Know Your HR

Published by MBA Skool Team, Published on July 31, 2012

HR Managers are often the most taken for granted people in Organizations. Not only the employees but also the management of some Organizations carries this notion that HRs does not do anything substantial and that their contribution to the Organization’s success is meager. This I feel is because of 3 reasons.

The first one is because the key functions of HR are not easily measurable like those of other divisions. Example, for a sales division the performance could be tracked by looking at how the company’s sales figures are fluctuating unlike the HR activities which are intangible. The second reason is that HR functions are not revenue generating functions in many Organizations rather they work as support functions. The third reason is lack of sufficient knowledge about the role they play in the Organization and people’s lives. While all other managers are concerned about the company and its progress, an HR is a person who maintains balance between both the people and the Organization.


Though role of HR is not visible in Organization’s success, his invisible hands are always there to keep things run smoothly. It is all the day to day activities that contribute to the overall success. No one can replace the role of a HR. Organizations that think that they can run successfully through their other core functional areas even if they neglect HR have failed big time.

Classical Example:

Several examples can be found in the history and in the recent times to prove that those companies that have taken HR for granted have suffered tough times. Take for Eg the IT giant Infosys which is known for its best HR practices implemented by the previous Heads of Infosys Human Resources - Nandita Gurjar , Hema Ravichandar. After the previous head Hema Ravichandar left, Infosys Technologies asked CFO TV Mohandas Pai to run HR. These moves lead to unforeseen difficulties for the company. After all a company of that great size failed to realize that a person from Finance background doesn’t carry enough competencies to take over HR.

Failure of iRace:

Pai was criticized for iRace, a Human Resources initiative, which resulted in around 4,000-4,500 employee demotions. It de-moralized employees and the move backfired on Infosys when demand for IT services returned in October 2010.Though the top brass of the company vehemently denied saying that Pai has resigned, rumors exist that Pai was asked to quit last year.

Current Status of Infosys and what analysts say is the reason behind:

As per the reports on ( A wall street journal) on 13 April 2012, Infosys management led by chief executive officer S.D. Shibulal forecast revenue growth of 8-10% in dollar terms for the year to 31 March 2013—lower than the 11-14% growth estimated for the IT industry as a whole. Infosys has missed its own revenue forecasts in three of the last five quarters and lost its status as the industry bellwether. Its shares reflect the downturn in the fortunes of the company. In the year ended 31 March, Infosys shares declined 11.49% on BSE Ltd compared with a 10.5% drop in the benchmark Sensex and a 7.12% fall in the IT index.

Analysts blame the change in management, its failure to motivate employees at a time when staff morale is already hurting because of delayed and smaller pay raises, chasing high-margin business in the face of slowing economic growth.


At the individual level, HR is quoted as people’s person. HR is sensitive to people’s moods, emotions and feelings. Many a times even without any formal course in psychology the HR managers read people’s minds and I wonder how they do it. Perhaps very few people in your life will be there who will be able to understand your feelings and needs even without you disclosing them. Your HR is one among them if you realize.

Ability to deal with the people is a very difficult skill that an HR demonstrates and that which cannot be replicated by the line managers. Through their congenital or acquired skills, an HR understands the needs, wants and desires of the people of his company.

Needs in this context not only includes the training and developmental needs, functional needs alone but also covers the wide gamut of all those things which are needed by the employees in their professional and personal life. At times a well experienced HR could identify your future needs, developmental needs and priorities even before you identify it yourself. He has necessary skills to identify what needs dominate in a person (Mc.Clelland’s Need Theory: Need for Achievement, Need for Power and Need for affiliation) and tries to satisfy that need.

An efficient Coach and a Mentor:

A HR is a perfect coach while discussing your developmental plan and feedback. He acts as an efficient coach not alone to the employees but also to the managers. He is a perfect mentor who helps you overcome your shortcomings through a positive feedback process. All this he manages by understanding your capabilities, displaying empathy by putting himself into your shoes. Being empathetic is a quality in HR which I call is a boon for the employees for which enables a healthy environment and encourages healthy encounters between the 2 (HR and an employee). The endless patience he displays while dealing with people of various attitudes in the organization calls for an appreciation.

HR as a Strategic Partner:

He plays a key role in aligning the day to day activities and their outcomes to the strategy of the company. Thus he is the person carefully monitoring the strategy execution through various tools of Performance Management System and Compensation Structures by rewarding that performance that is required for Organization to achieve its goals. This way he acts as a Strategic Partner as Dave Ulrich says.

HR as a Process Owner:

Any survey conducted across the world targeting the current and the potential employees’ yields factors like compensation, work environment, work profile, growth opportunities, and culture of the Organization as major factors for joining and continuing in an Organization and all these factors are designed and controlled by HR alone. He is the process owner of all the policies relating to these major factors.

He knows when you want recognition, appreciation, and motivation. He knows when you need a job rotation, job enlargement or job enrichment to keep you out of monotonous life and deteriorating performance. He knows first when you are looking for growth opportunities. He designs his own processes and tools to identify these needs. Thus in this aspect he acts a process owner. He designs the compensation system, competency framework, performance management system etc to suit to the Organizational requirements and at the same time balances the individual needs. To facilitate greater performance from your end he has also come up with policies like flexi time, work from home etc. thus managing to achieve performance without pressure.

HR as an Employee Advocate:

Another big role played by your HR is career advocate. He analyzes your skills, abilities and guides you along the path of your career progression.  He is your first point of contact with the Organization during the Induction and Orientation Program and he is the last person whom you see before you leave the Organization i.e. during Exit Interviews. He is more than willing to solve your grievance problems, problems in professional and personal life by building a relation out of trust and integrity.

HR as a Change Agent

In the current scenario there is a need for flexibility and preparedness for constant changes. The employees are always affected by the changes. HR as a change agent facilitates the changes in the Organization and protects the employees from adverse effects of change by preparing them well ahead and thus minimizing the impact of the change.


Thus looking at all these aspects we can say that HR has an equivalent role to play as that of line Managers in the Organization and perhaps may be a greater role and that which is very much strategic in nature. Individuals and Organizations have to realize this truth, understand the impact of his decisions and give HR his due credit.

This article has been authored by Aparna Alapati from IMI Delhi.


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