To really build your knowledge and skills, it is not good enough to be more savvy, and sharper in many ways from the preceding generations
You may not be working in a great place to work, but you will still have great learning if you are willing to seek it. Prasenjit Bhattacharya, CEO, Great Place to Work® Institute India
You will be far more useful in production than in human resources, I am issuing a transfer order,” said the General Manager of the plant where I was working 20 years back. I was an ‘HR specialist’ who had just joined this plant after completing my two year specialization in HR from a reputed institute. The transfer order to production department, at one stroke, threatened to wipe out whatever market value I had acquired after doing my specialized course. “If I wanted to be in production, I would not have joined human resources,” I said to myself. However, in those days, it took some time to get an alternate job and while waiting for the right opportunity outside the organization, I had no choice but to move to production. Very soon I was training workmen in the coil making section of high tension motors. In spite of myself, I got interested in the manufacturing process and before long we managed to double the output of coils being produced in this section.
I stayed on with the organization and eventually was moved back to HR, but in one of my next job interviews in a consulting firm, I was recruited, not because of my knowledge in human resources, but because of my cross-functional exposure, which I could leverage in business process re-engineering projects that they did for clients.
What I thought was a professional disaster (transfer to production) turned out to be the biggest investment in my development. If you have worked for some length of time, like me, you too will have many examples of valuable learning that come out of unanticipated and often unwelcome situations. The reality is that you may not be working in a great place to work, but you will still have great learning if you are willing to seek it.
At Great Place to Work® Institute, we study the best workplaces in over 45 countries. What kind of learning is most valued by the best workplaces in their employees, particularly young employees? Here is what I learnt after speaking to some of them.
On one hand, there is a feeling that industry continues to reward shallow performance in industries like IT and ITeS; while on the other hand, there is continued dependence on the west for cutting-edge scientific talent in industries like biopharmaceuticals. The Intel advertisement that says, “Our heroes are different from yours” is a case in point of an organization communicating the need and celebrating super experts in the domain.
Flexibility to cope with different business situations and adaptability
The nature of products and services keep changing all the time. An employee may join the financial services to sell simple products like savings account, but may have to shift to insurance products due to changes in regulations.
Result orientation and execution ability
A quarter is all that one has today to prove his abilities. Any amount of case study analysis in class does not guarantee actual execution skills. Some MBAs might look at job requirements as the ability to motivate a team and delegate work. Very soon, one realizes that you have to get your hands dirty and deliver.
Understand global business environment
What POSCO, the mining and metals multinational has to learn about local conditions in Orissa; Vedanta, an Indian company in the same industry, is learning in Zambia. This also assumes that tomorrow’s sought after employees will be adept at using technology to navigate the real and the virtual world.
Partners in co-creating future business
More organizations, particularly the best workplaces, will encourage employees to co-create new businesses. There will be many more examples like the Kaya Skin Clinic of Marico and Google products like gmail, which are all created as a result of employee entrepreneurship.
To really build your knowledge and skills in the above areas it is not good enough to be more savvy, and sharper in many ways from the preceding generations. It requires professionalism (keeping commitments) and high ethical standards. It also means more maturity and emotional intelligence. Indeed, if you look at any of the popular “reality shows” on television, you will be forgiven for jumping to the conclusion that the opposite is true!
And above all, it requires ability to manage your physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual health and balance.
Prasenjit Bhattacharya is CEO of Great Place to Work® Institute, India. Views expressed are personal. Prasenjit can be contacted at email@example.com