Ron Thomas

Ron Thomas is a human resources officer currently based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He formerly was director, talent and human resources solutions at Buck Consultants (a Xerox Company) and is certified by the Human Capital Institute as a Master Human Capital Strategist (MHCS) and Strategic Workforce Planner (SWP). He's also worked in senior HR roles with Martha Stewart Living and IBM. Ron serves on the Harvard Business Review Advisory Council, McKinsey Quarterly Executive Online Panel, and HCI's Expert Advisory Council on Talent Management Strategy. He also serves as a faculty partner and executive facilitator at the Human Capital Institute. He has received the Outstanding Leadership Award for Global HR Excellence by the World Human Resource Development Congress in Mumbai. Contact him at ronaldtthomas@gmail.com or on Twitter.

Articles by Ron Thomas

Leadership, Talent Management

The Lesson From the Microsoft Cuts: Don’t Mix the Message on Layoffs

Microsoft layoffs

This is not good. One of the guys on the marketing team I work with just got fired. OMG, they just fired another one. It is just crazy around here now.”

As I read the text messages, I could feel the tension that must have permeated this workplace.

The text was from someone who had been in the world of work for four years out of college. This situation with them went on for two days, and as I got the blow-by-blow, it felt like being in a war zone. Read more…

Global HR, HR Insights

What I Learned From My Life as an Expat HR Leader in Saudi Arabia

123RF Stock Photo

I recently received a note from my good friend Sharlyn Lauby (aka, the HRBartender) in reference to a question that she received from one of her readers:

How did you prepare for your new human resources role in Saudi Arabia? The country has different cultures, business traditions, and labor laws.

What I realized is that the story behind me making the move from New York City to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia could possibly fill a book [to be announced at a later date]. Read more…

Culture, Leadership

Leaders Get More Out of People When They Don’t Wear the Crown

Photo by istockphoto.com

“She said to me… you might be president of PepsiCo, you might be on the Board of Directors, but when you enter this house you’re the wife, you’re the daughter, you’re the daughter-in-law, you’re the mother… so leave that damn crown in the garage.’

You have to admire the older generation. They will always speak their mind. When I read this, I thought of my parents and how their plain-spoken ability to cut through all the BS and hit the bullseye with their message.

The above statement was from Indra Nooyi’s mother in reaction to her daughter’s election to the Pepsi Board of Directors. The 58-year old Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo and mother of two daughters delivered some surprisingly frank and candid insights on work-life balance in an interview with David Bradley, owner of the Atlantic Media Company, at the Aspen Ideas Festival this week. Read more…

HR Insights

Workplace Communications: Yes, Sometimes We Still Need to Talk

wifi3

I’ve been picking up the phone and calling my most important clients,” he said. “You can’t stop because there’s no email.

This was a quote based on the outage of MS Outlook this past week. The Washington Post headline blared MS Outlook outage brings offices back to the 1980’s.

For the people who were working in corporate, this was an era when there was no email to speak of, and for that matter, no computers. I had an office on Sixth Avenue in New York at that time and all I had was a phone on my desk. That was it. Read more…

HR Insights, HR Management

Getting Beyond the Echo Chamber: Selling the Value of HR Outside of HR

123RF Stock Photo

“I’m fine, thanks. I’m enjoying in my major. Actually, I love HR. Thanks for your attention. If I need help, I will let you know.”

This note from a student at one of the universities here in the Middle East, someone who is majoring in HR. He reached out to me over LinkedIn, and in my response, I told him if he needs me in any way he should feel free to reach out.

As I was responding to that note, I smiling thought of my upcoming lecture at the University of the Emirates in Dubai where I will be a guest lecturer to the class of students that are working towards their Bachelor of Science in HR. I was invited by the dean, Dr. Singh, who I met on a panel she chaired at a recent conference in Dubai. Read more…

HR Insights, Leadership

Leading Change: If It Doesn’t Bring Value, We Shouldn’t be Doing It

123RF Stock Photo

“We cannot solve problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.

That quote is from Albert Einstein. That is such a poignant quote when we think of change, new solutions, and how we approach problems.

I figured out a long time ago that it takes the same amount of energy to be negative as to be positive. But, I have also noticed a pattern that when some new idea or new approach comes out, people come out of the woodwork with skepticism. Read more…

HR Insights, Leadership

“Always Be Closing” and You’ll Find It’s Really “Always Be Helping”

keep-calm-and-always-be-closing-11

Too many people looking for jobs save their elevator speeches for job fairs and interviews. Remember the first rule of sales: ABC (Always Be Closing). Give your elevator speech to everyone — at family gatherings, in the waiting room of the dentist, at coffee hour at your church or temple. You never know where the next job is coming from.”

That  was from a classic Harvard Business Review article.

This past week I attended Talent in Emerging & Growth Markets conference being held in Istanbul, Turkey. I was honored to serve as the co-conference chair as well as one of the Day 2 keynote speakers. Read more…

HR Management, Talent Management

Manager’s Mantra: Walk the Talk, Give Credit, Admit When You Don’t Know

From istockphoto.com

No one thought it was a great idea, especially my boss. They finally gave in because I pushed so hard. Well you know what? It was the best and most popular part of the show. Everyone raved about it, however, I am sitting here incredulous because on the call my boss took credit for it all. I can’t.

That statement came from a Millennial I know who is beyond disgusted with her job. She loves the company but the manager wants all the credit.

I have always said that you learn more from bad managers that you do from the good ones. My response to this woman was to schedule an offline meeting, and the major point of discussion should be work-projects and ownership. At least you are drawing a line in the sand, but do not get your hopes up. Read more…

HR Insights, HR Management

There’s No Place in Your Workplace For Bullying Behavior

bully

I heard on the news that a new anti-bullying law had been put in place in a local community. There were the usual skeptics as to how effective it was going to be.

However, I did some digging and found out that 49 states in the U.S. have passed school anti-bullying legislation, the first being Georgia in 1999. I, for one, am all for this message in corralling these so-called bullies. I have always said (somewhat jokingly) that they have not bullied the right person yet. When they do, the line will be drawn. Read more…

HR Management, Talent Management

A Management Essential: Helping Your People to Do It on Their Own

Illustration by istockphoto.com

He gives me the assignment and then proceeds to tell me step-by-step how to do it.” In my previous role before coming here, I managed successfully much larger projects than this. Just let me run with it and stay out of the way.”

That comment was from a budding marketing whiz who I have mentored over the years. Her frustration was with her manager who wooed and hired her from one of the big advertising firms.

The problem with this scenario is that he micro-manages her every move. He gives her an assignment and then essentially says, “here is the way I want you to do it.” Read more…