People Matters Magazine February 2022: Managing Performance From Afar

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VOL XIiI / ISSUE 2 / February 2022


SVP HR, Stewardship, & Sustainability for Kohler Co.

The nature of performance and productivity is changing as rapidly as the workplace. To Catch Time Up!

COVER STORY DAVE WILLIAMS COV E RResources, STORY Human Jaguar Land Rover DAVE WILLIAMS Special INTERVIEW Human Resources, Frederik G. Pferdt Jaguar Land Rover Chief Innovation Evangelist at Google

Managing Managing Performance Performance From Afar From Afar

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The changing face of performance and productivity


ur view of performance and productivity has come a long way in a short time. The use of output-focused metrics to measure performance, and the incentivisation of those metrics by linking them to compensation, is evolving to a more holistic and humanocentric approach that encompasses multiple aspects of the workplace. From the role of leadership, to the impact of technology and upskilling, to team and workplace culture and even the well-being of the workforce, businesses | FEBRUARY 2022

are increasingly open to the realisation that performance is not a simple singleline function of material input and financial output. Nor is it simply a set of numbers to be monitored and followed up on by HR. Rather, performance and productivity are a question of the entire organisation's fluency within itself and its environment. Are people being enabled with the tools, technology, and skills to do their work? Does the culture encourage behaviour in line with business values and what the external environment expects? Is the business delivering on its nonfinancial responsibilities as well as its financial promises? A large part of this understanding arises from the experience of the last two years, as the pandemic forced organisations to re-evaluate on a very large scale how teams can be managed remotely, what types of collaboration work best, and even which aspects of the workplace are nice-tohave-rather than essential to achieving business goals. At least two major global trends influence today's

approach to performance and productivity. One is, as described above, the remote and hybrid model. The other is undeniably the talent shortage which continues to challenge industries and entire countries. How can businesses adapt their performance management strategies for the needs of the present day? In the February 2022 issue of our magazine, we consider performance and productivity from a broad range of perspectives, bearing in mind that this challenge is not a thing for HR alone to address: it is pertinent to the entire organisation. We bring together the perspectives of work and workplace experts including Professor Thomas Kochan, the George Maverick Bunker Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Gastón Carrión, head of Accenture's Global Talent & Organization practice in the Asia Pacific, former Microsoft India Chairman Ravi Venkatesan, ManpowerGroup's Chief Innovation Officer Tomas ChamorroPremuzic, experts from the Center for Creative Leadership, and more.

coming months. Women in Leadership: Lead, Influence & Transform (7 March to 8 April); Digital Transformation & Leading Change (21 March to 22 April, Spanish-language course available); Talent Magnet: Aligning Recruitment, Employer Branding & Business Requirements (28 March to 29 April). You can reach out to for more information and to enroll. People Matters BeNext has shown us all, over the past year, how interconnected community and learning are. Now that we have extended our virtual learning programmes to leaders in Spanish-speaking countries, we anticipate even greater levels of diversity, inclusion, and community development upon the platform. As always, we welcome your views, comments, and suggestions regarding our stories. Happy Reading!


VOL XIiI / ISSUE 2 / February 2022

You have experience in long distance relationships it seems! I LOVE IT

From the Editor’s Desk

Our Big Interview for this issue features Laura Kohler, the fourth-generation leader of Kohler Co. who heads both people leadership and social impact for her family's 150-year-old business; she talks about the need for leaders to continuously review their approach to stay relevant. Matching that approach, our Special Interview hears from Google’s Chief Innovation Evangelist Frederik Pferdt on how to navigate ambiguity and complexity. In the coming month, our lineup of events also focuses very much on innovating the future amid complexity. Our Futurist Forum, the Masterclass on architecting the future of work, happens soon in three regional editions: the India edition on 8 March, the ANZ edition on 9 March; and the SEA edition on 10 March. And our Talent Acquisition Conference, SEA edition, happens on 24 March as a platform for leaders seeking to navigate the changing talent landscape. People Matters BeNext, our cohort-based certification programme, launches four new courses in the

COV E R S TO RY DAVE WILLIAMS COV E RResources, S TO RY Human Jaguar Rover DAVE Land WILLIAMS Human Resources, Jaguar Land Rover

Done :)!

Esther Martinez Hernandez Editor-in-Chief follow

M > @Ester_Matters F > estermartinez >

Managing Managing Performance Performance From Afar From Afar




fe b r u a r y 2 0 2 2 volu m e x I ii issue 2


How do you prepare your people for change?

Thomas Kochan, George Maverick Bunker Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management.


4 things you should know about performance and productivity

Clinton Wingrove, Principal Consultant, Clinton HR Ltd

The winning solution for a future of work

41 Gastón Carrión, Managing Director – Talent & Organization / Human Potential, Asia Pacific Lead, Accenture



Sunil Puri, Asia Head of Research and Product Development, Center for Creative Leadership and Elisa Mallis, Managing Director and Vice President, APAC, Center for Creative Leadership

Managing Performance From Afar cover story


The nature of performance and productivity is changing as rapidly as the workplace. For those who manage people, the next step is to evolve their approach to match. Time To Catch Up!


Esther Martinez Hernandez

Senior Manager - Research and Content Strategy - APAC

Editor & New Product Content Strategist (Global)

Assistant Manager - Content - APAC

Mastufa Ahmed

Manager - design, photography, and production

Marta Martinez

Jerry Moses Drishti Pant


Moving the productivity pedal amid uncertainty

Ravi Venkatesan, Former chairman of Microsoft India, founder of GAME, UNICEF’s Special Representative for Young People and Innovation and author of “What the Heck Do I Do with My Life? How To Flourish in Our Turbulent Times”


The shift to values-driven performance management

Chris Eigeland, Chief Revenue Officer of Go1


Want better performance? Decouple goals and bonuses

Stuart Robertson, Chief People Officer at AvePoint

Design & Production

Shinto Kallattu

Senior Manager - Global Sales and Partnerships

Content Manager and Lead - D&I

Bhavna Sarin

Saloni Gulati +91 (124) 4148102

Senior Associates - Content


Managing Editor

Shreejay Sinha

Sudeshna Mitra Asmaani Kumar Ajinkya Salvi

Senior Editor

Associate Editor

Published by

Mamta Sharma

People Matters Publishing Pvt. Ltd.

Senior Features Writer

Digital Head

Owned by

Rachel Ranosa Mint Kang


Time to measure senior leaders' performance beyond just financial indicators

Prakash Shahi


Sumali Das Purkyastha

People Matters Publishing Pvt. Ltd.

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Note to the readers The views expressed in articles are those of the authors and do not reflect the views of People Matters. Although all efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the content, neither the

This issue of People matters contains 78 pages including cover


big interview

Why leaders need to constantly expand their thinking Laura Kohler, SVP HR, Stewardship, & Sustainability for Kohler Co. By Mastufa Ahmed

Special interview


How to navigate ambiguity and lead in complexity Frederik G. Pferdt, Chief

Innovation Evangelist at Google By Mastufa Ahmed

24 L e a d e r s h ip

Leadership success in a post-pandemic world

By Charul Madan, Partner, Heidrick & Struggles India

27 I n t e r vie w


Invest in coaching & beat the great resignation

Aishwarya Goel, Co-Founder & CEO Peakperformer By Drishti Pant

56 P r o d uc t ivi t y & pe r fo r m a n ce

Driving Productivity and Business Metrics through HR Digitisation

By Piyush Ghosal, Head of HR, PratitiTech

58 P o d c a s t

62 Wo r k pl a ce d ep r essio n

Sandeep Sharma, President – Asia of Workday By Sudeshna Mitra

By Dr Jeffrey Pfeffer, Chair Professor of Organisational Behaviour at Stanford Graduate School of Business, and Dr Muneer, Co-Founder and Chief Evangelist of the non-profit Medici Institute

In an uncertain world, ditch the annual plans for agility



From the Editor’s Desk


Letters of the month


Quick Reads


Rapid Fire


Knowledge + Networking



Redesign jobs to reduce workplace depression

66 T h e r o a d less t r a velle d

The Dogs of (Office) War

By Visty Banaji, Founder and CEO of Banner Global Consulting (BGC)

Featured In this issue Aishwarya Goel Chris Eigeland Elisa Mallis Frederik G. Pferdt

Laura Kohler Sandeep Sharma Sunil Puri Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic

CONTRIBUTORS to this issue Charul Madan Clinton Wingrove Gastón Carrión Dr Jeffrey Pfeffer Dr M Muneer Piyush Ghosal

Ravi Venkatesan Sri Shivam Stuart Robertson Thomas Kochan Visty Banaji



Letters of the month

l e t tqeur isc okf r t heea m d os n t h

The future of work: top trends in 2022

Many of 2022's trends are very encouraging. Employers are adapting rapidly and embracing progressive approaches to the workplace. In particular, the adoption of Digital, the open mindset around Remote and Hybrid and the accelerating role of HR. These are three things that cannot be ignored or overlooked, for they will carry the world of work into the future. Of course some of the trends present difficult challenges, but employers must know how to navigate such after the experience of the last two years. - Anushka Kant

January 2022 issue

Addressing the tech industry's skills gap in 2022 The world of technology is highly challenging now. The skills gap cannot be properly closed. What are employers to do? It is a constant race just not to be left behind. One solution is certainly to hire first for the power skills that are applicable to all roles. The technical skills and experience can later be trained and gained. - Priya Singhal

It's time to embrace the skills-based model of talent pipeline

Indeed, many companies have been holding on for too long to the model of academic degrees and paper qualifications. It is a simplistic approach to assessing talent that maybe had worked in a simpler time of mass manufacturing, but now is fast becoming redundant? The needs of business change today too quickly for a long-drawn paper degree to keep up. We should not be shutting our eyes to much needed talent just because their skills are seen to be less flashy than academic achievement. - Vishmita Subhash



Interact with People Matters

People Matters values your feedback. Write to us with your suggestions and ideas at

Hiring and recruitment trends to look out for in 2022

- Sharad Agrawal

Getting the returns from your employee benefits strategy

The definition of employee benefits has changed drastically almost overnight. We had once believed that various types of leaves and financial subsidies were sufficient. Then more creative perks and benefits entered the picture. Generously rolling benefits out indeed gains us employee happiness and a good employer brand, but we should also be aware of which benefits are a great investment and which are less so. - vania sharma

Managerial skills in 2022

It's true that people walk away from their managers, not from their organisations. The enlightened manager may well be the greatest retention factor for companies, and indeed it is critical to invest in managers, to equip them with the skills that enable teams and individual employees to excel. Let's also add a flexible and agile mindset to these skills. - Sakshi Adhikari

What if you can't fire anyone?

Indeed employers ought not be so quick to fire and replace people especially in today's talent economy. The 'resource' in Human Resources is most apt when manpower is scarce, as every person in the workforce becomes an important resource that should be conserved and nurtured and not just discarded for not meeting expectations. Upskilling, health and well-being, other ways of supporting employees are a more productive path to getting the best outcome. - JANVI MAHESH

MIT Sloan Experts @mitsloanexperts How can we prepare for a more technologyfocused future? @MITSloan professor @ TomKochan shares tips with @PeopleMatters2 on how professionals can embrace #digital transformation in the workplace and use technology to perform their jobs better. Xpheno @Xpheno_ "We have always strived to offer tangible value and a delightful experience to our customers. In the process, we are transforming the way India banks.", says Vinay Bagri - Co-Founder & CEO, @theniyo.

l e t tqeur isc okf r t heea m d os n t h

An excellent guide for employers who are looking to reinvigorate their workforce through enlightened hiring strategies. It is clear that amid a great talent shortage worldwide, the most practical thing to do is meet employees halfway, to understand their real needs and not just offer them what those in management positions think they need; which are not always the same thing.

SumTotal Systems @SumTotalSystems "The ideal worker is aligned with their needs & the needs of the company," says our Senior Director of Global Business Strategy and Transformation Brett Colescott (@disneydad2). Dive into this @PeopleMatters2 piece featuring Brett's

HireRight @HireRight Data Analytics, Internet Engineering, and Sales & Marketing are the most difficult jobs to attract and retain talent in India, finds Mercer Study. Read more at @PeopleMatters2: #TalentAcquisition #Recruiting #Hiring Birlasoft @birlasoft Find out what experts believe will be the #FutureofWorkplaces in the #pandemic driven industry in this special industry story by @PeopleMatters2 featuring Arun Dinakar Rao. #workplaceofthefuture #futureofwork #workforceofthefuture Adecco India @adeccoin #InTheNews | Read the article that explores how future business success requires employers to identify and deliver on a variety of employee expectations to improve productivity. #Autonomy #Mastery #Purpose. follow

M > @PeopleMatters2




HR Technology

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Darwinbox raises $72 million, grows into unicorn

Darwinbox, one of Asia's fastest-growing HR tech platforms, on Tuesday said it has raised $72 million in a funding round led by US-based investment firm Technology Crossover Ventures (TCV). The latest capital raise catapults Darwinbox, a leading provider of cloud-based human resources management software (HRMS), into the coveted unicorn club with a valuation in excess of $1 billion.

Employment Hero grows into Unicorn with AUD 1.25 billion valuation With the latest round of funding, Employment Hero reached a AUD 1.25 billion valuation - growing into a unicorn alongside others like Go1, Pet Circle, Airwallex, Tritium and SafetyCulture. The latest funding round was led by returning investors Seek Investments, with participation from OneVentures, AirTree Ventures and other shareholders. Last year in March, the Sydney-based HR tec

FirstMeridian acquires IT staffing company RLabs Bengaluru-based FirstMeridian Business Services has completed its acquisition of RLabs, an IT staffing and consulting firm with over 1200 technology professionals deployed across their clientele in more than 40 locations in India. This marks the sixth acquisition by the FirstMeridian Group since its founding in mid-2018.


Paytech company Worldline to hire over 5,000 employees globally, in coming months

Paytech company Worldline is going to hire more than 5,000 employees globally to continue its consolidation strategy, accelerate its technology transformation and provide its clients with the best payment offering around the globe. The company will hire complete the hiring drive within the coming months. The group is recruiting for both junior roles as well as for experienced senior placements. 8


company had also raised AUD 45 million in a Series D funding round led by employment and education group SEEK.


Hiring in India up by 41% in January 2022: Naukri JobSpeak Index According to the Naukri JobSpeak index, in the year 2022 India is going to see a hiring spree across industries. The report recorded a 41% year on year growth in January 2022. The country’s premier index was trending at 2716 in Jan’22 vs 1925 in Jan’21. The upswing of hiring activity was observed in multiple sectors with IT-Software, Retail, and Telecom leading the

charts. At the beginning of 2022, the hiring sentiment reflected a resilience to the third wave as the corporate world geared up for growth. Outpacing 2021, hiring activity saw strong growth signs in major sectors. Apart from the ones mentioned above, other sectors that observed an uptick in hiring trend compared with last year are Pharma (29%), Medical/Healthcare (10%), Oil and Gas/Power (8%), Insurance (8%), FMCG (7%), and Manufacturing (2%). Auto/Auto Ancillary remained flat on January 22 vs January 21.

Employee Experience

Elon Musk-led Tesla drives into racial lawsuit crosshairs

European Union allocates USD 4.1 MN to support 297 former Airbus employees

The European Union will provide USD 4.1 Mn to 297 former employees of the European corporation Airbus in France. The money has been allocated to support those who lost their jobs due to the pandemic. According to a report carried out by ANI, Airbus rolled out a restructuring plan in 2020 to cope with the effects of the pandemic on the business, which caused the company to lay off thousands of workers.

and Prevention, IBI found that one in four worksites offered some type of health promotion program (e.g., physical activity, weight management, tobacco use), followed by health screening programs (24%), and disease management programs (19%).

Rio Tinto fallout: South Africa urges workers to report workplace discrimination

South African labour ministry has urged the Rio Tinto workers in the country to come forth with their discriminatory complaints. The ministry request comes after the global mining group released an online report which outlined a culture of bullying, racism and sexual harassment prevalent across the mines, as reported by People Matters. As per the government numbers, workers at Rio Tinto in South Africa are also the most likely to experience bullying, with 54.1% of men and 61.6% of women reporting having been bullied at work.

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Employee Management

As per IBI findings, less than half (46%) of US employers are offering some type of workplace health programs to their staff. Unsurprisingly, smaller worksites were less likely than larger ones to offer most programs. Analysing data from the most recent Workplace Health in America Survey collected by the Centers for Disease Control

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Tesla, the world’s largest electric vehicles maker, has landed in a race row, yet again. A black gay woman has filed a case against Tesla, accusing the Elon Musk-led carmaker of “festering” racism by ignoring the ‘racial and homophobic insults and physical harm she suffered while working at one of the company’s factories.

Less than half employers offer health programs: Report

Compensation and Benefits

Credit Suisse slashes bonus pool, blames 2021 losses

Just a month after the big Wall Street investment banks made headlines with enormous bonus payouts and even massive stock awards programmes to attract and retain talent, Credit Suisse is standing out from the crowd - for slashing its bonus pool by nearly one-third. In its 2021 financial results released last week, the Swiss multinational revealed that its variable compensation pool was down by 32% for 2021, primarily because its investment banking arm has been making huge losses. FEBRUARY 2022 |


newsmaker of the month

The Russian invasion of Ukraine: Are we staring at a new global crisis? By Jerry Moses In particular, the European Union is Russia’s largest trading partner. It would be indirectly affected by any trade-related sanctions that are put on Russia. And European banks that have lent billions of dollars to Russian borrowers may be at the receiving end of any widespread sanctions.

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The impact on Asia Pacific economies



he Russian invasion of Ukraine escalated quicker than many analysts expected. At the time of writing, missile strikes have already hit multiple Ukrainian cities and critical military and infrastructure locations, and land invasions are reported on at least two borders. If the offensive continues to escalate, it could put further strain on the world economy, adding to the ongoing uncertainty from the pandemic. Already, analysts predict disturbances to the global energy supply, the semiconductor industry, and even food staples - both Ukraine and Russia are major producers of oil and gas, certain rare earths, and grain. On the political front, Russia’s actions have been dubbed “Unprovoked and unnecessary” by the Biden administration. The invasion has set off a wider geopolitical crisis that could jeopardise


Russia’s relations with Europe and the West. The news of the invasion has sent stock markets around the world into a tailspin. Russia’s stock market was down by 30 percent and the Russian rouble crashed to a record low. Uncertainty mounts on the future of energy costs, food prices, and inflation, which could threaten economies around the world. Meanwhile, crude oil prices soared to over $100 a barrel for the first time since 2014. All this on top of the looming possibility of a humanitarian crisis. Will this crisis play out as badly as the pandemic? Experts think not. The economic impact, according to experts, is likely to be uneven, adversely affecting countries that depend on Russian and Ukrainian supply chains – either for wheat or for oil and gas.

A protracted conflict may lead to a shift in the US-China balance in the region, particularly with regard to East and Southeast Asia. Should the US become involved in the conflict and start diverting resources away from the Asia Pacific, China’s position in the region will almost certainly become stronger. Smaller Asian nations, and those with stronger economic ties to China, will then have to tread a careful diplomatic line. However, the conflict itself will probably not have a very great direct economic impact on the region, since geography and the innate standing of many Asia Pacific economies presents a natural distance from the conflict. However, the Indian economy, which is the world’s third-largest oil importer, may be affected badly by an oil crisis. It could also present problems for India’s national security since 70 percent of the country’s military hardware is sourced from Russia. Furthermore, India may be in a sticky position politically, having close diplomatic ties with both Russia and the US.

Moody’s appoints Maral Kazanjian as Chief People Officer Moody's Corporation has named Maral Kazanjian as Chief People Officer, effective 14 February. In this role, Kazanjian will be responsible for the company's strategy to attract, develop, and retain extraordinary talent. She will serve as a member of the company’s Executive Leadership Team. Most recently, Maral served as the Chief People Officer for WeWork, where she led talent strategy and workforce planning for its global employee base.

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Korn Ferry elevates Sandeep Bhalla as India Consulting Head Global consultancy firm Korn Ferry has elevated Sandeep Bhalla as the new head of its consulting business in India. Bhalla joined the firm as partner in 2018 and has been instrumental in building the workforce advisory practice and expanding the consulting footprint in the financial services and industrial sector. Prior to Korn Ferry he held senior roles in Accenture Strategy and Mercer Consulting.

KPMG India elects Ajay Mehra as new chairman of its board Professional services firm KPMG in India has elected Ajay Mehra as non-executive chairman of its board for a four-year term, beginning 7 February. Mehra leads the tax markets and strategy team and comes with more than three decades of experience in advising multinational and domestic companies across a range of industries on various issues including direct tax, indirect taxes, and allied regulations.

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Russell Reynolds Associates appoints Renée Bell as Chief People Officer Leadership advisory firm Russell Reynolds Associates (RRA) has appointed Renée Bell as Chief People Officer. In the new role, she will lead the global People team to further align the firm’s people strategy to its business strategy and will help cultivate talent to further strengthen and deepen the organisation’s inclusive culture. She is based in Chicago and will serve on the firm’s senior leadership team.

Duroflex elevates Mohanraj J as CEO Sleep and comfort solutions provider, Duroflex Group, has elevated Mohanraj J as Chief Executive Officer of its omni channel consumer brand, Duroflex. His responsibilities will span the thriving retail, e-commerce and D2C business of Duroflex. Mohanraj takes over from Mathew Chandy, who will now serve as the CMD of the group.

Satyadeep Mishra joins OYO as CHRO for tech & corporate teams Global hospitality technology platform, OYO, has appointed Satyadeep Mishra as the chief human resources officer for its technology, product, shared services and international markets teams. At OYO, Mishra will lead all aspects of people operations for teams, specifically product, engineering and shared services. In addition to these, Mishra will also be responsible for teams that serve international markets of OYO including US, UK, LatAm and others. FEBRUARY 2022 | february


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Pfizer India appoints Pradip Shah as chairman Pharmaceutical company Pfizer India has appointed Pradip Shah as the chairman of its board following the resignation of R A Shah on 3 February. Shah is the ex-managing director of CRISIL, India’s first and largest credit rating agency. Prior to founding CRISIL, he assisted in founding the Housing Development Finance Corporation (HDFC) in 1977. He has also served as a consultant to USAID, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. Disney appoints new metaverse head The Walt Disney Company has appointed Mike White, currently head of the consumer experiences and platforms division at Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution, as senior vice president of Next Generation Storytelling and Consumer Experiences, where he will help define how consumers experience Disney's coming metaverse. Tropicana Brands Group appoints Glen Walter as chief executive officer Tropicana Brands Group has appointed Glen Walter as its chief executive officer (CEO), effective March 2, 2022.Walter joins Tropicana from Mondelez International, where he was executive vice president, and president, North America during 2017-2022, delivering sustainable, profitable growth. He brings to the Company a 30-year track record of high performance, executional excellence, and growth mindset leadership across functions in the global food & beverage industry. 12

february 2022 | FEBRUARY

IndiGo co-founder Rahul Bhatia takes charge as managing director InterGlobe Aviation has named its co-founder Rahul Bhatia as its managing director, a newlycreated position at the Gurugram-headquartered company that runs IndiGo, India’s largest airline. Bhatia’s agenda would be transformational and focus on expanding the airline’s presence in India and in international markets and building for the long term. Kaspersky appoints Sandra Lee as managing director, APAC Global cybersecurity solutions and services company Kaspersky has appointed Sandra Lee as managing director for the Asia Pacific (APAC) region. Lee will be based in Kaspersky’s APAC headquarters in Singapore and report to Chris Connell, vice president for Global Sales Network, who was previously also in the role of managing director for APAC. Lee and her team will drive the company’s strategy and overall growth in the region.

Workday appoints Patrick Blair to President of the Americas Workday, the enterprise cloud applications provider for finance and human resources announced the appointment of Patrick Blair to the president of the Americas. Patrick will report to Workday Co-President Doug Robinson, who oversees the company's global sales efforts. In this role, Patrick will lead Workday's North America sales efforts, which includes a continued focus on expanding the company's footprint with the Fortune 500 and increased adoption of Workday's full suite of products across finance, HR, planning, spend management, and analytics.


Ten Questions


Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic Chief Innovation Officer, ManpowerGroup By Mastufa Ahmed


practicalities of change management, execution, process-discipline, and lack of clarity in strategy and culture

What's changed about innovation in the last 2 years?

Wider deployment of AI across all industries, bigger focus on ethical AI across all industries, and digital transformation being about talent rather than tech or data


And what makes it succeed long-term?


How can leaders be more innovative?

Define what innovation means to your organisation and be problem-led rather than solution-driven. Organisations don’t suffer from a shortage of creative ideas, but they lack the process, method, and culture to translate them into effective and impactful innovation


Characteristics of successful innovation? Economic, social, and human; how you improve things for your clients, employees, and business


How to deal with uncertainty when innovating? Just accept it. If you know it’s going to work, then it’s not innovation


How do corporations know they can innovate?

Start with the most important problem – and start small, but keep improving


Two examples of successful innovation?

Netflix disrupting itself, and Amazon’s constant incremental innovation


Why does most innovation fail? Underestimating the

They don’t. They only find out after they reflect on their successes and failures

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Failing fast. Success might come slowly but it is the best way. The aim is not perfection, but finding better ways of being wrong


What has the pandemic revealed about innovation? The more innovative companies were before the pandemic, the less they suffered from it; the more companies suffered from the pandemic, the more they realised they should have innovated


Two tips for innovation post-pandemic?

Start with the most important problem – and start small, but keep improving FEBRUARY 2022 |


Why leaders need to constantly expand their thinking



Between the ever-shifting landscape and the shortage of talent, people leaders and business leaders need to keep broadening their perspectives and rethinking traditional solutions. Laura Kohler, SVP HR, Stewardship, & Sustainability for Kohler Co., talks about the demands of today’s workplace By Mastufa Ahmed


aura Elizabeth Kohler, the fourth-generation leader of her family’s 150-year-old manufacturing company, is passionate about driving purposeful change in our workplace and world. Kohler Co. is one of the oldest and largest privately held companies in the U.S., with a global workforce of 36,000, and counts social impact and sustainability among its longstanding values. As SVP HR, Stewardship, & Sustainability, as well as a member of the Board of Directors, Laura has spent over two decades bringing together people leadership and social impact champion-

We must continue to invest in the remaining associates who may need different types of support to grow their careers, have healthy lifestyles, and stay with us over time 14


ship in Kohler Co.’s approach to how it does business. She leads with a vision to enhance the workplace experience and create an environment where all associates can achieve their full potential. And as a founding member of Kohler’s Executive Leadership Diversity Board, she believes in celebrating diversity, leading with inclusion, and upholding equity for all. Her action in recent years can be seen in the establishment of Kohler’s Business Resource Groups, enhanced diversity recruitment strategies, retention and development opportunities for diverse talent, equitable health, benefit, and well-being offerings, and more. In an exclusive interaction with People Matters, Laura shares her thoughts about the opportunities and challenges of the present day.

What are the top new challenges in the post-pandemic




We are making it a priority to make every role meaningful and allow every person to contribute to the spaces they feel passionate about



they work. It is critical now to consider the needs and desires of associates and the marketplace and ensure that the workplace culture matches those needs.


workplace today? How should business and HR leaders tackle them? The stop-and-start impact of COVID has created a challenging environment to engage talent. The intense demand for talent is further complicated by questions of where people will work and how we integrate people into a team in the post-pandemic workplace. The landscape is ever-changing, so our top consideration is to intentionally drive a culture of care, belonging and well-being to attract the best talent and meet the demands of our consumers. And, when we bring talent on board, it is critical that we maintain connections between each other, even as the workplace continues to shift. In addition to accommodating the shifting workplace, leaders need to strengthen their employee value propositions. The pandemic has prompted employees to place more value on having work-life balance, mental health support and a sense of belonging where | FEBRUARY 2022

What are some of the most critical questions that leaders should ask as they prepare to navigate the new normal in 2022 and beyond? This year has taught us that remote work is here to stay. Leaders should be asking, “How can we learn from what we’ve been through and make it work for us? How can we use it to drive the company forward?” Workers are looking for flexible schedules, career building and education opportunities, and stability in the workforce. Companies that ask these questions and meet these demands are those that will retain talent. The pandemic has been an impetus for innovation. What have been the biggest lessons this pandemic has highlighted in terms of the culture of innovation and adaptability? How will this play out in 2022? Kohler has always had a culture of innovation and the pandemic did not change that. In fact,

on strengthening our communities no matter what disruption the world faces.

How do you see the larger HR landscape evolving in 2022? How should talent leaders reimagine workforce management? Labour shortages are accelerating automation. Companies are


Technology has been the key enabler during the crisis. But it’s not really about tech but how you put tech to use. So, what's your advice on how to best leverage technology for competitive advantage? We have perfected the use of technology for remote work, but we need to use technology to perfect hybrid working. We realise it will be rare to have an entire team on site, so hybrid communication and connection will need to become seamless. Companies have invested in remote technology, but as workplace models continue to evolve, we need to invest in hybrid technology as well.


early on, we quickly shifted some of our manufacturing capabilities to produce critically needed personal protective equipment, something we had never done before. We also asked associates participating in our internal incubator Innovation for Good’s annual competition, I-Prize, to develop hygiene solutions specific to COVID. The pandemic pushed us to reimagine our physical I-Prize competition as a virtual event, which we successfully did. As a result, we attracted even more associates to be a part of the excitement. During COVID, this initiative differentiated us and drove the culture of innovation despite the fact we couldn’t innovate on site. Social impact and stewardship work is core to our mission and mandate, and our work didn’t stop even though the world was disrupted. In fact, Innovation for Good became a thread that keeps us all together in a time where those common threads, especially in a company with a footprint as large as Kohler’s, are hard to find. Our work gives consumers and associates a feeling of pride and meaning during this time. The impact we are making has further motivated us to continue focusing

Social impact and stewardship work is core to our mission and mandate, and our work didn’t stop even though the world was disrupted FEBRUARY 2022 |




doing whatever they can to continue to deliver without labour. That means rethinking traditional solutions. For example, we’re rethinking how we can continue to deliver across hospitality and manufacturing with smaller workforces supported by technology. This means we must also continue to invest in the remaining associates who may need different types of support to grow their careers, have healthy lifestyles, and stay with us over time.

Sustainability is becoming more important for all companies, across all industries. What’s your advice on how to align organisational goals with sustainability efforts?

At Kohler, we always ask ourselves, “How can we be better than we are today and make business decisions based on how we are impacting people and the planet?”

Companies need to continually evolve a portion of themselves to meet the needs of the market and the people, while remaining true to their core values. At Kohler, we hold ourselves accountable for being the best environmental stewards we can be, while serving as leaders in our communities. It is all about setting attainable goals and holding ourselves accountable for improving year over year. At Kohler, we always ask ourselves, “How can we be better than we are today and make business decisions based on how we are impacting people and the planet?”

What role are top leaders playing in boosting the employee experience during this Great Resignation? What is Kohler doing differently to enhance the employee experience for their workforce? Our challenge as leaders, especially those managing hybrid or remote workforces, is to connect with employees. At Kohler, we are investing in upskilling leaders and inclusive leadership training. We are investing in leaders from the manufacturing floor to top executives. We offer real time feedback for leaders and employ a listening strategy to take the pulse of the organization and quickly prioritise and address feedback and needs of associates. As our teams become more diverse, our leaders need to reflect that diversity. It is important to focus not only on diverse teams, but the retention of diverse teams and an inclusive environment. What have you learned from your employees and customers



and to contribute to something meaningful in our lives. Kohler is making it a priority to make every role meaningful and allow every person to contribute to the spaces they feel passionate about. As for challenges, the world is moving fast. We must remind ourselves that there are always threats to manage and problems to solve. We never know when the game may be changed. Kohler challenges itself to reject comfort with its brand and path, to think ahead and seek new opportunities. This requires leaders to expand their thinking constantly. The work is never done, and there is always something new to learn. FEBRUARY 2022 |


How are you transforming Kohler for the new world of work? What are your larger priorities and top challenges? The Kohler brand has so many opportunities in the world ahead. Whether it is clean energy or water-saving solutions, Kohler has the expertise to explore those places and to play a role in helping the world transform. It is really exciting to be a part of the conversations, innovations, and solutions around those issues. To me, it comes back to the Sustainable Development Goals. We can impact those positively, and it gives us a higher mission of why we do what we do. Another priority is making people’s lives meaningful in terms of their employment experiences. We all want to feel valued

It is important to show customers that we are in this together, whether amidst the pandemic or alongside them on their sustainability and stewardship journeys


and how are you going to fulfil the sophisticated demands of all your stakeholders? Can you share some insights on this? The pandemic allowed Kohler to pivot to remote relationships with our customers, which was initially a challenge we had to overcome. We have been able to stay close to our customers by listening to and connecting with them. It is important to show customers that we are in this together, whether amidst the pandemic or alongside them on their sustainability and stewardship journeys. We share with and learn from each other. When the relationship becomes more reciprocal, it brings the company and customer closer together and builds stronger relationships that will stand the test of time.


Google’s Chief Innovation Evangelist on how to navigate ambiguity and lead in complexity S p e c i a l In t e r v i e w

Having trained thousands of Googlers how to develop an innovation mindset, Frederik G. Pferdt is firm about this mindset's importance in tackling real problems and bringing individuals and organisations closer to the future


By Mastufa Ahmed


nnovation has always been a top priority for successful organisations. For a company such as Google, innovation is part of everything they do. The search giant makes sure that teams continue to collaborate and brainstorm to improve their products and services, internal processes, and even workspaces as they work remotely. One of the initiatives that the company launched at the beginning of the pandemic was “Reimagine” which explored how workers want to work at Google in the future. ‘We see that today


We lived in a storm of accelerated innovation even before the current pandemic. How has the two years of disruption changed how corporations view the need to innovate? Before the pandemic, everyone wanted to innovate. Now, most organisations have to innovate. Globally, we see a high level of experimentation happening everywhere - in the way we think about areas like work, education, and sustainability. Experimentation leads to plenty of learning, and it’s wonderful to see how companies from various sectors

are finding new ways to do things differently and better. As a physical space enthusiast myself, who created spaces like The Google Garage, I am excited about the experiments we are currently running and the possibilities we see with new designs and technology as we think about the future of work. We have teams who started testing new multipurpose offices and private workspaces and working with teams to develop advanced video technology that creates more significant equity between employees in the office and those joining virtually. I hope that we don't throw away or forget what we are learning but use all we learn in our experiments - small and large - to create a better future for all of us.

So, to create the pathways to a better future, we need to embrace sustainable prac-

tices. Is sustainability a new driver of innovation? How do you see the focus on innovation for sustainable growth? Absolutely. Many business leaders that we work with acknowledge that climate change is no longer a distant threat and it’s important that we are all finding new, meaningful solutions to address this urgent challenge. At Google, sustainability has been a core value for us for the past two decades. We were the first major company to become carbon neutral in 2007 and the first major company to match our energy use with 100 per cent renewable energy in 2017. As our next and most ambitious goal yet, we aim to operate entirely on 24/7 carbon-free energy by 2030 at our data centers, cloud regions, and campuses worldwide. FEBRUARY 2022 |

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some of these imaginations became a reality and that’s exciting,’ says Frederik G. Pferdt, who launched the project. In this interview, Frederik sheds light on the importance of experimental mindset, the culture of innovation and innovation for sustainable growth. As the Chief Innovation Evangelist at Google, Frederik’s mission is to grow an innovation mindset in everyone and he believes creativity exists in all of us. Frederik currently serves as Innovation Consultant to the United Nations (UN), advisor to the Stanford University Innovation Fellows (UIF) and Innovation Coach of the German Soccer Association (DFB) and member of the “Hall of Fame” (Paderborn University).


S p e c i a l In t e r v i e w

We are constantly finding new, innovative ways to ensure our products can help more people make more sustainable choices. For example, when I book my flights, I can now check carbon emissions and choose the flight with the least amount of CO2 produced. Or, with Google Maps, I can choose an eco-friendlier route. Across all industries,


and an opportunity at the same time. The challenge is to make sure that everyone feels a sense of belonging and has valuable work We need to make sure that we are aware of our biases and operate inclusively and at the same time, we have the opportunity to create in-person and virtual experiences that value human connection. For instance, to

'Globally, we see a high level of experimentation happening everywhere - in the way we think about areas like work, education, and sustainability' I believe organisations of all sizes must and can help build a more sustainable future for everyone. One of the hot topics today is about elevating the 'experience' of customers and employees. How are organisations innovating to improve the experience of their key stakeholders? Many companies are realising from working through the pandemic, that creating the best employee experience starts with empathy: to truly understand how one's feeling and thinking to provide solutions that genuinely work for them. Research shows that work is no longer a place, time is more precious, and human connection is crucial. Working in a virtual-first environment is a challenge | FEBRUARY 2022

help Googlers stay engaged and productive while working remotely, we have been introducing virtual events and peer-to-peer learning activities, grassrootsled initiatives to help our employees worldwide remain connected and engaged. We also continue to take a data-driven approach to understand our Googlers and regularly invite them to provide feedback on productivity, well-being, and how they're feeling and coping. The pandemic encouraged us at Google to relook at our policies and think about new ways to support our Googlers. By listening to our Googlers, we introduced new initiatives and policies to help them prioritise their health and wellbeing. For example, we

rolled out Global Reset Days so Googlers can take time off to recharge throughout the year. We also recently increased the amount of time employees can take for vacation.

What's your advice for leaders on how to experiment and continue to innovate as they sail through this era of disruption? Let's use this metaphor for a moment, as I am a passionate sailor myself. How can leaders sail through ambiguity? We can all see ourselves as ships: individuals as smaller ships, start-ups as larger, medium-sized, large companies, or governments as tankers. We got into this situation with the pandemic: The lines were cut loose - all boats were suddenly floating on the sea, and everything was interrupted, disrupted or paused, even cancelled. And now it becomes clear which boats are seaworthy at all. Perhaps now it will show how prepared the crews were. What is the mindset of the crew members? How do they react when they have to navigate the sea in strong winds? What are their attitudes and values? Do you want to go straight back to the harbour, or do you say we're going out into the fog and trying to reach and explore another harbour? So, my advice to leaders, the captains of these

ships, is to develop a mindset to navigate ambiguity and lead in complexity and inspire others. We can all train ourselves to be better prepared for any future challenges that come our way.

everything we do, and it's wonderful to see that we continue to innovate in many areas of the company even today. Even as many of our workforce work remotely, teams continue to collaborate and brainstorm to improve our products and services, internal processes, and even workspaces. We learned that having the right values is the backbone of creating a solid company culture. We

how we want to work at Google in the future. We see that today some of these imaginations became a reality and that’s exciting. One innovation that is bringing us a little closer to how the future could look is AI. Teaching a machine to have a natural, free-flowing conversation under all that nuance is one of the most difficult challenges for computer scientists to solve — and one of our teams is on

the road to actually figuring it out.

How do you make sure Google workers continue to experiment? What's your one big priority in 2022 as the chief innovation evangelist of Google? In these times of uncertainty, it is tempting for most of us to take as few risks as possible. That's why we need to help Googlers and our clients adopt an experimental mindset, where we can try things quickly and learn what works and what doesn't. For me, experimentation is one of the most important parts of innovation. It's about showing curiosity, being open to new things, and "always be learning" I’ve helped to train thousands of Googlers how to develop an innovation mindset. We see that this mindset is now more relevant than ever, as it helps to feel comfortable trying new things and seeing change as a constant. Innovation is the change that hopefully unlocks new value. And as Seneca states: "Most progress consists of the desire to make progress." Therefore, you have to have the mindset to change and the desire to make progress, accepting that nothing will stay and I cannot wait to live in the future. Because I think we will make significant progress towards many challenges. FEBRUARY 2022 |

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Has anything changed over the last two years about how Google innovates? Can you share some insights and how do you measure the impact of your initiatives? Innovation is part of

believe that respect for our users, the opportunity, and each other are foundational to our success. These shared values bring us together as a community fuel us to collaborate and continuously think out of the box - all with a common purpose of tackling real problems. One of the projects that we launched and I was co-leading at the beginning of the pandemic was project “Reimagine” where we explored


Charul Madan

Leadership success in a post-pandemic world Leaders have been under considerable pressure over the last two years to evolve and improve their own approach so as to match the needs of the business and the environment. What’s the path forward?

L e a d e r s hi p

Hear and Adjust


usinesses are slowly recovering from the most challenging days of the pandemic. Given the unprecedented circumstances, leaders are now reanalysing their fundamental purpose and the best ways to encourage their teams in the next chapter. That encouragement now goes far beyond business success; indeed, the pandemic has shifted focus to employee wellness and mental health, among other things. With leaders juggling such issues, what can they do to lead their teams to success in the coming year?



A recent Leadership Monitor 2.0 survey by Heidrick & Struggles of leaders in Asia revealed that 82% of Indian leaders experienced a lot or a great deal of change in leadership style and company culture in the past fifteen months. More and more often, we are seeing leadership strategies start with empathy and an intrinsic desire to hear and appreciate diverse viewpoints. Equally significant, leaders must be sincere in their readiness to respond based on what they hear, however hard that may be. The optimal guide for leaders should include a logical and sound strategy, tailormade to accommodate the evolving needs of the market. However, to lead teams favorably leaders should exhibit both empathy and a sound strategy. Leaders should drive towards creating innovative approaches to optimise how tasks are completed with the importance of the physical and virtual offices and how talent is cultivated and compensated.

Hearing Diverse Views at the Table A combination of equal opportunities campaigns and more

survey also revealed 62% of APAC leaders felt that they had a great deal or a lot of organisational strength to thrive over the next year. Utilising agility as their strength, leaders can start bringing about simple transformations in employee mindsets by communicating extensively about the precise business-critical need for agility. After that, they can build the business case for organisational coordination regarding the steps to be taken. Then, they should explain how agility relates to their specific structure and help attain their organisational goals. It also helps change mindsets when leaders represent developing agility themselves and diligently support others doing so. In the post-pandemic world, leaders were especially concerned about capturing new markets while curbing burnout in employees. Agile organisations need determination at all levels to innovate and remain competitive, and leaders must create an empowered team for evolving industrial conditions. Such

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complete reporting has advanced the feeling of urgency with which many businesses are developing diversity and inclusion (D&I) plans. Workers, consumers, investors, and the public are demanding businesses act. To be successful in this area, leaders will have to treat diversity not as a subject of compliance but as a competitive advantage that produces better thinking and, through that exercise, more solid results. Five essential principles to be also kept in mind for leaders to create such an inclusive culture are listed herein. First is purposeful leadership, which involves linking diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&l) efforts to decisive business priorities and outcomes and then realistically role modeling a compelling desire for change. The second is personal change, the call to foster a mindset shift and modify individual behaviour. The third is representation, which is elaborated above and related to developing greater diversity and empowering all employees to view themselves at any company position. The fourth is broad engagement, which means thoroughly engaging the organisation and strengthening organisational momentum via a leader-led means. Finally, the fifth is systemic alignment, which involves refreshing institutional practices, processes, and procedures to eliminate bias or special treatment.

Develop Agility as an Organisational Strength The Leadership Monitor 2.0



promote and develop change. At the same time, leaders should also recognise that they're not supposed to deliver on all these obligations themselves or overnight. Thus, when leaders show agility and courage in reaching out to their teams, they are bound to lead organisations with a broader mindset, willingness to new ideas and openness to diverse perspectives.

L e a d e r s hi p

Improve Productivity in the Workplace

Setting expectations, compartmentalising employee time, and keeping communication channels transparent will go a long way in maintaining and improving efficiency in the post-pandemic workplace, be it online or offline teams will be willing to question assumptions, move away from comfort zones, incorporate fresh working styles and accept failure.

Facilitate Courageous Leadership

The nominal meaning of courageous leadership has always been the power to approach challenges and disruption constructively. In the Indian context, another connotation for courageous leadership means welcoming the new while acknowledging all that's genuine about where their companies came from, supporting diverse points of judgment and inspiring a willingness to 26


Leaders will continue to be responsible for streamlining activities for their teams, in order to maintain a good workflow. Increasing productivity at the workplace will remain a priority for most leaders as the pandemic renders the market more competitive. Setting expectations, compartmentalising employee time, and keeping communication channels transparent will go a long way in maintaining and improving efficiency in the postpandemic workplace, be it online or offline. With the world still navigating Covid-19, there are bound to be new and unexpected challenges. The best leaders will be able to assess all they've learned and endured during the pandemic and apply these lessons to better their organisations. By adapting, hearing diverse views and becoming more agile, leaders will be able to tackle any challenge head-on and create a much stronger, resilient organisation for the long-term. ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Charul Madan is Partner, Heidrick & Struggles India

Invest in coaching & beat the great resignation: Aishwarya Goel “Leadership coaching reduces attrition and the overall cost of hiring - by letting founders optimise internal talent instead of getting into a bidding war,” says Aishwarya Goel, Co-Founder & CEO Peakperformer By Drishti Pant In t e r v i e w


n 2022, companies are looking to emerge and build back their businesses. But are they well equipped to thrive in the new world of work? The post-pandemic business landscape has enabled employees to develop new skills. But, it has also forced employers to focus on retention and build resilient workforces. Aishwarya Goel, Co-Founder & CEO of Peakperformer, has this to say about retention: “People skills are the most important skills one can develop in the post-pandemic reality. I believe they will play a massive role in the future of work. In the era of great resignation fuelled by working from home and amidst sky-high tech attrition, it is essential for leaders to be better at people management and understanding their team better.” Especially at the leadership level, the working styles need a complete overhaul.

“If L&D fails to incorporate these skills in their roadmap, we may see a huge crisis of sorts not so far in the future,” adds Aishwarya. To help young managers navigate the challenges of a young and diverse workforce, Aishwarya and Nilesh Agarwal, co-founder and CTO, launched Peakperformer in 2020. In this interview with People Matters, Aishwarya talks about the importance of coaching in a postpandemic world and how Peakperformer enables organisations and leaders to learn and nurture releFEBRUARY 2022 |


i n t e r v i e w

vant skills to build a strong leadership pipeline.

What was the tipping point behind creating Peakperformer? Many Gen-Z workers who have not even stepped foot into a physical office struggle with human dynamics and people skills. When I started Peakperformer in 2020, the idea was to help young managers like me navigate the challenges of a workforce increasingly dominated by millennials and Gen Z workers. My co-founder Nilesh and I had conversations with others like us, who confirmed our assumptions that most modern managers invariably face the same challenges. More often than not, they don't know who to reach out to resolve these challenges. Managers that have access to exemplary leadership and behavioural skills are not just better equipped to do their job; they can guide their team to achieve their north star metric with greater predictability.

While the benefits of leadership coaching were prominent, only a tiny segment of the senior leadership had access to it. We knew then and there that the answer lay in making coaching more accessible and relatable to younger managers right at the start. What started as an idea found wings in the support we got from our early customers, leaders, and coaches, who have been instrumental in getting us where we are today.

How is Peakperformer enabling organisations to create more leaders and preparing them to tackle the uncertain challenges that could arise in the future? At Peakperformer, we provide personalised leadership coaching and help executives resolve their day-to-day challenges. We have 150+ leadership coaches who have an average of 10-30 years of professional experience and over 500+ hours of leadership coaching on our platform. They have also worked in top

Managers that have access to exemplary leadership and behavioural skills are not just better equipped to do their job; they can guide their team to achieve their north star metric with greater predictability 28


leadership roles and have been in the shoes of the executives before. Our coaches are spread across geographies and specialise in several niches. Be it handling tough conversations at work, resolving conflicts, or navigating complex office dynamics; we help executives handle these challenges with ease. Our digital leadership coaching platform is currently being used by tech behemoths such as CRED, Groww, MPL, Bizongo, and others to fast-track the leadership path for young managers and help senior leaders address their issues head-on.

HR Leaders and CXOs who are deliberating on implementing a leadership coaching program should note that executive leadership coaching provides a massive ROI

In t e r v i e w

How is leadership coaching a key element to driving productivity and performance? How can businesses measure the impact? For organisations that would like to increase performance and productivity in the long run, leadership coaching helps upskill their workforce and give them opportunities to advance into management roles. The alternative to this solution is getting into a bidding war for outside talent costing huge resources for the company. HR Leaders and CXOs who are deliberating on implementing a leadership coaching program should note that executive leadership coaching provides a massive ROI. Like physical training coaches, the benefits of executive leadership coaching are evident in terms of productivity, leadership, and other measurable factors. According to a Forbes study, 77% of respondents state that leadership coaching significantly

impacted their nine business measures. It also improved overall performance, employee satisfaction, and engagement. In the era of great resignation, leadership coaching reduces attrition and the overall cost of hiring - by opting for internal talent instead of getting into a bidding war.

What trends will shape leadership coaching in the new year? There are several promising trends in leadership coaching that we are seeing emerge: Trend #1: Democratisation of Coaching Leadership coaching is no longer FEBRUARY 2022 |


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restricted to the upper management. The visible ROI, increased number of certified coaches, and normalisation of coaching have led to the democratisation of leadership coaching at all levels. Trend #2: Digitalisation Of Coaching The days of in-person coaching are gone. Professionals now want executive coaching that is easily accessible, digital and viewed from their devices. Webinars, online personalised training, and other digital coaching delivery methods for clients will become mainstream. Leadership coaches must be prepared to diversify to remain valuable and relevant. Trend #3: Specialisation Will Take Over Companies will hire executive coaches to solve niche challenges as the coaching industry matures. Professional leadership coaches specialising in niche coaching will excel in their careers and be in high demand.



With these trends in focus, what will be your future plans as far as product and expansion are concerned? This is an exciting time for the entire team at Peakperformer for several reasons. We just raised our seed round, and our vision is backed by Sequoia Capital, Blume Ventures Founders Fund, Antler India, and several angels. As we ready ourselves for this next chapter, we’re eager to share a glimpse of our priorities for the future. Some of our guiding principles are to: • Create a tech-first product that is accessible and available to everyone • Build a community of worldclass coaches across industries and specialisations • Be a bridge between the coach and the learner and facilitate the learning experience In this new age of remote work where teams become more diverse, our focus continues to be providing managers with the support and guidance they need to build high-performing teams no matter where they are. A key focus area for us will be to continuously improve the product and make it easier for our coaches and learners. We plan on using this round of funding to expand our team as we venture into newer markets. We also plan to launch many new features and modules beyond the coach and learner interaction. Our upcoming updates include additional content resources that learners can access on their own to make coaching a continuous learning experience.

Build a high-performance workforce that grows with you Combine outcome-oriented coaching with personal development goals to become the best version of yourself personally and professionally.

Leadership Coaching that’s Built for Everyone

Personalized and data-driven experiences

Get 1:1 coaching from world-renowned coaches.

Our intelligent algorithm smartly pairs you with the right coaches to evaluate your strengths and uncover blind spots so you can understand what’s working for you and how you can do

Our select team of coaches are trained from the


most-reputed institutions such as ICF, CPCC, ECA, GALLUP, and have extensive experience across various industry verticals.

Digital transformation & measurable impact Our coaching and content pedagogy is designed to help you zero in on specific areas of improvement and continually track progress across the coaching journey.

Trusting us to Empower their People



Managing Performance From Afar

The nature of performance and productivity is changing as rapidly as the workplace. For those who manage people, the next step is to evolve their approach to match. Time To Catch Up!



employee performance. Similarly, the impact that other aspects of the workplace have on performance need to be considered: tools and technologies, training and experience, the team and workplace culture, and leadership from line managers right up to the C-suite, just to name the most visible. These, and others, combine to create an environment that can significantly influence productivity and performance. In tandem with the discussion of productivity and performance comes the conversation about compensation: the incentives that go beyond just enabling performance, and actively encourage it. And this means measurement and evaluation, using benchmarks suitable to a particular role and its requirements. Organisations as a whole need to constantly review whether this is being done in a fair and context-appropriate way, and whether the incentives attached to such evaluation are achieving their intended objective of supporting individual, and thereby business performance. In this month's cover story, we consider various different perspectives of productivity, performance, and how to better delineate and support these, especially in a workplace that has shifted permanently away from traditional settings and is catching up with an accelerated digital future. FEBRUARY 2022 |


echnology has leaped ahead, enabling the work-from-anywhere model all around the world; workplace culture, collaboration strategies, and people management policies have been quick to catch up. Even the most conservative industries have adjusted to the notion of hybrid or fully remote work as a necessity, and adapted accordingly. One conversation still circles in place, though. The hybrid or fully remote model of work has challenged traditional concepts of productivity and performance since even before the pandemic – not merely the concepts that are set down on paper, but the concepts and interpretations held, sometimes subconsciously, within the minds of employees and managers alike. In today's world of work, the idea of productivity needs to be redefined, with both qualitative and quantitative elements taken into consideration and balanced against the investment that an organisation is making. The elements of good performance have to be recast against the broader backdrop of the business as a whole, with clearer links drawn between an individual's achievements and the organisation's business goals. Nor is definition alone enough. Organisations have already matured into an understanding of the close relationship between well-being and


How do you prepare your people for change?

Technological transformation is both a boon and bane - done well, it helps an organisation succeed, but done poorly, it is detrimental to people. MIT's Professor Thomas Kochan talks about how to integrate technology with the way we work for a better organisational transformation



By Mint Kang



igital transformation is an exciting thing, and all the more so when it happens at the breakneck pace of the last two years. But not everyone in an organisation will have the capability to share in that excitement. Today's workforce labours under intense social and economic pressures worsened by political tension and inequality, and people are responding by demanding more say in their working life. “A majority of workers want more involvement, | FEBRUARY 2022

more say in their jobs on a whole range of issues than they're experiencing today, around new technologies,” says Thomas Kochan, the George Maverick Bunker Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management. The expert on industrial relations, work, and employment points out that if employers plan to bring new technologies into the organisation, the full commitment of the workforce – including skills and mindset – is needed. But to engage workers in

such a way, the entire conversation around technology needs to change first. “The debate around how to use technology in the past has had way too much hype about how many jobs are going to be destroyed or created. That debate must now shift to be about how we can use these technologies effectively, to engage in more productive work and build more equitable and inclusive organisations. And to do that, we have to integrate these advancing technologies with the way we work and the

managers to help define what the problem is.”

Train people even before the technology arrives


When introducing a new technology, the standard process is to bring it in, and only then train people how to use it. But this doesn't work so well, says Professor Kochan. “We have to train people before the technologies arrive. Because if we wait to train the workforce when the technologies are there, it's too late. At that time, people are nervous, they're stressed, they think they might lose their jobs. They don't think they've been involved and they can't learn effectively... they can't really embrace the technologies,” he explains. Instead, he proposes that organisations should follow the lifelong learning and learning-on-demand models that large corporations like IBM have already invested heavily in. Such learning systems are ideally linked to performance management systems, promotion


companies as GM and Tesla. But what has succeeded is designing the technology and the work systems and bringing the workforce in on a Start with a process continuous basis right from that's both top-down and the beginning. bottom-up “Make sure we know what Integrating technology and problem we are trying to work systems calls for what he describes as a “revolution solve,” he urges. “Make sure in the way in which we bring that we use a user-centric digital technologies into our problem solving approach, that we bring the workforce organisation”. in to tell us where we can use “The traditional way this technology effectively. Don't sequential process goes is, rely just on the vendors or a vendor approaches us or our IT professionals propose our IT specialists, but make them partners in this process bringing in a technology with the workforce.” that will solve some of the “And we have to be clear problems we have. And the on what the business probvendor, or the IT people, design it and then implement lem is, not just use a vendor's product. We have to ask it, and then at some point, the HR staff is asked: 'Do we people to help us define it, have the right workforce? Or and we have to bring them in at that early stage of the do we have people with old skills and not enough people process. This has to be a top down and a bottom up with new skills?'” process. Bring in the people That sequential strategy, from the frontlines, bring the Professor Kochan says, has engineers, bring the middle failed even in such large work systems that people are engaged in on a daily basis,” Professor Kochan says.

Make sure we know what problem we are trying to solve. Make sure that we use a user-centric problem solving approach, that we bring the workforce in to tell us where we can use technology effectively FEBRUARY 2022 |



have a respectful and reasonably secure life and find other opportunities?” It's not just about fairness, he points out. It's also about what is known in sociopsychological research as 'survivor syndrome', the negative effect on the remaining workforce who are still with the organisation. “In times of transformation people see others leave and ask, 'Am I next?' And they get very rigid, resistant. They're not able to learn effectively or to adapt, systems, and compensation Most of all, make the trans- because they're afraid that systems; they give employformation inclusive and they will be the next victim.” ees the opportunity to train equitable And that, in turn, drags down not just for the jobs they are Organisations don't often pay the ability of the rest of the currently in, but the jobs they enough attention to whether organisation to transform. can move to. Most importheir digital – or in fact any Ultimately, says Professor tantly, the skills that organkind of transformation – Kochan, managing transforisations provide to their benefits all employees equimation in a way that engages people need to go beyond the tably. Nor do they always the workforce is both a chalhard tech skills that are in ensure that employees are lenge and an opportunity, and such high demand today. treated well even if they can't the way it is done – whether “Equally important, and adapt. But this is a major old methods, progressive sometimes in shorter supply mistake, Professor Kochan methods, or some mix of the are the social skills. How do warns. two – will strongly affect the we communicate? How do we “There will be some people outcome. lead teams? How do we have whose jobs will be elimi“We have to recognise that a diverse and inclusive and nated. That's the history technology is not just going receptive work setting and of technological change,” to be driven by the laws of make sure that we're manag- he says. “But people watch physics. We have choices: we ing in ways that bring all how well we are treating can use technology to replace parties into this process?” those whose jobs are at risk. human judgment, or we can “These social skills tied Are we providing them use it to augment human with technical skills are the with compensation? Are judgment. And how we use it ones commanding the best we providing them with the will influence whether we can salaries in our labour market training to get new jobs? Are get the full benefits of these today.” we allowing them to transadvancing technologies.” “So as we design learning fer to where the new work ABOUT THE AUTHOR systems, let's make sure we is? If they have to leave the Professor Thomas Kochan balanced them so that both organisation, are we helpwas a keynote speaker at the People Matters Workforce Productivity sets of skills are available to ing them to leave with the Conference in February. everyone. resources that allow them to | FEBRUARY 2022

4 things you should know about performance and productivity As of December 2022, something like 20 million meetings per day take place in the US alone, encouraged by lockdowns and enabled by more virtual platforms. But how productive is this, really? By Clinton Wingrove

It is evident that most top performers have clearly defined or SMART goals. But, it is not the goals that enhance their performance. The goals merely provide them with measurement criteria by which to track progress. What drives their success is that they believe in the goals, can remember what they are, can describe why they matter, know continually how well they are doing against them, and focus their activity in ways that prioritise their achievement. They set the goals themselves; they raise the bar themselves; they believe in the value of the goals…to them! Could you honestly and without laughing look me in


Since the late 70’s I have had an ever-increasing passion for working with individuals, teams, organisations to unleash their

potential and transform their performance. Despite, a widespread belief in the unlimited power of KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid), I have found that substantially enhancing performance and productivity simply isn’t simple! Individuals are, by definition, unique. So, whilst making specific tasks simple and applying simple principles may generally help, one size simple solutions rarely work when attempting to increase the performance and productivity of individuals. Based on over 4 decades working in this field I view many of our current “beliefs” as myths. Let’s explore those four I named.



s January passed, many organisations were still grappling with setting goals for 2022. Well, 10 months or less will be left when they sign off the individual goals, objectives, OKRs, KPIs and all manner of other hoperidden plans. And, all the time, we are being encouraged to keep “Drinking the kool-aid” and believing in a raft of current myths. Let’s name just four of the most common ones: • Setting goals enhances performance; • Contemporary technology has increased productivity; • Collaboration is the key to increased productivity; • Remote and hybrid working increases productivity.

Setting goals enhances performance

We have long known that employing multiple perspectives can enhance creativity and thus improve performance and productivity. But, we seem to have become addicted to it to the exclusion of other means of achieving our goals FEBRUARY 2022 |



the eyes and tell me that each of your team has those characteristics? I very much doubt it. Most organisations’ performance management processes, aimed at enhancing the performance of the poor performers, produce sub-optimal goals and objectives with insufficient commitment to assure genuine performance and productivity improvement. Can that be resolved? Of course. But it requires a focus on management excellence. In our currently volatile, uncertain, complex, and highly ambiguous world, we need to cease promoting individuals into management positions because they excelled at something else. We need to enable those aspiring to management to train and develop the requisite skills before the appointment so that (a) they can make a more informed decision about whether they


want the management job (my own research indicates that approximately 50% of managers don’t even like managing others), and (b) can hit the ground at least ‘with a brisk walk’ when appointed.

to enhance performance and productivity. BUT! It is my considered opinion that much of it is seriously damaged both by creating business and distractions and reducing the amount and quality of focused work. However, financial invesContemporary technoltors and early adopters fuel ogy has increased produc- the supply, fear of being left behind and addiction to the tivity user experiences make us A proliferation of software tolerant of appalling designs, vendors is selling us their wares claiming that their and a general inability to ERP, VR, AI, collaboration, measure the performance of employee monitoring, and the tools and the productivgoal management tools were ity of the users all sustain designed specifically to meet this flawed belief. the needs of forward-looking, Fortunately, there is a entrepreneurial, growing glimmer of hope. My own organisations just like ours. observations and research I love technology, autoindicate that organisations mation, AI, … It’s what I are beginning to discover the studied. It is what got me longer-term consequences of into management developover-dependence on untested ment. I have been a CEO of technology. For example: a bespoke software house. Attention levels are Much of this contemporary rapidly declining. If you technology has the potential are in a face-to-face group meeting it is likely that, at any point in time, only 50% of those attending will be consciously focused on what is being said. In virtual meetings with cameras, that falls to 33%. With cameras off, it falls further to around 25%. In multiple recent surveys high percentages of employees have admitted attending multiple concurrent meetings, doing other things, day-dreaming, sleeping, and even going away from their computers! Many of our tools have become drivers of

was given access to the internal systems of a client, to all intents and purposes becoming an employee. Within a few hours, I had hundreds of messages inviting me to join collaboration and information sharing teams and shared file folders…virtually none of which had any direct bearing on what I was there to achieve. It took ages to run through them, just in case any might have been important. And, I suspect that was true for most genuine employees. The internal objective of the tools appeared to be to drive

so many meetings with so many people?” The recent focus on the inclusion of everyone has combined with an addiction to consensus decision making and reluctance to pursue individual accountability. We have lost the discipline of choosing between the various ways of making decisions, of which ‘Consensus’ is only one. ‘I’ll decide,’ ‘I’ll decide after consulting with you,’ ‘We’ll vote on options presented,’ and ‘I’ll delegate the decision making to you’ are all becoming lost arts. Can we address this? Of

collaboration not to drive innovation and productivity. The means were more Collaboration is the key to important than the end. increased productivity My observations and We have long known that research have further employing multiple perspec- indicated that the worst tives can enhance creativity decisions are made during and thus improve perforthe first 25% and last 25% mance and productivity. But, of each meeting. Clearly, we seem to have become individuals are rushing, addicted to it to the exclusion often unprepared and late of other means of achieving into meetings. Towards our goals. For example: the end, they are already Collaboration technology mentally preparing to race is claimed to drive innoto the next one or get back vation, speed up decision to doing what this meeting making, and increase effihas interrupted. This raises ciency. Seriously! I recently the question, “Why are there


If managers are to work with their teams to optimise productivity, we have to do far more than launch collaboration tools, create lots of virtual meetings, and use performance monitoring tools to record goals and track their achievements


distraction, not productivity. Inefficient and ineffective meetings are going viral. Prior to the pandemic, studies indicated that over 10 million meetings per day took place in the USA alone. As of December 2022, this figure may have more than doubled, encouraged by lockdowns and enabled by more virtual platforms. The productivity problem is not so much the meetings. Rather, around 75% of them are reported to fail to meet their objectives (if they even had any)! Holding meetings has apparently become more important than what they achieve. Should we make use of contemporary technology? Of course. But we should make quality decisions about what and how. We must consider both the short-term effects and the longer-term consequences before deploying any such tools.

course. But it will take trust and discipline - trust in individuals to do the right thing and the discipline to avoid micromanaging or slipping back into having endless ‘Update meetings.’

Remote and hybrid working increases productivity

“I am so happy not to have to commute anymore,” has to be up there with “You are on mute” as one of the most frequently uttered statements. But, is the assumption that this has translated into increased productivity valid? I am highly sceptical for the FEBRUARY 2022 |


are merely discussing things together on virtual platforms or through collaboration tools. But, we are working in isolation.



Can remote and hybrid work increase productivity?


following reasons: Many individuals have suboptimal working environments at home. They might have the PC and the WiFi but their working environment can be highly distracting and, if not ergonomically designed, even physically damaging. Remote and hybrid working has an unfortunate side effect - the cognitive disconnect from others in the organization. Informal interactions, information flow, priority sharing, personal support, etc are all dramatically reduced. Managers in some organisations are expected to undertake talent reviews of employees they have never met face-to-face, and/or about whom they know very little in terms of how they go about their work or the potential they may have. Many are even becoming concerned about how they themselves may be perceived by other career | FEBRUARY 2022

decision-makers! Whilst it has yet to be validly and reliably proven, anecdotal evidence is substantial that virtual communication and collaboration fails to trigger the same level of empathic responses as face-to-face interactions. Relationships are weakening and loneliness, anxiety, and depression are on the rise. Many managers have resorted to using virtual team meetings as their primary modus operandi. Whilst this appears to offer many benefits – efficiency of delivering messages to all, sharing of priorities, team building, etc, there are serious consequences. I mentioned the obvious earlier - we are all individuals. Whilst contemporary technology combined with a societal trend has enabled us to work virtually together, that is rarely what is happening. Instead, we

Yes, but achieving that is not as simple as merely giving people the tools/access to do it. If managers are to work with their teams to optimise productivity, we have to do far more than launch collaboration tools, create lots of virtual meetings, and use performance monitoring tools to record goals and track their achievements. Managers need to treat each of their team members as unique valuable assets. They need to connect far more, not less, on a oneto-one basis. They must have meaningful conversations about overall goals, priorities, and how things need to be done. They need to tap into the personal anxieties, needs, and aspirations of each team member They must proactively and continually learn the knowledge, skills they have, the behaviours they are displaying, and the outputs they are producing. Only then will they know what their productivity truly is. Only then will they be able to influence it positively. Management is still the real job, not just an add on to another.

Clinton Wingrove is the Principal Consultant, Clinton HR Ltd

The winning solution for a future of work


he COVID-19 pandemic took our common idea of working – where we were always in the office or on the jobsite – and flipped it. Most of the world has been working from home, where possible, since the start of the pandemic. That showed us we were able to be productive even though we were not in the office. But more importantly, we learned that the future of work is not so much about place – “onsite vs. remote”, and asking where people should work in the future

might be the wrong question. A better question is: What unleashes a person's potential, enabling them to be healthy and productive, regardless of where they work? I highlight two critical areas for a resilient and productive workforce below.

Lead with compassion

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a constant stream of change, from different teammates to system shifts, adding onto the stressors of employees – a recent


By Gastón Carrión


We need to stop measuring productivity, and focus on enabling long-term, high quality outcomes instead. Here’s why, and how, such an approach is superior in the new world of work

Gartner survey has revealed that 54% of HR leaders believe that employees are suffering from change fatigue. To minimise this, leaders must look to increase workforce health and resilience by taking more responsibility for workers’ holistic wellbeing and actively seeking to earn their trust. This will require a significant shift to invest and rebuild the culture to one of anti-burnout, rather than quick fixes such as a bonus day off or a wellness app. Organisations must look to provide employees with the resources to be productive anywhere. This means paying attention to day-to-day changes, and empowering teams to shape their own change experiences. They have to redefine work policies and strengthen worker-employer relationships with strategies that ensure workers are net better off. For organisations, this can be done by reframing the way hybrid success is measured – from maximum productivity, to a focus on employee wellbeing and belonging. This can mean delivering the same exceptional results but on a more reasonable timeline, or setting boundaries and actively enforcing FEBRUARY 2022 |




As we transition into the new way of work, employee well-being will be a business priority, and not just a priority for the HR department them so that people can find and maintain a healthy line between their professional and private lives. Through abandoning presenteeism and aiming instead for high quality outcomes that can be maintained long term, organisations will be able to attract and retain the best talent out there and increase customer satisfaction, loyalty and value. As we transition into the new way of work, employee well-being will be a business priority, and not just a priority for the HR department.

Design work around people

Too often we design work around spaces and tasks involved, rather than the people that do them; policies and leadership support have largely catered to onsite workers, and as the modern workplace evolves to one that is likely to have a large number of contingent workers alongside full-timers, it is now critical to design work around people. To deliver on this, IT and business leaders have to work together to design and deploy cost efficient, highly 42


responsive and secure evergreen workplace platforms to help people to work in new ways such as augmenting human intelligence with technology. However, there is no onesize-fit-all model, and business groups within organisations cannot work in silos. It is not a case of the IT department deploying tools and then looking for a problem, it is a case of technology creating a culture that helps employees reach the goals the business requires, anytime, anywhere. There must be close collaboration and communication across business functions to create workplace experiences that engage and motivate employees. In addition, organisations must respond to the needs of their employees, both in terms of their roles, as well as their personal situa-

tions. Different roles require different approaches to restructuring. For example, workers in the retail industry may require more face time. Thus, designing work around them can involve giving employees the tools to take the point of sale to the customer, wherever they are in the store, increasing customers' propensity to buy and making it easier to complete the purchase. In tandem, taking into account personal situations of employees can mean allowing employees who do not have the infrastructure to work at home to return to the office on a more permanent basis. People are generally comfortable with technology in their personal lives and want more from their workplace or something that matches it. They don't want to feel like they are told what

they can and can't do. By empowering the employees with technology, it should allow innovation to develop, rather than be stifled.

Build digital fluency

Future of work

The future is exciting – but it’s not about getting back to the office, it’s about getting back to the basics of supporting people. Key to this is ensuring a vibrant corporate culture, and empowering employees to stay productive anywhere by enhancing flexible working arrangements, upgrading the access to company resources, and uplifting workplace digital capabilities. Only then can the future of work look brighter than ever.


The future is exciting – but it’s not about getting back to the office, it’s about getting back to the basics of supporting people

training and upskilling opportunities; they need to encourage the use of digital tools to drive employee innovation, collaboration and mobility. This can be done through infusing digital technologies, such as cloud, into daily operations to enhance performance. These technologies enable people to work more efficiently, make informed and fast decisions and be more responsive to changing business needs.


While business leaders have made the move to digital, they need to also sharpen their digital edge by promoting digital skills and adoption in the workforce. With the workforce likely to become more dispersed, the importance of digital fluency is only going to increase as not only work itself but employee development and team building will take place virtually. Digital fluency should be thought of in a manner

similar to how people use languages. If being literate means understanding the basic tools of speech, being fluent means being able to create something new with these tools. In this way, digital fluency allows people to build on technological foundations and not just work alongside them, but also to unleash newfound creativity and ways of working. To be successful, workers need to have access to digital tools and training – but also leadership and cultural support – to unlock their full potential and ingenuity. Organisations need to have a strong digital vision that is clearly communicated and endorsed through employee

Gastón Carrión is Managing Director – Talent & Organization / Human Potential, Asia Pacific Lead, Accenture FEBRUARY 2022 |


Time to measure senior leaders' performance beyond just financial indicators Productivity and performance isn't just for the workforce. Senior leadership's performance needs to be evaluated and managed too – but how can this be done beyond financial indicators? Experts from the Center for Creative Leadership offer some pointers



By Mint Kang

Sunil Puri



t's clear enough that the executive leadership of a company has a major role to play in driving performance and productivity, whether on a business level or an individual level. So what about the leaders' own performance and productivity? These are typically evaluated in terms of a company's financial performance, including stock price if the company is listed, and also compensated accordingly. But the last few years have shown that financial perfor| FEBRUARY 2022

Elisa Mallis

mance doesn't necessarily correlate with other aspects of leadership. Is it possible to go a step further, and take a more comprehensive view of leadership performance? People Matters asked Sunil Puri, Asia Head of Research and Product Development, and Elisa Mallis, Managing Director and Vice President, APAC, from the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), to weigh in on what constitutes effective leadership performance in today's environment. Here's what they shared.

Workforce productivity is frequently discussed, but productivity for top leadership is much less touched upon. What do you think are the indicators of a top leader's productivity and performance? Sunil: Looking at senior leader performance beyond the financial metrics such as topline and bottom line performance, valuation, stock price, is tricky to say the least. While from a shareholder perspective it may be adequate to look at financial metrics, it is certainly not appropriate in the current context when stakeholder capitalism pips shareholder capitalism, and people and planet is almost as important, if not more, than profits. CCL research shows that effective leadership happens when there is a clear strategic direction, alignment of different verticals and functions, and commitment by employees towards the shared purpose. To make it happen is senior lead-

were able to better weather the ongoing pandemic.

How can the qualitative or intangible aspects of senior leadership's performance be evaluated? Sunil: Qualitative aspects can often be measured by evaluating workforce attitudes towards senior leadership and key strategies driven from the top. How strongly are leaders able to shape the culture to drive innovation, learnability, agility, for instance needs to be evaluated. Also, senior leaders must take account-

much hinge on. Elisa: There are several very effective culture and top team assessments that can be taken over a period of time to help identify blind spots that the leader or the leadership team may have when it comes to the culture needed for future success. Bringing in perspectives from team members at all levels can also be eye opening for the management team to uncover areas they may need to tackle to boost performance and support a positive organisational culture.

ability for talent identification and development, driving strong value systems among talent, and shaping positive attitudes at the workplace. CCL’s research on Purposeful Leadership highlights senior leaders are accountable to a broader stakeholder group, much beyond shareholders, and therefore organisational impact on societies and communities; employee wellness, diversity, inclusiveness; and environment, must form key metrics that senior leader performance


Senior leaders must take accountability for talent identification and development, driving strong value systems among talent, and shaping positive attitudes at the workplace


ers' responsibility and the leadership team is squarely accountable for making direction, alignment, commitment happen. Also, CCL’s Purposeful Leadership research highlights that senior leaders must live the ‘purpose’ of the organisation to engage key stakeholders, and to drive long term profits. Leaders must therefore be measured on how effectively they walk the talk around purpose. Progressive organisations are also beginning to measure their leader performance in terms of metrics that predict future performance, such as innovation activity, rather than metrics that show historical performance such as margins and top line. Elisa: Financial inclusion, social inclusion, digital inclusion and diversity at the top are a few purpose led drivers that top leaders are starting to be held accountable for with specific metrics, in addition to metrics related to the environmental impact an carbon footprint of their business. Metrics that put people first are also featuring more prominently as measures of top leaders' performance. Especially over the last two years, we saw how higher levels of employee well-being, trust and engagement made the difference for teams and businesses that

Conversely, how can the downsides be evaluated: e.g. if a senior leader contributes to financial performance but has otherwise had a negative impact on the company culture or its non-financial KPIs? Sunil: According to CCL research, in order to drive ‘shared value’ senior leaders must balance altruistic or CSR initiatives the organisation drives for uplifting societies and communities, with financial performance. It is a fine balance that may need leaders to act courageously, often sacrificing FEBRUARY 2022 |




short term growth for longer term impact. Progressive organisations often follow a ‘zero-tolerance’ attitude if leaders do not walk the talk on living the culture of the organisation, irrespective of financial contribution. The underlying ‘mantra’ around performance being that ‘what’ the leader accomplishes is as important as ‘how’ the leader achieved targets. Elisa: Usually, a negative impact on company culture will eventually translate into poor financial performance and other negative business


CEOs must centre around ‘living’ the purpose, financial metrics, talent development, organisational culture, innovation and future-readiness.

What then are some effective ways of improving the C-suite's productivity and performance? Sunil: We believe that ‘development never stops’ and leaders must continue to grow and be a better version of themselves, irrespective of their level. According to CCL’s 70-20-10 philosophy of leadership development,

It’s important for not only HR but also other senior leaders and the Board to play a key role in holding leaders accountable for non-financial KPIs outcomes in the long term. Therefore, it’s important for not only HR but also other senior leaders and the Board to play a key role in holding such leaders accountable for non-financial KPIs.

How can performance be managed for senior leadership? What needs to be considered in the C-suite's performance review? Sunil: CCL’s Board Leadership research highlights that the Board must collectively set effective metrics for CEO performance, on clearly laid out and agreed upon performance measures. Key Result Areas for | FEBRUARY 2022

while leaders must attend development programmes, it is more important for them to leverage mentoring and coaching, and learn through experiences. Boards must play a proactive role in curating a development plan for their CEO; the plan must include partnering with Board leaders on critical organisational initiatives. Elisa: We also believe that learning through heat experiences, which are stretch assignments creating a “trial by fire”, are an important way for leaders to be prepared for larger and more challenging roles. These can include assign-

ments or projects within the organisation, managing a specific crisis, leading particular external community or industry initiatives, or other high profile external roles representing the organisation. Getting the temperature right and providing the right support along the way is important; these heat experiences must be carefully curated to ensure they do not result in burnout.

Senior leadership's performance incentives are traditionally heavily tied to historical financial performance. What's a better framework for compensating good leadership performance? Sunil: Good leader performance measurement incentive plans must not only be based on financial performance, and how the stock market rewards the company, but also on metrics that predict future success of the organisation. While non-financial performance indicators such as market share ratios, efficiency and productivity metrics remain popular, most progressive organisations also link executive compensation with more ‘fuzzy’ yet critical non-financial metrics such as product or service quality, innovation measures, and customer and employee satisfaction scores.

Moving the productivity pedal amid uncertainty If we move away from the concept of productivity as output alone, and start to consider it as the achievement of results that match our purpose, we will find ourselves productive not just in the workplace, but in life as a whole By Ravi Venkatesan



nearly six years to write, not because I was busy or lazy, but because it was a challenging creative effort. Do you measure the productivity of a writer by the number of books, or by the

impact of those books? Do you measure the productivity of software developers or coders by the number of lines of error-free code they generate in a day, or by what that code achieves? The original version of WhatsApp had just 30,000 lines of code, and look at the impact that it has had. If it is that hard to measure the productivity of creative effort, how do you measure the productivity of what we do with our life?


roductivity is an enormously important idea. However, we focus all too seldom on the productivity of what matters most - your life. What is productivity? Mostly, we use the word as a sort of efficiency metric. It is an industrial era term used to measure and improve conversion efficiency. So, what is the output per unit of input? Output per person, or things per hour, per unit of material or energy. It is a very important and good way to measure the efficiency of machines or an industrial system. But it is not a good way to measure the outcomes created by knowledge workers or information workers, which we all increasingly are, and is certainly not a great way to measure your life. Let us consider the knowledge work aspect. I recently released my new book called “What The Heck Do I Do With My Life? How to Flourish in Our Turbulent Times”. This book took me

There is only one way to truly measure ‘productivity’ Did you achieve results that contribute to your purpose? That’s the only way to FEBRUARY 2022 |



truly measure ‘productivity’. If you are going to live a productive life, you need to have a clear sense of purpose. Mark Twain famously said, “there are only 2 days that matter: the day you were born and the day you figure out why.” It’s very important that each one of us asks ourselves this question – why am I here? Some few people are fortunate enough that very early in life, they discover what their life is about. For most of the rest of us, finding our purpose is a quest. It takes years of intentional effort and experimentation. Even Mahatma Gandhi took years to figure this out. One of the reasons it is difficult to discover our purpose is because too many of us have also fallen into a trap of living someone else’s life. From early childhood, we are conditioned to obey and please. We are rewarded for doing what our parents or teachers want. Later on, we are rewarded for doing what our manager wants or being successful in societal terms. In the process, we completely lose sight of what we want. Of course, this is not a new phenomenon. 2,000 years ago, the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius wrote in his book ‘Meditations’: “It never ceases to amaze me that we love ourselves above all others but care more about their | FEBRUARY 2022

opinion than our own”. More recently, Steve Jobs in a famous speech at Stanford said “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your inner voice. Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. Be you.”

How do we find a new and authentic purpose? It is not possible to simply think your way to the answer. The only reliable way is to do a lot of ‘microexperiments’, where you try many different things. You then see what fits, what really gives you joy, what the Universe has in store for you, which doors open, and which ones remain firmly shut. When I left Microsoft, I had no idea what I wanted

to do, nor did I have a clear sense of purpose. So, I tried many experiments. I started writing, giving talks, and teaching senior executives. I dipped my toe into the social or development sector. With my friend and former Microsoft colleague Will Poole, we started Unitus Ventures, an impact-focused venture fund, and Social Venture Partners Banglore, which has grown to seven cities. I joined the boards of interesting companies like AB Volvo, Infosys and Bank of Baroda. In 2018, I finally realised two real purposes: First is tackling complex societal problems which require many different stakeholders to work together. For this, I started the Global Alliance for Mass Entrepreneurship or GAME. I also agreed to help UNICEF to create GenU to start a global youth movement. Second, helping people find

You find meaning and satisfaction at the intersection of what you are good at, what you love and what the world needs. That’s when you are in a state of flow and highest productivity because we choose to make them matter. What might make a difference to us is if in our tiny roles, in our brief time, we inhabit life gently and add more beauty than ugliness.” How do we inhabit and walk this earth more gently, and how can we use all our prodigious talent and potential to make life a little more beautiful? In the answer to that question, lies your purpose and the quest for your personal productivity.


for a startup, go spend your Saturdays with one. If you think you might enjoy teaching, start teaching a course part-time. If you think you want to move to the social sector, start volunteering. Through these experiments, you will learn what fits, what’s a good hobby and where your real purpose lies. One of my mentors, the late Professor Jim March of Stanford said: “In the end, we are very minor blips in a cosmic story. Aspirations for importance and significance are the illusions of the ignorant. All our hopes are minor except to us. But some things matter—mostly


their path and discover their potential, which I decided to do through my writing and by giving talks. In this way, I found the most productive use of myself and all my intangible assets like my time, expertise, and network. The Japanese have a concept called ‘Ikigai’, which says that you find meaning and satisfaction at the intersection of what you are good at, what you love and what the world needs. That’s when you are in a state of flow and highest productivity. Now what prevents more of us from seeking and finding our purpose? It may be some combination of fear and greed. There is something called a “monkey law” which says ‘don’t release the vine you are holding until you have grabbed another’. We do this because we are afraid to go down a road less travelled. What if you fail? What if people laugh at you? Your family may get upset? Or there is greed… ‘let me make just a little more money, then I will go find my dream’. This is all completely normal. Not everyone is in a position to cut the umbilical cord, nor do you need to. The point about microexperiments is that you can do them even as you hold down your full-time job and responsibilities. If you think you might enjoy working

Ravi Venkatesan is the former chairman of Microsoft India, founder of GAME, UNICEF’s Special Representative for Young People and Innovation and author of “What the Heck Do I Do with My Life? How To Flourish in Our Turbulent Times”. FEBRUARY 2022 |




The shift to values-driven performance management


Enabling performance is about growing not just your employees but yourself, says Chris Eigeland, Chief Revenue Officer of Go1 in an interview with People Matters By Asmaani Kumar


hris Eigeland co-founded Go1 and is its Chief Revenue Officer. He is responsible for global revenue attainment, including sales function management, and maintaining relationships with partners and affiliates. Chris obtained a degree in Law and International Relations from Griffith University, and has worked extensively in international relations and law, representing Australia at the United Nations General Assembly in 2016, as a National Commissioner for UNESCO, and working in constitutional law in the UK and South Africa. In an exclusive interaction with People Matters, Eigeland points out key strategies for | FEBRUARY 2022

performance enablement and elevating the employee experience as businesses continue to operate with a distributed workforce.

As the workspace becomes increasingly digital, what are the key challenges when it comes to driving productivity among your employees? Communication flow has always been challenging – those conversations when everyone gets together at the office, or as you walk past

someone’s desk … sometimes these serendipitous moments can drive immense collaboration and innovation. But as our office has shifted to Slack, Zoom, Teams and email, there is real risk of the communication burden growing exponentially. A record number of Slack messages and emails are flying around on a daily basis and it’s often hard to decipher important content. We’ll need to adapt our communication style and

Values-driven performance management will become even more important – forcing time-poor managers to pause and consider the drivers behind behaviours vs just the behaviour itself

processes to be precise and targeted to make sure the right information gets in front of the right people at the right time, without needing to trawl through endless company announcements.

Building the right work culture is becoming more important than ever before. In line with that, what are some of the key strategies that can help increase job satisfaction among the workforce and improve the overall employee experience? Three strategies emerge as important: 1. A clear focus on developing your team With the workforce moving at the speed it is, and transformation occurring in both the nature of work, and many industries, it is fundamental to have a culture and strategy for developing your team. This is both because FEBRUARY 2022 |


In the new world of work, performance management has started to take on new dimensions, one of them being performance enablement. What can leaders do to level up the potential of their workforce? When considering ‘performance enablement’ or the structures to better support and grow your team, there are two principles I try to live by (although not always succeeding!) The first is that to be able to grow your people, you also need to grow yourself. And the second is an acknowledge-

ment that continuous learning cycles occur everyday whether we see it or not, and it’s our role to facilitate the most effective learning cycles possible, both in structured ways through formal learning opportunities, and bringing the right team members together at the right time to learn from each other. How this plays out on a daily basis is by first reflecting on my own learning journey with the team (even if it’s something entirely unrelated to work like lawn care), and then providing an environment for others in the organisation to build and share their own learning journeys.


What must leaders do to implement a more transparent and empathetic performance management system when operating with a distributed workforce? Operating a distributed workforce, where interactions are mostly virtual and limited to time-boxed discussions, can expose the organisation to amplified cognitive biases – that one dimensional view of your colleague you receive over Zoom leaves even less room for understanding where your assumptions may be incorrect. Values-driven performance management will become even more important – forcing time-

poor managers to pause and consider the drivers behind behaviours vs just the behaviour itself. This isn’t an easy thing to do and requires not only a clear values framework, but a practical, scalable understanding of what behaviours align with that framework.




and not letting them stagnate and become weighed down with legacy communications and structures. Our tooling – video, messaging, learning, task management, and general workflows – will continue to unify into our normal workflows. The other important topic will be the approach to physical environments – a shift to ‘offsite spaces’ and ‘co-working environments’ to enable enough face-to-face connection to build relationships and empathy.


it’s expected in the modern workforce, but also drives faster business outcomes. 2. Lead with values It’s not only important to have the values that drive your decision making, but to lead with them. Explain why decisions were made based on the value-set that drives the organisation, and when you don’t live up to them (which you won’t), acknowledge it. Being part of an authentic workplace is core to job satisfaction, particularly in a remote environment where people can more easily feel more disconnected. 3. Flexibility is key With an increasing focus on output vs location or structure, providing flexibility and supporting employees personal and family priorities will become increasingly important. This isn’t | FEBRUARY 2022

compromising on effectiveness or efficiency, but building the empowerment environment to deliver what’s needed – in flexible hours or locations.

With companies increasing their investments in the digital transformation of the workplace, what are your thoughts on retaining human connection in an increasingly digital/remote/ hybrid workplace? Human connectivity will be increasingly built via a mix of digital and physical interactions, and the starting point is making a clear decision on the model your organisation is going to adopt. Fully remote, fully hybrid or fully in-person can all work – as long as the framework is clear. Some of the specific strategies and topics will need to include upgrading digital tools as if it was your physical office,

Given the recent COVID surges across the globe, what is one advice that you would like to share with HR leaders on keeping their teams motivated during turbulent and uncertain times? It sounds simple but communicate openly. No one is expecting smooth sailing in the next 12 months of operating a business, in the midst of changing health, economic and geo-political conditions. The more open you can be around what challenges are being faced, and the path to overcoming them, the more people will understand and offer their support to do so. It’s going to be another rollercoaster year, and we should own that fact and use it to build trust within the organisation that we’ll overcome the obstacles together.

Want better performance? Decouple goals and bonuses

It might sound unintuitive, but in fact pegging compensation to pre-set metrics is counterproductive, says Stuart Robertson, Chief People Officer at AvePoint. He tells People Matters why By Mint Kang

Only by decoupling the hard-coded link between goals and bonus payments can we truly set aspirational goals and drive greater performance


son, AvePoint's Chief People Officer. “With collaboration and diversity being key factors in a thriving workforce, it is impossible to measure one’s performance without the consideration of a broader picture.” Robertson is not fond of the incremental style that was prevalent just 10 years ago – overly bureaucratic and time-consuming, he calls it, involving thousands of hours of management time and providing little differentiation between actual performance. “Furthermore, it was heavily metric-based, pre-negotiated at the start of the performance year and solely focused on the individual employees’ ability to exceed the targets they had agreed on,” he says. “Only by decoupling the hard-coded link between



he HR team at SaaS solutions firm AvePoint is done with the old-school performance management approach of bonuses and pre-calculated goals. Instead, they're implementing an OKR framework based on 90-day increments and aligning teams to shared goals at the executive level – turning productivity and performance into a live, moving framework that's much more conducive to teamwork and business agility. “Today, companies are more interested in setting stretch goals that can yield disruptive growth rather than incremental growth and focusing the performance discussion on enabling this future growth in the context of a team, rather than as individuals,” says Stuart Robert-

goals and bonus payments can we truly set aspirational goals and drive greater performance.”

A better approach to performance in the hybrid model

The need to move away from individual metrics and towards shared, companywide goals is particularly relevant as more and more businesses adopt the hybrid or even fully remote working model, especially for global teams that commuFEBRUARY 2022 |



nicate almost exclusively remotely. In this model, the whole concept of productivity as we currently perceive it is outdated, Robertson believes: “Productivity can be ultimately a lagging indicator – Did a person produce effectively and efficiently?” he points out. Instead of focusing on productivity, he thinks companies need to take a more forward-looking approach, one that's about enabling people to do their jobs better in the immediate or longer-term future. As an example of how this approach can work out, he offers AvePoint's own

strategy, which comprises four pillars of empathy, purpose, clarity and technology – and no particular allusion to productivity. “We focus more on engaging and collaborating with our teams in an open and honest way,” he says. “Firstly, by truly understanding them, their challenges, and their circumstances to meet their needs where they are at. Secondly, to ensure each person understands how their role fits into the overall mission of the company – to enable organisations to collaborate with confidence. Thirdly, to provide clarity on specific

Teams that focus on and support talent development and upskilling programmes will rise above competition to increase productivity and workforce agility to address dynamic business opportunities


objectives. Fourth, we can employ the full power of our own collaboration technology to communicate, work on things remotely in real time, host meetings that combine groups in a room and remote attendees, and much more.” If there is a challenge to actually turning these ideals into tangible business performance, it most likely comes from an incomplete view of remote work, Robertson feels. “People often think about remote work as using ‘hard skills’ and in-person work as using ‘soft skills’. I think this is only part of the picture,” he says. “Ultimately it comes down to working where, when, and how it makes sense. For years, companies would go offsite if they needed to do strategic planning. This is saying that the office is for more routine work. Today, that has flipped. Routine work can be done, anywhere, and anytime. In-person work is all about collaboration, sharing, planning, team building, bonding, debating, resolving conflict etc. In other words, performance in the hybrid or fully remote model is about matching the type of work to the appropriate milieu – something that would not even be an option, let alone a consideration, in the 100% on-site model.

The important thing, he adds, is that there is no one size fits all policy – it depends very much on what is needed at a particular time and for a particular purpose, and both individuals and the company have to be open to recognising this and adjusting accordingly.

The supporting factors: upskilling and technology

Productivity can be ultimately a lagging indicator – Did a person produce effectively and efficiently? workplace. The bottom line is that technology is what allows a business to adapt to a hybrid or remote-appropriate performance model, he says. “Through technology, data-powered insights will be driving the evaluation of productivity and performance, especially in a hybrid work environment against a clear set of shared priorities and metrics. Companies that are able to manage and utilise these data insights and effectively create employee engagement, empowerment and development programmes will be best able to adapt well to evaluating productivity and performance remotely.” FEBRUARY 2022 |


global teams. To hone our sales force’s capabilities to engage in compelling discovery conversations with our clients, we have curated a custom course for all of them to learn and practice how to carry effective valuedriven conversations with the modern buyer,” he says. If the right focus areas have been identified, the outcomes can be clearly measured. In Robertson's example, AvePoint's sales teams have been tracking client response, and 90% of those who took the course have reported more positive client engagement outcomes. Finally, there's the technology itself, the inescapable fundamental of today's


A few areas are critical to performance management strategies for the hybrid or remote model. One is upskilling, the buzzword of recent years that is more frequently associated with learning digital skills today. “Teams that focus on and support talent development and upskilling programmes will rise above competition to increase productivity and workforce agility to address dynamic business opportunities,” says Robertson. And this is not just about 'hard' digital skills as they are commonly conceived, but about the 'soft' skills that allow people to not just use the technology, but use it effectively. It's about recognising the key competencies for a given job, and the capabilities that those competencies involve. “For example, sales and digital transformation consultancy is a key competency across AvePoint’s


Piyush Ghosal

Driving Productivity and Business Metrics through HR Digitisation

Productivity & performance

Digitalising HR processes is one of the most direct and efficient ways for HR to contribute to workforce productivity. However, this requires careful change management and a focus on how technology impacts users



f there is one major and visible change that the ongoing pandemic has brought, it is the advent of the digital world. From corporate to household, digitisation has established its footprint almost everywhere. Digital workplaces are growing across businesses and the use of technology-enabled solutions is evolving beyond competitive advantage to become a necessity for companies. And this also includes the most important function within any company - the Human Resource function. Just like any other business function or process, the Human Resource function also needs to be digitised – not as a stand-alone function but as a result of digital metamorphosis of the organisation as a whole. At the same time, another vital change that the pandemic has brought is that suddenly, enhancing workplace productivity has become the talk of the town – more via gossip and whispers as nobody wants to | FEBRUARY 2022

prioritise productivity over wellness in this pandemic. But alas, businesses cannot survive without being productive and hence, sooner or later, workforce productivity surfaces in the corporate world once more. The good thing is, business leaders across industries agree that the most strategic productivity hack for any organisation has to be – digital makeover of people processes and Human Resources. Imagine the surge in productivity if HR leaders are equipped with technology enabled solutions to induct, preserve, manage and develop talent.

For example, a user-centric database of people with all relevant information will help businesses in general and HR in specific to make more informed decisions around talent management. Just as in sales, marketing or for that matter any other function, data plays a critical role in helping HR leaders navigate through people – their demography, location, function and all other relevant details. However, HR data is often isolated in different systems and formats, and this lack in coherence of systematically collecting and collating data makes it difficult for HR leaders to connect people strategy with business metrics.

The solution?

Using technology-based data management, digital reporting and dashboard systems to support business in taking decisions in this everdynamic environment. Introducing chatbots as an interface of communication to employees about HR processes, policies and

company and employee documents. Tracking employee data in paper form, work contracts, appointment letters and other employee documents not only takes a lot of manual processing and large storage areas but also carries a risk of data loss due to paper being perishable. Technology-enabled online data storage can not only help in reducing the physical space required but also minimise the risk of data loss. When it comes to digitising HR processes, best results come only when an integrated holistic approach is

rience. Too much process automation at the same and complex functional usability may result in poor user experience, defeating the very objective of digitisation. When using technology as an enabler, one has to be careful not just to optimise process efficiency but also achieve superior employee experience. Hence involving employees in the decision making, implementation and testing stage, and providing adequate training before final implementation will ensure positive user experience.

Involving employees in the decision making, implementation and testing stage, and providing adequate training before final implementation will ensure positive user experience adopted wherein the organisation’s current processes and policies are reviewed keeping in mind the future needs, and then it is seen which integrated technology meets the needs. It is important to sketch a roadmap of technical interventions for the entire organisation and include HR as a subset of the organisation. It is important to identify key processes that affect productivity and need to be automated on priority. Another tip that can be considered while digitising key people processes is to ensure superior user expe-

The recent changes and advancements in enhancing consumer technology have not only surged user experience but also user expectation in terms of faster and efficient delivery. With employees being the internal customers, businesses will have to change outdated systems and processes into technology driven interfaces that satiates the experience of internal customers and helps to drive productivity.

Productivity & performance

systems goes a long way not only to enhance productivity but also employee experience. During the pandemic, HR has frontlined the physical and mental well being of the workforce, to an extent that corporate stalwarts are now considering a new name for HR leaders and that is CWO i.e Chief Wellness Officer. To effectively connect with employees and go beyond business in ensuring a happy workforce, HR folks need to get some bandwidth from the regular operational activities. Introducing AI based chatbots and automating operational HR activities will provide this bandwidth to them which in turn can be used to create a more happy, engaged and productive workforce. Further, employees will also experience a more enhanced technology driven process interface that will help them become less dependent on others for seeking information on organisational processes and policies. Not only this, automating learning platforms and digitising key courses will create learning conditions that can be embedded into the flow of work. Organisations will be able to sketch out personalised learning solutions specific to teams/individuals or projects making skills and competency development personalised and individual that can fit into everyday routine. Another area where HR processes can be digitised is


Piyush Ghosal is Head of HR, PratitiTech FEBRUARY 2022 |


P o d c a s t

In an uncertain world, ditch the annual plans for agility With job openings far outpacing the number of applicants, the future of work today is going to be about how people are working and what employers are doing to build their workforce. Sandeep Sharma, President – Asia of Workday, shares his perspective By Sudeshna Mitra


hough the pandemic was disruptive, intelligent leadership took this as an opportunity to transform digitally. Sandeep Sharma, President – Asia of Workday, joined an episode of People Matters Podcast to share a general picture of what the ‘future of work’ might look like, speaking from the perspective of a HR tech company that provides people services across several industries globally, and also as a business that itself is working to keep up with the changing world. Here are some excerpts of what he shared.

Recently, a report published by the International Labor Organiza58


tion states that the employment rate will improve to the standards of the pre-pandemic era, not before 2023. How do you look at this? It's a very interesting situation and I think all of us understand what's happening in the workplace today, with the disruption and confusion. For the scale of employment to get back to prepandemic levels, 2023 is likely the earliest. But, I don't think the work structure is going to get back to what it was like two years ago. it's going to be a very different sort of work environment. Moving ahead, work is going to be more digitally enabled, more hybrid in nature and more flexible.

available from the enterprise in the environment, becomes critical. Thus, the opportunity here lies in the fact that enterprises that adopt a new mode of working will see themselves pulling ahead, in terms of business outcomes, employee engagement and employee retention.

We have seen repeated restrictions on international travel due to pandemic and the repeated waves of the COVID-19. What do you see in store for companies working with cross border employees? This question touches on the point that I made earlier about the future of work and the different work environment. And I think that this should be looked at by the companies as an opportunity. Nobody knows what’s exactly coming next in terms of international travel due to COVID-19. So in this context, enabling employees to work where they are, using the capabilities and the data

Could you please cast some light on the emotional quotient of employees who are hitting the office floors again? The emotional quotient has gained critical status when it comes to employee well-being. Remote working, residing in containment zones, lack of travelling and socialising, have left a huge impact on our mental health. On the part of the employ-

In this new world, uncertainty is the norm. What has historically worked in the past is absolutely irrelevant


P o d c a s t

So, I think that it is going to be more about how people are working rather than the rate at which they're working. What we have to do is be more empathetic as leaders to ensure that the employees adapt to the new mode of hybrid work on a permanent basis, without hassle.


P o d c a s t

ers, it has become critical to know what the employees are going through even in their personal lives. Because it is no longer about relying on physical interactions or the ability to see someone – how they react face to face – now it becomes more about intelligent and continuous listening. That process should continue and leaders should be more empathetic to understand the struggles that employees are facing at home and also at work. I think there's a classic report out by EMI, which talks about empathy in business and about how half of the workers in the US left jobs because their bosses weren't empathetic enough. In fact, if employees are disengaged, it can cost the economy. In the context of the US economy, it costs them half a trillion dollars annually. Having a wide client base globally, we have access to some insights from what our customers are telling us and what we see is almost a quarter of the employees are demonstrating that

they are getting ready to make a change.

What is going to be the hiring trend in 2022? There's no red hot market out there. Just to give you my perspective, I'm based in Singapore and for every 100 applicants for jobs, there are 163 positions advertised just in Singapore. In Australia, almost 600,000 Australians are expected to be with their new employers in 2022, which is almost 5% of the workforce. That's actually creating scarcity of resources as companies don't have enough applicants. And at the same time, the ones who are qualified have multiple opportunities that they can go after. And so where do employees in this situation end up going? They end up going to employers that have a very good reputation because nowadays that information is democratised. Companies have to transform digitally to ensure that they are attracting the right talent to come on board. And in fact, applicants are looking for that sort of an organisation to join.

I don't believe that there is a way for companies to just hire their way out of this problem. Employers should start thinking about how to create talent instead of just hiring 60


increase the longevity of an employee within the organisation, they need to be looked at from the skills perspective.

P o d c a s t

So, what is the graph of hiring in 2022 going to look like for the HR technology industry? From Workday's own perspective, our stated goal is to get to revenue 10 billion for the next three odd years. And, we are increasing our headcount by 20% to meet that goal. So in general, I think the tech industry will have similar targets and trends. But I don't believe that there is a way for companies to just hire their way out of this problem. Employers should start thinking about how to create talent instead of just hiring. And this is where organisations need to transform into skills-based organisations. So leaders need to understand: What skills are needed today, in the future, and how do they flex the organisational capacity to meet the skills needs of the future? As leaders, we need to map the needed skills within the organisation, which is often ignored by many businesses. In fact, in order to

What is the one big trend from 2021 that may impact the decisions of policymakers in 2022? In one word, it's agility. There is a generational shift upon us, and the aftershocks are continuing. In this new world, uncertainty is the norm. What has historically worked in the past is absolutely irrelevant. Success in today's world requires us to operate at a much higher metabolic rate. They must play by a new set of rules, they have to see the bigger picture, drive calibration based on data and realise faster cycle times. In today's environment, you cannot rely on annual plans because you just don't know what's going to happen tomorrow. This is the strategic imperative in front of the tech industry. FEBRUARY 2022 |


workplace depression

Redesign jobs

to reduce workplace depression Just like product design, jobs too require observation, employee interactions to ascertain how to remove unnecessary tasks, and consultation with the people who do the work every day By Dr Jeffrey Pfeffer & Dr M Muneer


usinesses today face an epidemic far worse than COVID-19 – that of workplace stress and depression, which takes an enormous toll on employees and company performance. Various research reports from Gallup to Korn



Ferry and WHO have brought out the worrying statistics of workplace “silent killers”: • 18% of reported global depression cases are from India - over 60 million people and multiplying rapidly. • 52% of private sector employ-

ees suffer from extreme stress as a consequence of their work. • 48% of employees are afflicted with mental health issues at work. • Adjusted for population size, India ranks first in the incidence of mental disorders. • Many employees want to quit but are not able to do so because of financial commitments.

So how do we go about fixing these issues? Many of the factors causing stress and burnout can be at

Many of the factors causing stress and burnout can be at least partly remedied if companies stop taking existing jobs and organisational arrangements as sacrosanct and engage in serious redesign initiatives least partly remedied if companies stop taking existing jobs and organisational arrangements as sacrosanct and engage in serious redesign initiatives. Here are two examples of businesses doing just that:

workplace depression

Then there’s depression, which significantly impacts productivity (along with stress, it also leads to absenteeism, presenteeism and turnover), and is one of the leading causes of disability. But that’s not all: Numerous studies show that depression has physiological repercussions and can increase the risk of heart disease, insomnia, weight gain and even cancer. Last year has seen a renewed focus by employers on the mental and physical health of employees, perhaps as a result of increased stress from WFH and job insecurity. But to make a difference, we need to acknowledge the causes of workplace-induced stress, anxiety and depression: job strain resulting from a combination of high job demands and low job control, long work hours, economic insecurity due to job loss and scheduling uncertainty, low wages that produce economic insecurity, work-family conflict, workplace bullying and harassment, perceived unfairness or a sense of injustice, and a lack of social support.

Removing Unnecessary Distractions SAS, the largest privately-owned software company in the world, has a 35-hour work week. When we asked their leaders what made it possible, the response was the same: Few people in most organisations work 35 productive hours in a week. (Our independent research across different organisations showed the maximum FEBRUARY 2022 |


workplace depression

number of hours an employee could work productively as six in a day). SAS took steps to remove burdens that wasted time. On-site childcare, assistance with elder care, a chief medical officer to help choose the best health providers and who provided health plans that didn’t bog people down with paperwork, adoption assistance, and similar benefits reduced distractions by providing employees with highquality help for their life issues. An emphasis on employee trust and the decentralisation of decision-making also eliminated endless “check-in meetings” and the need to get approval from layers of management – processes that unnecessarily consume much time. Using Automation to Relieve Burdens The other example is of a company that is redesigning the primary care experience for both patients and providers. To

be successful, it needs to reduce physician turnover and burnout (a massive problem within the industry) and to provide an outstanding patient experience by increasing doctors’ level of engagement. Doing so requires addressing a dramatic rise in bureaucratic tasks, too many work hours, and increasing digitisation. The company is doing something that any organisation can do to reduce the wasted effort that makes long hours necessary and work stressful. We describe it as “user-centred work design.” It takes the same form as “usercentred product design”, more or less pioneered by IDEO. It has become de rigueur and typically includes an almost anthropological observation of people’s product experiences. The company has rejected offthe-shelf software and hired more than 100 software engineers to build custom systems. The engineers engage with physicians to figure out what tasks can be automated to reduce doctors’ workloads and develop software that is easy to use and helpful. Groups of people from all jobs and levels meet regularly to determine how to allocate work in ways that

Most organisations consider their work environments and habits necessary and never question what they are doing or how they are doing it 64


reduce stress. This helps the employees figure out what practices, tasks and operations can be eliminated without any adverse consequences.

This Year, Make a Real Commitment to Change

Job redesign to reduce stress – and increase health and productivity – is not a formulaic activity, which is the major reason why most companies hesitate to attempt it to attempt it. Just like product design, it requires observation, employee interactions to ascertain how to remove unnecessary tasks and consultation with the people who do the work every day. Mostly, it requires people who refuse to accept workplace stress and depression as unchangeable and who don’t apply Band-Aids like yoga classes and stress-reduction workshops to see the problem. Any organisation can accomplish this only if it is willing to place employees at the centre of the job redesign process.

workplace depression

The number of unnecessary work tasks performed in a given day is pretty astounding. Many activities are simply leftovers from long-established policies that no longer serve a purpose. Certain processes, including some owned by human resources, don’t add significant economic value. And many companies take current job designs and work arrangements for granted, thereby foregoing opportunities to seriously reduce workplace stress We have done many interviews within supposedly leading-edge companies that have embraced a holistic definition of health and well-being, and claimed to understand the connections between health and economic performance. We found that most organisations consider their work environments and habits necessary and never question what they are doing or how they are doing it. For instance, one financial services firm never even considered the idea that its 100 hour work-weeks were neither mandated by law nor useful in attracting or retaining talent. Job redesign to reduce stress – and increase health and productivity – is not a formulaic activity, which is the major reason why most companies hesitate


Dr Jeffrey Pfeffer is Chair Professor of Organisational Behaviour at Stanford Graduate School of Business, and |Dr Muneer is Co-Founder and Chief Evangelist of the non-profit Medici Institute. Twitter@MuneerMuh FEBRUARY 2022 |


Visty Banaji

The Dogs of (Office) War The game of office politics becomes enormously more complicated and lethal when one of the antagonists deploys a pack of underlings. Why is it difficult to counter this tactic and how can organisations reduce its incidence?

The road less travelled


hen I was a young innocent in the corporate world, I got into a conflict with the head of another department. He was only slightly senior to me in rank but far ahead of me both in age and political savvy. I’d like to believe I got the better of him in the conflict but not without sustaining considerable damage to myself, my team and my progression (at least in the medium term). What I had overlooked was that my antagonist was actually

Over a period, particularly in HR, the entire function’s credibility comes into question, severely impairing its ability to launch new initiatives or even sustain existing ones 66


the hit man for a far more powerful player – one who even I would not have been naïve enough to confront at that stage of my career. That oversight caused the first of the several maulings I was to receive by the teeth of the numerous Dogs of Office War (DOW) I encountered over the decades. A few years later, I had progressed sufficiently to find myself in a face-off directly with the patron of the aforesaid DOW. I was still not a positional match for this 'padrino' but felt I

had no choice if I was to guard the organisational value he threatened. Since the 'capo dei capi' had by then given me some signs of public recognition, I thought I had nothing to fear. I was wrong. It is true my 'blue-eyed-boy' status stopped my oversized opponent from confronting me openly or personally. That, however, didn’t prevent him from "ranging for revenge" and letting "slip the dogs of war".1 They picked up numerous seemingly unrelated fights, each of which

which unscrupulous rivals can sink you or hole your career hull.

With both arms tied and legs shackled

Those who have spent years in the corporate boxing ring and made it to the final rounds have, of necessity, learned to punch back2 – sometimes even above their own weight class. But this is no preparation for facing a full-fledged DOW assault which, obviously, follows no Queensberry rules. One may come out of it alive but rarely unbloodied. No description that I can give of the DOW and their tactics can equal the one given by Kipling about "the dhole, the red huntingdog of the Dekkan… They drive straight through the Jungle, and what they meet they pull down and tear to pieces… and until they are all killed, or till game is

scarce, they go forward killing as they go."3 In the case of the DOW, of course, the pack is not autonomous but operating at the behest and under the protection of a practised gamesman. Dealing with them is a Catch-22 prospect. The instinctive and wholly correct reaction of our (soon-to-be tragic) hero to the first DOW stings is to ignore them. After all, the DOW is usually much junior and it would be unseemly and ungallant to get into a scrap down such a vertiginously steep decline. Intellectually also the firepower of the victim is likely to overshoot the DOW targets. It seems pointless to explain, in nuanced and balanced terms, why the DOW slogans targeted to appeal to the fourth-standard (failed) mind, are too simplistic to solve the complex problem at hand. Very often, FEBRUARY 2022 |

The road less travelled

could easily be countered but which cumulatively took a heavy toll on my energies, my goal achievements and my reputation for carrying people along in the transformation journey we had begun. The price of tangling with a hunting pack of DOW is not small. Alert as I was to prevent a recurrence, I found DOW encounters were an occupational hazard for a CHRO seeking to drive change while holding some core values sacrosanct. This has been the experience of other HR leaders trying to make a difference – at least those who have not rolled over in the face of opposition and allowed their bellies to be tickled by powerful satraps or scions. Such struggles are usually neither even nor fair. Yet, every HR professional who has a change programme to fulfil must be able to confront pack attacks and emerge reasonably intact. Let’s first examine why, even at very senior levels, DOW offensives are serious hazards. Though I have tracked literature on office politics with some assiduity over the years, there is really not much research available on these wolf pack tactics. Bloodily acquired experience will have to suffice as the guide for understanding these infernally effective and invariably pernicious ways in


The road less travelled 68

In the latter case we had a leader who kept his ear close enough to the ground to be aware of incipient impression managers and nascent DOW groups too, when attacks are not launched in the open, even displaying knowledge of their existence can reveal the sources of one’s information. The dialogue can then be hijacked in the totally different direction of punishing people who reveal confidential discussions – while, of course, denying they ever took place. The matter, unfortunately, doesn’t go away if it’s given the LDB (Let Dogs Bark) treatment. Left unchallenged, the slur, slander or slight continues festering, draining the reputation acquired with years of effort and probity. More immediately threatening is the option available to | FEBRUARY 2022

(and sooner or later exercised by) the prime antagonist to claim publicly that whatever charge the DOW made was established since it wasn’t refuted. Over a period, particularly in HR, the entire function’s credibility comes into question, severely impairing its ability to launch new initiatives or even sustain existing ones. There is no choice now but to go on the counter-offensive. However, no sooner do the first DOW feel the heat than their patron stands up for them, taking a paternally forgiving attitude and slipping imperceptibly into an adjudicator’s role. This not only makes the attacked

party on par with the DOW but a supplicant to the Patronus Maximus (or PatroMax, as we will refer to the ringleader for the rest of this column) who now becomes the judge between the victim and the initial tormentor. While all this is going on, nothing prevents additional DOW from mounting their own sorties. As each such episode reaches its own untidy conclusion (after the initial LDB, the forced attention and the unhappy compromise), the targeted executive is de-energised, depressed and demoralised to the point where normal tasks suffer and reputation deservedly starts getting eroded. The final curtains come down on our tragedy in three acts. I did not mention the possibility of meeting hireling with hireling i.e. setting up a DOW network of one’s own. This is the ultimate disaster for an organisation. However much each protagonist commits to abjuring first use, DOW networks are expensive to maintain without having the rewards of victory to distribute among the lead DOW. The temptation to launch a preemptive DOW strike is just too great. Thereafter, the entire organisation descends into cabals and coalitions – severely impeding its performance.

The DOW advantage

So far we have looked at

supportive, if not effusively admiring, of PatroMax. The people for whom the game offers maximal ladderclimbing benefit are the surviving DOW, who have played the ophidian role in the snakes and ladders game of corporate politics. There can be unmerited rating improvements and out-ofturn promotions when the DOW are in the reporting hierarchy of the PatroMax.4 Even when they are not, they can be singled out for participation in high-visibility task forces, given additional hats that can be seen

which appeals to the need for strong leadership many have in our culture.5

Decreasing DOW Dominance

Taking for granted that some degree of jostling for power is inevitable in any human agglomeration, we will focus on minimising its ill effects in corporates when formations like the DOW make competition unhealthy and unfair. The three best ways of achieving this are lowering the Organisational Political Temperature (OPT), raising the

Importantly, ombudsmen, group headquarters, and independent directors are also valuable nodes to have at the other end of the independent appeal channel by the top management from afar and get recommended for rapid career progression at inter-collegial committees where PatroMax participates. This last can put the DOW-targeted executive in the unenviable position of losing the loyalty even of formal reports as they believe they owe their rise to PatroMax and hold an eternal grudge against their formal leader if s/he attempts to slow it down. On top of it all, there is the high need for power which most PatroMaxes exude and

People Process Robustness (PPR) and installing functioning Channels of Independent Appeal (CIA). I shall illustrate each of these with a real-life example. As mentioned before, one of my earlier jobs was in a unit that had deep political tows below the surface. Much as I hated being caught up in these dangerous currents, I owe my own political 'nous' to that blooding. In contrast, I also had the joy of working in a very low OPT environment where little energy needed to be FEBRUARY 2022 |

The road less travelled

DOW from the point of the doomed hero. Time to consider why individuals take the trouble to set up a DOW network and, on the other hand, why people subject themselves to such dubious henchmanship. For the time being, we shall ignore the unlikely possibility that the DOW are ideologically committed to a noble management cause or the likelier chance that they get some pathological pleasure out of tormenting others.4 The greatest advantage the PatroMax gains out of having a DOW gang is the leeway it provides for letting them take the extreme positions that s/he desires (but doesn’t publicly own), which can then become mainstream if there is no general condemnation or counterattack by the target. On the other hand, if there is much revulsion or resistance, PatroMax has plausible deniability and a choice of how much to protect or sacrifice the DOW. The abandoning of a couple of DOW, especially those who have far exceeded their briefs and lost their usefulness, cements the generally perceived value of PatroMax as the last bastion of hope against more extreme points of view. Lastly, the fear of DOW ensures the silent majority (and, if pusillanimous enough, even the unit leadership) vocalises its views only when they are


The road less travelled 70

diverted away from organisationally important goals to powering political protection shields. The key difference between the two situations was that in the latter case we had a leader who kept his ear close enough to the ground to be aware of incipient impression managers and nascent DOW groups. Thus, a combination of willingness to spend time on the minutiae of interactions several levels below him, shrewdness to see through the games people play and fairness while nipping conflicts and stratagems in the bud, kept the OPT to double-digit Kelvin at worst. Proof that the leader was the prime reason for the OPT being so low came as soon as he started giving up active control and OPT reached room temperature shortly, with every likelihood of


going higher. The size and complexity of the organisation can hugely raise the OPT upper limit and, contrawise, in small arenas even average quality leaders can keep track of political machinations. Incidentally, this is one reason why leaders who have earned their spurs in smaller and simpler enterprises, flounder if they are suddenly catapulted to the upper reaches of global conglomerates. In sum, leadership style sets the dial for the desired OPT and leadership skill determines how far from the leader’s direct sight the setting will actually be effective. One of my MSME clients who called me in for a detoxification programme (unfortunately, companies can’t be admitted to rehab clinics) was puzzled to find me recommending an overhaul of key HR processes, start-

ing with the Performance Management System. These systems had been installed several years earlier by an HR & Admin Head who had freshly retired from the Army at that time. Fine administrator though he was, he chose to use an Annual Confidential Report (ACR) as the base for most reward and grade progression decisions. Some sincere people chose to play the game by the rules. There were others, however, who found it easier to bump up their ratings by carrying out the behests of their supervisors. If the latter were in a power steeplechase and needed DOW, they enrolled themselves as canine firstclass. An objective targetsetting and open appraisal process with another countercheck on the potential of candidates for significant upgrades took over a year to institutionalize. But the resultant improvement in PPR had an almost immediate effect on OPT and, a short time thereafter, on the rise of the leaders who had made DOW their weapon for destroying rivals. Before India became an attractive destination for fast-tracked executives in multinationals to build their careers, it was the dumping ground for misfits who were not tolerable in firstworld environments. A CHRO I know closely had the misfortune to get, as

Snowball's fall

Many of my idealistic younger readers may find all this political strategising and counter-strategiz-

ing repulsively dark and demeaning. Surely logic and organisational interest are sufficient to convince everyone and clear impediments from the path. After all, despite the doubts, many had about the vital windmill project, "… in a moment Snowball's eloquence had carried them away... By the time he had finished speaking, there was no doubt as to which way the vote would go." A clear victory for the rational choice, powerfully presented. Unfortunately, that’s not the note on which the story ends. At a signal from PatroMax Napoleon, "… there was a terrible baying sound outside, and nine enormous dogs wearing brass-studded collars came bounding into the barn. They dashed straight for Snowball, who only sprang from his place just in time to escape their snapping jaws. In a moment

he was out of the door and they were after him… One of them all but closed his jaws on Snowball's tail, but Snowball whisked it free just in time. Then he put on an extra spurt and, with a few inches to spare, slipped through a hole in the hedge and was seen no more."6 Learn from Snowball's fall – don’t imitate it!

The road less travelled

a senior business partner, such a personage. The expat in question not only had a colonial mindset but the attitude that, if he had to put up with local managers in technical domains because he couldn’t do all that work himself, there certainly was no reason to be advised by an Indian on HR. He made it clear, both to his direct reports and others who vied for the expat’s favours, that griping to their 'vertical' heads about the poor local HR support would not be amiss. There were two reasons this master plan came unstuck. First was the professionalism and honesty of the business HR leads who the DOW needed to build the case demanded. Even more vital was the rock-solid support the India CHRO got from the global HR leadership. Rare as it may be for the better-known version of the acronym, this CIA saves the day repeatedly when local recourses are unavailable. Importantly, ombudsmen, group headquarters and independent directors (especially those on nomination and remuneration committees) are also valuable nodes to have at the other end of the independent appeal channel.


[1] William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, Act III, Scene 1 [2] Visty Banaji, The Faustian Triad, 27 July 2020, ( [3] Rudyard Kipling, The Jungle Book & The Second Jungle Book, Wordsworth Classics, 2018. [4] Karen Cacciattolo, Defining Organisational Politics, European Scientific Journal Special Edition:238, August 2014. [5] Visty Banaji, Music and management, 5 February 2020, ( [6] George Orwell, Animal Farm, Peacock Books, 2018.

Visty Banaji is the Founder and CEO of Banner Global Consulting (BGC) FEBRUARY 2022 |


Past Month's events Workforce Productivity Conference 2022

Knowledge + Networking

People Matters BeNext 10 February 2022 Online People Matters Workforce Productivity Conference focuses on how to redefine productivity in a manner that aligns employee expectations with the overarching financial goals - the bottom line of an organisation.

People Matters 24 February 2022 Online This year, the annual People Matters Learning & Development Conference examines the tools and systems that organisations have in place to support the learning and development of their workforce. How do organisations, specifically HR and L&D leaders, balance business needs and development objectives?

Talent Analytics: Driving Organisational Impact (English) People Matters 24 January - 25 February 2022 Online The future of HR lies in analytics. Gain solid knowledge and hands-on practical experience of analytical tools to help in making people decisions. This programme is for HR leaders eager to gain practical, hands-on approaches to talent analytics, connecting HR policies and practices to business performance. Prior knowledge of HR management, statistics and basic managerial accounting is preferred, but not indispensable.

Upcoming events The HRBP in the New World of Work People Matters

BeNext 04 February - 07 March 2022 Online Learn how the HR Business Partner can create greater impact and value with a peoplebased approach to leading the transition to the new world of work. This programme is for leaders and practitioners interested in how the HRBP drives cultural shifts that align with the changing needs of teams and organisations in the new world of work.


L&D Conference APAC 2022


Well-being: the Road to Resilience People Matters BeNext 21 February - 25 March 2022 Online This programme is for all HR professionals, organisational leaders, and individuals who recognise the importance of actively investing in themselves and in a workplace where mental health, focus, resilience, stress-management and psychological safety are highly valued, and who want to explore and create opportunities to safeguard the well-being of their employees through the implementation of impactful initiatives.

Talent Analytics: Driving Organisational Impact (Spanish) People Matters BeNext 21 February - 21 March 2022 Online The future of HR lies in analytics. Gain solid knowledge and hands-on practical experience of analytical tools to help in making people decisions. This programme is for HR leaders eager to gain practical, hands-on approaches to talent analytics, connecting HR policies and practices to business performance. Prior knowledge of HR management, statistics and basic managerial accounting is preferred, but not indispensable.

Upcoming events Design Thinking & Agile for HR Teams

Talent Acquisition Conference SEA People Matters 24 March 2022 Online How can we tackle the era of the ‘Great Resignation’, the ‘Great Attrition’, and the ‘Great Disconnect’? This conference brings together CHROs, TA Heads, Senior HR & Recruitment leaders to discuss a concrete action plan for improving recruiting processes.

People Matters BeNext 07 March - 08 April 2022 Online This programme is specially designed for women leaders who are interested in accelerating their career growth within their organisation and learning critical skills for women heading a team.

Digital Transformation & Leading Change (English & Spanish available) People Matters BeNext 21 March - 22 April 2022 Online This programme is specially designed for women leaders who are interested in accelerating their career growth within their organisation and learning critical skills for women heading a team.

Futurist Forum People Matters 08 March 2022 (India), 09 March 2022 (ANZ), 10 March 2022 (SEA) Online This invitation-only, closed door event brings top functional experts and CHROs from their respective regions together to find ways for larger business transformations and chart the path for the future of work and talent.

Talent Magnet: Aligning Recruitment, Employer Branding & Business Requirements People Matters BeNext 28 March 2022 - 29 April 2022 Online This programme is for any HR or Talent Acquisition professionals wishing to establish a more effective understanding of the new business context and hone their employer branding to attract top talent.


Knowledge + Networking

People Matters BeNext 28 February - 01 April 2022 Online This programme is for HR leaders committed to finding creative solutions to complex problems facing their teams, moving from a foundational understanding of Design Thinking and Agile methodologies to a whole new mindset of creativity, innovation and people-centered progress.

Women in Leadership: Lead, Influence & Transform



>> Sri Shivam

Wakefulness: the new dynamic of leadership

b lo g o s p he r e

The man of compassion is not unintelligent but he is non-intellectual


Decoding Wakefulness


hat is the point of thinking when you know? When you know; that becomes part of the very nature of your whole being. Hence thinking becomes a poor substitute when you can understand. When you can know and see what bothers you then who bothers to think? Just awareness is enough! Wakefulness can bridge this gap between knowing and doing and thereby not only create a more wakeful individual but a more wakeful society. Wakefulness is a daily recurring brain state and state of consciousness in which an individual is conscious and engages in coherent cognitive and behavioural responses to the external world.


Wakefulness is an important tool to see our thoughts, feelings and emotions crystal clear in order to develop a new sense of self-awareness. In the context of knowing we use IQ, that being a number used to express the apparent relative intelligence of a person. In the context of awareness, we use EQ, that being an individual’s ability to sense, understand and effectively apply the power and acumen of emotions to facilitate higher levels of collaboration and productivity. Emotional intelligence is most often defined as the ability to perceive, use, understand, manage, and handle emotions. Research shows that successful leaders and superior performers have well developed emotional intelligence. This

to remain calm in stressful situations by being able to monitor her emotions by being more wakeful. The other was Sam. He always used to be in a stress mode, full of tension and worries. He was a perfectionist. He used to plan everything and tried to control everything. He was cautious while dealing with others but he was moderately motivated. He needed support at work, failed to find the right words to express his emotions. Who do you think would have cracked the project, Mary or Sam?

b lo g o sp he r e

makes it possible for them to work well with a wide variety of people and to respond effectively to the rapidly changing conditions in the business world. In fact, a person’s emotional intelligence may be a better predictor of performance success than cognitive intelligence. The emotionally intelligent man is very warm and at the same time doesn't lose his cool This seems very paradoxical because he is warm, loving and compassionate and at the same time he doesn't get provoked by external criticism and is not driven by emotions, hence doesn't lose his cool! Society has always conditioned the human mind to be either emotional or intelligent. The modern man needs to be emotional as well as intelligent. This is where the concept of wakefulness assumes importance. When the person is aware and emotionally intelligent due to wakefulness, he is very watchful of his emotions which leads to appropriate actions and responses. Here’s an example. In a top corporate the boss selected 2 senior leaders and handed over the same project to both of them. One was Mary who was a very happy and emotionally balanced person. Her response to any problem would be very thoughtful and mindful. She was a cheerful and high-spirited person, very life affirmative, flexible and adaptive to new ideas and environment. She had good communication skills and she could express her feelings with others. She used

Benefits of being Wakeful

1. Empathy: emotional intelligence helps the person to be more empathetic and compassionate towards oneself and others. 2. Collaborative: The person moves from being self-centred to being more inclusive and collaborative. He influences the circle around him and shares his thoughts and ideas which inspires and motivates others. 3. Resolving conflicts inside out: When emotional intelligence is FEBRUARY 2022 |


b lo g o s p he r e

enhanced with wakefulness, one is able to resolve the conflicts and manage his emotions. 4. Acceptance is the key: Wakefulness helps us in accepting and acknowledging a given situation, to understand it more deeply and clearly. Once we experience it mindfully, new ways open up to deal with it and we can understand what can be done to make the situation better and find effective and right solutions. 5. Living in the moment: Because of increased awareness due to wakefulness the person is able to be in the moment without unnecessary worry and anxiety

Wakefulness is an important tool to see our thoughts, feelings and emotions crystal clear in order to develop a new sense of self-awareness for the future and stress from the past. 6. Focus and Productivity: All the leaders across the globe who have witnessed and learnt this quality in life and who have incorporated this philosophy and concept, have become more focused and productive in their workspace. 7. Unleashing creativity: By being more emotionally intelligent and wakeful, one is able to be more creative and think out of the box and hence it leads to original ideas and new concepts. 8. Transformational leadership: Awakening leadership



consciousness is an outcome of an awakened leader who is more mindful and wakeful. Leaders have led their organisation to exponential growth, but that has always been preceded by their own exponential growth. Connection with mind, body, emotion, and spirit leads to motivation and inspiration. 9. Holistic Well-Being: As per scientific evidence, being more wakeful improves our health, helps in several psychological issues, regulates the autonomic nervous system. A healthy mind leads to a healthy body which helps us to become a better leader.

Tools and techniques for being Wakeful 1. Take a pause: Taking a pause does not mean being passive. First pause, sit in a calm posture and reflect on the given situation and ask yourself questions regarding what you are doing, what are the problem areas, how it can be solved,etc and listen to your inner voice. And finally breathe out all your stress, worries and anxieties releasing all the negative emotions and toxins.As we relax and alter our breathing pattern, our mind and body will automatically calm down, which will be a rejuvenating experience.Use your monitoring system of wakefulness accurately to develop this elevated state of consciousness. 2. Being Okay with not being Okay: Society has always conditioned us to resist our nega-

You will transform as a leader not only for the organisation but also be able to lead yourself in a better way. Don't let your emotions lead you, rather you lead your emotions by being more wakeful and alert in a better way. Don't let your emotions lead you, rather you lead your emotions by being more wakeful and alert. Imagine you are sitting in a roller coaster but alas, without a seat belt. It would be fatal! Same is the situation in real life. When the emotions which are like a roller coaster make you go through lots of ups and downs, mood swings, panic and depression in different situations in life, you need a seat belt. So, fasten your seat belt of wakefulness and enjoy the roller coaster with the control button in your hands!

b lo g o sp he r e

tive emotions, be it fear, guilt, anxiety and stress and hence we just try to suppress our hidden emotions. But in reality, the emotions stay inside us and just pile up. So if you're not feeling okay, it’s better to observe your emotions and tell yourself that it's okay to not be okay. It's a way to uncover the hidden feelings, to watch and experience oneself properly. 3. Lost vs rediscover: Any routine, if followed for 21 days, becomes a habit, and if done further becomes our very nature. If you are feeling lost, it's time to press the rediscover button! Wakefulness helps you to do that. Practice meditation, observe silence, spend time alone, reflect and introspect. These practices will refresh your whole system, give clarity, declutter the unwanted thoughts and emotions, clear the mental blockages and eventually help you rediscover your true self. 4. Welcome criticism: When somebody criticises you, stay quiet and observe what is happening at the emotional level. Ask yourself a few reflective questions: a) What the other said to you is true or not: Always welcome the positive criticism. Reflect upon your weaknesses which will help you improve. b) If it is not true then also it is okay: If you're aware or awake you will not react impulsively, will just observe and watch. You will transform as a leader not only for the organisation but also be able to lead yourself


Sri Shivam is an Indian spiritual leader and coach. He is the founder of the non- religious and non-profit organisation, Shivoham Foundation. FEBRUARY 2022 |


RNI Details: Vol. XIII, Issue No. 2, R.N.I. No. HARENG/2010/33504. Published and Owned by People Matters Publishing Pvt. Ltd. Published at 501, 5th Floor, Millennium Plaza, Tower A, Sushant Lok-1, Sector-27, Gurgaon - 122009, Haryana. Editor: Esther Martinez Hernandez

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