Imagine this scene: it is pouring cats and dogs outside. The class is divided into the pahari folks who just cannot fathom how many clouds it takes to make this much rain; and the coastal babies who feel quite joyful looking at the rain. You are also just coming to terms with how many subjects you have (in the third week you may be surprised at some professor walk in and then realise that he takes a class for you that you have forgotten about!)
As you are slowly clearing the foggy blur your mind is..field work emerges on the horizon. Through all of this rain, FC lectures, classes with information overload, July emerges and it is the month when fieldwork begins here at TISS. One fine day at the end of June my field-work coordinator called me to his room and told me that I would be interning at an organization called Piramal Glass Ltd with offices in Lower Parel. As I am from Mumbai I remember thinking, must be one of those swanky glass structures I have marvelled before. I was told that my fieldwork mentor would be out of the station when I would join in July so she wanted to meet me before field-work officially began. At first, I felt worried about how I am going to cope with just walking into an organization without knowing anybody there, although I converse easily with strangers, corporate formal situations are a whole different deal.
The meeting with my fieldwork mentor, Meenu Ma’am also didn’t eventually materialise as both of us were neck deep in work and couldn’t find a common time to meet. I eventually understood my project over WhatsApp video. I couldn’t help but remark to myself, she is one cool mentor. She put me at ease instantly, told me about a project around coaching situations that she was working on. I noticed that I am already curious about the project, ready to work on it. I could hear how invested she was in the project, her voice getting all excited talking about it.
As soon as TISS happened I had become ready to change the “therapist” cassette in my mind to a corporate one. I thought maybe, here and there I would use a few skills or theories but that was all. I couldn't have been more wrong. This is the story of how I used every single thing I learned in my “advanced skills in therapy” class at my fieldwork.
In my first week at Piramal Glass Ltd, I noticed what an open and friendly place it was. People were open critics of each other but also dear friends and voices were raised but there was also laughter galore. I was to design a coaching handbook for managers to lead their teams into becoming star performers. Meenu Ma’am guided me through and through- at times even handholding me to take a needs-based approach to make this handbook. Coming from a legacy of writing technical papers, my biggest challenge was writing with minimal jargon and ensuring it serves the needs of the people reading it. I knew I had to come up with something relatable. Meenu Ma’am talked to me about design thinking and empathy, which went through me like a bolt of lighting since I had been working on the concept of empathy throughout my masters. I used my clinical interviewing skills to talk to senior managers across various sectors and came up with coaching situations, common conversations that managers could refer to while leading their teams. This was a brilliant experience as I met professionals across industries and even went to a gathering with a coaching interest group called Believe in Yourself (BIY) - this is where I went gaga over the food arrangements at the Facebook office where the event was held . All the certified coaches I talked to were of the opinion that no matter how much AI contributes to the future of work, human negotiation, persuasion, facilitation, upliftment cannot be replaced. Talking to these veterans I realised that people can be the biggest asset any organization has and the path to best performance is through establishing a workplace version of the therapeutic relationship - a bond of belongingness and trust with the team.
My field-work has been a massively enriching experience, with Meenu Ma’am teaching me how storytelling can transform so-called dry HR functions such as compensation and benefits to eliciting the values employees associate their organization with using a Large-Scale Interactive Process. Meenu Ma’am ensured that she gave me candid feedback and never handed me solutions, being a wonderful coach herself. My fieldwork with Piramal Glass Ltd gave a brilliant kickstart to my journey at TISS, Mumbai as an HRM & LR student!
About the Author:
Mugdha is a cat lover and an eternal optimist. She loves being prim and proper but is personally known for her inappropriate sense of humour. She is a first-year student and the Class Representative of HRM&LR at TISS, Mumbai.