A lot is said, and a lot will be said about the new normal or as I term it “the new abnormal”, post-Covid. Behaviors and actions of individuals will be judged basis their ability to adapt and respond to the situation, while others will be in the judgement seat. But in my perspective, what will set the tone for the future of business is the amicability between work, workforce and workplace.
In my three decades of HR experience, I have learnt a lot from my peers, seniors, team and ecosystem at large. What has stayed with me necessarily are the 7 HR Mantras which have helped me and am sure will help each one of us navigate our lives, professionally and personally.
- Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts: COVID 19 pandemic has been the most unprecedented disruption that we have seen in our lifetime. Never has the world been so massively impacted by a single event, which started as a health crisis and snowballed into an economic crisis. Every organization has had to re-imagine, re-engineer and re-haul their work, workplace and workforce. At the Times Group, we focused on business continuity while being empathetic to the workforce sentiments and their health and safety. Even before the crisis struck home, we adopted a three-pronged approach. Through focused “Tool-set” interventions, we ensured work continuity by providing necessary support, infrastructure and resources for employees to be productive, especially as they adapted to the "new ways of remote working". Through Skill-set interventions, we created a virtual learning & engagement ecosystem so that one could learn, engage, be aware and be appreciated. Subject Matter Experts conducted LIVE sessions ranging from financial planning to ways to keep self and family safe, as part of the Masterclass series. Through focused mind-set interventions, we consciously focused on the well-being of every individual with an intent to upward drive the wellness quotient through multiple health and fitness initiatives. We preempted and proactively launched the "We Care" initiative to address concerns that may have germinated in an individual's mind due to the current circumstances. "Free on-call" access to Clinical Psychologists and Certified Counsellors helped employees and their families deal with questions related to depression, anxiety and much more in absolute confidence. We haven’t continuing our journey and are consistently looking at ways and means to ensure that each stopover serves as a milestone in the long road ahead.
- Agility is the ability to adapt and respond to change. Agile organizations and agile individuals view that as an opportunity and not a threat. – As more employees and students started working remotely in response to the spread of COVID-19, Google decided to do its part by helping each individual stay connected and productive. They made the premium version of Hangouts free so that distributed teams could work effectively and efficiently. I don’t believe there is a better example of an organization quickly adapting and responding to change. They surely saw the current situation as an opportunity to extend their reach and strengthen their brand in the mind of consumers.
- Learn consistently and continuously as there is “always that one more thing which you can learn” as shared by Steve Jobs - Pankaj Chaddah and Deepinder Goyal, the master brains behind Zomato, great food delivery application. While working in their office, they witnessed people standing in queues to get a hold of the menu card. They launched Foodiebay and soon became the largest aggregator of restaurants. Eventually, they re-branded themselves as Zomato and based on consumer preferences, and behavior continue their “learning journey” by constantly re-inventing and re-innovating.
Today as safety and security has become essential for each of their consumer, who still wants to order in, Zomato team understood, learnt and implemented “Max Safety” option in their app. As a result, the consumers started ordering in from the restaurants tagged as “Max Safety” thereby positively impacting business as the first mover advantage. I am personally excited about their ability to constantly learn and implement quickly to ensure “delight for their consumers.”
- Leadership is never about just being a Leader but its more about navigating the path for others. – Mylab Solutions, founded in 2012 and based out of Pune ensured that 10 scientists worked extensively and confidently to develop the first test kit for Covid 19. Earlier these kits were being imported and took 7 hours to diagnose a patient. But Minal Dhakave Bhonsle led the team and finally submitted the proposal to CDSCO (Central Drugs Standard Control Organization) for commercial approval an hour before being escorted to the hospital for her delivery. These new kits, cost effective and time saving, helped diagnose patients in two and half hours. Minal truly led the team to success, an example of a true Leader.
- Confidence comes naturally with success, but success comes to those who are confident about their actions. – Uber was quick enough to gauge the situation and pitch in with the right product at the right time – safety of the consumer while travelling. They extensively empathized with the consumers and extended support by committing their technology, access, and agile customer service. Digital marketing and communication was extensively utilised to highlight safety measures and commitment towards customer safety and more importantly their convenience. They are delivering confidently through their actions resulting in customer delight.
- It is neither the strongest nor the most intelligent that survive. It is usually the one who adapts faster – Virtual is the way ahead at least in the “new abnormal”. As soon as the Fitness focus organizations accepted the reality, they adapted and went virtual with the help of technology. Target nudges, sleep patterns, performance scale of 1 to 10 and customized programs activated to ensure customized workout tracker on all aspects of fitness based on individual needs. There are several organizations who have grown phenomenally and are intelligently navigating the new abnormal.
- Innovation is key, and it mostly is a better way to do things. Align Purpose to it and Bingo! - There is no better way than to explain with a relatable example. We all have heard about Airbnb, their emergence and how they established themselves. Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia realized that they could make a quick buck by renting out an air mattress in their living room to people visiting San Francisco for a big conference. Their firm belief evolved into an idea, and they created a website where globe trotters and travelers could avail a cheaper option than a hotel. Their ability to consistently learn from their consumers feedback enabled them to keep improving their offers, features, thus adding more and more loyal customers to their already existing pool. Their undying intent to “excel in experience”, agility and speed to enable features which would create “moments of delight” and thus convert one-time users to loyal customers, are some great examples of their intent. Smartly they leveraged Craigslist to drive traffic and listings on their site. They not only identified individual passion but more importantly aligned it to the larger Purpose. With everyone working independently yet collaboratively, they created significant value for the organization. Today they may be going through a tough time, but because of their ability to innovate and think on their feet, I won’t be surprised as they emerge stronger and steadier.
The relentless pursuit of excellence sometimes makes us forgetful of our learnings, especially in today’s times. However, the key is to ensure that while you focus on the fish eye like Arjuna, you also are aware of the constant change in your ecosystem and quickly adapt to it. Coz adaptability and agility are two sides of the coin and no more a choice but “need of the hour”.
"Great organizations don’t see people as a commodity to be managed to help grow their money, they think of money as a commodity to be managed to help grow their people"