Major HR Challenges and Talent Priorities in New Normal

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Talent Priorities New Normal
Dr. Sanjeev Dixit, CHRO-International Business, The Himalaya Drug Company, Dubai

An Exclusive Conversation With Dr. Sanjeev Dixit, CHRO-International Business, The Himalaya Drug Company, Dubai

Dr. Sanjeev Dixit is loved to be called “IDEAPRENEUR” as he has been growing personally & professionally by creating & executing unconventional and path-breaking IDEAS. He is a Global HR Leader with more than 23 years of Strategic Corporate HR & CHRO experience across diversified industries & geographies and achieved Business transformation & growth through Values & Culture alignment & Transformation.

He is a Doctorate in Human Resources Management & Organization Development from globally renowned Academy of HRD, Ahmedabad, India. He has also achieved Chartered Fellow from globally acclaimed Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development (CIPD), UK and Fellow Certified Practitioner in Human Resources from the Australian Human Resources Institute.

He is a global accredited Trainer & Consultant in Directive Communication Psychology & Colour Brain Mapping, Culture Consultant and Accredited member of the Global Trainers Federation.

Q- What are the major challenges confronting HR Leaders today? How can they overcome them?

The ongoing COVID 19 pandemic has openly exposed the vulnerability of our Businesses & Business Leader’s readiness of Managing Uncertain & Unprecedented external environment. Our so-called full proof risk management strategy to manage Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous (VUCA) got a reality check. All PLAN A (Action-Oriented Strategy) and PLAN B (Back up risk management) approaches have royally failed.

Looking at these contextual realities & exposed vulnerabilities, following are the key challenges confronting HR leaders today and tomorrow and how to manage them are given.

1. Business Continuity & Sustainability:

As a Key Business driver and stakeholder, HR Leaders are and need to take all necessary measures to ensure Business Continuity plans are effectively & efficiently implemented by leveraging high resilience of Human Capital and do everything to sustain the similar Human productivity level during this trying time which was there in normal scenario. They also need to sensitize all the business stakeholders to avoid any laxity towards responding to the realities of the situation by role modelling behaviours associated with the core values & DNA of organisation as that will generate passion, confidence, pride and hope to survive and grow. Thus Business Continuity & Sustainability is the most daunting challenge which needs to be handled as stated above with high tenacity and empathy.

2. De-risking Business from New Normal People Linked Risks:

As Businesses are grappling with fundamental operational, survival, and growth-related issues, HR Leaders need to take charge of building the organisation to risk-free manage the new normal posed by the ongoing pandemic. In this regard, the first thing is to optimise the Human capital productivity through clarity and alignment to Business goals and enabling employees to grab any and every growth opportunity like an entrepreneur which will fuel business continuity and sustainability in the short & long term.  To de-risk the business from New normal people risks like fast obsolescence and irrelevance by providing business need specific capability, engagement & welfare programs, flexible work from home guidelines and resources to maintain per capita contribution with complete safety and zero health risks, effective two-way communication to rekindle positivity, hope, resilience, responsiveness celebration of success, redressal of concerns and finally build agility in the virtual ecosystem in bargain to proactively address similar situation in future. 

3. Collapse of Confidence in Culture & Leadership:

Across the world, depending upon the success rate of how the Business leadership has responded to their stakeholders in this unprecedented and trying scenario in terms of instilling hope, compassion, empathy, integrity and walk the talk, there is a challenge of employees losing confidence in the leadership and relevance of rhetoric culture. In order to resurrect the credibility of Business leadership and high yielding culture, HR leaders need to take the role of conscience keeper by always emphasising on role modelling of values-oriented behaviours which inspire teams to be effective followers through a high level of mutual trust, transparency, responsiveness, and understanding to march past the pandemic with flying colors.

Q- How is COVID-19 changing the Organizational Culture and Behavior?

As stated above, COVID 19 pandemic has deeply stirred the axis of Organisation’s roots, pillars, and fundamental tenets of purpose, values, belief system, consequences linked behaviours in the most unprecedented manner like never before. Culture which in most of the cases were either default by-product of what top management been doing while implementing Business growth strategy or fashionable rhetoric has suddenly become “Moments of Truth ”. 

The culture which I define as “Consistent behaviours role modelled & demonstrated by most influential people in an entity” has really enabled organisations, businesses, and even nations to survive the tsunami of this pandemic. Organisation who were practicing before this pandemic, leadership behaviours which instill values of trust, passion, ethics, resilience, tenacity, empathy led high performance have done well compared to leaders who were only giving lip service to their teams regarding the purpose, values and right behaviours supporting high-performance culture.

In my view, COVID 19 pandemic has once again turned the compass of leadership towards ” Moments of Truth” reflecting their human skills led Culture. I call them in my book PLAN C, Culture oriented leadership which is driven by Culture Focused Strategy and not Strategy focused Culture.  Strong, purpose & values-driven evolving Culture can only enable the organisation to survive and surpass unscathly any pandemic or epidemics. No wonder the key role of CEO has become building Culture of Excellence in the Organisation. 

Q- How do you see the talent strategy for the future of work?

Basis the hard learning derived while responding, realigning and moving towards a thriving scenario in the pandemic management process, Talent Management strategy across industries will follow the “Fluid approach” than convention in order to look at hardware & software elements of the future of work. With the new normal rebooting the work description, work design, performance management, Travel, health & safety focus, compensation & benefits guidelines , Digital landscape, employer branding, hiring practices, virtual work practices, flexibility and agility to have customised talent within and outside the organisation will be key for the success of enterprise.

Ultimately Talent management strategy will significantly shift from workforce/Talent flexibility to flexible workforce/Talent with high focus on leveraging interim and gig talents to increase the shock absorption of Businesses to handle risks and challenges of the New Normal. The focus would be on skilling & reskilling of Talent on digital platforms & systems with leadership competence of resilience and high Adaptability Quotient (AQ)

Q- Will talent priorities be different now? What are the skills that businesses need to succeed over the long term?

The Talent priorities are significantly shifted with the new normal challenging all the old conventions. With the experience of current talent & skills managing the crisis in a particular way, the focus of Organisation will have to drastically shift in making their talent much more tech & data-savvy with a good understanding of various digital platforms. In terms of hiring also, Talent who is very high on acquiring new skills in the past & present will be in high demand as continuous learning will no longer remain a lip service or extravagant rhetoric but a way of life.

The Skills that Businesses need to thrive in the new normal and in future would be-

  • Building & evolving Agile Business operating model
  • Crisis management with high Agility
  • Digitalisation & Tech savviness
  • Continuous learning systems for skilling & reskilling
  • Leveraging Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain technologies in Innovative manner
  • Talent mix with offline and online competence
  • Periodic Culture Audits & Evolution systems & mechanisms for High-performance Culture
  • High focus on Innovation & disruption 
  • Adaptability quotient 

Q- Currently, how do you see the rise of digitalization in HR Practices?

Digitalisation in HR practices has got reinvented and revitalised in the current lockdown scenario as technology tremendously supports business and people to remain productive, contributing and relevant which to great extent minimise the risks of Business totally getting bankrupt and therefore Digitalisation will be the new normal across all Business functions including HR. As the Business operating model will be built around Digital & tech-savviness, all aspects of HR processes from Hiring to Engagement to Retention of Talent will be significantly impacted by Digitization influencing the decision making and overall experience of employees in the Organisation.

Ultimately HR leaders need to maintain optimum balance between impersonality of Digitisation with personal connect and empathy. The purpose should be to have “Hi-Touch in Hi-Tech ” business ecosystem and HR leaders had and will have to play a very active role. The overall objective of Digitalisation in HR practices is to enable “smart working with high per capita productivity” which will further de-risk businesses from the negative impact of any future pandemics.

Q- Anything concluding remarks?

Human Resources as a function will shift from merely process & systems driven function to Experience enhancement and Culture anchor function with high focus on building Hi-Touch in Hi-Tech environment and driving business through agility, action, focus and Plan C.

With (Post COVID) VUCA becoming a New Normal, Like any other Business Function, Human Capital Management has to reinvent itself into Human Change & Culture Management.

Organisations need to build Culture evolving oriented Plan C to make Culture transformation as the core of all strategies and drive Organization growth by having Culture Vision to become an ideal organization by focusing on solving big business problems by addressing the root causes and not symptoms.

Till date, everyone in an organization has been driven by Top-line and Bottom-line but never focus on Middle line management which is to rigorously drive Values & Beliefs (build the Middle line) oriented behaviors through immediate, definite and affirmative reinforcers & consequences. Middle line Management is a term coined by me to bring a completely fresh and heightened focus on building, strengthening, and leveraging human skills than any other things to achieve sustainable success and growth.

Thank you, Dr. Sanjeev!

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