The HR World speaks to industry leaders about their careers and life – what advice would they pass on and what wisdom brought them to where they are now. In this edition we caught up with Marine Fournier, international HR specialist, who believes in the power of technology to change the daily world of HRs everywhere for the better.
1) Diversity and curiosity are the lifeblood of growth
I’ve always been curious and keen to embrace new adventures. Trying new things, experiencing new environments, and staying open minded as that’s what builds up your knowledge, skills and ambition. Throughout my career, I’ve lived and worked in four different countries, adapting along the way to new cultures, company processes, and job roles from operator, production, to manager and leader. This has contributed to my personal development and growth giving me a diversity of skills but also a breath of understanding of the sort of job challenges employees face and how this can differ by level and role, which is really useful as an HR specialist.
2) Sticking to what you love doesn’t mean staying in your lane
Like many of us, I’ve been in a job at some point in my career that hasn’t felt right for me. To avoid this happening try to find a job that involves things you’re naturally good at or enjoy doing and then aim higher. It could be writing, presenting, helping people or, like me, a love of the burgeoning world of technology. Understand where your loves lie means your strengths can be applied and find weaknesses that need improving. Embracing each one of these means you can really flourish in your career. I understood very quickly that I was a self-starter and love working on projects that discover the “new” in my work and personal life, like we constantly do in IT.
3) HRs need to practice what they preach on wellbeing
HR is often so busy looking after the workforce and the business that they forget about their own wellbeing. But your own health and happiness is key – something I would remind my younger self repeatedly – and something that we’ve all been reminded of constantly throughout the global pandemic. HR leaders have had little choice but to push through the stresses and challenges that Covid-19 has constantly presented but many will pay a price for it through their mental wellbeing, absence and diminished motivation.
4) Have humility
One of my life lessons having worked for various bosses, is that great leaders show humility and emotional intelligence. They recognise that they don’t have all the answers and build a psychological safe place that says ‘this is OK’. They listen more while providing clarity of purpose and consider their teams’ feelings and frustrations. When you’re in your first management role, ensure to make people feel that they’re understood, that they feel valued and respected, and they feel needed. You’ll soon build a strong, loyal team that supports you through whatever business challenge comes your way.
5) Bring your full self to work
One of the key lessons we teach our new joiners and aspiring leaders is the importance of transparency, especially during times of uncertainty when people need clarity and confidence. In this pandemic, employees are bringing their full selves to work more than ever, and they expect their business leaders to do the same. Look to work for a business that’s moving away from the traditional hierarchical management where egos can overshadow talent from emerging, and ideas and innovation flourishing.
6) Embrace technology – and then embrace it again
As an HR leader for a global technology you’d probably expect me to say that - but through my years in the profession I’ve seen HRs bogged down by the mundane, administration side of HR leaving them less time to focus on progression and innovation. Now, in a virtual working world, comes further HR challenges, such as recruiting and onboarding people remotely and keeping teams cohesive even when apart. But there are now digital workplace tools and apps available designed to support the HR function while keeping workforces together. Starting with the company intranet, which can now incorporate analytics to help HR track employee engagement. There are also onboarding template apps that swiftly immerse new joiners virtually and an exciting array of wellbeing tools using gamification available that enhance motivation. With hybrid working set to stay, always having a good understanding of the latest technology and remaining close to the IT team is one of the most important things to remember when starting out in the profession.
7) Be in the business
Coping with change and uncertainty has always been front and centre of any HR role since I first started out in the industry, but ever more so in the last year with the workplace having gone through a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs, with challenges around every corner. But to see through such change effectively requires agility and that means HR must always keep close to the business. Don’t remain constrained to your team – broaden your horizons. Build relationships with a network of key stakeholders across departments from IT, to marketing, right through to senior board level. That way you’ll be a greater influencer and driver of change.
8) Everyone can make a positive difference
I was lucky enough to live and work in South Africa for many years when Nelson Mandela was President. His saying: “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead,” is something that has always driven me personally and professionally – and it’s what HR should be all about.