"It’s the ‘Connect’ That Matters" - Bhagyashree Tendulkar


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1. Tell us about your background and journey.

I hail from a family background of administrators. My grandparents as teachers, my mother a Head Mistress and Principal for 25+ years and my father an HR and Admin Manager again more than 30 years of his life now. The administration is wonderfully set in my genes. 

I humbly started off my journey with a start-up which helped me put in all my bookish knowledge about Human Resource Management and Administration into reality and fortunately the owners allowed me to put up all my creativity and ideas to grow mutually. 

Midst my career I got in touch with an HR professional with 10+ years’  experience with the motive to polish my understanding of my ‘alpha’ subject. She helped me frame policies and procedures for an organisation she was associated with, helping me enhance my knowledge and understanding and guiding me for my career ahead on each aspect of the HR department. 

Pretty lucky to have the opportunity to start my HR department in the organisation I am associated with currently, I would like to still make it a point to mention I am still learning. There is a lot to learn, HR as a subject is too vast to learn. Changes happen you have to keep up and hence the same goes with me.

2. What is your opinion about remote working?

Remote working! A lot of organisations already have moulded into its crevices and some are yet figuring out how to keep the usual work going. Like I said earlier, the ‘change’ happens! We have to adapt to it. If you ask me, I feel these are the best times employees get together virtually, understand each other and learn teamwork and in return we get more working hours and greater output.

Being in an organisation where employees have a lot of workloads they rarely want to find themselves caught up into any activity since they want their “Me” time after those 9-10 hours of work. Noticing the employee behaviour instead if we focused on team and employee development, remote working would be the ‘new common’ and better option which on the flipside works out to mutual growth. Let’s not talk about the negatives- my cat’s nudging at me already and mum’s yelling at me to have supper! :)

3. How do you keep your employees and team engaged? What are some of the shifts in engagement strategies?

Employee engagement! No, our employees hate activities virtually they like more of it happening in the office. Every organisation has its own culture you know! Here again, what they like the best that I introduced is a little motivational story on a Friday and a funny one a Monday.

Maybe a little challenge – the old Antakshari, Pictionary, riddles or describing your friend/colleague, sharing what and who you miss, what you cooked today to the best work station. Little things matter when it comes to happiness. Apart from which being an HR you have to let your employees know you are there and very much approachable for any concerns.

Believe me! I get weird queries and problems to me which probably they could get addressed to by their supervisor and immediately get resolved but they prefer sharing with me and I take the opportunity to have open houses virtually and conference calls for a motive to connect to the people. 

At times there are calls you cannot get a word what’s it about the cause they are so excited to talk to you complain about their friends and that is the fun about it. It’s the ‘connect’ that matters!

4. How important is skill development for employees and how do you do that?

Skill development is very significant. If we are looking forward to mutual growth we ought to strategize developing our employees and ourselves. We have to set examples for them to follow. They should be aware of the scope of the field they are having a plan to be an expert in, down the line. 

I feel timely assessments on their improvements and understanding is a must. Performance Management System (PMS) is a strong pillar for skills development to build on. Training sessions are a must for employees to have at planned intervals. At a point of time, you tend to slack at monotonous work and happen to overlook that we could bring a change in the system – to ourselves.

5. How according to you has HR as a profession evolved over the years?

HR two decades ago was more like – clerical work, assisting the boss, payroll and maximum of the part into administration. Recruitment was done by personal connects.

Employee engagement was a guy in the corner. It was more like you do what your boss says because you didn’t actually have KRAs or a Job description. Over time we learnt these terms like “employee-centric” and “employee-friendly”. It started to get eminent these two words contribute to the goodwill of the organisation.

If you see a lot of MNCs now, we have segregation into the HR department breaking it further. You have a payroll department, an ER/BHR department, an administration department, learning and development and training also a further split into the department.

Talent acquisition and coordination department and then come to your grievance handling department. Nowadays each of the above fragments has been given high standing in an organisation. And now, we have even more haters! ;)

6. What are some of the qualities you look for in a person when hiring for leadership?

Your penultimate question, I can give you a big long list what we HRs look for in a candidate but I will put it in brief:

  • Positive/learning attitude (High)
  • Communication and interpersonal skills (High/Medium)
  • Leadership skills – cause you are nurturing leaders and they will thank you later! (Low)
  • Team working abilities (Medium)
  • Ownership and responsibility (High)
  • Problem-solving (High)
  • Proactive-ness and creativity (Medium)
  • Subject knowledge (High)
  • Stability (Medium)

The hiring requirements also depend on the stakeholders but these are to summarize what I, as an HR looks for in a person. I usually do not focus on grades. I look for people who are open to learning and are proactive, be it in giving out ideas, development or putting their brightest and best self.

look forward to definitely getting someone on board who can express and describe oneself and one's dreams and what this person is working towards it to me to the point I have to be like yes you are the right fit!

7. Which is your favourite book and why?

Coming to the last question, to be honest, I am not a book person. I tend to get a lot impatient to finish it and hence do not indulge. My favourite would be “The God of Small Things”. 

The book is a very engaging fiction and the story is very unusual and bold one written in the year 1997. Since the story defies all societal norms had created big awe at the time of its release, it was banned in India. Arundhati Roy had won a booker prize for its content.

An interview with Human Resource personnel is always interesting since we on that position face different people and the situations these people put up, hence always very fondly called a SPOC. All in all, having said this position is interesting cannot deny the fact an HR can be likeable but can definitely be hated! I would like to thank you for giving me an opportunity to write and answer your questions! 

Signing off!

Interview by - Benil Joseph

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