For heavy industries, a sector, which was already facing a dearth of talent, it is time to take a relook at the talent management practices. Basuri Dutta, Great Place to Work® Institute talks to Adil Malia, Group President HR at Essar on what is it that companies need to do to engage and absorb more talent in the industry and what should CEOs be cautious about in their talent strategy
What are the top people challenges facing your industry today? What are the innovative ways of responding to it?
There was already a ‘shortage of talent’ in our industry, primarily because the sector in which we are, i.e. steel, oil and gas, shipping, logistic, power, etc., was in the domain of the public sector and open only to the government. But subsequently, as private players entered, they started hiring from the public sector companies. For us, luckily, we were early starters so we succeeded in getting our share of talented people.
Now, as we globalize and the Indian economy is set for growth, we have to realize that none of these economic successes will fructify unless we focus on developing our infrastructure. Therefore, talent acquisition, engagement and retention continue to be the biggest challenge in these sectors, even more than the IT sector. While at the base level, we do succeed in attracting people at the classic differential level of top engineers, etc., there is a dearth of engineering talent since the country is growing in a lop-sided manner. There are more engineers who want to do electronics and computers than those who want to do chemical and mechanical engineering.
How do you, as an employer, want to position your ‘employer brand’ within the segment of people that you want to attract?
Organizations need to understand its unique value proposition and experience it has to offer, as compared to the clutter of other organizations. Therefore, the organization must understand the segment it is addressing, the needs of that segment, its unique capability and also the offering that will resonate with the segment and satisfy their needs in order to attract them.
Another important aspect where organizations tend to fail is when they feel that their job is over the day people join the organization. Organizations do not realize that if they do not fulfill the promised value propositions, people will walk out. Inability of organizations to provide the promised experience will leave employees disillusioned. Therefore, the best way to retain people is by delivering the value proposition by which they hired them.
The third important thing is the organization’s innovativeness. The market is dynamic because their competitor is continuously thinking of new innovations or upgradation of products/processes and revaluating their value proposition. If an organization is not alert and actively present in the dynamic marketplace of talent, continuously reinventing its value proposition in line with the market dynamics, it is likely to lose out.
And, finally, how authentic is an organization, is also an important consideration. Is it doing a few superficial things towards its proposition or is it authentically trying to make that a part of the organization’s DNA?
What trends do you foresee that will impact the way people are managed in organizations in the future?
Whilst organizations will continue their ‘get, give, grow-guard roles’ for their people resources, one will have to be very mindful of the new wave technology and impact of social networking in growing new wave organizations. While we will have young leaders with state-of-the-art expertise and technology and access to contemporary knowledge, it will be critical for them to become acceptable in leadership roles, have seasoned judgment and show mature confidence. Therefore, the major challenge for these organizations will be to give the right leadership exposure to their talented professionals early in their lives, such that their judgment and their maturity are simultaneously developed, early on, along with other competencies. To succeed in volatile markets, young leaders will have to reflect capability to quickly adapt to new learning, emotional equanimity, and build a strong character based on values and courage to manage a variety of adversity, which the market will throw on them at times. Organizations will have to develop systems and processes to manage these challenges.
What is the one thing that you have learnt through your career as a people manager which you wished you had known before?
The criticality of understanding how value creation happens in an organization and being able to connect your specialized knowledge of human resource management to the larger purpose of value creation, is something I feel, would have taken me to a different destination, had I known it earlier in my life.
What in your opinion are the three common mistakes that CEOs make in people management?
CEOs do not develop or accept diversity. Anyone who opposes their thought process, chances are that such people will never find a place in the CEO’s team. This reminds me of Oscar Wilde who said ‘they laugh at me because I am different; I laugh at them because they are all the same’. So, if leaders end up selecting people in their teams who are all like them, and do not have stomach for diversity of ideas and of people who confront or challenge their ideas, that is a mistake.
The second mistake that CEOs often make is using power with an authoritarian perspective and not with an influencing perspective.
Another common mistake is that CEOs do not listen. Power orientation creates a kind of blindness, because of which they do not have the desire to listen to the echoes of the system and they are far from the organization and its people. They believe they are at the pedestal level and do not understand what people feel. They do not have touch with the organization and do not know what engages people.
Also, CEOs can sometimes make the mistake of being driven by numbers alone. So, what is achieved is important. But how do they go about achieving it is what they stop caring for. And finally, CEOs falter at not managing their processes as working rhythms of the organization. Processes should run the organization irrespective of who the leaders are. Thus, governance should come from institutionalized processes. Unfortunately, sometimes people in positions of power ignore or short-circuit organizational processes as a result of which they do not get the leadership acceptability.