The Stellar Role of HR Management

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 07 May 2018 14:51:54


By Gantantra Ojha,

The manufacturing sector, unlike other business sectors, maintains a low profile and is the one which sees in its fold, within the same organization, a large number of traditional blue collar workers, white collar employees, and a yet greater number having job profiles with collars of all hues, all of whom need to perform their roles in a truly synchronous manner. This makes the challenge of managing HR in manufacturing organizations perhaps a more challenging one than elsewhere. And within this sector, too, the nuances of HR management tend to vary with size, as the complexities of scale are not linear.

Steel Industry is cyclical in nature and we have witnessed inevitable periods of growth as well as decline. It is in the downturn that the HR professional’s mettle comes to the forefront. Maintaining motivation and morale and keeping the workforce engaged with the organization is a tremendous challenge. However, time and again by stretching the limits of the human potential, we have been able to tide over these times. SAIL offers a rich soil for growing HR practices and we have experimented a number of times in designing and executing need based HR interventions. Some of the HR interventions include the massive organizational restructuring, reduction in manpower without a single retrenchment, the objective policy of movement from the non-executive to the executive cadre, the on-line Executive Performance Management System where one can see the performance rating given by one’s superior ,induction of skilled workers and the training & practice of Multi-skilling. Working in "No Union Situation” for several years in the Company’s most profItable unit, i.e. Bhilai Steel Plant having manpower strength of over 35,000 people was another unique HR intervention in SAIL. Last but not the least, the employees’ creativity and innovation is reflected in SAlL being the winner of the maximum number of National level Shram & Vishwakarma Awards.

What l have just said is not theory, but homespun concepts built from years of experience. It may not be fashionable to cite a left thinker these days, but I cannot resist quoting Frederick Engels, who said that “An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory" The value of HR lies in action, and let “fast, forward, fearless & flexible" be the motto of HR.

As one who has spent more than three and a half decades in the practice of HR, I may be granted the liberty of sharing in brief my thoughts on the practice of HR. While every manager is a HR manager in his own right, the nuances of HR management require a variety of skills and competencies, in diverse areas ranging from psychology to information technology, emotions and body language to legislation and systems, to quote a few. The turbulence in HR field is growing in intensity and both psychological and sociological issues of dealing with people are coming to the forefront.

Whereas earlier one dealt only with a collective, today it is necessary to interface with every employee as individuals, understand their needs, cares and concerns, and respond in a manner which would make them capable, competent and committed to the organisation.

The HR function must create an organizational climate where managers are not apprehensive of exercising their right to manage, take difficult decisions and risks, be uncompromising in demanding performance, and build an emotional bond with their team members.

Much of what passes for HR function is actually routine, repetitive, administrative paperwork, with more affinity to files than to real people. Organizations which stand acclaimed today, have all taken significant actions to move HR to a higher plane above the routine. In my view, to break the shackles of tradition and to spread its wings, the HR function must build and sustain a strong framework based on four pillars :

First is "application of mind and creative thinking” (not getting bound by past precedent or the comfort of status quo) ; the second is "working without fear or favour" probably ruffling a few rusty feathers and disturbing the comfort zone of many;the third is nurturing a constant endeavour for learning and create a learning organization; and the fourth is having an intense customer focus.

The writer of these lines did his best to contribute to the profession. Some of the changes were institutionalized. But the tenure at the apex level is short and it takes time as well as constant follow-up to make changes an integral part of the Organizational culture.

Today, there is no alibi for non-performance. We must tap the tremendous human potential. We should not only discuss manpower shortages but also manpower utilization. The human resource is the perpetual resource of efficiency and expertise. My dream is to see Indian companies run like educational institutions where everyone is a potential leader. I hope my dream comes true sooner than later.
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