Talent Management Strategies for the Vuca World

Mridul Srivastava, Head - Human Resources, Hero FinCorpSitting at the other side of the table, I was recently witnessing a review discussion between a manager and his two subordinates. On one end was a young bright millennial subordinate who was up-to-date with the latest technical skills. On the other hand was an experienced middle-aged employee subordinate in his late forties struggling to cope-up with new technical skills. The manager was in a dilemma. Over the past few months, his team's nature of work had completely changed due to changing business environment and technology disruption, and all the old processes had become redundant. The need of the hour was to do resource optimization within his team and it was time for some tough calls.

With today's changing business scenario, organizations are undergoing a wave of disruption, and scenarios like above are becoming increasingly common. Processes and employees are becoming redundant, as they fail to cater to newer demands of business and economy. As we move towards Industrial Revolution-IV, wherein AI, robotics, and Machine Learning have become a vital part to do business as usual, gone are the days of traditional Job Descriptions and Job Roles. Gone are the days when one can think of entering an organization and comfortably retiring out of the same organization. Today's organizations are no longer defined by fixed workplaces, nine-to-five working hours or by a set of homogenous employees. Organizations are becoming boundary-less and often, location agnostic, less bureaucratic and with flatter hierarchies. We call them as `Agile Organizations'.

The digital world is creating a brand new marketplace of work and workers called the Gig economy. Launch of smart connected products/services, business innovation and requirement for skilled independent workers are the primary megatrends that will drive growth in the banking, financial services, and insurance sector.

There is no scope for mediocrity in this fast changing world of corporate. The infusion of technology in all the sectors across the industry has resulted in large-scale disruption. This has led to the industry operating in rap-idly changing business environment, i.e., VUCA world.

The VUCA world is impacting all the sectors of business and is redefining the working norms within the industry. In this ever changing and ambiguous environment, it is important for the workforce to realise the need to constantly reinvent themselves and keep them abreast with the trends. Traditional HR strategies being used in the organization will no longer work in the VUCA world. It is time for the HR think-tank to relook at their strategies and evaluate how HR can partner with business more effectively in changing times.

HR fraternity will now have to re-strategize on how to effectively hire, develop, place and retain individuals and leaders to fulfill business expectations in the volatile environment where everything changes in months rather than years! What HR leaders thus need to ponder upon is to create an Agile Talent Management Model, which will entail the following:

Fluid Job Descriptions
• As traditional job roles become obsolete, we need to continually develop evolving job descriptions and hiring standards that reflect the continually changing work scenario.

Agile Employees
• Hiring for skill takes precedence over hiring for just knowledge and vast experience.
• Focus on hiring an `Empathetic Manager' rather than just a task manager.
• Hire those who can easily adapt to unforeseen and unpredicted situations.

More Contingent Labour and Flexi staffing
• Use of contingent labour will increase manifolds to meet sudden upturns, downturns and new skill needs.

Agile Processes
• Employees these days want flexible workstations and work amenities like more open spaces, relaxed working environments suiting to young needs and flexi conditions to work.

Robust Capability Building Program
• Impart need based training to prepare your employees for future and add value to business.
• Introduce high volume of scenario training and simulations.

Leadership Capability Building
• Leadership Training on how to lead a team with new mix of employees.
• Employee sensitivity training to ensure a cohesive and collaborative team.
• Following the 70:20:10 principle, and lay greater emphasis on giving Exposure to leaders.

Focus on Innovation
•Focus more on building a team of Innovators, Game Changers and pioneers who are essential for success in VUCA environment.

Crafting of New People Centric Roles
• As organizations face more disruptions, we will see a spurt in newer job roles like Coaching & counselling roles, Change Evangelists, and OD Intervention agents.

Lattice & Lateral Career Movements
• Be flexible enough to proactively speed-up the movement of employees internally to where they can have a greater impact.

Retention of Hi-Po Employees
• Hi-Po to be kept engaged as they will act as flag bearers of the organization during moments of change and disruptions.
• Devise a specialized development plan for Hi-Po by providing them what they are looking for in life and career.

Human Touch is still vital
Though automation has spread its roots in all the aspects of our lives, including business, there still remains a wide gap which can only be filled with a Human Touch. The most beautiful aspect of automation is that as robots & automation mimic more & more human tasks, the human touch is becoming increasingly valued. People still matter and that's an important point to keep in mind. Companies that will emerge as winners from the digital transformation will be those that realize that technology still requires a human touch and hence can make both complimentary to each other.

New Role of HR to Cater to VUCA Demands
Human Resources function would have to don a new cap and showcase their new Avatar to the organization as not only Change Agents, but also Change Communicators and Change Absorbers. HR should thus proactively work as Culture & Productivity Evangelists with the organization. Companies today must grapple with managing multiple generations of workforce and wider diversity. More & more workforce is going remote and working on highly specialized technology devices. The new role of HR will be to manage this interplay of culture, technology and resources to ensure business productivity.