Manage People As Well As You Manage Your Investments

“’What if we managed people as carefully as we managed investments?”

We are in the business of making successful investments. For good investment outcomes, a key variable is quality of our decisions. For good quality decisions, we need teams with a good climate — good psychological safety. And for that we need clued-in managers with the right skills and mindset to lead such teams.

“Good managers lead to good investment outcomes.”

To say the least, I was absolutely blown away with that first line.  I must say that I am immensely impressed with the level of rising HR talent that I meet all over the world. Manager effectiveness was wrapped into the skill set of the audience.

What is your message?

This program was created by the GIC School, where the presenter, Akash Mohan, is SVP of HR. GIC is a financial management firm based in Singapore and manages the sovereign funds for the government of Singapore. His audience included investment professionals, data scientists and technologists all in the pursuit of managing client portfolios in sums that would cause your eyes to pop.  In his space, the challenge is getting through to a hard skills workforce. But as his comments showed, it can be done using a strong messaging strategy.

The key to messaging success is to sync your message to the audience you want to reach. As the former vice president HR for Martha Stewart Living, I totally understand the importance of messaging.  Our employee base was comprised of creatives — writers, designers and the like.  The approach and messaging had to be crafted for that audience.  We were a soft-skills workforce.

The marketing approach

Strategic messaging speaks in your buyer’s language and provides two key elements that lead to effective content.  One of the problems with the effectiveness of HR messaging is that we do not adhere to marketing principles:

  • Who is the audience?
  • What do they care about?

For success, these two principles have to be the anchors for the messaging. How do you sync your message to the audience you want to reach?

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Marketing as a part of our toolkit

The skills required of today’s HR professional have changed drastically over the years.  They are now inching closer to the profile of a business person.  It’s not unlike what the CEO of Starbucks once said about the company, “We are not in the coffee business serving people, but in the people business serving coffee.”  I even had another person tell me that his view of his profession is to view himself as a business person that just happens to be sitting in HR.

Communication skills, consultant and relationship management are all listed as key profiles of the new HR executive.  Traditional HR skills are not the driver of success in the business today.

So, as I spent time with Mr. Mohan while he laid our his portfolio of programs from leadership development to engagement, I realized that we have a new breed of professionals that are approaching the job from a totally different perspective and will, in the end, move our profession in a whole new direction of strategic significance.

Tailor your programs

The lesson is that before any initiative or program is developed, remember the two anchors which are the basics of marketing, who you are developing for (audience) and what does it mean for that audience?

Your success rate will be a lot higher and you will steer your organization to become a high performance workplace.

Ron Thomas is Managing Director, Strategy Focused Group DWC LLC, based in Dubai. He is also a senior faculty member and representative of the Human Capital Institute covering the MENA/Asia Pacific region.

He was formerly CEO of Great Place to Work-Gulf and former CHRO based in Riyadh. He holds certifications from the Human Capital Institute as Global Human Capital Strategist, Master Human Capital Strategist, and Strategic Workforce Planner.

He's been cited by CIPD as one of the top 5 HR Thinkers in the Middle East. He received the Outstanding Leadership Award for Global HR Excellence at the World Human Resources Development Congress in Mumbai, and was named as one of the 50 Most Talented Global HR Leaders in Asia

Ron's prior roles included senior HR positions with Xerox HR services, IBM, and Martha Stewart Living.

Board memberships include the Harvard Business Review Advisory Council, McKinsey Quarterly's Executive Online Panel, and HCI's Expert Advisory Council on Talent Management Strategy.

His work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Inc. Magazine, Workforce Management and numerous international HR magazines covering Africa, India and the Middle East.

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