionality and timing available through the selected diversity system. In the short term, the focus can be on the more program - based changes (i.e., methodology, selection competencies, and success metrics) and quick - win process - based changes. Based on the new talent acquisition program and process design, coupled with the timeline for the new technology enablers, an appropriate rollout implementation plan will be developed and executed. This will facilitate realization of the value from the redesigned talent acquisition initiative as quickly as possible.