Article (April-2021)


HR leader should drive the organisation culture and encourage empathy

Monika Bawa

Designation : -   Director-Human Resources

Organization : -  Magic Bus India Foundation, Mumbai


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How do you define leadership in HR in the present environment?

MB In the present environment it is very important for the HR leader to have the required competency and mindset to be able to drive strategies, support organisation's new business initiatives and at the same time, ensure that the HR operational work is delivered immaculately. Thus, one needs to do away with old practices and adopt new.

1) Make use of technology; automate processes to create bandwidth to support the organisation in designing and implementing talent strategies required for business growth.

2) While there is a huge need to leverage technology, an HR leader has to keep the organisation humanized. This is important to ensure that the organisation values are well-looked-after.

3) One of the most critical focus points is to attract and retain talent.

4) Work towards inclusive work culture and ensure that employees clearly relate with the organisation's mission and values.

5) HR analytics: to have a data driven approach so that business decisions are taken basis HR analytics, evidence based thought process and not basis hunch.

According to you, what should be the competencies of a good HR Leader?

MB A clear purpose, determination and being value-centric provides the foundation to being a good HR Leader. It is important to understand that success is measured by one's contribution to others and by clearly leading the values and culture of the organisation.

The HR leader should have the expertise to motivate employees, be a good communicator, a good observer of human behaviour and be able to provide unbiased feedback. She/He must be a coach and a mentor to be able to resolve conflicts. She/he should be a problem solver, a cross functional collaborator and a good negotiator.

Above all, she/he has to be an action-oriented business partner with high integrity and transparency, besides having the skills to participate and communicate strategies with focus more at the organisational level than at the individual level.

How do you visualize the HR leadership role differently from what it was before 2020?

MB Like many organisations, our first priority too during the pandemic was employee health and safety; keep the organisation running and virtualisation of our core work in addition to ensuring that the employees are trained on the same. We, at Magic Bus, have realised that the next step is to be prepared with the outcome of the pandemic.

It is now important to engage differently with our staff, ensure that employees take pride in their role, and have the desired support of their managers and stay connected with the organisation's Mission, Vision and Values rather than just being happy and content. It's time to reinvent the workplace :

  • The first step is to lead the way i.e. to keep employees safe, keep the workplace safe and compliant. One needs to ensure that employees are engaged and maintain the culture of the organisation. Empathy is the mantra, to form more meaningful relationships with employees which will help continue to build a resilient workforce.
  • Next is to focus on retraining/re-skilling employees to meet workplace needs i.e. employee development has to be a continuous process and employees should be able to adapt to changes swiftly and be technology savvy.
  • Work from home/remote working being the new norm, we will have to ensure that employees continue to be productive. We follow a hybrid approach towards WFH i.e. be flexible and identify certain roles that can continue working remotely and roles that can be a mix of the two that is a combination of WFH/out of office facility. This will also mean that the emphasis has to be on different ways of engaging employees, maintain the organisation's culture and this becomes very critical for new joiners.
  • To provide for various different forums to seek feedback from our employees, conduct regular employee surveys, give employees the opportunity to speak up and be in the driver's seat and act accordingly.

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