CSR is at the interface of the organization and the external world, i.e., the community at large, where the work of HR is directed towards making a difference in social terms
The Roman god Janus, after whom the month of January is named, had two faces: One looks back at the past and the other faces the future. The same applies to HR – we must learn from the past while remaining grounded in the present so that we can prepare for the future. HR has come a long way from the days of labour welfare and industrial relations and is now adopting a more holistic view. The rise of the knowledge worker has brought an entirely new set of competencies to the table, and the information and communications revolution ushered in sweeping changes to our concept of managing work and workers.
Under such circumstances, what should the HR do? How can it evolve a common strategy, a common approach that will help it deal with changing environments, changing demands of business and the changing nature of work and workers? While there is no “one size fits all” solution, I believe that it is possible to work out an HR model that factors in changing requirements and demands, and fits the bill in terms of building a workforce that will deliver business results anytime, anywhere. This then is where HR needs to go in future.
During my tenure as Director (HR) of NTPC Ltd., the largest power producer in India, my experiments in HR in application of ideas solidified into a model of HR, which could be touched, verified and replicated and which led to tangible results in the organizational development and transformation. During this process of my experiments which transformed a hypothesis into a theory, I penned down my experiences of evolution of HR, which later took the form of a book, “My Experiments with Unleashing People Power”.
The book endeavours to elucidate the HR model, at the middle of which are the four pillars, which we may call the Four Building Blocks of HR: Competence, Commitment, Culture and Systems, which have to be built simultaneously in the organization. But, that’s not all. There are three peripherals or concentric circles, which contain the four building blocks–Employee Relations, Corporate Governance and Corporate Social Responsibility (as shown in the figure). It is a truism that you can’t have development without peace, which is achieved through participative management, productivity and quality movements, leadership training for employee representatives, etc. Corporate Governance details the architecture of the organization, its delegation of powers, reporting structures, empowerment, transparency, participative decision making, and so on. Lastly, CSR is at the interface of the organization and the external world, i.e., the community at large, where the work of HR is directed towards making a difference in social terms.
The centre of the model is the creation of a learning organization, which intends to provide a cogent theory base for HR, founded on the thrust of continuous learning and improvements, as this can only provide the competitive edge required in this challenging and ever changing world of business. All activities under the Building Blocks or peripherals culminate in creating an organization that is adaptable, innovative, suave, nimble and flexible.
My enthusiastic HR team in NTPC worked with me on this model for a long time and then we worked in accordance with the principles contained therein. The results were quite impressive: NTPC was declared one of the three best companies in India to work for and employee satisfaction, organizational pride and commitment increased significantly. With the help of the HR Model, we made good progress towards our HR vision of building a learning organization. I believe that it is a useful approach for HR, now as well as in the future, since we have actually implemented it in NTPC and seen it work.