Excellence In Employee Experience: Bhavya Misra Emphasis On Respect, Trust & Exciting Work

Bhavya Misra, Director & Head of HR, Lenovo India, describes the key HR principles that she and her team adhere to for it to be an enabling organisation, while keeping business goals at the centre


To Bhavya Misra, it’s important as an HR professional to always keep in mind what is it that the organisation is trying to achieve. “As an enabling function, HR must put organisation’s business at the centre of everything.”

She explains that at Lenovo, the vision is smarter technology for all. That translates to ‘people first’ for the HR function - prioritising people, their concerns, their challenges and also their careers and their aspirations within the organisation.

So, what are the means by which the vision of the organisation is actualised? Misra describes four pillars that support this approach. Describing the first pillar, she says, “While we’re a global organisation with global policies, we are local in the way we operate, and are flexible enough to adapt to what makes sense on the ground.”

The second one is around respect and trust which is crucial in an organisation, with people with different abilities, people in different phases in their life, and with different aspirations. “We must be able to build an enabling culture that is trusting,” Misra says.

The third pillar is the kind of work that an organisation is expecting people to do. “It has to be exciting and rewarding work. Everything may be great but if the content of the work is not fulfilling for me, then there’s no point. Hence the need for creating assignments, roles and career journeys which are exciting and rewarding,” she explains

The last pillar is growing in transformation. wherein “we want people to grow and learn from different experiences”.

Dimensions of Diversity

Delving deeper as to how to truly create a culture of trust in a diverse setting – including not just in terms of people with various experiences and backgrounds but also of different age groups and with varying comfort levels with technology –

Misra points out that there has to be a healthy mix. “And just as in a family, there would be early adaptors to technology and those who are slow to adapt, we have to handhold those who are slow in adapting to technology. We are open and look at what they bring to the table. They could be bringing leadership skills or industry exposure and we value people for that.”

Leadership And Empathy

A fresh perspective that Misra provides is regarding changing expectations from leaders. “Gone are the days when people looked at leaders as super heroes. Leaders need to be vulnerable in today’s times. During Covid, leaders also didn’t have answers to many unpredictable situations. You need to show that you are also going through what the other person is going through. People start believing in you when they see leaders are also working surrounded by families, and not in houses that are completely quiet,” she describes.

At Lenovo, leaders really reached out to people during Covid with multiple connects, town halls, and one-to-one, trying to find out what’s happening with people, and not just reviewing work with them all the time. In terms of concrete measures, policies and processes health support and hospitalisation were facilitated to those who required it.

Work-Life Balance

A dimension of wellbeing that’s taking centre stage in work culture discourse is that of longer work hours, work-related stress, impact on work-life balance and the mismatch between the employee needs and organisation’s expectations.

Misra acknowledges the added pressure with day-time extending into late nights and weekdays extending into weekends. Suggesting the solution, she says, “The first thing that is needed is leadership walking the talk - actively telling people that it’s okay to log off, setting an example by not planning meetings after office hours, and not calling unless it is really urgent. And anything on culture front doesn’t happen unless the leadership sets an example. And that is what leaders at Lenovo actively followed, of disconnecting at a certain hour.”

The other aspect is taking little breaks between meetings to have conversations other than work. “We decided not to have meetings between 1 to 2, during lunch breaks, to let each one think, reflect and do their own things.”

Doing Basics Well

Misra truly believes in getting basics right. Asked what needs to change in HR function, she replies, “We need to leave our obsession with shiny new toy. There are basics that we need to do really well first. The execution of core processes in the right spirit is needed. Be it recruitment or performance appraisal, are we doing it

really well? Creating a balance between core practices and innovations is important.

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