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HR Leader | Author | Speaker | Influencer | Inventor | Harjeet Khanduja

Harjeet Khanduja

Harjeet Khanduja

"We all go through setbacks in life. The answer is to see speed breakers as part of the road, not roadblocks and keep moving." Harjeet Khanduja

Building an Early Foundation:


All of us are unique in our own way and we create a unique distinctive career for ourselves. I am no different. I never had an aspiration of becoming an influencer, visionary or a global leader. My focus has always been my work. I look for challenging assignments and problems that are difficult to solve. Then I try to find the simplest solutions for those problems.


There was a time, I was content with my life. I had a cupboard full of awards. One evening, a fire broke out in our society. My friend saw the fire from the opposite building and advised me to run. I thought of putting my trophies in a bag. Then I realised that all my past achievements are baggage. Finally I picked up my wallet and phone and moved out of the house. This incident helps me to constantly evolve myself as a person and a professional.


Beyond the Barricades:


I was a speaker at a TEDx talk. I decided to sit among the audience. Many of them were psychology students. I asked a student as to why he came to attend the TEDx talk. He replied that he came there to understand the agony of the lives of people and how they overcame it. I asked him that if a person does not have any agony or pain in life then will you listen to the person. The guy did not even respond. His expressions forced me to think that if I am successful I must have gone through some agony or pain.


This was the time I figured out that I also went through several setbacks, agony and pain in my life. However I never recognized them as a setback or agony or pain. They were life for me. I kept moving. The simple answer is I see speed breakers as part of the road, not roadblocks.


Transformation of the HR Industry:


Human resources industry started as an industrial relations function. The primary focus was to ensure that the show must go on. The effort of industrial relations improved working conditions and hygiene issues, the work shifted from industrial relations to compliance and employee life cycle management. This added administrative and transactional activities in the HR Job.


As the service sector evolved, there was a shortage of ready to use trained workforce. The job of HR advanced towards marketing the company and the job. To support talent marketing, HR started working on core areas of defining employee value proposition and creating differentiation to attract talent. As the industry evolved, there were bigger corporations and bigger jobs. HR started developing and nurturing the capability of the talent to take those bigger and challenging assignments.


The future is set for a new way of working. Gig workforce is growing. The nature of work, measurement and monitoring of work is changing. Opportunity circle is bound to go beyond a few cities. This is all part of the digital revolution which has been accelerated by pandemic. The progressive organizations are aspiring to develop technology platforms to take advantage of this huge opportunity. Dynamic HR professionals are needed to enable this transformation.


Here is the punch line. HR is not a side business. HR is the business.


Passion and Poetry:


Poetry has been my passion which was embedded deep inside my soul by my parents. That helped me look at the world from different eyes. I was considered a bad poet in my family because I could not write within the boundaries of the rhythmic structure of poetry. One of my friends, who liked my poetry because it was simple to understand, gave me a stage with the best poets in the country. My guru Ashok Chakradhar spotted me and gave me opportunities to hone my poetry.


When I was busy with my business career, there was a pause in my poetry. However I found another avenue. I started writing short stories on LinkedIn. In poetry, we use metaphors for describing what is happening around us. This technique made my LinkedIn posts unique, deriving business insights from a social context. That is when people started calling me RK Laxman of Business. That also helped me find better solutions for the business problems.

Formulating the Bestseller:


When I started writing short stories on LinkedIn, people found them interesting. They liked, commented, and appreciated them. I used to think that people read them as stories and enjoy them. One afternoon, I was having lunch at the office canteen. A lady walked up to me. She asked, Are you Harjeet Khanduja?


She came there to thank me. She mentioned a post of mine, which changed her life. She came back from a long maternity break to a corporate career again. After that incident, there were several other instances, where my business friends told me how they referred to my story and solved a problem in their organization. Then I decided to put these stories in the form of a book. The book got love and appreciation of the business world.


This encouraged me to write another book, which is an interesting research based book on decision making. The name of the book is “How Leaders Decide : Tackling biases and risks in decision making”. It is being published by Sage Publications and will be available in July 2022. The book sums up my rich experience of 25 years and research of the best in the world and explains 120 concepts of decision making with 250 real life examples from more than 160 organizations. I have myself benefited from it. I am sure that it will help the current and the future Leaders as well.


Sources of Powerful Lessons:


No one has answers to all the questions. That is why there is google. Still we felt the need for Quora. In my experience, everyone needs a mentor, a counsellor and a coach. They are generally three different sets of people. My parents and my supervisors have acted as my mentors throughout my life. They exactly know my problems and are able to guide me whenever I am not able to decide.


My wife has acted as a counsellor. She has the capability of contextualizing and simplifying complex problems. It is like converting a long and complicated mathematical question into two or three simple equations. Once the problem is simplified, you know how to solve it. The coaching has been handled by my friends and my son. They do not give me solutions. They ask difficult questions. Then they encourage me to reflect and find solutions myself.