“Less process, more action – that would be my mantra.”
At the beginning of the episode, Paul Toms asks Simon about his experiences during the pandemic. Simon speaks of the few upsides of COVID-19 and being able to spend quality time with his young family. He also became a lot healthier as a result of the exercise; over the last few years, Simon has taken up cycling. He now cycles every weekend and is currently training for the Maratona dles Dolomites!
Taken back to the origin of Simon’s Human Resources career, we discover that it was a chance situation during his interim at IBM. Simon took the opportunity to introduce himself and was given a fork-in-the-road. His choices? Sales or HR. He chose HR and never looked back.
Now describing himself as an HR generalist, he says he enjoys the unknown. It’s the usual things and the challenges for the business side that are in the most stimulating for the HR leader. He enjoys being able to make a difference and handle situations in a professional way. Simon has received praise from employees who have been on the sharp end of decisions for his respectful and honest attitude.
He refers to the bad examples you see in the press – like the mass firing of employees on Zoom – and states that it doesn’t take a genius to know that actions like that would create bad blood; not only for the fired employees, but also the remaining ones who will no longer feel valued.
Paul asks for Simon’s opinion on business intelligence and data. He finds it to be a huge positive, as data can predict what can happen in the workplace regarding employees. When moving into senior roles especially, you can use this data to support decisions and create proactive discussions. He believes BI and data will grow quickly over the next few years.
Simon finds his role to be an honor and feels responsible for the 3,000 employees’ wellbeing, careers and safety across Archroma’s 25 manufacturing sites. He is also excited to move the company further into the green space, claiming that he is proud to be at the forefront of this expedition. Examples given are in relation to water management and selecting different chemicals for solutions. Simon has seen the impact of the sustainability efforts during the recruitment process, with senior interviewees referencing their reading of the sustainability report.
Halfway through the episode, Simons gives his opinion on what makes a successful change management process. He explains that companies need to align with employees who expect change regularly, in the sense that it’s better to set an expectation of continuous change and improvement, rather than a tick-box approach and not a series of change processes. He adds that communication of the process and rationale is key to change management; if you can’t articulate that to stakeholders then you’ve not got it right – you need to do it as openly as possible to ensure they are much more accepting of change.
As a strong business partner, Simon explains that honesty, change management and dealing with stakeholders are in service of business performance. Better performance for shareholders means a win-win for employees, as they can grow together and cultivate an environment for growth and success. He acknowledges that some difficult decisions must be made, for example, letting go of employees. However, this is for the greater good of the company and the other employees.
Simon’s advice for others who would like to become better business partners and wish to emulate his CHRO journey is to obtain a position on both sides of the board. Simon is head of the HR agenda and on the leadership team. He claims the art is the relationships and chemistry you have between the two, which is key to influence and adding value.
The steps Simon follows when developing talent is following through on action plans. Some companies focus on completing the process, rather than the outcome. Value comes in an honest discussion and not a facilitation between the employees and the manager. He adds that it’s better to address the gaps and build them up, rather than have employees think they are better than they are; there will come a time where you need that talent and gaps that were identified have not been addressed.
Towards the end of the episode, Simon shares his tips on an efficient and effective recruitment process. He says that clarity on the role is necessary, with a bit of flexibility to encourage and enable diverse candidates. The second is ensuring the selection process is structured, especially when the role requires hard skills. An addition to this is a balance of soft and hard skills, as they are significant in many jobs. Finally, Simon acknowledges that awareness is the first step in addressing gender bias and equality.
At the end of the episode, Simon leaves us with one thing he would like to pass on from his career – gone are the days where a gap in your CV would throw you into the reject pile. If you have a gap, don’t feel like you have to cover it up; during COVID, people made personal decisions and more people change jobs now than ever before.
If you’re looking for a particular part of the episode, you can use these timestamps:
01:50: The last thing that made Simon smile 03:20: Hobbies outside of work07:00: Simon’s journey into HR 09:40: What Simon enjoys most about HR14:42: The impact of BI & data on the HR function16:35: The role of CHRO and Senior VP18:40: What Archroma is doing on sustainability 20:45: Sustainability, values & ethics in recruitment22:40: What makes a successful change management process25:00: Being a strong business partner33:15: Key steps to consider when developing talent36:00: How to make the recruitment process efficient & effective 41:55: Experiences from Simon’s career he would like to pass on
To connect with Simon, you can find him on LinkedIn.
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You can find out more about our professional services recruitment, including Human Resources support, through our website: https://www.emearecruitment.com/
You can also follow us on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/emea-recruitment-limited/
If you’d like to connect with Paul, find him on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/paultoms/
He is also active on Twitter: https://twitter.com/paul_toms
If you have any feedback on this episode, please reach out to Rose: [email protected]
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