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Of some HR rambling and accountability

March 26, 2012

Read a piece in The Edge about two weeks ago. It was on the aspects which should be considered, human resource wise by companies thinking about venturing into South East Asia. So this HR consultant was tasked to study the focus of employers in SEA in relation to employees. I can’t really comment on the findings of the consultant in other countries, but I can relate to their discovery for Malaysia. As is always, the study may not the conclusive as there’s the thing about sample size, false positives/negatives etc. That having said I think the result is rather representative of the situation here in Malaysia.

The results are displayed below. I included the findings for Singapore and Indonesia just for completeness sake.

“Their answers confirmed suspicions as each geographic group chose to focus resources on a different set of personnel:

Singaporeans: “…our most talented employees as they will bring us the farthest the fastest.”

Malaysians: “…the mid-level performers to better tap the unrealised potential of this large and important cohort.”

Indonesians: “…the lowest performing members of our organisation or they will create drag on the organisation’s growth prospects.”

Malaysia engages in a constant balancing act across its three-race culture. Each group has distinct preferences.”

Look at the observation made in relation to Malaysian employers. It appears we focus our resources more towards employees in the middle level of an organisation. Middle level here doesn’t mean rank-wise, but performance-wise. Is this observation generally true? I think yes and no. Performers in the top percentile are usually neglected to a point that they get poached by other companies. During my time at a multinational, I hear people groaning everyday about not getting recognised for good work quality. To be fair, you cannot expect kudos every single time you do well.

But in a situation where they’ve consistently exceeded expectations and performed beyond expectation I believe at least some appreciation is due. And not only a pat in the back mind you. People now expect a good raise in remuneration and other perks and privileges. Within reason of course.

For the lower level performers, I find that not enough is done to raise their level of performance. Most of the measures introduced are punitive in nature. I know performance is nowadays measured by KPIs, but there could be a reason why people do not meet the specified KPI. By being punitive I mean low bonuses, increment etc. but at the same time causes of a downward slide in performance go unaddressed. Sometimes there are reasons other than laziness and/or disciplinary and/or attitude. There could be no encouragement, an unreasonable superior, a superior who doesn’t coach and the list goes on. It’s a bit like calling Muslims terrorists but not bothering to find out why.

Now, what about mid-level performers? I think largely they share the same fate with the guys in the top percentile, the situation of which was deliberated above. I believe these people are seen as making up the numbers, people who are by and large contented with just coming to work everyday and doing what is expected of them without being exceptional and at the same time not falling into the non-performer category. I agree that this is the group that needs to be provided with encouragement and proper coaching. With a bit of effort and luck, a few could be upgraded to be part of the top percentile. But it is a chicken and egg situation isn’t it? Once they move to the top percentile, they’ll very easily get too big for their own shoes and would probably (note “probably”) demand for something which may not be provided by their current organisation. That happens and the time to go would come rather instantly.

I don’t like to write about matters of a political connotation. The only time I did so was to comment on the massive jam a few months ago because of roadblocks resulting from the “Bersih” gathering. It’s time for another minor piece. This morning I read a few hilarious bits on this thing concerning a very public figure recently dragged through the mud due to some things done by her family. Let me share just one:

Anything related to her husband and their children has nothing to do with her leadership…

You know I will not write about things like this if I don’t feel strongly about it. Well, it’s all about accountability isn’t it? I could go on and on about it, but the less said the better. With that, I bid you adieu.

  1. Fine way of describing, and pleasant article to take facts about my presentation
    topic, which i am going to convey in university.

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