This article is a lightly-edited summary of the key takeaways from our speakers’ appearance on our podcast, “The Shape of Work.” If you haven’t listened to our show yet, be sure to check it out here. These speakers have an incredible stable of startup experiences to draw from, the kind of stories that are unbelievably helpful for HR/people managers to hear.
In today’s episode of “The Shape of Work”, Nisarg Shah, Springworks Product Manager welcomes our special guest, Sameer Nagaranjan, a very influential personality who has been contributing to the field of Human Resources for more than 30 years. He has directed HR functions in different places including the United States and parts of Asia, Europe, and Africa.
GUEST AT A GLANCE:
Name: Sameer Nagaranjan
What he does: Global President of Human Resources at Cadila Pharmaceuticals.
Find Sameer on LinkedIn.
Get Smart: “When you are engaging with the leaders, the conversation is very different. The views are different.”
“Humility is the essence of leadership. They should be able to take accountability for the results but especially, when the results are bad, they should be able to stand up and say sorry. And if the results are good, very often, they allow the team to go in front and say that did it.”
Will the companies revert to their previous working style?
After giving some important highlights of his personal and professional life, he throws light on the pandemic and how massively it changed the working style of organizations. The role of HR in changing the entire work setting has been extremely significant. Sameer feels that the organizations would not want to look back to their previous style of working after the pandemic. One of the main reasons behind this is the mutation of the Coronavirus.
Moreover, he explains that with the shift in the way of work, the mindsets of people have changed as well- the way they plan their work, the way they balance it, and so on. This might require a lot of adjustment if they go back to their previous method of work. The ‘work from home’ strategy has allowed companies to hire people irrespective of their locations. Additionally, it is resulting in reduced costs as most of the office expenses borne by the company are not needed anymore.
Thus the companies would have to take all of these factors into consideration. While other companies might be able to work from home conveniently, it is difficult for manufacturing companies to do the same. However, they can focus on other steps like social distancing, compulsory usage of masks, and more.
While he feels that working from home is a convenient option for all, Sameer says it can be a little challenging to conduct certain events online- things can generally be done better only through physical presence, for example, induction of a new employee.
Achieving work-life balance in the Eastern work culture:
When talking about work-life balance, Sameer gives an easy comparison of his work experience in Switzerland and the working environment of India. He feels that the Eastern culture takes time in a more fluid/elastic manner. While, on the other hand, in countries like Europe, every work event takes place strictly according to a well-balanced time. Sameer personally finds the Western work culture to be more convenient.
To bring this kind of work culture here:
- Clarify is the kind of output expected out of the team- This can be determined through one major factor- whether the focus is on how much time, effort, and the process that has been used or simply the result achieved irrespective of the above mentioned factors.
- Great technology (especially in the current scenario)- Most of the people are working from home. To reach your employees easily and to build a convenient yet useful work environment, good technology is a must. This is yet to be acquired in many parts of the country.
- And the main requirement is the sense of realism around it. People should be willing to explore that field. They should analyze and see how much of this segment can be procured and effective, in their organization in a realistic manner.
Can we ensure productivity with employee engagement tools?
While discussing employee engagement, Sameer says that it is effective only when the main purpose behind it is clear. Employee engagement tools do not necessarily ensure productivity, just by being fun and exciting. These tools and the goals to be achieved out of them should have a clear linkage between them. Proper efforts need to be undertaken while designing a tool to yield the desired productivity out of it.
The advancement of technology in the HR function:
Being in the industry for more than 30 years allowed him to see some massive changes in the technology and digital upgrades used in HR. Starting from using computers after two years of working to using software like SAP right now, technology has come a long way.
“I think the availability of data has meant that HR has become a far more data-friendly function. Metricization is easier and more reliable.”
Furthermore, he talks about things like elementary talent planning, session planning, leadership, etc., which seems impossible without data now.
The importance of humility in leadership:
He has come across many successful leaders in the United States and India that consider humility as a significant reason behind their success. According to him, humility and engagement with the employees is necessary for leaders to retain their position.
From ‘transactional’ to ‘transformational’- Growth of HR function over the years:
Talking about the growth of the HR function over the last two decades, he shares that the function has moved from ‘transactional’ to ‘transformational’. The effectiveness of an HR personnel was measured by how quickly he executed an agenda rather than what the agenda was and resulted to. However, over the years, shaping the agenda has now become a more important function. Strategic HR management helps understanding the business and its goals, the industry, and shaping policies through these factors. Sameer adds that strategic management in HR made significant progress and has been adopted by many organizations. They now focus on the best practices to hire and engage with employees, deliver good results, grow the businesses, and more. Another significant change is knowing what needs to be focused upon to contribute through the role of HR. He adds the significant development of IT in the HR function too.
Some valuable advice for the budding HR professionals:
Sameer says, “I’ve always personally believed in pursuing your passion in life, however it is. I also do believe it takes some time to discover your passion. It’s very tempting and easy to say that this is what you are very passionate about right now. And you might be right if that’s the case. But I always suggest the first five to 10 years of your career to experiment. See what drives, what fuels your passion, and then chase it.”