In a candid conversation with SCIKEY, Dr. Anil Kumar Misra shared his take on quirky HR questions with some fascinating answers, he also shared how he has driven companies to the list of “Most Preferred Companies To Work For In India“
“For detailed answers of Power chat, scroll down the article”
The Detailed thoughts:
As a CHRO, you have driven companies to the list of “Most Preferred Companies To Work For In India.” Share with us the key strategic HR moves transformation journey that made the company the most preferred one to work.
Let me try and make an attempt to address the first part of how and what we did—specifically, the underlying principles, tricks, and tips to strengthen an organization’s employer brand. I believe today’s generation is super connected and is born and brought up in a digital era and always-on social media. From that standpoint, they are a wonderful source that can actually strengthen an organization’s brand. They can act as your brand ambassadors.
Three things are very important in the entire scheme of strengthening organizations and turning into the best employer brands.
Number one, internally, I believe that “no amount of external PR or visibility would really help if your people do not have a sense of pride within themselves as being a part of the organization.” We followed the same at MagicBricks as well, which would strengthen people’s beliefs and their hopes around the existing organization.
What I realized is that we might not be the number one company in the world, or the preferred organization for our employees. But there were plenty of great stories, which, unfortunately, were not captured, documented, and shared internally. So, we first tried and created some hundred facts about Magic Bricks. These are all insights like what percentage of people we promote each year. We then created a theme and said, “31% of our population have been provided an opportunity to get on with us”. So, the theme becomes ‘opportunity to get on.’ Similarly, if you take diversity, you must try and find out the number of physically challenged people existing within the organization in terms of gender diversity, male to female ratio, manager to non-manager, etc. From that standpoint, on multiple themes, we’ve tried and pulled out information around such topics.
Then every week on one theme, we gave out stories as communication about the incumbents in those positions. This brought in a wave of people who began expecting what next we would put out. This also sensitized people internally by creating awareness since they weren’t aware of the good things happening in the organization.
My bottom line being, I strongly believe that every organization has got some great stories. What is required by HR folks, or probably collectively by other functions together, is to identify those great stories and build a story around it and communicate and create awareness internally. This provides employees with a sense of pride and a feeling of safety within themselves.
Number two, there are leaders who have a larger role to play in terms of writing white papers around business processes and talk about various pain points and how your particular organization or functional head has dealt with it and what and where it leads you. So those kinds of white papers by leaders going to external forums to strengthen industry or relations to strengthen the intellectual capability or intellectual powerhouse also help in strengthening your organization’s brand.
Number three, : You can strengthen your people’s policies by giving them say, more flexibility. All of this shows results when a morale survey is carried out, or when you participate in a ‘great place to work’ survey or a ‘Global HR best practice’ kind of competition. You are bound to win and make a mark for yourself.
So, it’s a host of things that you got to be doing. If you look at the employee lifecycle or the entire HR lifecycle that starts with hiring, there are a couple of things that determine whether or not people would want to join you. The overall interview experience will determine this, and it will spread like wildfire. It is the same with your onboarding experience, employee engagement, etc. That is how we have strengthened our Magic bricks brand in the last three years, at least.
What are some of the roadblocks that you are navigating amidst the crisis?
Roadblock number one would be the mindset. The second roadblock is the unpreparedness to allow people to work from home. I don’t mean my current organization, but infrastructure in general. A lack of infrastructural facilities can prove to be a bane. But I’m glad that all of a sudden everybody got exposed to this kind of uncertainty.
Third is speed of internet connectivity, we are in the era of 4G. 5G will still take a few more months. However, it is not necessarily available for all across all parts of our country. So that got to be improving.
The fourth roadblock, I believe, is the unpreparedness and adaptability equation. All of those living in the present and feeling complacent about achieving things must think of those that weren’t able to do so. For example, the aviation sector or the travel companies or the hospitality sector even. They had no other alternative business model to earn revenue, and hence faced severe cash crunch and so people were asked to leave. That was very unfortunate. And that to my mind happened because of our lack of foresight or lack of developing an alternate business model which would come handy in the survival phase or in the recovery phase, if not in the excel phase. So that to my mind is number four.
Number five, unfortunately, “I believe a few organizations took this as an opportunity to go for a larger headcount cut. Using COVID-19 as a shield, they decided to lay people off”. I believe that that’s a very spineless leadership. Then there are those that have handled the crisis in a very dignified manner without compromising the dignity of labor. These are the organizations that would be the most preferred ones in the future. The way an organization handles a crisis determines how good they are towards those dependent on them.
- HR as People’s Person or Business Person
The efficacy of an HR would be determined based on how they balance the expectations of both categories of people. A good HR or successful HR, to my mind, is somebody who understands the business process in and out. And at the same time, he deals with those people’s issues in a very, very human way. From that standpoint alone, I believe that somebody who knows how to strike a balance between these two would be successful and yet takes a contingency approach while not dealing with the people issues would be successful and effective.
The first expectation is you should have an understanding of how to deal with people. But simply being a people expert without an understanding of the business process would be of no help. Taking an HR decision in isolation would not benefit the business. Therefore, knowing the business problem at hand and finding a solution to enable it to get the best out of the situation is the key duty of an HR. Successful HR’s would neither be people-centric nor be business-centric. They are individuals with knowledge on how to balance both parties.
- One skill you always look for in talent while hiring.
I always look for the skill of adaptability while hiring. One may have years of experience, but at any new organization, they must start from scratch. I believe that complacency is the beginning of the end. Adaptability is a skill that helps to understand if they have the ability to roll up their sleeves to get to work. A person, should be somebody who is willing to swing both ways since they would be an individual contributor as well as a team leader.
- One big HR move, you’re deploying at Magic Bricks.
Ideally, when you talk about concepts like business HR, everyone expects you to talk about interventions concerning performance management, learning, development of organization culture strengthening. The mindset is that this is another HR intervention to sensitize people about the relevance of HR or why people business has to be the number one priority for every functional head or even how-to bring people on board and take them along to sensitize them. These critical people processes are not necessarily HR interventions, but it’s collectively the leadership that all function heads must join hands because ultimately, it’s going to impact the people. This sensitization of bringing people to that trajectory was a good thing that we have seen in the last three years.
- One thing you would like to change about the current COVID situation.
People had their doubts and apprehensions on extending work from home for support functions like HR or accounts or admin. These have now truly changed.
In the future, I strongly believe the new norm would be to work from home, and it would be much more productive, resulting in a win-win proposition for both the parties- the employer and the employee. Even for the people who are in the back of the house, those in the supporting and enabling functions, for them too, I wish to see that there are no questions being asked about their effectiveness.
- A message to the HR fraternity.
While dealing with people issues like job sizing or probably retrenchment or cutting down on the payroll or the cost, all are for a short term. Hence, you can make your present much more pleasant if you know how to deal with people issues. Your actions, the way you deal with people at present will determine your future.
- Finding Future Leaders from inside the organization vs. hiring from outside.
The internal leaders would actually come in handy in the process of getting into the next level of organizational growth. But they would have their own limitations beyond a point. Probably they would see a glass ceiling hitting them. They may be great when it comes to an organization’s specific way of doing business.However, for change management, for organizational culture development, there are a lot of benefits of hiring people from outside specifically because that’s how you inject fresh blood. So, I strongly believe if you got to change the DNA for an organization, you need to have leaders in both the category homegrown as well as outside.
- One must book to read for HR professionals.
‘What Got You Here Will Not Get You There’ by Marshall Goldsmith
- Identifying Talent behavioral competency with HR tools vs. Gut feeling.
The Gen Y, who are likely to join in more numbers in the future, what they want are facts backed with data. So, long story short would be from feeling to fact-based decisions that will dominate the workspaces. My personal preference for making decisions are based on data points. So, it’s not feeling your gut, it has to be data-driven.
- Hire for Skills or Hire for Attitude.
We have heard multiple times that attitude is altitude. So, if you have the right kind of attitude, if you want to learn, your learnability increases, if you have the right kind of mindset, the rest of the skills can be taught to you. If one don’t want to change, then no one can help them out.
- Work from Home or Work from Office.
In a week of five working days, my preference would be to work three or four days from home and go to the office probably one day in a week. This would be to address all those issues where I have dependability on the rest of the people. But even on second thought, it doesn’t really matter, as long as companies have a strong performance management system that tracks how and what I have contributed and how I have moved the needle positively. That is how it is going to be in the future as well since nobody would really bother if employees have punched in for 10 hours. It won’t matter if they are working from the beautiful beaches of Goa, as long as they have achieved their targets. That should matter to an organization, and that’s, how it’s going to be. But my preference would be more like a blended one. I don’t mind going to the office, but not necessarily to prove people that I’m working or that I’m productive. That would be fooling oneself.
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