Cultures that foster employee development and growth give workers something to work toward and look forward to

Poulami is a computer science graduate who mastered the art of developing human resources and instrumental in resource management for garnering the bottom line and consequently top line. She is a versatile leader who has risen from managing various facets and verticals across industries and geographies. She is competent to lead the Learning & Development initiatives, who not only can relate and comprehend the challenges of every vertical but also strategically mitigate the adversity plaguing their development and productivity optimization. Discreet and adept in implementation and setting new yardstick on impact to bottom-line makes her invaluable.

An alumnus of XLRI-Jamshedpur, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Calcutta University & Indian Statistical Institute, Poulami heads Learning and Development department at Johnson Controls Hitachi Air – conditioning India Limited.

An invaluable asset and winner of multiple and exhaustive accolades.

Her grit and acumen are spoken highly by internal as well as the external customer of not only her current employer but all the previous resources she has shouldered with.

Thank you, Poulami, for giving your valuable time to this interview. 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.

My first Job interview was with multi-national bank. It was a campus interview. I still remember they had given us a paper to write and all 25 of us felt like we are appearing for a GRE exam. Then there was a brainstorming session and group discussion and personal interview too. I was one of the 3 who got selected for the company. The brainstorming session was quite interesting, and we had to come up with new ideas on “how to sell CASA”. It was the first time I heard about CASA which subsequently revealed as Current Account and Savings Account. Altogether, it was a quite enriching experience.

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 of your employer and your role? Were they all fulfilled? What didn’t coincide with your expectations?

It was not an exceptionally good experience as a management trainee in my first job, but it was equally challenging and educating. I had a lot of expectations from a well – known multinational bank as a management trainee. Though, I was thrown to face customers, cold calls, etc. on the first day itself without any formal or informal training, so I was petrified and confused and had to learn on my own. But if I look back then I could say that those initial days of life, taught me life’s lessons to survive in any hostile or new situation.

Why did you choose HR as a profession? What was the motive and what was the motivation?

HR is the only function that balances between the business and real human emotion. HR is a wholesome function of any organization which not only develop the fabric of human assets but helps all other functions to create business value through this asset. Effective HR strategy is always aligned with the business goal. So, I always consider myself as a “HR Business manager” rather than only HR Manager. This beautiful combination of business and emotion attracts me to be an HR professional.

COVID-19 has changed workplace dynamics in many ways. What has been your learnings during this phase? What permanent changes do you foresee at the workplace post-COVID-19?

COVID-19 proved again that human beings can survive in any situation. I could find that technology has become an integral part of our everyday functioning. You have to accept this change and expand your learning curve accordingly. I also think that for women Work from Home is sometimes become stressful as most of the time children and other family members depend on you for various issues.

So, when you are physically present at home you get pressurised to solve the problem at the same time while you are solving a business problem. So, creating awareness regarding the differentiation between LEAVE and WFH among family members, especially when you are having young children, is essential.

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

An organization’s culture defines the particular way to behave within the organization. This culture consists of shared beliefs and values established by the senior leadership and then cascaded and reinforced and ultimately shaping employee’s perceptions, behaviors, and reactions in a certain way. So, I would definitely agree that the OC is one of the key differentiators between successful and not so successful organization. Successful leaders always live their cultures every day and go out of their way to communicate their cultural identities to employees as well as the new hires. HR is definitely playing a critical role in this by communicating and reinforcing the belief and value system among employees.

What are the key factors that should be addressed in the design, conduct, and evaluation of training programs?

The key factor of any training program is to align the training strategy with the organization’s business and cultural goal. Each and every training should be designed in such a way that helps to create the business value either in short term or long term, irrespective of either it is a behavioral or functional training program. Training effectiveness should also be assessed through business outcomes like increase productivity etc. A training program can only be recognized as an effective one if it really adds values to the company’s top line or bottom line or reinforcing the culture which moves the organization ahead.

Technology will also play a critical role in conducting training program and we need to innovate the real engagement or blended learning method while the audiences are connected remotely.

Share an experience you had in dealing with a difficult person and how you handled the situation.

All through our life, we have to handle difficult persons. It may be your supervisor, your peer or your subordinate or a customer, or your close ones. I had or have to handle the same. Initial days I used to react emotionally and gave more preference to my perspective. With age I have learned how to respect other’s perspectives too. So now when I find a difficult person, I try to ignore my perception and be open to his/her perspective and then act accordingly. I am now more proactive rather than reactive and less judgemental. I have become more assertive and try to have a win-win solution with the difficult person, I presume.

Lastly, what is your message for fresh HR Graduates? How should they prepare themselves for a career in HR?

I would like to say to all fresh HR graduates to know more about the business you are in. Aligning your HR knowledge with business knowledge will make you the best combo offer for any organization. Make yourself relevant to the organization and create value with every small step or initiative you are taking forward. Try to understand human emotion through a non-judgemental perspective, which will make you a strong future HR leader.

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