A versatile leader with close to 24 years of experience in Human Resource Management, Leadership Development, Cultural Transformation, Change Management and Project Management, Mahesh Medhekar, Vice President of Human Resources at Mercedes-Benz Research and Development India (MBRDI), shares his thoughts on his next curve as a leader, in an exclusive interaction with People Matters.
Medhekar joined MBRDI, the largest R&D unit of Daimler AG outside Germany, as a trainee back in 1996, and over the years has managed the entire HR gamut, building a diverse organization, and transforming the HR function with focus on ‘customer dedication’ and ‘digitalization’ which has made.
Find out below what Medheker has to share about managing people and robots, the formula for driving digital transformation in HR and more.
What will the role of HR look like in the future?
Digital transformation has influenced our lives, changed business models and redefined jobs that demand new skills. The new age technologies of deep learning, machine learning, and big data analytics are shaping the future of work, while artificial intelligence is transforming every aspect of our lives. In the context of these disruptions, most routine HR functions also require adaptation, which means we need to think beyond automation and effect real change in the way we function.
Data scientists, data analysts, digital transformation officers, and digital learning officers are some of the emerging functions that will be instrumental in analyzing, reimagining and transforming HR processes, and integrating new business models with the millennial workforce.
In addition to technology-driven changes, HR teams should also sharpen their business acumen, act as business transformation catalysts, and focus on people centricity as cultural architects.
In your opinion, will HR be managing people or robots (or both) in the future?
Technological progress will result in moderate-to-significant degrees of automation across most business functions. While a considerable percentage of the workforce will require reskilling, there will also be a large number of new jobs created. This workforce transformation will lead to extensive use of new-age technologies. As jobs of the future demand more algorithmic, contextual and analytical thinking, we can reasonably expect robots to also become part of the workforce.
HR and business functions will have to build collaborative models between human resources and the robot workforce to create a technology-driven workplace that also enhances people experience.
How should HR upskill themselves to become future-ready?
To lead a digital organization, HR leaders must be tech-savvy themselves, and need to be agile in their approach in order to support business needs. Keeping in mind the current pace of disruption across various business models, HR professionals should take a keen interest in developing their understanding of technical domains, and seeing the impact of digital transformation on these domains. HR professionals with a sharp business acumen can support growth and create value for the organization by linking strategy with talent.
HR leaders need to understand the impact of new technologies on their business and then see which technologies or processes need to be integrated within HR functions.
Furthermore, to remain a strategic partner, HR should have a deep understanding of the business and its changing needs. They need to engage with business and review current management theories, leadership principles, and assessment methods to see their relevance in the digital age.
Going forward, what do you think will be your #NextCurve as an HR professional?
My team, which is passionate about driving digital transformation in HR, has devised a formula:
HR(UI + UX) = EX = 2 CX
Besides process transformation, the focus of HR on ‘user interface’ along with ‘user experience’ will boost ‘employee experience’, which will drive ‘enhanced customer experience’.
Driving digital transformation with a deeper appreciation of new technologies to enhance employee experience, alongside data-driven decision making shall be critical to the role of an HR.
To stay ahead in today’s VUCA world, we need to ask ourselves: “What have we done in the last year to enhance our own learning and skills?” Similarly, leaders should ask if their teams have the necessary skills for handling their assignments successfully. In addition to their technical skills, leaders should also focus on their teams’ personal skills and traits, and provide critical and constructive feedback regularly. Additionally, business leaders should allow transfer of know-how across different departments, thereby creating synergy effects (dissolving the organizational barriers and individual egos).
HR teams should build and maintain a robust corporate image with respect to their practices, which will help attract the right talent.
As HR is the custodian of company culture, the journey starts by creating a conducive workplace environment based on shared values - such as trust, transparency, humility and respect - which transform a regular organization into a high-performance enterprise, leading to the successful implementation of business strategy.
The principle that I believe in is: “Human Resource is not the resource, but the resources that people have”. If every HR professional works with this belief, then attracting and retaining the best talent and ultimately becoming an employer of choice is a much more attainable and sustainable goal.