With over 35 years of experience in the field of Human Resources, KA Narayan is presently the President – Human Resources for Raymond Group. Raymond is a Rs.7000 crore conglomerate having diverse businesses including textiles and apparel, employing more than 25000 employees. Prior to Raymond, he was President – Corporate Human Resources and Legal for Wockhardt, a global pharmaceutical company. He worked with Wockhardt for 19 years joining the company as Manager – Personnel and rose to become the President for Global HR. He has been a recipient of several industry awards including the RASBIC Award for Talent Management, Amity Award for Outstanding HR Contribution, and Indira School Award for outstanding work in HR.
Here are the excerpts from this exclusive interaction.
Companies want people who will come and create magic. What does magic mean in the context of today's workplaces? And how can organizations enable people to create this magic?
I think such expectations are unrealistic. No one has a magic wand. The challenge today is that companies let damage happen slowly and don’t act on time and then expect someone to redeem it. For this to happen, organizations need to understand the effort required and provide the right resources as well as have tolerance. This is a huge task of transformation for which organizations need to re-invent the skills.
In the present context of work, the workforce is looking for meaning and purpose in their work. What can organizations do to create this purpose for their people?
Every individual performs at his best when there is full congruence between his abilities and his self-identity. Very often employees bring skills which are different from their identity. Helping people connect with their identity is what gives meaning to what they do. Not all employees connect with ‘purpose’ as a concept. However, organizations should first define the larger purpose and help employees realize their own purpose.
Organizations should first define the larger purpose and help employees realize their own purpose through a discovery process of appreciative inquiry
As innovation is an attribute every organization must possess in todayÕs workplace, how can organizations inculcate an entrepreneurial mindset in their people?
Organizations need to create a culture of innovation by encouraging risk taking and learning from failure. Typically, we simulate a controlled environment to let people think out of the box and experiment with lateral thinking. The other side of encouraging innovation is to have reward and recognition systems. Intrapreuners are created by putting a separate kitty for incubating ideas and seed funding the same.
Talking about change and the constant need to reinvent, what did HR transformation mean to an organization that is almost a century old, with thousands of employees across different units?
In our case, HR helped in organizational restructuring, getting leaders with a completely new skill set of transformation as compared to the erstwhile organic growth & risk averse mindset, introducing several initiatives around changing the culture, strengthening the performance management system, and creating an institutionalized reward program and linking pay for performance.
When did this transformation begin and what were the core focus areas the organization chose to begin with?
The transformation journey began in 2010 and the key focus areas were leadership, talent management processes, reward systems, pay for performance and re-engineering the performance management system.
As the world is talking about AI and how automation will replace many jobs, what is your take on it? What role will AI play in a mature organization like yours?
It is correct that AI will take away jobs which are done either manually and intellectually. However, jobs which require a combination of head and heart will remain. Mechanical jobs which can be replaced by robotics will go away and some other jobs which can be automated digitally will also disappear. Having said so, in our case, there are many jobs which are highly human skill oriented which is our proprietary know how.