Live your passion, stretch yourself with challenges

Nida Khanam is a Human Resource professional with 16+ years of rich experience in generalist affairs, talent acquisition, organizational development, talent management, compensation and benefits, performance management, and strategic business partnering. She is instrumental in establishing HR practices and framework from scratch to mature HR functions to enable business results. She is currently practicing as Executive and Leadership coach (NLI). In the past, she has worked as Head HR for an MNC managing the HR function for India Business and as Head HR-Corporate for Jindal Stainless Ltd.

Q. What changes do you notice in the role of an HR now from the time when you entered this field?

There has been a substantial and dramatic evolution in the past decade, shaped by factors that including technological advances and a new generation of workers with the competitiveness to What the profession has achieved, at least in many circles, is nothing short of a rise from insignificance to imperative role. HR has moved from back seat of transactional support to the business enabler and strategic partner.

Q. You have been instrumental in establishing HR function in organizations from scratch to developing them big in your endeavors. Please share your experience and satisfaction?

Thanks for asking me this question. When I chose HR as a profession, I never knew it would be a journey full of challenges along with excitement leading to satisfaction. Challenge is always offset by opportunity, and my journey has been with the continuous learning mindset as HR has really evolved and became integral part of any organization. The experience of establishing HR systems and processes from scratch to working on initiatives which led Business growth has been phenomenal.

Q. How would you define organization culture? What role does HR play in maintaining this?

Unique to each organization, culture has many drivers, such as the organization’s leadership or the product or service produced. Organization culture is a reflection of the core values followed at a workplace. The ideology of an organization is what constitutes its work culture and emotional interface defining the ability of the leadership and employees to relate to each other.

HR has to be instrumental in creating & establishing a culture that reflects truly employer of choice culture. HR must first clearly understand the purpose of the organization and then work towards defining the culture. An identifiable culture attracts employees, gives them a sense of purpose and offers a basis for participation in decision-making.

Q. Generally, what are the short term and long-term objectives of HR?

HR has to be aligned by all means with Business and vision of the organization at large. Prime objective of HR function is to balance the needs and goals of both the company and the employees. HR strategies can also indirectly affect the organization's profitability, as the company workforce is one of the most important assets that drives a company's success. The ability to maintain good human relations in the company can positively impact the employees' efficiency and consequently the bigger goals of the organization. Goals have to be managing internal customer satisfaction, employees’ benefits, administrative support, engagement, however, HR has to balance long term objectives which revolves around attracting best suited talent for their organization, retention, development, succession planning, etc.

Q. What is the current leadership training programme practiced by organizations in India?

Indian organisation’s face fast-growing economy unique leader development challenges which needs customised and tailor-made solutions. Programs which are scalable, creatively innovate practices which can show the ROI to the business and individuals. Organizations have been developing individual leader competencies, ignoring the challenge of transforming their leader’s mind-set from one level to the next. Most of our organisations have leaders moving from technical roles to leadership roles. Leadership development is not limited now to group programmes, but focuses on the individual development and strengths.  Many organisations are focussing on individual and group executive coaching with cross-functional approaches. The focus is to move the shift from fixed mindset to growth mindset.

Q. How effectively can HR collaborate with other company departments to drive overall growth? What is your experience in this regard?

HR has always been perceived as solo function, but the need is to collaborate with all other internal departments and diverse stakeholders to result in driving business objectives. Gone are the days when HR was thought to be backend support function, but today HR has a collaborative advantage to directly align to business objectives.

My personal experience is that in today’s world, communication and collaboration is core to HR functions. I also feel that mostly HR driven initiatives, though critical for organization as it directly concerns with Employees at large and their retention, development, hiring and employer branding, still need lots of perseverance and resilience along with having robust strategies and goals. Effective collaboration and communication help all HR functions to not only attract and retain best talent but also drive performance.

Q. How can the HR role contribute to business success of an organization?

HR contributes by understanding how to invest in the company’s talent across functions and programmes and initiatives to grow talent and result in the best return for the company. If I have to describe the contribution in simplest language then it starts from establishing right practices for the employees from their start till seperation. Employees are the brand ambassador and if they become your spokesperson, half the goal is achieved. HR should build a culture of values, culture of learning and culture of engagement.

Q. How can you best measure the success of HR? What KPIs have you found useful?

HR success has to be best measured by working on best returns connecting with organizational goals. KPI’s have to be quantifiable by means of showing results. In my experience the all KPI’s which connect to bigger and smaller organizational vision are useful. Employee productivity, Employee turnover, Employee engagement level, time & cost to hire, ROI of L&D programmes.

Q. What, according to you, has been your most significant contribution in an HR role?

I am still in learning phase and would want to continue learning. In my perspective my contribution which I have made is positive relationships, developing teams, open communication culture and most importantly culture of coaching and feed forward.

Q. What is your suggestion for the aspirants in the HR field?

My suggestion would be to live your passion. Don’t just be in your comfort zone but stretch, challenge and connect with your stakeholders, internal customers. Don’t just copy best practices but work on need and align with business.

Nida Khanam

Senior HR professional & Leadership Coach

*This interview was originally published on [Date: 3rd April 2018]

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