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Org.Schema: Creating Redundacies

Redundancy is a necessity for creating fail-safe, fool-proof systems. And it has become a necessity even in modern-day organization structures. With the ongoing war for talent, with organizations ready to out-spend the other, leaders have to create people redundancies. But let us look at what we mean by redundancy here first:

“In engineering, redundancy is the duplication of critical components or functions of a system with the intention of increasing reliability of the system, usually in the form of a backup or fail-safe, or to improve actual system performance, such as in the case of GNSS receivers, or multi-threaded computer processing.”

Source: Wikipedia

NOTE: In this blog post, redundancy does not refer to the negative situation when an employer lets go off an employee because the organization does not require that organizational position anymore. It is being used in the positive way engineering solutions provider use it.

Case Study

Damon is a top performer working in a construction company. He joined the organization as a trainee. He was groomed to be an exceptional site engineer, and he is a senior site engineer now with immense knowledge about project and construction management in the field. His level of expertise and rapport with the workmen is such that he can work even from his home now by giving instruction over the phone.

It has been 5 years now and he wants to get into the planning and strategy side of the business. His bosses do not want to lose an exceptional site engineer because there are so few technically sound people willing to work in the site these days. They turn a deaf ear to his career expectations.

Damon starts hunting for a job soon and gets an offer from a civil engineering consultancy firm. He gets a salary hike of 80% and the profile he wanted. His previous organization loses a great talent, finds it hard to replace him and their leadership pipeline is weakened. So, we see a stark contrast here: Damon’s win-win versus the organization’s lose-lose.

Who is to blame? 

Damon’s bosses blamed it on Damon and justified why he left the organization. They blamed it on Damon’s replacement when she could not perform as well as Damon. Of course, they avoided the entire topic of succession planning, transfer of responsibilities and tacit knowledge.

Damon reviewed his previous organization on GlassDoor. He said that it was a great place to start your career in but not one where one should ideally stagnate in. His review was not the only one. It was one of the many. This discouraged the best from applying or even if they applied and became a part of the organization, they came with a time frame of 2-3 years in mind – learn and exit.

Damon’s previous organization had become a training ground where they prepared talent for their competitors to poach. They also poached talent from their competitors but every one of them was sure not to spend more than 5 years there, because there was zero job-rotation and pure stagnation after a few years. No doubt the solid citizens remained.

But was that enough!



The Abuse of the 360° Feedback System

The 360º Feedback system is hailed as one of the more progressive feedback systems where employees get feedback from not only direct supervisors from their departments but also, in many cases, outside stakeholders. Juniors, peers and seniors – anyone who has worked with you – can give you feedback. This feedback can not only help you become a better professional but also helps companies review their employees in a holistic way.

 But it is a system after all!

The 360º Feedback system has two important pillars on which it stands:

  1. Confidentiality
  2. Anonymity


Confidentiality means that I would not know who is reviewing me. You would not know who is providing feedback to you. But can the veil of confidentiality be burnt and stamped upon?

Anonymity is closely related to confidentiality. Anonymity ensures that the one providing feedback can do so without any fear or discomfort. So that they can tick and choose whatever they think is fair. But can someone bypass the veil and know who was standing right behind it?

The Value of Stress Testing

In the banking industry, stress testing of assets and portfolios are done using computer simulation models to determine how the assets and portfolios would fare in times of financial crisis such as the one we saw in 2008. Similarly, all systems and processes need to stress-tested.

Stress-testing is important for HR processes and systems because loopholes can be exploited and need to be plugged in in-time so that it does not affect the overall health of the organization. Checking for clues and reporting them:

  • Does S employee know that T is going to review him?
  • T is S’s subordinate. Is she being afforded the opportunity to review her supervisor in a fair manner?
  • Has a nexus started where P agrees to scratch the back of R, and R agrees to reciprocate?

The Caveat of Stress Testing

Although stress testing can help improve our systems and processes, it should not be a cause of harassment for the employees. While deviant behavior needs to be recorded and reported, all the actions of employees should not be look at with suspicion. Not everyone is trying to fool the 360º Feedback system.

We need to ensure that employees are ready to both provide and accept a true and fair feedback. While most organizations use the 360º Feedback to review employees, the end goal of reviewing also is to help the employees be better professionals so that the organization may benefit and not just to judge and rank them.

How can the 360º Feedback be implemented better?

First, it should be communicated to employees that the feedback is for their own good. So that they can perform better, they can have better work-life balance and get the opportunity to lead the organization.

Secondly, 360º Feedback should not be implemented at one go. It should be random and through out the year. Feedback weeks can lead to enormous loss of man-hours just because so many employees make it a big deal. It is important but not more important than the task at hand.

Thirdly, the feedback touch-points should not be too many. More than 20 and you lose the one giving a feedback. You do not want to bore them.

Fourthly, make it intelligible. It is not for testing their command over the English language. Short, simple and casual.

Fifthly, casual. Yes, casual. Make it sound too formal and too important, you give an incentive to cheat, to try find the loopholes. Again, it is important no doubt. But the bottom-line more so!

Sixthly, if anyone gives 5 out 5 or 0 out 5, make them use an event to describe why they are giving that rating. This would stop the abuse and not just make it too “casual”. This is also why you should not forget the third point mentioned here: not making the feedback paper too long. Too long, and you cannot do this sixth!

The Summary!

To end, review and feedback is important. But not more important than organization performance. These should help the organization be better. And for them to help the organization perform better, transparency, confidentiality, anonymity and good survey procedures are a must!

Hope this article helps. Share your ideas!

Author: Amartya Dey, India

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Picture Credit:

Two Levers: Potential & Tacit Knowledge (Part I)

We hire for potential. We retain for tacit knowledge. 

For any organisation, hiring and retention of talent are among the most important aspects of their business to retain competitive edge over their competitors. In this series, we would help you define the different categories of “talent” using two critical parameters: potential and tacit knowledge.

But, first, let us be clear on one of the basic assumptions that we all mostly hold true: our talent bases are turfs we strive to protect at any cost. [Well, reasonable cost.]


Picture Credit: pbconsulting.co

And no one likes to lose their turf (read: talent).

What is potential?

Potential can simply be thought of as the performance level at which a performer may perform given the right conditions. The higher the potential, the better it is. That makes sense immediately to all of us. But this also means that for high potential (HiPo) talent, the organisation is more responsible to ensure that the right thriving and nurturing conditions are provided.

Be responsible while handling potential. 

Wasting potential would be akin to wasting a business opportunity with a great internal rate of return (IRR). There is also the risk of the IRR becoming equal to zero if a high potential candidate is poached by a competitor after all the hard work and spending by one’s organisation. So, be careful!

Can potential be increased?

Definitely. By exposing employees to diverse problems while also making them part of developmental programmes which focus on systems thinking, potential of an employee can be increased. Just by telling them how their role affects the bottom-line, you would have increased the potential of your talent pool members.

Why is “increasing potential” necessary?

Increasing the potential of the talent pool is imperative for an organisation operating in a highly competitive marketplace. It would help them develop leaders who are more equipped to stand up to new and more complex emerging challenges. It would help them develop a leadership pipeline. Additionally, the “increasing potential” programmes can make an organisation a preferred workplace for new talent while also helping the organisation retain its employees.

It is a win-win and who doesn’t love win-wins?

In the next article in this series, we would delve deeper into how “potential” of the talent pool can be increased before we journey on to the second lever: tacit knowledge. But let us focus on the first lever for now.

Hope you liked this first part. Your comments and insights are valuable. Do let us know! 

Author: Amartya Dey, India

Click to access other articles related to Human Capital:

Breaking Organizational Silos (Part I)

Breaking Organizational Silos (Part II)