Answer the question “What is in it for me?”

Tips for a budding L&D/HR professional?

It is absolutely critical to build credibility and trust with your stakeholders. You can do this by ensuring that they experience consistency in every interaction with you. Consistency means that your work output is the best that you could have made it in your context; consistency means that in your behaviors, you act as you say and you deliver as you commit. 

Your personal achievement as an HR professional?

To be able to transcend boundaries of my profession and advocate for people using a business lens rather than an HR lens. I’d like to illustrate this with a story.

One of the organizations that I worked in, went through an acquisition. During the massive change and transformation that happened post the event, the one thing that stood out for me was the partnerships that I built with people in both organizations. Till today, years after integration, those partnerships have stood the test of time. I have ex-colleagues who are now friends and well-wishers who even now call me their true HR partner!

How can an HR/L&D contribute strategically to the organization?

A powerful way to be seen as a strategic partner, is to completely immerse yourself in the business context and reality. I have personally experienced the difference HR can make if they understand the environment that our organization operates in, the growth drivers, challenges we face.

This deep understanding will allow us to connect the dots, give shape and colour to people & organizational initiatives in the short, medium and long term.

As HR, we must create a place for us at the table through the value that we demonstrate. In one of my earlier organizations, I was honestly, surprised to hear the head of the business actually saying –

“We do not take any business decisions without building in the HR point of view. For us, HR is part of the decision making”.

Coming from an organization where HR was primarily viewed just as a ‘do-er‘, this was a huge shift to what HR has the potential to drive in forward looking organizations. 

One HR/L&D practice that has always worked for you as an HR. (share an example)

For me, one of the best ways to build advocacy in people initiatives is to clarify the purpose of why we want to do whatever it is that we are planning to do, and to co-create the solution with the business. Both as a CoE head and an HRBP, I have experienced the power of collaboration.

Why I swear by this, is that the moment we are absolutely clear on the purpose, what business problem (whether now or in the near future) will it solve for, and how can we do this together, is when the magic happens. The passion and energy that go into co-creation is indescribable. I have seen the best solutions fail if I had not taken in a stakeholder’s input or integrated the business perspective. Equally, I have seen initiatives succeed because the business took ownership of its implementation and had its skin in the game right from the beginning.

Do you think robots can replace HR/L&D professionals in the coming decade?

Well, in certain areas, yes. Tasks which are routine and administrative in nature, is better done with automation and subsequently robots. We need human intervention to build next practices, which are designed to deliver exceptional experience to employees.

We need to focus on building better ways of work, building future skills and capabilities and designing work practices that enable people to be the best that they can be across environments. 

How do you create a buy-in for trainings at workplace?

Bring training to people and not the other way round. With a multi-generational workforce in place and resources being scarce, we have to think differently on how we train people. People are reluctant to attend trainings which take them away from work. People want to learn, but at their own pace and when they want to. We have to think of creative solutions that allow this to happen.

While digital is a popular method of bringing learning to the learners, let us think of other impact learning avenues such as skill labs, hackathons, social collaboration, where the stress is more on application of knowledge and skills.

Again, I cannot underline more, the importance of identifying the purpose of training, what is the problem that we are trying to solve, why, how are we answering the age-old question of ‘what’s in it for me‘.  Unless we address these questions, buy-ins will be hard to come by. 

Disclaimer: The responses to the questions are solely the views of the interviewee as a professional and do not reflect that of the Organisation he/she works for.

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