It is sad that humans have such poor faith in their own species ability to exercise Judgment. For it is our ability to reason and judge that makes us humans and not animals. Yet we chose to ignore and reject the 10,000 years of human progress solely achieved on the platform of subjectivity viz. human judgment and we are eulogizing and chasing after the Orwellian objectivity. The tyranny of objectivity is that there is only one logic or reason, the one which is authorized as rational by the interpreters of numbers, rules, laws of state or codified knowledge of the day, religious texts or other oligarical institutions or an illusory rational person. The notion of irrefutable truth is the very core of totalitarianism.
We have over the last fifteen years, in this country chased a mirage called absolute objectivity when it comes to assessing or rating human performance. Influenced by the practices and the endorsements from US and Europe we set upon changing our human performance assessment systems from descriptive and trait based systems to what we believed were objective measures based systems. Little did we realize that, fifteen years hence, the very proponents of these practices will bite the dust in their own countries, unable to secure their economies and institutions, with performance assessment systems both organizational and individual, which are reliable indicators of quality of performance. It is not my case to state that descriptive and trait based systems are superior to goals and measures based systems. However my case is that no system, where a human is the instrument of assessing/judging performance can ever be objective.
We very often blindly adopt endorsements and recommendations of academics and consulting firms without ever applying our own experience and judgment to it. The search for an absolutely objective human assessment system is one such eternal search for the Shangri-La. Embedded in the words subjectivity and objectivity is the indication to the true meaning of what is possible. Where a flesh and blood subject is the instrument judging performance of any kind human or otherwise, it can be nothing but subjective. True objectivity is possible only when the instrument of measurement is inanimate viz. lifeless and emotionless. This is where the confusion between assessment/rating and measurement arises. A thermometer measures and a human assesses. If a human tries to use her hand to figure out whether somebody has fever or not it is possible to assess that. It is also possible to assess whether it is a high grade or a low grade fever. The moment we start believing that the human hand is gifted with the same characteristic of a thermometer and hence by training or otherwise a human hand can measure in degrees Fahrenheit or Celsius the fever, we have already moved to a delusory state. Years of mindless propaganda and conditioning by the HR Gurus and the all knowing consultants have firmly instilled this delusion in the minds of both the assesses and the assessors and thereby killing the credibility of assessment systems of human performance in organizations.
I have also noted with amusement, the neo converts to this thought viz. those who until yesterday did not practice a decent metrics based rating system, suddenly become the zealous proponent and a guardian of the same, without even having experienced personally the various challenges involved in the same. We should come to terms that assessing human performance is more like making strategic judgment about the direction in which one would want to take a business. All the data and analysis which is required to be done prior to making the call is inevitable. But it is naïve to believe that visionary CEOs reach decisions where data and analysis lead them to. In other words data and analysis takes one closer to the choices. Nevertheless the choice would have to be a human judgment. Thus data and analysis help the judge to narrow substantially the zone of subjectivity. A system which runs purely on human judgment will be substantially inconsistent and the range of error will be large. The moment we support this human system with data, information and analysis, we help the human who is called upon to make the judgment to reduce the choices to one or two performance levels. Hence in what we call as an objective system there still can be errors to the extent of one level of performance or the other. In a process capability terms what we endeavor to do in a system where data, information and analysis is used to support human judgment, is to reduce the standard deviation of the distribution.
Over the years I have also observed with considerable amusement the belief among even senior managers that numbers mean objectivity. Arising out of this is the misconception that having metrics leads to objectivity. Nothing can be far from true, since all of us know that the choice of metrics and the integrity in compiling & reporting it is one of the serious weaknesses in the commercial world. All that one has to do is to sit through some of our business reviews to understand the subterfuge and the use of metrics to explain non- achievement, instead of using it for pin pointing what went wrong and who is accountable. The height of this fallacy was evident in the UN discussion in 2001 on whether to attack Iraq or not on the WMD debate. The much revered and celebrated Ex chief of US armed forces and the then incumbent Secretary of State used satellite generated photographs ( normally considered as water tight evidence of objectivity – even better than numbers and metrics) to get the UN vote for the famous war on terror. In the words of the McNamara (one of the best and the brightest of his era), the legendary Secretary of state to JFK during the Vietnam war, the objectivity delusion was at its height, when after a field visit to Vietnam he selected and fitted the data & information into the frame which supported the continuation of the war and was blind to the ones which screamed at him that US was indeed losing the war.
Unfortunately today organizations have reached a stage where the KRAs and the Goal sheets have become a coercive and restrictive contract between the boss and the team member. The supervisors have sadly lost the ability to get their teams to work on anything which is not specified in the KRA / Goal sheet, leading to a situation where metric is turning out to be a performance constraining and restricting tool. It has reached a comical situation that employees believe that it is better not serve a customer than do anything which is not specified in the KRA/Goal sheet as a metric. The fear of trying out something and spoiling the performance against the agreed metrics is paralyzing many an organization. Metric mania is freezing people with the fear of failure In other cases it is forcing people to adopt unethical or irrational risk taking to meet the numbers. This obsession has reduced many an otherwise competent leader to nothing more than a contract enforcer. My case is not that metrics are bad or KRAs have to be abandoned. On the other hand I am arguing the case for right and limited reliance on metrics and restoring back to managers and the leaders the right to use intuition and judgment in defining results and achievements. This will liberate enterprise and entrepreneurship back to commerce, which has become a slave of mindless and unimaginative Junior management avocation of managing by metrics.
There is another misconception that more the metrics and finer the weight age we give for various goals we make a system more objective. For a moment we should imagine ourselves to be a driver of a car. Now assume that instead of the four dials on the instrument panel we have let us say twelve and say instead of the four main controls namely accelerator, brake, gear and the steering we have twelve, I want my readers to come to the conclusion whether the driver can drive the car at all. Hence my case is that the critical performance factors either human or systemic, are the ones which need metrics. I happened to see the Saturn Five Rocket namely Apollo 11 which took astronauts to the moon and brought them back safely. I was pleasantly surprised to see that on the rocket control panel, there were just five instrument dials giving information to the astronauts. I had the opportunity to interact with an astronaut at the Kennedy Space Centre. I posed him a query, on what happens to all the other information which is required for a Space Odyssey. His reply was that it is the job of the mission control at the Houston and Cape Canaveral to collect and monitor the same. Then he took me to the mission control room at Kennedy Space Centre and pointed out that no system controller had more than four to five data to track and act. He further stated that the boss of the Space Odyssey namely the mission controller at all points of time required only mission critical information, so that he can relay back to the astronauts mission critical instructions. The moral of the experience is that no human being however capable she is will be able to comprehend process and use more than four or five critical inputs. Hence to load KRAs and performance goal sheets with metrics galore will lead to confusion and loss of focus in performance delivery. Metrics mania is a killer of performance, while apparently giving the boss an illusion of being in control.
Yet another delusion on objectivity is that the more refined a rating scale is viz. the performance rating levels, the rater can be more objective. All I want my readers to try out is to go to an electronics shop and try to evaluate a television you want to buy, amongst let us say ten brands on a rating scale of say ten and try the same with a rating scale of four or five. Here we have to understand we are rating a lifeless product hence objectivity is granted on one side. Now imagine the difficulty, when the assessor and assessee are both subjects viz. humans. It is fairly well established in rating human performance the more the choice on the rating scale the poorer the reliability and validity of ratings. In a multi-level rating scale, the raters make 60% of the rating levels on the scale redundant by not choosing the same. 80-90% of the rated population is fitted into 40% of the rating levels made available to them, thereby reducing lets say a 10 point rating scale to a 4 point rating scale.
In summary the human race has to come to terms that any assessment or rating process in which they are assessors or the assessed, will be subjective. However, a prudent use of metrics, data, analysis and rating definitions will support the assessor to reduce the range of choice and thereby the zone of subjectivity to one or two probable choices. This process substantially enhances the objectivity, but will still leave the assessment as a judgment and not a measurement. In our obsession with objectivity, we should not indignify the humans in this process viz. the assessor and the assessee by reducing them to lifeless and emotionless objects of objectivity.
Organization performance has been the focus of scholars since long. From Fortune 500 list of companies in 1992, only 120 appear in the list of Fortune 500 for the year 2007. That is, over 76% of the Fortune 500 companies disappeared from the list in 15 years, Accenture study (2007).
In India, one of the most readily available organized data on performance of the business organizations is published by Economic Times, in terms of ranking of Top 500 companies in India. This is published every year so that the comparison from year to year is possible. For the purpose of this paper, 10 years’ data from the fiscal year 1995 to fiscal year 2005 was taken. These 10 years have been the years of liberalization and growth in Indian economy, marked with unprecedented and sweeping changes. This has thrown open opportunities in all sectors of economy.
Organizations have had wider choices to embrace new technology, launch new products, enter new markets and become global companies. These opportunities have been available to all companies in India. Some of them made full use of these opportunities and grew very rapidly. On the other hand, a large number of companies have not been able to cope with this new liberalized competitive environment. Economic Times ranking of 500 top companies in India shows that 309 out of top 500, i.e. 62% of the companies listed in the fiscal year 1995 are no longer in the Economic Times listing of top 500 companies for the fiscal year 2005.
Further, 101 out of total 500 companies i.e. 20% of the companies have declined in their ranking from fiscal year 1995 to fiscal year 2005. Only 90 companies, which are 18% of the Top 500 companies, have improved their ranking over the last 10 years. Both Fortune 500 and Economic Times 500 indicate a trend that large number of organizations are not able to sustain their success over a time period of 10 to 15 years.
Why does this happen? Does leadership play any role in influencing the company’s performance?
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Motivating employees at work is an issue confronting academicians, researchers and practicing managers all over the world. Human Resource managers are
• Reevaluating the relevance of traditional motivation theories developed by Maslow and Herzberg, which focus higher set of needs such as self-actualization, in the present day cultural context
• Suggesting suitable changes and developing an alternate theories to understand the intrinsic process of employee motivation
The Fear Greed Theory of Motivation
There are interesting implications for managers and decision makers as they revisit the process of motivation. Thomas Patten, argues that there are just two basic motivators, i.e. greed and fear. Fear-greed motivation theory, as postulated by him, has economic self-interest as its core and is more fitting to what is happening today. In support of his argument, he cites the exchange theory in sociology, public-choice theory of political science and emerging socio-biology, all being focused on self-interest. The recent fall of financial giants, seem to support this contention.
How relevant is Maslow Today?
Greed seems to be emerging as a potent addition in the context of loss of jobs due to economic downturn, rising labour costs and potential reduction of financial services industry coupled with already shrinking aerospace and weapon markets, all causing widespread fear among working class. Well-paid jobs seem to be increasingly perceived as means for providing a secured and gratifying existence. A secured existence reduces fear. The more is fear reduced, the greater is one’s feeling of security.
The proposition is thought provoking in the current context -
• What truly motivates employees- is it greed or self-actualization?
• Are the motivational theories of Maslow and Herzberg based on self-actualization enough to understand the work motivation process today?
• If the answer to the previous question is no, is there an alternate framework to help practicing managers understand behavior of employees and the motivation process
Show me the money: Is it all that it takes?
It is only in the past decade that the importance of rewards – money, in particular, has been recognized. Organizational Behavior Expert, Lawler seems to support this, “A great deal of evidence exists to suggest that pay was important to employees and that it could motivate them, yet it has been systematically ignored or distorted”.
The generalization in relating greed seems to be justified in workers exhibiting consistent behaviour pattern (asking for more benefits). Work has indeed moved from being a “noble cause” that a man could be intrinsically motivated to engage himself in, to a “commodity” which is accomplished in lieu of money through extrinsic motivation. And as work assume the nature of a commodity, motivation to deliver more than expected has dropped and most enterprises today grapple with quality issues.
Schemes intended to motivate employees by linking compensation to performance and productivity are not alien to us. The assumption is that people perform better if they are provided with higher incentives. Research studies, conducted in various work settings, however support an opposing view. According to Alfie Kohn, “As for productivity, at least two dozen studies over the last three decades have conclusively shown that people who expect to receive a reward for completing a task or for doing that task successfully simply do not perform as well as those who expect no reward at all”.
In an increasingly consumeristic world, where there is demand for higher deemed comfort levels,
• Do most employees find their lower needs are inadequately satisfied?
• Has this led to the temporary disappearance of man’s higher needs, and consequently his desire to reach out towards them?
Even as we look at modifying traditional motivational theories of Maslow and Herzberg, the theory of fear-greed motivation could do with more conceptual rigor and empirical studies. Most importantly, in an emerging economy like India, which is at the crossroads of change, there is growing importance of money as the prime motivator for work. And therefore, the theory of fear-greed motivation could be of interest.
By Dr. Pallab Bandyopadhyay, Head of HR- Asia Pacific, Perot Systems
Last month, I met an old friend. He had done himself well, and is now the HR Head – or Chief People Officer as he would insist -in a blue-chip company.
“How have you been?” I asked him.
“Oh, I am doing well,” he replied.
“…and how has the current recession affected you?” This was a curiosity for me: what would the HR professionals be doing with people when there is not enough market demand to keep the employees productively employed.
“Not much, really!! We have managed it well,” he said. “In fact, we just concluded an Employee Alignment and Optimization initiative last week.”
‘Employee Alignment and Optimization ” seemed such a sexy term. It conjoured up images of a happy bunch of people being helped by my friend and his HR team to bring their interest and capabilities in-synch with their work and performance.
“That’s really nice! You mean, you assessed and re-allocated them so that they get to do what they are really capable of doing, and enjoy doing?”
He looked aghast and uncomfortable. “No! no!,” he said. “This was actually an initiative to disengage about 200 of them from the organization.”
“You mean, you fired them?!!” I was startled, not being sure how can one “optimize” and “align” people by firing them.
“No, actually, we didn’t have to fire them, at all,” he beamed, happily. “In fact, as we had planned, it was a voluntary separation. It was really a very smooth process.”
I was thoroughly impressed. “That’s really remarkable!,” I said with awe. “It says so much about the level of commitment you must have fostered among the people, that they could make such a sacrifice for the larger good of the organization. Imagine!… you send out a mail saying that we need 200 volunteers to leave the organization – and people actually volunteer.”
My friend looked at me as if I had lost my beans. “Of course, Not! It was not like that at all!!” he almost choked. “This was a very systematic and thorough exercise; we planned it with precision, and with full confidentiality; and we trained our HR and line executives to communicate the choice to the 200 of our employees who had be separated.”
I was befuddled, “….and what was the choice?”
“Oh!,” he said with the pride of a general who has cleverly ambushed the enemy. “We told them that they can volunteer to resign; they will have to sign a document to that effect. It was our legal department which suggested this. In return, we will give them 2 months of “sabbatical leave” – “
“Sabbatical leave! You mean, the company will finance 2 months for their re-education?” I was amazed at this generous gesture, though by now, I had a nagging doubt that there must be a catch somewhere.
“No, no!, we can’t do that. Think of the costs!” he corrected me. “You know, what with this sensitivity of media about the pink-slips, we had to really think about what to call this interim period. What we actually offered them was 2 months of further employment at half salary, and they don’t have to come to office – actually, they can’t enter office! We also promised to help their outplacement, and they get a decent separation package after 3 months. Depending upon their length of service, they would get 2-months to 10-months of their pay as the severance pay.”
“…and what if they didn’t accept this offer?”, I was curious – or as Alice would have said, it was getting curiouser and curiouser.
He laughed, waving his hands in the air. “Actually, there was not much of a choice for them.” he said with some satisfaction. “We had their performance ratings, and other inputs from the line managers, which we could use to retrench them. We told them that, upfront…. our Legal Dept had already put together a strong case for termination for each of them, really!.”
A stray thought suddenly occurred to me.
“But tell me,” I asked. ”why did you want to fire – er, sorry, disengage - them in the first place!?”
He looked at me incredulously, as if I was from some other planet. “Don’t you read the newspapers?” he asked. “I don’t know if this is a cyclical recession or a meltdown, but the point is that we need to cut down costs – and maintain our margins.”
“Costs!!.. But aren’t employees the “resources” – I mean, Human Resources? I know organizations which even call them “the most precious assets” or “human capital”? How did they suddenly become “cost” to the company?”
“Ugh! You don’t seem to understand…,” he lapsed into silence for some time. “After all, “resources”, “assets” etc., are just words. The key issue is: whether, as HR professionals, we are contributing to business or not.”
“But what happens if the business picks up in a year or so, and you need more people?”
“If that happens, we will have to hire new ones”, he said in a matter-of-fact manner. “The point is that have to maintain our profit margins of 35%…”
Needless to say, we left each other, puzzled – and the rest of the conversation, somewhat, went on the same tenor…
And I recalled Jerry Harvey’s classical article: “Eichmann in the Organisation”…
“… it was not the Nazis only who were to be blamed for what happened to Jews – but also the Jewish Council in Germany. To quote:
“…the collusive role played by the Jewish councils – the most powerful, respected, and trusted members of the Jewish community – in the liquidation of their own people, including, in the end, themselves…. they compiled lists for the Nazis of persons to be deported… served as police during actual seizure of people and property… “ etc.
In the contemporary scenario, Adolf Eichmann was the quintessential Human Resources professional, and would have approved of the new HR Mantra:
Align!… Optimize!!… Fire!!!
During times of economic downturn, businesses tend to respond to short-term crises with counterproductive defensive tactics. Such knee jerk reactions ultimately hurt the only sustainable competitive advantage we have i.e. our employees.
Regardless of whether Companies are experiencing an economic slowdown or an economic upswing, the bottom line is that people power is the certain route towards gaining a competitive advantage.
In this context investment in talent development is one of the most effective ways for businesses to maintain their top talent’s loyalty and ability to continue delivering high-performance. HR leaders thus need to be proficient at developing talent and creating the congenial work environment to build a high-performing workforce. Today, one of the top priorities for HR is maintaining a talent pipeline, driving high performance throughout the organization and experimenting with new HR practices based on the needs of their people. This HR contribution becomes all the more prudent in a economic downturn environment.
One of the key roles played by HR is to develop the leadership pool for the organization. Shopping for Leaders in the open market will become increasingly risky and difficult on the contrary building leaders will be the only way to succeed. Over the years, HR has thus become strategic to business; there are many examples in Indian as well as global Companies where HR Heads have been made a part of the Board of Directors. Hence during the downturn a calm & balanced approach on people decisions becomes the pre-requisite to define the roadmap to normal times.
In the present business environment HR function has to demonstrate a strong relationship between workforce practices and business performance. This will be done through advanced data-mining and the predictive modeling of human resource processes i.e. talent development, Performance Management etc; to identify new business insights. In other words, HR would continue its focus on human resource measurements.
HR is accountable for driving performance at the organizational, team and individual levels. I think that today’s focus on high performance is a growing recognition through reward and recognition, performance management, and people development etc. Instead of focusing on individual motivators, HR functions must begin to look at driving performance as an end-to-end process that begins with goal-setting and alignment, ensures accountability for achieving results, includes thorough and consistent feedback, and ends with differentiated and targeted rewards and developmental opportunities..
While dealing with the downturn most of us negate or pay less attention to the people aspect in our business, as we are more interested in managing our bottom line. In the trying business circumstances similar to the one we are experiencing in the past 9 months, many organizations have found a short term solution in laying off their employees, while few have been able to actually demonstrate their belief in ‘People Power’ by retaining them and ensuring a long term competitive edge for their company. It is high time that we acknowledge the fact that employees are the key differentiating factor for any business organization, as they ‘Draw, Drive & Deliver’ the business results. The underlying principles of any business model, therefore, should always aim at, keeping the employees motivated & engaged. The leadership should take time out for employees & have one to one dialogue, communicate consistently & honestly, connect each employee to the organization by emphasizing their contribution. In fact the motto for top leadership should be “Be there” for your people & most importantly, “listen to your employees.”
A business has both internal and external customers. In an economic upswing or downtrend, everyone gets affected, though the extent may vary. The key to handle this is to get back to the ‘Basics’ - Strong leadership, investment in key resources, thorough planning, improving productivity, renewed focus, out of box thinking & innovations and customer obsession. However, this can actually happen only if one has a competent, engaged and highly motivated employees.
Unquestionably, the winners on the other side of this global downturn will be the organizations with the strategic leadership talent that can drive innovation and growth. Consequently, the nurturing and development of strategic leadership talent is vital and should be on the agenda of boards. The ability of a company to deal with difficult situations is to a large extent dependant on the mental strength & positive mindset of the top leadership, as well as the organizational culture. In my view looking at counter measures in the downturn situation is more of a reactionary approach. The organizations must look at up scaling the People Power through innovation & growth and stay focused on people processes when business environment is on the upswing.
To conclude, let me say Corporates have to choose between a short term approach of going for knee jerk reactions and viewing the employees as an overhead cost or talking a prudent view of people as the talent pool or people power which in the long term can help Companies to ride out hard economic times and improve their overall business performance and enable consistent organization growth.
Managing Executive Officer – Admn (HR, Finance & IT), Maruti Suzuki India Limited And President – National HRD Network, Delhi Chapter
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
– Martin Luther King
We are indeed in the midst of an unsettling environment, fuelled by the rising cost of capital, falling consumer confidence, inflationary concerns, pressure on profit margins, decreased equity valuations, challenges which demand an unprecedented prudence from business leaders. Lessons learnt from past experiences of managing the road ahead in such difficult times reveal that the agenda to sustain and enhance performance requires an ideal balance between managing the “now” with a proactive well managed plan for the future.
As WH Auden aptly observed long ago about cancer, we are seemingly in the midst of a condition where “Nobody knows what the cause is, /Though some pretend they do; / It’s like some hidden assassin/ Waiting to strike at you.” Even as organizations revisit the strategy, the human resources function would be expected to align with the new realities. Announcing short term measures such as employee reduction apparently are transmitting the right signals to stakeholders at large that there is definitive focus on cost control. Is this conserving or destroying value is a question that confronts us.
The role of the HR professional is to be an alchemist. Intellect is the new form of property, and the HR function needs to play its part in ensuring that the human capital advantage of the organization is sustained, irrespective of good or difficult times.
Intellectual capital is not added overnight and the efforts must be recognized as an investment, not just as expenditure. The human resources function must be ‘like a circle whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere’. The need of the hour for HR is to weave a strategy to convert this situation into an opportunity that can help the organization emerge stronger once the troubled times are over. How must the Human Resources function respond?
The first critical step is to examine the implications of current changes and ensure that the people strategies are relooked at from a ‘new’ point of view. This would provide the basis for a set of guiding principles that will help take necessary actions across the value chain.
Ø HR strategy refresh must reflect the new business strategy and broad directions being set to steer the company through choppy waters
Ø Implement high impact HR Interventions, to deliver business imperatives, and prioritize expenditure on various HR programs to conserve outflows
Ø Account for HR costs on people programs and tie them to financial returns to estimate the ROI and follow up with close monitoring of effectiveness
Ø Evaluate automation / outsourcing options actively of certain HR functions esp where resources can be conserved
Two decades of incessant growth is likely to have resulted into certain inefficiencies creeping in the way organizations are designed, particularly where there has been an insufficient attention on this critical aspect When it is time to make every move count, organizations need to review the structure to bring in more agility and flexibility in the system. Organization structures are indeed the bridge between strategy and execution, and the second key step is to enable it be even more effective.
Ø Restructure the organization in order to adapt to the new business environment
Ø Realign reporting relationships and delegation of authority for swift decision making
Ø Review of workforce planning as per changed business projections
Ø Examine alternatives such as redeployment/planned sabbaticals/ job sharing/ and rightsizing only as a last resort
The third vital step is to focus on Performance with a new lens. When the chips are down, each employee must be able to extract the maximum mileage of his abilities, and the environment created should nurture a high performance orientation. People can make all the difference if they feel committed. Strengthening the linkage of performance and reward has become the need of the hour.
Ø Identify critical skill sets and develop a focused talent retention and development program
Ø Identify high potential employees and focus on strengthening their capabilities
Ø Create a fungible workforce to enable quick re-deployment
Ø Drive a performance oriented culture
Ø Enhance linkage between individual performance and variable pay
The next step is to conserve the value inside the organization by recognizing people asset to be at the heart of creating a sustainable competitive advantage. It is important to preserve the fabric of the organization through sustained employee engagement and regular employee communication. The message that we are all in it together; that we can survive the times, and more importantly that the leadership has a clear plan creates ownership and cascades the ability to survive and thrive.
Ø Evolve a two way communication strategy to keep all employees and stakeholders updated about the business objectives, and new expectations
Ø Encourage an organizational culture that embraces learning and holds managers and employees accountable for the results
Ø Asses employee engagement levels and drive innovative employee engagement practices
Ø Engage in a Corporate Employer Branding exercise to reach a broad array of audiences
The HR function has a vital role to play in preserving and nourishing the human capital assets of the organization, and must measure up to meet the situation at hand. The primacy of HR must be wrought from the flaming forge of turbulence that besets us. In the words of Tennyson from Ulysses, the role of HR in such times calls for “One equal temper of heroic hearts /Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will / To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”