War of talent is over and talent has already won it: Richa Telang, Global Head HR, Litmus7

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According to  Richa Telang, Global head HR, Litmus7, gone are the days when employees used to quit because of managers rather they now quit or join for culture. Read the full interview for her insights on how employee experience directly effects customer experience. 

What are the steps you take as a leader to embrace innovative disruption?

We have built a landscape where our people can learn and understand how their job has meaning for the organization and for society, beyond earning a salary and making a profit for the business. 

We are audacious bunch of people and our charter is to revolutionize not just the world of retail technology but also the future where the fundamentals of retail would seize to exist. We call that point as ‘Retail Singularity’ and we are the pioneers in defining that future automatically. This brings a sense of pride and purpose in our people. One of the differentiators that make us enviable is our technology leadership. We have singularity hubs and Digital Revenue accelerators across the globe that focus on technology innovation and adding revenue to our client’s business. Israel Retail Singularity hub, is behind asserting and also pioneering the product development critical platforms and solutions. The key to this technology leadership is our investment in innovation, research and development.

We pride ourselves not only as a technology oriented organization but also one with a heart that focuses on the development of the next generation. One key is Retail academy. Which is preparing future generations to revolutionize retail.

On talent side, we are fearlessly unconventional. Instead of regular employee engagement program owned by HR, we believe in giving “power to people”. We run a CLUB culture and RIVER councils. Leadership team sets the direction and rhythm but drivers are really our people. They are self-inspired. That means our people drive this company, they manage themselves and live the vision of Litmus7. CLUB CEO (President) have their own budget and a point system. Club defines its own life, imperatives and rules. They also significantly contribute in growth, sustainability, culture, well-being & happiness of Litmus7.

We also don’t do appraisals because we believe it is a distraction. We’d rather channelize our people’s energy into constructive progress. Our belief is that once you take away layers of manager-reportee relationship, you actually get people’s heart to drive performance that eventually drives company upwards and onwards.

What are the strategies you employ to upskill your workforce?

Quality is imperative, and a defined way to achieve that is to continuously learn, develop and improve.

The career and personal development philosophy is really a shared partnership between the employee, the leader and Litmus7. Investment in employees is critical because it makes good business sense and also encourages people to keep evolving and challenging themselves.

We believe employees who work in a positive career development environment and feel they have good career opportunities are more engaged in their work, more productive and less likely to leave.

Another philosophy which helps us drive our development efforts and run our programs is the 70:20:10 learning principles.

70%–> Experiential learning on the job

20%–> Learning from relationship

10%–> Formal training, development and educational programs

Additionally, our career paths are ala-carte based where our employees can decide to be what they want in the company. Choose a role and build a plan to get there. We don’t follow traditional hierarchy based progression where just the titles change and you eventually do the same role. We have clearly defined KPI’s and competencies needed for each role and our employees can build their career path to earn that role

As a technology player we have attracted many of the best and brightest in their fields. As a result, employees regularly interact and collaborate with highly educated and experienced business and technology leaders. In fact, in most cases, some of the busiest places, throughout each working day are the cafeterias and corridors! They are often brimming with employees meetings, debates and discussions.

Download your copy of Winners Circle to read insights from top HR leaders like Richa on talent management lifecycle and upskilling ‘for the win’ now!

How do you win at talent management? 

If you don’t have ‘management’ as a word in your dictionary and rather focus on building a single point agenda to inspire and provide opportunities than the long lasting debate is over. The only strategy that works in winning in the era of talent management is, “Just don’t manage rather empower and focus on building a culture. People will manage themselves”.

It is critical for HR practioners to let go of fancy models of talent management and take this concept more as an ‘art’ than ‘science’.

Talent management is best done when as owner of human capital you relentlessly try and build a place where every individual a) is the custodian of culture b) can identify opportunities, biases, deviation good or bad c) empowered to bring about the change, define opportunities to do high end work d) where it doesn’t matter who you are but you have a skin in the game basis your skill and not experience e) where you can define and control your own performance measure and have an opportunity to be an entrepreneur yourself and have freedom to operate.

In a nutshell focus needs to be not on finding success rather en environment where you can define your own path than talent is automatically managed!

What role do you think culture plays in increasing efficiency at work?

“War of talent is over and talent has already won it”, this is not just my favorite phrase but also the reality of thriving in today’s ecosystem. Gone are the days when employees used to quit because of managers rather they now quit or join for culture.

Therefore, its critical that we treat our employees the way we treat our customers because customer experience is directly proportionate to employee experience.

It is even more important to create a corporate brand and personality that is based on a strong Employer Value Proposition (EVP) and a clear ‘promise to talent’. It needs to be sticky, crisp, a single minded thought, that is strong that drives attraction and retention.

The key here is amplification and the way culture is understood. It’s not just HR’s imperative, there is dependency on each and every individual on the interpretation and display of cultural attributes and hence its much trickier than it sounds. If I have to draw a parallel, it just resonates with this analogy “If you have any touch point with a customer you already own sales”, similarly “if you have any touch point with employees you are building a ‘culture’. It can be a make or break!

In a simple algorithm, this is how it goes to build an authentic culture code and a strong org credibility:

CX (Customer Experience) = EX (Employee Experience)

EX (Employee Experience) >= EVP (Employer Value Proposition “your promise to talent”)

Amplified EVP (Employer value proposition) → Talent Brand (what people are feeling, sharing and talking about you internally & externally about you  as a place to work)

If you crack this, you end up building a great culture, a great business and happy customers.

What role do you think technology plays in talent management? How can technology bring about a change in the talent management lifecycle?

My belief is talent management is a flawed concept if not looked at along with organization’s philosophy. If you get the culture right, everything else is noise, or rather to put this differently- effective talent management is an outcome of building and sustaining a culture that inspires.

Technology today is not just key for talent management but in the entire people lifecycle. Just like any other function if you don’t embrace technology in talent management you are bound to hit a roadblock of scalability and effectiveness.

Technology in my opinion needs to be embraced in following ways:

  1. Making basic work experience of talent (Past, present & potential) better at every touch point of entire employee life cycle.
  2. Getting the real pulse on the floor through data and analytics
  3. Building metrics and measurement to drive right & thoughtful people decisions
  4. Promote employee advocacy by converting employees as ambassadors

This is an emerging theme and I feel that with emergence of disruptive and new age technologies and functional understanding, it’s just a matter of time where talent management would become personalized and data driven for both employees and HR teams.

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