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QUESTION: Good day
In most companies there is politics and favoritism - even in hiring. I wanted to find out how does one build a merit based company.
What are the tools and  procedures that exist to ensure merit based decisions. (just need a list no detailed explanation needed)
What kinds of test and checks / balances can management and a board put in place to ensure merit based hiring and other decision are made.
Are there any companies I can study that are famous for strong merit based organization

ANSWER: A merit based company can be built only in case the employees at all levels (from top to bottom) are ethical, and the procedures are transparent. If a company follows employee referral system for hiring,it could be biased unless meticulous background check is done. If it promotes someone from within the company, then the promotion policies and necessary competencies required for higher position have to be clearly spelt out.
The question arises
How do you say a candidate is merited or not? How do you want the candidate's merit to be measured?  
You are converting all these into outputs or outcomes for the organization. Let it be merit, talent or whatever term you use, unless these do not generate desired results, they are of no use.
At the time of hiring, suppose the candidate displays merit, passion and high level of enthusiasm. Once he/she joins, if this merit does not produce results what do you do? If he/she is not provided the right type of inputs, challenging job environment and facilities, would you be able to retain this meritorious employee?

That's why the need arises that the vision, mission, goals and policies spell out clearly "what the company expects from employees" (I am confining only to the employees, as other stakeholders do not come into the picture in your question) and "what employees expect from the company"

Tools and procedures
1. Generating job profile with explicit indication of competencies required, set of KSAs, demonstrable evidence of previous work experience which is relevant to the present profile
2. Thorough background check (including academics, certifications and previous work experience)
3. Creating work culture that recognizes merit, encourages merit and ensures that merit permeates the company at all levels and in all activities.
4. Redesigning employee appraisal formats (apart from the conventional metrics, you have to figure in "merit", its measurement, its conversion rate; its utility to the company)
5. Redesigning employee remuneration based on merit.

Another scenario: can you initiate merit-based decisions in an already existing company? Can you infuse new employees based on merit and make them work along with the previous employees (who did not go through this kind of hiring)? Should you have parallel tracks for these two groups of employees.
In this situation, wisdom of the Board Members comes into picture. In the company life cycle, when do you initiate merit-based hiring or merit-based decisions?  How to make these type of decisions, beyond questioning?
Ethical practices, transparent procedures and continuous feed back are some of the foundations on which merit-based organizations can be built.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks for the answer. It was insightful.
Can you provide me with the names of 5 - 10 of the most merit based organizations in the world that one could study to get insights or are there no real merit based organizations and merit based philosophy is just idealistic.

Answer
I am not very sure about merit-based companies in the world. To my knowledge, there could be merit-based Departments or Divisions in a company or groups - may be in the Research & Development Institutes or purely scientific research organizations. Again there is a cloud of mystery around them: how ethical are the promotion or hiring practices in such organizations?
Even in India, companies like WIPRO., TCS started off with this kind of philosophy. But if you observe their recruitment practices, campus recruitment, their billing policies etc., many doubts arise.
If you are serious about such a study, look at Departments or Divisions within a company, where priority is given for merit. This priority must have been set by the Captain or Head of the Department or Division. The deliverables/ outcomes or outputs of such Department could sharply differ from other Departments. There will be an "aura" around the Captain and the Department itself. Please look around Florida or any place you are familiar with. You will find one.  

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Dr Sambatur Sridhar

Expertise

Questions I can answer: HR Accounting; Performance Metrics; Performance Management, Research Methods

Experience

Four years in Industry; 25 years in Academics and Research

Organizations
Department of Management Studies, Nitte Meenakshi Institute of Technology, Yelahanka, Bangalore (2012 onwards) Post-graduate Department of Management Studies, St Aloysius College, Mangalore, India (2009-2012) National Institute of Technology Karnataka, Surathkal, India (1986-2009) Bharat Gold Mines Limited., Kolar Gold Fields, Karanataka, India (1982-1986)

Publications
"Perspectives in Education"; "GITAM Journal of Management"; "Indian Journal of Technical Education"; "AIMIT Working Paper Series"; "NITK Research Bulletin"; "Finance India"; SSRN

Education/Credentials
PhD (Management) MBA (HRM) MTech (Reliability Engineering) MSc (Mining Engineering)

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