Business Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Tuesday, Dec 12, 2006
Corporate - Human Resources
Jack of all trades and master of many
From the Human Resource (HR) perspective, the New Year may bring new light, new visions and new expectations, from and by the people.
Are we to `expect' the unexpected or `unexpect' the expected? Traditional job descriptions will give way to `job carving and role sculpting' whilst formal job titles will be replaced by `designer designations' that give the holder the highest sense of ownership and worth of what he or she does. Job titles such as `Chief Mentor', `Director People Excellence', `Head Transformation' and `Chief Fun Officer' are no longer outlandish.
Indeed, HR managers will need to conjure `Designer Desigs' to cover different positions and functions across the organisation.
Collaborative workplaces with flexibility in terms of time, location, roles and deliverables will increasingly become the norm. The `temp' culture will embrace with dignity students, housewives, retired employees and professionals without any stigma. Creatively organising work around a `mixed workforce' will demand new job design skills.
One looming challenge for the HR manager would be how to manage motivation, morale, team spirit and culture in a virtual workplace? Is he to be a custodian or cultivator? How should he inculcate corporate vision, values and codes of conduct in a faceless work group? Will he need to experiment with a chat site or HR blogsphere to communicate? Unchartered waters such as these, need to be sailed.
Work, by its changing nature and context, will become increasingly dehumanised and therefore issues of commitment, loyalty and passion will need to be viewed through a new pair of spectacles. Moments of truth will be experienced right where the action is and the players may come from an outsourcing agency, a temporary team or a collaborative network. Stringent performance standards and meticulous monitoring systems need to be installed to ensure foolproof delivery.
With increasing globalisation, work will follow the movement of the clock. Cross border, cross cultural and time zone independent work styles will demand people adept at adapting to frequent changes in time zones, language and work styles.
The ability to synchronise and synergise with different country cultures will be a key success factor. Emerging measures such as Global Adaptation Factor and Cultural Competence Index are already doing their rounds. HR will need to explore and experiment with these new instruments and acquire skills to interpret them along with other tools of the trade.
Mobility across borders will not only be physical but also emotional and psychological. Adaptation to a new culture, respecting the written and unwritten mores and customs of the local populace will be a sine quo non for success. The HR manager will need to be multi-hat trainer, linguist, explorer, historian and anthropologist. Cross-cultural mobility management in this redefined context will call for a new clutch of competencies.
Wellness is going to be the watchword in corporate corridors; not only in terms of physical health but emotional, financial and even spiritual well being. People are going to demand greater autonomy, freedom and flexibility.
The Human Development Index at a corporate level will now incorporate fitness, recreation, leisure, concierge services and even geriatric care facilities apart from the conventional learning and potential development components.
Early in 2006, an interesting phenomenon emerged in the country. Seasoned professionals with some of the most respected names in industry announced without any warning that they would no longer `boot the computer' but give it the boot! It is significant to note that such announcements came right in the middle of a meteoric career. Forecasting attrition rates or conjuring incentive plans for such ilk could very well deflate HR egos.
In terms of training and development, the future will be governed more by learning agility than learning ability. Any training investment will be approved subject to a minimum guaranteed Return on Training and there will be no training to fill training calendars or meet ISO requirements.
Without exception, all organisations will need to evolve into `learning organisations' and future organisational competency and maturity models will incorporate metrics to reflect this. HR managers need to envision, design and establish these measures, both for organisational and personal survival.
The HR manager will need to focus on organisational performance and human capital development as he moves away from a service role towards a consulting role.
He will use his skills to develop solutions with his internal customers without imposing his views so as to obtain a buy-in and commitment to a proposed solution. Such an approach will increase the probability of success.
As HR transits to its new orbit in the New Year, the HR manager will have to position himself as a provider of relevant expertise and contributor to the success of the core business. He will need to continuously provide on-line, real-time solutions to real business problems. As we usher in the New Year, let us also welcome this Jill of all Trades and Master of Many.
(The author is Vice-President HR & Commercial Henkel India Ltd. He can be contacted at: Sam.Chandar@in.henkel.com)
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