Article: HR teams will need to become more emotionally intelligent: Surender Jeet Raj

Strategic HR

HR teams will need to become more emotionally intelligent: Surender Jeet Raj

“While HR professionals will need to think critically and holistically about the data that they gather from various sources, they will also have to be non-critical and non-judgmental of the people themselves,” said Surender Jeet Raj, senior vice-president (Human resources operations), Newgen Software, in a recent interview with People Matters.
HR teams will need to become more emotionally intelligent: Surender Jeet Raj

As HR leaders gear up for a new decade and newer challenges and opportunities it brings along, their role continues to evolve. In a new decade of a growing gig workforce, the possibility of man and machine working together, and disruption in every corner, there are many new roles the HR leaders would have to take. In a recent interaction with People Matters, Surender Jeet Raj, Senior Vice-president (Human resources operations), Newgen Software discussed this evolving role of HR and shared some key skills for HR professionals to focus on. 

Raj also shared what his ‘Next Curve’ would be as an HR professional and how he is preparing for it. 

What will the role of HR look like in the future?

Well, in this day and age, things change very fast, very much and very quickly. In my opinion, to begin with, chatbots will empower HR professionals. With pervasive influence and accessibility of artificial intelligence and machine learning, the professionals will be increasingly able focus on playing a strategic role over being occupied with documenting job descriptions, requisitions, screening, and shortlisting candidates. Although the trend has been there for a while now, it would further advance. Additionally, we will see various functions being outsourced to service providers, or experts. There will be high dependency on chatbots for screening candidates, addressing day-to-day queries of employees on the floor, and taking care of more such activities. 

Furthermore, flexible work arrangements and movement towards the gig economy will give reasons to the professionals to revisit their policies, processes and bring ease and flexibility. Instant messaging apps will be preferred for sharing information even at workplaces. 

Last but not the least, as we move towards the gig economy, there will also be a remarkable shift in accountability, from teams to individuals. Contrary to periodic assessments, the use of continuous feedback programs will further increase and become the preferred model for performance management.

In your opinion, will HR be managing people or robots or both in the future?

Certainly, both. Bots are programmed in a way that they excel at performing specific activities, which are process-oriented and repetitive in nature. However, people extend their contribution in various other areas such as strategic, intuitive and creative thinking and these capabilities unquestionably make them indispensable.

How should HR upskill themselves to become future-ready? 

As we have leaped into the intelligence era, the role of HR professionals has undergone a significant transformation. The role is no longer restricted to be the paper-pushers or lead the personnel management; it has evolved into being the human capital strategy function. It is in the best interest of HR teams across organizations to prepare for the changes coming up in 2020 and beyond, to stay competitive in the talent market.

This tide of change in people’s practices will push its way through in any case. HR professionals must upgrade their skills and abilities to be able to accommodate them in a dynamic environment, through training and networking.

What are some key skills HR professionals need to focus on?

The HR team will need to become more emotionally intelligent - not only to manage the emotional ups and downs of their internal customers but also to manage their own emotions. While they will need to think critically and holistically about the data that they gather from various sources, they will also have to be non-critical and non-judgmental of the people themselves. 

Counselling skills, listening skills and cultural intelligence will need to be focused upon. It goes without saying that HR teams will have to continue to embrace technology and be open to using it to make their work more impactful. 

Going forward, what do you think will be YOUR #NextCurve as an HR professional? How are you preparing for it?

As an HR professional, the #NextCurve is to move beyond being mentors and guides to all employees and become counsellors and sounding boards for them. With individual beliefs and value systems running deep in every person these days, the emotions are high, thus making it important for HR to start working towards employees’ psychological and emotional wellbeing. 

The #NextCurve for HR professionals is to start preparing for the inclusion of different mindsets, values and cultural preferences. 

We have already initiated training and education for our HR team on developing their counseling skills and are also investing in cultural training. 

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Topics: Strategic HR, #MyNextCurve

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