Apr 14, 2014

Philips India HR's journey in starting to build Social Media capability

Guest post by my colleague Zenobia Madon, General Manager - Talent Acquisition, Philips India.

Philips India HR Team kick-started its HR initiatives in Social Media in August 2012. The Social Media for HR initiative was led by Yashwant Mahadik, Head of HR at Philips India as Yash had been keenly observing this space for sometime. The chief guest at the launch was Abhijit Bhaduri, CLO of Wipro, prolific blogger and a social media evangelist for HR.

After the launch, Yash and Abhijit were in touch and continued to share updates on how the initiatives were going on.  Yash confided to Abhijit that while the HR team was making some progress in this space, he thought a role needed to be created in HR that would champion using social in HR and also help the rest of the team, to effectively drive the various Social Media platforms. Abhijit suggested that Yash talk to Gautam Ghosh, a freelance consultant who had worked in HR before becoming a “Social HR” Consultant. Gautam at that moment was in Mumbai on a 6 month long project helping a social media agency set up a HR focused vertical.

Abhijit connected Yash and Gautam and that’s how a start was made. Yash explained his value creation vision for HR at Philips India and how he envisaged leveraging social media to amplify messages both internally and externally. Gautam shared with Yash some insights on the role he has been playing in the digital space over the past few years. Post an initial conversation, Yash (@IndianYash) and Gautam (@GautamGhosh) followed each other on Twitter and the discussions continued via Twitter DMs.

The next time Yash was in Mumbai, he met Gautam. The more they discussed, the more Yash got convinced that while there was an option to engage Gautam as an external consultant to help Philips, he was more inclined to have him on board as a full time employee. Yash also shared that because it was the first time that a role like this had been envisaged in Philips India, he did not have a job description to share or clarity on headcount, budgets etc. to getting Gautam in.  On the other hand, Gautam, who had completed 7 years as a freelancer and with startups, was also contemplating his next assignment, and Yash’s vision tied in to his personal mission of helping “HR become social”.

What Yash did next, was to internally prepare the ground for hiring a Social Media professional like Gautam: Yash first discussed the idea and need for having a role that will build and develop the social media capability in Philips HR function internally with his team. It took very little time for the entire HR team to get excited about the idea. Then he discussed the same with his boss Rajeev Chopra (@rajeevchopra) CEO of Philips India who supported the idea, however requested Yash to do two things: one- discuss and get alignment and agreement of the India Management team (senior most team of Philips India that manages the company in India). Second - hire this position within the existing and approved pool of HR resources and then put resources and investment behind making this role a success. Needless to say the business case was approved and supported by the entire India Management Team and Yash managed to create a place for making this expert hire in his team.

Gautam was interviewed by all key stakeholders and post the interview process, was formally offered the role which he gladly accepted.

Gautam, the Social Media expert, has been an important addition to the HR team at Philips India and has started making a difference. In his first 30 days of joining he has begun reverse mentoring three of the India Management Team members. He has also initiated work with Yash and the three Centre of Excellence (COEs) Heads, to evolve the draft of a robust Social Media for HR strategy.

He has partnered effectively with the HR team to launch the first event in a series of #PhilipsHRTalks, an initiative launched by Philips India in April 2013. The event was live tweeted by 65 people a total of 314 times, which meant it managed to reach 231,600 user accounts with a total of 935,000 impressions! (Data from Tweetreach.com).

He then conducted a HR Master Class in June for the entire HR team on "Social Media for HR". The team now is aware of the power of social media and how it can be used in their respective work areas are looking at various initiatives they can leverage the power of "social".

The Philips India HR team is excited with the rapid paced progress we have made in the digital space so far. We are aware we have made a start, we are eager to learn as we progress and contribute in this space. We invite you to join us online (@HRPhilips, @PhilipsJobsIN, We are Philips India, FB page) and look forward to your views, comments and ideas on helping us accelerate on this digital journey which we have undertaken.

Apr 4, 2014

Skills needed to succeed in the 21st Century

So I asked my Twitter community what are the skills they thought would be needed to succeed in the 21st Century

Here is what they said:

Apr 3, 2014

WSJ's flawed story comparing US and Indian salaries

WSJ has an India focused blog called India Realtime, and its journalist Preetika Rana recently posted a story comparing US and Indian salaries. However she did add a caveat.

True, wages are relative to purchasing power parity, and differ from country to country, but the pay gap between India and the U.S. has been cause of a recent rift between the world’s two largest democracies. Earlier this year, a Manhattan court indicted a New York-based Indian diplomat for alleged visa fraud after she was accused of underpaying her Indian domestic helper. The maid, who was paid close to $7,000 a year, appeared to be getting a slave wage to some Americans, but in India, her pay was more than what most lawyers make, and much more than what anyone pays their domestic help.

So based on this one incident she goes on to compare average salaries between some US occupations as published by the US Department of Labor and salary data for the same roles for about five year experience published by India based jobsite Naukri.com 

Let's see what's flawed with this data.

According to this Human resources managers earn an average salary of US$ 111,180 in the US and US $ 4,166 in India. 

While the US data is published in detail here, it does not say that these HR Managers have a five year experience. 

According to the Naukri data Indian HR Managers, earn an average salary less than Rupees 300,000 per annum which seems at first glance to be very flawed. 

So I headed off to Glassdoor to search for HR Manager salaries, and this is what I found. 

Median salary is Rs. 675,000, the lowest was Rs. 320,000 and highest was Rs. 1.25 million. 

After this I headed to Payscale India and searched for mid-career salaries for HR Manager, and this is what I found.

This seemed to reflect much in line with the Glassdoor data compared to what the WSJ data.

I suggest the next time a publication like the WSJ does a story like this they choose better data sources than a jobsite.

Mar 27, 2014

Research on Social Learning by Saba and HCM Advisory Group

The folks at Saba and HCM Advisory Group did a survey of Social Learning practices at organizations and they released some interesting findings.

Some Key Findings were:

  • Learning is a driver: 65.7 percent of organizations are using social technologies for learning to some extent. 
  • Social learning supports the learning culture: 63.9 percent of organizations are motivated to use social learning to support a culture of learning. 
  • Discussion and communication reign supreme: 59.5 percent of organizations are using discussion forums, 57.9 percent are using internal blogs, and 54.9 percent are using secure instant messaging to help employees communicate about products, answer questions and address learning at point of need.
  • Focus on communities of practice: Currently 53.3 percent of organizations are using social learning to support communities of practice, with 35.7 percent of organizations planning to develop communities of practice via social learning during the next two years. 
  • Adoption is a struggle for many organizations: Half of the organizations responding cite challenges with adoption and uptake by employees.
Here are some interesting findings

Feb 27, 2014

Thriving in a VUCA world

The term VUCA was made by the US Army to describe a world in which things are Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous.

The world is becoming more and more VUCA and while organizations try grappling with it, what should individuals do? What are the skills needed to thrive in these VUCA times?

This FastCompany article makes a case that Generation Flux, people who embrace continuous new skills will be the one to succeed in this chaotic world.

Some excerpts, go read the full article:

What defines GenFlux is a mind-set that embraces instability, that tolerates--and even enjoys--recalibrating careers, business models, and assumptions. Not everyone will join Generation Flux, but to be successful, businesses and individuals will have to work at it. This is no simple task. The vast bulk of our institutions--educational, corporate, political--are not built for flux. Few traditional career tactics train us for an era where the most important skill is the ability to acquire new skills.

DJ Patil is a GenFluxer. He has worked in academia, in government, in big public companies, and in startups; he is a technologist and a businessman; a teacher and a diplomat. He is none of those things and all of them, and who knows what he will be or do next? Certainly not him. "That doesn't bother me," he says. "I'll find something."

The new reality is multiple gigs, some of them supershort (see "The Four-Year Career"), with constant pressure to learn new things and adapt to new work situations, and no guarantee that you'll stay in a single industry. It can be daunting. It can be exhausting. It can also be exhilarating. "Fear holds a lot of people back," says Raina Kumra, 34. "I'm skill hoarding. Every time I update my resume, I see the path that I didn't know would be. You keep throwing things into your backpack, and eventually you'll have everything in your tool kit."
"Command-and-control hierarchical structures are being disintegrated," says danah boyd, a social-science researcher for Microsoft Research who also teaches at New York University. "There's a difference between the old broadcast world and the networked world."

On a related note here's a table from Tara Hunt asking you to be fox than a hedgehog 

Feb 21, 2014

WhatsApp co-founder who was rejected by Twitter and Facebook

I guess you have heard that messaging service WhatsApp got acquired by Facebook yesterday. But did you know that co-founder Acton was rejected by both Twitter & Facebook when he applied for jobs there in 2009?

So what are you doing to ensure that the person you reject today doesn't turn out to be competitor you pay $19 billion to acquire tomorrow?

Feb 3, 2014

Social Media 101 for professionals

An article I wrote for TISS' magazine Kausthubham magazine

Professionals need to understand “social media” might be a new term, but what it signifies is not really new. Ever since the advent of the internet, people have connected with each other in a public system (via Usernet, Bulletin Boards in the 1990s) to discuss and share their views and opinions. It’s just that social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter have emerged at a time when internet penetration is growing exponentially in our part of the world.

So what does social media comprise of?

When most people think of social media, they think about “networks” – and the biggest three names are of networks. Social networks like Facebook (Friendster and Orkut earlier), professional networks like LinkedIn (and Ryze earlier) and information networks like Twitter are all networks.
The networks are people-centric. My social network comprises of people who I have known, but might not know each other. 
The other aspect of social media is “communities” which are virtual places where people who have a common interest gather to share and engage about that subject. These can range from communities of practice (where professionals interact) to hobby communities (photography or quilt weaving, for example)
The principles that drive social media adoption is when people start sharing information and creating content on networks and communities. According to an oft quoted thumb rule, a minority of the people “create” content. Some more people “curate or comment” on the created content and the majority of people “consume” content. As a person gets more and more comfortable – they start to curate and create too.

These sites have also added design principles that encourage people to move from the “consumption” default. There are two main ways they do that. One is to reduce the effort to curate. This is what the “like” and the “share” buttons on Facebook and the “favorite” or “Retweet” buttons on Twitter do.
The other thing many communities do is give recognition in the form of levels and designation to people who contribute. So as they contribute more and more and other members find their content useful they move from a beginner to an expert level. They also publish leaderboards two drive peer based competition so that others are motivated to rise up the ladder.

What professionals need to do is understand how to leverage these communities and networks.
  Leverage these communities and networks to gain insights
a.       This is basically using the conversations that are happening to get business insights that one can use in work. What do people feel about your companies’ products, services, leadership? What are they saying about your competitors? These communities are like large undirected focus groups. Irrespective of what function you work in – feedback that you share within the company shows your initiative and understanding of this medium which is always a good thing.
b.      The other aspect of insights is to study the demographics your company addresses and understand what are their other shared passions and interests. This is very useful if you are working for a lifestyle brand.
c.       Tools that help you do so:  From free tools like Twitter search and Google search to more complicated tools like social media monitoring tools that have licensing costs (but can use for free for a certain time frame).
2.       Use social media to help you do your own job better and faster.
a.       Once one is part of a community it is easier to ask the community for suggestions on how to do your job better. Asking suggestions on “how to” do things can give you insights that you never might have considered.
3.       Use social media to share your learnings
a.       Without sharing confidential company information you can share the learnings you gained to provide value to the community and build one’s social capital.
b.      Sharing your insights and knowledge also positions others to learn from you and be seen as an expert – helping you build your own personal brand – that helps you in hiring team members in the future.
4.       Use social media to learn
a.       With the rise of MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses) from sites like Udacity, Coursera, EdX to learn anything from the best professors from the best university and a global classroom of thousands.
Since many people are aware of Facebook and LinkedIn here are some other communities and sites that I thought would be useful to know about.

Google Plus

Google Plus is Google’s answer to Facebook with the promise that you can share your information with specific people and communicate with them. One of its biggest features is that you can have video conference with 9 other people, without installing any additional software.  The chats also get integrated with Gmail chats.


Slideshare can be described as the YouTube of slide decks. It also has the ability to upload documents too. By nature of its content, Slideshare seems a very “professional” site, and businesses have found it useful to showcase their reports and viewpoints easier through this than video (which is expensive and harder to get right) Professionals also use Slideshare to showcase their expertise and build their own personal brand. After the acquisition by LinkedIn, Slideshare integration is seamless with LinkedIn profiles


Quora is a “question and answer” site where people ask questions in various topic areas and others answer them. People who read answers can them vote on them, causing the most useful answers to rise to the top. So people can discover experts who share their knowledge in areas as diverse as Engineering to Management to Photography to Mythology to Economics. Since Quora originated in Silicon Valley the topics of startups, entrepreneurship are specially rich and detailed. A lot of entrepreneurs, VCs (like Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia and Craig Newmark of Craigslist) are active on the site almost on a daily basis.

So what does this all mean for HR

Content is shaping how people find and connect with each other. Organizations now have to become content creators themselves to remain relevant. They cannot rely on external media (paid, like advertising or earned, like being mentioned in mass media) alone. They have to invest in creating “owned media”. For an employer brand that means media that showcases the organization’s culture in the form of articles, presentations, videos. This is necessary as otherwise employees and alumni are rating and reviewing all aspects of an employer (from culture, to salaries, to interviews) on sites like Glassdoor and JobsBuzz
It also means that HR needs to “listen” to conversations on the social web about what people are talking about it, its leadership and even its competitors. This can be as simple as doing a search engine search regularly, or using sophisticated tools that track large number of conversations and can even judge the sentiments of the conversations.
Within the organization, it means HR (along with IT and other functions) needs to get the organization ready to deploy tools that enable employees to use the principles of “participation for a purpose” to engage the next generation workforce with the larger organization. These tools can be deployed from the cloud (via the internet) or installed on company servers too. Most larger ERP service providers also offer social networking softwares these days. These tools help in employees to connect across geographies and silos to discover and collaborate with other colleagues. These are also a great tool to engage the larger workforce in larger change initiatives or communication when they are rolled across the organization.
To do all this HR people have to embrace and experiment with this new medium and grow comfortable with it. It is time to stop talking about it, and to start doing it.