How can HR become more strategic?

Tips for a budding L&D/HR professional?

Something that never fails to impress me is the drive and passion to learn. I notice that my managers are willing to invest a lot more time on new entrants who are curious to learn the ways of corporate HR. This coupled with great attitude is often rare to find. 

Your personal achievement as an HR professional?

I started with recruiting, enjoyed every bit of my job then and moved on to manage talent management, talent development, and HR business partner teams. I feel fortunate to get many opportunities to expand my knowledge base in HR.

The funny part is I head most of HR functions except recruiting in my current role.

Almost every 2 years, I got a new portfolio to manage, experiment, and change. In my career, I rolled out many ‘first time initiatives’ for the organization. When I look back, the progression is personally satisfying.

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

The most exploited line in the HR industry is that HR professionals must become business partners.

If you haven’t heard it then you are not in the HR space yet. At the cost of some duplication, I am taking a shot at simplifying something that many distinguished, accomplished leaders in our industry have defined. The skills you need to contribute strategically or partner with business are, your ability to keenly listen to business and their people (including sensing that is unsaid), being agile in your approach, willingness to change, overcoming perception biases, ability to confidently draw a line and push back business leaders when you realize something is not in the interest of the firm or its people. From L&D, I doubt any leader will say there is no need for better competent people so instead of focusing purely on meeting TNI needs, think about what capabilities, if enhanced, can boost business goals. 

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

I am not sure if I can say any practice/framework has always worked as the variety in our profession never diminishes. I can talk about 2 things that have worked for me – 

1) Knowing the employee pulse accurately gives the business leader the confidence that you know what you are saying, something that has worked for me to get a buy in from tough stakeholders 

2) Establishing that the success of the business leader is in your interest gives you a chance to discuss and deliberate a solution to the problem with an equal opportunity at the table

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

I don’t think so, not because I worry about my profession becoming extinct and have this urge to fight for its existence. It is a well-known fact that the human brain can think on the spot and offer solutions to a problem that hasn’t been programmed or can be derived from various analytics.

We understand the intricacies of emotions, and it does play a role in decision making;

at the end of the day people are core to all businesses and all products are built to make consumers happy. Having said that there are many HR processes that are manually done and it might be better for robots to manage those processes in the interest of using human brains better.

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

One point that we keep reiterating to employees is that their development is their responsibility.

As a L&D partner, we will help you identify the gaps, establish the need for development or show you the advantages of making progress, but the willingness to change or focus on what can make you better is in your hands. In addition, we work closely with our participants, especially on manager development programs, to analyze the need and customize the curriculum & methodologies to meet their needs. So there are rarely surprises. 

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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