Friday, November 15, 2013

Powerful HR

The Power of HR: Some Random Thoughts
T. V. Rao
Chairman, TVRLS
  • ·         The Indian Institute of Management at Ahmedabad is in the process of reviewing its two year program. In its endeavour to do the same they organise a seminar “The Future Organization: Expectations from Management Schools” inviting a few prominent leaders from Industry. All faculty are invited to attend. Five of the nine speakers are from HR. The rest of them are either CEOs or innovators and Change Agents with HR orientation.
  • ·         IIM Udaipur organises a HR conclave inviting all prominent HR people from all over the country.
  • ·         Times of India organises a HR Conclave and the Minister scheduled to speak at this is the Ministers of State for Company Affairs as well as HRD.
  • ·         IIM Indore celebrates its Foundation Day with the theme on Institution Building.
  • ·         BIMTECH keeps conducting leadership and change Management seminars all over the country largely with HR Heads participating.

These and many other events and HR Conclaves organised around the country now a days are around themes like: Leadership, Change Management, Institution Building, Sustainability, and Managing in Down Turn etc. and much less on globalisation or acquisitions and mergers. The invitees are HR Heads or those with HR orientation. HR seems to have become all powerful now a days. HR Directors and HR Chiefs seem to play a prominent role in changing the management scene.

Is HR prepared for it? How should HR prepare for it?

An examination of the most frequently sought after invitees for these conclaves and conferences gives us some lessons to reflect and learn from. The analysis reveals that there are a few HR Heads and HR Mangers most frequently invited and are on the run to attend these conferences and at the same time busy making things happen in their own organizations. These are the very influential people from organizations like the Tatas, Birlas, Mahindras, RPG, L&T, HUL, Infosys, Wipro, ICICI Bank, Cummins etc. If we read some of the most popular books of recent times like those by K Gopalakrishnan, Anil Khandelwal, Subroto Bagchi, Ravi Venkatesan, and Vineet Nayar or even from abroad Vijay Govindarajan or Ram Charan, they are all filled with HR and OB concepts or thought. People managers seem to have become all powerful people and change agents and are in demand. The line mangers in demand are also those who are successful people managers or change managers.

A deeper analysis shows some interesting qualities of all these most sought after speakers, leaders and change promoters. My own analysis reveals that they share the following qualities:
1.      They are people focused in their work and thought  irrespective of whether they are HR Heads, SBU Heads or CEOs or CXOs;
They have initiated and managed change using a variety of interventions dealing with HR or used HR interventions like 360 Feedback, ADCs, employee engagement surveys, customer satisfaction methods. These interventions dealt wither with employees or customers.
3.      They worked with all functions (finance, sales, marketing, IT, quality, production, corporate strategy etc.) in an organization and have respected these functions and learnt from them;
4.     Normally they are M B As with or without specialisation in HR reflecting that they have broad preparation in all management functions and have a general management outlook than a narrow personnel management orientation.
5.      They are communicative and mastered the art of communicating and using media (particularly social media) well;
6.      They are action driven and set personal example in carrying out things they preach others to do;
7.      They are also thought leaders. They keep talking their point of view and sharing their experiences and promoting the same.
8.      They innovate and use next practices than merely follow best practices. Every one of them invented something new even if it is a small improvement over the past
Implication for HR and all Managers  
I like to draw the following implication for anyone who is designated as a HR managers for his/her growth as a “leader in demand”:
1.      If you are in HR first develop your own knowledge, and skills on all Management fields starting with an appreciation for all functions and levels in the organization. You should know all about production, finance, strategy, corporate planning, sales and  marketing, distribution, service levels, supply chain, customers and their preferences, quality and quality systems, environment, sustainability, change management, IT, economics, law, IPR, strategy management etc. If you did not have the same preparation in your B-school or in your PG as you did not go to B-school or you went to a HR specialising schools make sure to take a short course on general management or alternately learn about each of these functions doing a Competency Mapping exercise and participate actively in recruitment and never outsources your recruitment fully to recruitment agents. You lose an opportunity to learn by outsourcing to others.
2.      Take active role in performance planning and management exercises. Don’t delegate this to your juniors or to the line managers as this is a great opportunity for you to learn about other departments and disciplines.
3.      Experiment and innovate. Do small things. Take them as small projects. Involve other be it line mangers or workmen or operators.
4.      If you are not a HR person learn about HR systems and interventions and why they work or don’t work and initiate something on your own or take them seriously. HR and OB is not a rocket science. It can be leant by thinking and practice. Practice and reflection is he best way to learn.
5.      Share your thoughts and work by writing or giving small talks or writing blogs. Attend conferences and seminars organised by local Management Association, ISTD, NIPM, NHRDN, IIMM etc. chapters in different cities.  

Human resource Management is all powerful not because it is a function or a discipline but because it is the need of the hour and no corporation or country can succeed without right people, right values and attitudes, right thought and right action. If you are lucky to be a HR manager and you are not doing any of these and spending most of your life managing other HR staff or outsourcing agencies you are wasting your life at a time you can make a difference for yourself and others. I believe HR is all powerful and it is time you focus on your own resourcefulness and make yourself more resourceful. 

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