We are on a streak of women leaders in HR with today’s guest, the incredible Dr. Ruby Bakshi Khurdi, a multitasking supermom, educationist, author, TEDx speaker, and HR specialist. With a background of 12 years as an academic dean specializing in marketing and communications and HR, Ruby has a lot to say about the current environment around HR.
Emotional intelligence affects every employee in the organization, from top to bottom, with no excuse, but here’s where true leaders arise. In terms of diversity, having in and out of the office moments where the team gets to know each other will create productive environments at work.
Tune in to this episode and see if you and your team are emotionally intelligent when it comes to crisis management!
Two topics that are appearing a lot today in companies are Emotional Intelligence (EI) and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI).
HR managers become even more important during moments of uncertainty or crisis.
When employees don’t find a way to grow forward, they look for HRs aid.
Leaders that are more emotionally mature and stable can lead the workforce better.
Employees will have better performances when they are happy in their work.
Events, celebrations, and informal gatherings will make the team feel at home when they are at the office.
About Dr. Ruby Bakshi Khurdi
Dr. Ruby Bakshi Khurdi is an award-winning educationist, author, TEDx speaker, and a global goodwill ambassador for many international causes and organizations. A multitasking supermom to her children at home, she is an empathetic yet wise friend to her students at work. Today, a prominent name in the world of education, she started her career as an educationist close to two decades ago.
In this time, she has spoken at distinguished events and received prestigious awards worldwide. Some of her awards and recognitions from various countries include International Woman of Courage, Ambassador of Peace, Ambassador of the United World, Global Warrior (COVID 19), International Icon Award, Exceptional Woman of Excellence, etc.
PeopleStar Podcast Intro: Welcome to the PeopleStar Podcast. We deliver leadership perspectives from industry experts on their people, architecture, routines, and culture as they solve HRs newest challenges. And now your host, Julie Rieken.
Julie Rieken: Hello, listeners. Julie Rieken here, host of the PeopleStar podcast. And today, I'm thrilled to have with me Dr. Ruby Bakshi Khurdi. Ruby is a professor out of some universities in Switzerland, and she teaches classes specializing in HR, so HR specialization. And because of that, we've got some really interesting topics today and perspectives from Dr. Ruby, and I'm excited to have you here as a guest. Welcome!
Ruby Bakshi Khurdi: Thank you, thank you, Julie. I'm also excited to be on your show. I'm looking forward to our conversation.
Julie Rieken: Me too! So HR specialization and teaching, Ruby, before we get started, will you just give our listeners a little bit of your background? You were an academic dean for 12 years, and I'll let you expand on that and just tell our listeners a little bit of your background so they have some idea of where our conversation is going to go today.
Ruby Bakshi Khurdi: I've been the academic dean of a very prestigious girls college here in Switzerland. My journey started here on a very, I would say, not very sure that I'm going to be here for quite a few years. But then when it started, it went really smoothly. And I'm very happy to share that I have specialized in HR, I have specialized during the course of time. I did my specialization also in marketing and communications, and working as an academic dean was an eyeopener coming from India because back there, it's very different in terms of students as well as teacher's management. You know, the colleges, the campuses are much bigger, whereas here the campus is much smaller, so it was manageable. So even though I was under 30 Dean, but I felt the responsibility was big because I thought I wasn't prepared for it, but for the support of an amazing team, back then, I was able to do it, and I carried on as a dean for a great 12 years.
Julie Rieken: That's wonderful. Well, this year, the last couple of years actually have been really interesting in HR. And you and I were talking about what are some of the themes that are coming out of this space? And you were telling me about two that I thought are super interesting, EI, emotional intelligence, and managing diversity in today's workforce and that these are things that people have asked you to think about with them and in your role. And I'm interested, why do you think these, why are these two things rising to the top?
Ruby Bakshi Khurdi: I think especially when we're not sure how the world is going. You know, when there was so much chaos, confusion, during pandemic, you know, people were not sure how long it's going to last, how it's going to be treated. You know, there was a lot of confusion and chaos happening. So I think during times when there is crisis and a lot of uncertainty, people need to know how to manage their emotions. It's, it's a must because when we are happy, we don't think about anything, we just go on with the flow. It's only when we have rainy days or let's say when we have gray days, we need to manage our emotions very well. And I think that's where EI is more into use, especially these days when people are struggling, when people are not sure how they're going to proceed and how long they are going to be in a state of uncertainty or confusion.
Julie Rieken: Such a good point. And gosh, the last two years have certainly been, to your point, maybe cloudier or grayer and more chaotic for sure. Tell me about EI and HR. What are the things that you help people think about when you're thinking about why is emotional intelligence important in HR today?
Ruby Bakshi Khurdi: That's a very, very good question, Julie. I must say your audience is going to love it because the need today, especially, is how to manage emotions, and what best can an HR person do when he or she is managing the whole organization? Let's say HR is the backbone of every organization because they manage people, and it's during confusion or chaos, or sometimes when things are not going the way they want them to go, it's important, especially for HR managers, to see how they can make their people work in harmony, how they can make their people work with a smile on their faces. Because when people are not sure, when people are not clear about how they're going to go ahead, they're always doing the task halfheartedly. You know, the commitment is not 100%, even if they want to be giving it 100%. But inside, when they're not sure, the 100% doesn't come out and reflects in their productivity, and it's there. That's why I say the role of HR, especially HR Managers, is great during the time when people are not sure about how to proceed further, when they're struggling with tons and tons of unsure things or they're worried about their family, they're worried about their future, so once they have that assurance from the HR manager that everything is going to be okay, even though it's not okay, you know? So when he gives them that assurance that things are going to work on, everything is going to be fine, we are there for you, that's how a person who's more mature in EI can do, but a person who's not so mature, he may not be able to lead the team properly because he himself is kind of uncomfortable or he himself is going through that emotional imbalance. And that's why I say that when a person is mature or emotionally stable, he can lead the workforce in a much more mature manner.
Julie Rieken: That's so true. And I think that's a good lesson to, to remember is that when leaders have that internal confidence, they're, they're able to lead their groups in better ways. And it even brings up the idea for me that our leaders confident or are they putting, are they putting on a fake it till you make it right now to get through themselves? And probably a bit of both, I would say.
Ruby Bakshi Khurdi: Yeah, yeah. I think it's a bit of both. It's a bit of both because sometimes they have to do those things as well because if they show that they are not sure about what is happening, you know, then they're not leading the group properly because the people, the employees look up to their leader, look up to their manager, and the manager shows he's not confident or he's bit shaky, that can make the group more uncomfortable. So sometimes they do have to camouflage their real feelings to manage in an efficient manner.
Julie Rieken: That's true. Have you seen people do this well and have you met some people that are doing this well? And what advice or what do you think the things are that they're doing well that's making them these more effective leaders and communicators?
Ruby Bakshi Khurdi: Well, I have seen that when I was doing my MBA. This is a little way back, when I was doing my MBA, I remember there was this strike in the factory where I was doing my internship, and during the strike I could see the workers were saying very bad words, they were calling names and calling titles to the HR manager. They were saying things which were kind of rubbish, but the way they were saying to a young person like me at that time it looked like, oh my god, what is going on? I was kind of scared, but I was also thinking the organization is not so good, they are harassing their workers, they are doing all bad things to their workers. You know, those kind of things were happening in my mind because I wasn't aware whether it's correct or not correct. So during that time I saw this guy very calmly sitting in the office and listening to what is happening outside because this was closed, like we were inside the HR office. So I looked at him and I said, sir, aren't you scared? They are shouting, they are saying names, they are calling names and saying, we are going to do this, you're going to do that, you're are going to be on indefinite strike. So he just told me they are saying it because they are angry, we need to calm down. When the people are reacting like this, when they're angry, it's normal, they will react in a very different manner. So I'm just waiting for the time that they are a little bit cooler, they are calmer, then I will talk to them. So I said, why don't you talk to them now? They are so agitated they need to be calmed down. He said, even if I would like to talk to them, … I would like to share with them, we are ready to accept some of your demands, they are not going to listen to me because they are in a state of anger. So it's important whenever you see someone reacting or in a state of anger saying things, it's best to keep quiet and let us settle down, just like a storm. You know, when the storm is there, there's lightning, there's thunder, we have to let it calm down. And only when it's calm, then we need to take the next step, which will be more effective. And that's the lesson I think, I had at that point of time, it was like a light bulb, it struck in my mind and I am learning each and every day how we can manage and what we can do to make it workable. So this is something only an emotionally intelligent person can think in a much more mature manner and make the situation which is completely, I would say, not good or completely gone out of hands to something which is more optimistic.
Julie Rieken: Oh, my God.
Ruby Bakshi Khurdi: There's one thing. Yeah, this is one thing I tell to my students as well.
Julie Rieken: I love this story, it's so true. What a good leadership lesson for all leaders, not just in HR, especially now, when I mean, we've always, at every generation, we say it's more chaotic now than it was before. But I think it's probably a little actually really more chaotic than before. What a great story and a good lesson, I love that. Okay, Dr. Ruby, let's take another, I've got another question for you, and I'd like to go to managing diversity. This was a that was a very helpful on emotional intelligence, and I love that story. And now I'd like to just ask you about managing diversity. This is such a big topic in today's world for all the right reasons. Tell me what you're seeing out there. What are people coming to you with and asking you about in terms of managing diversity? What's that landscape today?
Ruby Bakshi Khurdi: See, I was giving a lecture to my EMB students, like flexible MB students. Some of them are from the industry in middle management and higher management level, and they said that sometimes it's very difficult for us to manage the workforce which is international. We always have issues with the people because are having fights or misunderstandings, someone doesn't want to work with somebody in the team, someone doesn't want to see the other person because he doesn't appreciate his way of working at the workplace. So I said, see, it's easier for you because you're seeing it in front of you. You can manage as for the situation. So I gave them my example, like when we are teaching, we have people, students coming from all different countries and sometimes some students are fast, they pick up things very fast and sometimes students are a little slow or sometimes they're a bit timid, you know they don't want to speak immediately. So I gave them examples of what we do in our classes when we are dealing with bachelor students who are fresh, just out of college but kind of struggling, especially when they are in a different workplace environment, when they're dealing with people from different cultures. So then they said, how do you manage it there? And this is, I'm giving lessons to my flex-MB people of how I manage the students in bachelor's level. And I told them the first and foremost important thing is you need to see what they are actually looking for, what is their need. Because when people are coming from different workforce, from, from different ethnicities, you know, first thing that is most important for them is to be happy at their workplace and to make them happy it is important that you need to understand them. You need to see what they're looking for and how do we provide those things to them. So as a professor, I am teaching them. So I'm giving information, but as an, as a manager or as their CEO or CFO, you have to make sure that your employees are happy because if they are happy, they will be giving it 100% to the job and it will reflect in their productivity. So to make them work, you have to make sure that every now and then you are having small meetings with them, maybe after work parties, sometimes Friday casual, have some theme at the workplace. So they were like, oh, that sounds so cool, I said, yeah, because working 9 to 5 some days can be boring for some people as well. So you need to bring some colors at the workplace that would make working fun. So they were very happy. They said, that's great, we would like to do certain things. So every month when they were coming back for different courses, we would be sharing them some tips and some of the tips which I tell to everyone which is applicable, I think in any industry, whether it's banking, whether it's academic industry or any industry, is to understand the diverse workforce, it's important to keep them meeting in out of workplace environment as well, not only at work, because at work everyone tries to give his or her best. So it's important when you are meeting under informal conditions, you see the real person. When you are at a dinner table or when you are at a networking event, you see the real person, how he or she is. So have some informal gatherings, go for bowling, organize some activities at the workplace, have some team events, celebrating their birthdays. Because the more you do, you're making your group smaller, you're understanding them and they enjoy working as well because it's easy for them. You know, they feel at home, they don't feel that they are away from home because you are providing all those things as an informal culture within the workplace that makes them perform better.
Julie Rieken: Wow. So speaking of light bulbs, I just, I think I just had one, which is that we've, in the last couple of years, our workforce has actually gotten bigger in terms of its space, the geography that we cover, we've expanded at least here at TrakStar we have, and I think many organizations have in our in our new world, we've expanded, gotten bigger. And your advice is to make it small again so that we have those interpersonal connections. And gosh, I hadn't really thought of it in terms of we've expanded and now it's time to maybe bring it back to coming back together in that space and returning to the space where we're making it smaller and having those interactions to see one another better. It feels like we're seeing each other because we have more people in different places. But we have to remember that in many ways in the new world we feel like we've expanded our diversity by going even more global. And yet it's important to remember to keep something small so that we can actually see one another and have those meaningful interactions one on one where we get to actually interact with people in those spaces. So it's not just about expanding globally, but it's about keeping that balance of returning to the small as well, the smaller interactions that are meaningful.
Ruby Bakshi Khurdi: Very true. Very true.
Julie Rieken: Ruby, this has been really helpful and useful and I am thrilled to share this episode with our listeners, where they're going to hear a little bit more about emotional intelligence. Your story was fantastic, and I love this idea of big to small in terms of managing diversity. So I want to thank you for being a guest, this has been delightful!
Ruby Bakshi Khurdi: Thank you. Thank you so much, Julie, for inviting me as the guests on your show. I was really happy answering your questions and I hope the viewers and audience also benefit and are emotionally more intelligent to deal with the uncertain things in the world.
Julie Rieken: Me too, thank you so much.
PeopleStar Podcast Outro: Thanks for listening to the PeopleStar Podcast. For the show notes, transcript, tesources and more ways to get a seat at the table, visit us at TrakStar.com/Podcast.