“Employee experience is largely a function of how the mid-management operates” Rattan Chugh

While appraising performance, we should balance the weightage between ‘task orientation’ and ‘values orientation’, Rattan Chugh, chief people officer, Times Internet, for HR 2020 Forecast

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Technology, data, employee experience: What’s high on the agenda

India has been churning out Unicorns at an unprecedented pace. Global tech companies are emerging from this country. The year 2020 will continue to be a year of focussed execution and innovation. People are at the heart of making this happen. Therefore, for me, it is the employee experience and engagement that will remain high on the agenda.

The approach will be to:
Connect people with the vision of the organisation, through regular and effective communication. In the digital product industry, this is an ongoing effort as a significant part of the workforce is new every year. There is an increase of 20 per cent headcount to support the growth of business, in addition to 20 per cent attrition.

Strengthen the middle management and increase their focus on people’s practice. Ultimately, the experience of working in an organisation for an employee is largely a function of how middle management operates. With a young workforce and rapidly growing organisations, it is essential that the middle managers be trained and equipped with the best people practices.

Listen to people to understand what drives them, what makes them thrive, and what their favourite peeves are. Everyone joins the organisation to succeed. Somewhere during the journey, the passion starts wearing off. Proper and timely interventions can address these substantially.

Get tech, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data analytics to provide the insights required to make all this happen, and help prioritise the initiatives. Having HR tools accessible through smart phones and routine transactions will be a priority.

The biggest challenge for HR in your sector

Talent acquisition and retention will continue to be the biggest challenge in the digital product business. Product, design and tech talent is limited in the country. Everyone is fishing in the same small pond. In fact, companies outside of India are now aggressively targeting Indian product talent. Employer value proposition will have to be clearly articulated and marketed. Training, upskilling and on-the-job exposure will be important to nurture internal talent. Building robust mid and long-term retention tools is another aspect that will require strengthening and some fresh thinking.

Tech in India grew through the services business, where more employees mean more billable revenue. Product business is different. Smaller teams of highly talented people work best. We will need to shed our affinity towards higher headcount. Also, creating an organisation structure that makes small teams work together without the burden of a rigid hierarchy will be another challenge to address. This is important, because as organisations grow, there is a need to retain the agility and spirit of innovation, but at the same time orchestrate smooth functioning of a larger organisation, which is consistent in its performance and responsive to its customers.

Another focus of 2020 will be the emphasis on how to achieve more with less, that is, be more capital efficient. Ensuring a pathway towards profitability will be an important conversation that product companies will have to engage in.

The future of Teal organisations

I would say we are in a very early stage in this journey, both from the organisation and workforce standpoint. We are still addressing the issues of aligning a growing organisation to a common vision, being more predictable in creating results as we scale. There is a lot of work to be done in the area of treating everyone with respect, and being more inclusive. We should instil values, such as self-discipline, accountability, integrity and ownership across the workforce. Mechanisms to effectively plan, measure and monitor performance have to be well established. While appraising performance, we should balance the weightage between ‘task orientation’ and ‘values orientation’. We should look at both aspects: the results achieved and how they were achieved. These steps will prepare us to be more self-aware and conscious, and help us operate at the level of integrity required for a ‘Teal’ organisation.

(This article first appeared in HRKatha print magazine)

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