Politicos, BCCI Need HR Touch

THERE are vacancies for HR heads in two of the largest organisations in the country. And even though the need for pros to step into these positions was felt acutely over the past couple of months, these two job openings went unadvertised.

The first organisation that could clearly do with a professional HR head is the Board for Control of Cricket in India. The prolonged comedy of errors that was played out in front of the nation clearly demonstrated that BCCI needed two professionals desperately — instead of politicians, it needed an HR head and a qualified spin doctor. The last category has many aspiring naturals already playing the game. But it’s difficult for everybody to fancy themselves in the role of a professional HR head. 

So, why does BCCI need an HR head? For one, because it is constantly recruiting — whether it’s coaches or consultants or players. Secondly, there seems to be some confusion within the board about the job profile — no one seems to be sure whether it needs a coach or a manager. Look at the chain of events leading up to the selection of Chandu Borde as the new coach/manager. They first had Greg Chappell, who had a public fall-out with the board. Then started the hunt for the immediate task at hand — the Bangladesh tour. After searching high and low, the board stumbled on to a talent residing in its backyard: Ravi Shastri. The new coach/manager agreed, but subject to the condition that he be relieved after the tour, presumably because his regular day job was more remunerative (another critical HR insight here, but more of it later). As promised, as soon as the tour was over, the hunt began all over again, with renewed vigour. A shortlist of two names was prepared, which was duly leaked to the media. Then they zeroed in on a name — Graham Ford, former South African manager, currently employed by the Kent county team in England. This name was also leaked to the media. In all the back-slapping and self-congratulatory messages that followed, the board forgot one crucial bit — to interview the candidate or to explain the process to him. So, when after the celebrations, they broke the news to him, he gently told them he was not available for the job! The second choice by then, miffed about the way the board had gone about the whole process, also declined the job. The last-minute solution: a 72-year-old former India cap. 

The other lesson is the way the Congress played out the selection of its Presidential candidate. Poor Shivraj Patil. Once his party first announced his name, he seemed self-assured about the whole election process. Then suddenly, as Patil prepared to move his wardrobe and office to the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the Left threw a monkey wrench into the works. The quest began all over again, till Pratibha Patil’s name was pulled out of a hat. In the meantime, President Kalam’s name also popped up, primarily put forward by the other parties to add to the Congress’ embarrassment. 

There are some elementary lessons on recruiting that both BCCI and Congress can learn from the corporate sector, especially since they also are visibly confronted with the predicament of having to deal with a shortage of talent. Here they are: 

• The first is a truism but bears repetition, especially in this case: know the kind of person you are looking for and whether he has the requisite skill-set and knowledge base. Both will be critical for them to perform their assigned tasks. 

• There should be clarity about the job and work profile (whether it’s a manager or a coach). 

• If the applicant already has another job, make him an offer which is substantially higher than his current packet. It rarely fails (Ravi Shastri must also surely be human!). 

• Please check with the JV partner before recruiting a top-level position. Poor chap should not throw celebratory parties only to realise that he has been left to freeze on an iceberg. 

• Transparency is good but you do not have to reveal all twists and turns in the recruitment process to everybody and his grandmother. Importantly, the candidate should not get to know about his appointment from the evening news. This brouhaha pisses off the rejected candidate, and the Number Two guy is lost to you as well. 

• Try to seek innovative solutions. If your shortlist fails, try to seek candidates from another field. Australia, after all, are the world champions because they decided to get a management teacher. You should not have to fall back on either “loyal” or the straight-and-narrow.
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