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First Meridian



Company Growth with Best Practices of Talent Branding


Do you recall the last time you did not cross-check reviews for a movie, product, or restaurant online before finally deciding whether it's worth your time? Of course, you don't. In simpler times, we would rely on word of mouth and personal recommendations in person. But since the world wide web has compressed the globe into a little accessible blue ball, every industry has become reliant on feedback and reviews.

To a large extent, people in today's day and age are review centric. A significant amount of research is put into everything, whether ordering food or applying for a new job. People are no longer mesmerized by hoardings or advertisements. Everyone relies on personal experiences received through personal interactions and feedback, which are readily available online and in real life. Naturally, this impacts the recruitment industry's key variables - employers as well as talent equally. Little wonder then, that it is imperative for a company to take talent branding more seriously.

What is Talent Branding?


When you browse through websites like Glassdoor and Indeed, you will come across innumerable reviews and feedback given by former employees who have worked at various organizations listed on these websites. These are personal experiences made public, allowing prospective employees to glimpse into the companies' culture and functionality where they want to work.

According to the biggest player in the business-employment market, LinkedIn, "Talent branding is the highly social, totally public version of an employer brand that incorporates talent thinks, feels, and shares about your company as a place to work." Talent branding, then, is a product of personal experiences and feedback given by former and even current employees. These reviews help prospective candidates decide whether the organization matches their expectations.

So then is Talent Branding and Employer Branding the same thing?

Employer Branding inevitably does come into the picture while talking about talent branding. So much so that there is a common misconception that talent branding and employer branding mean the same thing. In fact, these two are entirely different.

In employer branding, the leaders of organizations can influence how they want people to perceive their respective organizations by painting them in a particular manner. And in comparison, talent branding is a complete contrast. Here, leaders do not control employee reviews and feedback on their organizations.

The Best Practices to Promote Company Brand

Feedback of any kind is precious for the growth of the company. And talent branding serves as a looking glass for the employers.

For instance, At First Meridian, we have often observed that many of our clients pay little to no attention to brand hygiene and what people are talking about their respective organizations. Paying heed to these little things will give leaders a reality check. Hence here are the crucial points that leaders should practice to ensure that their company branding is up to the mark.

1.Understanding Brand Perception is crucial. Former employees give their feedback based on personal experiences. This feedback highlights the organization's work culture, various available benefits, the advancement of opportunities, and more. Which, in turn, contributes towards attracting or turning away a potential candidate. Going through such reviews and feedback will help leaders touch base with everything that the organization lacks and help them work towards the same.

2. Responding to Reviews by people who have previously worked at various companies is the right way of creating a positive impression on potential employees. Even though the company does have its weak points, interested candidates will note how leaders are paying attention to these things and doing their best to improve their employees' experience.

3. Listen to the Employees. Paying attention and listening to what employees have to say has become more critical than ever. Denying them their voice can affect their experience at the company as well as outside of it.

4. Conducting Internal Surveys can help leaders understand various grievances of their employees.


5. Taking feedback can help improve many shortcomings and ensure that employees' opinions matter 100%.



In the words of leadership consultant Ron Edmonds, "The culture the leader creates impacts the feedback the leader receives." And this holds an abundance of truth. In today's time, when everything is transparent, it is more important than ever to play to your strengths and work towards eliminating your weaknesses as an organization. And incorporating feedback can go a long way in doing just that as it helps from losing employees and encourages more people to join the organization. All of this ultimately leads to the growth of both your organization and the people that run it.



Cascading Values in Hierarchy to Drive Superior Business Performance


Every business is built on a foundation of organisational values, a set of guiding principles that not only helps to achieve its goals, but which epitomize the very purpose of the organisation’s existence.

While these values are highlighted and reinforced at every possible opportunity, it’s often unclear how many employees indeed imbibe the value system. How do we, as business leaders or team leaders ensure that our team members understand and are aligned with our organization’s core values? Let’s delve into this briefly.

Every Business is Built on a Fundamental Belief System

Vision MIssion

What are organisational values? In simple terms, organizational values are but fundamental beliefs that govern the business. Combinedly, they form a guiding principle to manage internal and external relationships and influence the selection and evaluation of decisions and actions throughout every step of the journey in the business.

As a traditional practice, organisational values, once stated, are carved in stone and must be followed unwaveringly. This might have worked well in the earlier days when change was comparatively slower. However, Industry 4.0 demands accelerated change as innovation and technology continue to disrupt all areas of work. It therefore stands to reason that organizational values too need to be relooked periodically.

William Craig, the founder and president of WebFX, says "You don’t have to throw your company’s values, guidelines or handbooks in the trash every year, but your teams and even your whole organization should include employees in reframing the language used, intentions and goals from time to time." Let’s look at some great organisational values set by some of the leading brands in the world today.

Company Values

[Source: 190 Brilliant Examples of Company Values]

Organisational values often help the leaders as well as employees decide on a course of action in any given situation. For instance, one of Google’s values states "You don’t need to be at your desk to need an answer." This directly translates into to their act of pioneering new technologies and offering new solutions for mobile services that help people across the globe to perform several routine as well as complex computing tasks on the go. Imagine how a global giant like Google has managed to maintain a value-based culture, despite its size, reach and diversity. Google’s leadership team acknowledges that their company’s culture is fundamentally tied to neither their revenues nor their mission statement. It is purely a reflection of the values that the people across hierarchies within Google hold dear.

Cascading Values

Cascading Values

Now, how can you ensure that you have a solid foundation of values that seep through hierarchies, inspire people and drive the course of your business?

1. List down the values that are unique to your organization:

First and foremost, you must set or reset the organizational values. It is imperative to list down values that are distinct to your organization. Most organizations end up using the same words that are commonly used and hence have achieved the status of a "jargon." Denise Lee Yohn, author of "What Great Brands Do” says in an article that to identify what your core values should be, you should start by thinking about your business category. She adds that Coca-Cola does have collaboration, a commonly used term, as one of its values, but it goes on to describe it as "leverage collective genius", thus making it unique.

If you get this part correct, you should be able to come up with a set of values that can directly translate into specific actions and decisions the employees should make in any given situation.

2. Communicate, communicate and communicate:

"Value setting is a tough business, often fraught with multiple challenges and divergent agendas. But once those values are set, right or wrong, every CEO would be wise to communicate them and live them as though their business depends on it. Because it just might."
— Rosanna M. Fiske, immediate past chair of Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).

Communicating the values you have set is not a one-time activity but is continuous, and the messaging must be explicit and repeated across multiple communication channels (meetings, newsletters, orientations, onboarding, trainings, remote collaboration tools, etc., and even as part of office décor). For global entities and organisations seeking to expand their reach beyond local geographies, values must be communicated in a way that transcends cultures and nationalities. Extreme care must be taken to ensure that the message does not get lost in translation.

3. Recruit and retain for values:

Laszlo Block, former Sr. VP of People Operations at Google Inc. says in his book Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead, that the main criteria for recruitment in Google was not GPAs or education levels, but the focus was on people who are fun, intellectually humble, conscientious and comfortable dealing with the unknown.

A values-based recruitment model puts organizational fit at the forefront of your hiring process and gives the applicant an idea about the compatibility of their personal values with that of the organization. Continue hiring using this philosophy and eventually all of your workforce will resonate the same principles and applications in their work.

Furthermore, establish a performance review process that also assesses how your employees integrate organizational values in their jobs. Like other performance areas, this too must be scrutinized, and if the employee’s value alignment levels are abysmally low, you might need to rigorously train them in this regard.

4. Recognize and reward value-centric behavior

The 2018 SHRM/Globoforce Employee Recognition Survey reveals that values-based recognition remains highest rated among HR leaders who adopt these programs to reinforce and drive business goals. The report further states that:

  • Values-based recognition programs that recognize and reward employees for exhibiting behaviour that demonstrates organisational values, are seeing 70% adoption as compared to recognition programs not tied to organisational values (30%).

  • R&R programs tied to values are also:

    • Twice as likely to focus on reinforcing and driving business goals
    • 33% more likely to focus on empowering employees, and
    • 29% more likely to focus on creating a positive employer brand

Encouraging employees to merge organizational values with everyday behaviours and recognizing these behaviours is a sure-fire way to ensure better retention and higher employee engagement, while achieving maximum adherence to your organisation’s core values.

It All Comes Down to the Leaders

The Leaders

It is imperative that leaders live and lead by example. Truth be told, if the leader fails to abide by organizational values, no amount of training or employee engagement can build a value-centric business. Organizations that leverage on leaders to communicate consistently throughout hierarchies, recruit and retain for values and recognize value-centric behaviours tend to have a healthier workplace culture and result in superior business performance.

"Core values get seeded and nurtured in organizations by what its leadership does or does not. Demonstration is the most effective form of leadership communication."
- Madhu Madhavan, Founder and CEO, Qsutra


5 Ways the World of Work Will Change Post COVID


COVID-19 has brought upon a paradigm shift in the world of work, including at FirstMeridian. Organisations worldwide have set up remote workplaces to ensure continued operations, and nearly 48% of the existing workforce will continue to work remotely in future. Amidst the worker layoffs, organisations are expanding their use of contingent workforce to have flexibility in workforce management in the post-COVID era. 


The retail sector was heavily impacted and is now working on new strategies to stay in the game. On the brighter side, e-commerce is suddenly the way of the future for certain businesses that never considered online sales as a key growth platform prior to COVID-19. 

Arguably, this pandemic will have a lasting impact on the future of work, which brings us to FirstMeridian’s #NextNormal initiative. At FirstMeridian, we are taking essential steps to ensure that our clients, candidates, associates, colleagues, and partners are prepared for the future of work. We are enabling organisations across industries to rethink their strategies and prepare for the #NextNormal.

Let us look at 5 ways the world of work is about to change forever and what we as at FirstMeridian are advising employers to do in order to align with this inevitable transition into the #NextNormal and emerge as stronger leaders.


1. Remote Workforces

The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed employers to implement remote workspaces, changing the way employers approached workplace collaboration and employee engagement. 

A recent EMA Partners survey found that 56% employers believe remote working is efficient. 24% of them highlighted the cost benefits associated with reduced office space. This also gives employers the chance to bring on board top talent that aren’t willing to relocate. 

As part of our #NextNormal initiative, we at FirstMeridian are helping organisations across industries and geographies setup remote workforces to manage end-to-end sales, operations and key business functions. 

To know about our Remote Workforce Deployment and Management Services, write to sales@v5global.com.


2. Contingent Staffing for A Solid Hiring Strategy

Let’s talk about the next normal in hiring strategy for employers in the post-COVID era. 

A Gartner poll showed that 32% of organizations are replacing their full-time permanent employees with contingent workers. In another poll by EMA Partners, 40% companies admitted to freezing their open positions while 31% continue to hire amidst the crisis. FirstMeridian is playing a crucial role in making the latter happen.

This is the time organisations should make contingent staffing as their hiring strategy to mitigate risks, cut down on hiring costs and continue building their workforce and ensure successful completion of ongoing projects. 

We at FirstMeridian are helping our 400+ clients across 10+ industry sectors build contingent workforces, granting them flexibility to scale their operations and enabling seamless transition into the #NextNormal. 

To know about all our contingent staffing solutions, write to social@firstmeridian.com


3. A Stronger Business Model

As the global economy is affected amidst the pandemic, Business leaders are envisioning stronger business models. A 2019 Gartner survey found that 55% of organisational restructuring plans were focused on increasing operational efficiency by streamlining roles, supply chains and workflows. Optimization of operational costs will also be a priority for all employers, with added focus on financial stability with a predefined margin of safety. 

The future of work in the #NextNormal will be centred around short-term planning, customer experience and bringing flexibility to all processes – this can be achieved by outsourcing key business processes. The iManage division within FirstMeridian is enabling leading organisations to optimize business processes, reduce operational costs and enhance performance through SLA-driven, HR-based managed services. 

To know more about iManage, click here


4. Transformation of Retail Sales

The organised Retail sector is going through a major transformation, and Organisations are reimagining their retail sales and marketing strategies. At the consumer end, they are looking up to their favourite brands to solve the lifestyle challenges they are facing now and help them transition to the next normal.

The future of retail in the #NextNormal is beyond just driving transactions. At FirstMeridian, our BrandPulse Trade Marketing division is shaping people’s lifestyle by delivering meaningful and memorable customer experiences. More importantly, it is evolving the way retail brands function through innovative and tech-savvy retail marketing strategies, including:

  • Market Activation

  • Visual Merchandising

  • Retail Audit

  • Customer Loyalty Programs

Under our #NextNormal initiative, we are undertaking end-to-end retail sales and marketing projects and enabling leading brands to:

  • Cut hiring costs

  • Improve manpower planning

  • Minimize risks

  • Optimize business processes

  • Automate reporting 

  • Achieve operational excellence

To know more about BrandPulse, click here.


5. HR Tech Tools to Drive Workforce/Change Management

HR Tech is now mainstream and will continue to lead and transform the entire human resources experience. An EMA report shows that the top HR priority of 48% employers amidst this pandemic is maintaining employee performance as they continue to work remotely.  HR Analytics is becoming more popular and adoption of cloud workspaces and online collaboration tools are on the rise. The entire HR cycle – from demand management to employee onboarding, attendance, payroll, benefits, training & development and separation – is being automated. At FirstMeridian, we are helping organisations digitise and streamline end-to-end staffing, recruitment and the overall people management experience. 

FirstMeridian DigiTrac, our mobile attendance and employee self-service platform is helping our customers digitize candidate onboarding, documentation, attendance, fuel reimbursements, and more. To know more about FirstMeridian DigiTrac, click here.

Our RapL Microlearning Platform is enabling organisations to resolve knowledge gaps in their workforce and empowering professionals with product knowledge, SOPs and more with bite-sized, scenario-based mobile learning courses that are custom developed with gamification mechanics and real-time analytics to fulfil the training needs of the organisation. To know more about RaPL, click here.

Infield, our suite of Trade Marketing Apps is revolutionizing the retail industry by automating end-to-end retail sales, improving overall operational efficiency, delivering great customer experiences and providing the business leaders a bird’s-eye view of their end-to-end operations across locations.


To know more about Infield, click here.


Summary – What Employers Should Do to Transition into #NextNormal

  1. Set up remote workforces

  2. Expand the use of contingent workforce

  3. Optimize the business model by outsourcing key processes to managed service providers

  4. Transform the retail business and mitigate risks with trade marketing solutions

  5. Adopt HR tech tools to automate and optimize HR processes


[Sources: Gartner, EMA Partners]

Challenges in Leadership Recruitment

Challenges in Leadership Recruitment

In my previous avatar as a head-hunter specializing in CXO level positions, I would often meet CEOs who would lament on the paucity of talent at the second rung of leadership. Irrespective of the industry and the size of the company, recruiting leaders is always challenging and sometimes an insurmountable task and is now even more imposing; given the fast-paced business scenario and the changing parameters for leadership. What are these challenges and how can an organization overcome these challenges?

What are the Challenges?

The very process of recruitment is challenging, but when it comes to leadership hiring, there are many more factors that come into play. A few of them are:

Shortage of Talent

The biggest challenge is the shortage of talent, especially at a senior level. On the other hand, retaining talent is also difficult and this creates an increasing gap between vacancies and available talent. To meet this gap, many organizations tend to compromise on the hiring process and recruit sub-optimal talent; leading to disastrous consequences.

Inadequate Planning

Though many organizations have a talent management strategy on paper, it is not often well- implemented leading to a dearth of an internal pipeline of potential leaders. There are various reasons for this, the chief of which is the basic insecurity of certain leaders. They do not wish to create a strong number two line up for the fear of endangering their own positions within the organization. Strong contenders are eased out from the system on various pretexts and the organization is left in the lurch when there is a sudden vacancy.

Suboptimal Hiring Techniques

While most organizations have stringent assessment frameworks in place, the rules seem to vanish when it comes to leadership hiring. Interviewing is perhaps the most biased of all recruitment tools, but still many companies depend on multiple levels of interviews to identify potential leaders

A few CEOs depend on the word of mouth technique to hire their immediate reports. As one of the CEOs said, “If the candidate is referred by someone whom I trust, I feel that there would be a better fitment to the role. I generally prefer looking at the referral pool first before moving on to outside candidates.” There are two major flaws in this approach: there is a high possibility of bias and the organization is not considering a diverse pool of candidates.

Blinded by the “best”

Many organizations tend to hire superstars for leadership roles, the rationale being that superstars will bring in quick results and increase revenues. But as this HBR article reveals, this may not necessarily be the case. Superstars often have high expectations from the team and demand immediate results leading to burnout, alienation and decreased mental and physical wellbeing of the team. Many such leaders have toxic tendencies and tend to pollute the new organization quickly. Instead of chasing superstars, it makes better business sense to hire staid and reliable leaders who can offer solid leadership leading to a long-term increase in business.

What are the solutions?

Pre – Hiring:

Recruiting Expert Jennifer Retig says that the first step to recruiting is asking and answering these questions:

  • Why are we adding this role?
  • What direction do we hope this role will take the company?
  • Why is it mission critical for us at this moment in time?
  • How will the person in this role interact with existing leadership?
  • What does it mean to be a great X role? A great VP Product, COO, General Counsel etc.?
  • What will their success look like in the first 6 months? The first year?
  • Who are the people doing this job really well right now? Who is in the press?
  • What companies do we admire? How have they done what they've done?
  • What companies clearly have someone very talented in this role?
  • What does the ideal candidate need to have done before in their career?

The process of answering these questions will provide an entry point into the search process and will help eliminate any biases – conscious or unconscious.

Hiring Process

Author of Better Under Pressure,Justin Menkeswrites about a measure of business intelligence to aid in leadership recruitment. He suggests that three broad categories cover all managerial responsibilities:

  1. Accomplishing tasks
  2. Working with and through others
  3. Judging oneself and adapting one’s behavior accordingly

He also made a list of cognitive skills that are universally accepted as crucial for leadership. A few of the important skills are:

  1.  Distinguishing primary goals from less relevant concerns
  2. Anticipating probable outcomes
  3. Recognizing people’s underlying agendas.

The entire list is given in the table below.

The Skills that Make Up Executive Intelligence

Regarding tasks, intelligent leaders:

Regarding people, intelligent leaders:

Regarding themselves, intelligent leaders:

appropriately define a problem and differentiate essential objectives from less-relevant concerns.

recognize the conclusions that can be drawn from a particular exchange.

pursue feedback that may reveal errors in their judgments and make appropriate adjustments.

anticipate obstacles to achieving their objectives and identify sensible means to circumvent them.

recognize the underlying agendas and motivations of individuals and groups involved in a situation.

recognize their personal biases or limitations in perspective and use this understanding to improve their thinking and their action plans.

critically examine the accuracy of underlying assumptions.

anticipate the probable reactions of individuals to actions or communications.

recognize when serious flaws in their ideas or actions require swift public acknowledgment of mistakes and a dramatic change in direction.

articulate the strengths and weaknesses of the suggestions or arguments posed.

accurately identify the core issues and perspectives that are central to a conflict.

appropriately articulate the essential flaws in others' arguments and reiterate the strengths in their own positions.

recognize what is known about an issue, what more needs to be known, and how best to obtain the relevant and accurate information needed.

appropriately consider the probable effects and possible unintended consequences that may result from taking a particular course of action.

recognize when it is appropriate to resist others' objections and remain committed to a sound course of action.

use multiple perspectives to identify probable unintended consequences of various action plans.

acknowledge and balance the different needs of all relevant stakeholders.


He recommends that candidates should be assessed on all these skills through tests and rigorous interview processes.

The Interview Process:

Alex Shteingardt outlines the main characteristics of strong leaders here and talks about the interview questions that helps identify these characteristics.

Leadership Attributes

Questions to ask/ Observe

Is the candidate professional?

Are they dressed professionally; clear and confident in answers; takes notes and demonstrate engaging and open body language?

Is the candidate results-orientated?

What initiatives did they implement which drove value, how did they acquire new clients and foster relationships etc.? This information will tell you a lot about a candidate’s ability and focus on achieving results.

Is the candidate inspirational?

How would their current employees and direct reports describe their leadership style? Ask them to provide an example of how they have inspired a team member.

Is the candidate accountable?

Describe a time when they failed in a leadership role, and how they managed the situation. Another great way to assess accountability is to ask the candidate to explain which of their skillsets and competencies need improvement.

Is the candidate influential?

Provide an example of how they have influenced a large number of people to achieve a common goal whilst in a leadership position.

Is the candidate intuitive?

Describe a time when they took a risky decision that paid off and how exactly they were taking it. You could also ask the candidate which types of decisions they find the hardest to make, or to explain a time when they had to make a decision based on little information.

Is the candidate emotionally intelligent?

Provide an example of when they built a solid and professional friendship at work – this is a key indicator of their ability to build and nurture relationships.

Is the candidate a big picture thinker?

How do they stay focused on the bigger picture, and ensure they continually communicate this down to their teams.


You have identified the perfect leader for your organization, but once the person is on-board, you leave her to her own devices or you micro-manage her. Both these strategies will ultimately backfire and it would be back to the drawing board. We will discuss this all-important topic in another article.

End Note:

Any organization that has an efficient C-Suite at the helm can improve productivity, increase employee retention and enhance revenues. The emphasis here is on the entire leadership team and not just on a few high-fliers. Unless the C-Suite can work together towards a common business goal, the organization is doomed for failure.  Identifying and hiring an efficient team is a tedious task, but the extra efforts will pay off in the long run. CEOs must look at creating an internal talent pipeline and work on succession planning.

“Nothing matters more than getting the right people in the right places. That begins with recruiting efficient leadership. Hiring good people is hard. Hiring great people is brutally hard. However, it’s brutally necessary.” Ken Sundheim

Employer Branding for Millennials

Employer Branding for Millennials

Even with the increasing number of millennials in the workforce, organizations still haven’t mastered the art of attracting them and retaining them. The older talent management strategies may not work with the millennials. What do the millennials look for while seeking employment? How can an organization build its employer brand to attract millennials? 

Statistics at a Glance:

Source: Catalyst.org

1.      By 2025, Millennials Will Comprise Three-Quarters of the Global Workforce

  • People between the ages 15 to 24 make up almost 20% of the world’s population
  • They account for more than 15% of the global labor force

2.      By 2020, 41.0% of the global population will be 24 years old or younger.

3.      Asia Will Feel the Greatest Impact of Aging

  • The increase in India’s working age population in the next decade will account for more than half of the total increase across Asia.

What do Millennials look for?

Let us first understand the term. The definition of generation names may differ across countries and regions, but the general accepted norms are:

1. Traditionalists:  people born between1900 - 1945

2. Baby Boomers: people born between1946–1964

3. Generation X: people born between 1965–1979

4. Millennials: people born between 1980-1996

5. Generation Z: people born between After 1996

  Image result for statistics on millennials in the workforce global












Gallup research on How Millennials Want to Work and Live reveals the following findings:

  • In their relatively short tenure as employees, millennials have forced organizations to rethink age old organizational structures, workplace rules and regulations and transformed talent management strategies.
  • Millennials look for a sense of purpose in their jobs. The paycheck is important, but that is not the only motivating factor. Millennials expect organizations to emphasize development and continuous learning, managers to serve as coaches and constant feedback on their performance.
  • Even though millennials are highly qualified, they do not easily find jobs of their choice; hence they may be constantly seeking new and better opportunities.
  • Millennials may appear to be loners, but they are highly connected and tend to live their lives online. Their generation has a fear of missing out and they are hence constantly wired to the Web, gathering information, live streaming, connecting with people and most importantly seeking and finding jobs.
  • Millennials are not tied by feelings of organizational loyalty; and only few of them are emotionally and behaviorally connected to their jobs and organizations.  Many of them prefer to get married late and do not invest in home ownership. With relatively lesser ties to bind them down, they are mobile and feel free to pursue options.

Given their propensity for job changes, the term “job-hoppers” is a fair label for millennials. While organizations must focus on talent retention strategies; there is also a big opportunity for competing organizations to recruit from this available pool of talent. The strongest companies will understand how to both recruit and retain millennials.

Employer Branding for Millennials:

“Employer branding is one fruitful avenue for organizations to establish the value they offer employees and to differentiate themselves from competing firms”Crystal Harold&Kevin P Nolan.

As the “job-hopping” generation, millennials are open to new job opportunities, provided the organizations:

1.      Actually offer millennials what they want

2.      Effectively message and sell themselves.

Millennials are consumers of workplaces and accordingly, branding strategies must adopt a consumer centric approach. Organizations must know their strengths, what they offer and how they differ from their competitors and effectively communicate it across all their platforms.

Let us look at some effective ways of building your employer brand.

Define and deliver a compelling brand promise:

A brand promise is a unique statement of what the organization offers to the customer; what distinguishes it from competition; what makes it worthy of the customer’s consideration. Millennials are a mistrustful generation. They have witnessed the broken promises of many brands and are skeptical about organizational claims and do not trust them.

One way to overcome this distrust is to finetune the messaging strategy. Using millennials as “brand ambassadors” go a long way to build trust. Watch out for the “brand destroyers” lurking in every corner of social media; discontented employees can do you more harm than you think!

Communicate your brand values:

This is the era of communication. There are millions of web pages devoted to improving your social media marketing. Brand values need to be communicated clearly to the millennial. The communication should be direct, simple and consistent across all platforms. Joining in their conversations is a great strategy; encroaching in their conversations, not so great. Also, it is not a one-way communication anymore. Millennials talk to others about their experience with your organization. Millennials would rather trust the experiences of people they have never met, rather than just rely on a single communication message.

Ignoring negative feedback is counterproductive, and so is indulging in slanging matches on twitter. Organizations must have strategies in place to manage such gaffes/ disasters instantly.

Create a seamless brand experience:

Millennials use multiple channels – both online and offline and are quick to perceive differences in the brand experience across channels. When it comes to a job search, they not only go to the official channels of the organizations, but also rely on online job searches and general search engines. They prefer using their college career sites and search engines to professional networking sites. Most of them also use their smart phones, hence a seamless mobile experience is a must.

You can read more about successful employer branding strategies here.

End Note

Millennials are not a perplexing generation from another planet. They do want a distinctive “millennial experience”, but as workplace consumers, they want a satisfying customer engagement. They want brands that they can trust, brands that go beyond just paying lip service to sustainability and going green.

“Many Millennial Generation candidates are looking to make a career choice that will allow their lives to matter – around global issues, social and tech / digital opportunities. And they seek employers who can offer this.”Brian Rolfes, Partner/Director of Global Recruiting at McKinsey.

Capabilities Versus Skills

Capabilities versus Skills

Unless you have been living in total isolation, you know that technology is disrupting the way we work. Breakthroughs in artificial intelligence (AI) are making millions of jobs redundant. The only way to be employable is if you have skills that are relevant and have not been replaced(yet) by technology. Continuous learning and reskilling do help; but is there something that is more basic and fundamental to stay relevant? A recent Deloitte Insights report makes the case that human capabilities are the key to create new values; and skills merely follow capabilities.

Is it time to take a hard look at the recruitment process and ensure that it is geared towards assessing capabilities?  

What is the difference?

Capabilities are observable human attributes that are demonstrated independent of context.

Skills are tactical knowledge or expertise needed to achieve work outcomes within a specific context.

Source: “Skills Change, Capabilities Endure” Deloitte Insights

Why are capabilities important today?

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is forcing organizations to relook at the way they operate. Regardless of the kind of business, the epicentre of the economy are customers and providing highly personalized services to customers. Says Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum, “A world of customer experiences, data-based services, and asset performance through analytics, meanwhile, requires new forms of collaboration, particularly given the speed at which innovation and disruption are taking place. And the emergence of global platforms and other new business models, finally, means that talent, culture, and organizational forms will have to be rethought”.

Given the era of increased personalization; it stands to reason that standardization is very last century! For organizations to quickly adapt to the fast-paced environment; the focus must be on equipping their employees with the newer specialized skills on an ongoing basis. It would be impossible to recruit for all the current and foreseeable skillsets. It makes better business sense to recruit on the basis of the ability to acquire these skills viz. “capabilities.”

Figure 1: Effects of Fourth Industrial Revolution on Business

What are capabilities?

Capabilities help us to acquire skills that are needed for a particular task. A scientist may require the skill set of “conducting research”; but the driving force behind that skill is “curiosity” and “critical thinking”. Likewise, a Sales Executive is expected to sell to a customer using their communication and persuasive skills; but the underlying capabilities are “empathy” and “Social intelligence.”

There are two types of capabilities: Innate & Developed. As the names imply, those capabilities that we are all born with are called innate capabilities and those that we develop over time are called developed capabilities. These are not stand alone; but are deeply interconnected.

Enduring human capabilities underlie individual effort and effectiveness.

Innate but can be amplified

Developed through experience and practice


Seeing through variety of lenses that challenge present assumptions of what is possible.

Emotional intelligence

Understanding other’s emotions and experiences and how they shape human interactions.


Understanding and considering other’s feelings, thoughts and experiences


Collaborating effectively across spatial, organizational and cultural boundaries


Seeking out new information and experiences; striving for understanding; asking questions.

Social intelligence

Understanding interpersonal dynamics and behavioral impacts of human interactions.


Persisting despite challenges, obstacles and destructions

Sense – making

Creating meaning and awareness out of collective experiences.


Innovating and applying improvisation; using resources in unexpected ways.

Critical thinking

Analyzing, evaluating, synthesizing and reconstructing information


Adaptive thinking

Recognizing new patterns and applying patterns in new contexts.

Conditions: organizational culture and mindset influence, if, and how, we demonstrate capabilities

Source: Deloitte Analysis.

How do we develop capabilities?

Developing capabilities does not involve training programs or huge investments. Capabilities are innate and is not restricted to certain individuals. What differentiates individuals is the degree to which the capabilities are honed. In an organizational setup, this depends on the work environment, the leadership, practices and systems and freedom of expression. Organizations tend to smother an individual’s capabilities by restrictive policies and squashing their inherent creativity.

Identifying these policies or factors will be the first step to develop capabilities. The next step is to have the complete backing of the leadership team, not just in words; but also, by deeds. If the leaders create an environment that builds and develops the capabilities of their team members; there will be a definite positive impact on the organization.

End Note

As emerging technology makes many jobs obsolete; organizations must necessarily restructure and re-allocate tasks. Recruiting for skills will no longer be a feasible strategy. The organizations that will stay relevant are those that recruit for capabilities rather than skills.

“Across industries, organizations that embrace, nurture and cultivate enduring human capabilities throughout their workforce will likely have a strategic advantage, because their people will have the mindset and disposition toward rapid learning that is required to thrive in an environment of constant disruption.” Deloitte Insights.

Leader as a Coach

Gone are the days when coaching was considered as a remedial tool; organizations today are fast realizing the power of coaching as an investment for business growth. Across the globe, businesses have found coaching effective to improve team functioning, employee engagement, productivity and employee relations. The maximum effect however is seen on leadership development. Traditionally, organizations have hired external coaches or internal coaches; leading to a $366 billion global industry (Training.com). However, a recent study by McKinsey reveals that most of these trainings or interventions have failed to deliver significant results. Further studies reveal coaching is most effective when it is not an isolated practice. Organizations like IBM, Ikea, Apple, Amazon etc. have successfully introduced and benefitted from “Leader as a coach” programs.

 “Leader as a Coach”

The simplest definition of a business leader is the art of directing team members with a strategy to meet the organization’s goals. 

But the reality is that the work of a leader is far more complex; they must have the ability to motivate, inspire, carry the team and maintain harmony. Most leaders succumb to the temptation to lead by telling, advising, exhorting, reprimanding and so on. 

Instead of a directive approach, leaders must adopt a coaching approach: rapport building; empathy; active listening; not judging; focusing on opportunities rather than failures are all hallmarks of a great coach and a great leader. 

A leader-coach operates on the principle that people are naturally creative, resourceful, capable and self-motivated. This means that team members are not hounded to perform but are supported to define their own working parameters. 

For the program to succeed, the organization must have an accepted coaching culture. The coaching program at Amazon works because Jeff Bezos is an advocate of coaching. FirstMeridian invests in building the culture conducive for Leadership to strengthen their teams and inspire them to push their limits. 


Core Elements to Build a “Leader as a Coach” Culture:

A recent study reveals that organizations with coaches as leaders tend to have improved business performance. 


Level 4 Organizations 

Those with leaders who are highly effective coaches

Other All Organizations
(on average) Those with leaders who are not effective coaches

Collaborative Culture Exists



Improved Revenue



Improved Retention




Source: Brandon Hall Group Performance Management and Team Development and Performance studies

As mentioned at the beginning, coaching is not a remedial tool, but a continuous performance enhancement tool. It is essential to communicate the same throughout the organization and remove any stigma (if any) associated with coaching. 

Core Elements:

  1. Top down approach: Hire external coaches for the senior leadership team to coach and train them in coaching. Once this team realizes the benefit of coaching, they will pioneer a coaching culture.

  2. Communicate: Build and communicate a coaching strategy that is aligned with the business strategy. Ensure that every team member understands the strategy and is in sync with it.

  3. Accountability: Every manager knows that one of their key roles is to develop their team members. Ensure that they use a coaching approach by creating a structured process; provide adequate resources and most importantly make time available for coaching.

  4. Curiosity: The hallmark of a coach is curiosity. Train managers to ask questions instead telling people what to do. This approach encourages the team to look at solutions rather than being blinded by the problems.

  5. Recognize and Reward: The process of coaching is result oriented and lends itself to performance metrics; identify managers/leaders who achieve results through coaching. Create a healthy competitive environment for optimal results.

  6. Train! Train! Train: Formal “leader as a coach” trainings help the leaders to gain mastery over coaching conversations for setting and achieving business goals. They also provide continuous support through learning materials (tools, templates etc.). These must be supplemented through continued mentoring and refresher courses. 


Tips to be an effective Leader- Coach

  1. Learn to coach. Coaching is not an inborn talent; invest in a program to learn the various tools and techniques to coach effectively. Frequent refresher courses; networking with other coaches etc. will help you stay on top of your game. 

  2. Know your team well and then empower them. Invest time in getting to know your team. Build a strong rapport and an environment of trust. 

  3. Walk the talk! Be an example for your team. Rather than just talking about expected behaviors; adopt them yourself. 

  4. Focus on the success of your team. A coach succeeds only when the client succeeds. Likewise, a leader -coach can succeed only if the team is successful. 

  5. Paint a powerful vision. Coaching is all about staying focused on the larger goal, having a proper action plan. Aid your team members to visualize the goal and motivate them to succeed.

End Note:

 “Coaching is unlocking people's potential to maximize their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them.” ? John Whitmore

“The task of leadership is not to put greatness into humanity, but to elicit it, for the greatness is already there”. John Buchan

Need we say more?

The Reskilling Revolution

Technological advances & socio-economic factors are disrupting work environments everywhere. Employees across industries and levels are struggling to learn to work with machines that are fast becoming ubiquitous across all workplaces. To quote Sandeep Bhambure Managing Director - Veeam Software, India & Saarc: “One of the biggest challenges for me is to develop and implement a reskilling strategy not just for my team; but for me too. It is no longer an option. We must join the revolution to stay competitive.”  

The Reskilling Revolution:

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is rapidly changing the world of the workplace. According to The Future of Jobs Report: in the 2018-2022 period; four specific technological advances driving business growth would be: high-speed mobile internet; artificial intelligence; widespread adoption of big data analytics; and cloud technology. These advances will result in the creation of new jobs and would redefine many existing jobs; several of the existing job roles will decline drastically, a few may even disappear completely.

Upskilling: learning new competencies to stay in current role, due to the change in skills required, or adding certain competencies for job progression.

Reskilling: learning new sets of competencies to transition to a completely new role.


  Table 1. Examples of stable, new and redundant roles, all industries

Stable Roles

New Roles

Redundant Roles

Managing Director & Chief Executive

General & Operation Managers*

Software & Application Developers & Analysts*

Data Analysts & Scientists*

Sales & Marketing Professionals*

Sales Representatives, Wholesale & Manufacturing, Technical & Scientific products

Human Resources Specialists

Financial & Investment Advisors

Database & Network Professionals

Supply Chain & Logistic Specialists

Risk Management Specialists

Information Security Analysts*

Management & Organization Analysts

Electrotechnology Engineers

Organization Development Specialists*

Chemical Processing Plant Operators

University & Higher Education Teachers

Compliance Officers

Energy & Petroleum Engineers

Robotic Specialists & Engineers.

Petroleum & Natural Gas Refining Plant Operators.

Data Analysts & Scientists*

AI & Machine Learning Specialists

General & Operation Managers*

Big Data Specialists

Digital Transformation Specialists

Sales & Marketing Professionals*

New Technology Specialists

Organization Development Specialists*

Software & Application Developers & Analysts*

Information Technology Services

Process Automation Specialists

Innovation Professionals

Information Security Analysts*

Ecommerce & Social Media Specialists.

User Experience & Human – Machine Interaction Designers.

Training & Development Specialists.

Robotic Specialists & Engineers.

People & Culture Specialists

Client Information & Customer Service Workers*

Service & Solution Designers.

Digital Marketing & Strategy Specialists.

Data Entry Clerks

Accounting, Bookkeeping & Payroll Clerks

Administrative & Executive Secretaries.

Assembly & Factory Workers

Client Information & Customer Service Workers*

Business Services & Administration Managers

Accounts & Auditors

Material Recording & Stock Keeping Clerks

General Operations Managers.

Postal Services Clerks.

Financial Analysts

Cashiers & Ticket Clerks

Mechanics & Machinery Repairers

Tele Marketeers

Electronics & Telecommunications Installers & Repairers

Bank Tellers & Related Clerks

Car, Van & Motorcycle Drivers

Sales & Purchasing Agents & Brokers

Door to Door Sales Workers, News & Street Vendors & Related Workers.

Statistical, Finance & Insurance Clerks


Source: Future of Jobs Survey 2018, World Economic Forum.

Note: Roles marked with * appear across multiple columns. This reflects the fact that they might be seeing stable or declining demand across one industry but be in demand in another.

There is a definite gap in the existing skills vis-à-vis the skills required for the new and redefined jobs. Skills that are expected to be in demand are technology design and programming; systems analysis and evaluation; human skills like creativity, originality and initiative, critical thinking and analysis, leadership and emotional intelligence. At the same time, the demand for physical and mental skills like manual endurance, dexterity and precision; memory, visual, auditory and speech abilities, quality control and safety awareness are expected to decline.

Table 2. Comparing skill demand, 2018 vs 2022, top 10


Increasing, 2022

Declining, 2022

Analytical thinking and innovation

Complex problem solving

Critical thinking and analysis

Active learning & learning strategies

Creativity, originality and initiative.

Attention to detail, trust worthiness

Emotional Intelligence

Reasoning, Problem solving & Ideation

Leadership & Social Influence

Coordination & Time Management

Analytical thinking and innovation

Active learning & learning strategies

Creativity, originality and initiative.

Technology Design & Programming

Critical thinking and analysis

Complex problem solving

Leadership & Social Influence

Emotional Intelligence

Reasoning, Problem solving & Ideation

Systems Analysis & Evaluation.

Manual dexterity, Endurance & precision.

Memory, verbal, auditory & spatial abilities.

Management of financial and material resources.

Technology installation & maintenance.

Reading, writing, math & active listening.

Management of personnel.

Quality control & Safety awareness.

Coordination & Time Management

Visual, auditory & speech abilities.

Technology use, monitoring & control.


Source: World Economic Forum, Future of Jobs Report 2018

Strategies to Meet the Changing Requirements:

Companies across the globe are working frantically to develop a strategy to stay competitive and relevant in the new scenario. Some of the strategies that are commonly adopted are:

  • Hiring new permanent staff with relevant skills for the new work environment.

  • Develop and implement a robust strategy for retraining existing employees.

  • Outsource some of the business functions to external contractors

  • Hire temporary staff with relevant skills to bridge the gap. 

  • Hire freelancers with skills relevant to new technologies

  • Strategic reduction of workforce that lack relevant skills.

Pros & Cons of reskilling:

While hiring a new set of employees rather than reskilling may sound cost effective, it is a proven fact that the cost of hiring and firing is extremely high. Newer employees take a while to adjust to the company’s ecosystem and would result in decreased productivity. Reskilled employees are already a part of the ecosystem; they are back in the system with increased motivation and a desire to excel. 

Shaping the Future Talent Pipeline

Whatever may be the strategy/ies that companies adopt, the need of the hour is to ensure that relevant skills are available and that too at a not too distant future. Companies must work together to bring about the reskilling revolution. 

  1. Develop targeted reskilling programs: Even if companies decide to hire for new skills, it stands to reason that the talent pipeline will soon dry up; and the increased demand would lead to a sharp increase in wage and hiring bills. Companies need to kickstart an internal reskilling program: identifying high potential employees and developing talent through targeted reskilling, job rotations and mentoring. There is a need to build an industry consortium to provide shared reskilling programs.

  2. Upskill on a large scale: Technological disruptions would affect all jobs; to maintain relevance, companies must change their fundamental outlook to training. Continuous learning must become part of the culture. A combination of online and classroom training is known to offer the optimal impact. 

  3. Develop academic curriculum: Creating a ready-to-hire talent pool by creating curricula that are aligned with the needs of the industry ; developing an industry-wide academy focused on the new skills and capabilities; building long-term partnerships with universities to create courses that meet the requirements of the industry; these are just a few strategies that companies are adopting to meet the challenges of the future.  

End Note:

Individuals who have invested in reskilling and have future proofed their skills will be in demand. They can expect increased quality of work, higher wages and definite career prospects. On the other hand, individuals who do not jump on to the reskilling bandwagon may find that their jobs have eroded or taken over by technology. Which group do you belong to?

Developing & Nurturing Culture in Company

As famously said by Peter Drucker: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast"

Strategy and culture are important to maintain organizational effectiveness. Strategy provides direction for action plan and helps in better decision making while culture of the organization helps in shaping behaviours and attitudes of employees. Individuals are known by their personal traits, in the same way Culture is personality of any organization. It constitutes of various elements such as vision, mission, values, goals and objectives, etc.

Company culture is important because employees today enjoy being at the workplace when they see they fit in that culture. Culture is categorized into the following types- Team first corporate culture (Team bonding and cross department collaboration is priority), elite corporate culture(Innovation and forward thinking is necessity), hierarchy corporate culture(bottom line is priority), horizontal(flexible and research oriented) and clan corporate culture (Major emphasis on employee engagement). An ideal company would be someone who could inculcate a blend of all these types.

Taking an example of Google which is very widely known for its company culture. The organization still feels like a small company with an informal atmosphere, even though it has grown tremendously over past decade. At lunchtime, almost everyone eats in the office cafe, sitting at whatever table has an opening and enjoying conversations with Googlers from different teams. Every employee is a hands-on contributor.

FirstMeridian bridges the cultural differences among its group companies through many initiatives. One of the best ways to manage culture difference is to have an open communication with the employees. At Innovsource, President of the company addresses all the employees during townhall every month about current scenario and future plans. The main agenda is to make sure that the employees feel there is transparency and agility as per the values of the company.

A Strong company culture tends to share several common attributes:

Autonomy: Successful organization comprehend that one of the best drivers of profitability is pride of ownership in one's work. The employees therein are engaged to improve and work with self-governance, without micro-managing or hand-holding.

Performance: High-performing organizations place a major emphasis on the nature of work delivered as opposed to the quantity of hours put in. Accomplishments are routinely celebrated within the sight of colleagues, who are additionally urged to remember each other for achieving significant achievements.

Passion: Employees who are part of a strong culture tend to be united by a common path to purpose and not profits. When the goals of each employee align with the objectives of the organization, true transformation happens.

Therefore, it’s important to percolate company culture across the functions. One can consider through some of the following ways.

  • Onboarding process which must be personalized so that it is more engaging, interesting and participatory
  • Incentivizing employees for the work they perform by keeping personal aspects in mind
  • Analysing the group dynamics to increase cohesiveness. Also understanding how current climate is affecting attitude of the employees by asking challenges faced in the business. As per current scenario, focus can be more on diversity initiatives.

Building a routine is essential to build a strong work culture. The culture of Innovsource is extremely vivacious and employee friendly. It is visible in the music played for half an hour every morning, during lunch break and in the evening every single day in the office. It really helps to refresh the mood of all the employees. Additionally, birthday celebration takes place every month during which birthday buddies of that month and all employees assemble together to cut the cake.

Overall, boosting and nurturing a positive culture has proven time and again to improve productivity and well-being of the organization. Investing resources into developing the right culture will contribute towards long term success of your company.

Leadership Hiring Traits

If the Wall Street Journal is to be believed, nearly half of people who switch their jobs do so due to their incompatibility with their boss. Truly said, a manager can either make or break a winning team. He/she can either take your organization to the zenith or strangle the employees to such an extent that they dread showing up. If you don’t want to lose out on your best staff, keep an eye open for these traits while hiring top-level executives.


What will make employees trust a leader who is not even honest with them? Openness and transparency run a business. It is helpful to remember that the people down the ladder tend to follow the examples set.

Moreover, the best quality of a leader is the ability to be comfortable being uncomfortable. Believe it or not, it can be quite tough for some to accept that they are lagging in a particular department and need to shift gears. Being yourself is the key. Everything else just falls in place.

Communication Skills

A leader has to not just communicate but also make people understand their component in the completion of a process. Merging together diverse views on the objectives and getting everyone on the same page is what ensures successful completion of a task. Be it in oral or written format, the best leaders are experts in putting their views across.


Apart from regular mundane decisions, the job of a leader keeps throwing hurdles at him. A leader must be swift to respond and be spontaneous enough to come up with the best possible solutions in no time.

An average person makes around 35,000 decisions daily; now, can you imagine how many decisions a manager has to make? If you want to see the business gallop on the charts of growth, choose someone who can be swift in making decisions.


A leader transmits optimism to his employees. A confident leader has the capacity to boost the morale of the employees. A business is set to suffer setbacks, be it a court order or the entry of a new fierce competitor in the market.

If the business plummets ten times, a good leader makes sure that it’s brought back up with the same degree of enthusiasm every single time. A confident leader inspires the employees.


According to the 2015 Employee Engagement Report, only 25% of workers feel as though there are ample opportunities for professional development at their organizations. A great leader should have the understanding that the ship sinks or sails as per his/her actions. He/she should be active in keeping a tab on all the employees and making sure that they develop professionally. Ensuring this will make the employees engage with the business on a deeper level.


The stat that was mentioned in the very first line is closely related to this point. If about 70% of people feel that they are filled to the brim with their work, aren’t the leaders supposed to empathize with them and lend a helping hand?

The entire business can collapse like a stack of dominos if managers lack a basic understanding of where the employees come from and what it’s like to be them.

No one is perfect and it will be quite a tough task to find someone who has all the qualities of a leader. Your safest bet would be someone who possesses most of these traits. But remember, there are no good or bad leaders; there are only leaders who are and those who possess the will to be.

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