“Like CFOs, CHROs will now take centre stage,” Rajesh Padmanabhan

The biggest change that I see in the world and the workplace of tomorrow is the disruption of the 3Ls — Life, Learning and Leadership, feels Rajesh Padmanabhan, HR Leader & CEO, Talavvy.

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2020: What to learn – what to erase

Digital adoption and acceleration have turned out to be the clear winners and differentiators. Every single enterprise, small or large, picked up the thread of digital without worrying about the beginning or the end of the thread as it was important to realise and act rather than worry and wait. From an HR lens, digital skilling has gained auto traction across ranks and hierarchies. The one thing that I would like to erase from my mind is the ‘fear of the unknown’.

The pandemic left people with high vulnerability and there were anxieties, fears and insecurities as to what next? What will the world of tomorrow look like? Will we survive this phase and come back stronger? There were more questions than answers and it was a phase where everyone prayed for ‘divine intervention’. I will want to erase this from my mind completely, as one ‘bad dream’.

HR has shown great agility and business acumen

Business success is a function of 4Cs – Culture, Capabilities, Contribution and Credibility. All the 4Cs are the new-age CHRO’s key deliverables. Years ago, a similar change happened to the CFOs. With many strategic aspects getting shifted to the CFOs, they moved to centre stage along with the CEOs. The HR community, in an unprecedented situation as this, displayed courage, character and conviction to deliver the impossible and is going through all of this with great demeanour and meaning. Clearly, HR did not limit itself to just looking at work, rules and roles. This redefinition makes the CHRO the right winger and CFO the left winger. This enables the striker CEO to go for THE GOAL. Human resources stands out as number one, even ahead of business strategy in a CEO/business head score card.

2021 – changing organisational design

This is a deep question and I have given it a lot of thought doing tons of research in my lab, Talavvy. The biggest change that I see in the world and the workplace of tomorrow is the disruption of the 3Ls — Life, Learning and Leadership. The workplace will now move to treating ‘work’ as a subset of ‘life’ and not the other way around, which we have been talking about as a ‘balanced work life’ for a very long time. Learning assumes a new significance through the ‘learning predictive’, that is, the ability to predict the capabilities’ need of now and tomorrow and works towards making it happen today. The 3rd L is ‘leadership’ and I believe and practise very strongly that leadership will operate from the centre of the organisation and not sitting at the top. This is a massive change in mindset and culture and I am working on this new-age ‘people transformation story’ with my clients, which is growing rapidly and is now assuming industry status.

“All the 4Cs are the new-age CHRO’s key deliverables. Years ago, a similar change happened to the CFOs and because of many strategic aspects that got shifted to the CFOs, they moved to centre stage along with the CEOs”

The population of HRBPs to decline

The HR population pie chart, from here on in 2021, will undergo a big change and I predict a distribution of 30:10:50:10 of HRBP:COE:HRSS/OPS:HRSE. The assumption for this is a stable running organisation, medium to large, just as an example to prove my point. Let me now explain. The human resource business partner (HRBP) community that drives the HR KRAs and priorities, will be business facing and embedded. The internal centres of excellence (COE) will support the HRBP community with SME. The HRBP and COE will need to work very closely on interventions. The operations team or human resources strategic system (HRSS) will be 50 per cent and companies will decide whether they would like to run it as internal or outsource it to BPOs. The last one is a new addition of HR strategic expertise (HRSE), which will come from strategic experts outside of the organisation who understand business, digital, transformation, communication and people as one large composite set.

C-suite doesn’t want reports, it wants results

There are many new changes that the HR function will make to become a solution driven function. The conventional PMS will need to move from measuring performance to measuring contribution. The people spend will get split into capital people spend and revenue people costs for the business to build profitability and good balance sheets.

Human resources will drive more decisions and I also see HR being given more failure tolerance to support speed of execution and mitigate risks. Human resource solutions that the business needs in today’s time call for a massive process shift, from people life-cycle management to life-style management. Human resource processes, systems and capabilities will have to be aligned accordingly.

Upskilling leadership or diversity in leadership

Both are distinct and equally challenging. They are both leadership mindset issues and a function of culture. Leadership has massive digital voids and resistance too and many at the top assume that by investing in technology, their futures are secured and they are in the right direction. team has to be the KRA of every chairman and CEO. The differences will need to be respected and weaved in consciously to break the monologue of a patterned thinking and leadership behaviour. There must be an open discussion on the matter not only in board rooms but in town halls and leadership huddles, so that a winning culture is in place.

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