Article: Tailor your approach to align it with talent: SV Nathan

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Tailor your approach to align it with talent: SV Nathan

A few edited excerpts from People Matters interview with SV Nathan, Partner and Chief Talent Officer, Deloitte, India, who shares his insights on skill development, leadership, diversity and millennials
Tailor your approach to align it with talent: SV Nathan

Continuous learning is of paramount importance as that is the lever for supporting anyone through the change, especially employees. What do you have to say about this?

Top Leadership recognizes that there is an inertia in the area of learning and the changes in today’s times predicate – learning, unlearning and re- learning. As we learn to put greater emphasis on change management for newer things, we neglect the power of lifelong learning that prioritizes education continuously.

I believe the ability to always learn and un-learn ensures continuity and adaptation to change. Learning makes one make an impact for themselves. What is more important is that application of learning and that comes in from an ‘attitude’ to use that learning. Most successful leaders do this with elan. They also focus on making their environment conducive to learning, more of a creating a continuous learning environment, a cultural shift rather than making adaptation a series of start- slow and-stop events that are confusing.

It's important that organizations also focus on developing leaders not just at work, but in their personal lives and in the community. Do you agree with this? If so, how can organizations channelize initiatives in this direction?

Organizations need to certainly invest in leaders, helping them grow beyond their current role and help them maximize their contribution to work, home, community and beyond. Organizations need to offer an array of opportunities for the continuous growth of leaders, provide personalized learning, and tools. Organizations need programs that address self-awareness and develop mindset to contribute to the development of others, and a mindset of ‘giving’.

Initiating change within the society through education and technical skill development is a crucial undertaking that the industry leadership needs to take. How can organizations do this? What is Deloitte doing for this?

Education and skill development is the cornerstone of a progressive society. Providing and promoting education, enabling higher education, and creating an environment for skill development are crucial areas for initiating change in the society. Contribution of organizations – in depth, through focused and structured initiatives on education can help address the issues in the society.

At Deloitte, our purpose is to make an impact that matters to our people, clients, and society. We are committed to giving back to the society, and as part of our community initiative we engage with various NGOs to promote education and skill development. 

Diversity of thinking is gaining prominence as a disruptive force to break through the status quo. Do you think it is crucial for organizations to focus on this?

Traditionally, diversity was associated with programs - just a group of people, initiatives designed around providing equal opportunity. Now, there is equal focus on Diversity and Inclusion both. Today, the focus is on leveraging differences to make them a strength. It is about recognizing the uniqueness of each individual and leveraging differences to generate a culture characterized by respect, fairness, a sense of belonging and the feeling of being valued regardless of who you are. Diversity in the market and diversity within our talent pool has generated a more nuanced kind of diversity – diversity of thoughts, and not just gender. It also had had a greater impact in inclusion- how do we bring in the greater power of diversity through inclusion.

The concept of diversity of thought is disrupting our workforce by redefining how we define and harness our human capital. Diversity of thought goes beyond just affirming equality, by acknowledging differences and responding to them. Inclusion makes it happen in a thoughtful way.

How critical is it that the diversity of talent at Deloitte mirrors its diverse client base?

Diversity of markets, customers, ideas, and talent are essential for us. Understanding and satisfying an increasingly diverse client base is critical to thrive in today’s environment at the same time we invest in developing and growing talent and building a culture of diversity in thoughts. At Deloitte our purpose is to make an impact that matters to our people and clients. Our approach to diversity helps us recruit, retain and engage high-performing talent, build our brand and win work – and get closer to our clients. It also helps us better connect our colleagues – thereby unleashing greater collaboration and innovation within our organization.

Organizations have opened up to contingent and flex workforce, which mainly comprises millennials. According to Deloitte’s Millennial Survey findings, millennials appreciate working in a collaborative and consensual environment rather than one that directly links accountability and responsibility to seniority (or pay). This suggests that the workforce is evolving and that organizations have to try harder to attract and retain talent. Do you agree with this?

Today, the workforce is definitely evolving, at Deloitte over 80% of our workforce are millennials.  Companies are beginning to adapt to a new, implicit social contract with employees – where the demands and expectations of today’s diverse, multi-generational, mobile workforce requires a more flexible, employee centric work environment, one which companies are just beginning to learn to develop. The key here would be to tailor our approach so that it is aligned with the talent we are targeting. We have to meet their expectations which are different but not necessarily harder to meet. Some key aspects to include would be to focus on wellbeing and flexibility. Additionally, there needs to be strong emphasis on being digital and leveraging technology to the fullest. Job rotations, secondment projects, shadowing opportunities also help build a culture and environment that is largely conducive to retaining employees. 

(The full interview with SV Nathan will be published in People Matters Magazine - January 2018 edition)

Topics: Leadership

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A “one size fits all” approach to learning and development does not work and puts business performance and innovation at risk. Organizations are transmuting to adapt and oblige to evolving changes and demands that exhibit in every business function. But there is a significant disconnect between the supply and demand of skills at the workplace.

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