5,000 Employees, $9B in Holdings: It Really Isn’t that Hard!

It’s hard to get through the New York Times Sunday edition. When I pick it up, build the fire, and get my coffee, I approach the prospect of doing so, however, with relish…and the best of intentions. Inevitably the kids need something or the dog gets into trouble or the honey-do list lands in my lap. That’s why I always start with the Corner Office in the Business Section. It is the the single best half-page of lessons in leadership, management, the workplace, and…people. And more often than not it’s chocked full of wisdom from smart and successful (wo)men who have earned their place partially because they take a really simple approach to running their business. If you practice HR for a living, you should find a way to read this feature…every week. This week’s interview is with Shivan S. Subramaniam, the C.E.O. of FM Global, a commercial and industrial property insurer. In the spirit of HR Simply-Engineered, these are this week’s nuggets (quoted):

  1. “People don’t necessarily do things the way you would do them. It matters less what people do or how they do it, [and matters more that] we all agree on the goals.
  2. We’re multinational – we’ve got 5,100 people – but we have three “key results areas” (KRAs) – nothing terribly fancy.
  3. Our employees know how we’re doing (against the KRAs) and most importantly, they understand the KRAs.
  4. If you can’t explain it to me in a couple of sentences it is obviously something you don’t know how to do.
  5. If you’ve got to write a whole page to describe something, that doesn’t make a lot of sense.
  6. I try to eat lunch with everybody. If there’s a seat open anywhere, I’ll sit down at lunch and talk with people.
  7. Four or five of us can come up with a much better decision than just I can alone.
  8. People can always perform a whole lot better than how you think they’re going to perform. You need to really give them the opportunity to do that.”

If you’re at all familiar with HR Fishbowl, you’ll know that many of Mr. Subramaniam’s sentiments are echoed almost exactly in this blog. Yo, it shouldn’t be that hard! HR plays a (major) role in helping the organization, its leaders, and its people embrace that.

Image Credit: NY Times

3 Responses to 5,000 Employees, $9B in Holdings: It Really Isn’t that Hard!
  1. Chris Ferdinandi - Renegade HR
    November 14, 2010 | 11:40 am

    FM Global is based in RI, where I’m from. I interviewed there a few years ago, and the focus on people (and simplicity) was blatantly evident.

    Thanks for the tip on “The Corner Office.” The easiest way for people to read? There’s an RSS feed specifically for the column… http://projects.nytimes.com/corner-office/rss


  2. Anne Dollimore
    November 15, 2010 | 3:49 pm

    This afternoon I’ve been cruising around your website, enjoying it so much. I feel very lucky to have this way to educate myself about the HR profession and I’ll look forward to checking it more in the future…

  3. Charlie
    November 16, 2010 | 6:33 pm

    @Chris – doesn’t surprise me you are a fan of “The Corner Office” too. Thanks for the tip on the RSS feed too.

    @Anne – glad to know even someone who doesn’t live in the HR space every day can get something from HR Fishbowl. Hope you’re back often…

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