Everyone in the company should be aware of their responsibilities and do things correctly

Dr. Tanaya Mishra is the Vice President and Head of Human Resources (India), Endo International plc. She has been ensuring business growth through partnership strategies for the last 15 years. With 25 years of experience in the field, she has emerged as an active senior professional who can proficiently formulate workforce strategies while keeping an eye out on the company parameters at the same time. Dr. Mishra has been a part of diverse organisations and industries, including manufacturing, retail, BFSI and IT/ITES verticals.

Dr. Mishra focuses on swift workforce strategies driven by technology-based and future-focused interactive practices that efficiently achieve business goals. She has collaborated with multiple top global companies across seven geographies and is known for her competency and expertise of drawing up strategies corresponding to worldwide diversity and cultural ethics. With her astute skills and workforce values, she has efficaciously taken part in the business world’s organisational and cultural dynamics, integrating cultural transformation, expat hiring, diversified workforce planning, behavioural assessment and other facets under her wings.

She is recognised for building a Future-Ready Agile workforce for the VUCA environment for Fortune 500 clients like Google, AT&T, Duck Creek and Aviva. She has been awarded India’s Best CHRO Award in 2017 and recognised among Asia’s 40 most Aspirational Women HR Leaders (People Matters) in 2018, including many other accolades. Dr. Mishra shares some insights with the HRM regarding the various aspects of human resource management. Excerpts:

Q. You have been a part of diverse organisations and industries, including manufacturing, retail, BFSI and IT/ITES verticals. What are the major changes you have witnessed in the landscape of managing human resources in your career?
A. Every organisation or every sector is slightly different. For example, manufacturing people are more oriented towards policies, they are serious and go by protocols and at the same time they believe in command and control. When it comes to IT/ITES, they are very fast, digitally savvy and quick to learn. I am telling you good and bad aspects. Though they are quick to pick up things, learning cubs, agile, willing to change, however, it is a very chaotic environment they are in. There is a lot of stress leading to suicides; they are mentally weak and need counselling, coaching to float.

If you look at pharmaceutical companies, they are more regulated, and you have to follow standard operating procedures (SOPs) as it is directly concerned with people’s health/lives. Such companies have very immaculate functions and people require mandatory training and pass those trainings. They follow set protocols; in the labs they have to walk in a certain way and always be clean. These are some characteristics of a pharma company. In that sense people are different in different types of industries.

Q. You have worked across different geographies; what are the determining factors for managing the workforce? How does the cultural and socio-economic as well as the political situation affect effective human resources management in various countries?
A. I have managed workforces in different countries and what I have noticed is that unless there is a change in the government or there are certain policies of the government it does not really affect the employees of any country or organisation. For instance, we are in Bangladesh and getting into negotiations with trade unions, so we had to follow the Bangladesh protocols in terms of giving a severance package or for that matter they used to strike. That you will not find in a country like Japan but trade unions can go on a strike at the drop of a hat in Bangladesh and I consider this the political scenario that shows how people are. If you look at India, we have border issues of the Kaveri River – sharing of waters of the Kaveri River has been the source of a serious conflict between the two Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Thus, employees get affected and we have to think of how employees are coming and the safety of employees along with the logistics. While talking about other countries like Singapore and Japan people go by the protocol. It does not really matter. In that regard, political scenarios could affect managing human resources.

Let us talk about social and cultural aspects; it depends on the social fabric of the country. For instance, in Japan, they are not very comfortable with foreigners, they call them gaijin or gaikokujin. They like to follow Japanese culture and they usually will not mingle with others. When you come to the office, they will only open up to how much ever they need to as a professional. They will not go beyond, will not make you feel welcome and while dealing with them foreigners could feel a little stressed. However, in Singapore, they are little easier going, you can go out for a meal with them. India is more open, may be because there are so many races, and we open up to change and come together. Australia is very different; everybody has their social life. Only if you align with somebody, will they call you over, otherwise, they respect your privacy. If you look at the USA, if you become friends on a personal basis, you can probably go to each other’s house, otherwise, people meet at social gatherings only. In Europe, different countries have different working cultures. My interaction was primarily with the United Kingdom because my boss was British. She was very warm and they are open about accepting different cultures and cuisines. In that sense, every country is different in terms of its social and culture fabric.

Q. What are the predominant factors that build readiness of the companies to adopt technology-based and future-focused interactive practices?
A. Everybody knows that this was felt when we had to face the Covid-19 pandemic. People understood that to be able to work remotely at least with sound functions, you have to be digitally savvy and require connectivity. However, one size does not fit all. Every company has their own journey. Tech companies have predictive indicators in terms of lead and lag, so that they are able understand what is going to happen. Therefore, there is a lot of work happening around, we have artificial intelligence, live robots, which we have tested and embraced. We have Internet of Things (IoTs) and ChatGPT. It seems like everything is there in tech companies. Meanwhile, manufacturing companies are also catching up with digital transformation, and pharmaceuticals companies are in between because they need to be technologically savvy to compete. However, they are not as advanced as tech companies. There is a little bit of a lag, everybody is soon coming up to the digital world. Another thing is data analytics (crunching big data). Then a lot of emphasis is on data integrity, which is facing challenges of phishing, malware as far as cyber security is concerned. Training employees about security systems is must to ensure that company systems are not hacked and people are careful while using the system.

Q. Could you please briefly tell us about a few strategies to align the workforce in the result-based framework, like performance evaluation or responsibility matrix (RACI-Q) implementation or something else you have in mind?
A. We believe in shared goals. All organisations are different but again what your organisation wants to achieve has to be drilled into or simplified to the last person standing. The weakest link is usually the masses at the bottom, where people do not understand the big things. Therefore, instead of talking about robust strategies, one has to understand how to break them down. Therefore, the best thing is trying to understand the workforce and learning how to sync the strategies with them. For instance, if somebody is operating the machine, they have to be told what things they need to do to achieve a particular target. Therefore, behaviours are very important, they have to do things which are right even though no one is supervising them. Those kinds of behaviours are important, which you want to drill in and that becomes limited objectives and key results (OKRs) and key performance indicators (KPIs), which they have to deliver every day, every single point of time. There is no requirement to talk about smart objectives, OKRs and KPIs because they will not get it.

Middle management should focus on breaking down organisational functions. While they require visibility, presenting them with an overly elaborate organisational plan may not resonate. Instead, they grasp concepts that directly relate to their daily responsibilities and functions – the practical impact they have on the organisation. On the other hand, senior leadership must comprehend the organisation’s overarching objectives and how these translate into functional, departmental and targeted achievements. Key results (KRs) or objectives and key results (OKRs) serve as effective pathways for organisational progress.

Lastly, effective communication is crucial. It is not enough to assume that occasional workshops, such as performance coaching and development sessions, will suffice. Instead, we must recognise that consistent, weekly communication is essential. People need regular updates on both successes and areas for improvement – what is going well and what needs adjustment.

Q. How can quality control be ensured while delivering services on behalf of the company and in the company in relation to productive utilisation of human resources?
A. I am working in a pharmaceutical company. So, quality control for us is something very different, it is because in pharma companies whether it is OSD (oral solid dosage) or API (active pharmaceutical ingredients), quality is of paramount importance as it goes into the body of a human. There are many checks and balances to ensure that quality control is maintained at the highest level. This happens through different sources and one is ensuring that everybody is trained and certified as per the good manufacturing practices (GMP). Then everybody should be well attired, follow standard operating procedures (SOPs) or protocols. Then we do something called CAPA (corrective and preventive actions) to understand what the issue is and how it needs to be resolved. This is to ensure there is nothing going wrong. If it is going wrong, we conduct many tests to understand that there is control in place and what went wrong. Once that is detected then the relevant changes are made. Similarly, for human resources, we ensure that the quality of people we take on are of the highest calibre, competent and have the right kind of attitude. You cannot have people who throw tantrums though they maybe talented because they do not fit in the organisations. You have to ensure that you get them at the right point, and then assess and evaluate them. If they do not fit in with the organisation, then you must have an improvement plan. If that also does not work, then obviously you need to part ways.

Q. How important are team building, horizontal and vertical discussions in the team?
A. Collaboration is one of our values at Endo International plc. As a team we have both horizontal as well as vertical interactions and without these interactions, organisations will not run. It is essential that people understand their subordinates and colleagues both in their own function as well as in the different functions to ensure they are aligned. But there is a common objective, which is the larger objective of the organisations that all of us need to achieve and work together.

Q. What obligations do the employer and leaders have to create a prudent and noble institution as far as institution building is concerned?
A. There is zero tolerance if work ethics are not there, which can mean immediate termination of whatever cadre the person is. They can be the CEO or the janitor, it does not matter. Work ethics are of primary importance and people have to respect organisational value. They have to respect each other. Empathy, innovation and collaboration are some of the values that we believe in and if we find that people are unethical then others are allowed to speak up. We have a tool whereby people can speak up about the practices which are not going right. There is a mechanism, it is really a hotline or ethics line, where people can say what they want to. There is a team in the background, which is more like an ombudsman. They investigate such cases, talk to people on both sides and take fair decisions. When decisions are taken, zero tolerance will be adopted depending upon the severity of the problem. If there is nothing intentional, the person can be coached and counselled. If it is a little more severe, the person is given a warning letter, if still more severe there will be zero tolerance and then we ask the person to quit.

Q. What strategies should least developed countries, such as Nepal, embrace in the field of human resource management to attract and retain talent, especially considering the challenge of talent drain?
A. Let me build the scenario for you. It is becoming extremely difficult for people to go and settle in any country because the screws are being tightened in every country unless you are a very young population. The United States has made it almost difficult, and if you are going for a MBA degree, you have to have a lot of money to spend. And mind you there is no guarantee of jobs. If you look at the UK and what Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has just done is that even if you went to the UK for study, there is no guarantee of a job. In Canada, accommodation is very expensive. Against this backdrop, I think creating opportunities within the country is important, so that there is no brain drain.

When people leave a particular company, they leave the bosses not the company. People of Nepal need to have managers and good mentors. You need to speak to youngsters to find out their needs and what they are looking for and that is right for the people of Nepal. While looking at India, it was very far behind till 10 years back, but it has taken leaps and bounds because we have a prime minister (leader) who is thinking ahead and now today, we are considered to be one amongst the many of the advanced countries and people want to invest in India. There is no magic wand, you need a leader to understand the requirements of the people and take it ahead. It is not like everybody is happy with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but at least today, he has made a name for the country everywhere. Therefore, we have to appreciate that. It is simply about understanding the needs of the people and providing the right kind of resources, talents, trainings, development and all of that lure people to stay back in the country.

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