When Anjali Vaishal joined the human resources consulting firm LHH in 2019, the company was focusing on double-digit growth in India. “The biggest task was to turn around the business and make it profitable,” she tells The CEO Magazine.
“There were a lot of things that came into play. We could talk about operational inefficiencies or team collaboration or the India business vision – there were a lot of challenges in front of me.”
Being cognisant of the fact that the LHH India business had immense growth potential, Anjali realised that the task on hand required a complete organisational overhaul. In her initial days, she observed and interacted with colleagues across the company. In this discovery process, she realised that the organisation had all the right elements to become successful but was caught up in process inefficiencies, departmental silos, fixed mindsets and talent engulfed in comfort zones.
“This was a space where I believed I could utilise my capabilities, my potential, my inner drive to help a business transform, to accelerate change, and help people become the best version of themselves,” she says.
In her career traversing multiple industries like IT and education, Anjali had learned that any business transformation requires three key elements. First is talent that aspires to grow and isn’t hesitant in expressing their capabilities, second is an ecosystem to support the transformation and third is empowering talent to drive the transformation.
“We are on fast-track mode, and we’ve doubled our sales in the past two years. I think we are in a wonderful place.”
Even though all of this may sound simple, executing it requires a lot of patience and strategic intent. One of the first things she did was transparently communicate with all her colleagues on the current business reality and the overall expectations. She empowered the team to identify and drive the initiatives of business transformation. Areas like improving the overall billing and collection process, reduction of response times, creating customer advocacy and introducing new solutions were identified, and her team took the responsibility to drive them to create a positive business impact.
Anjali’s turnaround plan was such a success that she was promoted to the role of Managing Director of LHH India within a year. She recalls how after her initial interview she asked a colleague where he predicted the company would be financially in three years if everything went well. He gave her a number, and Anjali and her team achieved that number in just two years. “We are on fast-track mode, and we’ve doubled our sales in the past two years. I think we are in a wonderful place,” she says.
“I have a highly motivated team who now realise it is not that things are impossible, it is just a state of mind in which they have operated in for quite a long time. It definitely took quite some energy and effort to shake them up and help them realise that.”
“My team definitely goes through a lot. There are candidates who are frustrated and who end up venting their frustration on my team.”
LHH is present in more than 40 cities across India, giving it huge reach in the country of well over a billion people. It is part of the Switzerland-based Adecco Group, the world’s largest HR and temporary staffing firm, and works with 7,200 clients globally every year, partnering with them on their talent and organisational challenges.
The company works closely with the impacted candidates, helping them charter a new phase for their career via personalised career coaching, emotional counselling, building their skill sets, and connecting them to the right market opportunities. For organisations, LHH not only protects the brand equity but at the same time partners with organisations undergoing transformation and helps them to navigate the ambiguous environment.
“Being part of such a big group gives us the muscle power in terms of dollars to spend on research,” Anjali explains. “And the collaboration works because when we have a set of career transition candidates coming to us, we don’t have to go very far. We just have to move to the next cubicle and say, ‘Hey, you know what, I have these skill sets readily available.’”
“I think there’s a lot that can be done in this space, and the next 12 months are going to be phenomenal.”
In the area of talent management, LHH handles this in several ways. “One of the key elements is psychological safety, which is to help the team understand that if and when the time arrives, they will be headed into career development opportunities rather than being part of a restructuring activity,” Anjali points out.
The talent development solutions of LHH India involve partnering with organisations to demystify their talent equation and support them in developing a workforce for the future.
Despite the impact COVID-19 has had, and even though it is by no means over, Anjali remains optimistic about the short-term future of her industry.
“If we talk about up skilling and re-skilling today, 60 per cent of professionals are looking forward to an increase in it globally,” she says. “I think there’s a lot that can be done in this space, and the next 12 months are going to be phenomenal.”
Anjali shares that the Indian HR consulting industry is still in a nascent stage and there is a largely untapped market for both outplacement and talent solutions. “It is important for all the leading players in the outplacement and talent solution space to come together and create an ecosystem where we share our best practices and educate the market to redefine the overall landscape,” she concludes.