Why I Am Glad to Be in Human Resources…and It’s Not What You Think

Until I stumbled into Human Resources by accident, I, like most people, thought that this was a mundane, administration- and process-oriented field of work. But oh boy, how wrong I was.

In the Knowledge Economy and age of fast, global competition, Human Resources has evolved into a highly strategic and advisory role that enables businesses to tap into and maximize the potential of their most critical resource: their talents. Tools and technology can only go as far and produce products as unique as the human brains driving them.  Mega corporations tout innovation as the key to succeeding and differentiating themselves–and high levels of creativity and innovation can only be achieved when morale is high.

The days where Human Resources was merely the disciplinary body, payroll and leave processing clerks, resume sifter, and team-building organizers are long gone. Welcome to the world of endless gray areas, ever evolving business challenges requiring a lot more than just business and technical knowledge to solve; baffling behavioural issues; performance management and the challenge of ensuring that success indicators used are relevant to the company’s business; people, morale, leadership and culture development. This is, in other words, and at a time where personal and professional aspects of our lives are so closely intertwined, a world of boundless opportunities to manage change and make a difference in people’s lives.

A successful HR professional today is one with a keen business acumen, working knowledge of all core processes, and insights into why people do what they do and how all that pans out in the culture of the organization to affect the bottom line. He or she needs to have the capability to influence, initiate, drive, and affect change when (or even before) change is necessary.

It is often said that the greatest problems and assets are one: people — and for today’s Human Resources professional, success is when the work he or she does, brings out the best in the organization and its people. Because the profession has evolved from being mere executors into precious enablers and catalysts for success.

One-Liner Wednesday–Which Nobel Prize Winner Said This?

“Usually when my head touches the pillow, I fall asleep within seconds, but that night I lay in bed ashamed that I was part of a society which could not provide $27 to forty two able-bodied, hardworking, skilled persons to make a living for themselves.”

Can anyone guess who said this one liner?

This is part of LindaGHill’s One-Liner Wednesday:
http://lindaghill.com/2014/10/08/one-liner-wednesday-dangerous-driving/

Up Close and Uncommon: Engineer Turned Origami Florist Unfolds His Journey

Thanks to Jerry and his origami florist start up, roses are now forever.

I’ve always wanted to write about the inspiring people I am blessed to have in my life — specifically the ones who defy the ordinariness of being human to chase after dreams that make life extraordinary. So when my friend Jerry gave me one of his origami roses as a birthday present recently, the idea of featuring his experience starting his own origami florist, Epicure Online, on my blog dawned on me. I am especially amazed that Jerry is now even using his origami skills to teach Math to some autistic children. Talk about making money and making a difference with our hobbies!

Me: So, tell us how it happened, this shift from semiconductor engineering at one of the world’s largest companies, to paper art start up.

J: When I first left  engineering I wasn’t planning to start a paper art start up. It was more like I was tired and felt that I was going through the mundane. I felt that there had to be more to life than going through the typical routine. So I decided I wasn’t getting any younger and decide to take a plunge and try something on my own.

How did I start an origami florist? Well that was by chance. I was always a fan of origami. Always loved folding. It’s something I believe everyone can do. It’s an art that is systematical. If I follow the crease lines correctly I will get the desired pattern. The hard part is to decipher the crease lines.

So one Christmas I decided to give a loved one something special. A handmade bouquet of 24 roses. She was quite impressed with it and that started the whole idea of an origami florist. We believe that there would be many people out there that would like to have something special and personal to make important occasions more memorable.

One of Epicure Online's latest bouquet designs.

One of Epicure Online’s latest bouquet designs.

Me: What’s the best thing about leaving your steady job for something as different and uncertain as origami?

 J: I gradually develop a sense of tolerance for uncertainty. To a certain extent I am a control freak. I don’t really handle unforeseen circumstances well. Coming out on my own in more ways than one has humbled me to accept my limitations. I learned that while disappointments are part of life, you can not let that be the defining moment of your life. I learned to redefine my core believes and strengthen my faith. For me that is the most important learning so far.

Origami roses with inscriptions for special occasions.

Origami roses with inscriptions for special occasions.

Me: What’s the worst, or most difficult thing?

J: Ironically the hardest thing for me right now to deal with is also the uncertainty. While it gives me a new perspective in life. There is always the lingering question of “What if ?”.Peer pressure compounds this effect. While I understand that I am taking a minor step back to launch myself further it’s always test of will when people close to you ask if you are sane. That’s where your belief system comes in.

Me: What drives you to do what you do?

J: Time really goes by quickly if we don’t number our days. When I look at it there is only a limited time frame in life where we get to do the things we want in life. I believe there is a season for everything. For example, for me to take the risk to come out on my own to pursue  my passion would not have been possible if I was younger as personally I would have not been confident enough, and if I was older I might not be able to tolerate the risk.  Knowing that there is a season for everything I remind myself that this season too will pass and I must make the most out of it. Muhammad Ali said it best: “Don’t count your days, make your days count.”

 

The 24-rose bouquet that started it all.

The 24-rose bouquet that started it all.

Me: If you could pick one, which piece of origami are you the proudest of? Why?

J: Easy – the first rose bouquet I made. It started all of this!

Me: Describe your journey in three words.
J: Unbelievable, Spiritual, and Exciting.

This interview is conducted as part of the Daily Post’s weekly writing challenge:

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_writing_challenge/interview/
and also because of my interest in delving into the thoughts of inspiring people who are living and chasing their dreams.

True Leadership: Where Common Goals Triumph Over the Ego

At the company’s management forum today, one of the topics discussed was crucial conversations, during which the emphasis was on the importance of putting emotions and the ego aside to resolve conflicts.

Our Managing Director demonstrated exemplary leadership when during his wrap up speech, he openly commended a manager for disagreeing with him during an important project meeting, although some of her colleagues told her to just drop the matter because “he is the MD so what he says is always right!”. But she stood by her opinion and gave him her differing perspective on the project, an openness and honesty which he clearly appreciated.

Real leaders know that it is their job to drive common goals, instead of being driven by their egos.

Motivation: Lasting Impact, Simple Means

Today two colleagues and I conducted a motivational program for a group of factory employees – and I use the term “motivational” rather than motivation because I am far from an expert on this subject. Therefore, it is more accurate to say that we organized something to motivate the workers to be more engaged and enthusiastic about their work, rather than to teach them about motivation.

Aside from the fact that none of us are motivation experts, I also believe that motivation can never really be taught. Like passion, genuine lasting motivation is something that has to come from within.

So how did we go about designing a program that would be fun, and most importantly, drive home a strong message that leads to lasting change? We wanted to achieve a profound impact through elegant and uncomplicated means. How?

So we put our heads together and in the end came up with a program content based on these premises:

1. That the answers (as to how to solve problems, get along with others, and be happier at work) are already in the participants themselves

2. That any motivational program must not appear to be preachy, shoving do’ s and dont’s down the throats of perfectly capable adults

So, for messages to be effective in spurring real change, they must be discovered by the participants themselves. Nothing new, actually – considering this is actually what the best counsellors, coaches/mentors and therapists do: leading their charges to discover answers for themselves, rather than telling them what to do.

So we did just that. First, we identified the priorities of this group of workers. And then, prior to the program day, we had them answer a questionnaire that sought their opinion on how things can be improved.

Then we analyzed their responses and picked the most common and also the most pertinent ones to compile into a summary. This morning, we kicked off the program by running through its objectives, and pointed out how these objectives were pretty much aligned with the feedback they had given us through the questionnaire. We believe in affirmation!

Next, we showed the summary of their responses and thanked them for their input, and informed them of what we were going to do about it. There were giggles and laughter as familiar statements flashed on the screen, and I noticed a good number of them nodding intently as I spoke.

In line with the premise that answers are often found within oneself, the next thing we did was to run a session on personalities – highlighting how we tend to approach life and relationships differently based on how we are wired. Finally we had them get into groups to brainstorm on what the different personality types could do to bridge differences and contribute to workplace harmony. They then took turns to present their results with the whole group, and in the end, out of the entire list of ‘things we can do’, we asked them to pick three things they could do over the next month or so, and then see if there is better teamwork and overall happiness by then.

What are these three things?
1. They agreed they would start saying ‘thank you’ whenever they receive feedback for improvement
2. They agreed they would smile at and greet their co workers and superiors
3. They agreed they would start to extend help to colleagues even if the task is not in their job description

And we would remind them of these three things, and follow up with them over the next few weeks to get their feedback on how things have improved with these simple behaviour modification.

Of course there were other fun things we did in today’s program, but I would not elaborate other than saying that we did play a couple of games, ate some good food (loved the hot and spicy tempe and anchovies!), had photos taken, and had a blasting karaoke session.

Granted, motivation is a lifestyle and not just a one-day program, so we will be following up with our participants and walking alongside them to discover more answers. And they will definitely not be the only ones learning and growing 🙂