Expanding service lines to support global mobility and digital economy

NEW DELHI, INDIA, March 9, 2016 – One year since opening its Indian centre of excellence, Arrows Group Global, provider of global talent solutions for the digital economy, has moved to new premises in Gurgaon as the company continues its client-led expansion strategy and remarkable growth trajectory.  The move heralds a highly successful period of delivering total workforce solutions to its global customers, particularly those clients ready to embrace the benefits of multicultural and multi-geographical talent.  This suits the company’s expanding client base of high-growth, high-tech companies and major corporates who all need to build their digital capability.

Mike Jones, Managing Director, comments, “The reality of today’s digital economy is that talent is dispersed across the world, and professional services firms like Arrows Group can help bring that global talent to our clients’ doorsteps.  I’m proud of the team that we’ve built from scratch in India and the high-performance culture they’ve instilled that is integral to our DNA and success.  Our growth is a direct reflection of how our clients have responded positively to our unique approach.  Moving to larger offices signals to our staff and clients that Arrows Group Global is ready for the next chapter in business process outsourcing.”

Naveen Narayanan, Global Consulting Director, adds, “Navigating the complexities and challenges involved in global skills mobility is a significant hurdle for many clients and firms.  We’ve spent the past year reinforcing our capability and infrastructure that is now delivering commercial advantages for our clients, many operating in highly competitive sectors and international markets.  Arrows Group can target talent scarcity and attraction by opening up the global skills marketplace, and help reinvent how our clients think about their work, workers, and workspace.  As a global practitioner of people best practice, it has been immensely rewarding to reflect on a transformative year for our staff in India, and I am excited for what the future holds in the new offices.”

A close colleague recently sent me a quote that made me stop and think:

“People join companies to make history, not to become history.”

I wholeheartedly believe in the sentiment. As a business leader, I want to see my company and the people within it grow. But if, like me, you believe people want to make a difference in work, what is the responsibility of an employer when you realise they are not going to excel with you?

This isn’t about firing people. It’s about those ‘grey’ cases, how best to support people in their careers and how to educate and empower managers to see people as more than just assets.

Spotting the inbetweeners

You probably recognise this within your company. There are individuals who are stars, destined to be future leaders. There are disrupters, with an obviously negative impact. And then, there are a number of people who sit somewhere in the middle. Many of these can be trained and upskilled and make a valuable contribution to the organisation – and their own feeling of worth. But for some, while they might not be costing the business, they are also not thriving in the way others are.

There are always telltale signs: employees who are disengaged, not proactive, clock-watching or showing no enthusiasm. I don’t mean beware every employee who is not jumping up and down. Not everyone is extrovert. This is why managers need to understand their teams on a human as well as business level. And they have to be empowered and confident to have honest and open conversations with them.

Why managers live with the status quo

There are several reasons why managers choose not to do anything about so-so performers in their teams. It could be for selfish reasons, like the prestige of having a big team. Or, if they have an annual target based on topline numbers and not profitability, keeping a large team makes it easier to hit their target.

I believe it’s completely wrong to only look at people as assets. Great managers should also get to know their teams as individuals – the qual and the quant if you will. At Arrows Group this has been entrenched in the company, as performance reviews are based 60% on KPIs and 40% on Arrows DNA.

The manager mentor

Another reason managers might avoid taking action is a lack of confidence. Management is a big responsibility, particularly when people take it on or the first time and are in charge of young employees and graduates. They may consider that it’s always in people’s best interests to have a job – even if that job is not right for the individual.

There are several times in my career where, after open discussions, I have parted ways with people I have managed and they have gone on to do things much better suited to them – from a career in finance to returning to education. I use these examples to reassure my managers. The idea is not to empower them to fire at will. But I do want to educate them if they are keeping people for the wrong reasons.

I develop my managers to be mentors who hold open, ongoing conversations with their team. One-off confrontations don’t help as someone might just be having a bad week or month, or there could be important external factors. That’s why I believe managers should be in the same space as their teams, not locked in an office looking at spreadsheets.

People want to make history and employers should do everything they can do provide that opportunity. But, a strong leader also has to realise they might not be making history with them.

The Demands of the Fourth Industrial Revolution

This year’s World Economic Forum in Davos included the Fourth Industrial Revolution as one of its primary themes in 2016. The Fourth Industrial Revolution centres on the blurring of lines between the physical and digital spheres. We are looking at a phenomenon that has the scope to disrupt production and organisational systems across the globe.

What is different about this revolution is the speed at which the change is taking place. Digital automation is taking over repetitive and mundane tasks at an exponential rate, often performing better than humans with lower margins of error. This gives us the opportunity to take up more productive and creative roles, rather than jobs that can be automated.


Companies need to ensure that they are ready to embrace these disruptive changes emerging across industries. A key step in this direction is to build an adaptable workforce, one that evolves with the changing technological scenario. This future workforce should have a whole new skill set that goes beyond proficiency in a particular task. In fact, the Accenture Technology Vision 2016 report that surveyed IT and business executives found that “deep expertise for the specialized task at hand” was only the fifth most important characteristic required for people to do well in a digital work environment. They ranked ‘ability to quickly learn’ and ’ability to multitask’ or ‘willingness to embrace change’ higher.

Here is how to start with building an adaptable workforce:

Workforce of the Future (2)

Continuous Training

Firms should develop training programmes that are not just an ad-hoc requirement, but a continuous aspect of the organisation. This will allow them to create the kind of skilled workforce they require, rather than wait for it to emerge. This also helps in keeping the workforce updated with upcoming innovations. They are also an investment towards enabling your old workforce acquire the skills required to transition into the digital age. And when your teams are armed with the right skills, it is possible for them to identify the opportunities created by changing technology and act on them much faster than the competition. For example, GE’s FastWorks methodology, that embeds lean startup practices into the workforce, “enabled it to build a new regulation-compliant diesel engine for ships nearly two years ahead of its competitors”*.


Organisational Agility

The second element that firms need to incorporate is “agility”. This means the project teams and companies themselves, should be able to change directions and adapt to every major innovation in their industry. Companies have to give up the age old rigid division of work, and create free flowing structures that enable the people to move between tasks and projects, contributing their skills wherever required. An agile workforce is one that is built for change, and will bring in immense rewards in the digital age.

The Future of Jobs, Executive Summary document states that “Firms can no longer be passive consumers of ready-made human capital. They require a new mindset to meet their talent needs and to optimize social outcomes.” This is exactly why they need to reconsider hiring policies and prioritise the search for talent that is in sync with an evolving technological landscape. This new workforce of the future has been aptly described as the “Liquid Workforce” in Accenture’s Technology Vision 2016. This workforce needs to be, above all, a free flowing entity that will mould itself according to the needs of the time. And in a digital age, it is set to become a huge competitive advantage.

According to the 2015 Talent Shortage Survey by the Manpower Group, 38 percent of global businesses are struggling to find the right talent. We have our work cut out for us. At Arrows Group Global, we work towards finding talent that has the essential qualities to become a part of your ‘workforce of the future’.  Working together, we can ensure that the impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is a world characterised by new opportunities that demand scientific and creative expertise, rather than replaceable cogs in a wheel.


*Accenture Liquid Workforce Technology Vision 2016