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MURALI SANTHANAM, EXECUTIVE VICE-PRESIDENT – GROUP HUMAN RESOURCES, CAVINKARE PVT. LTD.
Time does not count, outcome does
Murali Santhanam, (Executive Vice-President – Group Human Resources, Cavinkare Pvt. Ltd.) talks about the advent of the ‘mobile employee’ in today’s work culture and how we should prepare ourselves to adopt and adapt
Issue Date - 01/07/2012
 
Q. What is your take on the evolving concept of ‘office’? How do you see it in the times to come?
A. Five years back, I had said that the concept of ‘office’ – a brick and mortar building – will quickly fade away making way for, ‘work from anywhere, anytime’. Global customers, contracts and outlook of every business is driving this change. While there will be a place called ‘office’ in the future, it will be smaller, a plug-and-play type with an address that is just an identity. Mobile phones, tablets and ipads will replace desktops and laptops just the way PCs replaced typewriters. The day is not far off when server rooms will be replaced by the cloud.

In fact, this will happen not just in technology companies but it has already begun in most sectors at a considerably fast pace. At CavinKare, we are already seeing some changes in this direction. Our employees, while travelling, work in the virtual environment through laptops or smartphones. And they can access those anywhere – in a lounge, airport, hotel or even in the car. The ‘mobile employee’ is here and let us prepare to adopt and adapt.

Q. On a connecting note, what could be the one area where you can expect a phenomenal change? What will lead to that?
A. The most phenomenal change would be the way we will now need to manage people. In the virtual space, physical in-person observations and judgements will not be possible. How do we manage ‘mobile employees’ – their expectations, results, career, growth and contribution? This is going to pose a big challenge for HR professionals.

To take care of that CavinKare has an online performance management system that is served through a portal that is accessible to all employees across the world. This portal is a complete organisation window that covers performance management to policies, blogging and connecting. We are keen to expand this through social media applications.

Q. How important is technology’s role in HR today?

A. Technology today is already all pervasive whether in HR or any other function. It is so central to the way people work, if the mobile network and the e-mail access is shut down, everyone becomes helpless. Without these we would become like a deer that freezes in front of the brightness of a car headlight.

Q. How will the HR cater to the new age demands in the FMCG sector? What kind of future policies does HR need to implement in this regard?
A. HR now needs to change its way of working and become more innovative and creative than ever. With a ‘mobile employee’, HR will have to take care of things like imparting training to the employees, leveraging e-learning and implementing an LMS that is as effective as in-person training.

It has to innovate a performance management process for a virtual employee, set KRAs, has to have knowledge about the international salary standards and how the variable pay scheme works across countries. It needs to have policies developed so that it can hire people from different parts of the country.

 
Q. How will the role of leaders undergo a change in the coming times when the workplace will more or less be the devices or the smartphones we are working out of? How will the HR fit into the new role?
A. It is about a complete mindset change for leaders now. With time and change in the work environment, the role of leaders change. What they should be doing and how they should approach challenges in the future is going to be very different from what they are doing today.

Leaders end up doing those job that their direct reports should be doing. In the times to come, they will need to let go and allow people to make mistakes and learn from it. However, they will need to mentor and coach them. At this time when the workplace is non-persona, it is important for leaders to keep the people connect, and still virtually!

Q. Considering that the 9 to 5 system will be abolished, how will the compensation and benefit structure look like in future? What are the key components you see going out of the payslip and the new ones making an entry?
A. If we are talking about 9 to 5 work system, we are at least 5 years behind our times. Ask any employee who has ambitions, passion and the desperate need to grow, if they have ever witnessed a sunset in the last five years? The 9 to 5 concept is long gone, and I want to emphasise that completing work within ‘working hours’, as we call it, is a myth now.

Work is not measured by the time one spends, but by the outcome. No one is interested in knowing for how long one has worked, rather one is interested in what outcome one has achieved. How the challenge has been approached is going to be the driving force.

One may follow a process or a way of doing things but what leaders are interested in is what did one get done, how did one get it done, and how quickly did one achieve an outcome that is more than expected.

But today’s employees struggle to understand this approach. In summary, right results with right behaviour, right outcome is what I would recommend one to focus on. The world of today and tomorrow is about ‘knows and know nots’. What you know is passé, unless it is converted into results. Knowledge is available today to everyone and can be easily acquired. What is more important is ‘how’ one has achieved an outcome that exceeds the expectations of most. Knowledge alone is not enough. In today’s times, it is more relevant to focus on the way it is applied.

Finally, focusing on the outcome is no more an expectation; it is assumed that employees will work towards it, and if someone does not understand this, he should begin to do so.
Sayani Sinha Roy           

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