Profile : HR key for new GM

Tom Hart has sales and marketing background in the pharmaceuticals sector, rising to managing director of Astra and Astra Zeneca New Zealand and into the same position in Malaysia/Singapore, which he held from 2002-2006. He has strong affinity for the human resources function and its contribution to organisational health and performance and this is focus he is keen to retain at Sheffield. He believes that while the delivery of business targets needs to be based on appropriate strategy and execution, the key to sustained success is ensuring the business has the right people operating in performance-oriented culture.
“This means the selection, development, leadership, motivation and reward mechanisms for people in an organisation are just as important as having the right business strategy. And the internal environment needs to encourage open and frank discussion about the business within an accepted values-based framework.”
The demands of motivated workforce are changing, and one of the best ways to keep talent engaged, especially young people, is through personal development opportunity, he says.
“New Zealand hasn’t seen the sharp edge of the talent drain yet compared with experiences in parts of Asia. The early signs are there, in the drift to Australia and other countries. But in the next 10 years it’s going to get much harder for businesses to resource themselves adequately. If organisations don’t arm themselves with talent-retention strategy, they will see such losses happening over and over again, with the potential for significant business erosion.”
The starting point for successful staffing is ensuring you have the right people in your team or business, is to make sure you are very clear about what you want before you start recruitment, Hart says.
“Be very clear about competencies, behaviours and styles of operating before you start the search.
“Once you have the right people, getting the right strategies is much easier.”
Hart believes key attributes for today’s managers include being persuasive, enthusiastic, engaging and able to communicate.
Having worked in many countries, he has first-hand experience of leadership across borders.
He says the expectation of business behaviours is not that different, but that the execution of behaviours can be vastly different. Even, say, between Australia and New Zealand.
“In Australia, for example, people say things very openly and it’s very hard language – tell it like it is. In New Zealand if you do that, it’s off-putting as this is softer society. And then in Asia it’s very hierarchical so if you say the wrong thing then you immediately close down communications,” Hart says.
There is also growing expectation that employees want to know more about the organisations they are part of.
“But it’s important to differentiate between ‘need to know’ and ‘nice to know’. Sometimes people don’t make that distinction. There are things people need to know in order for them to be able to do their job and there are things which are nice background but not essential so they shouldn’t be pursuing them. I think it’s good to share as much information as is reasonable in an organisation but the reality is that some information is not appropriate to share.
“We have lot more younger people in the workforce now, their motivation about why they work for particular company would be quite different to mine, just as my father’s would have been different to mine.”
Hart saw this acutely in Asia with its young population and their different loyalties to companies than what would have been seen 10 years ago.
“They tend to be more motivated by money, but they’re also motivated by personal development. Where is this going to take me on my journey to wherever it is I am going? Whereas for other people it is about security and recognition – reward is not as important, and development is something they wouldn’t consider. It is now, but it wouldn’t have been 10 years ago,” Hart says.
He stresses that is not meant as negative statement towards younger workers, it’s just fact that there are different drivers these days. And leaders have to recognise that and know how to balance the different generational demands.
“My father thinks I’m transient as I’ve worked in couple of different companies over 20 years!”

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