On 10th May, I was invited by my friend Shyam Iyer on a webinar to discuss the above topic. I had made notes for my talk and am reproducing them in 2 parts. Here is the Part 2.
I must compliment Shyam Iyer & 60BitsConsulting for choosing a very relevant & important topic for deliberations. We are in the throes of a crisis and hence the importance of leadership, to drive us out of the woods!! As the actions will have to be implemented by people, hence the importance of HR, as a function, is doubled at the present moment.
I have structured my talk in 4 buckets:
1) The Context & 2) The Journey of HR was covered in Part 1. (https://vikasshirodkar.blog/2020/05/21/redesigning-leaders-by-reinventing-hr/)
So let us dive into Leadership & HR’s New role in this Part 2..
3) Leadership: The ‘What’ & ‘How’ of Leadership in the present context, especially given that we are looking up to our leaders at present, to lead us out of the crisis.
4) HR’s new role: What are the areas HR has to focus on, to support the Leaders & the organisation at the present juncture.
Leadership: Before we begin to speak of leadership, I must clearly define: I believe that We are ALL Leaders now. The present crisis and today’s challenges cannot be resolved in the Command & Control approach of the past. The past has given way to a New Order: Leadership is a verb, not a noun! We all, as leaders, must stand up and stand together! Leaders must enter the trenches and be with the trops as the drama unfolds. The way things are unfolding… with a new twist each day….we must empower people and encourage decision making at the action points, at the lowest possible level. Leaders do not have all the answers and leaders must listen to their teams to chart the path in this uncertain future. Democratization of organizations is here with a bang.
None of us were prepared for Work from Home when the lockdown was declared. Frankly many leaders, yours truly included, did not really believe in WFH and that it would be serious model for running our business. We doubted in our hearts whether this world work. And along comes TCS and announces WFH for 2 years directly for their employees. Other companies have also accepted this new norm. IT/ITES/BFSI were at the forefront. But brick & mortar manufacturing companies were not far behind. Even Hospitality and Hotels, Services like Ola and Urban Clap have all embarked on this journey changing the very way we work. Leaders are still getting comfortable withWFH, but employees will be very demanding of these new paradigms in the post COVID world.
Energy is the new currency of Leadership. Due to remote and far flung teams, personal touch, involvement and continuous availability is very much the norm. Roles are getting redefined as we struggle to find answer to the basic question: What are the top action points that leaders must focus upon today to be successful? Leaders are emerging as the positive change agents, in the middle of the chaos, working hard to create the future! Nassim Taleb spoke about the Black Swan concept way back in 2007 and indeed the present crisis is a black swan event which has taken the entire globe by surprise. Same Mr Taleb comes with another concept to help us here….being Anti Fragile. While resilience is the ability to bounce back, Anti Fragile is the ability to be stronger in opposition, become better after facing the crisis. This is what Leaders must imbibe and propagate.
The redoubtable CCL lists the skills required by Leaders today. Pay attention to the beautiful turn of phrases in this list of NEW SKILLS for LEADERS:
- Get there Early: be proactive, be prepared.
- Active Attention: so many parts are moving together, you may miss critical things.
- Urgent Patience: dissatisfaction with the present, iron hands in soft gloves.
- Humble Strength: Humility to listen and strength to implement tough choices.
- Readiness: in perpetuity, willingness to take mid course corrections, with alacrity.
- Synchronicity: keeping the “grand design” in mind, moving sure-footedly in the right direction.
Gallup who have always espoused that Feelings are Facts did a major research recently to find out what organizations and employees need from their leaders at the present juncture. There results are worth mulling over. What people need today is:
- Stability, and
It is through demonstrating strong evidence of trust, compassion, stability and hope in all their dealings, leaders will have to ready the organization to bravely face the uncertain future.
New Role for HR:
As the Gallup model stresses the importance of Hope, and as Hope is important to bring us out of this crisis, let me begin with a quotation on Hope, “Hope is the belief that the future will be better than the present, alongwith the belief that you have the power to make it so” Dr Shane Lopez. Finally it is Human Beings who will revive the economy, not coffins! Hence the custodian of people, the HR leader in the organization has a very important role to play in the present times. While people management has always been fundamental to organizational success, at the present time, to align the employees to the vision of the Leaders and pull together to get the organization out of the present rut, HR has a very important role to play. Given the present challenge, what should HR’s fouc areas? What is “must do” for HR now? Critical times, important question, which will define the new role for HR. This is a good time for HR to remember the classic question Vetal addressed the King: If you cannot solve problems, why would the world need you, O Vikramaditya?
The main thrust are for HR in these times is to Shape the Beliefs in the Organization and emerge as the Co-creator of the new organizational Culture. For this HR will have to, interalia, focus on:
- Preparing the Leaders for the New Normal
- Focus on Employee Engagement & Employee Experience
- Unskilling Roles while Reskilling People: Change the Talent landscape
- Change management: continuous unlearning, learning and re-learning
- Shape Organizational Culture: how we think and act
- Be the Productivity Champion, bringing in new processes, new tools & new metrics
- Encouraging Collaboration and Alignment on technological platforms
- Re-draw the Organization Structure based on zero-based manpower planning
- Recalibrate the Talent based on fungibility across businesses and functions
- Managing Fear & Encouraging Failures
- Devekloping Emotional Agility across the organization
- Employee Assistance Programs with Stress tacking and employee support
- Communication across the organization: Making the Why? compelling
I believe that if HR focuses on this new agenda and works closely with the Leaders, HR can create a future ready organization which is COVID proof.
The task is clear, the road is defined, let us move ahead: vikas