Today’s human resource management professionals must be prepared to help organizations navigate change. With technology continually evolving and challenging the ways business has been done in the past, companies need to embrace innovation and adaptability.
“As you understand and interpret data correctly, and make impactful recommendations as you consult with your CEO, you become more credible,” says Brian Baxter, SPHR, Chief Human Resources Officer at Modere, and a Board Member of HR Certification Institute® (HRCI®), the premier global credentialing organization for the HR profession.
This year, change has new meaning for Baxter and Modere, a lifestyle company with a portfolio of safe and innovative personal care, health and wellness, and household products. In addition to keeping up with industry developments, he is helping Modere navigate and adapt a new business model and culture.
Modere recently shifted its strategy to focus on e-commerce, which changed the required skill sets of the customer service and marketing teams. These new skill sets had to be either acquired through new hires or developed within the organization. Baxter and his team created a development plan for their existing employees. Not all employees successfully made the transition, but by focusing on coaching, transparency, and consistent communication, he was able to help the majority of them get up to speed with the new business model.
The pivot in strategy also prompted Modere to move its entire marketing department to Newport Beach, Calif. “This required relocation of some employees from Utah, in addition to the acquisition of new talent in Southern California,” says Baxter, who first pursued a fully accredited HRCI certification in 2007 as a way to stand out among his peers and better understand his skill set. Now, to keep up with change and advancements in the HR field, he pursues recertification every three years.
Data: HR’s Key to Navigating Change
Data now plays an important role in HR. HR professionals with a proficiency for analyzing and managing data stay ahead of business challenges, as well as opportunities. Data helps company leaders understand their businesses and create smart plans for change, as needed.
Baxter and his team used data from Modere’s employee-engagement survey to understand how the team was dealing with the company’s transformation. The survey results revealed that the management team had been rolling out changes so quickly that it had forgotten to take the time to say “thank you” and show gratitude for people’s hard work. “Our surveys showed this blind spot and, as a result, we have implemented a better recognition program,” he says.
Business leadership is increasingly embracing HR’s role in setting and implementing new strategies and managing all the changes that come with it. Still, Baxter believes the onus is on HR professionals to proactively provide value.
“You need business leaders who are willing to engage HR professionals, and you need HR professionals who strive to be true consultants to the C-suite,” he says.
HR leaders can earn the respect of the C-suite in many ways. One of the most powerful, of course, is to constantly learn and grow. Certification is a clear way to demonstrate such credibility and keep pace with change. Change can mean growth, and that is a good thing -- for professionals, and for the businesses they serve.
Baxter believes his HRCI certification gave him an edge and helped him gain respect as an HR professional who “understands a broad array of talent-acquisition and talent-development strategies” so Modere can attract and hire the right people, and “how to coach current employees.” He is convinced that had he not pursued certification, developing those strategies would have taken longer, and he probably would have missed some important steps.