Traditionally the HR function has played a service or enabler role. But today, the function is expected to be a driver of change. They have to make a sustainable impact on business performance and have to be a direct contributor to growth. Head HR, Coca-Cola India & South West Asia – Manu Narang Wadhwa shared how HR can partner with business and IT and ramp up HR Tech to drive business transformation, in a webcast organized by People Matters and moderated by Ester Martinez, CEO & Chief Editor, People Matters. Here are few insights from the session:
Q. What are the critical things that had to change in Coca-Cola as an organization to keep up with the pace of innovation?
For Coca-Cola, culture is the first area to experience transformation. The focus on the culture was able to connect to every individual who is associated with Coca-Cola and rewire employee purpose, their roles, the strategy and the big picture of the organization. This cultural shift is not just about having large banners or a purpose statement, but it's about making a difference in the lives of the people handing over Coke to you.
The second critical change is that the talent agenda centered on elevating the DNA. This meant going back to the consumers and connecting the dots back to internal capabilities and being able to innovate in a faster and agile manner. The talent agenda is no longer about build, borrow or buy decisions, they are about talent decisions that have to drive productive outcome for the business.
Productivity has been a critical aspect of how the game has changed for us. Efficiency has also been our priority. Efficiency has been at the core for simplifying the lives of all the stakeholders – from consumers to internal associates. We build system capability which enables our last miles to be able to sell promote our products better. Lastly, data on human capital insights to drive business decisions has been another game changer. These are the changes I have seen very drastically evolving in our talent agenda as I see Coco-Cola evolving in times of now and the future.
Q. Can you share examples of some of the micro HR led projects which have made a business impact and the role technology has played in their success?
Technology has played a significant role and has enabled HR led projects not just to be successful but sustainable as well.
The first instance is the journey that we took last year on the way our process of performance management. It was shifted from one-time rating to continuous evolution on managing performance. We call this performance enablement. Our focus was on connecting the dots on the work that matters the most, the purpose and the roles of individuals to the growth and strategy of the organization. Followed by a continuous conversation which happens every single month between manager and the employee to check whether the goals are being achieved or there is a need to change the path. It enables managers to view the performance of employees with 12 different data points throughout the year.
The thread bearing this transformational journey was technology. It was a platform that enabled the success of the entire philosophy by allowing the people to track performance and give feedback in a simpler manner. Technology has brought simplicity as managers and employees can make the same transactions and take the same decision through phone, laptop or desktop. This is one of the most successful test cases.
Q. How did you create the stickiness and ensure that people have a continuous dialogue every month? What’s been the secret sauce of that success?
It was not an easy process. While technology makes the transformation more relaxed, at the end of the day it's all about getting the horse to the well. While making them drink the water is about self-motivation.
The way to create motivation is to recognize, compensate and most importantly design the way career paths were managed through this. A natural pull was created by connecting the rewards strategy with performance. Also, a 12 data point system helped the leaders in taking decisions a lot more objectively. The entire ecosystem has to be agile to adopt a process like performance enablement. And the success of this has been backed by technology.
For instance, it made it simpler and more straightforward as the dependence on roundtable or team meeting to recognize your employee was there any more. Managers digitally at any given point of time could send not only compliments but even monetary recognition or explicit recognition in the form of goodies of Coca-Cola to their colleague. For making a project like performance enablement a success, it does take a village, and each of these threads has enabled us in changing the culture.
Q. What are the key HR areas where technology and data are helping in driving productivity?
The automation of employees’ life cycle has enabled us to get human capital insights through data. Tools like workday, help us create not only a warehouse of multi-factor input but also help us see an end to end view of how we are doing as an organization at a workplace level. One of the biggest areas where we are utilizing and are working towards expanding our footprint on human capital analytics is salesforce effectiveness. This is being done by using all of the data points to ensure that our last mile salesforce is productive and efficient in their jobs.
Secondly, data is helping us in taking predictive views on trends in retention. Gone are the days when you could only be diagnostic and take a back end view of attrition. Today, various early warning signals have to be identified and decisions to retain your key talent have to be taken. Lastly, engagement is another field where we need to crack the code. Data insight can help us get the pulse of what needs to be measured, monitored and needs to be improved in the organization.
Q. Considering cost is short-term, and value is long term, how do you crack the code of cost vs. value? How do you evaluate technology?
One of the cornerstones of being a business leader is to have business acumen. The backbone of any business decision is to have some quantitative measure of the purpose relatability of what you are trying to solve with an ROI. Even if it's a five-year vision, there could be some key performance indicators of human capital which would help. Few questions to ask are: Is the technology sustainable? How much effort is going on implementation? How much will it ease the life of the associates? It is essential to ensure that all these technologies are integrated and converge to solve a common purpose of making the life of associates easier and their work simpler.