Leveraging on nearly two decades of Human Resource experience, both local and international, from such organisations as Nokia, Interswitch and Transcorp; Adora Ikwuemesi is currently CEO of Kendor, a Human Resource Management Consultancy.
Also passionate about developing other HR professionals and teams, she tells BL why she uses numerous forums such as social media every week to evangelise on opportunities provided by technology, and how it enhances organisations.
In emerging economies, more women than men are entering the HR space. Is there a reason HR is more attractive to women?
A lot of people generally have that impression about HR.
The truth is that in most societies, people may see women as more nurturers than men. There are many men in HR but they are outnumbered in my experience. I am not sure because I am yet to get the data, especially as HR Director.
HR is people-oriented and a lot of firms prefer women.
In HR as a whole, women outnumber men, I am not sure of the statistics, but I know a whole lot of HR Directors which are men, but that is a whole different discussion.
The way teams work together after the COVID-19 pandemic might never be the same again. Would you offer tips for helping remote and hybrid teams work?
For a lot of companies, this was a brand new concept, something that their businesses had never experienced. In some industries, we are used to it already.
For instance, if you are in consulting, service providers tend to travel a lot, work out of hotel rooms and different sites but for the rest of us, the first thing to do is to eliminate the obstacles. What I mean by obstacles is, we are in a country where there are other issues like infrastructure. Some companies told me that they saved about eight million naira a month from working from home, and these are just operational costs. A lot of businesses saved a lot.
The first thing a lot of people complained about are internet issues.
Some people have other issues in terms of arrangements. A lot of them don’t have private spaces where they can work , there is too much noise.
First of all everyone needs to have a work area where they can have some privacy. Imagine if you are sharing that space, you live in a room or even an apartment.
You have to learn about how to work remotely. First of all, everyone needs to have a work area. We imagine that your children would walk in there, your wife would walk in there; it’s definitely going to be disruptive so no matter what you do, if the environment is not appropriate for that kind of style, you will struggle.
A lot of companies are not very clear on what working from home entails.
Some just see it as working flexibly, as long as you deliver they don’t care about the hours; but some companies have policies that, for example, you are still be working eight to five meaning that, at 8am you are on your desk and at five o’clock you close; take your normal breaks as though you were in the office.
Some have a limitless day. Some work 24 hours, you can work any time as long as you deliver. From the company side you have to be very clear. That is something that is very important, and then the managerial style based on the policy which they have adopted so that your employees are very clear. You don’t want a situation where you want someone’s attention and they tell you they quickly travelled and are unable to work.
One of the things you must do very well when you can’t see people is to set goals better than when you could and then focus more on the deliverables.
On the management side you need to clarify goals, timelines. Things that you may not have noticed before suddenly become more important, for example, you need a high level of integrity. When you can see someone you will know whether the work would be delivered or not but when you can’t see someone and they tell you the work is going to be delivered at 2pm tomorrow. People need to be more disciplined; work smartly.
Another issue is if they have electricity in their homes. We had a situation whereby we hired an intern and the intern said the transformer in their area had blown up so he was just helpless.
I remember having a colleague who never had network in his house because he lived in a valley.
Leaders and managers need to be trained.
Many organisations in our part of the world do not pay as much attention to human resource management as they would to, say, marketing. Are they making a big mistake?
If you value people and you truly believe that people are important to achieving success, you will find that companies which value people are more successful than companies that don’t. A lot of times you are knocking their head and wondering, why is this not happening: what are your people oriented policies like?
I always tell people that even if machines take over, there will still be that human being that would turn on the machine.
If you have a bank or you have a telecoms company or a hair salon, we are all in business as long as people carry out the tasks. You will have that kind of insight then the onus is on you to ensure that people perform effectively. If you don’t take it seriously, you are playing a losing game.
If you look at countries that are doing better, they are companies that take care of their citizens. If a country or company care about their people, you will find that their policies are forward looking.
Considering the rate at which corporate cultures mutate and their dynamism, how do you keep up with new industry trends to attain best practices?
Every corporate has a culture. It’s just like a career. The problem is that you may have a culture that you don’t like.
If you are not intentional about your career, you would still have one anyway, the only difference is that you will have one which you don’t like.
At any given time, culture can be chosen because culture is the way you do things. I was training somewhere and they were asking me about culture because they don’t have one. I said, you have one. Maybe you are just not intentional about it.
Leadership needs to say, these are our values. It’s the way leaders do things that become the culture.
For example, if you say, “we keep our promises, if leadership doesn’t keep their promises, if leadership doesn’t care about people then your culture is not caring about people. You don’t need to come out and announce it.
Leaders should decide the culture you want then map out deliberate activities towards achieving that culture. You can’t say you want creativity, then you punish people for every mistake.
Just make sure your culture is evolving towards the culture that you want.
You are the actual author of a book: Change your Career. What is it about and what impact has it had so far?
The average person changes their career at least five times.If you don’t choose a career, a career will choose you and you may not like that career.
The book is about helping people change their careers successfully.