This week, in our series of HR expert interviews, I had the pleasure of talking with HR expert Glenn Jones regarding his experiences gained from a career in HR. Glenn is an HR People director and people specialist with commercial and operational experience in HR/People, HR/People Shared Services, HR IT, HR/People Transformation, Project Management and coaching. He is also the author of ‘Human Resources Changes the World.’
In this interview, Glenn and I discuss his HR career, people transformation, people analytics, and the effects of implementing HR software.
Tell me a bit about yourself and how and why you pursued a career in HR?
I am a freelance HRD/People/HR Consultant since 2011 consulting to companies such as Bank of America, HSBC, Ecolab, Imperial Brands, AXA XL and Tesco in mostly global roles. I am a Chartered Fellow of both the CIPD and CIPP, have an MSc in Business and Payroll Management. Also, I am the author of “Human Resources Changes the World – How and Why HR and HR Directors Should Step-up as Leaders in the 21st Century. I am currently undertaking a DBA in the field of HR. So, to say that I am passionate about the area of People and HR is an understatement.
When I left school at the age of 16 (there is a story there), I only had one real qualification in Commerce, and my very first job was in Engineering. However, thankfully, the office manager of the company I was working for asked me one day whether I would be interested in learning about all things HR? I looked around the cold garage where I was working, my hands covered in engine oil and the loss of sensation in my fingers, and instantly said yes.
My career evolved over the years as I became more and more curious about the People Function, technology, coaching and development, processes and changing the perception of the Function itself. I purposely kept learning and taking the good from every situation that I found myself in, moving through 18 different sectors and challenging my experience, knowledge and skills as I went.
I see that you have a lot of experience working in the field of HR, what made you pursue a career in HR?
I am a great believer in fate, and as you can see from my answer to question 1, it was meant to happen. You can also see how passionate I am about People/HR, and I continue to evolve my capability through daily learning. For my consulting roles that I do, I use everything from HR COO skills through to purist HR, HR Shared Services, Insourcing/Outsourcing, Systems and Technology, CoEs and Payroll. As the roles that I do have also been global, I have been able to work in other countries with globally dispersed teams.
Could you tell me a bit more about what you currently do at GGJ Global Consulting Limited?
For most of my time in the last 9-years, I have been utilised by my clients in a turnaround and evolution capacity, e.g. taking poorly implemented global systems, outsourced provisions to third parties, payroll integrations, change management, contract discussions etc. Each time, I have evolved the client’s issues from bad to good/great, leaving a positive outcome for them. In addition to this, I have always tried to help the internal teams to improve their capability through coaching and or mentoring.
Could you tell me a bit more about the work you have done in people transformation?
Every company that I have worked for or consulted with have been on some sort of transformation journey. However, for the last nine years, most of the transformations have been very extensive. They have looked at Target Operating Models, Culture Change, System/Technology Changes, Workforce Productivity, Lean Processes and Procedures, Enabling employees to do more with technology, improving ease of use and releasing HR teams to focus on the value-added elements of HR.
What would you say is the most important thing you’ve learned through your experience of having a career in HR?
The most important lesson I have learned through my career in HR is that an effective People/Function working on the right company and people strategies is a valuable component for every company and organisation around the world.
I qualify this by saying that if employees are indeed the most significant part of every company, then a people-centric function must play a massive role in its ability to be successful, especially as the “war for talent” continues.
Have you had any experience working with HR software? If so, what are your thoughts on the importance of it?
Yes – my first system/software change was in 1987, and since then, I have always tried to understand both current and future trends in People and HR systems. Once upon a time, I could also write Standard Query Language.
The question of the importance of IT systems in People/Function is a great one. That said, one thing that I see quite often is the assumption that new software will solve all of the People/HR issues under the sun. Technology is a great enabler that I often refer to as the backbone of any change. However, usually what can happen is a lack of focus in the design of new technology especially when it comes to enabling employees to use intuitive systems (design thinking) that release them to do their day job.
What is your experience with People analytics and how beneficial do you believe it is in instigating positive change within businesses and employees?
I love the power of People Analytics, and the answer to your question is yes, it is very beneficial. Sadly though, the main issue that I have seen over the years is generally the skill/lack in People/HR teams to interpret the data into meaningful plans/strategies to act on what the data is stating. Used correctly, People Analytics is a powerful tool to the C-Suite, especially in highlighting trends, areas of focus, talent management etc.
Do you believe HR software is conducive to accomplishing the growth of businesses? If so, how?
Yes and no – used in the right way, yes. Coming back to my backbone analogy, many other facets need to be focused on too. For example, if the change approach is not considered and undertaken very well, then the take-up of the technology will be low. If the reason for the change is not communicated from C-Suite down to the business leaders on board, then again it will not be adopted. HR software will also not change company culture, for instance, and it will not change an employee’s mindset from fixed to growth. That said, HR software, as stated before, is a great enabler especially if the analytics from any new software change is fully utilised. Finally, implemented well HR software will absolutely contribute to the growth of businesses.