The best part of being a chief people officer, or CPO, is that you actually live human experiences and emotions every day. You get to meet a variety of people, many expecting immediate relief no matter what; others happy with just being heard.
Prabir Jha, Global Head Human Resources, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd. Shashi Kiran / Mint
Then you have job seekers out to leave their imprint; other situations where you need to impress (others). You need to (fire) someone one day and still plan retention strategies the other day. You are responsible for people but can do it best by influencing line managers to own the agenda. For the CPO then, it is all in a day’s work, with a repertoire of anecdotes, some sweet, some sour. Let me share one such anecdote.
Hiring experiences always throw up interesting conversations. There was this candidate I was interviewing at a premier B-school. An ex-army doctor; my colleagues were looking visibly pleased with the prospect. And then disaster struck. I probed him a little more on what he felt were some of his most challenging moments.
He was a glib talker and went all out to explain his role in the Kargil war, an event that played out in 1999. I played along, all ears. He was virtually the saviour of so many in truly challenging circumstances. I looked at his resume again before confirming just one nagging doubt. When did he actually leave the army? The CV said it clearly. He had left the army in 1997!
The interview over, I asked my colleagues what they felt about him. They loved him. I had to play the spoilsport as I told them what an excellent storyteller he had been and that this was one hire that was just not on.
However, I did make it a point to separately speak with the candidate—he was most embarrassed but I hope my little advice has helped him in life: Do anything, never lie. It is a clear reputation killer.