Article: Rajeev Singh, CHRO, ATG Group on acquisitions, culture and the changing landscape of HR

#M&A

Rajeev Singh, CHRO, ATG Group on acquisitions, culture and the changing landscape of HR

Rajeev Singh, CHRO, ATG Group talks of the changing HR landscape and how mergers and acquisitions are not always severe when the company culture is well defined and internalized.
Rajeev Singh, CHRO, ATG Group on acquisitions, culture and the changing landscape of HR

The world of HR is in a state of constant flux. That is an undisputed, globally accepted fact and companies across the globe are trying their best to stay in the game- some by leading change while some by putting in desperate struggles to keep up. But the rate of flux is not the same across the globe and organizations that are present across multiple locations thus have an extra layer of the dynamism to factor in. The question also arises whether talent management for these widely spread organizations market-specific or only in keeping with the larger organization culture.

Rajeev Singh, Chief Human Resource officer at the ATG Group, says that, “Our talent management strategy has been built keeping in mind our global business strategy and market-centric priorities.” 

He adds that while market-specific interventions do play a critical role in shaping the agenda for talent management and building up the organization with a long-term view, interventions also need to be in line with the larger organization culture. The broader culture thus sets the tone for the organization across locations while paying attention to key local aspects helps in translating the core culture better and thus plan and grow talent accordingly.

Challenge trifecta in India

India is a market that is emerging and evolving and an evolving market demands that the talent landscape keeps up. Set in this fast-paced context, India offers a barrage of challenges but according to Rajeev, there are three core challenges that affect most organizations today and in the manufacturing sector in particular:

  • Lack of industry-readiness: The unavailability of industry-ready talent, especially in the manufacturing sector is the number-one challenge today in the country, according to Rajeev. With products and services facing the highest expectations, employees need to be in tune with their industry and its changes to be able to hit the road running. Industry-readiness is crucial in leading the organization towards meeting customer expectations and global standards. 
  • Multi-generation workforce: The convergence of a multi-generation workforce towards a shared goal is an absolute necessity and a challenge at the same time. While the four generations at work today are all on the path of technological and digital evolution, they are at different stages along the road, they have different needs and expectations when it comes to the employee experience they seek and often have very different working styles too. Being able to create a culture that is relevant to this multifaceted generationally diverse workforce is imperative because not being able to do so would simply imply the loss of potential.
  • Employee retention: Ensuring greater longevity of employees has always been a challenge and has only become more difficult over the years with employees developing more of a gig mentality. Rajeev is of the opinion that, “Especially when it comes to the high potentials in the organization – traditional methods of career path (planning) and reward as retention tools have only limited appreciation and are not fit for the purpose.” As employee expectations have changed considerably, so must the tools used to retain them. 

Growing employees with the organization

Companies today need to be able to ensure that employees are trained dynamically to aid the fast-paced growth of the business. Growth is possible only when employees are able to deliver as per their targets in keeping with business demands. There is thus a need to find a learning approach that is the right balance between on-the-job training and classroom instruction.

Most sales-driven organizations expect new hires to be profitable from day one and while that could be justified citing business needs, there has to be a learning culture within the organization that enables that. Learning interventions need to be bespoke and topical, linked perfectly with mandatory self-development goals in synch with the performance management system. Individuals at every level in the organizational hierarchy from the CXOs to the trainees need to have self-development goals as well that aid their personal growth and add value while ensuring an employee army that is future-ready.

Of mergers and acquisitions

Mergers and acquisitions are often periods of severe change and difficulties being a phase of uncertainty and multiple functional and cultural shifts. Being financially and technologically backed by the Yokohama Group, Rajeev says is was not as severe to merge the cultures and corporate entities although the two companies have very different cultures.

He says, “While ATG is a young, aggressive and fast-paced, Yokohama is a 100 years’ entity. While ATG is a 100% subsidiary of the Yokohama Group, we maintain our uniqueness in being ATG. We have actually integrated the best of both the cultures.”

He adds that the relationship of ATG with Yokohama is based on the pillars of “Know, Understand, Trust and Respect” and having given enough autonomy in operations is what has made the process of acquisition smooth and hassle-free.

Maybe that is where the crux lies – to be able to retain your own culture while imbibing the best aspects of the acquiring company too. M&As thus need not be the unanimously feared HR nightmare that it is usually made out to be – with the right balance, open communication and defined objectives, they could be successfully accomplished as any other process at work.

The acquired taste of Talent Acquisition

How corporate entities acquire talent today is a by-product of the ambiguous and volatile environment they work in. The new, aggressive form of talent acquisition often requires the building of a new taste for hiring the best.  Rajeev supports the stance of “Buy, Build & Borrow” with maximum emphasis on “Build” in today’s talent game. Acquiring talent needs to be in line with the entrepreneurial spirit and the uniqueness of the organization. The idea to be able to adapt not just to best practices but to adopt the best-suited practices that fit the talent needs of the organization.

While the HR landscape undergoes folding and faulting and shifts to change in multiple ways, the need to change along with it remains constant. While every organization adapts differently and all are at different phases along the evolution cycle, the identity of each organization needs to be maintained along with the vision that they set out with. That would probably ensure that this is more than just a mass migration based on herd mentality but rather a journey that matters to the organization as an individual entity.

Topics: Mergers & Acquisitions, Culture

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