This is crazy” or “Are you out of your senses” etc. etc. will be your first reaction to the title! However, it might be surprising today but the future calls for it. The subject is sufficient enough to create ripples in your mind and on the other hand, makes the author more responsible to justify this ‘new set of opportunities’. In fact, by touching this topic, I am trying to link the development of society by putting the ‘right skills at the right place’!
The HR fraternity has been witnessing HR’s evolution – from being a support function to being a business partner. It has been a long successful journey but one that has also been full of challenges and bottlenecks. Let us not forget the contribution and efforts of our erstwhile senior HR professionals of 70s, 80s and even 90s who have laid the strong foundation of HR function to be able to attain this level today. HR has evolved as an enabler and process champion. While the focus has moved on to drive business performance, the focus on behavior and culture has emerged as one of the critical focus areas of HR.
Today, HR is no more merely a policy custodian; rather it has emerged as policy influencer.
And that is the turning point for HR. It is time now to think beyond the boundaries! Is it not important to introspect and identify areas of our society that can be influenced by HR professionals and their skills? I strongly feel that it is time for HR professionals to look beyond the standard roles and think of taking up disruptive roles in politics or government, and aspire to become ministers. Yes, you heard it right! Your next ministers should be HR professionals as they are most qualified to be so. And here are number of reasons to support this proposal.
Reason no 1: Process champions
While the effective governance of a country, state or province depends upon laying down strong processes and executing them, HR professionals already have the experience of designing processes for organizations of different sizes in different geographies. And irrespective of sizes, HR professionals effectively handle the diverse challenges associated with such ways of working.
HR professionals can contribute to the nation by ‘isolating the bureaucratic barriers and integrating functions and agencies.’
The expertise of designing and developing complex organizational structures by integrating all functional and matrices reporting within departments and cross departments can be a big help while ‘stitching government agencies in one.’ With the country facing challenges of Red Tapism and loosely integrated structures which have killed the governing ethos and failed the best of the policies, HR professionals can design clearly defined processes where all departments and policies collaborate with each other for the interest of the citizens.
Reason no 2: Employee champions
While citizens expect the government and administration to be responsive and sensitive to their concerns, the government lacks mechanism to develop sensitivity, inculcate it into the system and practice it. HR professionals who have been champions of creating sensitivity and responsiveness into the organizations can help in this. They hold the ability and expertise to drive sensitization efficiently. With this expertise, the required governmental efforts towards providing relief measures, driving welfare policies to remote areas will be efficiently designed and implemented.
Reason no 3: Meritocracy-driven culture
Lack of meritocracy is another big concern in the government combined with the lack of motivation for officials to excel and outperform. The prevalent culture of “management by rule book” deters government employees to perform and think out-of-the-box. This culture undoubtedly impacts the motivation of employees and hampers development at work. HR professionals can effectively put a measurable KPI-led performance culture. Their skills of designing and driving effective performance management system would enable them to introduce and implement a stronger evaluation system with right metrics which will help in building effective processes for governance. To take it forward, the much needed selection processes for many government jobs can also be reviewed and ameliorated by the HR professionals.
Reason no 4: Culture drivers
The culture of a country and its leadership depends on effective execution of cultural processes and policies. With the deteriorating political culture and society getting adversely impacted, it is wise to involve HR expertise. HR professionals are the right people to intervene and correct this by building a positive culture as they can design and introduce right scientific and rational practices and plans. Initiatives to integrate the political willingness with practices for the welfare of society will be another contribution of the fraternity. HR professionals can improve the quality of surveys and review processes and increase empowerment at every level.
Reason no 5: Conflict & consensus management
Despite inherent advantages of a multi-party system, governance has been bogged down by conflict and lack of consensus. It would not be wrong to conclude that many a times it also fails due to ‘absence of right skill’ of the consensus management team. Here, the expertise of HR professionals especially from IR and larger setups can come handy. Being trained on “managing expectations”, HR professionals can prove to be much more effective with their negotiation skills.
Though it would be a distant dream but the expertise and intent of HR professionals as government ministers can pave the way for the society to become better. Government mechanisms designed by HR professionals will have transparency, stronger implementation of Dos and Don’ts, inclusive culture, sustainable social welfare policies, quicker decision making process, and greater push to innovation etc. With all these factors, it will not be a wrong option for HR professionals to think beyond the corporate life and jump to a new avenue which can offer them job satisfaction along with opportunities to learn and perform while offering them a platform to create something new and sustainable.