In order to awaken reflection among attendees—HR managers of some of our most important customers—the day began with an introduction by Professor Alvarez de Mon on the figure of the HR manager and how this has developed in latter times.
Some of the new functions associated with the figure of the HR manager today include "an agent who is essential for keeping management in organizations in touch with reality", "predisposed towards constant change" and especially the "transmission of culture and values"; at the end of the day these are the roots that build and sustain an organization.
On the current challenges of the HR function, the professor began by pointing out the need for HR professionals to focus their efforts on what is appealing about their role, in creating, designing and building activities that add value their companies.
As one of the pending matters of Spanish companies, Alvarez de Mon underscored diversity management, construed as managing uncertainty and complexity beyond the gender issue.
Recruitment is one of the great challenges for these professionals and one of the most critical issues for both companies and the HR function. For Alvarez de Mon, "It’s surprising that this process is often delegated to a third party, as the art of interviewing is a key task a company must undertake." He also stressed the importance of evaluation, as it is inconceivable to manage without performance appraisals, even though horizons must be expanded in today’s processes which are often complex and difficult to implement.
On training, it is essential to choose employees who value and above all take advantage of such actions, although we must be careful with the term “high potential” because a healthy organization is one that takes care of all its employees, “managing is about including everyone”.
Onboarding new generations raises another question, whether there is there engagement in organizations. Today individualism rules; companies should allow personal development, but not at their expense. Then again companies are often subject to overworking which undermines the personal lives of employees; this is something to be avoided as work-life balance is vital.
After the interesting reflections made by Alvarez de Mon, attendees raised a number of questions which were answered by the professor, something that turned out to be very enriching for this workshop:
- What are the main qualities of today’s HR manager? This figure should blend "realism and sensitivity"; he should have a solid humanistic background and be aligned and engaged with the business. The HR manager must be able to speak "from heart to heart” with the people in all areas of the company. Aspects like dialog, communication, empathy or seniority are elemental for this figure. Additionally his behavior must set an example starting with his own team, as this will be the breeding ground for the future HR managers.
- Performance assessment systems, yes or no? Currently there are very sophisticated tools to manage these processes which often do not favor performance management itself. The day to day communication will never substitute an interview, so assessment must be a continuous process, the simpler the better, and measure qualitative as well as quantitative aspects.
- How should you manage a succession plan? Processes for selecting a successor must be managed discreetly by observing the potential candidates. The post must be for someone who doesn’t covet it and who wasn’t handpicked for it. The role of the HR professional is vital in such processes in order to detect the suitable characteristics of the possible candidates.
- The growing internationalization of Spanish companies is the next hurdle to overcome: how to expatriate talent? The HR manager should have a good eye for spotting the candidates to expatriate and detect their suitability for taking on this new challenge.
- How to expatriate talent? The growing internationalization of Spanish companies is the next hurdle to overcome. The HR manager should have a good eye for spotting the candidates to expatriate and detect their suitability for taking on this new challenge.
- How to motivate the company in terms of innovation? Innovate, create and launch are musts and the key to success for the company’s survival. Frequently error is confused with failure; an issue that undeniably puts the breaks on development. Companies must set down incentives to encourage innovation and it must be present in all areas, not just in a specific department.
- In times of crisis, like the one we now face, sometimes the messages conveyed or the promises which turn out to be difficult to meet cause “brain drain”. In this scenario, how do I retain those I want to keep? Under these circumstances, communication is a key tool for handling this challenge. Today there is an abuse of email and we must recover personal communication. It is crucial to analyze each case; if it’s an economic issue, one of prestige. And to establish communication processes suitable for each situation, while accepting that this will not always lead to a settlement.
- How do I retain those I want to keep? In times of crisis, like the one we now face, sometimes the messages conveyed or the promises which turn out to be difficult to meet cause “brain drain”. Under these circumstances, communication is a key tool for handling this challenge. Today there is an abuse of email and we must recover personal communication. It is crucial to analyze each case; if it’s an economic issue, one of prestige. And to establish communication processes suitable for each situation, while accepting that this will not always lead to a settlement.
Aside from all these questions, it is worth highlighting some interesting thoughts that arose during the course of the workshop:
- The HR function must pass through all areas of the organization, not just in the HR department.
- The role of Human Resources must be combative to maintain the company values.
- As far as motivation goes, the notion of a “mature company” has emerged, where this has the capacity for self-motivation and its employees know and accept the rules of the game. Employees cannot demand permanent motivation from their managers, who in turn should not demotivate them and help them in their personal development.
- We can make the most of crises to review processes and make changes, always bearing in mind that there are supporting walls in organizations that should never be touched, such as maintaining the work-life balance of the employees.
- HR managers are usually considered as problem solvers in their organizations, but just from the legal point of view. In this context, it has been pointed out that the greatest difficulties are in the public administration sector, where they are more often than not considered as brokers.