Family structure has changed. Methods of background have changed. The education system has become more occupation-oriented. Information is available anytime, anywhere. Technology has penetrated virtually every sphere of life. Methods of doing business have mutated. Government policies are no more static and industry-unfriendly. For qualified people, job opportunities have increased. Most importantly, the meaning of life and aspirations of the people across the age groups have changed.
What do these changes connote for the young Human Resource Management Professional?
These changes indicate that the youngsters entering the workforce, after attending ITI or IIM, have fundamentally a different outlook towards their profession compared to the previous generations. Not to say that this outlook is superior or inferior, but it surely has an impact on how the HR Pros need to manage such a vibrant workforce.
Based on my overall experience and particularly that of recruiting youngsters, both in the Human Resource Department as well as in other functions, I have extracted eight actionable points for the young management trainees who have chosen to enter the HR profession. As an experiment, I have written the ensuing text of the article in the first person singular language, because I feel that such a style and the topic will gel well.
Understanding & aligning with my company's core values:
I understand that I am a torchbearer of my company's values. I am also a steward or a trustee of these values. Therefore, it is important for me to understand their meaning and align with them. Only after this alignment, I can champion these values.
"I should demonstrate requisite compliance to the company's values", is an unwritten expectation of my company's management as well as my senior colleagues. I will take my seniors' help in understanding the genesis of these values. This will help me appreciate them better and enable me explain them effectively to the new hires, current staff, and my vendors.
Grasping the business of my company:
Unless I understand my company's business and its history, it would be hard for me to appreciate the prevalent & emerging HR & OD needs. My professors had taught me that State Bank of India requires different HR practices than HDFC Bank and the HR practices of Google would be different from that of McDonald's.
Therefore, I realize that there is a substantial correlation between the HR practices and the nature & age of the business, the level of competition, industry domain, government ownership, private ownership, etc.
Delving into the history of my Human Resource Function:
Delving into the history will help me build a perspective on how my HR Function has evolved, changed, or matured over a period. History will also provide me data on failures and successes with the evidences.
Why the recruitment process is so rigorous? Why the compensation structure is tax-friendly or tax-unfriendly? Why the hierarchy is too flat or too long? Why the HR Function reports to the Head of Operations? Why there is a matrix reporting structure? How the company adopted the diversity practices?
Only when I appreciate the history of my HR Function, I will get answers to these questions. Through history, I would also recognize the linkage between the HR practices and my company's business, the industry patterns and the management philosophy.
Understanding my company's culture:
Like values, I am also a custodian of my company's culture. How the person relate to each other, i.e. hierarchically or informally? What are the methods of greeting each other? Why senior management is so choosy about the type of food dished up in the canteen? Why my company is so obsessed with methods and processes? Why does the company tolerate non-performance? Why the Line Managers so much empowered? Why some Senior Managers get special treatment?
These are a few representative queries and their answers will unfold the interesting data on the culture. I must accept that no culture is perfect. The challenge for me is to discover enabling features of the culture and strengthen them. My boss has told me that the culture also encompasses the political dimensions.
Knowing my employees:
As an HR Pro, I am accountable to the management as well as to the staff. Thus, knowing the employees is my key priority. I will first endeavor to know my HR colleagues and then will interact with the Functional Heads and/or my key clients (both with due facilitation from my boss) in a planned fashion. This will help me in adapting suitable behaviors while discharging my responsibilities like recruitment, payroll processing, issuing various letters, compiling MIS, and carrying out analysis.
I will also befriend the staff, especially those in the junior ranks. This will help them open up to me. Only when the staff open up, I will be able to understand their concerns, expectations, and aspirations. I will endeavor to turn an effective & trusted communicator between my seniors and other staff
Settling down in the new location:
So what, if I am not from this city? I might feel homesick for a few days. Nevertheless, with the help of my local colleagues, I will learn the nuances of this city and settle down fast. I will find out the boarding & lodging facility, the avenues of entertainment, food joints, and doctor's details for medical needs.
I recognize the need for maintaining good health to be able to maximize my concentration in the first few quarters. This company has given me a chance to kick-start my career and hence adjusting to the location is a critical necessity. Further, how can I attract new hires to this location, if I myself do not know it well?
HR Policies - First complying and then critiquing:
I have moderate disagreements with a few human resource policies of the company. However, I will first comply and then give my inputs to the seniors. I do not possess a moral right to suggest changes unless I comply first. Moreover, just when I comply, I can seek compliance from the other employees.
As an ambitious but striving HR Pro, I must realize that criticizing without complying is a mark of immaturity. Only when I understand more about the company's & the industry's HR practices and a few relevant legal stipulations, my inputs will receive due attention.
Hanging around for 8-12 quarters:
I certainly do not subscribe to the concept of the work-till-retirement in one company or to the bond system. I will work for this company so long as I get the challenging assignments and a good work environment. I realize that, to get the challenging assignments, I need to earn the trust of my seniors. This trust will not come overnight and I ought to work hard on it. My seniors will trust me when I live up to their expectations, consistently.
Taking initiatives, demonstrating good interpersonal skills & empathy, completing the tasks on time, delivering quality with quantity, defending without offending, etc. are some of my seniors' expectations. Overall, it is clear that I first need to lay a strong foundation and then seek challenging assignments. As far as the work environment is concerned, I distinctly remember what my dad had said, "You get what you plant".
To conclude, I know my aspirations well and have a professional role model too. What I find most challenging and interesting in my profession is the duality of the role. As an HR Pro, I am an member as well as the caretaker of the employees. I will learn how to keep both the roles apart and do justice to both. I will never allow one role to override the other. I will count my being an HR Pro justified when I earn the employee's respect for;
(1) My personal & professional selves,
(2) All that I do for them,
(3) Timing of my actions, and
(4) How I conduct myself while discharging the responsibilities.