The Emerging Role of HR - A look at the future
Editorial Team |

Dr. Pallab Bandhyopadhyay, Chief Peoples Officer, Cambridge Solutions. Talked about the future of HR and the changing context of people.

HR is going to change in the future because the customers of HR are changing.  So keeping that in mind the changing context of people can be slotted in the following groups.

Generation X: Generation X is the generation of people who are born in between 1960 to 1975 and most of today's senior HR professionals and CEO's in the country belong to this group. This group is characterized by collectivism and conformity. They have strong family values and do not question authority. For them higher education is the only way to achieve success and in them lies a deep sense of insecurity and a lack of optimism. They have relatively less trust in others and are cynics by nature and also lack empowerment.

Generation Y: Generation Y or the group of people born between 1975 and 1990 are the people who are already in organizations and are undergoing a transition which will make them the next corporate citizens of the country. They are characterized by high confidence and process information faster than others and have an urge to develop their career fast. There is a tendency to expect and get high responsibilities immediately. They also believe in individualism and are impatient and bold. They mostly overestimate themselves and have a tendency to expect their employer to adapt to them instead of adapting to their employers. They are mostly   roaming in cynicism (an optimism paradigm) and live in duality.

Generation E: Generation E is the group of people who are born after 1990 who are yet to come in the organization. They are quite aware of the world and are environmentally conscious. They are highly literate in technology and are multi-taskers and have an urge to grow up very fast. By and large they have a general disrespect for elders and lack proper role models. They have a high sense of self-confidence and are optimistic by nature. As opposed to Generation "X" who see things in the binary of wrong and right, they see plurality as a way of life.

Due to the vast differences in groups, HR practices that were applied for Generation X cannot be applied for Generation Y or E hence the HR practices of the future has to adopt a newer role to function smoothly.


   The individual and the organization should believe in intentional values rather than operational values.


Newer role of Human Resources: There is a paradigm shift to align people to the business and so today there is a demand to have HR professionals as business partners. Dave Ulrich summarizes it beautifully by saying there are 4 basic roles as HR professionals. One as an administrator, two as an  agent of change,  three as a employee champion (as opposed to employer champion)and four as a business partner. Since there are different sets of people who have different expectations, there have to be newer roles and newer competencies of Human Resources.

Dave further says that an HR professional must build 5 key elements of the enterprise in order to have a well-oiled organization in the future.

1  Talent and Speed - A HR professional should build the human capital of the firm and must define the required competencies. He should find talent, nurture it and then retain that talent. He should be able adapt and accept the idiosyncrasies of the place and situation as fast as possible and create a glocalization process in the organization.

2  Boundary less Organization - A HR professional should create an organization where all kind of boundaries including horizontal, vertical and external are eliminated.

3  Leadership - Every organization should build their leaders and have their own leadership competencies and models regardless of their origin (Indian or multinational). An organization must create so many leaders that even if some people leave the organization, the company should be able to go ahead on full steam. There should also be a proper communication of strategy and what is communicated in the board room is not important, but how it is communicated outside to your people is. For example, if a HR professional wants to bind people to an organization, he cannot inspire many people by just saying how the company is going to take a 43% share in the market. But on the other hand, if he were to say how the employees and the company are going to redefine how business is done, there would be a proper communication of strategy.

4  Culture - There should be a shared mindset in the company and people should accept both the do and don'ts of the company. Accepting and practicing values in difficult times is important. This period is a testing time for both the individual and the organization.

5  Brand identity of the firm - A HR professional should create a strong brand identity of his company as the value of brands is rather high among today's generation.

Newer HR Competencies for the Future

Role related:

1  Managing Change and large group facilitation - Today there are methodologies to manage large scale facilitation and involvement of every individual in  the company. Software like Futuresoft and Future search have completely different paradigms which concentrate on the people(employees) who are going to define the future for the organization as opposed to the CEO. Other methodologies like open spaces shun the conventional and consider speaker and audience pedagogies that most organizations utilize as completely ineffective in generating ideas. A HR professional should be a facilitator of change and should have every individual of the company involved while charting a new policy.

2  Faster Response mechanism - The HR professional needs to respond faster to the people in his company and needs to apply newer concepts and technologies (e-HR applications) to achieve this.

3 Managing stakeholder conflicts -Today, shareholders are no longer just the owners of the company but an important part of the company. Since the organization itself is a stakeholder besides the management; it is important for the HR professional to manage stakeholder conflicts.

4 Coaching leaders - People are talking about the next form of leadership where leaders become teachers. If a leader doesn't have a teachable view, he can no longer be called a leader since one has to have a view that can be communicable to the people around you. As a HR person, it is important to facilitate this teachable view in the organization.

Business related:

1  Understanding the business - Unless the HR person understands the business and its workings , how can he possibly make the other employees understand?

2  Understanding finance - He should also understand the metrics of cost benefit analysis and should know what an employee costs to the overall cost of a company. He should also know how much IBTDA is generated by his registered company in the business and should be able to answer simple questions like-

What is the cost of the organization in response to the overall cost?

Is the cost above or below the competitors?

What is the gross profit margin generated by the company in their industry?

3  Ability in execution and professional management - By and large, HR personnel lack project management skills and are unable to stick to deadlines. In terms of recruitment, it is important to use such skills to recruit a large amount of people in a short time.

Industry related:

A senior HR executive must provide career guidance and manage careers of the employees of his company. He must also know how to managing an employee's compensation and must have knowledge of international compensation standards. With the current rise in mergers and acquisitions of companies, he must be able to integrate and manage two or more diverse cultures (individuals/ organizations) successfully.

In order for a senior HR professional to be a success in the future, the employee should see him in the following roles -

Hr Expert ,Management Expert, Coach and counselor, Professional speaker, Influential leader, Objective and Ethical leader, Tech Savvy leader, Organization development Expert, Strategic planning expert, Strategic thinker, Business Partner and Morale Compass of the company

Human Resource Management (HRM) systems of the future will soon begin to look like Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems where a HR executive must prepare himself for the existing and future employees of his company.

Who will make HR work?

My favorite author Peter Senge has said "We need to stop thinking like mechanics and start acting more like gardeners". Now, in the HR field, we need more people to adopt the gardener's role of nurturing instead of a mechanical approach. 

Sandesh Shenoy is a freelance journalist and content writer who's interest lies in business features, web content and news reporting. 


Issue BG75 June07