Yogesh Thakur

Director Human Resource and Organisational Development International Office Region Asia

Push your own limits.
A story about how a team grows together in stressful times

I don’t know if what I am going to write here is a story or not. I see it more as one of the situations which all of us as individuals can come across. Such situations not only challenge us but also test our potential. In this kind of situation I believe we always have two options i.e. “accept it and face it” or “don’t accept it”. With both of the options it is important to know that the situation is standing at your doorstep anyway, whether you accept it or not.

So this story, if I may call it a story, is about working on a specific project called the development of the People Policies Book and the Employee Handbook. Let me give a brief on what these books are all about. The People Policies Book contains all the policies and procedures which guide employment regulations and benefits: it is like a bible of employee policies. The Employee Handbook, on the other hand, is a short summary of the People Policies Book which is handed out to new employees at the time of joining as part of their orientation kit.

From challenge to opportunity
In 2017 (April), the objective was to revisit and revise these books as the last edition had been released in 2009. However, there were certain challenges such as the lean structure of Human Resources (HR) functions and having a limited budget to hire a consultant for writing, editing and printing the book. After having internal discussions with the HR team, it was decided to accept the challenge and deliver this project. So the work was divided up within the team and milestones were set. However, revising the books was not an easy task because it required reviewing existing policies vis-a-vis the changes which had happened over the years followed by rewriting around 130 pages. Once these 130 pages had been written, they were carefully reviewed at least 2-3 times from an editor’s perspective followed by initiating discussions and reaching an agreement with various stakeholders. Once this stage had been reached, presenting the books to a legal counsellor for vetting from a legal perspective followed by in-house printing of the books by designing the cover page and selecting the right kind of paper for printing. The work was not easy because there were two important projects in the pipeline to deliver at the same time i.e. the upcoming Regional Human Resources Organisational Development Meet in Indonesia and the roll-out of the Compensation Band Project in the Philippines. Keeping all three projects in focus and not missing any timelines as well as details, was a task in itself. There was a risk of failure but HR as a team took this challenge and decided to continue. The driving force behind this decision was not to see this situation as a challenge but an opportunity to learn and achieve something extra.

...when external factors were hidden
However, the story doesn’t end here. When HR was ready with the printed books for release in line with the scheduled date, a notification was published by the State (just 3-4 days prior to the book launch) bringing certain changes in maternity benefits into force. It meant we had to re-write, print, bind and obtain legal vetting of certain sections of the books, which was not practically feasible only 3-4 days prior to the launch. So, to cope with this situation, HR as a team agreed that we should go for the book launch as scheduled without making any changes to the printed books for the time being but would make the required changes in the presentation which had been prepared for the launch. The hard copies of the books which had been planned for distribution after the presentation were put on hold. At this point it was announced that hard copies would follow in a week’s time. The launch was successful. Immediately after the launch, HR rewrote the required sections (3-4 pages), had them legally vetted, removed the earlier pages and inserted the new ones in a spiral binding so that it was cost effective and did not lead to wastage of the entire printing materials. What is more, the other two objectives/workshops (Regional HROD Meet and Compensation Band Project) were also delivered successfully. It was a good feeling in the end.

Discover the undiscovered part of your personality
Now the question arises as to why I chose to share this experience (if it is not a story)? I chose this because such experiences help you to realise your strength in times of crisis, you discover the undiscovered part of your personality, you come together much more closely as a team and get a better understanding of each other’s potential.


Yogesh Thakur

is Director Human Resources and Organisation Development at the SOS Children’s Villages International Office Region Asia in Faridabad.

Yogesh studied human resources and after spending 10 years in the corporate world, he landed in SOS Children’s Villages. Trust and the certainty of making a difference keep him going. He believes that people don’t remember you as a person, but because of your work.

He is married with one daughter. Family gives him a feeling of completeness and belonging. Being brought up in a conventional Indian family, he strongly believes in extended family systems.

He loves visiting historical places and discovering the historical roots of a city, culture and its people. He is at his best when he is outside connected to fresh air, water, earth and nature.

Yogesh was brought up in Delhi, a big and chaotic city. Delhi has about 18.6 million inhabitants and a high density. Delhi is known for spicy street food. India has diverse terrain – from the Himalayan peaks to the Indian Ocean’s coastline. It is the seventh largest country by area and second largest by population, with 1.32 billion inhabitants, and has 22 official languages. India is the world's largest democracy. In the last 1000 years India has never invaded another country.