Building the right culture should be the top priority: Jayakrishnan M, Director, CustomerXPs

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We spoke to Jayakrishnan M, Director and Head of HR, CustomerXPs about the culture at his workplace. “At a department level in HR, our motto is to make CustomerXPs the most desirable place to work in the coming years and all our actions are aligned towards that aim.” Read the full interview for more!

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

Innovative disruption is keeping your senses open to business and ideas. Encouraging free flow of thoughts is very essential here. As a leader one needs to be open to change and to counter view points; creating an environment where all the usual norms are questioned and challenged.

Encouraging stake holders to connect with their customers (external and internal) and understand how they can help improve each and every customer experience is one of the most crucial objectives. A leader has to demonstrate agility in real life, removing any apprehensions about their mission. Agility thus becomes a key factor if you are going to aim for innovation. While celebrating victory, it is equally important to celebrate the learning from failures and talk about it. Creating value-add in everything you do helps examine the longevity of the plan – the short or medium term. If it does not support the criteria it is meant for, it is time to re-evaluate and re-design while ensuring that it supports the long-term growth plans.

What are the strategies you employ to upskill your workforce?

One of the main steps we have initiated towards this is to encourage folks to take up self-learning, while supporting them with online tools for these academic pursuits. Gone are the days of annual calendar and class room trainings – traditional models like mentoring is used to encourage self-learning rather than guided training. We equip employees with the options to chart out personal road maps that align with business needs, and then promote internal talent who qualify for these requirements. 

For innovators like us, areas like AI and ML are already in our next gen skill set requirements and we have filled the key internal positions, fulfilled by the upskill practices initiated a year back. Coming to software tools, we are working with a tool that provides real-time hands-on experience in coding to prep the talent. These tools compliment the self-learning initiatives that employees take up and act as a good evaluation tool for them to check the progress. 

We also work with colleges to build a pipeline of fresh talent every year, identifying quality interns and putting them through the “on the job” learning programs during their final academic year which has helped us tremendously in building the talent pool.

How do you win at talent management? 

Key to winning talent management is identification of the right talent and then nurturing that very talent. Due to the sheer pressure of managing 450+ million accounts, our selection processes are stringent, both technical as well as soft skill competencies are heavily scrutinized at the initial shortlist itself. This ensures that each and every hire is aligned well to the business goals of the hiring department. Next step, nurturing the talent, so that the career road map is clear and customized to individual aspirations.

Recognition is practiced right from the leadership level, and line managers are encouraged to speak about achievements of individuals and teams on a regular basis. Fast tracking has also been effective here at CustomerXPs, when there was an unplanned opening at a senior level we consciously decided that we would not replace with lateral hire. Instead the leadership team invested in mentoring the next level and now we have folks successfully sharing the responsibility and managing the expectation for that particular role.  We are constantly reworking on our talent management practices, right from policies to practices. The idea is to have an agile system that is aligned to the business need of the hour. At a department level in HR, our motto is to make CustomerXPs the most desirable place to work in the coming years and all our actions are aligned towards that aim.

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

If an organization is looking at embracing innovation or disruption, the first thing that I would suggest is to take a hard look at your company’s culture. I firmly believe culture is the foundation for any organisation, in which the other pillars like innovation, people practice or business growth stands on. Success or failure of an organisation solely depends on this culture. An open culture encourages ideas and collaboration, making the organisation agile and able to align to fast changing business plans. Unlike traditional industries where policies safeguard the business interest, in a knowledge industry (like ours) the organisation culture is the most important factor that will decide the survival of the business in the long run.

In short, building the right culture should be the top priority for any business leader, to be effective and successful. Though this might be a difficult course correction for a large organisation, with the right effort put in, culture will be the game changer everywhere.

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

If technology has helped in every field it has touched, won’t it have the same benefits in talent management also? The whole trepidation is stemmed from the insecurity that technology will make the practitioner redundant, which is far from the reality. Right from the most routine of screening to on-boarding, to the most complex performance management practices; technology and tools are bringing insights like never before. Predictive analytics being the key to any business decision, has huge potential in the talent management system. 

Here again the software systems are today capable enough to do a prediction of recruitment trends, fulfilment of talent requirements, based on the most effective sourcing model. With bots taking over the day to day routine, HR queries are becoming common by the day. Not only is it giving the practitioner insights and perspectives, it is helping them find more time to focus on real value ads instead of running behind routine repetitive processes. It has an unlimited possibility going forward also, if you ask me. Today there are softwares in the market that can predict attrition from analyzing various parameters of an individual’s interaction within the organisation. Such a predictive input can change the way in which people look at attrition management. Learning is another area where the potential of technology has already started showing results. There is a whole new world of possibilities (that we never knew existed), that has been created in talent management due to the introduction of technology, the earlier we adopt and invest, the better the business gain.

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