In an exclusive interaction, we have with us Harjeet Khanduja, he is an International speaker, writer, poet and a HR Leader. He is an alumnus of IIT Roorkee and INSEAD. He is currently working as Vice President HR at Reliance Jio Infocomm. He is awarded for his “Outstanding contribution to Global Learning” by World HRD Congress. He is among the Top 50 HR Tech Leaders. He received HR Leadership Award from Asia HRD Congress and is recognized as HR Power Profile by LinkedIn.
Harjeet has been a TEDx speaker, SAP HCM Solution consultant, Six Sigma Green Belt, White Belt in Executive Coaching, Assessor for Predictive Index, visiting faculty at NMIMS, Co-chair of Nasscom Diversity Committee and Corporate Advisory Board Member for Chandigarh University. This Chicken Soup writer is published in leading HR Magazines. His poetry recitals can be watched on SAB TV.
Q-Technology has come long way, How do you see its impact on HR Practices and what’s ahead?
I sent an SMS to my auto rickshaw driver, asking him to pick me up at 8 am instead of 9 am. He did not come at 8 am. When I asked him the reason, he told me that he received the SMS but he couldn’t read. His next statement surprised me. He said in a thoughtful manner “Next time send me a voice message.”
“Technology enables people to do what they could not have done otherwise. In the process, it changes the general behaviour of people. When people change, you have no option but to change people practices accordingly.”
Technology is advancing at a much faster pace. Matching the pace of change with technology is going to be very exciting in the time to come.
Q-What are technological trends that bring a major change in Human Resources Management?
Technology has been focusing on enhancing efficiency. The efficiency undoubtedly improves speed but while doing so, it breaks artificial constraints. Hence the impact is not only on efficiency but also on the culture of the organization.
Technology brought flexibility such that people can work from anywhere. That significantly increased the participation of women in workforce. This change of pace of technology diluted the importance given to years of experience and opened up avenues for everyone irrespective of age.
Endeavour of technology to bring efficiency will keep hitting the unproductive and inefficient conventional practices.
Q-Do you see loss of human touch due to excessive use of technology?
One of my friend was sad. I asked him the reason for his sadness. He was missing his son in the US. I advised him to video call his son. He was already video calling with him on a daily basis. I was amused that he was able to see his son, hear his son, talk to his son, but he was still not happy. You know the reason. He was not sure whether his son was wearing a mask or whether it was his real son. Employees also feel the same way. Technology has yet not solved this discomfort of human touch.
Food is important for survival. Food becomes tasty when right amount of salt is there. You can always sense the excess or absence of it. Excess makes the food uneatable. Absence not only takes away the taste but also creates a potential mental imbalance.
The human touch is like salt in the food. All the people transactions have a human touch embedded in them. Making them efficient is likely to create the imbalance. There is a serious need to identify the methods to compensate for this deficiency.
Q-How can we make HR Technology implementations successful?
I saw a robot cleaning floors in the United States. I realized that my wife faces problems when the maid does not turn up. I bought that robot for her. It was bit expensive but I felt it was worth investment. The robot did not turn out to be that great because most US homes are carpeted and Indian homes are hard-floored. The dust in India is substantially more than in the US.
Later, I realised there is another version of that robot by the same company which mops the floor instead. That would work well in an Indian condition. However, instead of replacing the maid in the house, it has become her assistant.
I learnt that lift and shift does not work always. You need to assess your ground level realities and select the right technology accordingly.
Q-How to select the best HR software for your company?
When I go out for vacations, I select a hotel by checking the user experience ratings of various hotels. I do not base my decision on these ratings because whatever is good/bad for others might not be the best for me. I check the comments to understand whether the hotel meets my requirements. At the same time, I keep an eye on how much I want to spend on the hotel. A similar philosophy should be followed for selecting software for the company.
“It is important to understand that software does not make the processes effective. It just brings efficiency. Hence it is a must to review and redesign processes before implementing any software. It is always better to engage a consultant for an independent perspective and the consultant may help you in selecting the right software as well.”
Q-How can HR Technology help to ensure future ready talent for business?
I met a kid who was holding his pants with both his hands. He could not afford to let it go. Because that would have led to an embarrassing situation. I asked him why he was carrying those pants that limit his ability to focus on anything else. He replied, saying that his mother wanted him to be future ready.
We generally get too obsessed with the future. No one knows the future. Needs of the future cannot be addressed by having one solution. We must first ensure that the solution must fit our current needs. We should work on our ability to quickly change, in accordance with the weather and the occasion.
Q-How do you see use of Technology to empower talent management and real-time talent assessment?
We love our phones because they don’t judge us. However, the same phones pass on huge amount of data that is used by marketing teams to understand our preferences, choices and mind-sets.
The words “real-time assessment” themselves smell like Judging. Judging makes people uncomfortable. The approach and the word need to change to “Enabling Talent”. Collection of data should not be glorified and the data should be used to enable people to do their jobs better by providing them choices based on their skills and aspirations.
Technology is just an enabler. It opens up possibilities. It is the flight of your imagination that creates a difference. Technology will take some time to meet our expectations as far as talent management is concerned. At this point in time, it is best to keep doing reality checks.
Q-What is the role of technology in internal talent mobility?
Internal talent mobility is an essential aspect of engaging and developing talent. Most of the times, a thought process is missing due to various pseudo constraints and biases. These constraints and biases can be dealt by defining business rules and enabling them through technology.
I was driving in a new area and google maps was bringing me again and again to the same spot. After three times, I switched off google maps and drove away to get out of the loop. At times, it is good to switch off technology and use your brain, especially when you are dealing with lives of people.
Q-What is your piece of advice to exercise discretion on the use of technology?
One of my friend was advised by a doctor to drink plenty of water. Drinking water helps digestion, improves blood circulation, keeps the joints moving and increases athletic performance. He started drinking water and found that his problems were getting solved.
Fitness improved. Everyone started admiring him. He started counselling people and giving lectures on drinking water. He got obsessed with the thought of drinking water and doubled the water intake. After a week, he collapsed because of sodium deficiency. Excess of anything is bad.
Technology obsession is contagious. However, technology usage should be determined based on business requirement instead of obsession.
Q-You are an influential HR professional and keynote speaker, what is your best piece of life & career advice for millennials?
I was travelling in a remote village in Madhya Pradesh by taxi. The taxi driver was a millennial. He was playing a local song on his stereo. I liked the song. I asked the taxi driver to take me to the shop where I can get this song. The taxi driver looked at me as if I had come from another world. He asked me hesitatingly, “Do you know YouTube?”
I realized that irrespective of geography, technology has reached the millennials.
I recorded song clip on my phone. I came back from the trip. I was listening to the song clip again and again to decipher the lyrics so that I can search the song on google. My son saw my struggle. He asked Siri, “Tell me which song is this” and played the song. It opened the song for me on YouTube.
I was trying to solve the problem in two steps. My son who happened to be a millennial, solved it in a single step. Technology has changed the problem solving approach of millennials. They have grown in a technologically advanced environment. This is why millennials have a greater probability of getting successful in their jobs. So millennials must leverage the advantage they have got.
Thank you Harjeet!