Shikha Banerjee, Ex General Manager HR at Shapoorji Pallonji

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“Now the need for HR professionals to go beyond functional leadership, be more agile and emerge as true people champions.” Shikha Banerjee, Ex General Manager HR at Shapoorji Pallonji

Shikha is a life member of National Institute of Personnel Management, a Core Committee Member of Bengal Chamber’s HR IR Committee working closely on the Employability and Skilling initiatives of the Chamber, a member of MTHR – A well- known group of HR Heads across the globe and an accreditated resource Trainer of Belbin UK. Also Advisory Board Member of Sarthak Educational Trust, Eastern Region, Headed the HR function of the Real Estate Vertical of Shapoorji Pallonji many other big organization. Post Graduate Diploma in HRD from AIMA, New Delhi and Post Graduate Diploma in Counselling Wellbeing from National Council of Education West Bengal (Parent body of Jadavpur University). Trainer accredited by Belbin UK on Team Roles.

With the start of the New year 2020, India was generally bogged down by the slowing down of the markets, fall of indexes in NIFTY Sensex, lowering of credit ratings, moratorium issued by RBI on a leading bank, revision of interest rates by RBI, large corporate houses falling short of repaying their debts and the employees wondering what would be this year’s salary revision like as they inched towards the financial year closure.

However, by end February, the country was waking up to alarm bells of a pandemic not far off. By then China and many countries of Europe were greatly affected and the death tolls were sending chills down the spine of most leaders, especially those business houses that had operation outside India. And it was not too far when the “Locked down” started in India. All businesses shut and organisations were devising ways of managing their businesses through remote working. Indeed, this was challenging considering the type of businesses and business eco-system in our country.

Well, to answer some of the questions:

 

Its tough time every Leader is facing. What are some of the leadership lessons you share for the leaders in this current pandemic situation?

The present scenario is very tough, no doubt. It’s one of the big disruptors till date. Many businesses in the unorganised and MSME sectors are shutting as they are unable to manage the costs. Sustainability is the biggest concern in all businesses. To manage such a scenario, Leaders have to quickly think and devise changed business models to suit their need, protecting all stakeholders to the maximum. Agility and quick decision making and explicit transparent communication to all informing the changes in modus operandi, to manage any panic situation arising and managing any such event most empathetically. Though working remotely, Leaders need to be available to their teams at all times. Many a times, Leaders have to relook and rethink on their plans, change team structures or adopt totally different channels and this may not be readily accepted but the Leader has to be resilient and pursue with total dedication and humility, working collectively towards the set goal and achieve success.

 

Due to this pandemic, most of the employees are working from home. How will the workforce and workplace transform post this crisis?

Businesses have united in ways that no one would have predicted just a few months ago. Competitors, Vendors have become collaborators as people come together to solve a truly global challenge. Companies are relooking at their business strategies and engaging in newer channels offering opportunities to employees of other industries that are badly hit by the pandemic. In addition, many companies have strengthened partnerships with local governments and are working more closely together. HR leaders and Business Leaders are connecting with each other to solve the challenges brought by the pandemic.

To manage this collaboration, communication is of utmost importance. Hence, Leaders are using various modes of communication platforms to reach out to the remote workforce and manage their businesses. Organisations are holding online communication of targets and reviewing performances as well as learning sessions through webinars and other modes. HR leaders are finding ways of engaging and motivating employees while they are working remotely.

 

Business processes are getting digitised and will change for better. For most of us and the least we can do is to be open to pick up the learning from this health and economic crisis and transform ourselves to a better version, by reskilling and upskilling and adopting to the new normal.

 

What do you think is the greatest emerging opportunity/challenge for HR professionals?

The need for HR professionals to go beyond functional leadership, be more agile and emerge as true people champions has never been greater. So many have been stepping into this responsibility with determination and empathy. There is an urgent need in organisations to relook and redesign policies, work-processes, online training and leading digital transformation.

HR Leaders have already started using artificial intelligence to accelerate time to hire. And more organisations will adopt it. On-boarding and making the candidate’s experience with the company, ensuring that the candidate’s traits and drivers align with the behaviours, the organization wants to encourage. Focus on skill development by engaging employees in virtual, micro-learnings and experiences to build knowledge and capability. Provide opportunities for newer assignments and job rotations. Also create cross-functional teams to encourage collaboration.

With this changed model of working, organisations will move toward a culture of real-time feedback, create clear KPIs that allow for greater autonomy and accountability focusing on performance conversations, incentivising performance that models result and positive behaviours.

 

Since the company aiming for leaner teams much more than before, because of COVID, nurturing existing talent Talent Management has although more become important, can you suggest what could be “The NEW Talent Management Model”?The business environment was already changing before the pandemic hit and now with the changes that have taken place at the workplaces and the various stakeholders already getting used to the changed modus operandi, organisations are looking at developing and investing in newer products and processes.

Succession planning gaps in most organisations in the country is posing a major blockade in restructuring the workforce. An understanding of the core organizational capabilities that are required to successfully execute against short and longer-term priorities, a robust organizational baseline of people data, including the types of roles they are performing, whether they work on-site or virtually, and how easily their roles can be made virtual or digitized. Clarity on the options open to employers to change the workforce, for example pay freezes / deferred rewards and use of contingent workers.

The most successful will take this opportunity to reorganize in a way that also preserves the positive behaviours we have seen emerge from this crisis to manage the new way of working.

 

The real winners in the talent market would be those businesses who can remotely distribute work and achieve their goals. A customised talent management platform would be needed to improve end-to-end visibility and personalisation for managing the workforce. The future work force would be focussed on internal talent mobilisation based on individual specific skills and abilities to do jobs that are designed around dynamic business needs.

 

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