There is a scarcity of incredibly talented HR leaders in India

Dr. RASHEED M.A.  currently working as Head – Group Corporate HR with M/s My Home Group, Hyderabad, heading HR function of their Constructions, Education, Transport, and other allied Companies. Dr. Rasheed M.A. has over 25 years of professional experience and extensive background in the functional areas of all Strategic HR interventions, OD, Policy designing, Leadership Development, Succession Planning, and P&A, etc.

Alumni of IIMC and Ph.D. in “Employee Competencies to manage the Evolving Business Environment”.  He started his career with M/s Sterling Group, Chennai and later worked with major organizations like GMR Group, Lanco, Sureka Group as VP-HR and Aarvee Associates as Vice President – HR.

Dr. Rasheed is Recipient of many HR excellence awards. To name a few -

  • 40 MOST TALENTED HR LEADERS IN INDIA” conferred by ETNOW and World HRD Congress
  • Recipient of HR Leadership Award- (Manufacturing domain) conferred by IPE and Asia Pacific HRM Congress
  • One among 50 Best HR Leaders in Telangana State by IPE and HRD congress 2017
  • HR Manager of the year 2018 of Hyderabad Management Association from Vice President on India.

He addressed HR professionals in National and International Forums, and students across India including IIMs, Business Schools, IITs, NITs, Universities and Many Engineering Colleges.  

Thank you, Dr. Rasheed, for giving your valuable time to this interview. Your kindness is much appreciated. We look forward to your candid responses.

Let’s Start!!!

We would be pleased to learn about your professional journey from the beginning. So, please share with us about your first job interview. 

In 1995 after my PG in HR, I was working as an HR Intern at GMR Group’s manufacturing unit (manufacturing of High Carbon Ferro Chrome) in a remote place in Srikakulam District near Orissa Border. I saw an Employment Ad in a daily newspaper about Sterling Group’s plantation division’s need of HR Officer. I had applied by sending my profile duly typed in an electronic typewriter and posted it to their Head Quarters at Chennai.  Received a Telegram to attend an interview at Regional Head Quarters at Vizag in Feb 1995.  I cleared interviews of three rounds  and I got an offer letter on the same day. I joined them and worked there for four years and was promoted twice in a span of four years.  I always proudly mention that Sterling Group's experience is really worth to lay a strong foundation for my career in terms of great learning in all Core HR Activities.

Which, according to you was the most intriguing interview? Can you share your experience in detail? 

Though it was a big story to narrate, in abridged as ..My current role as Head of HR for Group Companies worth of Rs.5000 Cr., it was a new role created by the management to manage the growing business environment and bring in best in class HR practices and systems and procedures.  They interviewed a lot of highly experienced HR professionals. My meeting was scheduled with HR Consultants, Group Directors, and Chairman. However, I hadn’t prepared specifically in any manner as I felt my experience was enough to meet the expectations of interviewers. I could convince the interviewers without talking much but only bringing few facts on the table about my experience of GMR Group as to how we transformed by bringing best in class HR practices to attract the best talent,  how HR can act as Change Agent during evolving business environment and need of designing business-centric policies etc. to manage people and bring change in an overall change in the HR Management.  I got this offer and had taken the charge in April 2018.

As the first job holds a special memory, let’s discuss your first year at your first job. How was your experience? What were your expectations from your first job and your role? Were they all fulfilled? What didn’t coincide with your expectation? 

As rightly mentioned by you, the first job always plays a vital role in creating a platform for every professional.  As per my experience, the first four years of my experience in Sterling Group played an extraordinary role to learn many aspects of core HR initiatives.  For example, it is like a sowing a treated seed in highly fertile land for good germination and then transplanting in the mainland to grow as a healthy tree. The roots to go deeply to withstand for the longest period similarly, the initial learning helps us to stand as Strong Leaders in the profession.

Do you think workplace mentors and coaches play an important role in settling fresh graduates in their first job? How was your experience? 

As per my little understanding about Mentorship or Coaching in India, the culture of Mentorship and Coaching concepts in Indian organisations needs lots of improvement as Top Management is to take a strong stand on this to internalise and institutionalise this culture within the establishment. Many big establishments have initiated these models as they were unable to witness the desired results only due to lack of ownership in second-line leadership and effective implementation.

Organizational Culture is a key differentiator between successful and not so successful establishments? What determines the Organizational culture? What is the role of HR in creating culture?

As rightly mentioned by you, the establishment of culture always plays critical role in creating a great workplace and thereby leads to business success.

A strong culture is a common denominator among the most successful companies. All have synchronization at the top regarding cultural urgencies, and those values focus not on individuals but on the establishment and its goals. Frontrunners in popular companies live their cultures every day and go out of their way to connect their cultural individualities to employees as well as future new hires.

Equally, an unsuccessful culture can take down the establishment and its management. Disconnected employees, high income, poor client associations, and lower returns are examples of how the incorrect culture can destructively impact the bottom line.

Business Case

If an establishment's culture is going to progress the establishment's overall performance, the culture must provide a strategic reasonable advantage, and beliefs and values must be extensively shared and resolutely upheld. A robust culture can bring benefits such as improved trust and collaboration, fewer disagreements, and more competent decision-making. Culture also delivers a familiar control mechanism, a robust sense of identification with the establishment, and shared attentive among employees about what is important. Employees whose establishments have strongly demarcated cultures can also justify their behaviours at work because those behaviours appropriate the culture.

Establishment’s leaders play an active role in devising and nourishing establishment culture. If the managers themselves are not suitable in an establishment's culture, they often fail in their jobs or quit, due to misfit. Therefore, when establishments hire C-suite managers, these folks should have both the requisite skills and the ability to suitable into the business culture.

HR's Role

Culture plays a vital role in an establishment's success. Therefore, HR frontrunners and other members of the HR team should adopt a high-performance establishment culture. HR leaders are accountable for safeguarding culture management. For HR leaders to impact culture, they need to work with senior management to identify what the establishment culture should be. Tactical thinking and scheduling must extend beyond merely meeting business goals and emphasis should be more on an establishment's most respected asset-its people.

HR has been labelled as the "warden" of establishment culture. In carrying out this important role, all associates of the HR team should support build and achieve a solid culture by:

  • Being a role model for the establishment's beliefs.
  • Reinforcing values.
  • Providing continuous learning and training.
  • Sustaining reward and recognition systems.
  • Encouraging empowerment and teams.
  • Safeguarding that ethics are defined, understood, and practiced.
  • Enabling two-way communications and feedback channels.
  • Describe Job responsibilities and accountabilities.

For HR professionals to have any impact on culture, they must first have a thorough understanding of what culture is in a general sense and what their establishment's a specific culture is. At the genuine level, an establishment's culture is based on values derived from basic assumptions about the following: Human nature. Are people integrally good or bad, changeable, or undeniable, proactive or reactive?

Because culture is difficult to define, establishments may have trouble maintaining steadiness in their messages about culture. Employees may also find it difficult to identify and communicate about apparent cultural discrepancies.

Factors That Shape an Organization’s Culture - Establishment leaders often speak about the unusual environments of their corporation cultures, seeing their domains as special places to work. But establishments such as Disney and Nordstrom, which are well-known for their unique cultures, are rare.

Many cultures are not that diverse from one another. Even establishments in dissimilar trades such as manufacturing and healthcare tend to share a common core of cultural values.

What kind of soft skills does a fresh graduate need to get a career break and to be successful at the beginning of their career?

A fresh business-school graduate must possess extra-ordinary communication skills as primary requirement coupled with a good attitude and hunger for learning. He or she must be in a position to dedicate first four years as learning years and try to grab any opportunity comes to them instead of waiting for their choice. 

HR Challenges differs from industry to industry and also across the lifespan of an establishment. What are primary HR challenges you have noticed in a family-managed business?

Yes, there is a difference in HR challenges from Industry to Industry, for example, HR Challenges in IT Sector may not be the same for FMCG, Pharma, or any process industry and Infra/construction industry.  Whereas the question of HR Challenges in family-run business establishments, the promoters always think to drive the business in a policy-driven way whereas there is no such seriousness in the implementation part. Further, the trust factor is the biggest hurdle here.  As promoter never try to delegate the powers and empower the second level leaders to take decisions thereby delay in decision making is first and foremost HR Challenge.  Here we see responsibility without authority and partial empowerment creates hurdles to leadership positions.  With my experience in various family-run business establishments when the second generation takes over the business stewardship, we witnessed lots of transformations in business in terms of empowering HR Leadership and driving the business in a more professional way by making best-in-class policies and bringing talent to suit the business environment.

Have you ever been involved in the employment termination of your team-member? How did you prepare for the conversation?

Yes, whenever there is a need for separation on account disciplinary action, I initiated a number of such actions not only for my team members, on many occasions across the departments of my current and previous establishments.  I always aim to amicably approach the employee separation by convincing them to hand over their resignation letter instead of issuing any termination letter, issuing a termination order would be the last option to me as the issuance of termination letter may create problems to both parties is my strong opinion. According to me, “separation dialogue” is the biggest challenge and great learning for any HR professional.  Since handling separation dialogue is a sensitive issue, it needs to be tackled with more care and by exhibiting the utmost emotional intelligence without giving any scope for creating damage to the organizational interest or respective employee.  As an HR leader, I strongly believe that any employee of any establishment retains the memory of two experiences, one is the entry and another exit.  We must create both experiences as far as possible as good and he/she must carry in with a good note.

I select the separation dialogue in an isolated location giving no chance of permitting phones to either party.  I initiate the dialogue in such a way that the whole episode of misdeeds committed by the delinquent employee in a chronological way and convince him without wasting much time to prolong the discussions the benefit of resignation rather than receiving a termination letter.  I explicitly explain the damage of for his/her career if  they get termination letter and convince to submit the resignation letter.  However, any employees who commits or involve in any major criminal activity within the establishment is not at all tolerable and we deal with such cases by handing over the culprit to police and set an example in the establishment.

When we talk to fresh graduates and junior-level employees as well as non-HRs, they understand Employee Engagement as – Birthday Celebrations, Picnics, Diwali Rangoli, Christmas Celebrations, Cultural Day Celebrations, etc. Please help us understand what employee engagement is and why it is necessary? 

Absolutely agree with your point, many people carry a wrong notion that employee engagement means Birthday Celebrations, Picnics, Diwali Rangoli, Christmas Celebrations, Cultural Day Celebrations, etc. 

EE can be measured effectively that how much an employee fully engaged in the assigned role or how management can engage a particular employee more and more based on their competencies and abilities to do more, achieve more and contribute more to the establishment.  Most apt examples are engaging employees in creating low cost and no cost improvement projects for the benefit of the establishment like engaging employees in six sigma projects for process improvement, Quality circles for quality improvements, 5S workplace management and CFTs (Cross-functional teams) etc. Also, based on the skill set engaging him/her as an in-house trainer etc.

I have seen outstanding results by engaging employees in particular projects over and above their specified roles for the overall benefit of employees and employers.

What are the primary challenges of sharing interview feedback to candidates?

In my experience, I always prefer to communicate the feedback to candidates in a candid way thereby avoiding any confusion. We set a process that we invariably communicate the result of the meeting by giving reasons for not making an offer in an assertive way.

HR is at the crossroads, yet again. According to you, what will be the impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robots, etc. on the future of HR Function? Please also highlight how social media has changed the world of HR practitioners? 

As per my understanding, social media played a good role in reaching the communication to the target audience in the fastest manner.

Last question, what is your message for young and aspiring HR practitioners? What kind of growth opportunities should they look forward to? And, what are the key competencies one must possess to be successful in this profession?   

After attaining two and half decades of experience in the HR Profession in highly reputed establishments in India, I can strongly state that only one profession is in the highest demand in India in today’s scenario or down the line will be only one i.e. HR. The scarcity of incredibly talented HR leaders in India is always there and many establishments are always trying or rather struggling to identify RIGHT HR Leaders to lead their HR Function.   

If anyone checks any job portal or any top-notch HR Consulting establishment’s list of their open positions, one will find highest vacancies available in only one function and that is HR.

Thank you very much, Rasheed, for sharing wonderful insight. We appreciate it.

Previous PostSUCCESS of hire is not in the joining but the VALUE they bring to the table
Next PostEffective managers know how to provide frequent positive and constructive feedback
Leave a Comment