HR understands the importance of leadership

Romina, you are an experienced HR manager who has worked in many international companies. How does your current role differ from your past experience?

2.09.2017. Romina Ivancic, foto sasa cetkovic

I have been at HEINEKEN Hrvatska for almost 2 years. Indeed, every industry has its differences as every company has its specific needs and stages of development. Some companies I worked for needed basic HR foundations, such as HR systems and processes. Other comapnies needed to adjust performance management systems. And others just needed better employer branding practices. But what all these companies have in common is the need to maintain the well-being of its workforce. No matter what kind of HR practice you implement, there is no success if people do not feel they are appreciated and that the company truly cares for them. However, care can be defined in many ways, wherein lies the catch.

I find HEINEKEN a good example of a company that truly cares for its employees – that cannot be explained through financial KPIs or other indicators, but by the fact that people who lead the organization really care for people’s safety, well-being and development. For example, we just celebrated World Day for Safety and Health at Work with a great milestone – 1,000 days without an incident in our brewery in Karlovac. For years now we are not only investing in top class machines, equipment and working tools that provide all safety mechanisms for our employees, but we also work on building the proper mindset of our employees. We are aware that equipment cannot prevent accidents if employees do not demonstrate safe behaviors. Safety for us does not stop being important when we exit our company premises. We want our employees to behave safe in their personal time as well, so they can come home safely to their homes and their loved ones.

Also, we are aware that our employees are in different stages of their lives. Some are new parents, others are focused on their health. Some may be thinking about buying property or are starting to plan for retirement. That’s why we started with our well-being program called Fridays at 2, where we provide short, practical workshops on different topics that would support employees’ well-being according to their specific needs. Some of the topics are: personal finances, how to stay positive, self-management after maternity leave etc. We also take career development very seriously. All employees create their own individual development plans, with management, and the plans have to be connected to their current as well as future development needs. This is how we send a clear message that while we count on emplyoyee contribution now, we also want employees to be successful in their future positions. When you work in such an environment where managers behave as HR managers, it is a pleasure to drive the people agenda further.

Nowadays, there are lots of conversations about what defines an effective HR role. What is your opinion regarding this topic?
The HR role has greatly evolved over the past few years. As industry demands and way of doing business has changed, HR has transformed from purely service-oriented function to a strategic one, by partnering with other corporate functions. In the early phases of HR development, there were clear expectations related to payroll, employee administration, hiring processes, policies and governance. Through time, this expanded to a wider range of employee related activities like performance management, leader empoweremet and engagement and employee motivation and development. Today, HR sits at the table with other core business leaders, shaping the company’s strategy in line with its future endeavors. In a world where everything changes so fast and where a number of industry sectors cease to exist while the new ones show up, people are the key component without whom there is no progress. However, people change as well. The previous generations used to work differently and today’s generation already has different mindset, values and expectations. Today, people come to the labor market and bring so many novelties which not only thrill us but make us think. So, the focus of HR is not on systems and processes anymore, but on the individuals in an ever-changing environment. Leadership is more important for the success of a company than ever before. A saying that’s widely accepted as true is that leadership makes or breaks businesses.

Today’s leaders have to deal with constant changes and insecurities, be flexible and firm at the same time, be knowledgeable, resourceful, engaged, cooperative and able to raise trust. It is a difficult task. That is not what’s been taught in business schools. So, HR has to jump in.

You are working in an international company. From the other side, every market has its own specificity in the mentality of the people. Is there any in Croatia?
Every market has some specifics when it comes to employee’s way of thinking and doing things. I am not a big fan of generalization or stereotypes, but I would say that the majority of my colleagues possess a balanced mix of being both relaxed and responsible. They are open to acquiring new knowledge and following the company business and cultural guidelines, but are also very proud of working for a local brewer with a long tradition and high-quality products. We believe that an inclusive work environment, where every employee has an equal opportunity to contribute and develop, is critical for our business. Diversity is also highly valued and, for example, female representation (at senior level) has been growing.

Do you have a leadership development program in your business unit?
HEINEKEN Hrvatska nurtures leadership and a coaching culture and therefore invests in development of top management as well as first line managers. For years, we have been running a First line management program dedicated to the development of employees who manage others. It is comprised of 5 modules over a period of six months, aimed at provide managers with the skills required to lead a team. This program introduces participants to the management world and gives them tools that help them recognize what drives, motivates and engages their team member; delegate tasks; gain leadership mindset and organizational skills; change management models etc. For our top managers (M-1) we provide a 5 module Master Leader program focused on three levels of leadership – personal, team and business. Within this program, we want to provoke different ways of thinking about leadership, which is more about inspiring and giving purpose , and so leads to better understanding of your surrounding and current and future demands in the business environment. Leadership is about managing yourself first, so it is firstly a journey of understanding oneself.

We support our talent with individual coaching as it has proved to be the most effective way to achieve personal development and transformation on the path to true leadership. All our programs contain not only classroom work but alsoa group coaching or peer to peer coaching element. HEINEKEN provides global programs that are designed to develop understanding of HEINEKEN’s strategy, overall business dynamics and complex and changing environment in which company operates. That also includes personal leadership, marketing, innovation and organizational change.
Every development measure is based on five leadership values – set of behaviors we expect from all our employees. It is about developing people, shaping the business and making true connections with people in order to deliver results. We expect from all our employees to be the role models in one simple thing – everything we do, we do because we care and by that, we bring value to our surroundings. This value can be in our result, prosperity, innovation, or anything else.

Could you tell us more about activities regarding people development in your company?
Every employee in the company has the opportunity to develop. We are a production company, as well as a sales and marketing company. This means that development needs are varied. We prodive different sets employees with different types of development, as well as different support and benefits. Our employees have the opportunity to learn and develop by participating in multidisciplinary teams and projects in both local and international environments. We organize education and trainings that develop employees’ competencies in different fields (functional, leadership, soft skills, etc). Every year, the education plan is programmed according to departmental priorities, educational needs and personal ambitions defined in individual Personal Development Plans. PDP is based on 70-20-10 principle where 70% includes on the job experience (tasks/projects, way of work, etc), 20% relationships, feedback and coaching (who can you learn from, cooperating with colleagues that can help you develop, line manager mentorship etc.) and 10% remains for formal learning (trainings or seminars, literature, case study research, etc.).

We support all of the new employees with a special on-boarding program. In the first few months in the job we try to give them a good start and on-board them as quickly as possible, in order to help them succeed and achieve their professional ambitions.

Our transparent and fair performance system is based on a few important elements – business strategy, individual contribution of individuals and teams that demonstrate our core values and perspective of future development for each employee. A successful company is one that has individuals and teams that develop excellent strategies, design systems and processes that support operations, make high quality products, develop beautiful brands and experiences, offer innovatios, provide extraordinary service to customers etc. So, people are in the centre and as such we always put them first.

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