HR Is Not Just About Hiring People, We Are Active Influencers
Ever wondered what’s going on in the mind of your HR? Well, in this interview we managed to get some insider information. Barsha Arora, a successful HR professional working with MMTC-PAMP shares with us why staying relevant in today’s edgy and demanding work environment is a must, how to bounce back after a sabbatical taken due to XYZ reasons, the changing landscape of HR and also her personal thoughts and experiences as a working mother. To know more read this interesting interview.
How would you define yourself as a person and tell us a little bit about your childhood or growing years that helped you in becoming what you are today?
I hail from a small town in Assam and being the youngest in a family of 5, was pampered out of bounds as I was growing up. In school, I was a bright child and did well in both studies and extracurricular activities – music, dance and painting. And then I moved cities to attend college and further, and along with this came the various moments of challenges, small victories, sadness, joy and everything that made me realise that I was growing up and that I have to be ready to face life all by myself now. And I am happy that I did fairly well in accepting all that life had to present. And what kept me going was the faith my family had in me and the ability to differentiate between right and wrong, that my elder brother always encouraged me to do.
How would you say that working in the field of Operations and Quality helped you with transitioning to HR?
Whether in Operations or in Quality or Training, I felt most excited and engaged when I got to deal with people. The mentoring sessions that I did when working in the field of Quality or the training sessions I facilitated, enabled me to connect with people more closely and be a part of their development. That gave me immense satisfaction as a professional and as a human being. This satisfaction made me realise that as an HR professional, I can make that difference and work for the humans of a company.
How has been your experience working with MMTC-PAMP?
It has been a great learning experience for me. Working closely with some very experienced and empathetic leaders has helped me evolve as a professional. It’s also been very challenging as it’s my first long term assignment post sabbatical. However, everyone around me has been so encouraging and supportive, that it’s made the transition easy
What would you say have been your 3-5 (you can add more if you wish) biggest learnings as an HR so far?
The biggest learning is the importance of knowing your people and what motivates them to come to work every day besides just the remuneration received end of the month. There is no better way to enhance engagement but to communicate and build positive relations which go beyond job descriptions.
The next biggest learning is to deliver while using your resources in a prudent manner. Having access to resources does not mean to use them recklessly, it actually makes us more responsible to use them in the right way.
And finally, what do I need to do, to keep myself relevant for the business. No matter what role you play, ultimately the business is about results and impact on numbers. How do I make that impact visible both directly and indirectly is what I work towards.
You took a sabbatical and returned to work thereafter. Many women in our community are sailing in that boat. What piece of advice you would give them to stay relevant when not in touch with the game.
The most important action to keep relevant is to read, study, educate yourself more both formally and informally and stay current with work cultures, technologies and practices. I did that by pursuing my MBA while on sabbatical, reading various kinds of literature and having meaningful conversations with my friends who were still active in the corporate environment.
What advice you would give to working mothers who find it difficult to juggle? What are the support systems you feel have to be in place for a working mother to get through a day, absolutely guilt-free?
First and foremost for any working mother “guilt-free” is a utopian notion. Let go of trying to be guilt-free. That’s the biggest favour you will do to yourself. Beyond that, it may sound clichéd but give more quality time to your kids so even if the time spent is less during workdays, qualitatively it makes up for it.
How important you feel it is as an HR to have systems in place for employees to get timely mentoring, training and coaching, depending on the individual and context?
In today’s work environment, it’s absolutely vital. We are working with highly ambitious millennials, who are thirsty for more knowledge, skills and overall development. It’s a key role of HR now to align organizational vision to individual vision and use this as a tool to create engagement and draw out the relevant development needs from here and have systems which support this.
We are now shifting to a more empathetic approach at workplaces and seek these qualities in our leaders. What are your thoughts on it and what role you think the HR plays in creating such an environment for employees to thrive?
The role of HR is changing from being a more passive order taker to a more active influencer. As I said earlier, to have an engaged workforce, their personal ambitions and vision have to align with the organizational vision, and creating that alignment is what HR needs to do constantly.
Once these 2 elements are aligned, the learning & development needs and the systems and processes around performance management etc will flow from there. And to create this, the HR team have to be great, not just good at communication, understanding and creating meaningful relationships.