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HR’s role in preparing leaders for the new world of work

HR has a responsibility to create the practices that maintain focus, create connectivity and ensure continuity between the most critical partnership in the world of work: that between the team leader and the team member.

Leaders require new and enhanced skills in managing from a distance, motivating employees toward a vision in the midst of ambiguity, providing calm and clarity, aligning work among team members and building community.

In this webinar, we looked at the priority areas of leadership HR will need to address as their leaders navigate towards a new normal.

We asked our speakers to answer a few audience questions received during the webinar.

  • Berry Lumpkins, Global Director of Leadership & Talent Development at DP World
  • Yvonne Mosadi, HR Director at Heineken
  • Olivia Pearl, Learning & Development Manager at Robert Walters Group

Watch the webinar on demand now

Q: I can imagine that COVID-19 has a big impact on Heineken, financially and in a change perspective. I'm not sure whether people lost their jobs at Heineken. In our company a lot of leaders will lose there job in the coming months. What will be your best practice/tips on how to change their skillset, without having a future perspective on their job? 

Yvonne: Digital transformation is at the centre of the changes we are faced with in the world of work as well as people centric leadership.  My advice will be to focus on ensuring that your leaders are is digi-fit and that they understand the role they have to play in transitioning into digital world of work and taking their teams with when doing so. Emphasis on capability development for leadership. i.e., critical thinking skills, how to use and leverage on technology in leading others, change management skills, effectively leading remotely, how to lead hybrid teams, how to manage outputs vs time and etc.

Q: I would like to know the HR role in motivating the employees during the crises, provided that their managers are stressed with tight client deadlines, so they rely on HR when it comes to staff motivation and communication.

Yvonne: The role of HR is to support leaders and provide solutions for them that will make leading their teams easier. We provided structures and platforms for employee engagement for leaders. Consistency is key. Leaders perform through their employees. Their roles is to keep their staff motivated therefore consistent engagement is key. Is suggest you develop platforms where employees can go to when they are uncertain about things. Also coach your leaders on things to do to keep their teams engaged. I.e., frequent 1:1 coaching session, team meetings. Employee wellness is crucial, leaders need to check in with their employees and give assistance. We use AON elevate and during crises leaders used it as a tool to support employees who experienced mental health and other issues.

Q: When recruiting or assessing for someone's potential for a leadership role, what sort of tools would you recommend to measure someone's capability to enable collaboration in this new work reality?

Berry: For more senior/executive roles my own personal preference is working with the Hogan suite – it’s incredibly robust and comprehensive. I would also recommend assessments focusing on learning agility which of course is very relevant in such a VUCA environment. Another trend is to pull together different assessments customised for your particular needs – a partner I can recommend here is ECAP – www.ecap.ae

Q: Is there a KPI that could drive a trust behaviour in leaders that you have seen applied?

Berry: This is a great question, and one that has been grappled with for decades with no easy answers. I don’t believe anyone has successfully pinned down how you can measure trust like you measure EBIT for example. However we know there are organisations with ‘high trust’ cultures because the employees say so and believe it with conviction. Your best way forward is to leverage an employee experience/culture survey and ask your people directly if they trust their leaders and if they trust the company. There is a temptation to attach this to senior leaders’ and executives’ compensation – proceed with caution as this might also not drive the right behaviours. For a great read on this topic, look at this article in a recent issue of HBR: https://hbr.org/2020/05/begin-with-trust

Olivia: Safety to Reflect in order to develop - Micromanaging often occurs because we want to know things will be done well, and to see how they are doing. But with trust, we can even create a culture where team members proactively communicate to their leaders, to such a degree, where they tell you the good and the not so good. Psychological safety borne from trust allows teams to be more productive as the collectively learn from mistakes, rather than being chastised for them. To measure, consider How willing are people in your team to publicly reflect from new learns, and how have you become stronger as a result? A TED talk by Amy Richmondson highlighting the value of proactive reflection https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BxC1Bl-4ZvE

Q: We are resuming operations in December. Busy with a remote working policy and a covid guideline from an HR administrative perspective, e.g. sick leave and steps to take from an HR perspective (the 'hard'/basic guidelines if that makes sense), any advice or documents that can be shared that you have tried and tested having gone through this already?

Yvonne: Remote working policy is a good step to take because employees will need some guidance on what is acceptable and what is not. Employees are always looking for some structure/guidance whist they enjoy the freedom of WFH. We have developed a detailed remote working policy. Happy to share privately so that you can benchmark and take what is suitable for your organization. So far nothing is trialled and tested. We apply agile ways of working and improve on the go as we receive feedback from our stakeholders. What is important is to start and continuously improve.

Q: How do you as effective HR leaders change your mindset to start understanding what WFH encompasses for different employees. Taking into account the challenges of space, home work balance, technical and system challenges. Has your EAP strategy adapted to take this into account?

Yvonne: WFH brings a huge dynamics in a new world of work. We encouraged our leaders to adopt a flexible mindset and have perspectives of their teams as one size does not fit all. Like you already stated employees are faced with different challenges which leaders will need to understand and build solutions around them. When you have time take an online learning on LinkedIn learning – Navigate the new world of work (Leading from a distance). You will benefit a lot from it. Our EAP strategy has always extended to employees beyond work. During the pandemic HR together with our EAP partners had virtual learning seminars for our employees on how to cope working remotely from wellness perspective. Employees found this to be very beneficial. Perhaps you should engage your wellness partners to see what solutions they can craft to assist your employees.

Berry: While many people have genuinely embraced the WFH/WFA(anywhere) transition, there are colleagues who are quite open about this not working for them. I think the best way forward is to simply ask people what they want. Going back 20 years the companies that were already experimenting with WFH in the US and Europe (it was called tele-commuting then) would provide a lump sum amount to cover ergonomic office furniture, secure Wi-Fi etc. – I think this will become more common. Additionally the group that needs the most support, flexibility and empathy are parents, at least as long as schools remain partly/fully closed, so this needs to be a big part of your EAP. For some amazing free content to support your parents, check out Parent Gym: https://parentgym.com/

Q: I'm curious to hear from Yvonne what type of upskilling they did for their leaders and how they did it? Internally in the company of with external help?

Yvonne: Because the pandemic brought huge challenges for traditional learning to still take place, we accelerated our digital agenda and migrated to Online learning experience. All our upskilling programs are online hosted on our HR system. We have partnered with LinkedIn learning and cross knowledge. In this platform you can find thousands of learning materials. What is great is that it makes learning easy for our employees and leaders. They are able to learn at the comfort of their homes at time suitable for them. Our HR team also partner  with business leaders to source topical modules which they believe that their teams will benefit from. We are then able to push those modules into their learning portals as recommendations. Furthermore our employees have full access to this learning materials and they can choose to learn on any topic of their interest.

Download the eguide: HR's Role in the New World of Work

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