Introduction Given the complexities of modern business environments, it is but essential that employees are provided the good amount of space to grow. Essentially, This simply means that the organization makes a few attempts to systematically engage employees on a mass basis on organizational tasks that sort of marry individual inputs to organizational goals in both the short and the long term. Of these practices,there is this practice of hand-holding and this is important too. The basic template of getting this done is through and by a) Involving the employee in his own development plan b) Discussing with him or her the resources and the opportunities needed c) Enabling the individual understand the big picture d) Institutionalizing mechanisms for employees to take on higher responsibilities and e) Constantly providing feedback for improved performance.
Involving the employee in his own development plan There are quite of organizations where a very professionally developed and tested Competency Development Plan is put into place. Managers are assessed for both functional and Behavioral competencies. Whatever gaps are identified are taken very seriously and a very good plan of development of the individual is put in place. In many other organizations, where the HR Chief is adequately trained in most aspects of applied Behavioral sciences, the managers are given practical feedback by the respective big bosses. The HR Chief has a big role in identifying an appropriate development plan for the individual and this might even be a transfer to a new department. In a particular case, a middle-level finance professional, who had very good communication and execution capabilities was given a two month exposure in supply chain management and was sponsored for a specialized two weeks program in it. He was given additional responsibility of this area. He was too good. He was made a crucial member of a cross functional team to implement Six Sigma. All the while, he would meet with the CEO as often as possible and was encouraged to come up with fresh ideas. Such hand-holding is quite common for high potential people at the senior level. It so happened that his individual development plan was closely monitored by two people from the Top Management.
Discussing with him or her resources and the opportunities needed Since the aforesaid high performer was very intelligent and good at work, he was able to get the support of all people. In fact, in the process of hand-holding, the Managers are given full support and encouraged to really come out with resource requirements. They are often provided with good subordinates with prior experience and the learning opportunities come in various forms. For example, they are posted abroad and given the vital international exposure. In a huge engineering giant, the individual development plan is very flexible and has the vital learning from the job rotation at different factory locations. The practice of sharing the learning experiences with very senior people is also encourages. However, it should be noted that these organizations have senior HR executives who are mandated and empowered to ensure that these practices happen with clockwise precision. The IT infrastructure in terms of support for each initiative is really very good. The individual development plan becomes very well organized and meaningful not only for the individual, but for the entire organization, as the process facilitates knowledge transfer on a continuous basis.
Enabling the individual see the Big Picture This is a natural by-product of steps one and two discussed above. It is not that the Big picture is relevant only for very senior people. It is also relevant for middle-level people. To this end, when a clear succession plan is put in place and the middle managers are enabled to really understand the nuances of seeing the Big Picture, such a process becomes very much meaningful and relevant only when the individual is able to experience a clear connect between his contribution and the particular manner in which it relates to bigger organizational goals. In one organization, a senior manager was made to shunt between a factory that was doing so well and another that manufactured a different product but was badly mismanaged. He was mandated to identify the reasons for the sorry state of affairs. He did a very good job and was made to present his findings and recommendations to the Top Management. What followed was very interesting. The plant had a new CEO with a technical background but without any exposure to manufacturing of the product. Yet, his analytical skills were so good. A planned meeting with the Senior Manager followed. The latter was reputed for six months to plan a revival strategy. Those who did not buy the new ideas and the new strategy were sacked by the Top Management. The plant was revived and became profitable within thirty months. Hand-holding can take various forms. The role of the CEO becomes very crucial in many cases.
Institutionalizing mechanisms for employees to take on higher responsibilities This is also religiously done. In each of the aforesaid responsibilities, the additional responsibilities meant additional four hours of work and at least seven hours even on Sundays. Yet, the Managers happily contributed in each case. When they are encouraged, supported and given resources, every employee is bound to respond. Every Manager would easily assume higher responsibilities if given the right sort of roles and learning experiences. Only when the individual starts feeling that he is not being rewarded for his hard work, does the process suffer a set back. However, the presence of hand-holding itself does indicate absence of such adversial work environments. It is a fact of life that hand-holding is done wonderfully well at Marico Industries, the Aditya Birla Group, Asian Paints and so on. The number of such organizations are also seen to increase day after day.
Constantly providing feedback for improved performance This is not the usual once in a year exercise. It extends far beyond such a practice. When the individual is hand holder, the immediate boss and the Big boss do provide constructive feedback on whatever can and should be done to improve the individual's performance. Such individual feedback sessions also facilitate the free exchange of all good things done at the ground level and this helps in making improvements wherever needed. The individual also understands that the organization and Management are very serious about his or her development.
In fact, such feedback lays the ground for the individual to pick vital HR skills as he grows from one role to another. He observes how the feedback session goes on. He picks up the vital learning points too. This is one important point that should be noted. In a growing number of Indian organizations, this is a very important thing and is taken very seriously.
Conclusion Hand-holding takes various forms. Whatever has been discussed above is entirely based on some organizational experiences. The cultural context is very important and the exact chemistry may vary to that extent. Yet, the fact that hand-holding is now being very seriously done is a very encouraging point for HR and the kind of professional management of all people resources in modern organizations.