HR Head Lenovo India Bhavya Misra Talks HR Tech With BW People

In a fireside chat with Sugandh Bahl, Sr. Correspondent, BW People, Bhavya Misra, Director & Head of HR - India, Lenovo talks about challenges surrounding tech enablement in HR and organisational domain, the questions to ask before choosing the right tech and much more in this exclusive interview with BW People.


How challenging does tech enablement get for an HR professional in terms of resistance to change?

It's a very important aspect that you're bringing on HR tech which is resistance to change and I think it is obvious that anything if it is going to change there will be views on it right and I think even before we get to that I would want to actually take a step back and

say that how is it that we can address the whole resistance if at all it comes up with various stakeholders. 

It is very important to look at the whole process holistically to start with. Very often when I talk to people, I see that we jump to the middle of it looking at what is the technology available or what are other organizations doing. we have a tendency to fall for the shiny new toy in the market at a given moment and more than that, a lot of resistance can be pre-addressed if one goes a step back.

It is very important to focus on your organisation’s needs and based on the requirement, it is crucial to find out what is it that the organisation is looking for. I personally believe that organizations are fairly unique creatures in themselves. From an organisation’s culture to leadership to the stage of a business, every organisation differs in various elements. 

Another area is to assess the organisational behaviour, expectations and impact on the workforce when you are looking at any kind of technology because once you make that investment, it is an investment that you've committed yourself to. It is a significant investment for a period of time so you don't want to be justifying it later in terms of why you chose to do so. 

One should have a clear understanding of what is it that you really need in your organization and if it serves your purpose for functional and leadership teams in the organisation. if this process is followed in a little more academic way in terms of actually going through each of those things, it helps much to address the resistance if at all it arrives because you know why you're doing something and there is a certain requirement for that technology in your organization and there are processes which are going to improve and consequently bring benefits to certain stakeholders that are going to see out of it and that would be the way to address resistance if at all if you face it in your organization. 

Do you feel that with the enablement of technology in the HR space the usage of manual intervention is going to decrease?

it is a very interesting question and I think an often debated one. There's always going to be a requirement for great HR professionals as well as great HR interventions per se. The only thing is that the nature of it will change and it is changing for the better. 

It's not like technology is going to take the decisions for you. There is more information and there are more insights so probably there are more touch points but how are you going to use it and what sense does it make for your business and what is it that you're really taking out of it from a decision-making perspective? Technology as well as human touch are very critical and have to work hand in hand in my view.

What do you think are the key HR functions that have been impacted due to the incorporation of tech specifically at Lenovo?

I think all of them. I don't think there's anything that is devoid of technology today and specifically at Lenovo as well and then in general in the market also. If I thought if I start with the employee life cycle itself, let's start with recruitment and again the last two years with covid, everybody has kind of seen technology to be far more deeply intertwined with everything that we do at work, including HR, than ever before. If I look at recruitment there were so many positions that we used to think that face-to-face interaction is very important, we have to do it and we have to make the candidate travel. All of that just went away because you do not have the option so you came up with different innovative tools like the candidate is just sitting in front of you when you're talking to the person as you would in a coffee shop or otherwise. 

The whole process of recruitment itself is completely online today. The hiring managers get different data points in their hands today whether it's psychometric whether it's any of the online assessments.

What is it that you're exposing the candidate to even before they meet anyone in your organization post that background verification everything, I think everything has a role that technology has taken up in each of these processes.

Using tools like Amber which measure engagement with people much more than you can in a face-to-face manner, get to know how they are doing, and also look at data and analytics from there deeply to see what's the cohort of people who is engaged or not engaged, what are the interventions that are working or not working and what is the right kind of tenure for people in certain kind of roles. There's just too much available from a data and insights perspective that you can leverage for your decision making 

Even capability, I think that's another area that's drastically changed in the past two years. 

I think bite-size modules are what's going to work for everybody in the future nobody has the patience or the time to sit through long programs and just go through hours and hours of things. People want everything at their fingertips and they want to be certified but they don't want to go through it in a really long boring old-world kind of way. Employees are looking at shorter things that you can give them in the form of quizzes, or AI-based learning modules.

Teaching also varies with how much an employee knows and I think some of this we very actively use in Lenovo. We've got this entire Library of resources which is called 'Grow at Lenovo' and it's pretty much universal, everybody across the globe can access it and make their own learning paths based on areas of Interest and build their capability.

I think the capability is another thing that's changed hugely so pretty much every part of the value chain from an employee standpoint has changed.

Has there been any negative impact as well? 

I wouldn't think there has been any negative impact. Most organizations were forced during Covid to take up these technologies. Initially, people would have the apprehension that would it impact any of their deliverables or will they really be able to build capability like this or supposing if they have a question, will the chatbot be of help? 

Over a period of time as you stick, you know with the right technologies that you've selected for your organization and you ensure that they're executed by leaders and managers, I think people do realize that there is merit and it does help you.  

Our working lives have changed. It is not necessary that you are working from 9 to 6 now. 

You can get the necessary help at 1 O’clock at night with the help of a chatbot if say, you want to access a policy. You can get your query resolved in 5 minutes without expecting anyone else to be up at that time. So it helps from a convenience perspective.

So to answer your question, I would say that there were apprehensions but we have to be patient and work through the benefits to actually make people realize where it works and why it works for you.

According to you how does an organization embark on the implementation of any of the normal technology and how is the ROI mapped?

It is not an off-the-shelf process. ROI is very critical and not just from a financial perspective but also from a return on effort standpoint. I would still say that we don't pay that much attention to introspection and reflection on what's the need and I really feel like that's the most important step in any technology that you want to integrate with your organization.

The first step is the most important one which is knowing what you want. In today's time, technology can be built technology can be the answer if you have a clear question but if you're not sure of what you're looking for, you will always go for what are other organizations doing. What is the new launch that’s happening in the market? I am not taking away from the importance of research in terms of what's already there but does that fit into the DNA of your organization and what you need at this time, I think this step for me, if I had to rank is the most critical one in terms of implementing any technology intervention because if you are not clear, you will only have partners and vendors tell you what they have and I am not saying what they have is not but is your organization ready for that technology and is it something you need or there's something else, I think that question is very important for me. 

Then comes looking at research, what are the products that are available in the market and again there I think we have to be very clear about what part of that tech product works for you what doesn't work for you and if there's any kind of customization that you need to do.

I think it's very important to be very transparent and open with the partner that you're going with the product that you're going with in terms of listing down all your apprehensions and saying okay I think this part will work and this part needs tweaking. 

It is a process that you have to invest time in and which is why I said it's not just about a return on investment but it is also about return on effort and you have to be clear that it's going to take all of this effort and then the last part of it again it's about committing to going all the way to make it happen because for sure, in the initial phases, there will be resistance, there will be people who are not that technology savvy. Do you have the patience to actually address concerns that people will raise? Are you going to identify the right set of people who can be your representatives, who can be your ambassadors and you can talk about what's working well, can you showcase a few early wins to illustrate how tech enablement works for you?

These steps are critical to successfully implementing HR tech in any organisation.

To watch the full interview, click on the link below: 

Note: The automatic transcription has been lightly edited for a better reading experience. Some names and parts of the transcription may carry inadvertent errors that we are in the process of editing. Thank you for your understanding.

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