Ramakrishna V, CHRO – Home First Finance Company India Ltd. in conversation with Prittle Prattle News
Remote working has laid bare the chinks in the armor of an organizations’ culture. Nuances never addressed have come out in the open, and we are now left to deal with it. The pandemic’s sudden nature had given very little time for people to set up rules of engagement. While the entire organization focused on making the machines work, they forgot the part that makes these machines work – the human.
Now that remote working, smaller teams, flexible working have become norms rather than exceptions, and the focus has shifted to understanding its impact on the people and helping them make it work.
The following are a few challenges that we will face going forward.
- A diverse group of people will have to work together with varying comforts/discomforts regarding working from home.
- Managers who may / may not understand what the team is going through in the absence of face to face interactions.
- Our inability to read non-visual cues will make it challenging to have tough conversations/feedback.
- As the situation is evolving, decisions are not consistent. What worked today and in line with the organization’s culture may not work in the changed context. For instance, how to deal with people who want to work from home v/s. Those who want to work at the office within the same team.
- Since we will not gauge all in a physically distanced world’s reactions, the decision-making process may delay.
- This period is like a long tunnel, and we don’t know how long this will last.
It is not all doom and gloom; much will emerge out of this situation. With the caveat that we still don’t fully understand the future, I attempt a few things that will arise.
Finally, managers will take more accountability for their people, as it would be difficult to delegate upwards as decision-making will get delayed. The employee value proposition will get tested, and the organizations, which mean what they write, will outshine others. In the end, diverse organizations will emerge, so there will be marked improvement in their overall tenacity. The new paradigm will create organizations that are genuinely built to last. Built to last anything!
What this means is that the HR teams will now be in the spotlight. I would not have spoken in the daily huddle with the top team (CXOs) and the Senior team in my entire career as much as I have done in the past three months. A bit exaggerated, but you get the drift. We are now right in the storm’s front and center and responsible for navigating organizations from here into the new normal. It will also mean the HR teams have to come out of their comfort zones and take the issues head-on. We need to build our cross-functional understanding. The decisions we make will have to weigh in all the departments’ needs and address their challenges. We have to be more forthright in dealing with things, promote openness, and drive change.
“We have dusted off our change management hats and come up with all the strategies to help teams deal with the rapid change that is hitting us.”
HR teams will also have to improve their empathy quotient; the diverse number of issues will push us to make quick calls and sometimes lead to unhappy consequences, so we need to keep the empathy high. Another area that we have to work on is being available and responsive and not hide behind the Chatbots. I don’t think today’s technology is ready to deal with what is happening to the human mind. We can work simultaneously on improving the technology, as you can’t do this forever while ensuring you stand at the forefront of this calamity.” Confirms Ramakrishna V, CHRO – Home First Finance Company India Ltd. To the reporter of Prittle PrattleNews
HR team members need to take care of their own physical and mental wellness. This process would take a toll on all and particularly for people in the middle of this. They need to believe that the time to do bigger things in a happier environment is not far away. A few things that I have learned in the past three months are as follows.
The use for Plan B / Plan C / contingencies / BCP has all come to the fore. So we need to plan them better and not as an academic exercise.
There is no way you can predict what will happen tomorrow, so be challenged daily.
Be patient and listen more. Embrace the unknown
Ensure two-way communication now more than ever
Be free to learn new things.
We need to be aware that the personal and professional boundaries are going to blur and merge. As organizations work towards understanding this and creating processes to respect these, employees also need to give time and not be too rigid about these boundaries.
Lastly, strengthening the tenants of the culture in the new normal will be critical. As people move to be physically distant, the culture will also take the “e” form. While the manifestation of the culture was more in the physical format, the tenants were always in the informal networks. The indoctrination of the new employee into the company culture will be a tough one to take the “e” route, and that will be the real test for the organizations in the future.
Like a classical electrical network, the transmission losses are the ones that limit our ability to reach far and wide. So they needed Grids, substations to boost the signal and reach the individual appliance at home with its full power. Similarly, If we want to create an influential culture that can get propagated with minimal transmission losses, we should create these grids & substations to amplify the cultural tenants. They can be regional heads, function heads, culture champions. They can come in many forms, but the role has to ensure maximum output to the last mile employee. It is a significant opportunity to relearn and reinvent culture at an individual, organizational, and societal level. It’s up to us to grab it with both hands.