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Srikanth Chandrashekhar, Pall Corp APAC

How to become an HR leader 2.0

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Businesses have transformed, and to keep up with them, HR functions need to also evolve. Srikanth Chandrashekhar, head of talent management for Asia Pacific at Pall Corporation, expands on the areas HR leaders should focus on to lead such transformations.

A few months ago, I was approached by a famous multi-billion dollar multi-national start-up corporation for a regional leadership position in human resources.

When I inquired a bit further on the position, I was informed the HR team only consisted of recruiters and the regional leadership position was being introduced to primarily enhance the hiring ambitions of the company.

After a brief discussion, I walked away from that opportunity quite disheartened because it was a sad moment for HR practitioners.

If a billion-dollar technology company thought that hiring people was the core to human resources, then we HR people have apparently been trying to scale Mount Everest in our shorts and a windbreaker.

If a billion-dollar technology company thought that hiring people was the core to human resources, then we HR people have apparently been trying to scale Mount Everest in our shorts and a windbreaker.

Having worked for a number of global and well-established technology MNCs across industries, I have to admit that I do see reasons as to why business leaders in a start-up would have such a simplistic view on the value of the HR function.

Frontline HR leaders in most organisations are guilty of playing catch-up with business strategy and trying to sort out their back office implementing an archaic HR model, rather than building and deploying an integrated HR group that possesses industrial knowledge, a mindshare of the business strategy and are innovators at heart.

“I have 15 years of C&B experience” and “I was a global HR business partner for 10 years for this Fortune company” seem to be a yardstick for functional excellence when our marketplace and businesses are being drastically reshaped by social media, mobile tech, the Internet of Things, etc.

Businesses today are becoming so complex due to rapid changes in technology that frontline leaders have no option, but to rely heavily on their HR function to make critical business decisions.

As we start to witness changes all around us, the impact to the HR function is far greater than any of us could imagine.

I believe that while we have all been talking about HR transformation for organisations, true change starts from within.

I believe that while we have all been talking about HR transformation for organisations, true change starts from within.

 

So here are a few areas I thought I would share with you on what an HR leader 2.0 should be competent at.

What does your organisation do?

No single function in your company represents the brand and its people as much as you do.

Who do you sell to? Is your business cyclical? Who are your key competitors?

Understanding the macro economics of your business can go a long way in engaging business leaders within and outside, and not only helps you attract potential candidates in your line of work, but it also transforms your image as an HR professional.

Tips to act: Use one of the many news apps on your mobile devices to read industry news, stock prices, analyst views, etc.

Internally, get with your sales intelligence team members and spend time with them every now and then.

We have a free cash flow problem!

For whatever reason, more often than not, the finance competency of an HR professional is directly proportional to their job level in the organisation.

The HR head usually talks business performance at the company’s annual HR meeting and I could’ve sworn I heard the heartbeat of the person sitting next to me during the Q&A.

Understanding business performance and ability to comprehend financial reports adds a lethal edge to your thought process and outlook. You don’t need to think about getting that CFA degree, just getting through a basic programme will set you on the right course.

For whatever reason, more often than not, the finance competency of an HR professional is directly proportional to their job level in the organisation.

Tips to act: There are so many online resources for you to brush up your finance.

And once you feel confident, start with your own company annual reports over the past few years.

LinkedIn

Social media has transformed how candidates, employees and organisations function. Slowly but surely this huge wave called “the Internet of Things” is transforming products and also decision making.

So have you thought about how these platforms and concepts are impacting your function and your business?

It’s probably hard not to know or be involved with technology nowadays, but I would urge you to build a “technology mindset” within the HR function.

If you didn’t notice, your business leaders are neck-deep in these changes and are looking at you to advise them on making/buying people decisions.

Tips to act: Again, leverage the power of that iPhone you own. News apps, tech and business publications are a great way to stay informed.

If you’re looking to embark on social media for HR, invite the guys from LinkedIn, Glassdoor, etc.

They are more than happy to come share their value. If you have some money in your budget, working with a technology/social media consultant is a great place to start building a roadmap.

It’s probably hard not to know or be involved with technology nowadays, but I would urge you to build a “technology mindset” within the HR function.

These are some broad and generic areas for you to think about and I am sure that as you place them in the context of your own organisation, you will realise this is just the tip of the iceberg.

I have been extremely fortunate that my formative years as an HR professional was spent being a part of a truly global HR organisation that was valued for developing the organisation through the use of technology and innovation in human resources.

Having said that, I probably wouldn’t be as competent today in the absence of facing and solving those challenges I mentioned above.

I would consider my tenure to be a success if and when I have managed to create a sustainable HR function which is considered a breeding ground for future business leaders and I wish godspeed to anyone trying the same.

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