HR Kuch kaam nahi karta hai. They hold our increments and promotions.
She is a state-level champion in Table Tennis and an expert in labour laws. She is Pradnya Gorde, an astute HR Leader with over a decade of experience across HR Function. She believes that “Continuous Learning” is a key to success. She is a Change Leader, Champion in HR Audits and well versed with best HR practices across industries. Thank you, Pradnya, for agreeing to do this interview for us. We believe that young graduates and HR aspirants will be able to pick few learning’s from your inspirational journey. Thank you.
We would be pleased to learn about your professional journey from the beginning. So, please share with us about your first job interview.
I started my professional journey as an HR coordinator in the hospitality industry with Le Royal Meridien, a five-star hotel. In search of jobs post MBA, I would apply through job portals, check out company’s websites, and newspapers and sometimes would personally distribute my resume at the receptions. I was thrilled when I received interview call from Le Royal Meridien. I was asked about my understanding of various theories and labour law acts, which I answered confidently. Then I was asked basic questions about competency mapping, the importance of HR in the organization, important highlights of PF, ESIC, Shops & Establishment act, etc.
I would like to suggest to all young aspirants to gain basic knowledge of labour laws and make sure that your understanding of theories is strong.
Mock interview practice will help you to build confidence.
Secondly, don’t stick to your curriculum only, read HR magazines like People matters which will give you insights into the corporate world. Develop your idea and creativity. HR is the best field wherein you can explore people management with strategy.
Which, according to you was the most intriguing interview? Can you share your experience in detail?
In my entire 14 years of my career, I have changed only 2 companies and currently working with Powerica Ltd. as HR Head.
In second company i.e. Central Depository Services (India) Ltd., I faced panel interview, wherein, Panel intrigued me on my work profile, key take away from the experience, what I had done proactively to change the processes which were employee friendly as well as befitting the Company Culture, case study, etc.
I believe my confidence, in-depth knowledge of my profile and rewards received in my earlier company helped me in selection.
To appear for this interview, I had noted down my work profile and against each job responsibility I had jotted down the related theory and then reviewed the importance of each task. This helped me to elucidate my profile in a more meaningful and elaborative manner.
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?
When I was in college, pursuing my professional education, we had been told that we would have to make lots of compromises when we start our career like we would be required to follow the boss’s instructions including personal work, we would have to do buttering if we want to grow in our career. There would be constant monitoring of our activities, which I have never witnessed in my entire career.
I hold special memories of my first job like my first year in college; new people, fresh mindset...zeal to do something new...vigour to practically implement my theoretical knowledge. It took me nearly two months to get completely acquainted with the culture, processes and work profile.
I was handling generalist profile wherein first I analyzed the areas of improvement of the HR Dept and collected feedback from each department to improve the particular processes, what were their expectations and then prepared a report and presented to my HOD. Thereafter, under my boss’s guidance, I changed the processes.
I have received many appreciations from my HOD as well as from other department heads. Twice I received ‘Employee of the Month’ award. My boss always motivated me to implement new processes, and I am still thankful to her for her continuous motivation and support.
However, my expectation from my first job was to have some kind of work-life balance, which was not happening due to the industry type.
Do you think workplace mentors and coaches play an important role in settling fresh graduates in their first job? How was your experience?
I believe that having mentors and coaches play an important role in settling in a new job. Mentor/Coaches not only help to release the anxiety and fear of job profile and workplace but also teach communication tactics, organization structure, hierarchy, workflow, etc. and guide to inculcate the real-life experience of the corporate world.
So nowadays, Companies are appointing Buddy (Peer/senior employee within the company) who acts as a mentor to appraise new employees with Company culture, rules & regulations and brings him/her at ease to perform in a productive manner.
You are an HR Practitioner for so many years. Could you please tell us why did you choose this profession? If not in HR, what another profession you would have chosen?
Frankly speaking, I entered this profession by a fluke. After graduation, when I was in a dilemma of what to do next, one of my friends suggested me about this profession. Thus, I appeared for the written test, GD, Personal interview along with her and cleared all the tests. So, sometimes I also get amazed when I look back and feel that I was meant to be an HR professional.
If not been in HR, I would have been a teacher as I love to work on potential development.
HR Head should focus on minimizing the cost.
Having worked in a leadership role, what do you think are the expectations of a CEO or the Management Team from its HR Function in general and HR Head in particular?
HR is no longer supportive function. CEO /Management Team expects following from the HR Dept/HR Head: -
Being non-revenue generating Dept., HR Head should focus on minimizing the cost by developing various strategies like reducing recruitment cost, developing a productive workforce, improving work culture, competitive & fair compensation policy, compliance-oriented.
HR head should work as a strategic partner...should contribute to the vision & value proposition of the Company. He/she should have product knowledge and accordingly focus on talent management, creating a learning organization, potential development, etc.
HR Head should frame fair policies beneficial to the employee as well as an employer so that everyone is clear what is expected from them. Continuous creation of awareness regarding health & safety, benefits, Performance management, grievance handling, compensation, etc. is MUST.
Detailed and accurate data of an employee’s life cycle plays an important role in implementing and transforming productive and positive culture
According to you, what are the key challenges of being a representative of employees as well as a representative of company management? What kind of conflicts you have faced and how did you manage to overcome them?
Key Challenge of being a representative of employees as well as a representative of company management is to build a TRUST OF CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT IN PROCESSES. HR really has to be on their toes to showcase their activities, since, people management processes do not show immediate output like other departments, finance, and marketing, does.
Common conflicts - HR KUCH KAAM NAHI KARTA, HOLDING OUR PROMOTIONS & INCREMENTS, NOT REVISING OUR SALARIES, ETC. ETC
But now, with the help of various HR tools & technology, people management is made easier.
Generally, detailed and accurate data of an employee’s life cycle plays an important role in implementing and transforming productive and positive culture. It boosts employees to perform better to achieve Organizational goal as well as personal growth.
Based on your experience, what are the FIVE essential traits every HR Professional must have?
I feel that every HR professional should have the following traits: -
Integrity: - Since HR professionals deal with confidential data of employees’, personal as well as professional details, it should be maintained and preserved with caution. Same applies to the Management side as well. Management team shares confidential data regarding finances, important decisions which cannot be disclosed immediately to the employees. Basically, an HR professional should be trustworthy.
Excellent Communicator: - HR professional plays a mediator role between Management & employees and hence communication between management and employees should be empathetically crystal clear. It should also be verified by doing follow up, whether the message which has to be communicated has reached to the employees, understood and converted into the action required.
HR Field Master: - HR professional should be well versed with the necessary knowledge to perform their duties. Knowledge of processes, labour compliances, current updates of the market is MUST.
Counselor/ Mentor: -To deal with different kinds of employees, their temperaments and to motivate those employees to achieve their goals are a herculean task. While doing this, one needs to be impartial & objective. Timely counsel and mentor help employees to focus on their productivity.
Continuous Learning: -One should develop self as well as help the company to develop its productivity by training and creating knowledge sharing sessions to keep employees engaged.
As an HR Leader with over a decade of work experience, what is your view on job eliminations?
According to me, there should be systemized human resource planning. Better Manpower planning ensures proper utilization of human resources. Planned strategies of recruitment and development always help the best fit between employees and jobs while avoiding manpower shortages or surpluses.
Besides HRP, the cycle of talent management leads to job elimination. However, one needs to consider before eliminating any employee. As a result of profile/talent mismatch, if we are eliminating any employee then, a fair chance should be given to such employees to put up their point of view for non-performance.
Please share an experience when you acted under pressure from your management or reporting manager even though you knew it was wrong and shouldn’t have been done?
I guess many HR professionals must have faced this dilemma, as we deal with different kinds of people across the levels.
Majorly such conflicts of interest happen at the time of the appraisal cycle. Since, in many companies, this process is subjective in nature, many talented employees do not get rewards as per their capabilities and contribution and this process becomes merely a routine and the purpose of developing employees are kept aside.
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?
I would like to see Young and HR Practitioners to be Unique. They should add their creativity, uniqueness in whatever work they handle and try to do the work differently.
Secondly, always remember - GROW AND HELP OTHERS GROW. When you help others in their development inter alia you will develop self.
We are in a very prestigious field wherein we are getting an opportunity to help Company and people GROW. So, grab that opportunity and convert it into the GOLD.
*This interview was originally published on www.sanjeevhimachali.org. [Date: 12th March 2019]