Words of wisdom on HR management from an engineer? Why not? After all, this deeply experienced people leader heads up the OMRON Management Centre in the Asia Pacific — the company behind the design and manufacture of some of the best-known health monitoring devices throughout the Asia Pacific region.
Virendra Shelar is the President of the OMRON Management Centre in the Asia Pacific, which also offers a wide range of industrial automation solutions. His second hat, however, is as the corporation's general manager of HR strategy.
He spoke exclusively with Chief of Staff Asia about managing the company's most important asset: its workforce. He also shares a little about his highly effective style for overseeing that global staff, while simultaneously hurdling the challenges of the current pandemic workplace setting.
The native from Mumbai, India (and now settled in Singapore) graduated from Mumbai University with a degree in instrumentation engineering, and at that stage had aspirations to continue following his father’s footsteps in that field. However, he realised that HR — and learning and development in particular — was his other key passion after just a few years in his first job.
Working with Sony, he set up its corporate university in Singapore in 2012, something that still stays with him as a career highlight today. Shifting from learning and development, he became the head of corporate HR.
Fast-forward to today, Shelar leads the staff at OMRON, a Japanese multinational leading in the factory automation and healthcare domains. Now, more than ever, innovating for the community and working for the benefit of society via its business solutions is of utmost importance for the company.
Walking the talk
COS Asia: How can HR managers encourage a loyal workforce in the current workplace context?
Shelar: Leaders and HR managers will have to “walk the talk”. Acting with integrity, and following the principles of your organisation is the first and foremost step to gaining a loyal and committed workforce.
Employees observe very closely how leaders act when the business environment changes, and everyone in the company will resonate with the same mind when leaders act according to company principles.
Empathy and dialogues with teams are essential. When the HR and leaders in organisations trust their teams, it helps them perform at their best. With open communication, HR managers can understand and support the team in its challenges. This creates a strong harmonious relationship, making it easier to work together for a stronger organisation.
Building trust is a long journey so I strongly suggest leaders take small steps. Don’t wait for things to become normal. Take small initiatives and continue to move ahead adapting to the situation.
COS Asia: How about those who underperform? How do you engage them and help them improve?
Shelar: Leaders and HR Managers also need to take care of the low-engagement levels, and the feelings of isolation, loneliness, and disconnect that this prolonged work-from-home and hybrid work arrangement have created. It’s leading to stress and mental fatigue, which can cause miscommunication and perceived aggression.
When the sense of connection and team spirit is lost, the employees start feeling more and more disengaged. This impacts the work quality, making them start looking for a change. Hence, making efforts towards full employee engagement is another key to a loyal workforce.
Lastly, continue to be closer to the ground.
Take sincere note of the sentiments and what people are feeling and saying. If we remain ignorant of the ground reality, we will end up making decisions that will not work.
This feature was extracted from Chief of Staff Asia's exclusive interview with Virendra Shelar, president – OMRON Management Centre Asia Pacific, and general manager -- Global Human Resources Strategy, OMRON Corporation. For further coverage please see any of the below links:
The skilled engineer behind OMRON’s HR success (feature) January 18, 2022
Virendra Shelar: Innovating in diversity (feature) January 20, 2022
OMRON: Unique HR strategies in a pandemic (feature) January 24. 2022
Getting to know: Virendra Shelar (Q&A) January 26, 2022