May 19, 2020

Human Resources: A Guide to Effective HR Strategies

Employee Morale
HR strategies
human resources
Bizclik Editor
4 min
Human Resources: A Guide to Effective HR Strategies

The human resources department of a company recruits top talent and keeps current employees satisfied through benefit plans, training and the creation of a pleasant work environment. To achieve this, managers within the department and company must devise a strategy to attract the appropriate type of employee and develop programs to train their current staff. Although HR strategies may be as unique as a fingerprint, they all require executive and managerial support in order to thrive.

"Buy-in is the enthusiastic support, not merely compliance, by those people who are responsible. The best and most elegant strategic and macro-management plans are insufficient. Without buy-in, strategy remains at the passenger terminal and the flight to organizational success is stalled at the end of the runway,” said Ric Willmot, the Strategist for the Executive Wisdom Consulting Group.

An effective HR strategy has a clear and focused agenda. “It has three simple ideas: 1. What are the choices that the business has made about growth, 2. What are the capabilities we need to deliver on those, and 3. Which of those star points do we need to work on to create those capabilities,” said Greg Kesler, Managing Partner of Competitive Human Resources Strategies, LLC and co-author of the upcoming book Leading Organization Design: How to Make Organization Design Decisions to Drive the Results You Want (Jossey-Bass, 2010) with Amy Kates.
“An HR strategy answers the question: what do we need to do around those star points over the next three to five years.” The specific horizon depends on the industry and nature of the business.

Successful HR strategies keep the company’s goals and objectives in mind. “The key is to put your finger on the two or three growth paths to place investments in and then ask the question: what are the capabilities that this company has to have to execute on that. What are capabilities that we have to have organizationally to accomplish those choices of growth?” said Kesler. The company’s objectives, both short- and long-term, often help hiring managers seek qualified talent for open positions, sets the tone of the workplace and may improve company morale. Keeping the company’s objectives in mind will allow the strategy developers to focus on connecting people with the goals themselves.

“Most companies that are doing this well work with some kind of a framework that says, in order to create those capabilities organizationally there are five sets of strategies, or three or seven,” said Kesler. These strategies can include the business strategy, organizational structure, measurement and rewards systems, and people and talent.

A framework defines the role of individual positions and departments within the organization helps employees identify their role within the company. It also allows employees to the opportunity to see where their responsibilities lie and how they can enhance productivity, efficiency and the quality of the end product or service. This sense of personal responsibility gives the employee a defined purpose within the company and allows departments to focus their energy where they can have the greatest impact. For large or established companies, this may mean a tough analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the business and each department. However, through this analysis, it will be easier to create an organizational framework that moves the company forward.

Many HR professionals fall prey to common hazards that often impair the success of the strategy. Kesler advises the following: 1. Avoid HR speak: Keep it practical and close to the business, 2. Find the pivot points in talent and organization that will have the most impact on results; don’t treat all jobs and talent as equal – be willing to differentiate, and 3. Measure what you do.

Finally, a company can have a great HR strategy, but it’s worthless if the proper channels and professional staff aren’t in place to put it into action. HR support from the top down is essential to the success of any HR strategy. “Although you will probably need to get the entire organization to buy in to the strategy, failure to get buy-in from the right people, especially the executive suite can cripple your plans for expansion and growth right from the outset,” said Willmot.

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Jun 13, 2021

Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl

Kate Birch
5 min
Former CMO for IBM Americas Maria Bartolome Winans was recently named CMO for Kyndryl. Maria talks about her new role and her leadership style

Former Chief Marketing Officer for IBM Americas, and an IBM veteran of more than 25 years, Maria Bartolome Winans was recently named CMO for Kyndryl.

Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.

With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.

You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?

I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.

We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.

What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?

I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.

The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.

How would you describe your leadership style?

I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.

I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.

What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?

When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.

What does success look like to you?

I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.

What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?

I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.

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