May 27, 2022

Trends in the HR Industry and Its Recent Effects

Sanjay Jha

Sanjay Jha

CHRO & Senior VP BD & OEM Relations, Mahindra First Choice Wheels
Sanjay Jha

Sanjay Jha has an experience of 32 years and has been a part of various industries and is a certified Harrison and FIRO-B and PCC coach. Being a part of 3 companies, Sanjay is now a part of the Mahindra First Choice company as the CHRO.

When asked about senior leadership roles Sanjay Jha claims, “It is the job of senior leaders to create a proper environment so that you can allow people to leverage, to unleash their potential. Same time, it is, I would say, the beauty of each one of us to self-reflect.”

Sanjay Jha believes that diversity helps any nation, any society, or any organization in a very big way and multiple ways while it can also bring diverse perspectives to the company’s plate.

About Sanjay Jha

Sanjay Jha with an overall experience of 32 years is an engineer who later on completed his MBA and has several experiences in operation, business development, sales, business excellence, and HR roles in metallurgical, chemical, telecom, and automobile industries. He also has hands-on experience with organized diagnostics and driving transmission journeys in both the manufacturing and service companies for both top-line and bottom-line improvement and also for high engagement of customers and employees.

Sanjay has been a part of 3 companies so far including Mahindra’s first choice Wheels and as a part of acquisitions in 3 small companies. Sanjay Jha joined Mahindra in the year 2010 in February as an HR head. Later on, Sanjay was also provided with the responsibilities of business development, OEM relations, and the PNL of one small business, which is a B2B business. His job mainly consists of driving a set of employees for the kind of development of software content for one of their clients.

Before joining Mahindra Group, Sanjay was also associated with Tata Companies where he worked in an operations department in various metallurgical plants in blast furnace operations, arc furnace operations, induction furnace operations, to produce cast iron, fish oil, et cetera. Sanjay points out that,

“My journey has been truly from molding metal to molding men”

Most motivating factor as an HR leader and how has Mahindra influenced Sanjay’s journey as an HR:

According to Sanjay Jha right from the beginning he had a strong people orientation and believed that every individual has huge potential. Quoting the duty of senior leaders the following is mentioned,

“It is the job of senior leaders to create a proper environment so that you can allow people to leverage, to unleash their potential. Same time, it is, I would say, the beauty of each one of us to self-reflect. And instead of focusing on or being, I would say, challenged by the problems of day to day, we should see the brighter side of the opportunity”.

He also further adds,

“If we start focusing on the opportunities and also doing the self-exploration that how can we leverage our potential to grab those opportunities? Magic can happen.”.

Talking about TQM handling Sanjay claims that he is a 6-sigma black belt and has been well-trained in total productive maintenance. While he was a part of the Tata companies, he was tasked with the responsibility of driving ppm and 6-sigma in a few companies. Talking about TQM handling he adds,

“On one hand, I applied all the TQM tools to optimize and improvise the processes. At the same time, my focus was to help people know their potential and help them know what they can do. And that helped many of my fellow travelers, many of my colleagues, actually help them leverage their potential and transform their life. So probably that was the reason the Mahindra management also quickly identified that I am meant for the HR role. And I also felt that initially there was some innovation because I had never done the role in the past. But then later on I realized that probably I meant for this role.”

Sanjay has also highly contributed to the setting up of systems and processes that pertain to HR and hence creating a talent-dense, high-performance field. Talking about Mahindra he adds,

“And in this journey, I must mention that Mahindra management invested in me to develop myself as a true HR person. Along to name a few developmental programs I kind of got a chance to undergo this Michigan program. And I kind of worked on some business projects. Similarly, I bought a chance to undergo some nine months of Mackenzie’s HR leadership program.”

He also mentions his achievements,

“I must tell you at this point that this year I got the top HR Leader Award from World HR Three. And I am also a certified coach. And this year I was upgraded to PCC level professional certified Coaching level. And I have experience of coaching more than 500 people or 500 hours, you can say.”

Role of background and experience in HR helping Sanjay to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Talking about diversity and inclusion Sanjay Jha states that,

“I am a firm believer that diversity helps any nation, any society, or any organization in a very big way and multiple ways. If we take gender diversity close to 50% of the population is female population in our country. So imagine if they all could join the mainstream economy, what kind of environment we can create? The other aspect is that diversity can bring diverse perspectives.

So what happens in any organization? And that too, in today’s time, we are living in a very high-pressure, ambiguous, and high-speed environment. And we hardly get a chance to kind of reflect on things, take pause, and think to kind of get a diverse perspective and generate multiple views and multiple solutions, for any problem.

So I firmly believe that if we could create diversity in our workforce, then that can help to gain multiple perspectives.

And that can help a company like ours in a kind of significant manner because imagine that we are in a used car space which is still quite untouched”
He also adds in saying,

“Large part of this industry is still uncharted territory. So in this industry, you need people with innovative minds, people with sort of respect for diversity, respect for who could listen to the diverse views and respect them instead of kind of ignoring them. And that has worked a lot for a company like ours.

Today we have close to, I would say 20% of the population of female employees, so to speak. And they are contributing in a very significant manner to the HR team itself. We have many female employees. They are doing all kinds of hiring, talent management training rated jobs and they are kind of doing a great job. So I have seen the power of the workforce. And we are completely aligned to higher, more and more female employees at present, frankly speaking, from a city standpoint, we are largely focusing on gender diversity”

Quality of hiring remotely and whether the quality sourcing competition across industries has impacted the recruiters and their decision.

Talking about the challenges that are faced by Sanjay Jha he claims,

“Yeah, let me tell you that there have been challenges. We are self-faced and lack face-to-face interview opportunities. It becomes at times difficult whom I am interviewing, okay, who is that person, et cetera. Because we have been used to that face-to-face kind of interview. That said, recruiters have still, I would say the old paradigm. They are comfortable. I mean, while making the statement, I said that we all were comfortable with the face-to-face interview.

So various things such as screening, right? From sourcing to screening to kind of conducting the interviews. Various kinds of interviews, I mean, domain-related interviews or function-related interviews than psychometry-based interviews.

So I see an opportunity of technology to kind of play important role and bring sort of speed, intelligence and thereby the efficiency and the effectiveness.”

Adoption of technology in the recent era in the Indian market post COVID

Mentioning about Adoption of technology in the Indian market post-COVID, Sanjay Jha claims that,

“Though there is a kind of very strong sense that we should go for technology-led HR processes, including hiring.

But then adoption is slow and that could be primarily because of the inertia because for so many years we have been doing it manually.

As I’m talking, I’m thinking the other reason could be that we Indians love meeting people on a one-to-one basis, okay? Thereby sort of trying to understand one’s personality, one’s background, et cetera. So that would be the reason the technology adoption has been slow.”

Certain trends we’re seeing in the hiring dynamics.

Looking forward to hybrid work culture in the upcoming years in the field of HR Sanjay Jha mentions,

“So let me tell you that everybody has got the test of doing many things remotely or most of the things I would say during COVID time. So I think subconscious level or even conscious level, I would say that now organizations are looking for maybe a better technology which can enable them to sort of make this remote process, every remote process. Because as you also mentioned that this should be a hybrid process.

But then organizers are looking for good technologies which can enable them to improve the efficiency and the effectiveness of their remotely managed HR processors, including the hiring. That said, as was my experience of hiring talent in my company, yes, it has been like no hybrid model.

We use a hybrid model and we will keep using the hybrid model because it is efficient to interview candidates remotely. And then once you have shortlisted them for a critical role, you can think to have a face-to-face kind of in-person interview. And that too at senior level or more than senior, I would say for critical roles it is advisable. And that is what I have been using.”

Talking about the importance of face-to-face interviews Sanjay Jha mentions the following,

“Okay, so what do we do for critical positions? We finally call the shortlisted candidates and we do a psychometric report-based interview on a face-to-face basis. So that is why I feel that the hybrid model is going to stay here. Why face-to-face? Let me tell you, the new age technology players, the entrepreneurs in India, are striving to organize the largely many sorts of unorganized industries, namely even the used car industry or many other industries.

So when you’re hiring talent for such kind of industry or some kind of environment, you need to have people who are nonconformist, innovative, have an entrepreneurial mindset, can think on their feet, can innovate in the backyard of the customer, can own end to end of the process knowing that in the unorganized industry there is no much precedent.

So nobody is the repository of all the knowledge. So to assess people from these characteristics, point of view, entrepreneurial orientation, innovative mindset, agility, resilience, and perseverance to work in an ambiguous environment. I felt that we should have face-to-face interviews.”

Some of the activities you take up to re-energize or refresh during the weekend.

When asked about how Sanjay Jha gets to refresh and reboot their daily work schedule here is an answer,

“Okay, so let me tell you that I have a perpetual possibility thinker every morning I feel excited. I always kind of see a lot of opportunities. And if you ask me that, tell me what you’re excited about. I do not know many times I don’t have any clear answer. But I feel that there is a huge opportunity. So let me tell you that I keep writing. My articles are published in ET Times, and People Matters.

I love writing articles for these newspapers and magazines. I also love writing poetry in Hindi. I am an avid reader. I read a lot and I read topics right from quantum physics to consciousness to coherence to spirituality to history. You will see a lot of books and these books are about multiple subjects, including HR.

Also, reading the books and listening to the videos about the diverse topics help me relate these topics in an innovative manner in my mind. And see things in a very holistic manner. And that is the source of my excitement, my sort of my orientation to thinking about possibilities and opportunities. So that keeps giving me energy. By the way, I didn’t tell you I have been a marathon though. I would not have participated in marathons in the recent past during COVID time. But most likely in January 2023 again I’ll start participating.”

One last piece of advice for HR professionals especially those who are new to the industry.

When talking about advice that Sanjay would like to provide to the new generation, he states,

“So I would like to give a couple of advice as follows. Number one is that HR should not consider itself as a support function in terms of just kind of filling the positions. They should get involved in business, not understand the nuances of the business. They should have if not detailed, they should have at least some good ideas about the P&L balance sheet, cash flows, and issues because that helps them to appreciate the needs and expectations of the sort of operations department of the sales function.

Second thing is that HR’s role has also changed from the standpoint that in today’s time people need a lot of soft touches, so to speak, a lot of counseling, coaching, and mentoring and there should HR people should groom themselves, should develop a lot of, I would say compassion, not just empathy.

And should kind of reach people and try to help them reduce their pressure, try to help them know who they are and who they can become. And the third thing is that we are living in an age where things are changing at a break next speed. The half-life of a skill is getting reduced drastically.

So before people become redundant, before particular functions become redundant, how do help people to get developed the adjacent rules? For example, let me tell you, I have strong people orientation and some enlightened great managers discovered that or found out that in me. And if I can be utilized in a better manner, probably in HR. And then someone else thought that because I have a strong people orientation, I can also be used in business development because employee relations and customer relations from that standpoint of view is not very different.”

Also talking about the roles of an HR professional, Sanjay Jha claims,

“So HR people should have knock-off helping people fall assistant role and helping them not to become written at this is another role. Let me tell you, talent management has become a very esoteric concept. The experts would say that we should identify the top talent, we should focus on them, and should engage with them.

But I believe that everybody has humongous potential. And HR should help people to identify, help them, help each person know that someone actually in past helped them to know the potential they owe to that person, to that leader.

And I think that this is my sort of biased duty to help others to know what kind of possibility or is who can become, and how one can become. So, these are the few things I think HR should kind of focus on, in addition to whatever they are too.”