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KMA’s Angela Hansen was pleased to participate in the Portland Breakfast Forum last month, which focused on how HR drives culture. Hosted by Carol Coultas and Peter McGuire of The Press Herald, Angela joined panelists Cynthia Murphy of CEI and David Pease of Bangor Savings Bank to tackle this subject.

You can listen to the sessions and read recaps here: PressHerald.com

Angela also took some time to answer some additional questions after the event. Here’s the Q&A:

What behavioral measures do you recommend we use to drive specific cultural competencies/capabilities?

First, determine with leadership what you want the culture to look like so you know what the framework of preferred behaviors and values looks like. Then work toward strong emotional intelligence at all leadership levels. Foster an atmosphere of psychological safety and openness and set clear goals to make sure everyone feels like voices are heard. It’s important to value diversity both in human characteristics and in opinions.

Invite people to speak up: ask questions and include employees in brainstorming sessions. Welcome ideas and suggestions, rather than explain why something cannot be done. Develop a work environment that is challenging but non-threatening and build employee engagement by being as transparent as possible. Ensure people are in the right roles and using their strengths, then give as much autonomy as you can. Demonstrate commitment to growth and progression and recognizing people for their efforts. Show gratitude. Lastly, be okay with failure.

How can employers partner with local universities to create a talent pipeline as part of their recruitment initiatives?

Contact administrative staff or program chair people to ask if they have a process for job postings directed at students. If you can, offer to facilitate internships for particular programs that fit your company and industry. You should provide schools routine information about your company openings, or potential future openings. Plan ahead for succession as far as you can, incorporating the above.

What tactics have you found to be helpful in addressing unconscious bias and valuing differences?

  • Do trainings to build awareness about diversity, inclusion, and belonging.
  • Talk about the benefits of diversity routinely.
  • Lead by example and model the behaviors you wish to see.
  • Consider opinions/viewpoints that are different, as well as human differences, and value them all.

How would one best get into HR if you haven’t gone to college for this?  What are the most important transferable skills?

Consider a certificate program in HR locally. Find an administrative position that has some HR functionality to gain experience. Join a local chapter HR association and attend the learning events, and then join the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) to stay up to date with newsletters, changes in laws, etc. Lastly, you could even offer to volunteer at a larger company in the HR department to gain exposure.

Learn More

If you’re interested in digging deeper into your organization’s culture and finding ways it might be improved, or if you need HR guidance, recruiting or training, contact KMA today.