The Changing Landscape of HR: Upskilling, Coaching And The Power of Why

One key point that emerged was the idea of a "cultural fit" which continues to be a fundamental aspect of building a cohesive and thriving workforce.


In today's VUCA world, the dimension of Human Resources is witnessing a state of flux. Constant change and digital transformation have been reshaping the world of HR in the post-COVID landscape.

“I think the role of upskilling and bringing about change management is extremely important as post covid there has been a lot of change and organisations have started using technology and have understood the importance of being agile and staying updated,” stated Simin Askari, Senior Vice President - Corporate Human resource and Business Excellence, DS Group, while addressing the gathering at the BW Businessworld CEO CHRO Conclave 2023. Talking about the desire to remove uncertainty from their respective domain and the role of upskilling for HRs in bringing about change in management Unmesh Panwar, Chief People Officer, Dentsu, South Asia noted, “The big play for HR is how do you convert resistance into resilience and that is where upskilling comes into play.” He further reiterated that HR has a very integral role in building resilience in an organisation."

Echoing Panwar’s remarks Dr. Rajesh Mohan Rai, Director and CHRO, Servotech Power Systems, further emphasised the importance of addressing chrometophobia, which reflects employees' concerns about rewards and benefits. He suggested that upskilling in this area could contribute to increased engagement and reduced attrition.

Dr. Rai further reiterated that change management is not a one-time event; it is as constant as the change itself. He emphasised the importance of effective communication in change initiatives and said, “it is important that employees understand the "what," "how," and "why" behind the changes.”

Diving deeper into the concept of learning agility, Panwar and Askari provided a clear definition saying it's the capacity to wholeheartedly embrace continuous learning. They stressed the vital role of organizations in supporting their employees in rapidly adapting to change and cultivating competencies such as a digital mindset. Dr. Rajesh Mohan further illustrated this concept with a real-world example by describing an organisation that had implemented a program for grooming the next generation of leaders which involved assigning practical capstone projects that compelled participants to think proactively about the future.

Unmesh further echoed the significance of learning agility and highlighted the current trend towards gamified and bite-sized learning modules to cater to our shrinking attention spans. He also mentioned the growing popularity of peer-to-peer learning. Further shifting towards change management, he highlighted how HR professionals can help transform resistance into resilience by prioritizing learning agility and fostering a culture of continuous learning. He noted that many organisations survived the challenges posed by the pandemic largely due to their ability to adapt and learn.

Dr. Rai expanded on HR's role in change management, emphasising that it extends beyond just training. “It encompasses reshaping processes and governance. Clear and transparent communication of the "why" behind changes is crucial to minimize employee insecurities,” he said.

Discussing organisational culture and employee development, Askari emphasised the critical role of aligning an organisation's learning journey with its culture. It was a conversation that shed light on the intricacies of fostering growth and change within a company. One key point that emerged was the idea of a "cultural fit" which continues to be a fundamental aspect of building a cohesive and thriving workforce. Measuring the impact of training and development initiatives was another topic of interest. The panellists also recognised the pivotal role of coaching and mentoring in organisational growth. They unanimously agreed that these practices are vital for both individual and collective development. Askari highlighted an intriguing concept: reverse mentoring, where younger employees bring fresh competencies and knowledge to the organisation. Dr. Rai underscored that coaching and mentoring should be approached as a helping profession. It's about genuine support and a sincere desire to aid individuals in their growth journeys adding to which Unmesh emphasised the need for patience in this process, recognising that sustainable growth takes time and should prioritize the mentee's development.

The discussion provided valuable insights into the evolving role of HR in navigating the challenges of today's business world.

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