National Academy of Human Resources Ram Charan HR Essay Contest


Announcing the 2014 NAHR Ram Charan HR Essay Contest

The National Academy of Human Resources (NAHR) announces the 2014 Ram Charan HR Essay Contest. Essays are requested from university undergraduate and graduate students globally majoring in Human Resources, Industrial/Labor Relations or related fields for the following topic:

Performance Management - A Very Real Issue for Employers and Employees

You’ve arrived at your office a little early, and have decided to take the opportunity to have a cup of coffee and scan the headlines. As you’re scanning one paper, you are drawn to the headline “Vast Majority of Employees See No Benefit in Performance Management.” The article goes on to say that a new survey shows that employees either get no benefit from the performance management process (are neutral) or are demotivated by the process (are negative). Those who are rated as “high performers” and are rewarded accordingly feel positive about the process, but those who are rated as anything considered “average” or below are demotivated. You’re the head of HR at your company, so your first thought is “I know a lot of our employees feel the same way – based on our own survey results.” As you shake your head, you look up to see the CEO of your company, standing at your door, waving a copy of this very same article.

“I knew it! This is why I’m frustrated by our performance management system. It takes up WAY too much time of too many people, people always challenge their reviews so we spend an inordinate about of time defending the decisions, there’s too much process, not enough value add in terms of coaching, skill development and career growth, and I feel like all we’re doing is providing documentation for attorneys. People I was told were great performers by their last manager are suddenly UNDERPERFORMING under a new manager, and problem employees are suddenly STRONG PERFORMERS. How can that be? And the entire process seems to focus on the ratings. I want to know how we can turn a process that is overly administrative and negative into something that helps our employees contribute to the growth and success of our business. I want the focus to be on enabling our employees to help me build this company and improve our results!”

“So here’s what I want you to do: I want you to come up with a new way to measure and improve our employees' performance that’s efficient, effective, and will be embraced by the employees because they view it as a fair system that’s helpful to them in their career. And whatever you come up with – I want to be able to measure just how effective it is. How will I know it’s contributing to the success of our company? How will I know we are rewarding the right people?”

Your challenge: Please write a 5 to 20 page essay describing what you would propose to your CEO, why you are making this proposal, and how you would measure the effectiveness of the approach.

The deadline for submission of essays has been extended from August 1, 2014 to August 15, 2014.

The essay contest is designed to stimulate interest in the HR profession as a career for the best talent in the global education system and to further advance the NAHR Fellows' knowledge and understanding in particular areas of interest.

Essays will be evaluated and judged by a panel of distinguished HR professionals – Fellows of the National Academy of Human Resources (NAHR). The NAHR is an honorific organization which recognizes individuals and institutions of distinction in Human Resources for exceptional professional achievement.

Essay contest winners will be announced at the NAHR annual installation of new Fellows on November 6, 2014 in New York City. Contest winners’ expenses will be paid to attend the ceremony. The award is named for Dr. Ram Charan, a Distinguished Fellow of the NAHR and a world renowned author, speaker and business advisor. For over 35 years Dr. Charan has consulted with some of the world’s most successful leaders and companies.

Cash Prizes of $20,000.....$10,000.....$5,000 (U.S.)
Awarded for the best three essays

Essay evaluation criteria:

  • Addresses the topic
  • Provides original thoughts
  • Adds value
  • Readable and persuasive
  • Bonus for academic or research references


Minimum 5 pages, maximum 20 pages (Number of pages refers to essay, not reference material. Those pages should be numbered). Double spaced, 12 point font

Cover sheet to include:

  • Name
  • School
  • Degree area
  • Anticipated graduation date
  • Phone number
  • Mailing address
  • Email address
  • APA format accepted (but not required)

Submit by email (PDF format) to:
Richard Antoine
President, National Academy of Human Resources

Additional Information:

Students must be enrolled in an HR, Industrial/Labor Relations or related field degree concentration at the time of the contest deadline (August 15, 2014) -- or graduated in May or June 2014.
The contest is open to undergrad and grad students worldwide majoring in a Human Resources related field. If the major is not Human Resources related, the essay will not be considered.
Maximum of 5 authors per essay; must split award.
Entrants may submit more than 1 paper.
Essays can be submitted directly by students with or without a faculty sponsor/adviser. In the former case, the faculty sponsor/adviser will provide a brief statement (less than 100 words) about why he/she is serving in this capacity, and will attest to a statement included as part of the Contest stating: "I have played no role in writing this essay and will not share in the financial award should this student's essay win such an award."

Winners of the 2013 NAHR Ram Charan HR Essay Contest:

First Place: Tiffany Scheff and Josie Trine, ILR School, Cornell University

Second Place: Joseph Redlitz, Rutgers University

Third Place: Indranil Dey, Asian Institute of Management, Philippines

2013 Winning Essays:
Dey_ Essay.pdf