Das Humankapital meets dr. Pieter Haen

Pieter Haen is President of the World Federation of People Management Associations WFPMA, representing more than 600.000 people management professionals in over 90 countries (see http://www.wfpma.org) Pieter Haen was President of the European Aasociation for People Management EAPM till october 2011 and now is immediate past president and executive board member. He is co-author of several European and global reports published with Boston Consulting Group and co-author of ‘HR management in Europe” (2006). He is a keynote speaker on many national and international conferences on strategic people management and has published several articles in professional HR magazines in Europe. Pieter Haen studied labour law and international law at the Tilburg University in the Netherlands. He worked for Banks, Fast Moving Consumer Goods Industries and Retail in HR and General Management both in the Netherlands and abroad. In 1992, he founded and became President of Duurstede Groep Strategic Workforce Planning & Executive Search, an independent and internationally operating Consultancy Company.

Davide de Palma: What is the WFPMA?

Pieter Haen: The World Federation of People Management Associations is the leading global authority and unique organization of HR professionals all over the world. As said and mentioned above,  we link through national and regional HR associations with almost 700.000 Hr professionals on all continents.

We, the world Federation of People Management Associations WFPMA, are more and more investing in research to analyze trends, and support our regional HR associations to provide their members with best practices and research that gives added value and directions for the future. We are developing a global standard for HR as a minimum standard for all HR professionals, both in developed countries as in developing countries.

Davide de Palma: What are the most important aspects of human resources management?

Pieter Haen: Business leaders throughout the world continue to struggle with the complexities of a two-speed world; they face economic crisis in Europe and weak growth in the developed economies while also facing rapid growth in the developing world. Volatility and uncertainty have become the new constant. These realities create difficult people-management challenges that range from keeping up with supply-and d-demand fluctuations to ensuring an adequate pipeline for the future. Aggravating these challenges are the growing talent shortage and rising leadership deficits, which are fueled in part by profound demographic changes and are expected to worsen significantly in the coming years. This situation creates a buyer’s market for talented individuals. Many companies realize that today, more than ever, their people have become their most critical competitive asset. But they need to sharpen their efforts, integrate processes for greater impact, and manage globally while allowing for regional adaptation. That is a tall order – particularly considering the resource squeeze that has forced many HR organizations to do more with less. The following 3 topics stand out as the most critical:

– managing talent, given the growing scarcity  of talent worldwide

– improving leadership development, is still the number two in urgency

– strategic workforce planning is an crucially important topic for the future, as companies struggle with forecasting long-term scenarios for workforce supply and demand.

Davide de Palma: You think that, in light of this crisis, the practices of human resources have been changed? if so, how?

Pieter Haen: The topic transforming HR into a strategic partnership is one of the capabilities that is crucial. One of the urgencies is to reinvent the HR profession.

HR professionals believe that their HR expertise is the most important skill to bring to the strategic partnership. Business executives have a different view: they see traditional HR expertise as being less important for HR professionals today than their skills in other areas, such as business planning, analytics, and conflict resolution. Furthermore, as people are increasingly seen as a source of competitive advantage, HR professionals need consulting skills and business acumen along with capabilities in change management. They help to shape people strategies that conform to the company’s business objectives and strategies. Last but not least the business executives want HR to be more pro-active, and more proficient, at supporting them in becoming better people managers – providing help for example with recruiting, promotion decisions and low performers.

Davide de Palma: Can you tell us what you consider a good people management?

Pieter Haen: People management is no rocket science. People management is based on executives that understand that their people create a competitive advantage.

Davide de Palma: What is leadership?

Pieter Haen: Leadership and improving leadership development, one of the critical topics, is the second most urgent in terms of current capabilities and future importance. Top executives need to place greater emphasis on developing future leaders, rather than just leave this task with HR (and formal training programs) – or leave it to chance. Moreover, companies need to make leadership planning an integral part of their people-planning efforts, rather than simply focus on CEO and senior-executive succession.

Davide de Palma: What’s happening at work?

Pieter Haen: As more companies expand globally and shift their focus to the new high-growth regions, they face growing skill and talent gaps. Companies must pay more attention to sourcing talent locally and redeploying talent from low- to high-growth markets where it is needed more acutely. To improve global people management so that it effectively  supports global expansion, we see two imperatives:

–  clarify HR roles and accountibilities;

– identify and prioritize activities that, when scaled up globally, can yield high returns. Such activities include people strategy, talent management, performance management, and leadership development.

Davide de Palma : Do you think that there is a correlation between people management and firm performance?

Pieter Haen: Our latest research has shown and proved that good people management makes people outperform We discovered that high performing companies differ substantially from low-performing companies. Compared with low-performing companies, high performing companies build stronger people leaders, do more to attract, develop, and retain talented people and they treat and track performance with transparency

Davide de Palma : What is the future of people management?

Pieter Haen: There is an immense opportunity now to rethink how we do things. Many organizations have focused on cutting costs over the past years, but that is not a sustainable long-term strategy. HR has experienced a cut back as well. The challenge is now how do we innovate and grow? How do we ensure our organization has got the capability and the skills to innovate and grow? Are we creating the right environment for success – which we may call the business culture, leadership, attitudes and so on – to enable people to give their best?

Companies can only outperform with HR’s input, so it is a time of great opportunity and in my opinion the most interesting time ever to be in HR. What is needed now is a clear path to renewal and shared sustainable growth. We need to be prepared to move forward in ways that meet corporate, ethical and social objectives. At a time when our companies and organizations need global perspectives on the most daunting issues, as well as a place to share and learn from each other, it is essential to know what role HR can and must play in the near future.

Davide de Palma : Das Humankapital, is a blog that wants to promote the development of human capital. Do you think is important to promote the development of human capital?

Pieter Haen: That goes without saying! See my answers!




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