Mukund Menon, Founder, Liveware People

Mukund Menon, Founder, Liveware People

Mukund Menon is the Founder of Liveware People a People Advisory and Consulting firm, that provides a service, CHRO As A Service and help customers in the Leadership Development, Organization Development & Effectiveness, Coaching, Learning & Development. Before Liveware People, he was the President – Group HR of Ashok Piramal Group based out of Corporate Head Quarters, Mumbai, India. In his career of 28 years, he had been in senior global roles both in the US and India with corporations like International Paper, Tech Mahindra, Charles River Computers, DSQ Software, Manali Petrochemical Ltd (SPIC), covering all Industry Verticals, Global IT
Solution Centers, Business Teams in Americas.

He had been in global roles for three decades, of which around 12 yrs. had been in the US with responsibility across global locations. His expertise had been in running a business unit with P&L responsibility in the US, people acquisition, enablement, and engagement globally in diverse environment, participation in customer acquisitions and people strategy. In his business role he had managed engagements with clients around NYC metro in brokerage, investment banking, high tech industry with an end to end responsibility in sales, project delivery and people management. During his stint he was part of the leadership team that did two merger and acquisitions. His people management roles cover, acquiring and building leadership talent, process and productizing HR processes, talent engagement in the US and other global locations, HR strategy and design, integrating business and people management functions.

He was a Board Member in the Government Board of Andhra Pradesh Employee Welfare Board, chaired by the Labor Minister of Andhra Pradesh and had been associated in the advisory councils of universities, firms, and speaker in Leadership Forums in India and abroad.

He was the Chair for AP CII HR & Skill Building for a period of three years. He was recognized as the “100 Most Influential Global HR Professional” by CHRO Asia for his work and contributions to HR globally and in India.

He is an outdoor enthusiast, in activities like trekking, white water rafting,
amateur golf, etc.

In this Interview, Mukund shares his views on different aspects of the Goal Settings process:

How important is goal cascading & the need to tie every employee’s goals to an organizational objective? Is it always practical and effective?

If the goals are not cascaded, the organization will land up having a mismatch with organization performance and individual performance. In my CHRO stints the first challenge that was thrown to me was from the CEO or Founders of the company is to set the goals for the company and cascade to the organization. Their earlier experience had been, that organization didn’t perform as expected, but the individual goals we are all achieved or exceeded and they end up paying variable pay, that is not consistent with org performance.

It is effective and practical. It is an effort that people at the top have to take in defining their objectives for the year and keep the eye on the ball. There are enough tools available in the market to do it. The HR teams need to be trained to cascade, business leaders need help in defining their target, workshops and interventions for goal setting are to be managed to bring an effective outcome. Most of the organizations have corporate wide enterprise software, which can be used to populate the measures and metrics for those goals which are quantitative in nature.

In your opinion, should goal setting be a collaborative process between managers and employees? And why?

It has to be a collaborative process. The world is largely moving to an OKR approach, given the amount of responsibility and accountability that is expected out of the role. It is very important that managers encourage and share their expectations and objectives with the team member well ahead of the game.

The onus of manager’s success in defining their goal and sharing with their team member, lies with the ability of the company to clearly define their goals and objectives for the year, how SMART they are, easily understandable and how well it is communicated to the all across the company, by the CEO and the leadership of the company.

It helps the next level managers to set a direction, state their goals clearly, avoid writing their routine transactional items into goals and focus on strategic items that truly impact business goals and add value to the organization.

Most of the organizations have tied their variable pay to the goals, which includes company performance. It makes all that important to break down the company goals at individual level and assign to individuals which will ultimately add up and reflect the overall performance.

Are sub-goals essential to set effective goals for the employees? Why?

My recommendation is to set an average of 5-6 goals per individual which are not their day to day job, but those are specific actions which will impact, improve, grow, innovate a business or function for which they are responsible. Once they are able to set the 5-6 larger goals, the sub goals are those which support achieving the larger goals by narrating the path or test to ensure they are staying on course. The individuals have to be measured on larger goals, and sub goals are used to review the progress. They help to seek support, course correct, and at a collective level make sure all of them are pulling in the same direction.

In other words objectives are larger goal and KRA are the sub goals which will help to achieve the objective.

How should zero-target goals be measured for performance in an organization?

Zero target goals are often called CTQ goals ( Critical to Quality), where the target cannot be anything less than zero. For example, if you are setting goals for employees located in the factory and the company wants to drive safely as an agenda, one of the goal for people working in the factory will be – ‘there will zero life incident in the year for all those who work in our premises and ensure everyone goes home safe” which means we should avoid all life incidents ( fatal accidents ) at all cost. We cannot have a target other than zero. This will also be a message to the employees in the company, that safety orientation is of importance and the impetus given to safety in the company.

The zero targets are those which should be considered non-negotiable. Don’t do zero unless it is reasonable. We cannot have a zero complaint from customer as a goal, considering there will be complaints from customer. Zero targets should be realistic and they are those which any incident creates a major impact to the people, business, image or company.

Should all goals be measurable? How to incorporate measurable parameters to otherwise subjective goals?

All goals should be SMART(specific, measurable, achievable, relevant & time based) enough that provides clarity to the individual who would own the goal. It should be a portion of overall company performance which is measured, in smaller numbers that add up to the larger numbers to reflect business performance. In this process, there will be a combination of quantitative and qualitative goals where the qualitative are to be measured through, events, time lines, outcome measures, etc. For example: To innovate and launch a new product, will be a qualitative goal for the technology team at the early stage. They have to use intellectual horse power to invent and make it work before it becomes a product. This will be a qualitative goal at the invention stage for the tech group. The measures will be time, number of inventions, features to be added, number of enhancements or upgrade to the existing product, cost of invention could also be added.