HRM Strategies for an Increasingly Complex, Uncertain, and Volatile World

Need for HRM Strategies to Change with the Times

Given the volatility and uncertainty that characterize the present day world which is also increasingly becoming more complex, the HRM or the Human Resource Management strategies need to change with the times.

For instance, conventional recruitment and training strategies are heavily oriented towards hiring science and finance professionals and then training them on soft skills as well as other life skills.

However, given the fact that the basic education in finance or management does not include courses in humanities such as political science and sociology as well as some amount of literature and other art courses, contemporary firms must ensure that they recruit people with such skills.

Why Including Humanities in the Skill Matrix Helps

This is because the grounding in humanities often provides graduates with the ability to deal with ambiguity and complexity as political science teaches us how to handle situations involving multiple actors with competing agendas as well as overlapping priorities.

In addition, grounding in humanities also teaches graduates the ability to think laterally instead of linear thinking alone which the domain of management studies is.

Indeed, in times when exponential change is the order of the day, it makes sense for firms to hire graduates in humanities apart from their usual hiring of management and commerce majors.

We do not recommend hiring arts and humanities majors and then expect them to perform according to the requirements of the roles that they are assigned.

Rather, what we are saying is that there should be some shift towards either recruiting humanities majors with some exposure to management or ensuring that management majors have some grounding in finance and management.

While this might sound nonsensical to most HR Managers and leaders of leading firms, it is also the case that many Wall Street firms in recent years have begun to make this shift.

Moreover, the fact that exposure to geopolitics is essential in a globalized world where business decisions now include geopolitical calculations; this is another area where contemporary HR Managers can indeed fine tune their recruitment strategies.

Also, it would be better for contemporary firms to train fresh as well as existing employees on a gamut of skills instead of focusing narrowly on specific skills that are deemed critical to the job.

In other words, the volatile and unpredictable world needs people with the ability to sense the pulse of undercurrents and the trends that shape the world. What better than train employees on how to detect fast changing situations and be on top of the emerging trends that require a combination of data driven skills as well as an intimate understanding of human nature which the humanities provide.

Need for Business Schools and Universities to Step up to the Occasion

Having said that, it is also not the case that firms alone should change their recruitment and training strategies.

On the contrary, there is a role to play for business schools, and indeed, all universities wherein they offer courses on a broad range of disciplines rather than offer courses on data based decision making or pure humanities alone.

This means that the education sector too needs to change its attitudes towards broadening the skills of their graduates.

In this context, it is worthwhile to note a few of the leading business schools in the United States and Asia have woken up to this fact and are ensuring broad based education rather than narrow specializations.

However, some of the premier business schools in India were much ahead of the curve and offered a wide variety of courses only to face resistance from several quarters who questioned whether they were management schools or humanities colleges.

All Stakeholders Must Come Together

This means that old habits die hard and hence, it would be better for all stakeholders to come together to partner with each other and ensure that the managers of the future have the necessary skills.

This calls for greater academia industry linkages wherein each is in tune with the requirements of the other as well as cognizant of the limitations of each.

In addition, business schools must rework their executive management programs that run for a few weeks or months instead of more elaborate programs that have the time for the executives to refresh themselves and acquire new skills in the process.

There is also a role for the governments in this aspect, and this relates to allocating funds and encouraging such broad based skill education to the extent that they can subsidize some of the costs along with corporates and other stakeholders such as philanthropists.

Quants Nearly Crashed the Global Economy which was Rescued by the Quals

The point that we are making in this article is that the modern day business landscape is radically different from what it was even a few decades ago and hence, there needs to be a Renaissance in the way HRM is practiced regarding broad skill development rather than narrow specialization.

While we are not arguing against the latter, it needs to be kept in mind that the so-called Quants or the Math wizards in Wall Street nearly crashed the entire global economy in 2008 and the rescue of which happened because of the politicians who were grounded in the humanities who sensed the pulse better than the bankers.

To conclude, while pure managerial skills are paramount, there is also a need for broad basing the curriculum, HRM strategies, as well as the attitudes towards those who are perceived as merely being artsy or intellectual with no quantitative abilities.


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