Amit Goel
Amit Goel
Amit's Ever Colliding Neurons.
Aug 28, 2016 8 min read

Why is Hiring and Firing done wrongly in India

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Hiring is an integral part of any company. Be it a startup or a large MNC, both cannot survive without hiring and the opposite of it, Firing. But the HR managers struggle to get the right candidate to fill in positions. You would have heard it many times that any decent position hiring takes at least 100 people to be interviewed to hire one right person and firing is much more painful. The startups fire people at the whims and fancies (read: in a few minutes) with or without severance. And large MNCs take months and years to arrive at a firing decision. In both the cases, candidates and companies suffer a lot.

So, everyone understands it is tough but then, why is it so complicated and done wrongly.

The Employability Index

Whether you are a fresher , a mid level professional or a senior professional, Employability index is a problem. Freshers do not know the basics even after 4 years of engineering or 2 years of MBA. The first day in office and they need to undergo at least a few months of training to be ready to understand what is expected out of them. Mid level professionals (6–12 years experience) spend a early few years learning a lot. but after that, learning drops and earning kicks in and mid life crisis hits soon. The path to the Top is narrow at any organization and all senior professionals (13 — above) struggle to make a mark.

While all this happens and it becomes a part of life, a majority of people believe that they should be given a job based on what they did in the past and NOT what they bring to the table for the company. So, Hiring is done based on number of years, past companies they worked for, and other parameters. Both the applicant and hirer do not match the job responsibilities and applicant’s future interests.

But this problem needs to be solved at a larger scale with the revamping in Indian education system and the cultural system of not worrying about job security but focussing on knowledge and skill economy.

Untrained Interviewers

This is much more easily fixable issue. Most of the interviewers are in the zone where they look for people who are NOT better than them. The human nature does not allow many people to hire candidates smarter than themselves as they fear they’ll be overtaken. Asking questions from theoretical perspectives without worrying about the needs of the job profile is another common scenario to prove supremacy. Most of the interviewers miss the common aspects whether the candidate fits in the company culture or not. This happens because everyone applies their own gut feel for selection criteria with very vague guidelines at their disposal. Very few interviewers use data at their disposal (generally accumulated by experience of hiring by the individual) to select the candidates and see beyond what happens in an interview. Most of the interviewers even ask the current and expected salary of the candidate to match their own salaries and then, reject candidates who may be demanding more salary than the interviewer earns.

Powerless HR Managers

HR Managers are supposed to have the final call in hiring decision. In India, not many hiring managers accept the fact that they do not play a significant role in hiring if the interviewing team has decided to hire a candidate. An HR executive/manager generally depends on a consultant to send the profiles, shortlists profiles for an opening and send it to respective departments for interview procedure. And then, this HR executive/manager comes in scene only to discuss salary/offer letter/joining dates. HR Interview round becomes a formality in a lot of companies. In many companies, HR managers are powerless but in a lot of cases, they don’t mind losing this power given the sheer volume of candidates they go though. Also, even the HR executives may be MBAs in HR but, a lot of them still miss the perspectives of understanding human behaviour and cultural fitments as most of MBA courses in HR do not teach this as a subject or not deep enough. One of my observations has been that most of the MBA courses in HR are not great and generally, many people take it as a last option if they are not able to make it to Tier 1 colleges. Only a very few people enter the field of HR by choice.

Appraisals coupled with salaries and promotions

Every company runs appraisal cycles and this brings the managerial levels into scene. Managers tend to make decisions based on last 30 days of activity and not many companies maintain a year round evaluations. Most of the time, these appraisals are done before the increment and promotion cycles to fulfil the requirement. So, In general, if you are facing an appraisal, you know that it is salary revision time. and this is when, you are graded in A/B/C/D/E category. Appraisals are not taken seriously in most of the companies for performance evaluations and make employees learn a lot more about themselves. And when appraisals are done, a lot of employees always express shock and discontent blaming managers. And HR managers generally try to fulfil the duty by giving a half day training and a presentation full of guidelines for appraisal process.

Emotional Decision Making

Almost every decision of hiring and firing is taken on emotional basis. There will be many instances that even the community of the candidate gets considered by the interviewer. However, such cases are less but not uncommon. But almost everyone in India believes that adding more people in the team will solve the problem. This is more to do with the myth, more people reporting to one will make him/her more powerful and respectable. India has a cultural issue where a person going in for arranged marriage (a highly common concept) has to be a manager (at least by job title) to get a suitable match. And in service companies in India, a person starts managing people within first 3–4 years of career. So, this makes hiring easy and everyone rushes to hire more and more people. Firing is still uncommon in India (only few MNCs and startups do it). Firing has a lot of emotions at play. The same manager who is so keen to hire more people does not want to fire people as he feels bad about the person getting fired and gets a sense of guilt. I understand firing is never easy but then, most of the people do not fire as they fear that they will lose power as teams will go small. Their work will increase as they will lose hands who could have helped. The cost of having a non productive person in the team is often neglected at the cost of guilt and fear of failure. and with appraisal processes being inefficient, it becomes all the more tough to make people accountable. Sometimes, Emotions run so high during firing that a lot of people take on more work on their shoulders to save the peers/colleagues. In all of this chaos, it’s the company which suffers because they have not built a culture of performance, productivity and company first attitude. This does not mean the human touch and well being of an employee has to be ignored but decisions get delayed and creates long term cultural and productivity issues.

Non-Alignment towards company goals

It will be very tough to find employees who are even aware of the company goals and vision. a lot of them even don’t ask the goals of the project they are working on. This leads to not only the declining learning curve of employees but also , the overall cultural fitment of the person into the company. Many companies do a lot of events, team building exercises, lectures on company cultures but not many people walk the talk. Even the CXOs in many organizations talk about culture and processes but do not follow their own words. Lead By Example is missing in many organizations. While HR Managers do organize trainings and stick posters about company goals, vision, mission on every wall in offices but many of the HR executives themselves do not know about it themselves. This results in many people working in the direction their managers lead to and many managers/department heads are not aligned among themselves towards a single goal. and because of this, a lot of people become “unproductive” and that’s where lay-offs get triggered when divisions/departments do not perform up to company standards.

Corruption in HR Departments

This is one unspoken truth about HR departments. Most of the indian startups do not have this problem. But almost every corporate in India suffers from the corruption issue. You’ll find people whispering about it but no one talks about it openly. HR executives/managers/heads collaborate with consultancies and indulge in unfair practices. A lot of consultancies get selected by HR departments because they provide certain commissions/benefits to HR executives (either to the individual or to a team) if they get shortlisted for providing HR/recruitment services. And then, corruption always has a lot of forms and ways to enter the system. And then, the money is made on trainings, events, and other things. Now, even the private colleges (generally low end colleges) offer deals for placements to HR departments so that colleges are able to showcase companies visiting campuses for recruitments. This result in a lot of bad hiring decisions when combined with above given factors and result in firing of the same people. Because when input is wrong, output can never be correct.

Having said all of the above, a lot of startups in India are truly becoming new age companies which are just focussed on company goals and not on growing with number of employees. But startups reaching a large size (almost equal to MNCs) tend to make same mistakes. and MNCs are still not learning even after losing huge amounts of money and productivity.

You can change everything else, but you cannot change human behaviour overnight.

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