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How Mahindra is building a future-ready workforce
Lipi Agrawal | HRKatha | New Delhi | Tuesday, 10 October 2017

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The Group is challenging conventional thinking to help people ‘rise’ and build a purpose-driven organisation.

The world we live in is changing rapidly. The last two decades, in particular, have been the most dynamic in terms of witnessing disruptions in the form of globalisation, technology, demographics and the changing climate. All of this is altering the way people think, behave, interact and work; and hence, it is time organisations rethink their people strategies as well.

Accepting these disruptions in the VUCA world combined with a countervailing power as the new normal, The $19 billion Mahindra Group, re-looked at its purpose, challenging conventional thinking and innovatively using all its resources to drive positive change in the lives of its stakeholders and communities across the world, enabling them to ‘rise’. On its website as well, the Group describes itself as “many companies bound together by a common purpose: to enable people to rise”, which is proof that the group sees human capital as core to its business.

“Technology is transforming the way we do things and it will continue doing so, but what’s more important is that ultimately organisations have to deal with humans and human capital is the biggest differentiator for the success of an organisation in the current times.”

Rajeev Dubey

Rajeev Dubey

With so many disruptions and rapid shifts in technology and talent trends, organisations undoubtedly need to gear up for the future and Mahindra is working diligently towards building a future ready, yet purpose-driven organisation. Rajeev Dubey, group president (HR & Corporate Services) & CEO (After-Market Sector) and member of the group executive board, Mahindra & Mahindra, explains the 3+5 principle behind creating ‘tomorrow’s company’. Accepting no limits, alternative thinking and driving positive change are the three core purposes, while the five pillars are a whole new mind, multiplier, managing fear while leveraging failures, being mindful and ensuring trust.

“Technology is transforming the way we do things and it will continue doing so, but what’s more important is that ultimately organisations have to deal with humans and human capital is the biggest differentiator for the success of an organisation in the current times,” says Dubey. He further adds that agility, simplicity and a collaborative mindset are key to sailing in the current times.

Elaborating further on how workplace interactions are undergoing change and what that means to business, Prince Augustin, executive vice president, group human capital & leadership development, Mahindra & Mahindra shared ten key workplace trends. He began with the Goldfish Syndrome, which implies that technology has shortened our attention spans so much that we want everything instantaneously, and hence, micro-learning and similar trends are seeping in. Personalised career plans, instantaneous feedbacks, digitisation, integration of engagement with experience and exploratory conversations were among the other key workplace trends.

“While digitisation is critical in the current times, creating a meaningful experience for the people is equally important. Technology may keep changing, but it is always the experience that matters.”

Prince Augustin

Augustin said, “While digitisation is critical in the current times, creating a meaningful experience for the people is equally important. Technology may keep changing, but it is always the experience that matters.” In line with that, he shares that the leaders at Mahindra are truly focussed on creating that experience for the people. “Leaders, managers and department heads across functions are mindful of their people’s aspirations. They are motivating, trustworthy and accept mistakes, while encouraging risk-taking abilities, so that people are able to unleash their potential at work,” he adds.

Mahindra Leadership University is a benchmark initiative that has enabled growth for a lot of its people across levels, aligning individual development with organisational goals, focussing both on domain knowledge and behavioural development. The Group has spent around 100 crore rupees and 17,20,595 man-days on training.

Prince Augustin

On the talent development front, Augustin shares that the group has a host of initiatives including development centres, assessment centres, coaching & mentoring, leadership development, job rotations, fireside chats, shadow boards and development conversations. Each of these initiatives navigates people’s growth paths in the organisation. The shadow board is a unique platform that allows young talent to challenge business leaders. The best shadow board gets an opportunity to present at a global meet.

“Mahindra has a developmental programme for every stage of the life cycle of an employee, be it at the shop-floor or otherwise. In line with that, it also has great rewards for acknowledging true potential,” Augustin shares.

With these and many more initiatives in place, Mahindra has even observed through its internal surveys that experiential engagement results in higher financial results, higher customer satisfaction and effective internal processes.

“We’re now also looking at utilising predictive analytics for attrition, helping us hire better in terms of finding a fit, managing people better and engaging them in more relevant ways. However, we are strictly non-invasive in our analytics and only consider workplace-generated data for our insights.”

Rajeshwar Tripathi

Deliberating further on how technology is changing the workplace, and where Mahindra stands in terms of digitising its processes, Rajeshwar Tripathi, chief people officer, Mahindra & Mahindra shares that although in terms of digitisation Mahindra has moved up from digitising the database and automating workflow to now creating a digital ecosystem, it is somewhere between integrating analytics to building a decision support system on the maturity of analytics front.

“We’re now also looking at utilising predictive analytics for attrition, helping us hire better in terms of finding a fit, managing people better and engaging them in more relevant ways. However, we are strictly non-invasive in our analytics and only consider workplace-generated data for our insights,” he says.

Furthermore, Mahindra has appified most of its processes for the ease of its employees. From payroll, internal job postings, LMS, real-time feedback, employee benefits and surveys to leave management, travel management and reimbursements and claims, Mahindra employees have everything at their fingertips through relevant apps.

Rajeswar Tripathi

Tripathi also explains how the talent landscape is changing, and is in turn, influencing the hiring profiles. “With new technologies coming in, we now have more co-bots at the assembly lines, and hence, we look out for more electronic or computer engineers now, as compared to the past,” he says. He adds that changing business models, appification of everything, geographical expansions, new streams of business and product disruptions, such as the electronic vehicles, and so on are also bringing about a change in the hiring profiles. “These changes mean that the skill set and mind set needs are changing. In addition, we now focus more on potential, learnability and adaptability than on experience,” he says.

In addition, Tripathi shares that truly believing in the power of diversity from all angles, Mahindra sees it as a business imperative and not just a tick in the box. He says, “Our workforce should reflect the diversity in our customers.” In line with that, the group focusses on diversity in terms of gender, geographies, religions, communities and so on. To support the same, Mahindra has a gender-neutral Prevention of Sexual Harassment (POSH) policy in place. It has put in conscious efforts to also do away with role stereotyping by encouraging more women onto the shop floor.

With all these initiatives driving positive change, while getting a future-ready workforce, the corporate social responsibility at Mahindra also plays a key role in its success. Dubey says, “There are two major advantages of community interactions —first, it enables business innovation as it lets you discover new needs, and second, it provides crucible experience for leadership development as it allows one to influence without authority.”

While Mahindra is already doing a lot to get its workforce future-ready, there’s a lot more that businesses need to do if organisations and workers are to prevent obsolescence in the face of technology rapidly taking over work. Dubey suggests starting early— by questioning the current educational systems that encourage learning by rote, and increasing collaboration between industry and academia in order to encourage vocational skills early on.

© 2016 HR Katha
Last modified on Tuesday, 10 October 2017

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