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Fine art of controlled innovation

Thirtysomethings at IBM India will soon be trained on how to deal with twentysomethings

Saumya Bhattacharya | Print Edition: September 19, 2010

At IBM India, the biggest foreign-owned employer in India, HR mavens are busy looking for ways to foster better cross-generational understanding. Not just between those in their 40s and GenYers. The plan is much more granular: train thirtysomethings on how to deal with hires in their early twenties.

"Our twentysomethings are passing through a world of globalisation. They are aspirational, tech-savvy and expect a lot from life. Engaging these youngsters is high priority for us," says Chandrasekhar Sripada, Vice President and Head, HR, IBM India and South Asia. Talent experts like Sripada also have a bone to pick with connecting high attrition to youngsters. "It's about opportunity," he says, with a hint of exasperation.

Not that IBM itself is taking that as a fait accompli. A slew of platforms are ready to meet the aspirations of its twentysomething employees. Flexibility, social networks, blogs, idea-sharing and work-life balance are practices that have been established at IBM in recent years.

Such efforts have professionals such as Anshu Jain, one of the youngest researchers in the IBM Research Labs at Bangalore, sticking on for four years. "It's the freedom and legacy and the chance to work with some of the best brains" that has made him stay put. Peel the onion a bit and the HR tightrope becomes clear. "I should be told what I am expected to do, but not how I should do it," Jain stresses. It will be worth watching who gets trained in Sripada's experiment: the twentysomethings or the thirtysomethings.

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