Genoveva Grillo is an Organizational Development, Learning and Talent Management Consultant. She is also a trainer who develops and facilitates training activities linked to the development of interpersonal and organizational skills.
She holds a BS in Work Relations from the University of Buenos Aires (AR) and has a Masters Degree in Organizational Studies from the University of San Andrés (AR).
In the past, Genoveva has been an In-Company Education Manager at the Corporate Education Center at the University of San Andrés, in charge of design and implementation of business executive training programs (management, strategy, marketing, HR and leadership among others).
Previously she performed in different functions within the HR field at Movicom Bellsouth and Movistar.
Genoveva is also an Adjunct Teacher at San Andrés University. She teaches HR Management and Organizational Behavior (Masters class). She has also taught the class Theory and Organizational Behavior for the Labor Relationships class at the University of Buenos Aires.
Her MS thesis boarded the problem of Talent Management in high uncertainty environments, which was selected for presentation at the Latin American Council of Administration Schools (CLADEA).
The views and opinions expressed by Genoveva do not reflect -nor refer- to her employer or current employment status. This interview was conducted with a focus on the general HR and OD field.
Genoveva, what’s the state of affairs with regards to Organizational Development: where’s the focus and how much weight do companies put on OD?
I don’t know if there’s “a focus”, I think the subjects we board depend on the particular situation of each organization. I also don’t know if OD is exclusive of big companies, today, I see a lot of small business starting to work on matters of OD, because as they grow, they tend to reach a bottleneck tied to their teams’ capacities.
One of the most discussed subjects nowadays in talent management is the scarcity of certain profiles in high demand. In line with this, as a means to attract and retain talent, a lot of attention is being payed to climate. This at the same time, usually includes the work-life balance problematic, which sometimes involves flex-time and home office initiatives.
For companies that have undergone strong regionalization and/or offshore outsourcing processes, this matter of virtual work turns out to be key, as well as multi-cultural teams.
Lastly, leadership development is an always present subject, but the focus on this is more related to the states of maturity that the organization goes through, than the external context.
How much collaboration from the line is usually given to HR in the implementation of OD programs? Is there any resistance to them?
Many times, what happens is that the OD initiatives come solely from HR because the guidelines are passed by HQ or because they are trends imposed by the market; but are not based in an assertive diagnostic built jointly among the parties involved. In some cases, the Line finds little meaning or does not relate to these initiatives, and thus, do not commit or support them.
Since Organization Development initiatives always imply some type of change or learning, and the first requisite for this to happen is that the protagonists feel that need to learn or the urgency to change, these initiatives tend to fail.
I think that support from the Line must be sought before anything else in an instance of joint construction and diagnostic of a solution.
How does the macro-economical and social context influence the implementation of OD plans?
In general, OD plans require a certain budget, that’s why in contexts of recession these actions also tend to decrease. On the other hand, companies that even within these contexts decide to initiate OD process, do it because there’s a general consensus about the need and criticality of embarking on such an endeavor due to its impact in business results.
My personal experience is that paradoxically, in these contexts, is when the richest and most successful projects materialize.
Is this external context a variable that can be controlled within an organization?
No, I don’t think it can be controlled. What I do think, is that an organization can think a series of future scenarios and consequently generate, internally, conditions that could enable it to anticipate and adjust to these fluctuations of the context.
I don’t think it’s possible to simplify the external context, I think that it’s a matter of replicating in the interior, the external diversity in order to adjust.
Is it possible to set criteria and measurable objectives for Organizational Development plans?
Possibly, but as far as I know, you tend to fall in the error of leaving aside non-cuantifyable variables that may be critical and instead, prioritizing those that can be measured but at the same time may not be so relevant. This is why companies end up generating dashboards built on “possible” indicators instead of key indicators.
I think that it’s still worth the try since it’s useful to get an idea of the ROI and also to get approval for certain investments, but I don’t think that an analysis of this type alone can evaluate an OD initiative.
What’s the importance that is currently being given to career plans and talent management?
Worldwide, the talent management problematic is usually referred as the lack of workers from the “knowledge society”. In Argentina, this reality, the lack of IT and Engineering professionals for example, coexist with the scarcity of workers of trade/craft such as cashiers, turners, etc.
On another note, to the problematic of scarcity you can add the “complexity of turbulence”: the amount and speed of changes in the environment that impact businesses and thus, the fluctuations in talent needs from companies, posit doubts on the effectiveness of traditional career plans. This generates the need to develop systems that enable us to quickly adjust to the fluctuations of demand and supply of the different profiles.
Even though I believe this is a very worrying presence in the HR agenda, I think there’s still a lot of room to develop this capacity.
How are these professional development plans applicable in a Gen Y context where turnover is so high?
Precisely, the volatility of the context puts the effectivity of traditional career plans in doubt. Nonetheless, abandoning them may seem an effective solution since it would carry us to situations of high turnover that threaten organizational learning.
I think that it’s about giving career plans flexibility, in order to develop profiles that could later on respond to a diversity of requirements that an organization could have in the future.
To finish, an off topic question about a subject we boarded a few weeks ago: Wearing a suit for an interview, is it in or out?
Mmmm, it depends! I think there are 2 strategies: if for the candidate, attire is an non-negotiable subject (i.e.: Gen Y), going to an interview with the clothes you are comfortable with for work would make cultural fit be more easy to visualize by both parties and they wouldn’t be losing their time.
If for the candidate, attire is not a relevant matter, find out what’s the style of the company and dress accordingly. If it’s impossible to find out, stick with the suit.
PS: thank you Genoveva for taking the time to make this interview happen.