Escalate

‘Leadership is a full-contact sport’

Sep 25, 2017-Tanka Bhattarai initially started his career as a trainer in an occupational safety and health project under the Ministry of Labour and Transport Management. There on, he moved to Unilever Nepal and then to Subisu as its HR manager. Since 2015, Bhattarai has been associated with the Shanker Group as the head of its HR department, serving as the Vice President-HR. In this interview with the Post’s Alisha Sijapati, Bhattarai talks about the roles and responsibilities of HR professionals, its challenges and shares some of his management mantras. Excerpts: 

What kind of issues do HR departments come across regularly and what are the keys to overcoming such challenges?

First of all, it is difficult to hire well-rounded HR professional who understand the HR development field and has professional experience in HR management.  

Similarly, it is difficult to find suitable candidates whenever vacancies open up.  Even if they are found, it is equally hard to retain them. Another challenge lies in changing the traditional mindset of employers to comply with emerging HR practices.

They seem indecisive in investing on strengthening human capital as they feel their investment will be of no use once an employee leaves the company.

Contemporary HR professionals still struggle to change the mindset of employers who tend to prefer operating businesses and cannot go beyond traditional approaches. 

No one takes care and pays attention to emerging concepts of HR management which serves ‘employees first and customer second’. 

HR employees’ job description includes spreading peace and prosperity at work. How can one avoid conflict at a workplace?

The key role for HR in any organisation is to maintain productive and harmonious working environment among employers, employees and other stakeholders.

HR plays a vital role in bringing together employees and the management. Balanced relationship between employees and the management will help HR practitioners manage conflicts and grievances in a smooth manner.

Leadership and conflict go hand-in-hand. Leadership is a full-contact sport, and if one cannot or will not address conflict in a healthy and productive manner, he/she should not be in a leadership position.

The fact is, conflicts in the workplace are unavoidable. The ability to explore innovative approaches to resolving conflicts will develop leadership attributes. However, the inability to do so will indicate failure. 

What are some attributes that all HR leaders must possess? What mantras should they abide by?

Some of the strongest attributes of successful HR professionals include: Updated knowledge and expertise in HR management.

They have to be excellent communicators to put difficult expressions into words. They have to be strategic in their thought and detailed oriented in action.

They should always understand the context and their position. This is a rare combination. They should have good leadership qualities to lead with values and respect and have a great sense of collective leadership.  

They should possess good presentation skills, be innovative in their approach, be well versed in time management as well.

They have to be resourceful and offer relevant tools and techniques to resolve problems.

They should be result oriented. Besides, they need to be self-disciplined, should know how to delegate, be a good decision maker, and be merit-oriented.  

As far as the HR mantra is concerned, it is all about using existing HR methods and tools and making sure they align with the current business needs.

The HR profession has come a long way in terms of demonstrating its strategic values, but there is still a lot to be done. 

What kind of policies should HR departments come up with to encourage a healthy balance at work and home for its employees?

HR policies are the guiding documents that every business put in place to hire, train, assess, and reward the members of their workforce.

We should never restrict and limit employees to assigned working hours. We rather have to focus on bringing the best out of them.

We should talk about overall focus on employee as a person rather than just the work done by him/her.  

Employees should be assigned with clear roles and responsibilities, along with Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to measure their performance.  

The likes of recruitment, performance appraisal, promotions and other similar policies should be consistent with existing acts and regulations.

Only physically healthy and mentally motivated employees can ensure quality performance. 

HR policies should value every hour of the day—make sure that employees use them effectively and make sure they take full advantage of their available leisure time.

Policies should encourage employees to work smarter not harder, understand changes and value social relationships. It should ensure what employees want—to live a healthy and fulfilled life, to stay motivated and celebrate success. 

How important is monetary benefits to keeping employees motivated? What are the other ways to retain and motivate employees?

Employees are the backbone of any organisation. Prioritising their well-being will ensure productive environment within the organisation.

Incentives such as awards in cash and kind, salary increment, promotions are also great ways to enhance the productivity of the employees.

Monetary benefits are just a means to motivate employees but not the end. It might help as one of the tools but we never recommend it for long term career growth. 

We should know what our employees need, show respect to their hard work and dedication.

Giving employees more responsibility and decision-making authority increases their personal investment in the organisation. 

Other motivational tools may include—planning recreational activities, exploring learning opportunities, introducing reward and reprimand system, reviewing performance, timely feedback system, coaching and mentoring etc.

Especially the line manager of each employee should take care of his/her team members’ needs and come up with appropriate interventions to keep them motivated. 

What advice do you have for those who want to pursue careers in HR management?

HR management is unique and full of challenges and opportunities.  HR departments find and develop hidden talents in people and put them to work.

HR is a professional career that demands integrity, confidentiality, and a high level of interpersonal interaction from its practitioners.

Besides academic qualification, for a successful career in HR, you need to have sharp understanding of the business arena and its twists and turns.

Published: 25-09-2017 08:52

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