Employee alignment

Kshanika Ratnayaka

Kshanika Ratnayaka is a Director and the CEO of Great Place to Work® Sri Lanka

People management is about inspiring employees to give their best while working as a team to achieve organisational objectives. Knowing how to manage people, and all their idiosyncrasies and ambitions, is vital to being a successful people manager and essential for bu­siness success.

Kshanika Ratnayaka reveals the key: “You need to build relationships based on trust. This begins with meaningful conversations; it is a phased approach where people managers support team members through three pillars – viz. connect, inspire and develop.”

“Under ‘connect,’ you engage with people and show that you care about the things that are crucial for them to be successful in life and work; ‘inspire’ means creating a desire in people to make meaningful contributions; and ‘develop’ entails creating opportunities and supporting people in learning and growing continuously,” she explains.

The top three factors that are most important for handling employees are empathy or the willingness and ability to put yourself in others’ shoes, to understand their thoughts and perspective; the ability to listen or offer people the opportunity to share their views, concerns and thoughts freely; and caring or relating to people in a way they feel you care for them as a person and not merely a resource, Ratnayake elaborates.

Commenting on what great workplaces do differently from others, she states: “They put their people first by practising the ‘E=C’ (employee = customer) equation. Furthermore, great workplaces appreciate that their culture is a strategic priority and treat human resources (HR) as a partner with a broader involvement in overall strategy.”

Ratnayake goes on to say that at the ground level, they communicate clearly and effectively, care for employees in exceptional ways and create a collaborative environment, ensuring that everyone has an opportunity to contribute, innovate and feel respected.

“Additionally, these leaders live the values of the organisation and ensure that their people are aligned with the purpose. This enables them to build a ‘high-trust high-performance’ culture that maximises their human potential,” she adds.

Sharing some new people management trends, Ratnayake observes that “the recent global pandemic has radically disrupted the workplace and redefined how work gets done. This is fuelled by the drive towards greater diversity in the workplace, upsurge of AI and evolution of the gig economy. It brings about a con­undrum for the future of HR, resulting in several new trends.”

She cites hybrid workforces as a new trend – a move from the traditional work model towards flexible work and different locations offering greater autonomy and different value.

In addition, she notes: “Data is king – it’s the new currency and has become a top strategic focus of HR. The recent shift to virtual work meant employers had to increasingly rely on tools and technology to gauge how engaged and productive employees were, and gather meaningful and accurate people data to provide insights and direction.”

Ratnayake emphasises that diversity and inclusion (D&I) has become critical too: “Gone are the days when ‘who you are and who you knew’ was the most effective way of getting to where you want to be. Creating a diverse and equitable workforce is no longer merely nice to have; it’s a strategic imperative for business success.”

The employee experience remains a trend that will continue to be relevant and important, she declares. And she remarks that “focussing on experience can boost productivity, and improve engagement, agility, innovation, foster greater employee loyalty and encourages investment in the company’s vision.”

“People are more intrinsically motivated to go above and beyond for companies that align deeply with their values, and put their people first,” she adds.

Moreover, the focus on talent and skill building remains. Ratnayake notes that “in a recent report, Deloitte says that anywhere from half to all employees will need to change their skills over the coming three years.”