human resources

Innovation: Open Source concepts in Human Resource Practices within an organization

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As a huge believer, user, proponent, contributor of open source for more than 10+ years, I now firmly believe that the ‘concepts’ of open source — such as transparency, visibility, openness, user participation, emergence are equally applicable to many many more facets of life, society and organizations; and go much beyond just software products.

For example; let’s talk out these concepts of “transparency, visibility, openness, user participation” in ‘Human Resources’ function of an organization, with a focus on performance management:

  • Setting of annual/project based objectives by employees is a very key pillar of performance management in any reasonably large organization. However; we also know that this is a major pain area for most organizations. The issues & pain points range from
    • Employees not setting their annual/project based objectives in time and at times doing so only few days/weeks before the annual/project appraisal.
    • Managers/Supervisor not laying enough importance to this aspect of people development
    • The employees not knowing what to set as objectives and at times using
    • Cases where objectives have been set but employees are doing work that has no or little co-relation to what they have set as their objectives
    • The perception — true or other wise; that objectives don’t matter and has little or no bearing on the actual appraisal
    • Organization not walking the talk — Senior Managers/Supervisors not being held accountable for people development; in fact in some cases managers/supervisors getting away by not setting their own objectives
    • Others such as talent demand supply gap, etc.
  • These above issues have a multiplier effect and are a huge bottleneck for an organization that wants to build a culture of ‘meritocracy‘ and not ‘yes man ship‘. For building a meritocratic organization, the fundamental basis is rewarding employees based on quality of work done, output, results and ‘work objectives‘ plays a huge role in that.

Can open source concepts come to the rescue?

  • Can the objectives of ALL the people within the organization be made visible to everyone? What’s the harm? This can, with a single stroke, create an environment of  “transparency, visibility, openness” that can lead to the building of absolute fairness  in the system. The team will know who is accountable for what and who is pulling their weight and who is punching well below their weight.
  • What if, extrapolating this even further, even the appraisal ratings/feedback of people is made visible to everyone? People will know why someone is where (s)he is? Again, with a single stroke you just remove all the seeds of what can cause weeds to grow…

I have heard of few organizations where one/both of the above is practiced. Infact, apart from your salary, everything is public within the organization — what projects you are working on, what’s your objectives for this quarter etc etc.

I wonder why organizations don’t go down this path?