“If you work 12 hours, I will work 13. Why? Because I am not a Pradhan Mantri, but a Pradhan Sevak!” This was Narendra Modi’s pitch to the nation. He clearly stated in no uncertain terms that he wanted the role of the country’s Prime Minister and he was willing to work for the people.
He openly said that he was willing to push himself and work harder than anyone else and promised to bring back the happy days if his government was voted to power.
The people voted for the BJP, led by its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, the BJP won the Lok Sabha elections, with 282 seats on its own. The alliance of National Democratic Alliance (NDA)—has 336 seats in the lower house of the Parliament. This is the highest number of seats won by any party on its own since the 1984 Lok Sabha elections, when the Congress, led by then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi won a landslide victory.
This brings me to one of the first and possibly the most important lesson that HR professionals can learn from Modi, which is to have a clear employee value proposition for their organizations.
1. The Value Proposition:
Modi clearly communicated the value proposition to the people and continued doing so even after coming into the power. He made is clear right upfront that when people voted for BJP they voted for him and he was the person who was going to provide maximum governance and work like the Pradhan sevak for the people of India and bring back the happy days!
HR needs to do the same for their organizations! HR needs to be clear on what is the employee value proposition. Having a clear value proposition aligns the employee or potential employee on what they can expect from the organization above and beyond their contractual terms and pay in return for their performance. The EVP needs to include opportunities for development, employees' experience of the organization’s culture, their relationships with managers and leaders and the work itself and what are the other advantages that they can expect once they join the organization. Once the Employee Value Proposition is clear and communicated it characterizes you as an employer and differentiates you from your competition.
2. India’s first social media Prime Minister!
Modi is India’s first social media Prime minister! He successfully leveraged the power of social media and his social assets are among the best in the world! He is second to Obama in his fan following and is constantly tweeting or posting pictures online keeping social media buzzing with his actions. Given that India is the worlds youngest country with the highest number of Gen Ys who are constantly trolling the internet Modi met his main constituents right where they wanted to meet him i.e. online. He truly embraced social media and transformed his image to that of a tech savvy leader ready to lead the country into the new age. This is the second big learning for HR!
HR professionals recognize the power of Social media and there is some good work that is now seen where HR teams leverage social media well however the full power of social media is yet a long way off and lots need to be done. The way Modi leveraged social media is by itself a superb case study and there is a lot to be learnt from it. HR teams need to adopt new media and learn to leverage the many tools that it provides to ensure that they are meeting their potential and existing employees at their own favorite ground.
There is a dire need for HR professionals to create a social media strategy to build their employer brands, to attract potential talent and to engage their existing employees. Fact is that today two out of five employers are already using social media to screen employees and over 35% of the hiring now happens through online sources. It is also a fact that over 92% of the employers use social media for their organizations but only about 70% of them are doing something in the HR space. HR today is not fully leveraging the power of this medium and more so because very few HR professionals are aware of the tools that can be applied to their work areas of talent attraction, engagement and branding. There is a need for HR professionals to learn and apply new media tools and technology.
3. Ensuring diversity and defining clear roles and responsibilities
Narendra Modi formed his cabinet based on the guiding principle of "minimum government and maximum governance". On 26th may 2014 the new cabinet assumed office, it consisted of seven female ministers, of whom 6 hold the rank of Cabinet minister. This is the highest number of female Cabinet ministers in any Indian government in history. The reason behind the choice of ministers and the number was because he wanted diversity and also wanted to expedite the process of decision-making and usher in greater accountability in the system.
According to a Gallup poll, 63% of Indians approved of their country's leadership in 2014, with 23% disapproving as against the figures in 2013, which were 30% approval, and 48% disapproval. Clearly Modi set the tone for the future governments to come.
HR teams need to lead the company’s diversity agenda ensuring that there is no gender discrimination within the organization. HR teams need to focus on creating more women leaders within their companies and leveraging the power of 49! Research clearly indicates that women are better at communications and relationship building; skills that are becoming extremely important in the digital age and climate and HR teams have to ensure focus and help create gender diversity within the company.
Just like in Modi’s cabinet where the roles and responsibilities of every cabinet minister were clarified upfront, HR needs to ensure the same clarity of job roles and responsibilities within the organizations. If employees are clearly communicated and are made aware of what they need to do and what are the expected deliverables then it will go a long way in improving productivity of the employee and quality of the outcomes.
4. Focusing on the basics:
Post forming the government Modi immediately focused on bringing the attention to the basics. Basic sanitation facilities, reigning in black money transactions, creating brand India internationally, sharing a value proposition of the brand with the world, to instilling national pride Modi spent his first year building India inside out. He focused on making the people of the nation believe in themselves and today there is a nation rising.
Modi started with the basics, he quickly kicked off the Swaach Bharat Abhiyan, followed by the Clean Ganga Campaign which was his commitment to his constituency and then launched the “Make in India” initiative, which moved global focus to India. He reached out to the country and the Indian Diaspora to instill a sense of national pride and seek their help to build India which caused a movement of sorts with Indians now believing that it is their time.
Similarly HR professionals have to start with the basics!
Without dealing with the basics any attempt to deliver HR to business will not fructify. It is only when you have your basic processes in place, when you have set out your policy guidelines and have been successful in staffing your business teams and engaging them that you can build further. HR professionals not only have to be able to deal with all sorts of different personalities in an organization, but also have a strong working knowledge of the business side of things. They have to build ground up.
There are some HR professionals who want to work as business partners and spend time on the more perceived glamorous parts of HR like learning and development thinking that they can avoid dealing with the basics, which is a misnomer! You cannot partner a business if you don’t have a sense of reality at the ground level, you cannot advice if you have no clue of the real issues facing the organizations, not the ones that are told to you but the ones you experience when you work alongwith the teams and experience them yourself when building ground up.
5. Communicate, communicate, communicate
The hallmark of Modi’s first year has been the way he has kicked off one initiative after another and has been constantly communicating with the people of the country. Today people have the confidence in his leadership and many believe that this is just the beginning and best is now to follow. Modi has used not just social media but also his radio program and the YouTube channel to reach out to the masses. The Modi government has certainly raised the bar on government action and has raised people’s hopes and faith in governance. The international community has given a thumbs-up to Narendra Modi and his administration.
HR needs to focus on creating and building initiatives by keeping the employee at the center of all communication and HR efforts. Employees need to know and feel that everything that is being done is for their benefit and the organization really cares for its people! Multiple communication channels have to be set up for employees to provide feedback so that corrective action can be initiated.
HR needs to learn the art of communicating effectively just like Modi. It needs to ensure that people within the organization are constantly updated and informed about all that is happening not just in the organization but also within the industry. Communication should be targeted to create a sense of belonging and pride. No amount of communication is enough in today’s times. There needs to be a clear strategy, which includes different strokes for different folks just like Modi who has been able to manage this well!
While there are many more lessons that can be learnt by HR professionals from Modi I think the above five are the most important ones. If implemented right they have the power to motivate the people in the organization to achieve greater success!
The author is Chief Talent Officer –Group M South Asia.