Role models for HR

first_img Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Weall look for them – individuals we can model ourselves on, who can give usconfidence, set us on the right career path, lead by example and spur us on tohigh achievement, writes Scott Beagrie. Theycome in all shapes and sizes and from all walks of life, and age notwithstanding, our role models are just as likely to be Richard Branson orMartha Lane Fox as Jamie Oliver or David Beckham. Very often, however, the mostinspirational role models are the people we work with. PersonnelToday quizzed six HR directors – including our guest editor – all of whom havehad a major impact within their organisations, about their role models, andwhere they gained their inspiration. You may be surprised at some of theirresponses.KarenSimpsonDirector of HR and culture at telecommunications consultancy Mason, on herCEO, Terry FlanaganSimpsonjoined Mason as office manager, which included responsibility for HR and allsupport functions and, as the company grew, focused on HR. She was promoted tothe board in 2001.Simpsonbelieves Flanagan, a former Oldham and Great Britain rugby league forward, isan ideal role model, because of his willingness to share the benefits of hisexperience. She is also inspired by what he has achieved.Oneof the key things she feels she has learned from him is how to enable people toreach their full potential by motivating and stretching them.VanceKearneyVice-president of HR EMEA at Oracle, on US playwright, Arthur MillerWhenhe was a young personnel manager, Kearney found the works of Arthur Millerparticularly inspirational, and believes they should be mandatory reading forthe HR profession. The Crucible, in particular, is a “marvellous piece ofdrama” that goes to the heart of a “really important matter” forHR, which is that evil only triumphs because good people fail to act.”Badthings happen because good, honest, decent people fail to act and don’t speakout because they perceive [someone] to be more powerful or influential thanthem. So it’s quite a good lesson in bravery for HR,” he says. “HRmust be prepared to be unpopular with senior management at times, and to pointout [for instance] that it isn’t appropriate for the boss to receive a £1mbonus when the employees are on the minimum wage.”FrancesWrightGroup HR director of SHL, on her first boss Tony Ryan, manager ofmanagement development at IBMWrightsays she didn’t have one particular role model, but cites Ryan as an influence.First and most importantly, he told her that work was to be enjoyed, and thatit should be fun. The other key thing that has stayed with me is [the need for]integrity, and in HR you certainly have to do what is right and seek the mostappropriate solution,” she says. “I have always tried to follow thatwith my team and when trying to build a team.”Sheadds: “I think you can learn from people, but in HR, I don’t believe youshould model you own behaviour or try and emulate someone else, because yourstyle needs to be linked to the business and its culture.”VickyWilliamsHR director of the All Leisure division of the Compass Group, on CathySmith, global HR director of the US support services division of CompassSmithwas the HR director of the unit she joined as an HR manager 14 years ago. OnWilliams’ second day, Smith offered her a piece of sound advice: if she gotherself known by everybody within her first year, she would have a good futurewithin the organisation. Williams says her career has since followed a similartrajectory to Smith’s, who has been promoted seven times.”Smithgave accountability to her people. She allowed them to take responsibility fordecisions, and believed there was never a wrong or right, just differentoptions.”BeverleyShearsHR director, South West Trains, on Madonna and John Cope, chiefindustrial relations officer at London UndergroundShearssays one of her role models is Madonna. “I think business could learn alot from her,” she says. “She is a successful product, anticipatingtrends and moving before the trend, so she is always adapting to keep in thelimelight and to be different. As an organisation, she has had a makeover everytwo to three years and has been successful in terms of flexibility,adaptability, innovation and performance.”Shearsalso admires Madonna’s personality, and “her sheer grit and determinationto succeed”.Interms of work role models, Shears says that they tend to be extremely seniorand experienced people who are confident enough in their own ability andexperience to mentor people who are much more junior to them and just startingout. This is what happened to Shears herself, citing John Cope, chiefindustrial relations officer at London Underground, as her role model. “Iwas his PA. His immortal words to me were: ‘Young lady, if you persist intelling me what to do, I must insist you are qualified, and we will fund it’.That started me on the route to becoming professionally qualified.”AngieRisleyGroup HR director of Whitbread, on professor Michael Beer, who she firstmet seven years ago, and Dave Ulrich, who she heard give a talk eight years agoRisleyhas chosen two individuals who have had an influence on her rather than who sheconsiders to be role models. Michael Beer, honorary professor at HarvardBusiness School, has worked with Risley and the top team at Whitbread, and hada “very significant impact” on her career. “Whathe has given me is a very good understanding of how to achieve a highperformance, high commitment organisation,” she says. “Basically, hisphilosophy is that you can’t achieve that unless you have an organisation thathas honest conversations. And that you are able to identify and discuss thebarriers to your goals and knock them down.””DaveUlrich was really able to articulate the role of the HR professional. Not justin terms of making sure that all the decisions have a people angle to them, butactually being able to influence the overall decision and the scope ofit,” she says. “It was very significant in my learning at that time.And I think it’s still very relevant for HR today.”BeverleyShears guest editorWhy I chose this topic‘Ihave been really lucky to have worked with people who encouraged me to do morethan I thought I was capable of. My message to all directors is that you owe itto your organisation to do the same for your up-and-coming people. They willreflect well on you, and are not a threat.’ Role models for HROn 15 Jun 2004 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

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