Sanjay Muthal (Managing Partner, NuGrid Consulting pvt. ltd.) underlines the need for Human Qualities, which must convert into tangibles at the marketplace.
Nurturing his dream of becoming an entrepreneur since over two-and-a-half decades, the moment finally came two years ago when Mr. Sanjay Muthal laid the foundation of NuGrid Consulting. Meet Mr. Muthal and one is spellbound by his oratory skills where his each word reflects his mastery and illustrious experience gained in past 30 years in the corporate world.
From one side of the table to the opposite, the transition was not a cakewalk though. Ask Mr. Muthal and he says, “A very important part in the corporate world is how you create a brand. When you start your firm, it is a different challenge. The transition is very critical. But it was always a conscious decision to be an entrepreneur.” Recalling why he chose the HR field, he shares that during his graduation days in Nagpur, people used to tell him that he worked very well with people. Mr. Muthal also knew it was something that he naturally enjoyed. From commercial aspect too, HR was an area least exploited then, so there was also an early-mover advantage attached to his decision.
Mr. Muthal holds a Masters degree in Business Management from the University of Bombay (now the University of Mumbai). Having held senior positions in large Indian and multinational conglomerates in the past, his last role was Group President HR with Piramal Group. Mr. Muthal started his career with Crompton Greaves and it was on the first day of the job that he learnt one of the most important lessons in life. “On my first day, the GM calls me and takes me to a very big window and asked what I saw outside from there. I told him that I saw the plants and hills behind. ‘That is the problem with you young men today’, the GM said, adding that we do not see the sky... and the sky is the limit!” This instance taught him never to have a micro view of life. Life is in abundance and human potential has no limits.
Defining the role of HR in a company, Mr. Muthal says its central role is to create glue in the organisation. It is expected of HR to be in congruence with the values of the company. Besides, it has the power to reach out to every person there. Organisations that manage their people well are the winners at the marketplace, and those who manage people are the HR people, besides the leadership. Interestingly, he says, the biggest ambassador of an organisation is a person who leaves it. “Any employer branding that you do worth crores gets negated by one ex-employee talking negative about you.” Organisations must spend equal, if not more, time at the exit as much as during induction. And what usually makes an employee leave an organisation, “it is rarely only compensation,” he says. The day a person decides to leave is the day when he is either struggling with the boss or does not find any growth or development opportunity. However, most organisations tend to track symptoms and not the cause, he rues. Emphasising on the importance of HR, he says an employee does not leave his emotions outside the office door. A company which takes care of the emotional needs of its people, apart from hygiene issues, manages to flourish. This is why even organisations with 300 to 400 people are appearing in the list of Great Places to Work.
As we took this conversation further, we could not help but ask him the secret behind his cheerful mood 24x7 despite so much on his platter. “I am internally very peaceful and happy. You must have a screen which must filter and retain good things and exit bad things,” he replies. He adds, one must try and make the original fibre inside oneself as a good human being. “Most of us try and become a CXO and tend to forget basic human values and emotions in the rat race. If you become a good human being everything will follow.” It is probably this that makes him an endearing boss. “The days I left the organisations where I worked, there were tears from both sides,” he confesses.
“If you talk good about people, they are going to talk good about you,” was another pat reply on how he is so strongly networked. As he shares a piece of advice on young professionals to senior colleagues, he says time has come for them to unlearn and relearn their management style. Managers should not try and impose their views and management styles because this will not gel with a person who is born with an abundance mindset (Gen Y). And once they do not superimpose on each other, there is a fallout and, the retention of young talent becomes a challenge. Elaborating on HR techniques, he says the most common mistake is the ‘one size fits all’ theory, since each employee is different. HR should aim to reach out to the uniqueness of each employee. Mr. Muthal says human potential has no limit so “best practices restrict the creation of next practices.” Best practices which work in one organisation may not work elsewhere as there is a particular context in terms of culture and values for each organisation.
According to him, the biggest innovation in HR in the recent past is “people engagement.” Central to retaining people are the organisational values. “The problem is that we create a great value proposition and then do not stick by it. This disengages employees the most. Leaders must walk the talk here.” Sharing his views on ROI of training, he says, “If you are calculating ROI on training or on people, you have to give it a screen of at least five years.” Every investment must get returns in commercial sense. But people investments cannot be done with short-term goals as it does take long to get returns. About NuGrid Consulting, he says it started two years ago with three employees. Today, it has a presence in Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai and Bengaluru. The firm is into executive search and HR consulting, with a strength of 30 employees. In fact, recently a new firm has been set up under the NuGrid umbrella for contingency business. On the USP of his organisation, he says, NuGrid’s HR philosophy is, “give people freedom to do mistakes and they will excel in what they do”. A NuGrid employee is tracked on successes. “I have an employee with one year experience going out and talking to the client company’s chairperson. Also, I always take along two colleagues for all senior-level meetings. That is the best way people learn.” Another differentiating feature of NuGrid, he says, is that it presents only three candidates to a client and, “I bet you will select two.” This confidence comes from due diligence while choosing a candidate and then superimposing that with the needs of the client’s company and culture.
So, has he changed as a leader? He replies, “I am very unhierarchical in orientation. I speak to the last man in the queue with same respect as with the first man. I believe that it is just that the last man was not as fortunate as you.” Mr. Muthal, who loves to listen to songs from old Hindi movies, is heavily influenced by Mother Teresa and Mahatma Gandhi. He also values his family life. Never take family for granted, is another advice he gives out to professionals. “My wife and daughter are my strong pillars of support in life,” says Mr. Muthal.