Human Resources

I read an interesting review on a blog about employee engagement and five ways to influence it. I liked the fact that the author re-visited the meaning of the term employee engagement, as this helps us to comprehend other questions or challenges that arise in this field. Here is a summary of what I have learned from this blog post.

In order to accomplish the organizational objectives, it is essential that employees feel engaged in the organization; however, it is often a challenge. The author gives us five meanings of employee engagement which she has received from other HR and business colleagues.

–          When an employee feels valued for what she/he does

–          When a Supervisor shows that she/he is committed to the development of the employee

–          When an employee is appreciated for excellent work done for something that is not a part of her/her job

–          According to Lisa Rosendhal it meant, “people choosing to come to work and give it their best.”

–          According to Paul Hebert views it was, “the PROACTIVE application of the knowledge, skills, and abilities,” of the employees.”

Another blogger also commented on the importance of making employees feel that they are an integral part of the organization’s mission. This feeling would increase the importance of their work; spark passion for their job and thereby increase employee engagement. In addition to this, one of the comments also highlighted the relevance of ‘employee recognition programs’ that encourage employee engagement.

The five ways in which employee engagement can be encouraged are as follows:

–          An environment where innovation is encouraged

–          Challenging or stretch assignments are given to the employees

–          People are recognized for their work daily

–          Making employees feel connected to the mission of the organization

–          Being honest and interacting with integrity in the organization.

The author also tells us that employee engagement should not be reduced to an annual survey, but should be an ongoing cycle in the organization.




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I came across The Iceberg Model of Workplace Dynamics while I was reading the ‘Unfolding Leadership’ blog by Dan Oestreich.   Here is a summary of my learning of the model.

The Iceberg Model of Workplace Dynamics which was developed by Stanley N. Herman of TRW Systems in 1970.












The model is divided into two halves and helps us understand workplace dynamics or organizational culture. The upper half represents the visible or formal aspects of an organization such as systems, structures, policies, technologies of an organization. The lower half below the water line represents the hidden or informal aspects of an organization such as attitudes, beliefs, values, and perceptions etc. which stand for the real world interactions from which an organization is also made of.

The author very much emphasizes on the importance of having a balance between these two aspects of organizational culture. In an over-managed organization where the upper half dominates the lower half there are problems of paper bureaucracies, systems, a policy for everything and a parent-child management.

In contrast, in an over led organization; people ignore the water-line and try to succeed solely on effective relationships, intelligence or entrepreneurial spirit. In doing so, they also overlook the systems and processes of the organization.  None of the two scenarios in their extremes are effective for an organization.

In an organization the formal and the informal aspects both need each other.  And as the author so well wrote it, “Order and opportunism, policy and good judgment, goals and passions, strategic plans and a sense of belonging – head to heart”.

In conclusion, he says that when the alignment between the two halves is there, people in an organization perform. I encourage you to read this post and explore the blog, as the author highlights an example from his personal experience.



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The two models are namely; The Iceberg Model of Culture and The Iceberg Model of Workplace Dynamics.

The more I hear and read about diversity issues; the more I realize how essential it is to know and understand the basics of culture. Moreover, I have had the opportunity to work & have friends from different cultures and our mutual exploration of ideas, thoughts & feelings have enriched me with new perspectives in life, new talents and increased empathy.

Here are some of the basic concepts of Culture that are important to understand:

A. Definition Culture

1. What is Culture?

“Culture is the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one human group from another.” – Geert Hofstede

“Culture is an integrated system of learned behavior patterns that are characteristic of the members of any given society. Culture refers to the total way of life for a particular group of people. It includes everything that a group of people thinks, says, does and makes its customs, language, material artifacts and shared systems of attitudes and feelings.  Culture is learned and transmitted from generation to generation.” – Robert Kohls

B. The Iceberg Model of Culture by

2. The Iceberg Model of Culture

There are some elements of culture that are more easily spotted and some elements which need time to understand and realize. The Iceberg Model of culture helps us understand these visible and invisible elements of culture.

Visible elements at the tip of the iceberg represent behaviors or aspects of a society which are apparent when we first get into a new culture.  Examples: dress, art, law, language, cooking etc.

Invisible elements (also known as the foundation) represent the beliefs, values, thought patterns and norms of a culture. These help us better understand the visible elements of a culture. Hence it is advised that you should spend more time with people from the new culture. This shall enable you to understand their values and belief systems and thus, better comprehend the behavior of the society.

The author also cautions us not to judge the society/ culture based explicitly on what you see when you first enter it. As mentioned earlier, you should interact with people & understand their value and behavior systems (invisible elements) to get a clear picture of all that is seen.

Let us take a look at our second model in our next post:




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Business Case for Diversity & Cultural Diversity Quiz

Luke Visconti is one of the co-founders and partner of the DiversityInc Magazine. In the following video he makes his business case for Diversity. I unfortunately cannot upload the video from this site to the blog and hence here is the URL to it:

Cultural Diversity Quiz

Interested in knowing some of the cultural differences that exist in our world? Here’s a link to a fun and yet an educating quiz on cultural differences.

Diversity Management

The more I read & observe, I realize how essential and happening Diversity Management is for organizations today. In order to understand this management concept, we first take a look at its definition.

Diversity includes characteristics or factors such as personality, work style, religion, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, having a disability, socioeconomic level, educational attainment, and general work experience. Diversity refers to all of the characteristics that make individuals different from each other. (1)

Diversity is about understanding, valuing and making the most of the individual differences found in each and every person. (2)

Diversity is a universal phenomenon. That means that we can apply techniques for its management to any set of differences, similarities or tensions in the midst of any collective mixture. (3) The ultimate objective is to become diversity capable, which means to get skilled in making quality decisions in spite of the differences, similarities and tensions.

Important to note that Diversity is not Affirmative Action or Equal Employment Opportunity; these are laws and policies.

Here’s my image to the definition of diversity 🙂


1. ( registration required and its free)



HR Cred = HR with an Attitude

My HR Daily Advisor Tip for today was all about ‘HR Cred’. To begin with the six core competency domains’ for HR managers were highlighted as identified by the University of Michigan Business School. Being a visual person, I made an image of the domains which can be seen below.

From all the above ‘Credible Activist’ is said to be the most important of all for HR Managers. So let us see the meaning of the above term in the form of a mathematical equation:

Credible (respected, admired and listened to) + Activist (offers a point of view, takes a position and challenges assumptions) = Credible Activist = HR with an Attitude

+ Credibility – Activist = No activist results in HR managers only being admired, but having little impact

Credibility + Activist = No credibility results in great ideas being ignored and not listened to

Some ways in which HR managers can lose their credibility included; answering questions without facts, showing a lack of business acumen, failing to start any big picture HR projects, sharing confidential information, failure to train etc.



Reward Strategies 2008

Ann Bares annually conducts a survey on compensation plans in her market and the following results are the top three reward strategies identified for the year 2008.

The Number 1 reward strategy for the third year consecutively is; “the variable pay, incentives, bonuses etc”. The variable pay plans are said to be the megatrend for employee rewards.

The second winning reward strategy is; “keeping pay competitive”. It was said that it is important to keep the compensation structures and market plan programs competitive, keeping in mind that there is still a war for talent especially for employees with critical skills & experience.

Finally, the third winning reward strategy was; “the hiring bonus (this included the sign on bonuses and the employee referral bonuses)”.


One of her favorite questions in the compensation plans survey is; “What compensation strategies and tactics did your organization find most successful in attracting, retaining and motivating employees over the past year?”




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