HR Transformation: Industry View: KS Kumar, VP HR, Castrol India
When we go to campus to hire for HR roles and ask students why they seek a HR job, the answer is often because they ‘love to be with people'
The perspective on HR changes dramatically with the change in industry. I have hired a maximum of 1700 people in a month and the lowest number hired in a month was 400 when I was in the financial sector. But today 25 open positions can trigger a review in my present industry. While I have seen attrition as high as 40%, today even 15% attrition is a strategic issue. So the perspective changes basis the industry and the revenue per employee, which is much more here than in the financial sector.
There is also a need to look at the quality of available HR talent. When we go to campus to hire for HR roles and ask students why they seek a HR job, the answer is often because they ‘love to be with people’. The reality is that it is the line managers who would spend the maximum time with people. Most HR aspirants are often perplexed if asked how they can add incremental value to line managers’ engagement with their teams.
Factors that are pertinent for a good HR person today are his/her commercial acumen, negotiation and influencing skills, program management and an innovative attitude towards problem solving. Being able to walk into a unit/ branch office and understand the key parameters that the unit is measured by, being able to strike a conversation with the line manager on these key business metrics can greatly increase HR’s credibility in the overall business scenario. Unfortunately, HR’s approach tends to be transactional and aims at delivering of HR services.
While there are a lot of great HR people, the median is mediocre. There is a need for HR to enhance general management skills and build on competencies to understand the business better.
Further, even within HR there are different roles which demand different skills and competencies. I have often seen sales people being very effective in the role of recruitment head and fortunately I have been able to sell the job to sales people. I ask them to approach it as a different approach to a sales process just as they would look at customer leads, channel productivity etc. So if a particular channel is not proving to be effective in terms of cost and outcome, change or rework the channel. This works particularly well in high volume recruitment.
Activities which are transactional in nature and not related to culture and values can be outsourced to specialist in these areas. In the backdrop of the economic crisis, HR must also emphasize on governance and ensure that the people processes are being carried out in a manner that is adding value to overall business and in compliance with corporate governance.