Dinesh Divekar
Business Mentor, Consultant And Trainer
Management Consulting, Management Development,
Recruitment/talent Acquisition, Career Counselling
+1 Other

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Hi All,
Most HR experts hold some specialized training like MBA's in HR, LLBs, etc.
However, most organizations might have poor knowledge levels in general. Sometimes the poor knowledge levels in Organizations could be frustrating and could limit the benefit a HR person would be able to provide.
1. Have you seen yourself playing at sub-optimal levels in organizations due to poor knowledge levels in organizations (about HR and HR practices)?
2. In your opinion, how does one work around this?
Let me know your thoughts.

From United States, Daphne
Dear Mr Nikhil Gurjar,

First and foremost, please tell me when did you relocate to US.

Ok. Now coming to your post. Poor knowledge level is across all the departments and it is not just restricted to HR. In the course of my training, I came across with so many examples. Following are few:

a) An MNC that is into animal health + animal nutrition. They have total 20 warehouses across India. In none of the warehouses, they have material slotting policy. Now imagine, what impact it must be causing? Impact is poor batch accuracy, excess time in loading and unloading, time wasted in searching material and so on.

b) A very prominent garment manufacturer that makes purchases worth of INR 5 billion per annum. In the last 20 years they did not do (a) ABC Analysis of their inventory (b) did not have dedicated procurement research cell. Now imagine how much loss it must have incurred so far to them since procurement professionals worked without sufficient market inputs!

c) A very prominent IT company that makes purchases worth of US$ 30 million every year. About 85% of their purchases are "out of turn" purchases. This is because operations staffs (software engineers) consider themselves as kings and they do not like to give time to procurement professionals.

I can go on quoting the above examples. But then basic problem with HR is that they are so obsessed with their own department and do not try to understand what challenges their business is facing. All the above problems happened because HR operated at sub-optimal level.

The second problem with HR is that they are unable to ensure that the leadership training gets translated into improved operational efficiency. In my last 5-6 years, I have dealt with hundreds of HRs. The first thing they ask me about training is that will it be interactive or will it have games. They forget that making session interactive or having games is not end result. End result should be increased business performance.

HR does not have sufficient knowledge of the business this is because poor organisational research. The way marketing department has dedicated "market research" similarly, HR also should have dedicated "organisation research" team.

During my HR days, I too have operated at my sub-optimal level this is because business leaders do not understand the importance of HR. In India HR is dismissed at administrative function and they are nothing but glorified clerks.

To overcome these challenges, we need to improve the HR curriculum in B-schools. Students should be taught what HR plays a role in developing the business.

Suppose some company takes a decision to buy HRIS. Total payout is say INR 2.5 million. How many HR are capable of calculating IRR or ARR or even ROCE after five years? This is because those who lack analytical skills, they end up in choosing HR.

If HR functions at sub-optimal level then it is not HR but leadership is also responsible. Why business owners allow HR to functional below their potential? Why is it acceptable to them?

Around two years ago NHRD, Bangalore Chapter celebrated its silver jubilee. For this function, great HR luminary Prof TV Rao of TVRLMS had come from Ahmedabad. He had lamented about poor understanding of the HR amongst the business owners. He recommended that remove the HR function and let it be kept as one of the disciplines of management.

In the same lecture Prof TV Rao told that company none less than Infosys says that barely two percent of human capital gets converted into market capital. If this is the case of Infosys, then better not to talk about other companies!

Thanks for raising nice point for discussion. My comments are India centric.

Dinesh V Divekar

From India, Bangalore
Mr.Dinesh Divekar has come out with short but sharp analysis of the consequences of poor knowdge levels not only in HR but across all functional areas.There is no dearth of qualified man power but there is dearth of talented and knowledgeable manpower.Thanks for raising a thought provoking issue.
HR &Labour law Advisor

From India, Mumbai
Dinesh and Sai,

Good examples. Our focus is on working around a situation where you feel you are operating sub-optimally. We are not debating on education levels, talent, etc. They naturally drive knowledge level.

Improving curriculum, though necessary, has limited influence. Mainly because the 'subject' viz. you (or any person experiencing it)... have had the problem of sub-optimal performance...

Question is: Sub-optimal performance can be due to several reasons. One of them is the Poor Knowledge Level in the Organization. If you indeed have faced this situation where poor knowledge level in the organization drove sub-optimality, then we can reflect on 'strategies at the individual level' better.

So, how should one work around this factor in an organization at first-hand level. The education parameter is a long-term and global one (and not something for the indivudal)... In other words, could you control and bring out optimal performance from your own self in an environment caused due to poor knowledge levels? If yes, how?

Hope that clarifies the question.

This has a lot of repurcussions on many HR practices at the individual level and can cause significant long term damage to any company/economy. Hence, I feel it is pertinent to understand this in a little more detail.


From United States, Daphne
Please don't read me wrong, but lets focus on individual level initiatives at first... that later can be used to get organizational initiatives in place... I think the stumbling blocks are more at the individual level than the organizational level in this case.

From United States, Daphne
Hello Nikhil S. Gurjar,

Nice to see another thought-provoking thread from you after quite sometime.

To begin, I wish to 'REPEAT' Dinesh's comment--when did you relocate to US?--since you haven't answered it :-)

Coming to the core topic of your thread--"poor knowledge levels in general"--I think a LOT depends on one's definition of "knowledge". For a HR professional, it can vary from the knowledge of HR philosophy to practices to theoretical base....and so on TO the Broader/Larger picture of the organization.

To take the Hiring function, many [if not all/most] recruiters focus on the Key Words of the positions they get from the Line managers for filling-up. How many would give a thought of "why is the manager asking for this skillset combination & why not another for this position"? Not many I guess. And that attitude of probing/analyzing the inputs they get comes ONLY if he/she keeps the larger/broader organizational perspective in mind AND works to make his/her personal/individual contribution to the WHOLE Process.

I have had quite a few experiences where we end-up writing the JDs on behalf of the recruiters [MNCs included] & suggest them to get clearances from the Tech group before WE begin our candidate sourcing. It's as though the 'learning process' for such recruiters just stops once they join a job. The standard response from most such recruiters would be: I am very busy to think of such aspects.

Now, from the perspective of the technical groups or management, would such a recruiter command/invite any professional respect?

Let's take the Core HR functions--like Policies, Compliance, etc. Many HR executives recommend within the company to adopt a particular policy since OTHERS in the industry follow it--without much thought to 'would this suit our company [with the given set of limitations & strengths, that are different from other companies]?' And when would he/she be able to do such an exercise--or at least a semblance of it? ONLY if he/she has some/an idea of the LARGER/BIGGER context in which their Organization operates in--for which some effort from his/her end is DEFINITELY imperative, but lacking, in a general context. In such a situation, why or how would the management give weightage to that HR person--which is presumed 'due' but very often ignores the 'deserving/undeserving' aspect of the relationship.

I recollect a Saying here: "When you point one finger @ others, remember that the other 3 fingers are pointing @ you".

In short, I guess it's more of an opportunity for self-introspection than castigating or deflecting @ others. This is NOT to say that there wouldn't be exceptions--there would be companies that may not give 'due' respect or credit to HR, however much he/she keeps the larger perspective before suggesting anything for the company's benefit. But, that's life I guess.

Not sure how many would agree with this view of the topic.



From India, Hyderabad
Hi Taj and Dinesh,
I am still in India! The database renewal took the older info and has posted it to my profile!
Taj, when I meant Poor Knowledge Levels in Organizations... It actually meant Good knowledge of the HR pro, yet poor knowledge in the rest of the company causing sub-optimal delivery. Your example speaks of poor knowledge of the HR pro itself... Well, that doesn't quite cause a 'feeling' of sub-optimal performance.
Hope that clarifies the question.
Analogy: The one-eyed man in the country of blind should be the king???!!!

From United States, Daphne

What I understand from your clarifications explaining the meaning of sub-optimal performance is that how poor knowledge levels prevailing elsewhere in an organisation may induce sub-optimal performance in HR.In my view, knowledge is the ability to apply the information in one's possession (about facts/skills/procedures etc.) to a situation to produce a desired result.If a person lacks such ability, we can say he is only informative but not knowledgeable.Supposing an automobile engineer could only find out that the engine broke down due to some problem in the circuit but could not know how to rectify it, he can be said to be only informative but not knowledgeable.

As HR professional, my predominent functional area was in industrial relations and therefore, I can relate to an experience in this field.Here is an instance where a HR officer chargesheeted a workman for indulging in riotous acts and as he was found guilty in the domestic enquiry, he prepared a draft order of dismissal. Since industrial relations issues have legal implications and as per the practice prevailing in the organisation, he sent the draft to Legal Department for their clearance so that there will not be any legal complications for the company in future when the employee is dismissed.The Legal department cleared the draft penalty order and accordingly the employee was dismissed.The HR officer heaved a sigh of relief at getting rid of a troublesome element.

After a lapse of one month, the HR officer recieved a notice from the Labour Court as to why the workman shall not be reinstated as the company failed to obtain approval of the Labour Court which was adjudicating an industrial dispute about the justifiablity of strike in which the workman was concerned.Sec.33 of the Industrial disputes Act 1947 bars an employer to dismiss a workman who is involved in an industrial dispute pending before a Labour Court/conciiation officer without taking approval from the concerned authority.The Legal Department might be ignorant of this procedure or even if aware,might be not have the rquired legal acumen to understand the subtle legal nuances with which it should have analysed the issue.The result is that the workman came back to work with back wages and more emboldened, much to the embarassment of the management.That's how a poor knowedge level in the organisation might induce sub-ptimal performance of HR.

Similarly the faulty forcasts of business projections by the Marketing or Business Development Departments may send manpower planning exercise of HR for a toss.In many a case, HR hires the BEST (on the basis of qualifications and resumes) but not the RIGHT beacuse of the clamour for candidates from certain institutes or wrong discription of job profiles communicated by functional departments.

In my view, the individual efforts to overcome this sub-optimal performance because of poor knowledge levels in the organisation can include the following :

1) To read literature and material concerning one's field regularly to keep oneself abreast of developments.

2) To interact peers from other organisations to excahnge each other's knowledge and experiences for mutual benefit. This can be by joining professional's clubs or communities or circles.

3) To attend external workshops and seminars where the individal can have exposure to kowledge and experiences of peers/seniors across wide spectrum of industries.

4) To devlop ones own research and devlopment on the subjects he is dealing with.


HR & Labour Law advisor


From India, Mumbai
Thanks for the response. We are bang-on-target now :-)
Do you truly think that these measures will truly solve the situation at hand? I don't see how it would work.
For ex:
1) To read literature and material concerning one's field regularly to keep oneself abreast of developments.
IMHO, this will increase the knowledge gap rather than reduce it. That may not solve the problem that is caused due to the poor knowledge levels in the company. It might only amplify the problem and might cause frustration!!!

From United States, Daphne

The strategies I suggested will be relevant and limited to the industrial relations area which I worked in and where some knowledge of labour laws is necessary for efficient functioning of the I.R. As Senior Manager in charge of industrial relations function in my organisation, I used to subscribe to law journals which publish practical cases explaining as to how gaps in knowledge of legal procedures gave rise to disputes. Thus they used to give a lot of insight about precautions to be taken by the management to make it's actions fool-proof in respect of industrial relations- whether it pertains to entering into settlements or employing budlees for office work or enaging unions in collective bargaining. I was immensely benefited by reading them and in effectively dealing with disputes at conciiation and adjudication stages. However, I cannot vouch whether the same strategy can work with regard to other functional areas of HR like performance mangement or talent mangement or recognition policies etc. A lot depends up on the nature of literature which you lay your hand on. There is no point reading reams of literature which is theoretical, as you said, it may create more doubts than it can answer since there is a wide gap between theory and practice but reading case studies - live or simulated - may, in my view, bridge gaps in knowledge. Besides, interacting with peers and seniors from other industries both at formal and informal get togethers may also help HR professionals to fill gaps in their knowlege at individual level.



From India, Mumbai

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