Charlotte Boutelier and Alexandre Keilmann

Human Capital Europe digitally took place on November 26th, 2020, and brought together local and international experts around the topics of leadership, digital transformation and employee engagement, notably. The afternoon session, entitled “HR Reloaded”, was moderated by Laurent Chapelle (CEO of RH Expert).

Master of Ceremony Laurent Chapelle, officially opened the afternoon session and virtually welcomed Katarina Berg (Chief Human Resources Officer, Spotify) who participated in a fireside chat with Anne-Marie Andric (VP People & Organization, Husqvarna Division), around the need to reinforce the values, in order to shape the Future of Work. She first described Spotify’s people strategy: “it has very strong connections with missions of the company and is composed of four pillars. First, talent attraction - where to find them -, then diversity inclusion and belonging and finally learning and development - favor self-leadership. Learn as fast as the world is changing and drive your own development”. She then discussed the impact of COVID-19 and how it affected her team: “there are no teams that have not been hit by crisis management. We were able to coordinate between the different teams across different countries. We also listened to authorities and people working directly on the virus: leadership is also about having all the cards in your hands before speaking”. Katarina Berg also focused on upcoming HR trends: “what will work look like when we come back from the crisis? We are also keeping an eye on HR Tech and its numerous possibilities. And finally, we are advocating mental health and fitness: people are not afraid to talk about it anymore, as everybody has shown their need to disclose their feelings”.

“FRagile (handle with care): Why Agile isn’t the Silver Bullet to stay above troubled waters in crisis periods” was the name of the presentation given by Julian Troian (Adjunct Professor of Strategic Human Resources Management, Sacred Heart University). “Digital transformation is just like a music orchestra: manage the role of each actor and evaluate while the music is playing,” started Julian Troian. He also insisted on the need to manage the cultural shift and added: “most of the companies which are agile have new practices such as daily stand up, retrospectives or sprint/iteration”. According to him, if you think about the symphony, agile needs a new approach to leadership. From managing people to managing the system, a constant alignment on purpose is needed, as well as a full transparency between teams, faster interactions, the importance of managing dependencies and removing the obstacles to deliver. “Therefore, HR is the ideal partner to help leaders learn new superpowers such as emotional intelligence, positive psychology, agile way of working and tools, intrinsic motivation, measure what matters, strengths-based leadership, etc.” commented Julian Troian. He also highlighted the crucial importance of understanding the values and mindset of the company and the engagement of people. “Nowadays, there are five elements that cause dysfunctions in teams: the absence of trust, the fear of conflicts, a lack of commitment, the avoidance of accountability and finally the inattention to results,” concluded the HR expert.

Patrick De Pauw (CEO, Social Seeder) then focused on the importance of employee engagement in a period of crisis. “Nowadays, work and private life are intertwined compared to many years before. Moreover, the war for talent intensified,” started Patrick De Pauw, before asking: “What companies need to do? Stand out more than ever from the crowd”. He also insisted on the need to be authentic: “the more you create culture and authenticity the more you reach the audience. Authenticity creates relevance. Make people speak about you (word of mouth). Make people share your content”. The expert then focused on the need to have ambassadors: it could be an employee, a stakeholder or a person external to the company. “The reach of a co-worker who shared something on Social Media has increased with COVID. Before the pandemic, one ambassador reached 317 people, now it’s about 400. The reach in terms of audience increases exponentially when you manage to engage your employees,” commented Patrick De Pauw. According to him employee engagement starts with management: show the examples, explain the WHY all together - we create a lot of impacts, the more I share, the better it is for my professional life – and finally, look for powerful ambassadors.

“Be a Duck!” was the main message of Thomas Møller Lybæk (HR Process Innovation Director at LEGO Group) who walked the audience through the LEGO HR Modernization Journey. He started by reminding the participants that LEGO was created in 1932 and that it is still owned by a Danish family, with more than 570 stores in the world. The HR expert then shared the group’s “LEGO Plan 2022” which deals notably with analytics, payroll consolidation and outsourcing, etc. He added: “we are extremely ambitious as HR drives the key KPIs. The modernization journey is more than a system, it focuses on processes (how we deliver), on talent (how we develop people, support talents), on people and culture (key things to look at). There is also a major focus on how to control the data and adapt to the new systems''. LEGO has partnered with Workday and according to the expert, “it provides a huge list of things to do in the future and of systems to improve. It enables HR to be more productive, enables the business to be more agile and also enables the business partners to make better decisions thanks to data''. One of the key challenges was to provide access to LEGO’s workforce composed of 18,000 employees: “their primary function is to help consumers in the shops. We focus on making the processes as easy as possible. Most of our people are a growing digital native workforce”. As a conclusion, he insisted on the need to provide certainty and commitment to projects, to redesign key processes, and allow people to disagree in order to build a better governance structure.

The Danish expert then participated in a round-table discussion moderated by Laurent Chapelle, along with local experts Delphine Berlemont (Head of HR, ING Luxembourg) and Matthieu Cisowski (Human Resources Manager, Ceratizit – HR Manager of the Year 2019). The experts started by discussing the role of HR: “strategic and therefore essential” according to the Head of HR of ING Luxembourg, and “a centerpiece which needs to step up and deliver” according to Thomas Møller Lybæk. The HR Manager of Ceratizit then focused on change management: “HR managers need to transform because change is two things: adaptation and ambition. While reaching a target, we keep an eye on the new one. In other words, we have to stay on the edge and not work per habit. Also, we are great influencers because on the same day, we can speak with shareholders and workers, and therefore bridge the gap”. Delphine Berlemont agreed: “HR is a key influencer. Organizations are changing. We are now working as project teams, taking up challenges together. It is about making sure we can convince and make the change happen”. She also discussed digital transformation and explained that ING has been a flexible – and virtual – organization for years. As explained by the LEGO HR expert, “AI and Machine Learning are coming and we need to keep our humanity so we need to have a conversation person to person and not just look at spreadsheets and dashboards”. Matthieu Cisowski also shared his thoughts on the leaders of today: they need to be smart, be open to what happens around them, create trust, connect everything to the business and to the client. “They also need to be curious and foster innovation,” added the ING expert. Thomas agreed: “leaders need to be ahead of trends and keep on trying new things”. The discussion ended with the experts all sharing their number 1 advice to the audience. Matthieu Cisowski said “Just do it”, Thomas Møller Lybæk advocated the need to be curious, brave, focused and open-minded, and Delphine Berlemont concluded: “be part of the innovation, be trusted, drive the change with your partners”.

Michelle Mills-Porter (Expert in Human Behaviour) then shared her presentation entitled “Recalibration: How to regain employee motivation”. “It’s in times of adversity that I could see the strength through the core of humanity,” started the expert who experienced a traumatic tsunami experience. “After the catastrophe, I didn’t feel like going back to work and decided to create a charity. Working for this charity fulfilled me!,” explained Michelle Mills-Porter who then spent years learning how to become a behavior practitioner in order to understand people's behaviors and create reports on it. The expert then created her own tool, based on the “Essence”, which consists in a core value analysis. Employees are more and more disengaged. They do not want to go back to how things were. During the pandemic, many teams were separated, communication was more difficult, the feeling of being alone started to cause stress, collaborators had no feedback on what they were doing, etc. “What can we do? What’s the alternative?” she asked, only to answer: “let people be in flow with core values. Use the channel of communications you can use. These true core values can be found by looking into the true motivation of an individual. It depends on culture, religion, background, etc., which influence the beliefs. As people in HR, we need to advocate diversity and be more inclusive. We need to ask every individual about his/her core values and to ensure he/she has a room to talk about it. This will lead to motivation, performance, success, and empowerment”.

Then, Richard Doherty (Senior Director, Solution Marketing, Workday) delivered a keynote speech centered on making work more personal and productive through employee experience. “Employee experience has become more important than ever. For the first time in history, we see five generations working alongside, with different education paths, and with more and more data,” he first explained. According to him, organizations have to become more agile and have to work on specific objectives. “There are certain moments that matter in an employee’s life, notably being promoted as a people leader. We need to help employees who are going through specific transitions. But first, we need to target those employees. Also, how can we build effective employee experiences?” he asked. According to him, it is obvious to put the employee at the center, and use design-thinking methods. He added: “we need to generate some context, understand their motivations, aspirations, what is important to them. By painting this, you’ll be able to design a specific experience for them”. He then discussed the type of information companies need to gather to provide key employee experience: “as you can have thousands of employees, you need to automate the process. It’s all about the data, the more information you have on them. The better you use it, the more you will be able to design appropriate experiences and contribute to your employees’ wellbeing, performance and empowerment”.

The last presentation of the day was given by Matthieu Cisowski (Human Resources Manager, Ceratizit). It was entitled “HR leadership enhancement by improving the manager's personal maturity”. “To quote Warren Buffet: The best investment you can make, is an investment in yourself… the more you learn, the more you’ll earn”, he started. “The concepts of VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity) and NBIC (Nano, Bio, Info, Cogno) are going hand in hand. It is difficult for managers to adapt to these two factors. At the edge of VUCA and NBIC world, HR is essential to sustainability and the performance of organizations. The better the manager can manage, the more the culture, structure and organization will be aligned”, commented Matthieu Cisowski. He also explained that to improve organizational processes, management needs to train and that nowadays ROI on training is assessed as too low but is quintessential. The expert then shared an infographic highlighting the six traits of personal maturity: courage – accepting to fail –, prudential – developing relevant analysis to nurture decision process –, temperance – being conscious about ourselves and dealing well with our own feelings –, generosity – which goes hand in hand with trust and recognition –, hope and justice. Matthieu Cisowski then focused on how to create a culture of sustainable management in several points, with most aspects being implemented within Ceratizit. Stop the traditional management courses and replace it by a new methodology guided by an expert coach, use management path tactics, look at the Bradley curve, do not focus on it as a marketing tool, create a management booklet, have the HR Business Partners act as HR evangelists, etc. As a conclusion, he said:  “with the intensive work of the HR department, digitalization must rise with humanization!”

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