Tell me how you measure me and I’ll tell you how I behave

I have listened this sentence from a CIO with regards the behavior of his organization. He was complaining about how people forget to improve things and focus on do the things in the right way. In some way, when the individual targets are set, the people focus on them and forget about the rest of the things.

This is pure human nature, just a survival principle.

The situation commented was related to help-desk support where people have to attend customers. There basic ingredients of a successful service are the quality of the service and the time response. The right balance of these ingredients need to be adjusted to to fulfill the required volume of calls at the end of the week are key.

If you say to the people the target measures you have: number of calls for each week, or average seconds each call should have, etc you will find that so many of them will be able to reach the numbers in a very accurate way.

What to do then?

Define your metrics, define your targets, and measure.

Once a week do an extraction of the picture by person, and study the people who are out of the average:

  • Those who attended too many calls in a week.
  • Those who took so much time to attend the calls.
  • Those who took so much time to attend the next call (time between call).

Have a  1 to 1 meeting with the ones who were out of the picture (those who were out of the average figures you have measured).

And ask them what have been they doing last week, ask them about details of how the week was. Try to understand the reasons, do not accept excuses and repeat the message of the principles you have defined about “how to deliver an excellent service”.

And never, never: tell them how you are measuring them.

Learned lessons about evolution of IT solutions for Human Resources

The revolution of IT on HR continuous, and there are a lot of changes being implemented to transform the HR services to achieve HR and corporate goals: more efficiency, better rewards, talent management….

Some o the main things I have learned during the last 24 months related to HR services can be summarized on these 3 points.

1.- The country that protects more the personnel data from their employees is Germany. The take this very seriously and the penalties for the companies and legal representatives are big. If you work in Germany, you can feel safe with respect what your company is doing with your personal data.

2.- New software generation is making possible that specific HR personnel will not participate on HR processes anymore. The HR solutions directly involve the personal of the company to complete some HR processes. I hope that in the universities there is a class to teach the people how to manage talent, how to manage teams and some basis about HR processes. When I started to work HR did almost everything, now the situation is so much different.

3.- Some years ago payroll and time management were the core of the HR processes. Nowadays, they continue being a key asset, but they are so mature processes and companies look for savings on these processes.

What are then the processes that provides value to HR services? Talent management. You can see companies/solution such Workday, TalentSoft, SuccessFactors that are building their solutions on organizational management, change management, talent management processes. Payroll and T&M are second priority.

A company doing something different is Northgate Arinso. Apart of their offering, NGA has specialized on Payroll processes offering connectors to other platforms (SAP HCM, Workday…).


Cover the gap of knowledge

You are an IT guy and you are doing an interview to a candidate, s/he is explaining you all the activities that uses to perform, answering the questions you do, etc. Everything is fine, you do not see any issue and the person explains the aspects in a very good manner.

Then the HR person does her interview and she finds that the candidate is not able to explain the basic concepts of the basic concepts of the job. The candidate is not able to talk into natural language, to explain the concepts in a way all people should understand. When the interviewer ask for more basic clarifications because she has no IT background, the candidate does not know how to explain these concepts.

After the two interviews, the recruiter and myself had a call about the candidate. It was fine for me but the recruiter discarded the candidate. The point of conflict was: the communication skills of the candidate.

The recruiter told me that the candidate was not able to explain the activities s/he perform and not able to concrete on specific questions.

I was saying that there were concordance and sense on all the candidate was saying, and this is where we were stuck.

The same day I was taking dinner with a couple of friends. She is recruiter for so much years and I commented the issue I had with this candidate.

She told me that my HR recruiter was right because the subject matter experts use to cover the gaps of information that the candidate does not mention and in this way the thread of the story makes sense and sounded fine for me, so here is where it’s supposed I did the mistake.

Then, when the HR recruiter starts to ask for something specific and ask for more details; here is when the candidate did not perform the effort to explain in a natural language, did not understood that the person in front of him was not a SME and was looking for this type of gaps and suddenly he started to get nervous because the responses he received were: “I still do not understand”. In any case the thread of the story made not sense.

Pirineos 2013

(Pirineo Navarro, July 2013)

Succession plans

All companies, and specially consulting and IT companies, change people from one position to other by different reasons.
For more defined roles or less complex roles, the transition from one person to other is smooth and there is not major issues for the new person and for the quality of the outputs delivered from this role.
But for some other roles, where the complexity is high or the relationship component is key, you cannot change a person in 15 days.
For sure there are things, as an employee leaving the company, that cannot be forecast, but for other situations, there should be a potential succession plan for key roles and key people that enable the company to maintain the quality levels and keep the relationship with the customers.
I have seen succession plans initiatives in companies, that first their attrition is very low (for sure not an IT company), where they evaluate people to detect high potential employees, then define a career path forward, and then a set of activities are done across the year/s. Finally the evolution is measured.
Easy thing?
Not at all, this implies the company has a clear direction and strategy in terms of human resources. This also implies the company takes seriously the human resources processes, being senior management the people leading the execution of these processes.
There are so many companies making advertisement about how important are for them their people, but there is a small amount of companies taking care of it.

Team changes, why?

I’m facing a weird situation where a team member is going to be replaced by other person.

I’m happy with the employee, the employee is happy with the position… so what’s wrong?

The line manager is not good and does not have the enough maturity to understand the things we perform for our customer and the added value of the employee in front of the customer.

It takes at least 6 month to 1 year to enable that a position like that will be replaced with a good level of productivity, and it is not because complexity of the environment or the services, but by the relationship that this person has to create with the different customers. The person to be replaced has been on board for 18 months, and I have to say that s/he was fully productive after 10 months.

Working with people who report to me, I evaluate how it’s going on measuring the nature and amount of affairs I have to push to the other and how they turn into autonomy and proactive actions from the other side. The right level for me is: just escalation of real service support issues, enable proactive actions on the services, and ability to look for new business.

Changes is the only constant in our life, but some of them are not fair or come at the right moment.

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

The chapters are dedicated to each of the habits, which are represented by the following imperatives:

  1. Be Proactive. Here, Covey emphasizes the original sense of the term “proactive” as coined by Victor Frankl. You can either be proactive or reactive when it comes to how you respond to certain things. When you are reactive, you blame other people and circumstances for obstacles or problems. Being proactive means taking responsibility for every aspect of your life. Initiative and taking action will then follow. Covey also shows how man is different from other animals in that he has self-consciousness. He has the ability to detach himself and observe his own self; think about his thoughts. He goes on to say how this attribute enables him: It gives him the power not to be affected by his circumstances. Covey talks about stimulus and response. Between stimulus and response, we have the power of free will to choose our response.
  2. Begin with the End In Mind. This chapter is about setting long-term goals based on “true north” principles. Covey recommends formulating a “personal vision statement” to document one’s perception of one’s own vision in life. He sees visualization as an important tool to develop this. He also deals with organizational vision statements, which he claims to be more effective if developed and supported by all members of an organization rather than prescribed.
  3. Put First Things First . Here, Covey describes a framework for prioritizing work that is aimed at short-term goals, at the expense of tasks that appear not to be urgent, but are in fact very important. Delegation is presented as an important part of time management. Successful delegation, according to Covey, focuses on results and benchmarks that are to be agreed upon in advance, rather than prescribed as detailed work plans.
  4. Think Win/Win describes an attitude whereby mutually beneficial solutions are sought that satisfy the needs of oneself, or, in the case of a conflict, both parties involved.
  5. Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood. Covey warns that giving out advice before having empathetical understood a person and their situation will likely result in rejection of that advice. Thoroughly reading out your own autobiography will decrease the chance of establishing a working communication.
  6. Synergism describes a way of working in teams. Apply effective problem solving. Apply collaborative decision making. Value differences. Build on divergent strengths. Leverage creative collaboration. Embrace and leverage innovation. It is put forth that when synergy is pursued as a habit, the result of the teamwork will exceed the sum of what each of the members could have achieved on their own. “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
  7. Sharpen the saw focuses on balanced self-satisfaction: Regain what Covey calls “production capability” by engaging in carefully selected recreational activities.

Playing to management, basic principles

Some basic reminder for young people:

  1. Never work at risk. First contract approved, then work on it.
  2. Play to defensive management game, it means: plan, assess risks & perform actions.
  3. Do not play gambling with the customer.
  4. Do not commit you, your team or your organization to something you cannot deliver.
  5. You have a team: lead it and make it works.
  6. Does your customer have a good business case? does s/he has budget?
  7. Business requirements are always different to things you can propose: the proposal phase is the place to clarify it.
  8. Manage your priorities, so do a list.
  9. You can’t manage what you can’t measure
  10. Never lose perspective. Almost all problems can be solved gaining perspective.
  11. Discover your management style, work aligned to it and improve it.
  12. Leave it when you stop enjoying it.


Belbin team roles

The concept of the Dr. R. M. Belbin comes from the recognition that people contribute to a team in a different ways. He described two roles the “Functional Role” and the “Team Role”.

The Functional Role describes your experience, your technical skills, your job or the department you head, whereas your Team Role describes a pattern of behaviour, your approach and the way in which you interact with other people.

I attended to a training course last week and we did a basic survey to try to clarify where we are. It was so good to understand how each role was present in each sub-team and how each one contributed in different ways.

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