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Human Resources Professionals Association

November 27, 2018

By: Dennis Ensing

Recently I was asked to participate on a leadership panel at the monthly meeting of the West Toronto chapter of the Human Resources Professionals Association.

The panel discussion followed dinner and a keynote from Lisa Mitchell, Principal of Green Apple Consulting: "HR as Coach: Influencing in a Sea of Change" and hosted by the Weston Golf & Country Club.

Lisa is a leadership coach. She helps individuals navigate life transitions (before, during or after) and a talent management consultant. She helps organizations with learning or organizational development, talent acquisition, and employee experience. She presented some excellent ideas for handling the constant change that feeds the sea known as VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity). 

Leadership ("in the know') must stay ahead and ensure that they construct a foundation of communication in the process that builds trust - focussing on context (of the change), acknowledgement (of its impact), and involvement (in navigating). Lack of transparency feeds the rumour mill and uncertainty, neither of which helps our teams leverage the transformative power that change can bring in growing both leaders and organizations.

I was the sole operational representative on the panel, complementing 4 others with tremendous leadership, change management, and human resources experience. I described myself as an agent of change in my executive orientation and took responsibility for initiating many of the activities that the attendees had earlier highlighted being a regular part of their professional lives. All of us supported many of Lisa's themes with stories that addressed the practical aspects of how we approached change management.

Transparency is a significant component of my personal approach. In my experience, when management is less than transparent, employees immediately smell out (what they believe to be) a hidden agenda, whereas timely disclosure builds trust.

Human Resources also have a seat at my strategy table. HR can be the glue that holds everything together (or WD40 might be a more apt descriptor), especially communication. I wanted my business unit leaders to own the responsibility for implementation, but always supported by HR with consistent, regular, and transparent communication. I also lean heavily on HR as they serve as our "ears to the ground" and provide necessary “intel” and feedback on what might not otherwise reach the executive team and help us assess what might just be one bad apple, vs. a more pervasive concern.