With more than 25 years of experience in helping organizations identify the right people agenda and culture, Shailesh Singh, Director & Chief People Officer, Max Life Insurance, values a good work-life balance and believes that the secret of leadership lies in empowering people to become leaders themselves.
In his current role, he is in-charge of developing and implementing successful HR strategies that would be conducive for the transformation of the organization. He has been instrumental in benchmarking the company culture and people practices in a way that braces the company for an impending digital transformation.
In a candid conversation with People Matters, Shailesh Singh shared his thoughts on the upcoming challenges that face HR leaders in this economy of rapid change, the cultural traits that can take an organization to the next level of digital transformation, and his insights into building a digital-ready culture.
What are the most common people challenges that you come across while driving any organizational changes?
Employee resistance to organization change is amongst the most common people challenges that we have come across. From worrying about how change will alter the status quo, to opening themselves up to new challenges and experiences, people resist change and are more attuned towards being in a comfort zone.
However, we overcome this hurdle by encouraging transparency of thoughts, building effective employee engagement and training programs, and holding clear and consistent communication across the organization to resolve issues and ensure smooth change management.
We also strive to address people challenges by providing a customer-grade experience across the employee lifecycle facilitating on-demand access to information, greater collaboration, social learning and creating a “Pull” (rather than push adoption). This aids in fueling one’s aspirations, and smoothen the change experience while enabling the workforce to have a greater faith in the organizational policies.
What cultural traits must an organization possess before embarking upon a digital transformation journey?
At Max Life, building a value-stream of definitive employee experience that combines culture, technology and physical space are the underlying values that have enabled the organization to embark on a holistic digital transformational journey.
With inherent cultural values that focus upon creating agile processes, building a bias for action, acceptance of continuous evolution, we build a digital transformational journey that help us move into new processes that allows us to seed in stability, people centricity, innovation, competency and resilience into the organization’s holistic digital transformation.
What cultural values do you think are critical for an organization to thrive in a digital era?
Learning and agility are critical for success in today’s times. While cultural values are motivational variables that define how employees adapt to the organizational culture, ingraining digitization into various aspects of employee interaction helps scale the organization towards being a digitally agile culture.
By initiating the digital transformation through the company’s structure, hierarchy, and leadership, further integrating traditional factors including compensation and employee interaction helps organizations thrive in a seamlessly transforming digital era.
How do you go about building a scalable culture that can be replicated across geographies?
By being process oriented, where leadership from across geographies can be tied into a large scale interactive process of building strategy, vision and plans, an organization can set parameters to induce scalable culture. At Max Life, we approach this with a strategic intent that aims to attract, retain and engage employees for sustainable, competitive & economical advantage.
We believe in redefining employee experience by empowering them with World Class HR Tools – seamless & efficient, faster & real-time, more productive, and more rewarding—while improving work-life balance. Also, consciously moving from integrated to unified talent management platforms based on one technology, one user experience and one data model with a focus on tracking progress of employees, rewarding them appropriately and giving them the tools they need to become successful, helps us building a digitally optimized culture.
How can HR leaders help their employees transition from being risk-averse to being open to risks in the digital age?
For digital transformation to be effective, focused risk-reward correlation has to be developed. Here, HR leaders have a huge role to play in driving this risk affinity among the workforce. By helping the larger organization envision a future that is progressive, path-breaking and truly advanced. HR leaders need to drive people in the organization towards taking risk especially when the objective is rooted in valuable returns.
By letting the employees know what is it in there for them in terms of organizational, departmental and individual takeaways, HR leaders can change employees’ natural risk averse instincts, helping them move away from their biases while embracing risks and change in a positive manner. Like in the case of Max Life, by enabling the organization to harvest superior financial advantage with On Cloud & On Mobile solutions, we have been able to help our employees make a seamless transition.
As technology rapidly transforms people functions, how can culture help accelerate the process?
With greater technological intervention and automation in the picture, the time and energies of manual operations in business are expected to significantly reduce, increasing the demand for more strategic and cerebral skills. Only a robust company culture that harbors the power of innovative ideation and a high level of cognitive involvement will help accelerate the effectiveness of technology in the ecosystem. Herein, adopting an analytics lifestyle which goes beyond just measuring things and benchmarking them against past data, to create more predictive capabilities to help co-create business results is the way that digital oriental cultures can be accelerated towards greater people processes.
Your body can do it. You just need to convince your mind--is a popular saying among fitness enthusiasts. Similarly, how can business leaders build a culture that enables employees to overcome their mental blocks and embrace digital change?
When speaking about digital transformation, it is important to understand that having access to the right technology is only one part of the dynamic. But for companies to effectively leverage technology backed changes and build differentiated products and solutions, it is important to first create a culture which is welcoming of digital metamorphosis. Having the right, digital-savvy leaders in place who are keen to internalize digital upgrade into day-to-day operations and communicate frequently about the benefits of digital methods can help employees embrace digital change effectively.
Any particular tip to build a digital-ready culture?
Organizational transformations are tough and digital ones are even tougher. The question one must ask is “If we are nurturing the future workforce well enough to capitalize digital opportunities?” In order to build a digital-ready culture, one must invest in capabilities that empower the workforce of the future and become adept at unlocking power from working in newer, unconventional ways.
Also by defining organic solutions which deploy On-Cloud & On-Mobile technologies to align employees to organizational goals, via world class delivery of online learning modules and knowledge management systems a digital-ready culture can be fabricated.