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Infosys has now hired global HR consultant Mercer to work on the overhaul its Performance Appraisal system and the process will be completed before June. Our current performance management system does not meet the requirements of a 100,000-plus organisation. The new system is undergoing evaluation by Mercer, TV Mohandas Pai, Infosys director for HR, education, research and administration . The key aspects being looked at in the new system include sharper focus on technology, condensing the number of roles while increasing span of control. The new system will seek to define roles more clearly and try to more carefully match roles to employee aspirations. All programmers may not want to become managers. As we grow and move up the value chain there will be more opportunities for engineers to either go deeper into technology areas or take up senior managerial roles. The overhaul will provide us with room to create more options and multiple career streams for employees, Mr Pai added, while declining to share specific details on the overhaul. The current span of control is 1:2:5.5. That is, on an average for every one project manager there are two managers and 5.5 developers. Now, with the increasing number of employees this could increase. On the other hand p rogrammers who dont want to be managers can opt for hi-tech areas like technology architecture, system designers and so on. Incidentally, TCS, which has over 130,000 staff had also overhauled its structure in April last year. We had put in place a new structure about nine months back to manage the large employee numbers. Under this we became more vertically focused and now have 18 industry solution units, said Ajoy Mukherjee, global head of HR for TCS. The overhauled system while catering to a larger employee base will also try and create more opportunities to move up the ladder. The larger companies (like TCS, Infosys) are looking at the structure keeping in view the growing employee base and challenges they might face a decade or two from now. At present the employee force is young and most of them are programmers. They may not like to be programmers as the workforce ages. The overhaul will help meet those challenges, said executive search firm EMA Partners managing partner (India) K Sudarshan

Hindustan Unilever (HUL),

Leena Nair, executive director (Human Resources) of Hindustan Unilever (HUL), calls it leadership moments. Each of the companys leaders at all levels goes through such defining moments seven times a year. Thats when they open a dialogue with people reporting to them about their performance. We call them leadership moments because its all about listening, sharing and accepting feedback, and taking responsibility for the next step in your juniors career. They are make-or-break moments for all our leaders because they have to learn to handle these skillfully, Nair says.

Indias largest fast moving consumer goods company, which has just won the Best Employer award in a Hewitt survey, says handling performance appraisals is the most important cog in the wheel of its employee practices because it goes a long way in establishing the companys reputation as an employer that cares for its people. Thats what came out very strongly in the Hewitt report that was the culmination of extensive dialogue with 50 randomly chosen employees in the company. That the company takes its leadership moments seriously is evident from the extensive training that is given to all leaders on how to handle these performance feedback sessions. Many leaders have fallen off the lister (the term for extremely talented people who are on the fast track to success) category just because they couldnt handle these feedback sessions with the required empathy. At the heart of the robust performance appraisal system is, of course, the methodology and the transparency. Half the job is done if employees believe its a transparent and fair system, says Nair. That explains why all managers are plotted on a nine-box leadership matrix named LDT (Leadership Differentiation Tool) that sees how well the key resources of the company have been developed by managers. The position is then communicated transparently and career paths are shared. Then there are mechanisms like the GPS (global people satisfaction) survey that cover everyone in the company and seek their feedback on points like employee engagement, information sharing, leadership, boss-subordinate relationship, teaming and collaboration and so on. The move isnt just a management fad, since over 99 per cent employees responded to the GPS survey last year. There is a more to HULs efforts to improve its employee -friendly brand. Every management trainee, for example, is given a tutor, coach and mentor who guide them during the training period. A mentor is typically a senior management member including Management Committee members. There is a leadership moment here as well, as all trainees are encouraged to give feedback on their coaches. This feedback is taken as a significant input on the senior leadership delivery on grooming talent or leaders in the organisation. HUL also takes great pride in the fact that it has been able to encourage employees to commit to volunteer one hour for each day that the company has been in this country. An initiative called HUL Sankalp has helped build a network of around 70 NGOs that provide multiple volunteering opportunities. Employees are encouraged to volunteer with their families and friends and contribute in terms of time, expertise, material and donations. There is another vital initiative that HUL has taken for its employees something that goes much beyond performance appraisals. Its called the personal vitality initiative. The company has devised a vitality index, which is the measurement of the personal vitality of individual employees based on four parameters the Body Mass Index (BMI), blood pressure, blood cholesterol and blood sugar.

For each employee, these four parameters are measured and a scoring is done on a vitality index scorecard. The lower the score, the better the personal vitality of the employee concerned. A score of 0 to four puts you in the green zone, a score of five to six puts you in the amber zone and a score of seven and above puts you in the red zone. Each employee is intimated his or her personal vitality score or colour zone while confidentiality is assured. The first burst of this exercise was completed in just two to four days. In the second stage, employees were encouraged to improve their personal vitality scores by conducting workshops all across the companys locations, arranging events like Vitality Exhibitions, Family Day, Walkathons, nutritional menu counselling and so on. Through interactive sessions, the employees have been taught about the concept of BMI, its measurement, ways of improving lifestyle, healthy and controlled diet to avoid or reduce obesity as well as exercises for weight management. The result of all this is evident. Despite being a favourite poaching ground for Indian companies, HUL has managed to keep its attrition level at less than five per cent over the last four or five years against the industry average of 15 to 18 per cent. Very few, it seems, would disagree with Hewitts choice.

The cornerstone of the performance management system is the Appraisal System. The individual agrees to performance objectives at the beginning of the year with his/her superiors. These objectives naturally flow from the objectives of the unit/business. At the end of the year the individual's performance is assessed against the objectives set. The appraisal attaches as much importance to ''how'' results were achieved as to the results themselves. The rating is determined by the manager's boss and endorsed by his boss. Therefore, two individuals are involved in assessing a manager's performance The appraisal process also gives the individual an opportunity to share in a formal manner his/her own career aspirations and what the individual needs from the organisation to enhance his/her own development. Based on an assessment of development needs, a development plan is drawn up for each manager. Remuneration changes are made once every year based on the performance rating of the individual. The entire process is transparent and objective.