Perils of Blind Spots in Human Resource Management (Part 2) – A Conceptual Framework

Based on the experience mentioned in Part 1 of this story, I developed a remarkably simple (yet in my view a very powerful) model consisting of a 2 X 2 matrix, which can help senior management to map their executives and devise some meaningful strategies for their development.                            

 (I am a great fan of a simple 2 X 2 matrix to easily understand the relationship between 2 attributes – I am sure some of you will recall the famous BCG matrix of Product Portfolio – Star, Cash cow, Problem child, Divest).

Here I have tried to map executives on 2 sets of attributes.

Y Axis refers to what I call “Qualities of Head” – somewhat equivalent to IQ. This refers to a set of qualities like – Basic intelligence, sound conceptual and academic background, being able to understand and navigate complexities, analytical and cross functional capabilities, ability to learn new skills and look for unconventional and innovative solutions, ability to see the leaf without missing the forest, and self-motivated.

X Axis refers to what I call “Qualities of Heart” – somewhat like EQ.  This broadly refers to the personality – willingness to learn and expand horizons, interpersonal relations, leadership and motivational qualities, integrity, loyalty, empathy and dependability.

I am unable to give a precise formula for calculating these. Senior management has to decide on where does an executive fit in this matrix based on the variables mentioned here.

Once different executives are plotted on this matrix, we get some clue on how to work out development strategies for them.

Quadrant 1 (high EQ and IQ)

They are the “Stars” of the organisation – present and future leaders. They should be given challenging assignments, sent for development programmes, should go through structured job rotation programme, should be mentored, work in multifunctional task forces on special assignments. In short, every opportunity which challenges their intellect, widens their horizon, and broadens their knowledge of the organisation, industry and products, should be thrown at them. For a vibrant organisation, normally around 15 – 20% of the executives should fall in this Quadrant.

Quadrant 2 (High EQ, Lower IQ)

Bulk of the organization – may be around 60% of the executives (largely in middle and lower management) belong to this Quadrant. They are the backbone of the organization and implement on day-to-day basis, the strategies laid by the top management.  Their knowledge needs to be kept current with periodic training. Also, some of them will show potential to move to Quadrant 1 and hence need to be encouraged with regular training and mentoring. Such persons will have an important role to play in the succession planning for the senior management.

Quadrant 3 (high IQ, lower EQ)

People in this Quadrant are perhaps the most difficult in terms of management. Due to their poor behavioural skills and yet superior intellect, they are Mavericks. They work best in situations where they have to work alone. They can do well in jobs like research, special and innovative projects. Many of them can come up with brilliant ideas (even ideas leading to disruption). But it is difficult for them to work in teams or managerial positions. Company needs to identify them and come up with suitable projects for them where they act as specialists. Their number in any organization has to be kept under check. If disgruntled, they can become diabolical and can cause immense harm to the organizational fabric.

Quadrant 4 (low EQ and IQ)

These candidates are not an ideal fit for the organization and should be let go from the head count.

CAVEATS

I am suggesting this approach with the following caveats:

  1. This exercise of plotting persons in this matrix is not an exact science. It is based on the perceptions of people, who know well, both the organization and the personnel. Ideally it should be done by more than one person, after adequate discussion and moderation, so that biases are minimized.
  2. With time and with changing situations, we all change in terms of our personality. Hence the exercise needs to be repeated periodically to revalidate the data.
  3. The exercise must be confidential. It should not be used to Label people. Its purpose is to identify development needs of people to meet requirements of tomorrow. It can also help in Succession Planning.

Above all, this should be seen as a Conceptual (Directional) model and is no replacement of regular Performance Appraisal.

A Final Word

While working on this model, I also realized the need for Balance in Life. Often, we have contradicting choices to be made. For example, do we give preference to Quality of work life OR Quality of personal life. I am sure, everyone will say that we need both and need a balanced approach. Where that ideal balance lies, will have to be determined by each of us, for ourselves and for our circumstances.

We can take many other examples – do we impose strict discipline on our children OR leave them totally unsupervised. Again, we need both and need a balance between the two extremes.

Hence in my view, we must convert “OR” into “AND” in every sphere of the life. A balanced approach between two extremes is the key to happiness and a rich meaningful life.

After all, everything in the world is not ‘BLACK’ or ‘WHITE’. We should be comfortable with ‘Many Shades of Grey

8 thoughts on “Perils of Blind Spots in Human Resource Management (Part 2) – A Conceptual Framework

  1. Couldn’t agree more. Quadrant 3 individuals can pretty much destroy an organisation. While 1 and 2 can focus on the future and sustain the core ending of today respectively

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