In an interaction with People Matters, Gurmeet Singh, Chairman, and Managing Director, Johnson Controls-Hitachi Air Conditioning India Ltd shares his thoughts on the biggest shift of 2020, challenges in a hybrid workplace, and lessons he learned as a leader.
What are some leadership lessons taught by COVID-19?
COVID-19 created an unprecedented and unimaginable situation for businesses across the world making everyone rethink the working dynamics in this unique situation. The biggest challenge was believed to be keeping up productivity while working remotely. This huge crisis has reemphasized how important it is to invest in one’s team. It has shown that a motivated and committed team finds ways and means to keep the momentum of work. They not only accomplished work but also showed that adversity brought team members together and communication seamless despite distances.
What are your thoughts on the concept of a hybrid workplace? What are some challenges you foresee in implementing a hybrid workplace?
The whole workspace phenomenon has been shaken up and the new normal has become a changed version of working from the workplace. While we see that companies who had invested in building strong - efficient teams were able to deliver, but in the long run everyone hopes to go back to ‘normal’. Hybrid workplaces while they have their positives in focus on productivity, reduced operational cost, and redefining team communication-collaboration, still, it does take away the human aspect. Extended employee isolation can be one of the problems and even a new member entering the system might have a tough time belonging. So hybrid is the solution for the short term.
What do you think the year 2021 might look like as far as new skillsets and essential job skills are concerned?
Not just in 2021 but for the future communication skills will be key. As we can assume that working remotely and in hybrid models is going to be the way, having communication skills would be essential no matter which functions one might be working in. One would also expect skills to adapt and the ability to learn quickly as a team member.
Another skill set, especially in team leaders, which will be recognized more than before is emotional intelligence. These traits apart from a keen knowledge of respective functions make for a great asset for an organization.
As we navigate through the next normal, what have been some ways you have adapted to this time of tremendous change?
My normal working schedule has undoubtedly undergone a tremendous change. Earlier I would travel almost every month and now that had been discontinued for such a long duration. It has been a task to adapt to the drastically opposite concept of working from home, but the additional responsibilities of analyzing, re-strategizing, and redirecting occupied a major timeshare. This made it easier to adapt to this new working style. This hiccup also presented the opportunity to take stock of things, plan, and become future-ready.
What are some of the biggest shifts of 2020 you have seen across organizations in 2020?
The world changed around us and it happened almost overnight, making the business world rethink all management practices. The biggest and one of the most permanent shifts I feel is that organizations on the whole across the world have and will continue to become more human. Theoretical framework on employee wellbeing will translate into practice if it was not till now. Among a lot of other aspects, organizations are rethinking evaluation of employee performance as the focus has effectively shifted towards that. Sustainability has in the past few years become the buzzword, going forward we will see it develop into the golden rule and not just in theory but also in practice.
In this moment of crisis, you have to make a lot of game-time decisions. How do you balance purpose and action in an environment like this?
If the purpose is clear then action follows. Tough times did face us but the right decisions were not very difficult to commit to.