Self-awareness is essential in both personal and professional contexts, where it enables high performance and motivation. That’s what Anita Heessels offers her clients through her company Gipfel HR Consultancy. We asked Anita what she considers the biggest changes and challenges in HR, and what she anticipates for the future of the industry.
What are the biggest changes you've seen in HR during your career?
When I look back on the years that I have been in the HR profession, I notice that there have been few major changes. As is the case with many business processes, HR developments move in waves. These surges are caused by world events, such as recessions and the recent pandemic. HR innovations are almost always a reaction to issues that are going on in the world, such as increased flexibility as a result of working from home.
In recent years, larger concepts, such as diversity, have been used more and more often. I think this is an important theme myself, but I notice that it is too often used by organisations to create a certain image. The goal in most cases is to be an attractive employer for potential talent. If a company really wants to make a difference for its customers, but certainly also for its (new) employees, it is important to think carefully about such concepts. If you want a more diverse workforce, really go for it and make the necessary adjustments to your policy. It is not enough to put in vacancy texts that you strive for more diversity. Advertise externally, but certainly also internally, what you stand for, and dare to act accordingly. And above all, be aware that not everyone can appreciate a hot desk or working independently, simply because their needs are different. An individualised approach is important. Understand what motivates someone and then think about how you deal with that as a company. This involves 'motivating leadership', which I firmly believe in.
Can you name challenges that HR faces?
There is still a huge focus from companies on the level of knowledge in the recruitment process. I would argue that more attention should be paid to the personal development of the individual. What does someone stand for, what talents do they have and what could a possible career path look like for that person within the organisation? If you put someone in a position where they feel challenged, where there are development opportunities and where a motivating leader is involved, the chance of a successful and engaged employee is much greater than if someone, based on their experience or education, ends up in a position that may fit well on paper, but not in practice.
For a company, this means that it is important to have a very clear picture of your business goals, and also the goals of your team or a function. Only when you have exactly where you want to go, you are able to hire the most suitable candidate and build the best team. Objective data helps organisations make the right choices.
Companies can be invigorated by hiring people who may not seem to be the best match on paper, but who can be in practice. Prejudice plays an important role. People are (unconsciously) inclined to select candidates who are like themselves. It remains a challenge to eliminate these biases, although there are many solutions on the market today that facilitate this. Sometimes firms just lack the courage and patience to really rely on them, and to switch gears.
How do you see the future of HR?
I am a firm believer in seeking connection with each other. This is still lacking in many organisations. As a leader, if you don't have good self-awareness, then you can't connect with the people around you. This is the trend that I think is most effective at optimising business practice.
There are multiple styles of leadership, and each individual has a different style. If managers and leaders really take the time to discover which style suits them best, then they know how to manage their team. It is important that ego does not play a role here. Forming a team is based on different, complementary behaviours to achieve the right result. This is based on the composition of roles and functions. The team’s goals, composition and company culture determine which style of leadership is needed.
A combination of these factors makes a team successful. A specialist team is often more likely to accept a leader with substantive knowledge than a leader who thinks and acts from solutions, opportunities and speed. It is important to match the leader to the need.
It is nice to see that more and more organsations are aware of this way of managing. I see it not only as my work to make people aware of this, but also as my contribution to society, in which every person can be unique!