(P) Transforming HR: What do Leaders need to Unlearn to Succeed in the New Normal? Reflections from the webinar
The Signium – Stein & Partner team, as part of one of the leading executive search companies in the CEE region, was delighted to have hosted on the 15th of June the second webinar from the Transforming HR series: What do Leaders need to Unlearn to Succeed in the New Normal having as guest speakers: Mrs. Melania Jaravete, HR Director at Cargus Romania, Mrs. Adina Vidroiu, HR Director at Microsoft Romania, Greece, Malta & Cyprus and Mr. Dragos Barbulescu, Deputy General Director and Group CFO at E.ON Romania. The discussion was moderated by Mrs. Raluca Modoran, Senior Leadership & People Advisor within Signium – Stein & Partner.
As we wanted to explore different perspectives from different industries, we invited our guests to an interactive panel conversation, which led to a very insightful collection of reflections.
Here are some of the main thoughts we’ve collected. For the extended conversation, you can access the recording here.
Great leadership in the new normal means finding the right balance
Different contexts require different leadership capabilities and the last 18 months have required leaders to use their past experience and past successes in an innovative way. Leaders have been in a position to balance business priorities with people's needs and to make decisions considering different factors.
“Great leadership in the new normal is a combination between balancing different perspectives, caring about people and their mental health, and finding new ways to connect, especially now with the help of new digital platforms. I strongly believe that people should come first,” stated Dragos Barbulescu.
“I think the profile of a leader during these times and moving forward, is mainly related to knowing how to apply concepts of business continuity, to find best ways to adapt, to showing flexibility to changing circumstances and to different business requirements, to caring for people and making sure they are involved in the middle of each decision. Basically, it is a matter of finding the right balance between the requirements of the business and the requirements of the team. I would also add that we should not forget that leaders are also people who might struggle individually in ways we could not grasp. I believe that showing people that leaders are humans too is a new thing and I guess it’s the 1st time in our company that employees understood that our CFO is also cooking at some moment in time. Showing vulnerability and openly sharing the same challenges is what brought us together and helped us stay connected.” mentioned Melania Jaravete.
We continue to embed our model-coach-care framework. When we say model, our presumption from every manager in the company is to demonstrate the strength of character. They are role models for the culture, for the values, and also for the leadership principles that we have. They are the ones setting the tone, and their words and actions are leading the organization and their team members to integrity. Coaching, although commonly used, means for us that they need to assist their colleagues to develop that sense of shared purpose and to create that energy level within their teams, by supporting them on a day-to-day basis. We know that managers who create highly engaged teams have higher productivity. Nevertheless, the part that was more critical was the care one, because fundamentally the role of a people manager is to care about others, not only about their team members but also about other peers they are interacting with across the organization. They are the ones who are building on and finding the right talents and the ones who are creating that environment where people can open up. And this was paramount during this period, even when observing the conversations we’ve had, the shift focused from “what are you doing?” to “how are you feeling?”, “how are you today?”, and the answers were more related to personal life. They needed to be equipped for that and this is what we’ve done. It wasn’t easy. It’s still a journey. At the very end of the day, leaders, managers, are also people that have a personal life back home.” said Adina Vidroiu.
What do leaders need to unlearn to be successful in the new normal?
“I think leaders need to unlearn that they do not always have to show a perfect image because it is an unrealistic level of expectations. The more you show of yourself, the more truthful and authentic you become,” answered Melania Jaravete.
“If we look at the new hybrid model of work, I consider that leaders will need to meet with new employees’ expectations: connecting a more distributed workforce and also providing the tools to renovate and work together, while at the same time being inclusive. The hybrid work will present more challenges, especially when it comes to organizations that have their employees working in different cities or countries, operating in different time zones. In my opinion, it’s important for leaders to be more intentional about creating that space for those inclusive conversations and to define ways on how they work together while bearing in mind the aspect of flexibility which will be mandatory in balancing the work-life.
I would not necessarily say that they need to unlearn something, because the context pushed them to learn new things, like managing teams remotely. I think it’s more about re-learning how to connect with their teams, how to focus on the relationships they already built, how to maintain the work-life balance, what it means for employees to work in a hybrid model, how flexible can you be, how mindful can you be, because at the end of the day we will also have in mind the productivity that is there” added Adina Vidroiu.
“We need to re-learn how to reconnect with the team, especially in dealing with this new way of flexible working. Some people will want to return more to the office, while others prefer to work more from home, and it’s a challenge that will require flexibility from all parts” concluded Dragos Barbulescu.
One thing is clear, we’re still in a transition, exploring new behaviors, new approaches, testing and failing, surprisingly achieving things we wouldn’t have imagined possible. And in this journey, we intentionally and conscientiously learn, unlearn and re-learn those traits which help us succeed in this new normal.
It was a tremendous pleasure and an honor to have had the opportunity to explore these aspects with our speakers, which brought clear, applicable, and sustainable recommendations for our leaders. If you would like a deeper dive into the conversation we had with them, kindly access the full article here.
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