Top 39 Takeaways from our Podcast- The Shape of Work

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The Shape of Work: a podcast series bringing insights into the future of work and how it is shaping our workplace.

We welcomed some extremely influential guests, having extensive backgrounds in the field of HR, Leadership and Development, Talent Management, and a lot more. And, we have got so much more to come here.

We know it might seem a lot if you are a newbie here. Of course, this article has got you covered. This blog offers you the top 39 takeaways from our podcast to understand your employees’ needs and to make them more efficient.

Underrated facts about leadership:

1. Building highly productive teams is not equivalent to managing their tasks:

While overviewing tasks might be required, managing them with the employees is not the solution to productive teams. Managers should focus on training them to:

  1. Be more cognizant
  2. Be self-motivated
  3. Be analytical
  4. Have a personal connect (Ashish Anand, Director Performance Marketing & SEO – OYO Vacation Homes Europe)

2. Great leaders are not born, they are nurtured:

“The more I am anchored and aligned internally, the more I am able to observe and align externally. Leadership is, therefore, a role which requires a lot of agility and resilience as you are dealing with situations and people that are constantly changing.”

Ashu Khanna, Founder & CEO, ARKA Leadership

An entrepreneur and leadership coach for 28 years, Ashu Khanna gives us a comprehensive view of leadership training. She throws light on the fact that leaders are not born. Individuals need to adapt to practices and disciplines to create a leader within them. Leadership is not about directing. It is about walking the talk- following your principles. It comes through determined practice to maintain self-awareness. Apart from that, empathy is the next characteristic leaders need to possess. Leaders need to offer a sense of belonging to the employees to assure motivation.

3. View leadership in two ways:

a. Leadership by example- by walking the talk. Leaders should practice what they ask their employees to preach.

b. Viewing designation as different responsibilities- Designation makes no difference except for handling more responsibilities. It does not decide the importance one gets. (Dr. Upendra Pieris)

4. Investing in managers is necessary:

Our guest, Mythili Sarathy (Managing Business Partner, Polymer & SCM at Reliance Industries Ltd), believes that a manager influences the employees both in a good and bad way. Hence, managers need grooming to ensure the right impact. People managers can push the manager in the right direction. Both HR professionals and managers can create two different impacts on the employees. Therefore, the manager should be a spokesperson of HR.

5. Leaders need to be all-rounders:

Leaders cannot limit themselves to one role. From technical, business, to creative, they need to understand every aspect of an organization. They need to have a core understanding of the industry and be partially hands-on. Communication plays a good role in creating synergy within the teams too. The biggest role of a leader is to groom the next leader. (Nitin Agrawal, Associate Director at Housing)

Building an efficient organizational culture:

6. There are three truths of culture:

The Head HR of Tenshi Life Sciences and ranked among the ‘Top 50 HR Influencers,’ Amit Sharma explains the significance of organizational culture in one of our episodes. He also reveals three truths about culture:

  1. Culture is not right/wrong. It is decided based on what fits an organization the most.
  2. Culture cannot remain the same. It has to keep updating itself according to the industry trends and organizational goals.
  3. An organizational culture possesses a historical element within it- something from where it originated. This element needs to be cherished.

7. Adding in the culture> Fitting in the culture:

Roxana Dobrescu, VP- People and Culture at Labster, practices diversity through the concept of ‘culture add’ rather than hiring. ‘Culture add’ allows for more diversity and new ideas by adding new values to the organization’s culture. It brings a more evolved culture into practice. ‘Culture fit’ indicates a way for a more stagnant culture.

8. Hustle culture is not always beneficial:

Our guest, Lalit Dhingra (President and Global Head of Alliances and Partnerships, NIIT Technologies), does not believe in the hype hustle culture has created. People get mentally unhealthy without a proper work-life balance. Organizations face a lack of productivity among their workforce. Employees need to work within official hours and balance it, making the workplace fun. Companies can succeed without the hustle culture as well.

Communication at its best:

9. Keeping the communication chain short offers better results:

Longer communication chains in an organization lead to more confusion and misunderstandings. It is better to keep this chain as short and direct as possible. This needs to be viewed from an organizational development perspective. Our guest, Niyati, suggests companies create forums for the employees where they discuss and conveniently interact with each other. (Niyati Goel, Sr. Manager Global Compensation at “The Hershey Company”)

10. CEOs should also interact with the employees:

The biggest mistake a CEO can make is not conversing with the employees. There should be a free flow of communication between the two. Jeremy Tooley, the CEO of Xerris Inc, explains that people are bound to see their CEO as a different person than any other colleagues. It is the responsibility of the CEO to remove the awkwardness and build a friendly bond with them.

Jeremy mentions that his company maintains a seamless methodology in terms of communication within teams and sub-teams. Apart from that, Jeremy maintains a point to converse with his colleagues on a regular basis.

11. Communication does not work unless it’s done the right way:

Randomly discussing things with people is not fruitful. It should be with the right people. It can be analyzed through the goals, in other words, the reason behind networking. Good networking helps in faster and better growth. 

We understood this concept from Srividya, a Learning facilitator and TedX speaker who conducts her own program, Network=Network. This program focuses on analyzing the network on an individual as well as an organization basis.

12. “Communication needs to be exciting.”

Kaustubh Sonalkar (Group Director- HCM, Comms, CSR, & General Affairs, Welspun Group) tells us that  just communicating is not enough. Organizations need to make it exciting enough. For example, his organization conducted awareness/educational sessions considering the pandemic through theatre, street plays, and radio.

13. Storytelling is an effective means of communication:

According to our guest, Rahul Jain (Deputy General Manager of HR, UFLEX Group) believes in the concept of storytelling. It is one of the most effective solutions to ensure the smooth functioning of an organization. For example, if older employees narrate their success stories/experiences to the newer ones, it can help them settle down more conveniently. It can also be considered a good practice in industry forums, campuses, and social media platforms.

Everything about HR:

14. Startups do not need to hire HR: Myth-

Vikas, an HR professional who has worked to build careers for over 1,20,000 individuals, says every startup should invest in Human Resources by the time they are an organization of 50-75 people. Someone in a mid-level position can work for smaller organizations. This person needs to understand the nuances of the different dimensions of HR, recruitment and onboarding, engagement, and more. As a result, a basic framework of the entire startup is set up.

15. People managers need more EQ than IQ:

A business-oriented leader and an HR professional, Shuchi made us realize that the emotional quotient (EQ) is more valuable in the HR domain than the intelligence quotient (IQ). The pandemic shows that the people managers who succeeded in keeping their workplaces stable are the ones who do not get defeated by external/internal stress. It has been possible because of the excellent EQ they possess or have procured.

16. One HR is not equal to just one role: 

A business person will look into the business side of things, while a tech person will look into the tech side. However, an HR professional has to manage the overall functioning of the organization. It means that they have to understand every function of the function. They play the role of a mentor/coach as well as a supervisor. From goal-setting, creating engagement to being supportive- an HR professional needs to work on everything.

17. HRs should learn how to market themselves:

Gauri says that the problem is that HRs used to not focus on marketing themselves. However, they have started practicing it, and the employer brand has become a prerequisite for HR to have met the organizational goal. And that is why a proper balance of the two functions is required.

18. The key to good people management:

Dressing well, managing time, managing workload do not always account for good people management. It is important to be mindful that it involves leading people with different dynamics, backgrounds, experiences, political and social opinions. For that, one has to be able to corral and lead, guide, and inspire different people from different walks of life. So it is important to have a plan or to at least ensure coaching the idea of people leadership to a newly transitioned professional.” 

Joey Price, CEO of JumpStart:HR

19. Significance of psychology in HR:

Ruhie Pande, having specialized in organizational and industrial psychology, advises budding HR professionals to have a good knowledge of psychology. It helps in enhancing research skills and makes it easier to understand if a launched project is beneficial. People can take online courses easily even if they do not have any formal education on the subject. However, according to Ruhie, the most effective method is to implement your learning and analyze it.

Things to remember while hiring:

20. Candidate interviews should be more conversational:

Shruthi Bopaiah (Head of Client Engagement and Communications at Bridgeweave Ltd) talks about making an interview a ‘conversation of equals.’

Candidates are bound to get nervous during the interview. Hence, recruiters should focus on making it easy-going for them. They can discuss their own experiences in hiring and attempt to make the candidates feel comfortable. They should also be prepared before the interview to avoid wasting time.

21. Talent Acquisition requires good knowledge of Sales and Marketing:

Shreedevi, Head of Talent Acquisition- India, APAC, and EMEA, Epicor Software, uses her Sales and Marketing techniques to hire the right talent for her company.

While Sales and Marketing techniques are used to sell the product, talent acquisition focuses on selling the brand to potential hires. An organization needs to be highlighted as a ‘good place to work in’. That is when a candidate can analyze if the place is a good fit for him. 

22. Digitization in the recruitment process:

In the past one and a half years, no company has interviewed candidates face-to-face. Attention to their appearance or behavior is reduced. It was only possible due to the acceptance of tech tools in organizations. Our guest, Angad Singh Manchanda, feels that this change was needed and should have happened five years ago. There have been improvements in the hiring process, review systems, and a lot more.

23. Tips for hiring for first-time founders:

Aniruddh, a first-time founder (goDutch) himself, gives tips on how others, in the same place, can hire. He mentions two key points to look for in a candidate-

  1. Similar energy, passion, and ambition.
  2. The required skill-set for it: People might not have formal education for the field they are pursuing. However, a good experience in that particular field can judge if the person is capable or not.

24. Rejected candidates can turn into company advocate:

In one of our episodes, our guest, Brinda comes up with a brilliant concept- turning rejected candidates into company advocates. Every interview has some learnings that the candidates use.

Organizations should just make sure they follow a few steps before the interview:

  1. Setting the expectation before the interview
  2. Providing feedback to the rejected candidates
  3. Building a network of all the candidates where they can get regular updates
  4. Asking the candidates to drop a review online
  5. Training recruiters to not ignore the rejected candidates

25. Hiring process is as important as post-hiring process:

Jimit Dattani (the Chief Technology Officer, MIT World Peace University) explains that we, as a generation, work for experience. Candidates have a wide range of options available. They equally evaluate each company they are applying to. If the hiring process is not good, the quality of the entire candidate experience reduces.

In addition, the post-hiring process is as important as the pre-hiring period. Thus it is essential to hire the right set of people to build a community that encourages it. The leaders build the strategy, but it is the people who believe in the structure of it. Thus their experience is a significant factor when making the HR policies of the company.

Diversity and Inclusion:

26. However important, diversification has challenges which companies need to deal with:

When Ashish (founder of Kheti-badi.com) implemented diversification in his startup, he saw the challenges associated. However, he feels they are the beauty of it. Some of the examples can be language barriers, different working hours, holidays, etc. However, the company can resolve these issues if they focus on the outcome rather than the method. It should not matter how an employee is delivering the work. Ultimately, it is the task that is important.

27. D&I policies require awareness and acceptance among people:

Shweta Chandrashekhar mentions that people need to be aware of topics related to D&I to understand the depth of it. It can be challenging to convince people about the unconscious bias they might have. On the other hand, talking about such sensitive topics can result in enthusiasm and excitement among employees. It gives them a sense of pride in helping the under-represented. Thus changing the conversation positively can be fruitful. 

28. Social media can be a means to improve diversity:

Diversity and inclusion initiatives promote the fact that different people deserve acceptance within a community. Social media reinforces this fact, demonstrating that people are more connected with each other. It allows individuals to connect with others from different backgrounds- to find commonalities, interact, and solve problems in new and innovative ways. (Eric Torigian, Global CHRO at SitusAMC)

Mansi Rana on Team building

Learning and Development:

29. Personal branding of employees lead to good employer branding:

Personal branding of employees can efficiently drive employer branding. Employees need to keep sharing their views and knowledge. However, the organization needs to ensure that they present the employees well too. Around 70%-80% of clients look up a profile on LinkedIn before approaching the person/company. Thus marketing and making connections are two essential aspects of creating a personal brand. (Tina Mansukhani Garg, Founder & CEO of Pink Lemonade)

30. Learning and Development is viewed from two perspectives:

  1. Organizational: Effective L&D helps in better retention and more productivity among the employees. It leads to customer satisfaction through their performance. As the L&D leader and author of the book, “Ruthless Dictators,” Clint Misquitta says, the longer an employee stays in one organization, the deeper their relationship becomes.
  2. Development: L&D offers value, upskilling, and growth to the employees. The entire organization benefits from it.

31. The ‘three A model’ to enhance learning:

Vikas, Head of HR at IPG Dextra, follows the ‘three A model’ for enabling effective learning among employees:

Adaptability: employees need to be open-minded. They need to think out of the box.

Agility: Employees need to be agile. Along with learning new skills, they need to implement them as well.

Artistry: Employees need to come up with new and creative solutions.

An enhanced employee- employer relationship:

32. Create a candidate journey map for a great candidate experience:

A Sales and Marketing team curates an ideal experience for their customers by creating a user journey. It allows them to understand the potential concerns of their customers.

Companies can give a similar experience to the candidates. It is necessary to help recruiters go through the candidate journey. They need to understand the entire emotional journey of the candidates by focusing on building an emotional connection with them, being empathetic, predicting recruiting success, and optimizing the process at every stage. (Aadil Bandukwala, Senior Director of Field Marketing, HackerRank)

33. Organizational and individual goals should be aligned:

To achieve success, an organization needs to ensure that all its employees have the same purpose in mind: this is what our guest, Cyrille (VP & Country Head, India- Potentialife) believes. Moreover, the goals of individuals should align with the same of the organization. Both should benefit from each other equally. It ensures efficient work and a healthy relationship between the two.

In addition, another guest, Mansi Rana also throws some light on this topic, explaining how the organization and its investors and employees need to be on the same page. They need to question their purpose. However, these goals need to be updated regularly, and it is important to reiterate these goals. 

34. Employer branding vs Employee advocacy:

“Employer branding is the employer’s reputation, and employee advocacy is the promotion of that reputation.”

  • Kunjal Kamdar, Talent Attraction, Brand and Marketing Specialist, Air products 

According to Kunjal, people trust an employee advocate 2x more than the CEO of the company. The employees are the ambassadors of the company. The more the company keeps their employees happy, the better the advocacy, and ultimately, the better the branding.

Miscellaneous

35. Better meetings make better days:

Meetings hold a lot of importance in organizations. People have to work across different functions and require effective collaboration. However, having meetings just for the sake of it is not fruitful. It has to have a well-thought schedule and purpose. Teams need to analyze: the outcome of the meeting, the required people, and more.- Sayan Bandyopadhyay, AVP-HR (East) at HDFC Life.

36. The four mantras to success: 

The CEO of Magic Bus Foundation, Jayant, reveals his four mantras of success:

  1. Attitude and gratitude
  2. Forgive and forget
  3. Teamwork
  4. Survival Quotient

37. The performance method needs to change:

“We do a lot of unconscious bias training with all managers. But it is human, it is there, it will still stick, it will not go away. And that is one reason for which I think the way of feedback has to be completely changed. Millennials now want feedback in terms of instant likes or hearts. So if that is what motivates them, then let us adopt that.” 

Nidhi Sharma, Sr HR Director @Affinity Global Inc, on conducting performance feedback.

38. Do not forget your gig-workers:

The value system of a gig-worker is different from the same of a regular employee. HR professionals must ensure a good and comfortable working environment for them as well. According to Priya (Head of people and culture, Zipgrid), HR professionals must understand the psychology that inspires gig-workers.

39. Zoom fatigue is real:

Zoom fatigue is an equally important problem that companies tend to overlook. Meetings require more work in non-verbal cues. In a face-to-face meeting, these cues are processed automatically. It involves the consumption of energy. 


About The Shape of Work: Springworks started this journey of positive interaction and exponential growth on March 31st, 2021. Five months later (August 31st, 2021), while crossing 5000 downloads, we also achieved a milestone of 100 episodes- five months filled with knowledge, interaction, and most importantly, the mission to make workplaces more happy and productive. 

Springworks India

Dhristi Shah

Hi, this is Dhristi, Content Writer and Editor at Springworks India. I am a keen learner and am passionate about everything related to writing.

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