Work-Life Balance is all about Time Management and Prioritization

Having spent 13 years of her professional life in Learning & development space has given Ketki, an exciting career where she learned a lot and developed a passion to support the business by developing their human capital. Ketki is skilled in organization development interventions, coaching, change management, leadership development, talent management, and assessment & development centers. She believes in empowering people through mindset transformation. Her passion has always been to add value to organizations and people and help them create a growth curve rooted in culture and values. Possessing a global outlook and cross-cultural perspective worked on global assignments with diverse teams.

Ketki is a Master in Business Administration (MBA) with a specialization in HR. She followed it with an advanced HRM from IIM Lucknow and certification in Training from ISTD (India society for Training & Development). She is also an L&D manager certified from Carlton University. Being from an L&D space she always wanted to be a trainer and hence created her own modules and got a TTT certificate from Suzlon academy to conduct behavioral programs. She is certified by DNV as an internal auditor for auditing the L&D process.

In her career, Ketki has worked in varied industries like the Energy sector, Automobiles, Banking service sectors, and Gas & Oil companies and has grown from a role of L&D coordinator to Head, India L&CD Department for a multinational organization.

Thank you, Ketki, for agreeing to do this interview with us. Kindly be as candid as you can.
Let’s Start!!!
How does the pandemic year affect you? What changes, professional and personal, does it bring into your life?

Well, as we all know this pandemic has affected the world and people in different ways. For some, it has been a blessing in terms of their business and for some, it is a disaster. Everyone around the world was forced to sit at home and work from home. I am sure for many it must have been like a dream come true but for some, it must not be as easy as we think. My entire professional life (last 13 years) I have always been working and so this pandemic when it was WFH, it was not easy for me. I like to keep my personal and professional life separate and with this new change they both were merged. So, it was not an easy change for me. But being an L&D expert, I know change is inevitable and I have to deal with this change. So, I started accepting it and planning my day - like a separate room for working, time of working, etc. This helped me focus on both the important parts of my life.

The personal change was - I was full-time at home which I was never before. I started enjoying the time at home which I never thought I would. And yes, I could give time to my twins which I never thought I would get. This also changed my thinking that “I can never work from home”, I started balancing work and home and I was happy and performing on both fronts well. So as days went this new normal sank into me and I started enjoying work and home.

COVID-19 exposed the unpreparedness of many in leadership teams. As a Talent Development Leader, how will you prepare future leaders to manage crises of this magnitude? What NEW LEADERSHIP COMPETENCIES will become necessary for the success of a leader?

Absolutely true. It was a challenging and new situation for the leaders. It was one of the greatest calamities which affected the whole world. Leaders were expected to find ways to unlearn and learn and adapt to the new normal. Leaders are expected to initiate transforming and institutionalizing change at different levels of the organization. During this time leaders need to respond to the psychological, physiological, and social challenges bought by this pandemic. Dealing with ambiguity is one of the important competencies today's leader needs, along with adapting to change, resilience to bounce back, the safety of the people is the most important. The leader should be quick in action and transparent in communication with empathy. We need people’s leaders in this situation than a taskmaster.

The new normal requires a new definition for work-life-balance. In your role, do you think work-from-home is a boon or a bane? What were the new lessons you learned about work-life balance?

Well, I think more than WFH, I feel flexible working hours/days, is the thing that will be a boon. We have to come out of the traditional mindset that work can happen only in the office but that does not mean that we all work from home forever. It also differs from industry to industry and generation to generation. There are certain industries where the WFH option cannot work at all. WFH for a millennial is very different than for a person who is from Gen Y.

So, there we have to see what best we can design to create a good work-life balance that benefits organizations and employees.

For me, work-life balance has always been an individual thing, as a working professional, it is in my hands to make sure I have a work-life balance. There will be a situation where you will have to give priorities - to work sometimes and to personal life other times and there is nothing wrong with it. Be your own designer and design your life the way you want, it’s not easy but we should try.

“TRUST” plays an important role in the success of a team, more so in a virtual environment (work-from-home). In your experiences, what Team Leaders are doing differently to develop and sustain trust among team-players?

Last year, we have seen that while most of us were working from home, the quality of work did not hamper anywhere, this has dissolved geographical limitations. In fact, employees were happier. For this, all we had to do is to TRUST our people and the systems (digitalization). This is a sign of a growing culture, a mature culture.

I have seen the leaders doing the following with their team – keeping the purpose, goals relevant, build commitment and confidence, relationship management, create belonging and inclusive culture in teams, Ownership, and accountability, transparent communication, and delegation for work.

Lastly, what you see HR Leaders doing 10-years hence? How will their role transform? What will they START Doing, STOP Doing, and CONTINUE doing?

HR has evolved over the period and they are strategic business partners now, CHRO’s are included in making business strategies. HR also collaborates to prepare a short-term and long-term business strategy. Coming years there will be a major shift in HR competencies. They will be involved in strategic planning exercises where they will need to have analytics competency and aptitude for research. Data and AI will play a big role to shape the future of HR, where HR chatbots will be a vital part. Hence, technology-savvy HR professionals will gain preference. Diversity, inclusion, and belonging will be an area where HR will have to re-evaluate and design practices. Generalist roles may cease and the focus on expertise roles will be more. HR should stop being transactional and should start focusing on strategy and continue to be a people’s area of focus.

Thank you, Ketki, for sharing your insights and experiences. We appreciate your time.
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