The world, sometimes, becomes an unpredictable place that seems alien. Using outmoded concepts of management is the last thing you can do to successfully navigate through these uncertain times. The spells of disruptions brought in such periods are best dealt with a mountain view and a fire in the belly to execute new and innovative.

HR leaders and talent managers are first in line to witness both sides of the story – the management and employees – in the time of crisis. By that virtue, theyhold a unique position in decision making. They can be instrumental in architecting the changean organization might need desperately. From deciding on changing direction of the company, diversifying, skilling up, hiring, layoffs, and more. Important is to keep in mind that every decision is crucial and it can’t be taken in silos. As an HR leader said, “Don’t just fill in the cracks when you need to lay the road.”

HRs should expand their agenda from narrow focus on employee life cycle (hiring, training, promoting, firing) to a broad focus on integrating system capabilities fundamental to strategies and operations.

How can professionals in HR careers help their organizations make this paradigm shift? The three-pronged philosophy of ‘Learn, Unlearn, and Relearn’ can be a game changer.

3 Dictums of Change: Learn, Unlearn and Relearn

When you have a long history, change can be scary and spine-chilling. C-Suite and HR professionals are facing unprecedented situation precipitated by COVID-19. The scale of leadership challenge is immense.

But you need to find the courage to do it – to survive long-term. You need to unlearn the old ways of doing things, and learn new ones. It is the principle of leadership and secret to growth.

Learn what is wrong. Unlearn where your strategy isflawed and wrong. Relearn the right way forward.


There is an uncertainty around businesses, economy and health, brought on by COVID-19. Turbulent market, changing consumer behavior coupled with technological changes and industries innovating to survive.

Understand the situation. How it impacts your organization? For how long can you survive? How are others doing?


Navigating unpredictable situations often require a contrarian view. To imbibe that, you will need to unlearn a lot of your routine practices. Give up the flawed policies you may have been following. Philosophies that are not just working anymore. As HR leaders, to swim against the storm of uncertainty you should know that ‘business as usual’ approach will not work out anymore.

Some say unlearning is the toughest to do. Most of us are creatures of habits, and habits are difficult to let go. However, you cannot learn new tricks until you let go of the old ones. First challenge before talent leaders will be to change their approach, and then be the leaders who steer this change in others.

It will take time. Setting a new routine isn’t easy. Impatience can’t be your friend here. You must have the stomach to fight. Be patient and persistent.

In the 21st century, illiterate will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot unlearn and relearn.


Relearning is about learning new ways. From personal to organizational principles, you will need to chart your success route from a new angle. The trick for HR leaders is not to see the problems in piecemeals. Take a mountain-top view.

Those in human resource careers are by convention expected to perform the activities around hiring and firing. However, there is more to their jobs and this is what you have to relearn. Take a holistic approach – from your contribution to business and strategic decisions to the bottom-line operations. Agile change will require:

  • Strategic thinking,
  • People management (in their ballpark),
  • Analytics,
  • Technological Support.

Working around these will help HR professionals be the leaders they need to be to help their organizations stay ahead of the curve.

Tips: Managing uncertainty and change

  • Be cognizant of and accept that there will be uncertainty in the future. As talent leaders, consider the opportunities uncertainty might bring for your organization.
  • Uncertainty is about no future guarantees. Old tricks hardly work. As you move along the problems, you will have to create new pathways to bring about change and reduce the structural increase in unpredictability.
  • More than often not, HR leaders move back into their comfort zones of managing employee life cycle as the storm passes. Remind yourself that you have coped with uncertain times before and you can do that again. These are the best times to work on your problem areas, and emerge stronger than ever.
  • Everybody is on their toes in crisis times. For they feel out of control and overwhelmed. HR professionals can take learnings from best HR and talent management certifications and discover the inside zone of control of the organization: skills (old, latent and new), experiences and choices.
  • In workplace, seek ways of empowering people, give responsibility and achieve teamwork. Outside of your work, gain experience and skills that can keep you up-to-date as a leader must be.

World is pivoting so fast that adopting the mantra of learn, unlearn and relearn is not a choice, but survival necessity. Else, you will be history.