HR: daily role long-term vision

HR: daily role long-term vision

It is not a conscious everyday tussle, but it can turn out to be a grave issue with dire consequences. HR managers have to fight it out between taking care of day-to-day needs and focusing on the company’s long-term planning. Renuka Vembu finds out how best they can do justice to it

In life, one often loses sight of the long-term vision in a desperate attempt to accommodate and grapple with the day-to-day activities. Just as they say, people lose out on life in an attempt to make a living. The same rings true in the organisational context as well, where HR managers are assuming larger importance with each passing day, but it is an irony to see that what they set out to do for the company in the broader framework actually goes astray in the process of handling everyday needs and regular issues. Pressed for time and crunching resources, handling multiple activities, charting road maps and addressing grievances, the HR is an all pervasive function which holds the key to bind the organisation and its people together. But are the long-term goals and vision for the future inadvertently bypassed in an attempt to get on and settle scores with the everyday activities?

Engrossed in daily activities

“The HR manager, who is considered necessary by the line managers, acts as a strategic partner, an employee sponsor, or an advocate and a change mentor”

– Dr Kashmira Pagdiwalla Director (HR Operations)


The typical HR work is a basket full of needs and demands concentrated on recruitment, training and development, payroll and leave policies, handling issues and addressing grievances, employee welfare programmes, etc. While the larger scheme of things to be given detailed attention to would include change and crisis management, conflict management and resolution, succession planning, competency mapping, organisational intervention, etc.

Dr Kashmira Pagdiwalla, Director (HR Operations), Intas Biopharmaceuticals Limited (IBPL), mentions, “HR professionals currently spend around 70 percent of their time on routine HR administration activities like sourcing the talent, scrutinising the applications, scheduling the hiring process, streamlining benefits administration, time keeping, leave management, employee related trouble shooting and much more. We have a right blend of processes and creativity and we have automised most of the routine HR activities and they do not come in the way of adopting any new ideas which can help reduce cycle time of an activity or process.”

Suresh Patil, Vice-President, Human Resources, Calyx Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals, says, “Day-to-day operational HR activities include mainly, recruitment, selection, compensation and benefits management, statutory, learning and development programmes, MIS, industrial relations, etc. Long-term activities focus mainly on HR strategy, plans, policies, guidelines, performance management, competency development/mapping, career develop-ment and succession planning, KRAs, organisational planning and communication and management of transformation and change.”

Balancing the act

Well, ‘balance’ is the one attribute that everyone wants to get hold of. Be it the work-life balance, or juggling between the short-term versus long-term needs. Balancing the act well on one’s shoulders seem to hold the key to professional success as well as an en route to personal satisfaction.

Pagdiwalla explains, “The role of the HR manager must be parallel to the needs of the changing organisation. Successful organisations are becoming more adaptable, resilient, quick to change direction and customer-centred. Within this environment, the HR manager, who is considered necessary by the line managers, acts as a strategic partner, an employee sponsor, or an advocate and a change mentor. In this role, the HR manager contributes to the development and the accomplishment of the organisation-wide business plans and objectives. He contributes to the organisation by constantly assessing the effectiveness of the HR function and sponsoring change in other departments and in work practices. To promote the overall success of the organisation, he champions the HR identification of the organisational mission, vision, values, goals and action plans.”

HR managers are as much on the street as business managers. As a consultant to, and partner in, the company, the role of the top HR managers has morphed from traditional recruiters to pride-builders-beyond the mere managing of attrition or retaining of talent.(Source – Intas Biopharmaceuticals Limited)

Characteristics of traditional personnel role

Characteristics of emerging role of HR

Reactive Proactive
Controller Business partner
Task force Task and enabled focus
Focus on operational issues Focus on strategic issues
Quantitative issue Qualitative issues
Stability Constant change
Tactical solutions Strategic solutions
Functional integrity Multi-functional
People as an expense People as assets
(Source – Intas Biopharmaceuticals Limited)

The pitfalls

Careful planning and diligent execution is needed for these major plans to materialise. Knowledge, training and a skill-set to match the competency required, proper alignment of vision and strategies, and complete management endorsement are prerequisites for carrying out the action plan effectively and with ease. Patil states, “Changes in priorities, lack of competent or experienced team members, handling multiple issues at a time, increasing attrition, work pressure, approach to address the issues with a short-term solution, inadequate HR systems and policies contribute to being some of the pitfalls that restrict the HR managers to perform their functional responsibilities from a macro level perspective.”

Changing role of HR

The evolving role of HR has brought with it additional powers, as well as added responsibilities to match steps with the changing pace. Patil opines, “HR is now a consulting center. People come here for ideas on how to increase their employee’s productivity. HR no longer just ‘runs’ HR programmes and holds the manager’s hands, but provides consulting advice, coaching and training in the use of the best people tools and services that lead to increased employee productivity. HR managers have to change faster than the rest of the managers, if they have to set an example and be leaders. HR cannot gain respect among team members if it is the slowest changing link in the chain. The company’s speed of change must be mirrored in HR initiatives. So, HR managers constantly do things faster and better by using technology in everything they do.”

HR as a part of business

HR is also not restricted to being just a support function anymore. The policies they frame and the programmes they formulate have a bearing on people’s performance, and thereby, on the company’s business. They lay down the path for people to perform, and the company to progress. Pagdiwalla clarifies, “It is no longer enough for HR professionals to just want to contribute to the bottom line. They need to know how to do this, and have the ability to use what they know. As a result, HR professionals are supposed to have become adept in a range of new competency areas, the most important being in becoming a ‘credible activist’, or performing as ‘human resources with an attitude’. In addition to this, they are required to be the culture and change stewards and are strategy architects with a vision to make the organisation win in the future, as well as play an active part in the establishment of the overall strategy.”