New Manager

Collaborating on a new charter

Dr. M. Muthiah | Updated on August 28, 2020 Published on August 28, 2020

Chief People Officers need to deal with a wide spectrum of responsibilities, including safety, security, health, performance, communication and PR and industrial relations istock/marchmeena29 marchmeena29

The pandemic has brought into focus the role of the Chief People Officer, who has to handle unprecedented circumstances that are not covered in the rule book

The changes Covid has brought about in business organisations, especially for Chief People Officers, is enormous. Man is a social animal and ‘touch and feel’ and ‘face to face’ interactions are an integral part of life. But today, social distancing is the norm. Meeting people and interacting with each other in person have become a distant reality.

In this new world order, what should the role of a CPO be? In an environment in which businesses are struggling , CPOs need to deal with a wide spectrum of responsibilities, including safety, security, health, performance, communication and PR, industrial relations, including the role of trade unions. At the apex level, it includes the management on the board, and at the policy making level the Government Authorities.

CPOs need to take everyone along to bring in HR and legal systems that will work in the current business scenario. But that would also give rise to debates, with each person holding a view. However, the CPOs role is here and now, and one should be prepared to continuously navigate and implement change.

Today’s issues are not of wages and perquisites, but of health, safety, emotional disturbance and livelihood. The role of the CPO is to handle unprecedented circumstances that are not covered in the rule book. The daunting nature of this crisis also presents a unique opportunity to think beyond established practices. Those who are sensitive to the inexplicable needs of people today, will be the torch-bearers of a new set of guiding principles for the HR world.

The principle of collaboration and decision making in consultation, is the way forward. The recent issue of payment of wages for the lockdown period, arising from an MHA order (Ministry Home Affairs), was challenged by aggrieved employers on two aspects. One, whether the MHA had the power to issue such an order, and the other aspect was the tone and tenor of the directives. The issue went to the country’s apex court, which rightly put the ball back in the employers and employees’ court to resolve the dispute themselves. This is a classic example of how we should resolve issues through mutual discussion with the parties concerned, rather than going to a third party.

Bipartite discussions not only solve issues instantly, but also pave the way to improving understanding, providing a cordial ecosystem and facilitating a new model for human relations. In the New Normal, it is prudent to look for solutions within the organisation. CPOs need to lay down the framework for this New Model and suggest what works best for the people in a collaborative environment.

(Dr.M.Muthiah is an HR Professional and Facilitator)

Email: muthiahmp@gmail.com

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Published on August 28, 2020

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