Article: Talent Overview: A C-Suite View by Suresh Narayanan


Talent Overview: A C-Suite View by Suresh Narayanan

At the Cornerstone OnDemand Converge India 2017, Suresh Narayanan, Chairman and Managing Director at Nestle talks about the talent overview from the C-suite perspective.
Talent Overview: A C-Suite View by Suresh Narayanan

In this uberized world, we are facing a number of realities in the workforce today – while there is an emphasis on new people practices which are due to the changing demography in the workforce with Millennials coming in, there are various new technologies which are sweeping the way we all are working today. That said, it becomes very important for the leaders to manoeuvre the way organizations function. They have to take care of business, people, and more so intertwine these two with technology. 

In the recent months, and in the past year, some external disruptions have been impacting the way organizations work in India. 

  • Demonetization – where 86% cash flow was completely wiped off from the economy. 
  • Competitive landscape is changing – there has been more focus on new skillsets, and redundancy of old ones. 
  • Rise of digitization in India – it has a direct impact on the growth in the GDP. 
  • GST: How a unified tax system is impacting the way we do businesses here
  • Ageing and health: India is getting younger. By 2020, our median working age population will be 29 years. So how are we leveraging the demographic dividend is of utmost important. 

A better way to understand how disruptions which are not in your hands affect the organizations is through an example – the Maggi crisis at Nestle. The crisis impacted about 9000 employees, 3,970000 wheat farmers, 6500 field farmers, 1.3 million direct outlets and countless of small shops in and around the country, also impacted the sales in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

So, leadership is about not just managing the management but about real crises which emanate from different situations – right from business to people. 

Emerging Trends:

Artificial Intelligence and automation will impact the way we work. 60% of the jobs that we do today can be mechanized in the coming years, according to the McKinsey Study. So the it is imperative to ask if we are getting the right talent with the right skillset to match the organizational progress. Re-skilling is becoming the most important part of the entire gamut of e-learning. 

It’s not about long-term career goals but value-added stints. The average tenure of employees, at least in the US is about 4.6 years. Today, people especially Millennials like to move ahead in the career within 6 months, a year or within 2 years. There are series of interruptions are changing the way we are looking at organizations. There is no way pension plans are not going to be the tool to attract the talent, for obvious reasons. 

Ways of working are changing with Millennials as a manager. When work-life balance is becoming more important by the day, role of technology is increasing. It is not surprising that 41% Millennials prefer digital interfaces than face-to-face interactions. 

Adaptability over stability. In the 60s or the 70s till the computers became the constant companion at workplace, stability at work was considered to be the most important aspect. Getting in a company and retiring from the same one was considered to be a successful one. But not anymore. The emphasis is now more on the capability to adapt to the rapidly changing world. And if not, then you are soon becoming to be redundant. 

Embracing diversity as a culture. Research has proved that getting a diversified team with contrarian views managed by a leader who encourages diversification in thought, actions but coming together to a unified decision for implementing a project has a massive positive influence on the success of the companies. Diversity is not a cool work but it has become an economic necessity  to enrich the quality of workforce. 

So, what are the needs of the hour? 

  1. We need people who do not stick to the status quo, rather challenge the status quo at the opportune moment. People with more undivided attention, focussed, energetic will be the one who will get to succeed over people who don’t want to change or ‘conform with whatever the bosses say’.
  2. Ability to manage ambiguity (since the world is constantly changing) where leaders should have a combination of different skillsets, sound temperament to manage the workforce.
  3. Ability to work with technology and people. Leaders who will understand the power of technology but appreciate the power of people are the ones who will lead successful ventures.
  4. Institutionalizing change agility. 

In conclusion, organizations need to keep in mind that external disruptions are the new constants, internal compulsions and complexities go hand in hand with external changes, continuous calibration of people and expectation essential, employees need to rapidly evolve to keep pace to changes, and institutionalizing forward looking people practices at the heart of everything we do.

(This article has been curated from the Session: Talent Outlook: A C-Suite View by Suresh Narayananan, CMD-Nestle at the Cornerstone OnDemand Converge India 2017. The session was chaired by Ester Martinez, CEO & Editor-n-Chief at People Matters.)

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Topics: C-Suite, Leadership

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