Managing people

From mere ‘facilitators’, today’s HR managers have become ‘enablers’ who help sustain a high-performance work culture. Pranab Ghosh finds out more.

education Updated: Sep 22, 2011 11:44 IST
Pranab Ghosh
Pranab Ghosh
Hindustan Times

She could have followed in her father’s footsteps and become a publisher. Instead, she chose to become an HR professional. Shingari Ramachandran completed her BE in electronics from Nagpur University in 2001. She then came back to Delhi, devoted a year for CAT preparation, and did her MBA with a specialisation in HR from the International Management Institute, New Delhi in 2004. Ramachandran then joined Apollo Tyres Ltd in 2006 as an associate manager HR and has risen to the rank of group manager.

“I chose human resource management because I like working with people,” says Ramachandran. Corporate training and development is her major responsibility.

“We are currently running a senior management leadership programme, which has participants coming in from different parts of India as well as from South Africa and Europe,” says Ramachandran, who is enjoying the challenge – courtesy Apollo’s global footprint – of ensuring that people from various cultures form a cohesive group and learn from each other. “Lots of preparation go into getting participants ready for such programmes,” she says.

“Human resource management is all about managing people in an organisation,” says Archana Shukla, dean – Noida Campus and professor - organisation behaviour, Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow. And what does the expression ‘managing people’ mean? “Managing people involves dealing with employees right from the time they join an organisation till they leave it,” says Shukla. According to Avadesh Dixit, head - HR, CMC Ltd, “Human resource management is all about maximising people’s capabilities to enhance individual growth and create sustainable competitive edge (of the organisation) through people practices.”

Business of any size needs talented people in order to ensure sustainable business growth and prosperity, says Anil Gaur, general manager-HR, Maruti Suzuki India, adding, “As an important asset for any business, its people need to be properly managed in order to achieve optimal efficacy.” Hence the importance of HR professionals. The key areas of the HR function include manpower planning, talent nurturing and development, talent management and retention, performance management, compensation and benefits, and employee engagement, among others.

Over the years, ‘human resource’ as a function has evolved in India. Earlier, HR management was looked at as more of an administrative function, at best. But today it plays the role of an enabler – helping the company create and sustain a high-performance work culture.

With business going global there is need for more and more HR professionals today.

“Short supply of talent is a phenomenon across industries and specialisations, and HR is no exception,” says Gaur. Agrees Dixit. “As the economy grows, there is a definite need to churn out more skilled HR professionals, who are going to help companies face the challenges of attracting and retaining talent,” he says.

Gaur thinks that “our inability to forecast demand and channelise resources to create a ready-to-employ pool of professionals,” are the reasons behind the gap. According to Shukla, there aren’t enough dedicated institutions imparting specialised HR coaching. Whatever the reason, one thing is clear: HR as a profession has more scope today than ever before.

What's it about?
Human resource (HR) management is a very distinctive approach to managing people and their aspirations in an organisation. It is a process of procuring, allocating, and effectively utilising human capital to create a balance between a company’s long-term business perspective and developing a talent pool with the right set of skills.

As organisations work toward improving employee engagement and retention, managing employees’ aspirations has become a vital role within HR management. Understanding employee aspirations, shaping them based on their unique backgrounds and helping them manage their aspirations to best accomplish their career objectives, are some of the emerging practices in HR. An HR manager acts as an enabler to achieve a high-performance work culture

Clock Work
9am to 10am: Check mail. Send out communication to other functions
10am to 11am: Meet team members and get updates on major projects
11am to 1 pm: Meet functional heads to chalk out programmes for their teams, including training, manpower planning, audits etc. Teleconference with other location heads
1pm to 2pm: Lunch with colleagues
2pm to 3pm: Update CEO / SBU heads
3pm to 5 pm: Handle interviews for various positions
5pm to 6.30 pm: Do review meetings with team; review future plans and initiatives etc. Set up things for the next morning and wrap up
7pm: Go home

The Payoff
Entry-level HR professionals from premier institutes may earn between Rs6lakh to Rs12lakh a year. A mid-level professionals may earn between Rs18 lakh and Rs35 lakh a year. Senior professionals may earn between Rs40 lakh to Rs1 crore a year

. Ability to work under pressure and demonstrate discretion, integrity, fair-mindedness
. A persuasive, genial personality
. Must have strong domain knowledge
. Strategic alignment skills. Be able to align people resource strategy with business goals
. Excellent skills in managing contradictory views, culturally and socially diverse workforce, inter-functional conflicts etc
. Strong communication skills

How do i get there?
Over the years, it has been seen that people from various fields become extremely successful HR managers. Having said that, a degree in psychology, human behavior, MSW, labour laws, MBA (HR) would give you a much more balanced perspective while dealing with people. Some background education in the industry you work in will give you that extra ‘edge’

Institutes & urls
. Xavier Labour Relations Institute, Jamshedpur
. Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai
. All IIMs
. Symbiosis Institute of Business Management, Pune
. University Business School, Chandigarh
. Management Development Institute, Gurgaon

Pros & cons


It is a very fulfilling career giving one great opportunities to contribute to not only one’s organisation but to society at large


It is a personally enriching and intellectually stimulating career with opportunities for lifelong learning


HR professionals could get caught between conflicting expectations of the organisation and its people. This could have a negative impact on them personally, affecting family life

An HR manager can even become a CEO

A senior manager discusses the opportunities and challenges

What are the various branches of HR? Of these, which branch would be most rewarding to work in from the perspective of an HR professional?
Main branches would be as under:
. Recruitment, selection, and onboarding
. Organisational design
. Business transformation and change management
. Performance, conduct and behaviour management
. Industrial and employee relations
. Human resource analysis and workforce personnel data management
. Compensation, rewards, and benefits management
. Training and development
All these branches are rewarding though different industries reward them differently. Example: in service organisations, people costs are significant and therefore ‘compensation and benefits management’ gets paid very well. However, to play a strategic and leadership role, an HR manager needs to develop a decent understanding of each of these sub-specialties.

What are the industry verticals where an HR manager can find employment?
HR managers find employment in almost every industry vertical. In fact, even small and medium scale enterprises have started understanding the importance of HR management and are increasingly using HR professionals.

HR is a very important function today and managers are treated as strategic partners in the business. HR people are reaching CEO and board-level positions.

How has the job profile of an HR manager evolved vis-à-vis globalisation and spurt in communication technology?
The challenges of an increasing globalised business environment are significantly impacting the role of an HR manager. In today’s environment, an HR manager is expected to help organisations develop a workforce with a global mindset, capable of successfully operating across different landscapes and countries. An HR manager is required to grapple with cross-cultural issues, international regulations, frame global and country-specific policies, acquire and manage people resources across different countries, raise people capabilities to face international challenges, engage people of different nationalities gainfully with the company’s vision and goals in mind.

New technologies in communication are helping HR managers in coping with these and managing these challenges. Internet and intranets enable HR managers to be available on real time basis to workforces across continents. Reaching out to the employees and communicating en-masse has become a simple affair thanks to communication technologies. Web-based training and interactive company websites are being used to not only train but also orient people towards a shared vision.

With introduction of the human resource information system, HR managers spend a significant amount of time establishing, maintaining and using the database.

The HR software applications have reduced a considerable time spent on various activities such as attendance and time-keeping, documentation, recruitment, performance management etc. We have recently started an e- learning programme for our senior management team. Training through the web has broken all the boundaries of time and space.

Neeraj Goel, director-HR, Super Religare Laboratories Ltd interviewed by Pranab Ghosh

First Published: Dec 21, 2010 11:15 IST