February 13, 2011 Sujeev Shakya

Understanding Human Resources

When more than 150 people in the HR practice and related to human resource department get together in a room with keen interest for the HR conference in Nepal, one feels good that finally people have started realising HR as being one of the key components of an organisation. Kudos to HR Club and National Banking Training Institute (NBTI) for putting together some great speakers and participants, shutting up critics who continue to talk about how Nepal is not ready for really discussing contemporary issues on HR.

In Nepal, when we look at role of HR, what we get to see is that it is more related to looking at the administrative functions relating to the personnel department, rather than looking at linking profits directly with people. In an era where we are seeing firms within industry getting more homogeneous, the only differential we are starting to observe is the people in the organisation.

What makes one bank different than the other? They perhaps use the same software, locate on the same street, have similar office layout and have the same platform for credit/debit cards. The only difference one can see is the people in the organisation. Globally, when we look at airlines, where two airlines using the same equipment, sharing the same lounge, having identical catering service, carry two different ‘brand propositions’ as one airline is perceived completely different than the other as it is basically the people behind the brand are so different.

Every person in the organisation provides you the brand experience which at most of the times is beyond the control of the organisation. Be it the guy who comes to fix your problem with internet or your vehicle or the person who picks up the phone at your bank. They provide the impression of the organisation, good or bad. Therefore, the challenge in Nepal will also be to see how organisations understand the value of their people and ensure that they build a set of human resources that will increase efficiency, productivity and profitability.

One of the serious issues in Nepal relating to human resources development that specially plagues the private sector is that unlike in the region or elsewhere, development organisations compete with private sector for people. The perception of the flamboyant lifestyle of development workers and the emoluments being higher than what private sector offers adds a dimension that is not usually found in the region. So the ultimate dream jobs become working with the World Bank or UN. Therefore, good resources that would have had great potential in private sector development find the alternatives more attractive, therefore, creating a paradigm difficult to handle. Coupled with that multinationals operating in Nepal not being able to create career paths for Nepalis right to the top and continuously filling top positions with expatriates makes people lose hope on working with multinationals right through and use them more as training and learning ground. Therefore, the intricacies of issues in the HR domain make the understanding of human resource acquisition and retention very complicated.

As Matthew Chapman, one of the speakers at the conference talked about who the world is waking up to see the potential of talent in countries like Nepal by creating world class local companies. Therefore, it is time that we take personal development seriously. Like in the old days when a degree certificate ensured jobs, today just a certificate does not get good jobs. No course in Nepal as of now teaches you how to leverage facebook for marketing, so the onus of learning lies on you. On the job training and training becomes very essential.

Unfortunately, many organisations paying people per diems to attend trainings has provided different definitions to training. Along with technical training, training on soft skills is essential and if you know all the 22 laws of marketing and you are a bad communicator, you will not make it to becoming a good marketing guy. Therefore, a lot of the future of human resources development in Nepal will hinge on how quickly we will internalise personal development.

I could not resist sharing my thoughts and the intention is just to trigger more information sharing, more discussions and more thoughts on the public domain so that we can push the cause of understanding human resources further. Perhaps, we will see continuity of this conference and more events that will bring practitioners together.

Leave a Reply