HR pros need to create a structure that is adaptable to changes and does not impede business, says TAKE Sol's Sucheta Shetty

An HR practitioner’s job is to understand and appreciate the business managers need and help him/her by effectively utilising HR instruments, says Sucheta Shetty, VP, HR, TAKE Solutions. Shetty also thinks an HR practitioner necessarily needs to be a trusted adviser, a cultural leader, a governance wizard, merger and acquisition analyst, result driven operator, talent manager, business partner, financial acumen, outsourcing innovator, change agent, technology orientation and the most desired trait being an effective, influential communicator. That is a tall order to achieve in any role, but Shetty is confident a good HR pro is all that and more.

She may sound like a text-book HR pro, but Shetty also believes HR professionals need to create a structure and system that is agile, adaptable to the ever-changing conditions rather than have systems, processes that are rigid and impedes business growth.

In our series on HR practitioners, Shetty is the fourth HR head to share with us what makes HR leaders tick.

Excerpts from the conversation

What made you choose HR as a profession?

Human Resource management primarily focuses in achieving the corporate strategy by effectively engaging and managing talents which are primary assets. The role is to examine and construct a framework that links people, satisfaction and engagement levels to productivity and deliver business results. HR function has undergone several changes and a HR manager is construed to be a business partner, an employee champion, a change agent as well as a consultative partner with the aim of strategically leveraging human capital. Thus the positioning of Human Capital as the heart of business need has opened up challenging and exciting career paths. HR professionals have progressed from back office support function to an enabling function finding their way to boardroom to influence people and business outcome. Hence the imperative choice was to look at HR as a profession which offers a progressive career.

My extensive years of experience in the HR has been truly fulfilling, rewarding and allowed me to learn from leaders across different industries and expertise.

What has been the biggest achievement of your career?

The world that we are witnessing today is dynamic and ever-changing, it thus necessitates each one of us to learn and unlearn and constantly raise our bar of performance levels. It is my endeavour to persistently learn and adapt to the ever-changing economic and business conditions. Continuously striving to build a talented workforce through a culture of learning, discovery and engagement as a primary need to build institution par excellence has been gratifying and truly experiential.

What have been the primary traits/qualities that have helped you attain your present position?

The primary mandated traits for HR professionals are integrity, fair-mindedness and discretion. The HR practitioner necessarily needs to be a trusted advisor, a cultural leader, a governance wizard, merger and acquisition analyst, result driven operator, talent manager, business partner, financial acumen, outsourcing innovator, change agent, technology orientation and the most desired trait being an effective, influential communicator.

Over the years, under the able leadership and mentorship of several executives, it has helped me in acquiring many of these critical traits for effective functioning and progression in the HR role.

What are the challenges you are facing in your organisation?

In light of the rapidly changing business landscape today, the challenges are endless. The role of human resources to ensure business efficiency is constantly evolving and expanding, with new challenges surfacing beyond operational HR issues. In India, there is a growing challenge of building and developing skill sets and ensuring the rate of employability at a continual basis. TAKE as an organisation is not an exception to this issue. There is framework which ensures holistic development of its talent assets by cross skilling, multiskilling (SKILL LADDER), providing rotational job assignments, leadership learning (LEAD- Excellence Centre) and maintaining a diverse talent pool that will help counter future challenges.

Thus at TAKE, an agile structure is embedded in its people practices that is able to foresee and plan for future challenges by always staying on the ball of knowing what skill sets are necessary to develop and hone in employees.

What are the steps a company should take to develop and motivate future leaders?

It is essential to have a defined framework to induct, nurture and build leadership talent within the organisation. It is imperative in the current business landscape coupled with both environmental and economic uncertainties a skill map needs to be available providing detailed leadership competencies considering current and future realities. Leadership style needs to be understood in alignment with the organisation’ DNA, functional requirements and also needs to be assessed periodically. Organisations need to invest time and effort in developing a succession plan for critical leadership roles, career progression plan for potential leaders, invest in senior executives for identifying, grooming, coaching and mentoring budding front-runners for leadership position, assign projects to test leadership mantle as well as give them global exposure to create a pool of leadership talent within the organisation. It is necessary that a robust retention and engagement programme is developed for the current leaders and future front- runners.

Leadership is the key in building a successful organisation.

What is your rate of attrition? How do you prevent it?

The average rate of attrition within our organisation is much below the industry average. It is a common belief that people leave managers and not organisations; hence at TAKE every manager is mandated to play the role of HR manager by actively engaging , motivating their team members. The KRA of every manager has a component of people engagement scores and attrition percentage. This has been instrumental in curbing attrition and enhancing engagement and productivity levels.

How do you retain talent in your company?

Leadership is the key to our organisation. We firmly believe that leaders are paramount in building and sustaining an institution par excellence. As mentioned in the earlier question, our line managers don the role of an HR manager in addition to being functional/business managers. Hence they are our primary “Talent Catalyst”.

Certain attributes of our Talent Catalyst

Acquire , select and induct high potential talent assets: They are trained in conducting Behavioural Event Interviews to hire talents that are culturally aligned, exhibit high potential with a complete awareness of managing higher expectation of these talent assets.

Coach for skill, Counsel for career progression: A skill ladder is defined with the support of these catalyst with core, functional, leadership and technical competencies required at different levels of progression. A competency dictionary is made available as a reference for creating and building a skill development plan for each role. The catalyst engage in a discussion with their associates providing feedback on skill gaps and guide them in administering those gaps. They also counsel their team members on a career progression thereby motivating and engaging them to be part of an organisation that believes its employee’s to be the most valued asset.

Catch them young: They harness the potential ofindividuals by creating assignments that pulls them out of their comfort zone, provide stretch goal thereby identifying the high potential talent pool . Once the talent capability matrix is derived there is a conscious investment on grooming these potentially talented employees for leadership skills

Going that extra mile: Talent catalyst believe that their effort towards grooming building talent asset is primarily for meeting organisational goal. . This ideology helps them surrender their best talent to be deployed to the areas that most need their expertise.By doing so, not only do they aid the organisation’s strategic plans but also contribute to the personal development of their subordinates.

Engaging , Empowering and Training the leaders on managing enthusing, motivating and engaging teams have been part of a primary retention process. Apart from the engagement levels between a manager and associate the organisation has Career progression plan(STEP UP), Confluence–the town hall, Learning and Development framework , Rewards Program and TAB (TAKE A BREAK from Work–Fun activities) to name a few.

What sets your company apart from other companies as far as work culture goes?

The basic premise of the organisation thrives on an entrepreneurial mind-set. TAKE SOLUTIONS is known for its commitment and success in building an organisational culture that values creativity, teamwork, productivity, leadership and innovation.

What is the biggest challenge you face when selecting people?

As the war for talented people gains momentum, the challenge is in attracting passive onlookers. At TAKE, we have a well-rounded Talent Acquisition framework that invests time and effort in researching , identifying, engaging and creating a talent inventory for current and future needs.

How do you track employees' satisfaction or dissatisfaction in your company?

We believe that employees are most valued asset and believe in creating an environment that is conducive, vibrant and a feeling of “Thank God it is a Monday” which every employee exhibits

We have several employee touch-points embedded within the Engagement Model . To name a few of them which have been truly beneficial are illustrated below:

HR Speak: HR representatives hear the voice of their internal customers

I Connect: A skip level where a manager engages with team members one level below their line of reporting

Open Door Policy: TAKEster’s are provided access to senior management executives as a part of this policy

ESS Survey (Employee Satisfaction Survey): A survey is conducted to understand the engagement levels of the associate and the feedback provided is understood and action are taken appropriately

How important is HR to the bottom line of a company?

A robust HR system is instrumental in bringing top and bottom line results. It has been witnessed through several survey results that organisations having actively engaged workforce have seen rise in their revenue and profits. HR supports the bottom and top line through tactics like targeted recruitment, compensation and rewards for revenue generating employees, as well as a variety of employee retention programs, which increase productivity, lowers employee turnover and customer satisfaction.

How has the downturn affected HR?

The downturn has re-emphasised the need for HR strategy and the function to be driven by the environment in which the business exists, necessarily have an agile and adaptable framework to cope with the demands of changing economic, environmental , social and business condition.

How should HR be integrated with the core line of business?

An HR practitioner’s job is to understand and appreciate the business managers need and help him/her by effectively utilising HR instruments such as OD, change management, talent management and engagement, rewards to help influence the leaders on how to approach the project and ultimately to how they view talent in the process. We have an important role of being a people and cultural consultant to the business providing valuable information and tools to help them make the optimal decisions related talent and the alignment of the talent into the structure, workflow processes and reward systems that best achieve the business strategy.

A recent survey has questioned HR's actual contribution in an organisation. Would you like to comment on it with particular reference to your organisation? It is true that organisations which have strategically partnered with their Human Capital function have reaped enormous benefits as compared to those where HR is just another back office support function. TAKE as an organisation believes in building an institution of knowledge partners and thus understands the need to partner strategically, operationally with the Human Capital function

If you could change three things about HR practices, what would they be?

HR has seen its evolution since its rise. HR professionals need to create a structure and system that is agile, adaptable to the ever-changing conditions rather than have systems, processes that are rigid and impedes business growth.

Source

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