HR Person of the Year 2020

HR Person of the Year 2020

Ngozi Adebiyi Lead Partner OutsideInHR

1.    What should HR Leaders be doing to influence decisions in their business and have a seat at the table.

There is no denying that the role of Human Resources professionals has vastly changed. The role now requires HR leaders to be strategists who proactively solve for problems before they even arise. Knowledge abounds so in not trying to invent the wheel, Bersin aptly summarised the HR predictions for 2021 which I’ve put my spin on with the follow eight points.

  1. The new war is for talent and we are contending with “unusual suspects”– we have to embrace it and engage in “unusual” ways
  2. Digital is a new way of life – we got that memo in 2020 and without a doubt would need to continually find new ways to engage with our business and teams with this new reality
  3. The new baby on the corporate strategy indices is Employee Experience which today and tomorrow’s’ HR leaders need to crack in and for their organisations.
  4. Wellbeing, wellness and safe spaces have like the proverbial wall gecko in the king’s palace, made its way to board rooms!
  5. Learning & Development (L&D) will be disrupted. Scratch that…L&D has been disrupted!
  6. Talent mobility is finally a HIGHLY strategic focus speaks about making your organsation an internal opportunity marketplace. Why not loose people to other units and departments versus other employers and markets? The innate silo bunkers just got Hiroshima bombs dropped in them with this level of thinking and actions! Well, its 2021 – no one promised us the state of normalcy for some time to come!
  • DEI which at first hits you as the Latin word for “the” is actually Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. This rhetoric is getting louder ( for good reason too) and more companies especially in our clime are looking to have the conversations and speak to the numbers from an achievement perspective which is truly laudable. HR needs to endeavour to get the culture needle on the petrol tank reader closer to full than empty to make this truly work
  • And my favourite, HR is now working in a centre of Innovation! I love it! Earth calling HR….do you read me? 😊Uncle Bersin succinctly put it and I fully align with the fact that every single people related practice has the potential to innovate! I’ve biblically spun it as every people related practice can  be tweaked, pressed down, shaken together with the full-on potential of running over!

2. How should HR manage Talent Acquisition in the 21st century? What’s the best way to recruit and retain the best talent?

The pandemic has redefined the employment space, we have had to go back to the drawing board.  As a HR expert I will say it has ushered in the digital era perhaps earlier than many may have anticipated, prompting organisations to rethink their digital and business strategies, realign their policies and re-invent the way they operate.

There’s also the conversation about AI taking over some routine jobs and you’d agree that to attract and recruit employees in the 21st century;

  1. You need to tie work to a cause, a movement if you wish, an idea that is bigger than them. They want to be inspired to do their work and leave a mark doing so.
  2. During selection, prioritize skill, experience as much as attitude and personality.
  3. To retain employees, create a work environment in which their skills and their personality will thrive
  4. Support their learning and development curve. Businesses and by extensions HR needs to posture differently to the new reality by adjusting quickly and help employees  by providing and equipping them with the necessary work from home tools (post COVID-19). Sadly, some of the rhythms of the office cannot be recreated but employers must do the best they can. HR would need  to embrace digitization into their processes and culture generally and handhold organisations’ and teams.

Lastly, hope for the best. With the vagaries of life and the new normal, indeed hope has become a strategy and it ranks high, at least in year 2021.

3. What should be the core values of HR Leaders in the 21st century and how should they work with millennials?

Be real and authentic. Nothing beats showing up authentically.

Courage – now more than ever before, HR leaders need to have the courage and boldness to make decisions that impact all strata in the workplace – from management to millennials

Flexibility and change: As the 21st century has shown, change is the only thing that is constant. From the evolution of technology to even the COVID-19 pandemic and new ways of working, HR leaders need to be adaptable and agile in order to respond effectively to the inevitable changes that are bound to arise. From the flexibility of ideas of how views are seen and with a pinch of radicalism that is balanced

Diversity but more about being able to posture from a divergence of thoughts. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Don’t be afraid to leave a mark and its okay to be the lone voice in the room.

Challenge the status quo – our voices and presence should count. Flocking has its advantages, but soaring is also okay and needed even more in these times.

Don’t be exhausted from what didn’t work yesterday especially with the dynamism required to work with individuals from various demographics. Be in touch, stay up to date on trends and news that cuts across age lines then get a reverse mentor – know the nuances required to stay relevant to all demographics but especially the millennials.

Technology – The 21st century is marked by the swift advancement in technology. Practically every facet of our modern life is driven by technology. It is therefore a no-brainer that HR leaders should embrace technology and leverage it to deliver value

In addition to the above, HR leaders of the 21st century must display Ownership and Innovation. They must also possess a high level of Integrity by being honest, transparent and able to instil trust.

Millennials are proactive and confident at work. They work well with others and they look to older colleagues for leadership and structure. They are socially conscious and value and embrace experiences. In working with Millennials, HR leaders need to show empathy and be emotionally aware. HR leaders have to be accessible and approachable, give them the resources to thrive, give feedback on specific pieces of work. In the end, HR leaders have to listen and pay attention to the individual needs in order to create meaningful working relationships for team members.

4.    What role should HR play in the 21st century to support the business growth and profitability?

The 21st Century Human resources and business leader is faced with the challenge of redefining their strategies on leadership, talent and everything in between.

HR can be aligned with other areas of operation in an organization to play significant roles in supporting growth and profitability. Take the HR Business Partners (HRBPs) for example, their goal is to ensure that the organisation wins in the marketplace; to create value for customers, employees and the organisation as a whole. They are required to understand the context of their business and challenges the organisation experiences thereby creating targeted value (that is perceived by the receiver) and fulfilling organisational purpose.

There is also a big piece about seeing beyond the traditional HR responsibilities and worrying about what drives business for your organisation and then plugging in.

Dedicate the time and energy into building the brand and culture that works for your organisation and by extension you build your personal brand without overreaching.

To the upcoming leaders in the HR space, ask yourself what value your role should be adding and begin to do what is required. Find yourself and discover what you love to do and stay true and committed to this. There are no short cuts but grit and diligence give you an edge. Thirst after knowledge of your craft (HR in this regard) then pursue it diligently.

Value your name! Oh, do well to honour and respect your name and the aroma it gives off on every role you take on in the market place. Do not let ashes remain on altars when you move on or transition.

Let your work speak. Let is not be only focused on skills but a healthy balance of personality. Leave people with a fragrance that is not repulsive.

Excerpts of the song “Hall of Fame” by The Script comes to mind as a passing shot and I’ll sign off with that as a call to action for today and tomorrow’s HR Leaders.

You can be the greatest, you can be the best
You can be the King Kong bangin’ on your chest
You can beat the world, you can beat the war
You can talk to God, go bangin’ on his door

You can throw your hands up, you can beat the clock
You can move a mountain, you can break rocks
Some will call it practice, some will call it luck
But either way you’re going to the history book

Do it for your people, do it for your pride
How you ever gonna know if you never even try?
Do it for your country, do it for your name
‘Cause there’s gon’ be a day, when you’re

Standin’ in the Hall of Fame