Sameer Khanna shares his take on talent development and technology’s influence on the work culture today. An inquisitive and experimental student, he studied science at school and went on to study commerce at university level thereby obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in commerce before he completed his MBA in HR. He has diverse industrial experience ranging from FMCG to IT and his career includes a plethora of summer jobs during college time as well. His choice of a career in HR was triggered by his innate quality to observe people and analyze them. He has a curious mind and has always been fascinated by challenges.

After working for a firm named Logica in Bangalore, Sameer decided to move to Delhi to be with his wife and child who was working in Delhi. Even though he had the option to work from home, Sameer knew that he enjoyed being around people in his work environment. He joined Ericsson four years ago following his stint at Jones Lang LaSalle.

Sameer has been conscious about constantly learning and developing himself as well as contributing more to the field of HR and society. As an additional ‘over the weekend’ experience, he taught at the Taj School of Hotel Management at their Post graduate equivalent program. His passion to teach and learn at the same time can be seen from his contributions to the NHRD Total Rewards training and a keen interest to upgrade his skills including acquiring HR certifications every few years.

Technology’s influence at workplace has increased manifold explains Sameer. The ease with which employees today can be reached at any point during the day and thus people often do not feel the difference between staying in office and working from home. Even though technology has connected people so well, Indian employers prefer to communicate with colleagues on a face to face basis. This bridge of varied thoughts between managers is further explained by him using the concepts of ‘Theory X’ and ‘Theory Y’. According to Theory X, the management is under the impression that subordinates need to be told to do things and their work has to be monitored constantly. However, Theory Y suggests that management should treat their employees as adults and mature individuals who treat the tasks at hand with care and effort. In today’s world, Theory Y is more applicable as we need to focus on the output rather than the input. Hence it is not about the number of hours that one works for but the deliverable or output. This helps to build a more trustworthy relationship between the workforce.

Job Market of the Future:

With the changing trends in the service industry in India, Sameer feels that there is ample scope in the “Data Industry”. Data interpretation vis a vis the environment has become a common struggle for all organizations and hence we are likely to see an increased demand in this field.

Perpetuating a pool of varied talents, for example, workforce from the Army background and from different generations coupled with the latest technology can also add tremendous value to management as well.

According to the latest trends, contractual working has largely attracted talent today especially in the startup culture, however Sameer feels that this trend has not yet become popular in larger organizations. The reason for this being the state of “inertia” since Organizations are still not as geared as they should be in terms of inculcating an open mindset. The persistence of doubting whether employees will deliver at all when they work in remote environments or whether the Outsourced organization would manage to hit the brief are some of the common concerns today. Even though our country is the outsourcing nation of the world, we tend to have doubts in case of outsourcing within ourselves.

Hence, flexible working has not taken off as an idea as it was anticipated.

However, the mindset will change in future with the newer generation coming into the workforce . They are far more flexible since they have been brought up in a different environment. A generation that already engages in multitasking such as using multiple electronics at the same time would evidently seek flexibility in their careers as well, therefore the trends of the future will significantly change from the traditional work norms.

Skillset of the future worker:

Sameer states that the future worker should be well equipped with learning agility and change management skills. With ‘change’ taking the center stage in the work environment, a “willing to evolve ”mindset will be ideal. He takes examples from his personal life to explain the concept of change management, for example, switching from hard copy newspapers to digital news via apps.

According to him, everyone will not sit and explain different skillsets especially when machines will replace most human efforts at transaction levels. Therefore, it is important to understand change and apply it to yourself. Innovation is born when you tend to have a problem solving mindset and apply changes to the routine jobs in order to increase productivity.

Changes at the Managerial level:

  • Move away from Hierarchy to focus on the knowledge factor. Willingness to accept people around you who might be better than you
  • Understand that a leader alone cannot offer all the insights to the organization without the inputs of a diverse team
  • Willingness to learn, motivate and guide at the same time
  • Humility makes learning easier

Leadership and Diversity Management

Research states that if diversity is not managed well, it can be much worse than a non-diverse team.  At the same time a good management diverse team can outperform a homogenous team. Hence according to Sameer, it is important to have mature and inclusive leaders who can manage a diverse team well.

Sameer feels that Indian organizations are still not truly inclusive in terms of making workplaces accessible to the differently abled. The need for empathy among employees is important to understand that a differently abled employee is equally good at his or her job and that visibly he/she just needs additional time to physically move from one place to the other. Our natural instinct should be to understand from a visible perspective and aim at making it an inclusive organization.

Future of HR

According to Sameer, HR does not manage the workforce but in turn acts as a facilitator of organizational policies which are aimed at helping employees as well. An incident from his previous organization made him think about the concept of formulation and implementation of policies, when one of his employees asked him why a particular policy was in place, he realized how this questioning should be encouraged among workforce so one can understand the impact of policies in the environment.

Therefore, he encourages group discussions and larger interaction with employees to understand how work environments can be made more flexible. The aim of HR in the future should be to involve people, communicate with them and being transparent about it. Another important area where HR can contribute is to truly help people to be their best. This may mean helping people recognize what gives them maximum happiness and where they are truly great.

It is also imperative that HR truly understands the business very well and finds solutions to help Business and people succeed.