For more than two decades, I have been interacting with HR practitioners at all levels. First, as an HR leader for various corporations and then as an entrepreneur leading multiple HR businesses. Although I have been a big fan of recruiting fresh HR professionals from B-schools and grooming them to become successful HR leaders. Meanwhile, as I have been actively involved in delivering various HR projects for multiple organisations, I got a chance to interact with huge number of HR professionals who are in operational HR roles managing delivery of these projects. Moreover these HR professionals typically come with 0-4 years of experience.
My experience and assessment of their functional abilities led me to write this article. Of course I strongly believe that Capability Building at all levels for HR professionals must be at the forefront of our minds if we want HR to meet the demands put by the economic growth of India over next 5 years.
Why Capability Building at the Bottom of the Pyramid is necessary?
To understand this issue better for this purpose, it is pertinent that we first look at the source from where these HR professionals are coming. Most of these professionals are comming from hundreds of institutes spread across the country excluding a few from top notch institues like XLRI, TISS, IIMS, etc. Considering the fact that the top institutes can only produce a limited number of professionals every year, companies have no choice but to go out and recruit from these other institutes. In reality, the demand far outstrips the supply – not in terms of numbers but in terms of quality.
While I would refrain from commenting on the quality of these so called other institutes and keep that debate for some other day, the fact remains that market treats their students more like fresh graduates and the institutes are happy to show the world that their students at least get “some” job with the industry.
Focus on the problem
Let’s now move a level further. The days of having structured management trainee programs are certainly more or less over. Even if they exist in some companies, they are either reserved for students coming from premier business schools or are there for name sake. So every company is under pressure to deliver more in the shortest span of time and in this scenario nobody has the patience to groom youngsters. In fact, they are just thrown in water and are expected to start delivering. As a result some of them learn fast and some learn after getting bumped off at 2-3 places. Ground realities are very different from the realities projected in some of the intellectual forums and articles which are more focused on what is happening at the top of the pyramid. Unfortunately, success stories are always far and few as compared to stories of struggle, but they always take more bandwidth and people start believing that they form the rule rather being an exception.
HR roles in particular are more operational at the entry level. However, it is the bottom of the pyramid which makes the whole structure more stable and that is why there is a clear need for companies to focus on capability building at this level. I have interacted with hundreds of HR professionals at the entry level and have analysed the value creation or impact of their actions for the overall organisation deeply. It saddens me to report that most of the time I have seen people working at a level which can be achieved by any person irrespective of being from the field of HR or not. Then where is the differentiator? Can we build the future HR leadership pipeline from this universe or those positions will still remain reserved for professionals coming out of those 2-3 elite business schools? Let us take this issue seriously and thus make it a part of the HR action agenda.
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Read about the Talent Mismanagement happening in the corporate culture and be aware about the workplace politics.