05 Sep 2018

6:00 pm – mail from boss- “Hi Shrusti, need to work on revised budget plan, based on new guidelines, refer attached – please send by EOD”

6:01 pm –mail from business head- Can you review inputs from the pulse survey and put together a plan? Let’s look at the first draft at 10 am tomorrow”

6:02 pm – mail from CHRO to all employees – < Insert fancy sounding name> launched for all employees.

Contact HR for further details” (and of course this is the first that HR is hearing of it)

6:03 pm – mail from UK HR counterpart – “Good morning team! Let’s connect to finalize the global competency framework. Will set up a call for 3 hours from now

And finally, the piece de resistance 6:04 pm the designated floor wise-guy walks past your desk and says with mock astonishment – “You’re still in office? I thought HRs only work from 10 to 5”

The HR function is easily one of the misunderstood professions. We’ve come a long way from personnel management a few decades ago, to being involved in decision making and partnering with business every step of the way.

To the Average Employee however, based on what they need from you, HR is either a devil wielding a pitchfork, whose job it is to slash increments, downgrade performance ratings, prevent people from going onsite and eat baby unicorns for dinner, or an angel playing a harp, who will resolve a dispute, gently put an errant peer in place, find your spouse a job and even ( and I really wish I was making this part up) come to your rescue when you are working on a night shift, and are convinced the floor is haunted.

It is such a pity! Especially because this is easily the most exciting time to be HR, and things are only getting better. No matter what role you might play within HR – recruitment, business partnering or a COE role, HR is moving from a slow, reactive cog in the wheel, to becoming an agile engine. We’re changing how employees interact with the company throughout the entire lifecycle, and the benefits are all too visible as more engaged workforces and effective utilization of talent.

Over the past few years, we have all been talking about data and analytics in HR, and now I’m actually seeing this in practice, from using intelligent metrics for various processes to a certain degree of predictive analysis. We’re constantly designing, evolving and implementing. Yet I am routinely asked, that how come someone with my background – an engineer with an MBA, who topped in science and statistics – chose a

soft” field like HR.

It is not difficult to understand this reaction though. Being in HR is much like working in a Masterchef restaurant. There’s a raging inferno in the kitchen, innumerable hands playing their part in an organized chaos of mammoth scale but what comes out, neatly plated on elegant tableware bears no trace of the madness; the diner remains blissfully unaware of the thought process, the creativity and the sheer science that culminated in his perfect dinner.

This is where branding or more correctly building an identity for HR comes into play. Both externally, and within the fraternity.

I’ll come back to you” and “Let’s take this offline” might be perfectly acceptable responses in some scenarios, but more often than not, we tend to get tangled up in a myriad of processes and limiting policies. Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating executing by exception, but rather on taking ownership to lead and be the change we want to see. Yes, the “human” element in HR is crucial and indispensable, but that is just the foundation – we have many levels to scale- and cannot and will not limit ourselves to playing Office Agony Aunt. Our adoption of new trends needs to reflect in each of our actions and relationships with our stakeholders; not just for the sake of putting a check in the box, but because every member of the HR community believes in the change.

Only then will HR have a meaningful seat at the table. (Be it the board, or at the next team lunch….)

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