Anshuman Magazine is the Chairman & CEO of India, Southeast Asia, Middle East, and Africa for CBRE. Based in New Delhi, he oversees operations for 19 countries and over 50 offices and affiliates across geographies. Anshuman has been key to CBRE’s success in the region, having been involved in winning and executing property transactions, across the office, industrial and residential projects, along with the overall business management. Being at the helm of CBRE in the region for nearly 30 years, he grew the India business from a handful of employees to over 16,000 strong today, offering industry-leading real estate solutions.
In conversation with People Matters, Anshuman shares his take on how leaders can design a robust hybrid working model backed by a people-centric work culture. Here are some excerpts.
For enterprises with a multi-geographic presence such as CBRE, what are the traits of the leader who can make hybrid working a success?
The hybrid working model has been successfully adopted in the workplaces since the onset of the pandemic. It has led the organisations to rethink their strategy as an employer to maintain business continuity and prioritise the well-being and safety of the employees. This eases a lot of pandemic-related hassles for all stakeholders. Having said that, employee behaviour has evolved over the past two years, and team engagement and performance need to be looked at with a different lens now. This also poses a few challenges for the leadership in managing this evolving scenario. A multi-geographic organisation like CBRE relies on trust and inclusion. Frequent communication and accountability are recognised as pillars of creating a strong team culture, while this hybrid model is expected to continue for a while now.
I think pandemic stimulated the soft skills of leaders to influence employee performance and behaviour through a more humane leadership approach and being more compassionate and empathic. From a leader’s perspective, one also needs to be aware of the team’s aspirations and roles during remote work as each one has a unique set of skills and brings different results; hence understanding each team member is essential. One of the elements which came up as a by-product of the pandemic was reviving informal learning and upskilling. Leaders must encourage learning that mirrors the needs of the hybrid workplace.
Lastly, leaders must plan the hybrid work model to become a powerful advantage to the business because leaders will determine the success or failure of the hybrid workplace.
How does succession planning get redesigned in this new era of work? What is your opinion on the build v/s buy approach when it comes to finding the future leadership bench?
The foundation of any succession is well-thought-out planning. As part of our people’s strategy, we focus on nurturing in-house talent rather than looking out externally. Our approach is to encourage a talent roster across different verticals of our organisation and help develop necessary skills with additional capabilities. As part of nurturing talent philosophy, we pick talent for special assignments and action-oriented learning, which filters the high-potential candidates.
We have been building our talent for long-term business sustenance because effective succession planning involves more than just a replacement planning process. A succession plan and career development are integral components of talent development within an organisation. I think we have been successful in our approach, even during these challenging times.
Given flexible working hours, at times, the boundaries between work and personal lives get blurred, and this is a challenge that employees continue to face. So how can leaders create an environment where their people can easily switch off from work and have that work-life balance?
The pandemic has been unpredictable since the outbreak. Workspaces have considerably evolved and led to businesses adapting to new operational strategies. A hybrid working model has been adopted by many, while others have adopted remote working. Working on a hybrid model requires a lot of planning and good communication to achieve a perfect work-life balance.
In the hybrid model, a leader should ensure employee flexibility to prevent attrition and burnout. Additionally, employees should have access to the right technology and tools for tracking their productivity and health. Finally, to support sustainable work-life balance, leaders must establish a much more robust mode of communication with the employees.
The success of any hybrid working policy rests on technology and building the right work culture. In that case, how can leadership today leverage digital solutions to build the best work culture and employee experience?
The traditional emphasis on in-office employee perks diminishes as hybrid work becomes more prevalent and employees become less physically centralised. This trend is reshaping workplaces. Communicating, collaborating, and connecting are fundamental qualities of the employee experience, and how employers use technology to facilitate these interactions is critical. As part of the plan, leadership must leverage digital solutions to create the best work culture and foster employee engagement, and focus on a few key areas:
- An assessment and analysis of how an employee thinks about the current scenario and ensure that employees have the necessary tools and technology to avoid exhaustion or burnout.
- Transparency in communication - Employees must be aware of valuable insights and recommendations to share with management, helping boost employee engagement. Maintaining a favourable feedback mechanism propels teams forward. Employee engagement and opportunities for learning and promoting employees’ well-being are also critical.
- Open culture - Leaders should constantly have an open-door policy to ensure that people feel appreciated and heard. Leaders must keep up by providing a place for workers to submit feedback and consistently understand how they interact with the tools available and where they can improve.
What would be your advice to HR leaders on measuring the effectiveness of their hybrid models of work?
Companies are still experimenting with hybrid models, and there is no 'one size fits all' approach. Our experience with the pandemic has allowed us to re-evaluate the existing work models and strategies. For the hybrid model to be a success and business enabler, I would advise deploying a plan and following it in each phase while communicating to employees and seeking feedback.
The most important thing is to maintain your company culture - the four walls of your office do not bind the ethos and values of your organisation. Make sure your employees have an amazing experience no matter where or how they work. Leadership will be crucial in engaging team members by empowering them and connecting their roles with the organisation's larger goals.