Aug 25, 2021 11 min read
ONGC Succession Planning
ONGC DEEKSHA: Technology-enabled approach for Succession Planning
Oil and Gas PSUs are navigating continuous changes. With the competition intensifying, it is the need of the hour to suitably develop, engage and retain skilled manpower and maintain a steady and competent leadership pipeline. The big challenge is therefore to align Human Resource Policies with new business strategies.
The key difference between public and private organizations, is the degree of flexibility in interpretation of procedures and processes. HR culture in PSUs is characteristically rigid and is thus facing challenges in managing the impacts of globalization and change in leadership development, succession planning, work diversity and the formulation of corporate culture based on ethics and transparency.
In over 60 years of its existence, ONGC has crossed many milestones to realize the energy dreams of India. This journey has been a tale of conviction, courage and commitment. From a modest beginning, ONGC has grown to one of the largest integrated E&P companies in the world. As an integrated Oil & Gas Corporate, it has developed in-house capability in all aspects of exploration and production. Human Resource Management (HRM) in ONGC has always played a vital role in enabling corporate success over these years.
It is now a universally accepted fact that in today’s business environment, employees remain the prime source of competitive advantage. “At the end of the day we bet on people, not strategies” (Larry Bossidy-CEO Allied Signals), as the best laid plans have been seen to bite the dust, due to lack of leadership competence and commitment. Therefore the ultimate shared goal of any company management is to build a talent-rich organization.
Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) is driving an ambitious growth agenda through implementation of its Energy Strategy 2040, which requires considerable interventions from HR, to fine-tune and align its talent and leadership pipeline towards attainment of the organizational vision, mission and goals. Furthermore, the organization is facing greater challenge due to large scale retirement of executives holding key positions and the widening talent gap.
In such a scenario, to energize growth and maintain continuity, it is essential that all strategic (key) positions in the organization are held by persons with commensurate competence and skills, to be identified through a transparent and objective succession planning process.
The “replacement” oriented succession planning that has been operational and relied upon, can no longer be expected to meet the needs of today- especially in an organization like ONGC, carrying an overall strength of approximately 17,000 executives, drawn from 40 disciplines/specializations, carried by a hierarchy of 2204 well defined positions.
So, with the objective to effectively identify the best fit from the talent pipeline and also have an early warning system in case of absence of leadership pipeline to meet business strategies, ONGC management has pushed for the development of a robust talent management platform that can focus on “Succession Adequacy” parameters instead of mere meeting replacement needs, so as to ensure that people who move into new positions are at least equal or better than the people they are succeeding. To support this requirement, an IT application to manage Succession Planning process has been developed in-house. This Succession Planning model – “DEEKSHA” (Developing Experienced, Esteemed, & Kaleidoscopic Successors for Higher Achievement) – has been formulated to unleash the potential of the existing systems through integration on the ICE-HR platform.
A pool of High-Potential (HIPO) executives ready to step into critical positions would be identified with the aid of DEEKSHA Succession Planning model with inputs derived from the processes of Profile Matching, Recommendations by identified/nominated position holders and also by an optional process of inviting application along with “Value Proposition for the Role (VPR)”. Basically, the model seeks to achieve three basic principle i.e. empowerment of position holders, enablement of aspirants and data analytics for profile matching.
While we may be a long way from building a predictive algorithm to identify perfect CEO successor for Key position, a start has been made by putting together standard processes/mechanisms/plans in place. The process is not simple and can prove to be a minefield if not managed carefully. The model is flexible, transparent (not necessarily public view) expansive, good at identifying rising stars for the identified roles, through a scientific and collaborative approach enabling organization to move from the traditional CEO’s/Top Management candidate choices, to selection based on institutional and role based future organization needs.
Its success will however lie in the way the implementation is carried out and how soon it is able to morph into an organizational habit. The many enviable recognitions and laurels that form part of ONGC’s intangible assets, all point to the fact that we have the necessary platforms and processes to lead the way. But what we necessarily and honestly have to dwell upon is -how far as a company we have embraced the talent mind-set.
Embracing the talent mind set is not about building a better HR department. It's not about better training. It's not about offering stock options. It is about leaders and managers at all levels embracing a talent mind-set. A talent mind set is the deep-seated belief that talent differentiates organizational culture and breeds competitive advantage, with benefits for both the individual and the organization—now and in the future. A talent mind-set is inspired and led by the top leadership, modelled by management and supported by a range of initiatives developed by HR and implemented by HR and line managers.
So, it is the time to be ‘ready for change’, which also implies being ready for the ‘War for Talent’. Evolution legend Charles Darwin put it aptly – ‘It is not the strongest of species that will survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.
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