The challenge of leading an agile organization in the face of digital transformation where being connected & adaptability are of paramount important means embracing a new style of leadership, one can understand what’s changing quickly and what you have to deal with and what’s better to be adapted quickly. This transformation has blurred both organizational and geographical boundaries, leading to a diverse workforce and redefined employee-employer relationship, where through the extensive use of information technology a high proportion of workforce mainly work from home and resulting in the ultimate development of ‘Virtual Firms’.
The introduction of this transformation may result in considerable changes in systems, processes, and refurbishing the traditional way of doing things with addition & alterations. Managing a successful transition to a new fast-changing world of work will require significant and well-coordinated efforts to be equipped with the knowledge of opportunities, hence the role of HR manager as Leader comes; an HR manager as a leader can positively facilitate organization’s horizontal and vertical mobility along with a parallel change in his own practices to meet the uncertain challenges.
Now the question arises, does an HR leader really makes a difference? Does an HR leader genuinely helps leverage employee and the organization’s performance and has a potential to increase effectiveness with his stupendous leadership skills? It might be possible, because, HR Leaders have the formal authority and position in the organization to influence the subordinate and the subordinate is expected to perform his or her job in an acceptable manner to follow rules and the directives given by him/her. As the HR leader develops a special relationship with the subordinates, characterize by mutual trust, commitment, and involvement, it has a substantial influence on each other. The leadership of an effective HR leader also gives a figment of the imagination and make employees within the organization to feel secure to think that there is someone in charge.
On the other hand, the HR leader also makes top management aware of the root cause of any problem which the organization might be facing and helps to develop critical success factors that will create competitive advantage to the organization. In order to improve the organizational capability to perform effectively in a perpetual environment and drive innovation, the HR leader acts as a change agent and internal consultant in underpinning the organization.
Adjusting to the changing nature of work and considering the scope of the challenge to prepare for the future of work, it is important for an HR leader to understand the new forces that change the future of work.
HR leaders play an influential role to make sure that organizations are able to successfully adopt and take advantages of new technologies by supporting employees through adaptation and transformation as their roles, tasks and skills and by integrating new workers to build attractive and inclusive workplace. Responding to this changing nature of work there are some key imperatives that HR leaders can implement to make a significant contribution to organizational success and its Human capital.
- Capacity building by decentralization & bottom up strategy: Employee mobilisation and close involvement at all levels in an organization are extremely critical as it fosters a ‘bottom up approach’ not only to resolve distance and connectivity issues but also to empower front line employees to make better, faster decision with ease. It is essential for a HR leader to assign special importance to decentralised planning and implementation with active involvement of workforce. As active participation ensures transparency, accountability and helps in better functioning of an organization.
- Accelerate inclusive innovation led growth at workplace: The way work gets done is changing. A growing area of responsibility of a HR leader to focus on inspecting technology that are retrofitting & integrated with the cutting-edge technology to be step ahead of competition. Encouraging innovative thinking and dialogue to identify holistic, multi-pronged and viable strategies to address different issues. HR leader can effectively use this technology to enhance transparency in the employee’s inspection system by allowing online complaints and putting in place a standardized and clear mechanism.
- Shifting focus on outcomes vs inputs: HR leader plays a vital role in enabling the meaningful employees experience in an organization. Create planned process of interaction between organization and individual that allows an employee to grow within the organization. Fostering environment that not only promote equal opportunity but also create favourable conditions in which the different sections of an organization male, female and persons with special need etc. can avail opportunity to grow. Easy and safe access to counselling and support to reduce mental stress. Overhaul the employees’ dispute resolution system to resolve disputes quickly, efficiently and fairly. Means moving from an outcome/result-oriented approach to better input provider approach to reduce employee retention and enhance sense of belonginess.
- Leveraging development through reskilling or upskilling: Each individual is unique in terms of cognitive and affective development, social maturity, ability, motivation, aspiration, learning styles, needs, interests and potential. Innate variations in intelligence, social, economic background and past learning experiences are also factors underlying individual differences. Catering to individual differences HR leader helps top management to develop and formulate robust mechanism in a time bound manner for learning outcomes with suitable assistance and guidance in accordance with employees’ abilities and learning needs, so that they can develop their potential to the maximum extent. Its main objective is identifying the learning gaps and equipping employees with the core learning pre-requisites appropriate for the particular task. A leader also provides his recommendation to revamp the existing training & development system to improve monitoring & accountability with the implementation of continuous and comprehensive evaluation.
- Creating collaborative synergy between organization & human capital development: Human capital is an organization’s valuable resource that is difficult to imitate, they are not to be seen as variable cost but also as an asset through investment an organization seeks to obtain competitive advantage. HR leader with the help of top management can design policies & programmes to ensure that people remain as committed members of the organization. Attempts to obtain optimal synergies it also involves taking step to ensure that people have the opportunity and are given the encouragement to learn and develop by making better and extended use of their talents. HR leader help an organization to decide where to invest its critical tool i.e. Human Capital to make the biggest difference also make the organization well aware not only well aligned its critical tool internally but also suggest how to optimize the workforce to meet shifting business needs.
- Catalysing mindset via Diversity & Inclusion: HR leader can help an organization to rewire its culture to inspire, allow and encourage both diversity & inclusion. As this approach is the key drivers of a workplace culture in which everyone can thrive. Diversity means a mix of demographics, skills & experience while inclusion unlocks the potential of a diverse workforce. As employees from diverse backgrounds inspire organizations with creative new ideas and new perspectives informed by their cultural experience. A HR leader can also help an organization to build a fair, impartial, inclusive and collaborative workforce to ensure diversity and inclusion.
Ultimately, it is a unique opportunity for a HR Manager to play a leadership role in leveraging the power of an organization to meet the new forces that change the future of work. It is also a distinctive opportunity to redefine its mandate with the adoption of new key imperatives & further advance its strategies by shifting from being a “Status quo” to “Proactively Participative Approach”, while ensuring its relevance with the ever-changing scenario of digital transformation.