'Give Up Irrelevant Legacies, Change At Faster Pace'
HR Practice

20 Nov,2012 10:49 IST

'Give Up Irrelevant Legacies, Change At Faster Pace'

Rajeev Bhadauria, Group HR Head at JSPL believes more in being systemic rather than merely systematic

To the common man, Human Resource Mangement (HRM) involves responsibility for attraction, selection, training, assessment, and rewarding of employees. Management Guru David Olson Ulrich lists the functions of HR as aligning HR and business strategy, re-engineering organisation processes, listening and responding to employees, and managing transformation and change. But what makes the HR leaders tick? In a new series on HR practitioners, Businessworld.in brings to readers interviews with HR heads of India Inc.

We start the series with Rajeev Bhadauria, Group HR Head at Jindal Steel & Power Ltd (JSPL).  A career HR professional,  Bhadauria believes more in being systemic rather than merely systematic.  He also thinks his best is yet to come.

What made you choose HR as a profession?  
I was interested in the human dynamics at the workplace and the issues underpinning areas like productivity, motivation and development. This coupled with the ability to relate with and to influence people inspired me to take up Human Resources as a career option.

What has been the biggest achievement of your career? 
The biggest and the best I do not measure. My scale of evaluation is based not on the ‘big size’ but  more importantly on the compelling ‘impact’. As such, there could have been many and many near misses as well.

Seamlessly integrate different verticals and systemise things – I believe more in being systemic rather than merely systematic. The best anyways is yet to come.

What have been the primary traits/qualities that have helped you attain your present position?
Being fair and firm with people, good listening skills, able to see things from a macro perspective and yet not lose sight of the micro. Willing to let go off my ideas and thoughts and not be a prisoner of my own views. Ability to change and keep on changing. Above all being compassionate and empathetic with people.

What are the challenges you are facing in your organisation? 

We are evolving and yet have been hugely successful. Continual change and getting the organisation ready for the next big leap is the challenge today. Continually working towards creating a modern, forward looking and progressive organisation and making it future proof is the obvious challenge in the dynamic world today. 

What are the steps a company should take to develop and motivate future leaders?
Be able to 'walk The talk' as far as talent is concerned. Look at a number of steps like Stretch, Support and Sustain our High Potential employees. Identify talent early and work with them in order to groom them for more challenging assignments. Ring fence the HIPOs in the organization – may sound tautological but prepare them for ‘future’ that is with a paradigm shift rather than a linear extrapolative mind set.

The future competencies involve dealing with ambiguity and uncertainty would be of very different kind.  Agility, that is being nimble footed and be ready to adapt, upgrade, modify and change would be the real competencies to be developed in future leaders. They should have, amongst others, heuristic capabilities to fathom the future that has yet to come.   

In our organisation, we have initiated a process of encouraging innovation and entrepeneurship in a big way. We have launched the LEAD (Leadership Exploration and Development) programme in July 2012, targeting a batch of 200 current leaders initially. The programme will deliver on two key fronts, individual development wherein each participant is mentored and coached to develop both his/her professional and personal goals, and to deliver value driving overall businesses excellence.

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

We look at attrition slightly differently. Some attrition is always good as it helps bring some fresh blood. Our focus is on the regretted losses. Our attrition is within single digits and I would say it is healthy. We have a number of programmes aimed at ensuring the engagement of our people such that they would look forward to come to work every morning.

How do you retain talent in your company?
A slew of measures, primary being : ensuring stretch and challenging assignments for our people, ensuring that all our employees are contemporary, as you need the bulwark of the organization to carry a huge load and not only the top 5 to 10 per cent of the talent. The ideas is to move from looking at employee satisfaction to employee engagement – from motivating to inspiring them.  It is inspiration ‘from within’ which will stay ‘from without’ – without any external props. The idea is to move them from being programmed thinking managers to being business leaders with the right perspective.

What sets your company apart from other companies as far as work culture goes?
We are progressive and do invest in technology as well as an organization which is deep rooted in our Indianness. A great attachment to our Value system and ensuring that people do live by them. And this is something that we have reinforced over the years. We have an open culture where people have easy access to seniors in the organisation. 

Across the JSPL group, we have started a programme to make one and all understand the organisational values, internalise them and through a unique process of appropriate reward and recognition mechanisms to actualise the same. 

The LSIP (Large Scale Interactive Process)  mode of enabling this with the acronym of ‘POSSIBL’ which with the addition of the word ‘E’ (Energy, Enthusiasm, Engagement and Exuberance of employees) makes it into ‘POSSIBLE’ – leading to the mantra called ‘everything is possible’. The obvious outcome is a feeling in all employees that there are no problems in life ONLY CHALLENGES – everything is possible.  It emancipates us from limitation and inhibition of our own makings.

What is the biggest challenge you face when selecting people?
Getting the right fit despite having so many in the employment market. There is a war for good talent and it will only get more intense.

How do you track employees' satisfaction or dissatisfaction in your company?
We do have organizational health surveys which give us an indication, followed by Action Plans which are reviewed with rigour. 

How important is HR to the bottom line of a company?
Our chairman firmly believes that with technology  having reached a relative plateau, the only differentiator that we have is our Human Resources – their energy, enthusiasm and engagement. This is vindicated by the fact that we have been ahead of all the targets that we have set for ourselves in setting up our various plants and projects. This would not have been possible without HR being in the drivers’ seat. The parameters of measurement of course would be more of quality rather than quantity alone. 

How has the downturn affected HR?
Mercifully we have been growing even when others have been talking/experiencing of a slowdown. In fact, we have been hiring during this period too and hence I can say that it has positively impacted us. It is during these times that we invest in our people in order to be ready for the boom times.

How should HR be integrated with the core line of business?
In one word it should be “integrated”. If you do not understand your core business or the value chain of your business you will not be able to contribute to the business. Our HR managers should have a deep understanding of the business and be able to talk the language of the business.

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?
Well, we have evolved and today we have moved up in our contribution to the business. We have been working as partners with the business as we have been able to contribute to the overall productivity of the business by ensuring the right metrics are in place.

If you could change three things about HR practices, what would they be?
Give up legacy immediately – not all of it, but those that are no longer relevant. Better understanding of finance in HR, ability to change at a faster pace.

(As told to Poonam Kumar)

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