Avtaar-HR Transformation with theatre

Recall my first corporate job-My first interaction was with the ‘HR’.A young, dynamic person who presented himself as your friend in a new setting. He played the host, the ‘raju’ guide to all new processes, people and systems. The more I was getting acquainted about my single role in marketing; I realized he had multiple roles. From recruitment, administration-‘getting my ID processed’, to appraisals, policies, engaging employee with events-‘traditional day’ and so on. He would occasionally also play ‘the agony aunt’ –lend his ears to grievances, department needs and dynamics.

HR would also function as ‘google’ for all organizational people matters. However, will all that effort, the rewards & appreciation would still go to ‘Men linked with Moolah’. The roles with KRA directly linked to targets and the business, such as marketing, sales, finance and others. So then, if I had to draw a caricature of HR-it would be a person with big ears & many hands!

But, as they say in Bollywood –‘Picture abhi baki hai’, the picture & perception of HR has also dramatically changed in the recent years. The greatest asset in business is the HUMAN ASSET- to hire, manage, engage & retain the right talent, the role of HR is pivotal.

There is a growing need to ensure organization talent is not just hired but also motivated, engaged and developed along leadership pipelines. Therefore, strategic direction and intervention of HR is increasingly gaining importance. The old-style HR that only dealt with policies & administration has gone through a rapid makeover.

In the past decade, a huge number of organizations have been planning to transform their HR functions – costs, service and delivery vis a vis stakeholder expectations, to enhance HRs contribution to the development of organizational capabilities Organizations have been influenced by the ideas of Dave Ulrich, a professor of business at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan and author of a 1997 bestseller, “Human Resource Champions”.

Theatre based training initiative-Inner Katha interventions recently worked with leading multinational in the power sector on HR transformation training module. The multinational going thru the transition was introducing-4 pillar HR transformation model, where HR is seen as a strategic HR Business partner working closely with the business, understanding strategic needs & providing relevant people solutions. The challenge was to communicate effectively& make the employees connect with the mechanism & relevance of the new HR structure, whilst they were still used to the style they were comfortable with ” HR as one stop shop for all kind of people issues”

Ms Malini Rao, heading learning solutions, stated ‘’At that point of time, our Distribution business was taken over by Global Specialist in Energy Management . Like in any mergers and Acquisition One of the biggest change is to quickly adapt to the new systems and processes. As part of our change Initiative one of our challenge was to make the workforce understand and adapt to the NEW 4 pillar HR model quickly, It was time to do something differently to create the required impact and not follow the conventional methods of training/communication . We were looking at different ways and means to do it. It was time to get creativity into action and Learning through Theatre got conceptualised, It was all about creating new mind maps for everyone to make the change. We were sure this new approach of learning Thru Theatre would create the right impact on people. We partnered with Inner Katha- Mishti Verma to put this learning Initiative together with help of Internal hidden talents ( Artist).

It worked 100 percent for our employees. Infact , we did a survey with them and they really appreciated and liked the New Approach of Learning Thru Theater – We were able to create new mind maps helping employees to adapt to change quickly”

At Inner Katha, one of our main objectives in order to sensitize employees towards the change was to ‘’ infotain’’-present the information in an engaging manner that people can readily understand & connect with. As a pre study, we studied the impact of previous HR culture & processes on various stakeholders in the organization including the HR. The pain statements, points of connect and need for change were established through this theatre based research. Employees ”Internal hidden talents”were then trained as actors to establish strong links and identification with the audience.

While cinema is larger than life, Theatre is life!!Through the powerful medium of Interactive theatre-these points of connect, common situations, new roles of the HR and characters were portrayed to over 250 employees in a compelling narrative .The audience connected with situations and characters in the play ‘as slice of their life’ and got sensitised to changes and new processes for the transformation.

My own learning of HR transformation is- the strategic ‘avtaar’ of HR, as critical contributor to business success, enabling people for business and the business of people.

About the author: Mishti Verma Thapar is an experiential soft skills trainer, founder of INNER KATHA, She has gained experience in diverse roles as a marketing professional, theatre director, playwright and corporate trainer. She has over 15 years of experience in Theatre and diversified media portfolios. She is also Faculty for unique courses in culture and communication with experiential pedagogy at Management Institutes. Graduated from Jesus &Mary College, Delhi University. Armed with a Post Graduation in Marketing Management from NMIMS Mumbai, She is also completing a Government Certification and Diploma in training and development from ISTD. A certified corporate trainer, she trained under an International trainer, Michelle Love, completing a 100 hour intensive certification. She has also worked in reputed organizations such as The Times of India & RPG group in the functions of marketing. She has successfully conducted soft skills/ behavioural training programs at leading Multinationals such as Genpact, Sony, Hexaware, Schneider Electric, WNS among others. She has worked with legendary names such as the likes of Tom Alter, Mrinalini Sarabhai, Saira Banu and Nadira Zaheer Babbar in theatre.

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