Article: CXOs on how to navigate the future of work and thrive in an evolving business landscape


CXOs on how to navigate the future of work and thrive in an evolving business landscape

Creating a culture of collaboration and continuous learning is vital in preparing for the uncertainties of the future.
CXOs on how to navigate the future of work and thrive in an evolving business landscape

In today's rapidly evolving business landscape, leaders are increasingly recognising the profound impact that strategic talent management has on not just the growth and scalability of their enterprises, but also on the strength of their brand and the value they deliver to shareholders. As organisations strive to navigate the complexities of the modern market, the decisions they make regarding their people are more consequential than ever.

A CXO panel comprising Madhavi Lall; MD; Head HR; India; Deutsche Bank, Mukesh Jain; CTO; VP & Global Head People Analytics; Capgemini’s Sunita Rebecca Cherian; Chief Culture Officer & Sr. VP Corporate HR, Wipro, and Vishal Sharma; CEO, Godrej Industries (Chemicals) delved into the critical themes shaping the future of work, including talent investment, business growth, innovation, and adapting to macroeconomic challenges. They shared their perspectives on how their organisations are navigating these complexities to ensure sustainability and growth during the TechHR Pulse Mumbai.

Igniting an innovative mindset

According to Mukesh, a significant challenge they face in fostering innovation within their organisation centers around motivation. “As Chief Technology Officer, my role involves rallying our team towards innovation, which requires more than just strategic initiatives and engagement programs. While these elements are foundational, the real question is how to ignite that intrinsic motivation in our team members,” said Mukesh.

“We strive to create an environment where each person arrives at work inspired, thinking, "Today, I can make a difference. Today, I can innovate.” Mukesh advocates cultivating a culture that not only provides the tools and resources for innovation but also actively encourages exploration and experimentation. “The ultimate goal is to establish a platform where innovation is not just an occasional breakthrough but a daily occurrence, driven by a deeply embedded belief in the potential for improvement and growth.” He emphasised nurturing a mindset geared towards constant innovation.

Acceleration of new-age technologies and upskilling

As we navigate through the myriad challenges in our industry, one pressing issue that stands out is the rapid acceleration of AI and ML technologies, said Madhvi.

“The core challenge lies in upskilling our workforce to ensure that as these technologies evolve, our people don't find their roles becoming obsolete. It's about preemptively addressing the skills gap, ensuring that our team members are not just prepared but are ahead of the curve. This involves a comprehensive strategy, encompassing continuous learning opportunities, fostering a culture of adaptability, and providing access to resources that enable our employees to embrace and leverage these technological advances,” said Madhvi.

Macroeconomic turmoil

For Vishal who stepped into the role of CEO of Godrej Chemicals in March 2023, navigating the macroeconomic turmoil that erupted due to disruptions and upscaling efforts during the COVID-19 era was the critical challenge.

“Driving results in such an environment was daunting. As the new leader, my team was looking at me, expecting guidance, stability, and motivation despite the uncertain times. It’s a delicate balance to maintain—keeping the team focused, and motivated, all while steering the company in a new direction amidst these adversities.

Preparing for future

With the rising gig economy and upskilling employees to stay ahead of AI and machine learning developments, leaders pointed out that flexible approach, project-based work arrangements, the necessity of preparing the workforce for future roles, and adaptability are key attributes in their prospective hires.

From a talent management perspective, our strategic vision extends beyond the immediate needs of today, said Madhvi.  “We're not just filling positions; we're carefully considering the long-term trajectory of our team's evolution.  We prioritise agility, the capacity for learning new skills, and adaptability more than ever before. Essentially, we're hiring with the future in mind, seeking individuals who will contribute not only to the immediate goals of our business but who will also thrive and lead as our company and industry evolve.”

To keep the workforce relevant and valuable, Mukesh suggested enhancing the team's ability to generate innovative ideas. “As GenAI advances in automating coding tasks, our focus must shift towards enhancing our team's ability to generate innovative ideas. It's in the ideation and conceptualisation phase that human intelligence remains irreplaceable. By nurturing this capability, we ensure our workforce remains relevant and valuable, even as the technological landscape evolves.

Addressing tricky situations for a multi-generational workforce

For Vishal communication is the key to creating a cohesive workplace and addressing concerns within the multi-generational workforce.

Emphasizing the importance of transparency and open communication, Vishal actively fosters an inclusive environment by not only relying on the leadership team but also engaging directly with employees at all levels, organising regular gatherings and town hall meetings to share the company's strategy.  “The idea is to reassure the team that the objective is not to diminish the value of their current work but to enhance the organisation's overall value by adopting new and different methods,” said Vishal.

For Madhvi it is important to maintain continuous dialogue and discussion among the CEO and other CXOs to drive success. Furthermore, she stressed the necessity for HR to possess a deep understanding of the business imperatives and the potential positive impacts of proposed changes.

Building consensus

Sharing her approach to driving change within the organisation and building consensus among CXOs, Madhvi highlighted the importance of personalised engagement with each CXO member. She begins by initiating individual conversations to present her vision and rationale and seek and incorporate feedback and suggestions. She acknowledged the necessity of sometimes taking a firm stance based on data and conviction in the right course of action, balancing forcefulness with inclusivity to navigate decision-making effectively.

On the other hand, Mukesh emphasised on enhancing organisational decision-making through the integration of data, dialogue, discussion, and decisions, emphasizing the significance of data-driven decisions. He highlighted the role of people analytics in providing leaders with insights into employee activities and sentiments, including the use of NLP (Natural Language Processing) to gauge internal dynamics. He emphasized the significance of reward mechanisms and informal engagement activities, like "Chat pe Charcha," to motivate and involve employees.

Madhvi stressed the necessity for a collaborative culture, especially in a post-COVID world where the traditional hierarchical directive from CEOs is less effective. She suggeseds that successful leadership now relies more on collective input and teamwork across all levels of the organization.

Sector-Specific Challenges and Strategies

Vishal who comes from the chemical industry, shared insights related to the challenges of leading a company through a period of global downturn and shifting the business towards a more specialty-focused approach. This transition, he noted, requires balancing the integration of new talents with the motivation and engagement of long-standing employees, ensuring that no one feels left behind in the company's evolution.

Vishal is of the view that culture plays a pivotal role in an organisation, asserting that it should actively support the company's strategy, especially during pivotal changes. This involves a deliberate effort from the top management and HR to foster a culture that aligns with the company’s goals and visions.

Talking about the role of culture, transparency, and innovation, Mukesh suggested initiatives like the "Millennial Garage" to spur creativity among new employees, illustrating how involving them in real projects from the outset can enhance engagement and productivity.

The panelists also discussed the importance of transparency, innovation, and a data-driven approach among C-suite executives (CHR, CEO, CTO) to enhance organisational performance. The notion of alignment and prioritisation is highlighted as crucial for ensuring that the company remains focused on its most important objectives despite inevitable challenges.

Vishal added to the conversation by differentiating between collaboration and alignment and by discussing the importance of being prepared to adapt strategies in response to changing circumstances. He also addresses how to manage long-tenured employees who may be accustomed to older ways of working, emphasizing the need for trust and a clear demonstration of leadership values.

They agreed that creating a culture of collaboration and continuous learning is vital in preparing for the uncertainties of the future, ensuring that organizations can adapt and thrive in the evolving business landscape.

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Topics: Business, Talent Management, Talent Acquisition, #HRCommunity

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