How is TECHNOLOGY being used FOR HUMAN RESOURCES across the world? | Melinda Wolfe | TBCY

How is TECHNOLOGY being used FOR HUMAN RESOURCES across the world? | Melinda Wolfe | TBCY

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Welcome to another episode of The Brand Called  You. A vodcast and podcast show that brings you   leadership lessons, knowledge, experience and  wisdom from thousands of successful individuals from   around the world. I'm your host, Ashutosh Garg  and today I'm delighted and privileged to welcome   a very, very senior HR professional, a  coach from New York City, USA, Melinda   Wolfe. Melinda, welcome to the show. Thank you so much for having me. Melinda is the Former Chief People Officer, and an  HR consultant. She is an executive coach as well. She is also associated with  several nonprofit boards.  

So Melinda, let's talk today about human resources  and nonprofit boards. Let's start with human   resources. And, I'm much older than you.  But I remember when I started working in 1979,   it was always two functions, the personnel  manager and the industrial relations manager.   And that has now evolved into the CHRO. I'd love to get your perspective and   how has the human resources leadership  or function evolved over the decades? It's a great question. And it's evolved  dramatically. And I would say that you're right,  

it was early on a personnel manager, was kind  of helping with the logistics of people, it was   really an administrative role. And it was really a police role. And it can be   still in some organizations. But today, the  chief HR officer is really at the heart of,   in my view, culture, the heart of leadership,   and at the heart of the business strategy as  it relates to people. Because all businesses   are based on who their people are. And the person  who's in charge of making that experience great,   has a huge impact. So I would say today, the  role of the chief HR officer is more strategic.  

I would say, it's more infused  with an obligation to look at the   diversity and equity implications of  every part of the process of leading   people. And it's really setting the tone  for what the culture is, in many ways. And, I've been speaking  to many CHROs and many CEOs.   Now, when I talk to a CEO, they say, when you  ask them, who are your key direct reports? The CHRO is generally  the first person they name.   Earlier, it used to be CFO, what  is it that is changing now? It's a great question, because it has changed  a lot. And I would say not only from the CEO   perspective, the CHRO spends much more time  with the board than ever before. So I think   overall, what's happened is with greater levels  of turnover, with lots of generations being in   the workforce from Gen Z, Gen  Y, Gen X, you name it, it's a more   complex workforce to manage. There's also more  employee activism today than there ever has been.  

And the judgment calls that are required in order  to really lead with integrity, and lead in an   inclusive way are just significant in a  way that they haven't been in the past. So   I find that, I have spent even in a recent interim role, I had an enormous time with the CEO   helping to guide through very sticky  issues and in a lot of complexity. Amazing. And a few minutes ago,  you spoke about culture. And I'd like to  

talk to you a little bit about culture,  starting with how do you define culture? Well, culture is very ephemeral, in my  view. It is an amalgam of a lot of things.   It is a reflection of the people at the  top and what the top leader does. It is   also a reflection of the behaviors of people  in a company and the values of that company.   But also the behaviors when no one's looking at  because that is really when the culture manifests.  

So I think, there are many strands of  activity that really lead to what culture is.   But it is also the alignment between what is  articulated, and what people do every day. And   so it's not one thing, it's many things. And yet, Melinda, when I look at  

my own journey of working for three large  corporations, where culture seems to be   a part of the gene pool of the organization, I've  often seen startup founders struggle with how to   develop a culture. I'd love to get your thoughts  on how does a new company build culture? Well, with a lot of the startup  companies that I currently work with,   I find admirably that the people who are leading  them, ask themselves, what is the culture I want   to create in the company that I am beginning to  grow? What are the values that I want to make sure   are at the center of everything we do. And so, I  think that newer companies have an opportunity   to really set that out. But oftentimes, it  set out and the behaviors aren't necessarily   matching what is said out and what words  are there. That's why I truly believe   a lot of culture is defined by communication  and the way people are communicated to,   those communications are really important to put  forth what the values and what the behaviors are.  

But if the individuals who put those  forth don't live those every day,   they're not going to reinforce  them in the culture. And as a senior CHRO, for several years.  My next question to you is something that   a startup founder told me, he said that, I've got to develop a strong culture.  

So I said, but this must apply to you. He says,  no, no, it doesn't apply to me, I'm the owner. Well, I don't agree with that whatsoever.  I mean, the culture itself is   personified in the leader or leaders of the  place, is personified across the organization   with every single person who's there,  but the leader, the owner, whoever it is,   must have a way of embracing the aspects of what  they want to put forward. And so culture is owned   by everyone. It's not owned by one person, it's  collectively owned, but it's oftentimes set out   by the owner or the top leadership, and they have  an obligation to live what they want to see. Fabulous. So let me now move to some of the HR  challenges people have faced post the pandemic.  

All of us have been impacted  by the pandemic around the world.   My first question is, what are some of  the HR challenges that CHROs have faced   as a result of the pandemic? And then,  I'll come to one or two more questions. Well, the pandemic is one piece, but it's  everything that happened during the pandemic, that's another. And I would say that around  the world, it may be different. In the US, the racial reckoning that happened during the  pandemic itself, has led to enormous changes in   the workplace, great sensitivity around diversity,  equity and inclusion. A number of   things have changed in terms of mandatory  representation on boards, and as well as   in senior management of more diverse  individuals. But one of the biggest  

issues that has happened globally around the  pandemic has been the issue of flexibility   and the demand by people to have more flexibility  and to be able to balance their work life   in a way that has been kind of earth  shattering for many companies. The whole question   of return to office, when people have been  working in their homes has been a big challenge.   Companies have been very ambivalent about it.  Some have insisted people come back, and people   have left as a result. Some have been sustained  and people have come back, but they don't come  

back necessarily happily. And others come back  because they miss the watercooler. They miss the   community. They miss all of that. And there has  been a mixed bag for many places. But what it's   done is, it's given employees a voice like they've  never had before. And we see that in the great  

resignation. Because companies are noticing that  the more that they impose their will on people,   the more people in their companies walk,  and they go other places. And I would say,   also, what influenced the post pandemic world is  the complexity of the economy that we all face. It's interesting, but I'd like a follow  up question. Again, when I look at my   own career, again, as I said, I'm talking four  decades ago when I started work. But one of   the aspirations of every young person or a lot of  young people was to make it to the corner office.  

Now, with so many people choosing to work from  home, do their own thing, get their own voice, where do  organizations get the next set of leaders from? Well, I mean, every generation has its own set  of leaders and people who manifest and one of the decisions I made in my career was  to move from Pearson, which was a great company   to work out to, which is an education company to  GLG, which is a different kind of expert network.   Why did I do that? I went from a very  large organization to a much smaller one.   And in the much smaller one, there  were loads of millennials and Gen Z's.   And this is a whole different demographic  that we're managing to. But it's not

one demographic, it's a complex network of  people who have digital native experiences,   who have different values around purpose,  etc. But in that group, you will always find   people who have the capability and desire to lead.  And so it's a matter of finding them and bringing   them up and setting the example and pulling  them through. And oftentimes, they don't have   the patience to actually stay within these larger  corporations, because their desire for progress,   their desire for purpose, their desire for any  one of a number of things, siphons them off to   the startup world. But I would say that, there are  still loads of very talented people who end up in   organizations and who can be formed and aspire  to be the next generation of leaders. It's not  

one monolith of people who are only purpose  driven, or who are only focused on flexibility. Well, that's very reassuring. A lot of friends,   all these young people want gig economy, want to have multiple sources of income.   Where will all your leadership come from now? So moving on, Melinda,   I've got a question for you on technology. There  is a lot of discussion now going on, on how human   resources is using artificial intelligence,  to be able to actually predict the kind of   skill sets that a person may be able to  bring to an organization. I'd love to   get your thoughts on how is technology being  used for human resources across the world? Well, technology, in my view, in HR is being used  in three fundamental ways. The first and most,  

I would say mundane, is just to take a lot of  administrative work and actually automate it.   And that is a great thing for HR, because what  it does is, it makes HR even more strategic,   because HR leaders are not focused on the  day-to-day kind of administrative processes.   The second is that technology has  enabled companies to generate   huge insights on their people, and what makes them  tick, and what makes them more productive, etc.  

And the final piece of it, which  is I think what you're referring to   goes to actually recruiting and recruiting  profiles and recruiting the right people.   And I think this is a double edged sword.  I think technology can be used. And I think   there are a lot of predictors of what does well,  but people have complex natures. And what does  

well is not again, a monolith. I've spent a lot of  time listening to Angela Duckworth book on grit,   which I think is really an interesting piece. A  grid is has lots of components and is made up of   a lot of things and can be measured one way or  another. And that's the beauty of some of these   kind of AI resources you can screen and look  for, etc. But at the end of the day,   you have to talk to people, you have to get  underneath and know what they're made of,   and you have to do the interviews. And the reason  I say, it's also two sided is that oftentimes,  

we, through AI dismiss a lot of people who could  be hidden gems. And so, it's really important to   use technology in ways that can find you  the best people, but to always be on top   of making sure that you are a heat seeking  missile when it comes to good people,   qualities and great leadership. And  what you can oftentimes find in a test   will not tell you about the fullness of what a  person brings to the workplace. What a

great response. Thank you. So Melinda, now let's  move to your nonprofit boards. Tell me about   some of the boards that you serve on. And then  I'll ask you a couple more questions on that. Sure. Well, I have always done nonprofit  work, I'm very moved by doing work that is  

impact oriented. And I work on very different  things, very intentionally. So for example,   I chair a small nonprofit in Kenya called ZanaAfrica, that provide sanitary napkins to girls   and also education to give them  agency to keep them in school, etc. I work on an   organization as a board member called Coqual, which  is really focused on diversity in the workplace.   I am really proud to be a board member of  Echoing Green. Echoing Green is a nonprofit that   helps seed entrepreneurs, especially social  impact entrepreneurs, both for and not for profit,   that are focused on making changes that will have  an impact across the world. Echoing Green works in  

India, Echoing Green works in Africa, as  well as the US. So I also do things in my own   town, which I'm really focused on local  efforts and national efforts. I sit on a   nonprofit called Auburn Seminary that builds  bridges across religious difference to   leverage social justice. So I have a variety. Very wide variety. And what do you look for before  

you accept to serve on a nonprofit board? There's a load of things to look for before you   take on a nonprofit, one of them is do you  resonate with the cause? Is it important to   you and why? The second is who is the leader?  The third is where are their sources of revenue?   And where can you have an impact on what  they're doing? Because in many cases, it's really   important that you find what your niche is, is it  your time, is it your talent? Is it your treasure?   How are you going to contribute? And then  I think finally, and importantly, it's   how is the organization run? Like as  a board member, you have fiduciary responsibility.   Do you feel an obligation to really  review the compliance, the governance,   all of that to make sure you're joining something  that is squeaky clean, and that can really deliver   what its promises? And my next question is that, when you look at your  role as a board member for a not for profit, how does that differ from a  board member in a for profit organization? Well, I have a limited view of that and  that I serve on six nonprofit boards,   and no for profit boards. But in my work life, I  can comment on it because I've worked very, very   closely with for profit boards. Let's face it,  there's about a million and a half non for profits   in the US. There's about 10 million across  the world. Nonprofits really vary in size,  

the small nonprofit I work on ZanaAfrica has a handful of people in it.   Most for profit boards are working at scale.  They're working for very large companies. And they   have a huge obligation to make sure through audit  committee, through compensation committee,   through very structured areas that they  are making good on the promise to shareholders,   and those shareholders are usually, a  huge group of people. So the scale issue is really   different when you're operating a for profit and  a not for profit. It's not true. I mean, there's   the Red Cross, UNICEF, very big nonprofits. But in  general, the nonprofit world is a small one, and  

the ability for oversight and to understand what's  going on is much greater for a board member than   a board member of a very large company in  which there are just so many moving parts. Very interesting. So I've time for one more  question. And this is for the many, many people   who will listen to our conversation. Melinda, based  on your amazing experience as Former Chief People   Officer, all the work that you're doing on nonprofits, all the vast experience that you have,   what would you say are three lessons, you would  like our viewers and listeners to take away from   your own learnings and from our conversation? So one of my lessons, just in life, is to show up,   and to know how you're showing up as a  leader. And that has two aspects, it's   like actually doing it, going there, being part of  it. And then being very conscious of how you're  

part of it. Another one of my lessons is about  service, because I think that it's very important   to give back in the world. And that  everything that I do is focused on service,   and impact and what I can do to make a difference. And then I think my third lesson would   be about the importance of connection and  community. Because at the end of the day,   our workplaces, our communities, and the  connections that we make at our workplaces   and across the world, are really essential for  making a difference in having impact. Connection,  

I would tell you is part of my brand and who  I think I am and how I go about the world. And   making those great collisions in life can really  make a difference to people, whether it's in your   workplace, whether it's in the nonprofit world,  or whether it's just in your daily community. Wonderful. Melinda on that note, thank you  so much for speaking to me, thank you for   your amazing three lessons, which is show up,  service and the importance of connection and   connectivity. Thank you for speaking to me about  your journey as a CHRO and your amazing learnings   and how CHRO's are making an impact, which was  much larger than what I started off my life with   when I was 21 years old. Thank you  also for speaking to me about how the whole HR  

function has evolved. Thank you for speaking to  me about nonprofit boards and how well you are   handling such a multiplicity of different diverse  nonprofit boards. Finally, thank you so much for   speaking to me and good luck to you. Well, thank you. And I really want to say,   that I appreciate that you are so  curious about people what they do,   and what their impact is in the world. So  thank you for taking the time as well. Thank you. Thank you for listening to The  Brand Called You, videocast and podcast. A platform that brings you knowledge, experience  and wisdom of hundreds of successful individuals   from around the world. Do visit our website to watch and listen to  

the stories of many more individuals. You  can also follow us on YouTube, Facebook,   Instagram and Twitter. Just  search for The Brand Called You

2022-07-31 03:51

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