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Confessions of a CHRO

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Honest advice from HR leaders to themselves, their industry peers, and their teams on personal growth and development, as told to Aditi Sharma Kalra.

It’s no secret – HR leaders are passionate about continuous learning. They love the challenge of building internal capabilities, and they are welcoming it even more now when there isn’t quite a clear benchmark on how the world of work is evolving; and they have room (and budget) to experiment and innovate.

So when I reached out to some of them, asking for honest advice on their own personal growth and development, and of their peers, they relished the opportunity! Check out their advice, or confessions, below.

No.1 Compartmentalise your hours

Everyone knows that success comes down to both smart and hard work, so how do we ensure our energy and commitment match our aspirations? Be firm when it comes to your time.

Rashidah Suleiman, Head, Human Resources and Administration, Ranhill Bersekutu, says: “Getting yourself to budget your time, again and again by sheer force of will, is extremely difficult. Getting yourself to do something by force of habit is easier. Start with small habits that help you be more productive and make you feel good.”

No.2 Embrace the paradigm shift in your role

I spoke to the regional head of HR at a large retail conglomerate who has experienced both old-school HR (with its manual work and processes), and is now in the midst of reinventing the wheel.

In his view, HR leaders must be cognisant of the various demographics they must engage in the workforce, accounting for age, gender, benefits requirements, work-life balance, work flexibility, and more.

With this heavy responsibility to shoulder, he believes HR is no longer seen as a warden in school, but a friend in need. He advises: “Be a people-friendly department, but with a process-driven culture. Autopilot in HR is the way forward on process. The drivers of change and engagement will be HR, along with others.”

CHROs make the common mistake of losing themselves in the processes of the organisation and forget the human touch.

No.3 Look for potential, not just performance

Many of us struggle with how to effectively identify, develop and retain high-potential talent in organisations. Safe to say then, “one of the greatest talents is to recognise and develop talent in others”, affirms Patricia Lam, HR Director China & East Asia, and Talent Management Director APAC, Alstom.

“We always mistake or misinterpret high performance for high potential, and rely solely on a manager’s instincts or comments about who has future leadership potential. Why identify high potential only for the ability to advance up in the organisation’s ranks?” she asks.

Her advice is for HR leaders to continue developing inspirational talent with a view to enabling them to grasp leadership positions, but at the same time, look for ways to develop more talent as a whole.

No.4 Lead with an intention

CHROs make the common mistake of losing themselves in the processes of the organisation and forget the human touch. “Everyone wants to feel validated, so we should try to approach with a ‘seek first, to understand’ mindset,” is what Audrey Ang, Vice President – Human Resources, Everstone Capital Asia, firmly believes in.

If she could put this in the form of advice to her younger self, it would be to lead with an intention in mind: “To ask myself, ‘what is the intention I want to achieve or convey’.”

Another principle she propagates: “Never be afraid to ask questions! I always say that the only dumb question is the one that you don’t ask.”

Keeping in mind what the experts have shared, the one thing I believe matters to HR leaders is to keep the function fresh, contemporary and relevant, which enables growth for them professionally as well as personally.

Hats off to all our hard-working HR readers, who continue to wow us with their new ideas and programmes that bring joy to employees and raise the bar for HR!

Photo / StockUnlimited



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