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HR Vocabulary You Need to Know and Comprehend Words used by the HR Department which may appear to be a jargon but are important to understand the functioning of the Department

By Payal Sondhi

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Every profession has its own set of definitions, dialogue, terms and more; here are few of the expressions and words that you would be hearing on a regular basis from your HR Manager. Let's understand what they mean.

1. A Seat at the Table

It's not a group of people sitting around the table to make a decision, it is an expression for who is invited for a significant meeting. It is ensuring that people's viewpoint is taken into consideration while making an important strategic decision for the organization to attain the set goals & milestones.

2. Company Culture

You must have heard this term quite often. It refers to a common set of behaviour, beliefs, norms and values that a company follows through its employees. In simple words, it's the way in which the employees behave & function in the setup. The top management plays an important role in building & maintaining the company culture and HR's role here is to ensure that the organization "walks the talk" by defining processes & policies which are aligned with the culture of the organization.

3. Competencies or Core Competencies

When HR Managers speak about Core Competencies, they refer to technical know-how and the necessary set of behavioural traits required to undertake the job. For every role, certain functional & behavioural competencies are defined with the required proficiency levels for e.g. an IT manager should be an expert at the technical know-how (software knowledge, languages), however he can be a novice when it comes to interpersonal skills.

4. KRA's (Key Result Areas)

KRA's mean a set of parameters or metrics that an organization has defined for a specific role or designation. It helps the HR manager to ensure that the employees goals & objectives are aligned with that of the organization. Results from the KRA exercise are used to conclude the annual reviews of the employees and they play a critical role in defining their growth paths.

5. Balanced Scorecard

This is a term from Harvard Business School, it means everything matters. The scorecard is collaboration of four different areas – Learning and growth, Company processes, Clients and the Financial aspect. It means following a holistic approach towards assessing the performance of the organization & individuals on the above mentioned areas. This process helps in focusing on everything that is crucial, which is beyond numbers and more about people.

6. Talent Management

Talent Management refers to HR Manager's ability to identify and develop the complete potential of the employees, increase engagement and encourage productivity in order to reach the organization's goals. Talent management involves both, the HR Manager and the top management.

7. Onboarding

It's a process of integrating a new employee into the organization. Post the hiring, a new recruit usually goes through an induction procedure. This is done to familiarize the employee with the system and processes of the organization to help him begin his work effectively.

8. Downsizing, Restructuring of Rightsizing

Downsizing and restructuring means a company is planning to reduce a number of employees. This could be for various reasons, usually its due to long term losses or recession. Rightsizing is downsizing with a belief that the company can operate with fewer number of employees.

9. Gross Misconduct

If you perform certain actions that are unacceptable and lead to immediate firing, it is defined as gross misconduct. Gross misconduct is determined by the company policy and not by the law. Companies today, have defined policies & processes for harassment, misconduct, disciplinary matters to ensure that proper action is taken against the guilty and the right message goes across the organization on such issues.

10. 80/20 Rule

This terminology is used in a lot of different situations, but most commonly, in an organizational setup, it's used for ensuring proper time management by the employees. According to this rule, 80% of an employee's time should be given to complete the assigned tasks and the remaining 20% should be utilised in upgrading oneself. HR can facilitate the upgradation process by conducting the necessary training programmes.

11. Assessment Centres

Assessment centres use a set of exercises & simulation techniques to assess the aptitude & skill-set of the candidate/employee for a specific role. It makes use to various exercises like role-play, in-basket exercises, simulation exercises etc. This process is used for selection, promotion, training and development purposes wherein external experts are engaged to conduct the exercises.

12. 360-degree feedback

It is used as a performance management technique wherein feedback is taken from all the stakeholders involved – Superiors, peers, subordinates as well as the customers in order to obtain a holistic view on one's performance.

These are not all the terms from the HR vocabulary but these are definitely the ones that a non-HR needs to be aware of to have a better understanding of the vertical.

Payal Sondhi

Manager - Human Resources, SILA

Payal Sondhi is the Human Resources Manager at SILA.
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