In the EY study of HR Trends 2015, it was observed that many organizations are using cross functional movements as a way to retain its talent. However, it’s a huge risk for both the employer and the employee. Simple as it may sound, not many employees are willing to make these transitions.
We got chatting with Mr. Vikas Khokha, Director-Human Resources at Zimmer Biomet India. Interestingly, Vikas started his career with a profile in Product Management as a Management Trainee with Ascom India, a Swiss Telecom co. From there, he moved into Sales with Bharti Airtel specializing in B2B & Enterprise space handling high value customers. It was at Airtel, that he decided to move into HR.
We asked him how did he prepare himself for this transition to HR and he said “Throughout my career, I kept getting exposure in leading large OD projects and was part of transformation assignments. This led to continuously seek cross domain exposure, while working on my core domain.
To our question of what helped him make a successful transition, he said, “Keeping the desired end state in mind and right networking in order to approach the correct opportunity is very important in addition to listing down the skills required to accomplish the job being targeted. I used to answer the question to myself that why I would need to migrate to HR and answers were not short term solutions but my career aspiration to develop as a HR leader and continuous effort in determining how do I meet business strategy through people productivity.
My client relationships in my Sales career helped me to develop better relationship and trust with business leaders who were my internal customers.
We discussed with him how young professionals may not be sure if they are in the right job but are scared to take that move to transition into a new function. And this is what he suggests to these young professionals
- Why are you looking for the change. Is the reason a problem or a solution? This question is very critical in determining the right intention for a change otherwise there would be a serious issue. This could also be the reason for change which is just temporary to undertake a cross functional experience or a permanent move to grow into a different domain.
- Do you visualise the desired end state that you would require to achieve in your career with this domain shift. If not, then one needs to work towards determining that.
- Do you have an insight into the competencies and skills required to do the new job. A detailed study of the competency and assessment by a mentor is very important before this shift.
- Do you have a return route. One needs to define this in case the function change does not work out and this needs to be time bound.
- Keep high determination and hope. A lot of people would build down the morale but one has to be high on determination to play through strongly. Remember this path would be full of thorns.
- Forget about vertical growth for some years and concentrate on taking more cross functional projects which would expand your domain understanding.
- Seek regular feedback especially 360 degrees or at least 180 degrees and take developmental feedback very positively in creating your development plan.
- Having a right mentor in this journey is very important who has a proven record and has high trust value with the individual
- Learn to challenge each situation without the fear of “I do not know this”. These challenges would certainly bring more confidence in environment around you.
- Understand your strength areas that you have developed in the last 5 years and use them in your new domain.
Vikas is Director Human Resources at Zimmer Biomet India. He has close to 18 years of experience in product management, Sales and HR roles