“You cannot call yourself an HR if you don’t get your hands dirty”, says Tanushree Ishaani, who headed the HR dept of Lookup for the last two years. She was taking care of activities like hiring , on-boarding, exit, performance management, feedback and corporate communication in Bangalore, Delhi, Pune and Mumbai. She had also drafted the anti-sexual harassment policy for Lookup. A perfect combination of empathy and zeal, with 10-12 employees when she had joined and with 100+ employees today, Tanushree has her heart and mind in the right place.

In a freewheeling chat with Aircto, she talks about her own journey, the challenges as an HR, her views on work systems in India, the hacks for recruiting smart and her mantras on work-life balance.

HR head lookup

A psychology expert

Growing up in a family of doctors, Tanushree completed her graduation in psychology and joined the prestigious Kings College, London for completing her Msc. While Kings helped her gain a global perspective, being trained in mental health gave her the capability to take up both organizational and clinical part. After coming back from Kings, instead of joining a high-paying job, Tanushree decided to work in a private school helping special children to get back into normal schools. She describes the experience of being a single mother to all her kids as one of the most amazing experiences of her life. After that, she joined Lookup as an HR manager.

Been there, done that

She had been in finance, PR, Sales and Marketing before being an HR Head. Tanushree believes one needs to understand and play different roles to be an HR.

“As an HR it is important to have not just theoretical but also practical knowledge about what goes on in the other departments.”

All these have given her a broader knowledge on how to handle different situations and different classes of personalities. Having worked in cross-functional domains, her learning curve has increased a lot and she believes that is very important for an HR.

A normal week

Checking the plethora of emails and job applications on Monday is a demanding exercise, besides Monday would be the day when the out-of-office emails would reach the peak due to mysterious reasons. Making sure that work happens even then is a challenging task for her. She is very much particular on planning her week ahead which consists of conducting interviews, walk-ins, meetings, along with profiling work.

Her viewpoint on time & work management is to complete the tasks in a proper fashion so that it is not dragged till the weekends.

Most challenging part of recruiting

On the context of the toughest part of recruitment, she says, “A startup has a very rigid budget and one has to be accountable for every penny spent. If the candidate is great and we have a budget constraint I think convincing the candidate to negotiate is a challenge." She also has a fresh perspective on what the candidate should expect out of the negotiation.

“And that is when we have to come up with a very good job role where we promise the person experience, a good company culture, personal growth, opportunities to sharpen the skills, and one has to back these promises up with instances. So as an HR we have to make sure that all employees are happy, so that when we are recruiting more people and they become a part of the team, we can share these instances.”
On interviewing candidates she says,

“It is very essential to interview the candidate on each and every point that he/she has written."

“Besides this, validating a person’s resume is also a big challenge, because that is when we understand if the person has actually done it or not. Another important task is determining if the person is a cultural fit.”

Working systems in India

Having a global perspective, Tanushree believes there are lot of areas in time management, employee rights and corporate communication which needs more focus. She believes clocking in for 9 hours is not equivalent to outstanding work.

"What I would like the employers especially managers to know is that long working hours is not equivalent to productivity.”

She suggests that everyone should sharpen their skills if finished work before time and make Linkedin a daily part of their routine. She puts great stress on work-life balance & personal growth and has a message to all the employers as well as the employees.
“As managers you have to respect your employee’s personal time, try not to have anything after working hours unless it is crucial, that speaks about the time and work management of the employee as well as the employer. As an employer, it is your duty to see that the person is growing professionally as well as personally. As for corporate communications, you have to be very particular in how you write your emails. Reprimanding your employees in public is an absolute no-no.”

Recruiting tips

According to Tanushree, social media is a brilliant tool for sourcing as the reach is massive. “Before you go through social media make sure that your fan base for your company page is quite good. Luckily for lookup the fan base was amazing. For that I would give a lot of credit to the CEO of the company, his presence is amazing with a huge fan following which is a great boost.”

She suggests one should leverage the power of Linkedin, Angel, Hiree to the fullest. Strictly suggesting against copying job descriptions, she explains what can work for one company might not for another.

“You can get inspiration from the available JDs and can use the lingo but make it more personal, it works.”

Mantra on work-life balance

Tanushree believes as an HR, one has to be very clear about priorities and make sure the manager is also very well aware of it. “I make my personal goals very clear to my team like I do not like to be contacted after work unless there is an emergency. When I am at work, my family never calls me, they make a sacrifice, so when I am with them my company has to understand.”

Besides being an HR, Tanushree’s has a passion for acting and writing as well. Her research work is recently releasing as a book.

Message to the future HRs

“Anybody cannot become an HR, you have to be very confident, extremely high in your communication skills, have fantastic interpersonal relationships, be a people manager, leadership should come very natural to you. Judgemental, stereotypical person can never make it. You have to be amicable, people should be able to connect to you as you are their support system. There is a checklist, if all of them are ticked, welcome to the world of HR.”

Tanushree believes in perfection. Her mantra on succeeding in a job- “When you join, give 120 percent effort, work your ass off and when you reach a certain position, people know that you are not the one to run away from work.” Success is no overnight magic, being an HR is one of the toughest jobs, “You are just not an HR- you are an HR, a judge , a mother, a hanger, a friend, sometimes the bad cop, you play so many roles.” She embraces each of these roles and embraces them with honesty, determination and passion.