From the moment I opened the door of my office to the moment I sit in my car for another 45 minutes’ drive from work to home, I feel like I am standing in the battlefield (karmabhoomi) like the confused but humble Arjuna opening his mind and heart to receive the sacred knowledge from Lord Krishna, in pursuit of his duties (dharma) and actions (karma). I too can be compared to Arjuna, the seeker, and though my Lord has no specific name, I know He comes into my life and guide me in the performance of my duties. As a Human Resources Manager, I have to be a fine strategist, a wise jurist, an attentive listener, a confident coach, an inspiring speaker and a true business partner. These are roles that one has to perform simultaneously in order for a Human Resources Manager to leverage his value proposition for the company.
Every day is different in my life as a Human Resources (HR) Manager. Every day, there’s a new story: from an injury at work to an unexpected case of violence at work. I am consulted by everyone: from the General Manager to the Helper in our factory. I spend half of my day in meetings. Too many things happen in the life of an HR Manager, or at least in my life.
Let’s start from the beginning. When I normally reach office, one of the first things that I need on my table is my black coffee with very little sugar. Without the smell and taste of coffee, I cannot be productive. I know perhaps it’s just a mindset but that’s fine; I love this mindset. I need my coffee to kick-start my day. I usually don’t have coffee at home. I wake up early, drive to work and grab my coffee. Then, I would plug in my laptop and make sure I am ready to start another productive day.
“Knock ! Knock ! Knock !” and it begins. An employee has to see me for something that he or she would like just to see me, and not any other members of my department. When I listen to them, I take note where required. Even though I am overwhelmed with other tasks, I never show to the employee that he or she could have spoken to my assistants and officers in this regard. I make sure I give him or her the attention and respected required. At that point in time, I am rather a coach. I listen, advise and inspire.
At 09:30 a.m., in my current job, our coordination meeting starts where all managers come together to discuss the priorities of the day. It’s an interesting platform for me to communicate about upcoming HR projects, policies and procedures and matters of concern to the managers. On many occasions, I come up with presentations to help the managers understand something. I normally make sure as many colours and visuals as I can to educate the managers on sensitive topics, for example what does the law says on harassment at work. I conducted a series of presentations over the past five months, including risk assessment as per the OSHA 2005, interpretation of some clauses of the Employment Rights Act, communication at work (I used an analogy of the spring season in Calcutta versus the market of Calcutta to demonstrate how messages flow from management team to front-line employees, and how these messages get distorted due to noise in the environment and reach the targeted audience in another form), and so forth. HR Managers are not managers sitting behind a desk. We are people managers. We have to defend both the interest of the employees and that of the employer, taking into consideration the legal imperatives around this relationship of trust between employee and employee.
At any point in time, the General Manager can ask any information, guidance or advice, and as an HR Manager, I have to step into my role as an HR Business Partner, to provide the service (s) required. I cannot say something which I am not confident about. This is why, I am in an ever-learning mode. I plan to start a fourth degree soon, after completing some certified trainings which I am undertaking.
In the afternoon, I sometimes visit our dormitories to make sure we are up to the standards and we are enforcing harmonious living among our foreigner employees. On other busier days, I have to attend the Industrial Court or governmental authorities. On calmer days, I would rather be behind my computer desk trying to work on some management reports.
But truly, I use what the Gita as my tool to perform my duties. I put emotions aside, and perform my duties. The Gita has helped me largely in my role as an HR Manager and it will continue to help me throughout my lifetime.
That was a glimpse of my life as an HR Manager. I know it’s a disorderly narration but there’s nothing planned here. I just wrote, in simplest words possible, what came to my mind.