Article: We are all living in the age of chaos: Indraneel Kumar Das of Byjus Tuition Center


We are all living in the age of chaos: Indraneel Kumar Das of Byjus Tuition Center

“I think the first step I took was accepting the fact that we are all living in the age of chaos. Next step was to acquire knowledge around understanding these chaotic patterns & the effect they will have at my work,” Indraneel Kumar Das.
We are all living in the age of chaos: Indraneel Kumar Das of Byjus Tuition Center

Culture has emerged as one of the highly prioritised factors among the job seekers globally.  A recent study conducted by Randstad has found that as many as 41% of Singaporeans would rather be unemployed than feel unhappy in a job and more than half (52%) would quit if their jobs prevented them from enjoying life. 

It clearly depicts that going forward into the future of work, leaders will need to be extra cautious about offering the right kind of culture to retain the key talent into the workforce, and efforts have to be made by both internal and external stakeholders to succeed in doing so. 

To discuss how such factors are going to affect the investments and plannings of the future of work, People Matters chatted with Indraneel Kumar Das, AVP & Head- L&D of Byjus Tuition Center. Here are some excerpts from the conversation.

A recent study conducted by Deloitte states that 80% of the respondents believe it is important for external workers to participate in the organisation’s culture. But achieving this alignment is not easy. As you are associated with a company that works with external stakeholders and workers to a great extent, how do you look at this statement?

At the heart of that study is confronting the challenges of intentionally leading and coordinating workforce ecosystem OR orchestrating workforce ecosystems. In a world changing from VUCA to BANI in less than 2 years’ time with a 30-50% contingent workforce, we all have a recipe for disaster if we do not have a strong cultural foundation in place. In that context, I would suggest to not compartmentalise external & internal workers just by location. Rather, can we develop a gig mindset (first step of culture building being working on mindsets, beliefs & behaviors) in every employee & stakeholder? A mindset of being a self-starter, taking ownership, accountability & initiative (agnostic to role), innovate big & small, constantly failing & learning. By trying a distributed & networking leadership model, we can empower and engage the external stakeholders & employees to participate in a thriving org culture. Here are some suggestions-

Create & align to a purpose driven culture- define & drive a common ‘Why’ amongst one and all.

  1. Embrace diverse voice & opinion to create the framework of common cultural tenets irrespective of location, geography, mindset. 
  2. Storytelling is a great tool to build culture competencies- use it to cascade culture. Intentionally, weave in the gig stories in your meetings.
  3. Build an instant hyper-personalised feedback mechanism for everyone- make time for regular cadence on the same.
  4. Recognise cross functional wins- big or small, internal or external, gig or otherwise.
  5. Be fluidic & ready to embrace nimble & agile in every experience. 

Going forward, to what extent will it be possible for organisations to balance between the needs of the external and internal employees in the hybrid era of work where even internal employees don’t meet in person very often?

To this, I will dig deeper and ask myself- Are the needs really different for internal & external employees? The context might be but see, human beings are social animals. You cannot take away that innate aspect of human nature even in strictest cases of gig work culture. Given this fact, some of the basic needs of any employee at work would be (indicative)- learn, earn & grow in a connected workplace. As HR professionals, we should pedal up our efforts consciously to create employee experiences which talk to these 3 elements of needs. Any organisation that offers challenging and meaningful work, ongoing learning, and a meritocratic workplace culture has already won the battle. Key elements of a thriving hybrid work culture can be-

  1. Rethink empowerment in smaller flexible team set ups. 
  2. Provide equal opportunity to everyone
  3. Find creative ways to collaborate. 
  4. Use core competencies of empathy, communication & inclusiveness to drive connectedness.
  5. Re-align work & life to reduce digital burnouts.
  6. Discover a powerful common individual & organisation purpose. 

In an article, Forbes stated, “It’s been predicted that 85% of the jobs that will be available in 2030 don’t yet exist!” Amid such scenario, what do you think about the relevance of the skills being imparted to the present workforce?

In my experience, I think we are only incrementally innovating in this space- we need to get more aggressive on skill development. Researchers, academicians, consultants & of course organisations’ talent development should pave the way. Largely we know that all the future skills will evolve with tech innovation. As learning professionals, we need to keep up & improve the pace of large-scale workforce capability changes. 

Skilling, reskilling & upskilling is the name of the game. Unfortunately, we spend a lot of time on the first one. We need to pivot to the next two- fast. World Economic Forum estimates that, by 2025, 50% of all employees will need reskilling due to adopting new technology. Industry 4.0 is here, already. Both individuals and companies need to commit to reskilling and upskilling and make career development basis these an essential element of the future workforce. Great efforts should be taken to make these learning opportunities, such as reskilling and upskilling, accessible, available, and affordable to the large workforce. Current skill building is largely limited to help employees do their current jobs better & hence myopic. 

So, amidst all this reality, what can we do? If I must define the change in one sentence- create a culture of lifelong learning in your organisations backed by an unheard-of rate of technology adoption. 

How do you plan to restructure your own leadership style with such gradual changes penetrating the workforce? 

I think the first step I took was accepting the fact that we are all living in the age of chaos. Next step was to acquire knowledge around understanding these chaotic patterns & the effect they will have at my work. Further steps followed by finding out answers to these questions (in no particular order) & embedding them to my leadership quotient- 

  1. Am I leading with trust, empathy and mindfulness or control? 
  2. Do I know the values & motivations of my team members across generations?
  3. What am I doing to keep my team agile & future ready?
  4. Do I have a ready pool of talent prepared to face black swan events, if & when?
  5. Am I building resilience in the team, how am I ensuring my new workforce is not fragile?
  6. On my priority list, where does learning, re-learning & re-orientation feature?
  7. Am I creating leaders who can be self-responsible, self-driven and conscious? 
  8. Am I leading with clarity & purpose?
  9. What changes do I need to make amidst increased digitalisation & new age teams?
  10. Am I creatively collaborating more? 

Have I figured out all? No. 

Have these impacted my leadership style? Oh, yes!

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Topics: Leadership, #FutureOfWork

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