The Counsellor: Risks associated with IR roles
Develop productive work relationships with people on the basis of sound principles and values
I have a son who is currently pursuing his masters in industrial relations from a reputed school in India. However, after the recent Maruti incident, I am a little wary of his decision. There are professions where the risk is evident; however, we never foresaw any danger to life in the profession chosen by my son. Suddenly, I find myself worrying about risks I never knew existed. How does one cope with these new risks and what precautions can one take to stay clear of the situations like the one in Manesar?
Every profession comes with its own associated risks and rewards. There are always pros and cons which we must be aware of. There must be several lakh professionals working in HR and associated functions in India since more than 100 years and a much larger number across the world. There is no reason for any one of them to get worried for their life just because of what happened in Manesar.
Once in a while, unfortunately aeroplanes do crash and trains do meet with accidents. But, that does not stop people from using these modes of transportation or prevent youngsters from becoming pilots or drivers. In India, the number of fatal accidents that happen on the roads are just humongous; that does not stop us from traveling on the roads. We are just more careful & ensure we follow the rules and the laws.
What happened in Manesar is an unfortunate event; however one cannot surmise that this is a state of the things to come. The career choices that a person makes should be mainly dependent on the skills, capabilities and aptitude, and not based on associated pros and cons alone. I believe your son should pursue a profession where his heart is. If you choose a profession that you like, you are likely to succeed.
Your next question – How does one cope with these risks and what precautions can one take? Just ask your son to be fair and transparent at his workplace. A fair and ethical play leading to a win-win attitude, always leads to sustainable long-term excellent relationships. I personally have a lot of faith in people. No one is inherently a bad person. I do not believe that the community of workers or union leaders is always wrong or has militant minds. They are also fair and reasonable human beings like any one of us. They do understand the value of a symbiotic relationship, wherein both parties are equal.
Ask your son to establish productive working relationships with people based on the foundation of sound principles and values. Just ask him to develop empathy, become a good listener and focus on winning hearts. I guess this will always be a winning formula. I don’t think any other precaution will be necessary. HR/IR are very satisfying professions to pursue; I will encourage more and more young people to get into these careers.
Vivek is a Senior HR professional with over 35 years of experience, ranging several leadership positions, in India and abroad. He leads his consulting practice since 2003 and presently works as a Strategic HR Advisor to Reliance Industries, and is also an independent Director on the Board of Motilal Oswal Financial Services Ltd. Prior to this, he was based in Singapore for several years where he was Director HR - Operations at Hewlett Packard for the Asia Pacific Region.
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