Connect with us

Business

‘Leaders must take care of their people in this pandemic’

Published

on

Excerpts from a virtual interview

By Dinesh Weerakkody

Celebrated HR Guru Prof. Dave Ulrich who has helped shape modern HR in this interview emphasizes the fact that leaders must learn to harness uncertainty to be able to help countries and organizations to prosper in the unknowable new normal.Prof. Ulrich has consulted and done research with over half of the Fortune 200 companies and worked in over 80 countries.

Dave, It’s a long time since I’ve seen and spoken to you. What has changed since we last met?

Much has changed and until January 2020 the world was moving along and then in January the corona crisis hit and the entire world went through dramatic change overnight.

The global pandemic has heightened HR’s relevance to business. In this context, what should HR be doing to help people and organizations deliver increased value and what are the new practices that will emerge post crisis?

Let me lay out HR’s value creation with three very simple insights. No. 1, we have to create and capture value for others. The goal of HR is to create value for our employees, for our organizations, for our customers, for our investors and for our communities. So HR’s number one issue is to continue to create value both inside and outside the firm. No. 2, to create value to all stakeholders, HR must deliver great people, organizations, and leadership. No. 3, HR has to continue to reinvent itself, through digital HR, through technology, through analytics. In brief, HR’s agenda is to create value outside into all stakeholders, through talent, organization and leadership and by transforming HR .

What has been the impact of the pandemic on HR skills and competencies? What new skills will HR professionals need to develop post pandemic?

We have studied HR competencies for 30 years, through 7 rounds of research and we are now starting the 8th round. As we look ahead, we envision five HR competencies that we think will have an impact. No 1- is information asymmetry, or learning how to source information in this new world even when working virtually. . Number 2- is being able to separate signal and noise. In this world there is a lot of noise, as evidenced with a lot of activity, emails, ideas, and books. How do we sift important signals that matter from this noise, particularly around emotional wellbeing. Therefore the challenges are ;No. 1 information asymmetry. No. 2 separating noise from signal and No. 3. beginning to build integrated solutions, it’s not isolated staffing, training & compensation initiatives, HR needs to integrate these specialists activities into integrated solutions. . No; 4 is social responsibility and Citizenship. HR now needs to be much more aware of and connected to social responsibility.. No; 5 is guidance. HR should access information that offers guidances. It’s not enough to just describe an organization practices- like culture. We should be specific about the “right” culture, given the situation. Those are the 5 skills we are studying and we want to find out how they deliver value to stakeholders. Information asymmetry, separating noise from signal, managing social responsibility and corporate citizenship , integrated solutions and then organisation guidance.

What has technology really done to empower engagement in this crisis?

Technology, like almost everything else, offers good news and bad news. The good news is that technology enables digital information that supports good decision making. The bad news is that technology can be used to distance people form each other. We have seen 4 phases of digital affecting HR. The first phase of digital HR, is efficiency. So technology allows us to be more efficient to do learning or staffing or compensation efficiently. The second phase is innovation. Josh Berson who is the expert in this area said there are 2,700 new digital HR apps, some of which are good and some are silly. The next (3rd) phase of HR digital that is coming is information guidance. How do we use digital to tell us more of what we do? It’s no longer enough to do a best practice. We have to do a practice that creates an impact on key results. Then, the fourth phase, is experience or connection which is where I think HR needs to focus in this pandemic. Technology should enable us, one- to be more efficient, two- to innovate, three for information management and four to have a better experience and that’s where I think we are heading with technology.

Moving on, today what would HR look like in the new economy?

When people tell you that they know the new normal. My advice to you is turn around and run. I don’t know what the new normal is? I think we live in a world full of uncertainty and our job in HR is to harness that uncertainty. Our message should be; don’t be threatened by the uncertainty, but to discover the opportunity in it.Out of the uncertainty that comes from this crisis will emerge a whole new way to behave and do things. These new behaviors must focus on creating value for all stakeholders. Number two, HR will have to add greater value to the people, organization and leadership. Number three, HR will have to reinvent HR, through transforming the HR department, offering integrated HR solutions, and upgrading HR professionals. HR leaders unlike ever before are expected to help their people and organizations navigate this crisis.

What will the new world of work look like post covid?

I think we’re going to see a new ecosystem where and how we work; I think we used to worry about where we work. When I get up in the morning, I go to work, I’m at work and I go home from work. I think that’s gone, or less likely. For example – I could be in my condominium, my office, my car, a coffee shop, or a hotel. No matter where we work we have to be connected through our shared values, and the boundaries of work are not physical, the boundaries of work are the values we share that create value for our customer. So the boundaries of work are shifting from ‘place’ to ‘values’. This means that no matter where one works there are expectations that shape the boundaries of work. These expectations are about the value created for the customer.

What type of skills will disappear in the next two or three years?

I don’t think skills simply disappear, they build on each other. For example, the skill of connection is going to evolve. It is not going to be connection face to face, I think it’s going to be virtually. How do you and I connect even though we’re 12 hours apart? Your night time, my morning even though we’re in different places, but I can still begin to feel that connection, so the reskilling is building on the past. That is, we still set KPIs and goals, but virtually. We communicate, we communicate virtually. Therefore we will build on the skills that we’ve learned in the past.

What are the three things that HR can do to deliver value to a CEO in this crisis?

Take care of your people. Help them feel emotionally cared for by showing empathy. Caring for them can create a great organization that serves customers. Talent, organization and leadership can all of which serve customers. For example, many have said our people are our most important asset, and I think it needs to evolve to our people are our customers’ most important asset. Do our people do what our customers want? Our culture is the identity of our firm in the marketplace. Our leaders must have the competencies that create value for our customers. Everything we do in HR, talent, organization and leadership should create value in the marketplace.

You talked a lot about the organization guidance system (OGS). Tell us a little bit more about this and how can we make use of OGS?

We have found that organizations are spending about 1% of their annual revenue on people and organization initiatives in talent, leadership, capability, and HR, but they are not clear about how to optimize these investments to deliver results. The guidance system will provide answers to questions like: What talent, leadership, organization, and HR initiatives will have the most impact on employee, business, customer, investor, and community result? To answer this question, we can build on decades of research to guide people and organization initiatives that deliver results. Our work shows 5 outcomes -employee, business, customers, financial, and community and there are 36 initiatives, which equal 180 cells (5 outcomes * 36 intiatives). Business and HR leaders need to know which of these 180 cells they should invest in. Simply go to www.rb.ai and take the short survey for each pathway to get a free report on where to focus to deliver key results. This report offers invaluable guidance on where to priorities your people and organization initiatives.

Dave, finally what is your message to CEOs of Sri Lanka?

I’m going to give the same message to the CEOs that I would to all HR and other professionals; here’s my answer to CEOs in Sri Lanka and to others, the best year of your life is the next 12 months. The best is yet ahead. Sri Lanka has a history of resilience and success, of continually rebounding and coming back. My friends and CEOs, my friends in business, my friends in HR, the best is yet ahead, the next 12 months will be the best ever.



Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Business

StrEdge calls for SMART restructuring of businesses

Published

on

In a climate of unprecedented economic challenges, restructuring of businesses, from public enterprises to SMEs is critical, says the leadership of the StrEdge Group of Companies. In a press statement, StrEdge Group, which is a cluster of home-grown enterprises covering consultancy in Processes, People, Finance and Technology, notes that Business Process Reengineering (BPR), Human Resource Restructuring, Financial Restructuring and Automation are crucial not merely to support rebuilding the country but also from a long-term sustainability perspective.

“Multi-dimensional restructuring is a prudent and a tested method to come out of the difficult circumstances the entire country is facing right now.  This will create results in national interest if all can adopt SMART methodologies, from entrepreneurs to government hierarchy,” Group Director /CEO StrEdge Advisory, Sumedha Wijesekera notes in the press statement.

StrEdge which brings hands-on experience restructuring multiple businesses from corporates to SMEs, believes that a proper analysis of the existing banking finance structures of a business cannot be undermined. “The rising finance costs and all the macroeconomic constraints coupled with prevailing uncertainties have warranted restructures from both the business perspective as well as that of the bankers’,” observes Wijesekera.  From a business perspective, such restructuring would enable solutions for cash flow constraints, save bank interest cost, promote sustainable growth and more importantly, businesses to be future-ready to capture the market potential in the next upward curve of the economy, he says.

 From the bank’s perspective, restructuring helps to offer better structures with effective monitoring to match the business requirements, prevent NPLs and build up strong and more profitable relationships by being able to act as an advisor in this setting.

Furthermore, it is very important to revisit the costing of goods and services in any organisation in view of increased raw materials prices, exchange rates, finance cost, loss of sales, diminishing margins and loss of capacity. Introductions of dynamic price mechanisms for each product and service channel of today’s businesses, will give a lot of clarity for the leadership to manage them successfully.

 The StrEdge Group which has in depth experience in BPR covering multiple industries including both banks and non-banking financial institutions, believes that SMART restructuring will help organisations re-align their processes with present and future demands, says StrEdge Group Director, Janaka Epasinghe. The current demand to achieve more with less resources, has triggered this as a need, he adds.  “Eliminating waste, increasing the service levels, reduction in costs, increased visibility, internal and external customer satisfaction and future-readiness are few of the results that can be derived with this activity.  Furthermore, this will strengthen the sustainability of any organisation,” Epasinghe remarks.

 Current economic constraints have taken a huge toll on the human resource which is the heart of any organisation, compelling to revisit the HR pillar for sustainability and growth, observes Epasinghe who notes that if organisations are not in a position to compensate with economic benefits, it’s always important to bring other interventions to maintain productivity.

“The biggest bonus here is that even the workforce is ready to embrace changes despite the current challenging environment with a resilient mindset, which the leadership needs to capitalise on,” says the StrEdge Director.

 The foreign currency constraints and the lack of resources due to the brain drain in the IT industry have pushed certain organisations to successfully opt for less expensive technology solutions with the help from external and internal experts. “These interventions will give results within a shorter period of time with a very low budget.  Empowering the staff, cost reductions, visualisation, better service standards and increased profitability are some of the major benefits of these SMART technology interventions within a company,” observes StrEdge Tech Solutions Director/CEO, Udaya Samaradivakara. It will also help them to address multiple urgent needs from a people-process-finance and technology perspective, without waiting until times get better and this certainly will be a SMART option, notes Samaradivakara.

Continue Reading

Business

Oil demand forecasts aren’t as bullish as they seem

Published

on

Oil has become an attractive alternative fuel because gas prices have soared. But Europe is rapidly replenishing its natural gas stockpiles.Recent revisions to oil demand forecasts aren’t as bullish as they might appear. Don’t get too excited about prices going up just yet.

The International Energy Agency, the US Energy Information Administration and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries all updated their short-term outlooks in the past week. Two of them cut their demand estimates for both this year and next, with only the IEA breaking ranks to increase its forecasts. And it wasn’t just a minor tweak from the Paris-based agency. It revised oil demand higher for this year by a whopping 520,000 barrels a day, with most of that rolled forward into 2023 as well. On the face of it, that’s very bullish for oil.

But there are plenty of reasons to be cautious. First, let’s compare the actual outlooks from the three sets of analysts and put them in their historical context. The IEA’s revision sets its new demand number for 2022 roughly halfway between those of the other two agencies. It also brings its outlook pretty much back to where it saw things in March. So, although the IEA’s revision was big, it’s not out of line with others.

The other noticeable feature in the forecasts is that oil demand growth is disappearing fast, as the chart below illustrates. Global oil demand grew year on year by about 5 million barrels a day in the first quarter of the year — all three sources agree on that — but that increase is now evaporating.

That’s not entirely unexpected when you consider year on year comparisons. Oil demand at the start of 2021 was still adversely affected by the Covid pandemic, so a rebound at the beginning of this year was entirely reasonable. Then economic activity and travel eventually picked up later in 2021, so we would expect demand growth in the corresponding quarters of 2022 to ease.

-Bloomberg

Continue Reading

Business

Digital Marketing Association of Sri Lanka hosts its 1st AGM

Published

on

The Digital Marketing Association of Sri Lanka (DMASL), Sri Lanka’s national body of digital marketers hosted its 1st Annual General Meeting on the 4th of August 2022. Umair Wolid was ceremoniously inducted as the new President of DMASL for the year 2022/2023 at the event. Additionally, a new Executive Committee was also appointed during the course of the event.

The DMASL was formed in 2021 in an effort to drive the growth of the digital marketing industry. The association plays a pivotal role in recognizing, representing, and supporting Sri Lanka’s digital marketing professionals. Since its inception, the DMASL has implemented professional standards, ethical guidelines and ensured best practices for Sri Lanka’s digital marketing industry.

The newly elected President of the DMASL commented on the event: “I am truly honoured and grateful to have been selected as President of the DMASL. I look forward to working with the entire digital marketing fraternity to help uplift the digital marketing industry in Sri Lanka. The DMASL was created as a platform for individuals to expand their knowledge and provide guidance on running digital businesses in an ethical manner. I look forward to the upcoming year and all the opportunities and challenges it will bring”.

The newly elected EXCO committee for the year 2022/23 includes; Kabeer Rafaideen, Muhammed Gazzaly, Niranka Perera, Rajitha Dahanayake, Jaque Perera, Prasad Perera, Udara Dharmasena, Lalinda Ariyaratna, Infas Iqbal, Amitha Amarasinghe, Sanjini Munaweera, Umair Wolid, Gayathri Seneviratne, Arjun Jeger, Shalendra Mendis and Shehan Selvanayagam.

Over the next year, the DMASL is looking to improve upon its previous efforts and continue implementing training sessions, knowledge sharing, and networking activities which will bring together different sectors in the industry.. The association will also be looking into integration of digital marketing into businesses, as it is an important element in Sri Lanka’s economic recovery. Another key area of focus for the DMASL is working in tandem with selected Government Organisations to help strategize Digital firsts and Digital marketing driven projects.

Continue Reading

Trending