Interview with Ritesh Agrawal, Vice President HR, Microland

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Ritesh Agrawal, Vice President- HR, Microland talks about how their organisation makes use of a customised 360 feedback tool to build self awareness and consequently, individual development plans.

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

Constant innovation comes naturally to us as an organisation, as we have kept transforming ourselves over and over again. Sometimes much ahead of time, disrupting ourselves pro-actively and setting an example for others to follow. I believe that as leaders it is our responsibility that we demonstrate a whole hearted embrace of  innovation by encouraging our teams to sign up for something new and ‘never tried before’ projects, recognise and reward such colleagues, efforts and even their failures if need be, and truly embed this element into company culture. We have an espoused value called intrapreneurship which exactly sets out to do so.

What are the strategies you employ to upskill your workforce?

We have put together a well-thought through ‘talent-segment’ and ’employee life cycle phase’ specific development approach, aimed at fulfilling the needs of the employee and the organisation. We use a variety of development vehicles, ranging from a robust Learning Management Platform hosted eLearning nuggets, class-room programs, hybrid learning boot-camps on specific Technologies and certification programs to the new-age social learning and simulation based experiential learning programs. On behavioural/ leadership upskilling front, we have a spate of short duration programs delivered through internal and external trainers. We also make use of a customised 360 feedback tool to build self awareness and consequently, individual development plans. We have devised several bespoke leadership development interventions in form of three to six month long development journeys for first time Managers as well as mid and senior career level colleagues.

How do you win at talent management? 

Talent Management is one of the most strategically important functions on HR team’s charter. Over the years, we have evolved our approach to Talent Management in such a manner that it remains holistic, yet simplistic. The ultimate objective of any effective Talent Management system is to ensure a healthy talent bench strength for the key roles. We have re-oriented our approach towards the same, drawing up elaborate succession slates for key positions and periodically reviewing/ refreshing the same, with focus on systematically nurturing talent from within. We encourage our talent to take up different and bigger roles every few years, and this helps us widen and deepen our talent bench strength. Our Talent Management initiatives are owned and led by our leaders and ably supported by HR team.

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

There is a management axiom that says, ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast’ and I, for one, completely agree with this. An organisation’s culture, sitting on a bedrock of its strongly held values, can make or mar its intended business objectives, the efficiency aspect being just one part of it.

We have clearly defined and institutionalised ‘Leadership qualities’ that all our leaders are expected to exhibit. ‘Execution excellence’ and ‘Customer centricity’ are our top two collective talent strengths (leadership behaviours) as a recent talent assessment scan revealed. This in itself, speaks volumes about how one can define, shape and guide an organisation’s culture, top down, resulting in realisation of desired outcomes.

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

Absolutely. Technology is bringing about a huge change, and brings about a much-desired and welcome relief to HR professionals, in terms of how they can approach, manage and spearhead Talent Management in their respective organisations. First and foremost, it is the ease of collecting, accessing, reporting and controlling talent profile data, with insightful summary dashboards, that has been possible due to technology- bespoke talent platforms, Microsites and Apps. Second, virtual assessment centres offer an unprecedented ease for a large scale assessment of geographically dispersed talent in a short time window. Third, the seismic developments in the domain of online learning- both in terms of quality of content as well as ease of consumption, have made it possible for organisations to truly give the reins of one’s development in the hands of the talent, with a charted out path, which is a huge plus.

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