Meet Murad Salman Mirza, Corporate Management Advisor & Global Thought Leader

Murad Salman Mirza
July 19, 2021

This article is part of our new State of Employee Feedback Series which will interview a diverse mix of HR experts and thought leaders with a goal of better understanding their perspectives on the current state of and future of HR.

The following is an interview we recently had with Murad Salman Mirza, Corporate Management Advisor & Global Thought Leader.

What is the state of the human resources industry today?

The HR industry is generally going through a period of profound self-reflection while engaging in meaningful transformation as it recalibrates the conventional notions of sustaining a motivated and productive workforce.  It is trying to be as lean as possible by embracing relevant technology that can lead to efficient solutions, especially for organizations that are in a ‘survival’ mode while overcoming the challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.  Consequently, the operational nature of HR is steadily yielding the way for the strategic nature of HR with raised expectations from senior HR professionals in terms of being business-savvy and not just being functional-savvy.

However, the increased pressure driven by the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic in terms of being at the forefront of ensuring massive layoffs and derailing career aspirations of fellow employees under the directions of a desperate organizational leadership in ‘survival’ mode has also forced HR professionals to rethink their own career paths as they revise their priorities with a renewed emphasis on health and wellbeing. Many are opting to go into consultancy/advisory roles or work for employers who are more open to a human-AI partnership model, rather than seeking replacement options for minimizing the ‘humanistic’ element.

The nature of the workforce is also impacting the HR industry since the presence of multi-generational workforces requires a delicate balance in terms of managing specific expectations, especially, in terms of enriching experiences during the employee lifecycle. The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly upended the institutionalized workplace policies/procedures/practices as hybrid working has become a significantly preferred option for employees during lockdowns and restricted contact conditions.

Consequently, the astute organizations are opening up to technological solutions that are aligned with the ‘new normal’ emerging due to the revising/refining of the existing workplace policies/procedures/practices in response to the COVID-19 pandemic for maintaining a veritable status as a viable ‘going concern’ as they lay the groundwork for the post-pandemic phase.

What are the most common challenges you face when managing employee feedback and reporting?

I work as a Corporate Management Advisor and have observed that the sensitivity of employees in my client organizations has increased significantly about having a ‘voice at the table’ during the time of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Following are some of the most common challenges that my clients are facing in terms of managing employee feedback and reporting:

  • Employee concerns about who gets heard and who gets ignored due to the prevalent organizational politics, nepotism/cronyism and ineffective/stale reporting systems
  • Employee fears of being labeled as a ‘rebel’ and marginalized for advocating progressive solutions that are deemed ‘too radical’ by the senior management so any ‘solicited’ feedback is generally given in the form of ‘what the senior management wants to hear’, rather than, pointing gaps and suggesting effectual improvements in the prevalent workplace policies/procedures/practices
  • Disconnect between the senior management and the workforce as the former is routinely confined to an ‘information bubble’ and receiving ‘filtered’ feedback from sycophants surrounding them while the latter is frustrated at their inability to reach the ‘right’ ears for resolving ‘real’ problems
  • Relying on technological solutions that can only be used by a certain segment of the workforce while the rest see this as ‘another wall’ put up by the management to stifle their pressing concerns
  • The absence of the ‘closed loop’ aspect in the feedback cycle that can provide the workforce with timely and meaningful information for addressing their concerns to reinforce the notion of what ‘they do matter’ in the bigger scheme of things
  • Fractionalization of the workforce, e.g., generational divide, specific union loyalties, passive resistance from marginalized talent, clout struggles among power brokers and influencers, etc., resulting in skewed feedback that is designed for benefiting a certain segment of the workforce at the expense of others

What are 3-5 pieces of advice for organizations in your industry looking to improve their employee feedback culture?

I work with clients in multiple industries so generally my advice for organizations looking to improve employee feedback culture is:

  • Organizational leadership needs to demonstrate with concrete, accountable and transparent actions that they value the voice of the employee (VOE), e.g., by sending periodic emails to employees on how they have personally taken ownership of a shortcoming/gap identified by an employee and implemented appropriate corrective/preventive action to improve themselves
  • Feedback process needs to be as simple as possible with different channels for communication, e.g., computers, suggestion boxes, opinion blogs, meeting minutes, conference transcriptions, etc., for providing relevant inputs
  • Recognition for being engaged in terms of providing useful feedback should be thanked with a personal note to the relevant employee by the organizational leadership with outstanding suggestions being shared on the online/offline corporate network with the name, designation and photograph of the associated employee
  • Compiled results from the exit interviews should also be shared with the other employees to give them the confidence that the organization takes a constructive view of any criticisms with respect to shortcomings/gaps in its corporate policies/procedures/practices
  • The mantra of ‘achieving success through mutual growth’ should be inculcated as a shared value within the corporate culture and practiced religiously with strong and visible support of the organizational leadership

What’s the future of HR?

HR will continue to become more and more strategic with the transactional nature of its conventional processes becoming a permanent part of its technological suite.  The lines between a HR professional and a peer from another function will become increasingly blurred as organizations will rely on multi-talented individuals to take up the reins of its various functions.

Additionally, many of the conventional HR responsibilities will be transferred to functional heads/authorized representatives since they are the direct beneficiaries of the new talent and primary responsibility will be given to them for the growth and development of their team members under broadly defined HR policies/procedures/practices.

The name ‘HR’ is also likely to get diminished within the corporate landscape in the same way that the early notion of ‘Administration’ got marginalized as organizations evolved into mature corporate entities.  Functional terms like Talent Management, Employee Experience and Organizational Development/Effectiveness will likely be more widely accepted successors to provide a more meaningful incorporation of ‘human’ talent within the corporate hierarchy in partnership with AI-driven entities that will acquire employee-like stature.

How do you see your role evolving over the next 3-5 years?

My role will increasingly take the form of an HR evangelist who enables professionals within the HR departments of my client organizations in becoming better at proactively managing employee needs and expectations with enriched experiences that galvanizes them to enhance their organizational citizenship behavior (OCB).  Some of the relevant steps in the respective context include; the astute use of the most appropriate technology for operational efficiencies, streamlining succession pathways judiciously for ‘real’ talent growth and development, broadening channels of DIBE (Diversity, Inclusion, Belonging, and Equity) to augment core competencies of the organization, exhibiting a keen embrace of the ‘human factor’ in the refinement of business processes, cultivating and developing leaders who are futurists (focused on the dynamics of the evolving ecosystem surrounding the organization) and not just confined to being visionaries (focused on taking the organization to a higher level), etc.

It is prudent to always remember that it is easier to extinguish a spark of discontent with policies/procedures/practices that have empathy and kindness woven within them than to control an inferno of employee rage that has been fueled by consistent failures of the psychological contract from the organizational leadership, especially, during precarious times like the ones being seen during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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