The rise of the cross-sector HRD
Industry TrendsTransformation InnovationHuman ResourcesC-Suite Succession
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July 18, 2017
Industry TrendsTransformation InnovationHuman ResourcesC-Suite Succession
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HR Magazine

The HR Magazine article, “The rise of the cross-sector HRD,” quoted Russell Reynolds Associates Consultant Anna Penfold about the evolution in recruitment and the challenges human resource directors face in recruiting in both public and private sectors. The article is excerpted below. 

Most can – unfortunately – think of a few contenders for their toughest day at work. For Martin Tiplady, former HR director of the Metropolitan Police Service and Westminster Healthcare Holdings, and now MD of Chameleon People Solutions, one particularly stands out. 

It’s the day he went around with the MD of Westminster Healthcare before the annual general meeting to visit investors and explain some “fairly expensive remuneration issues”. “As the day went on it got harder and harder,” he comments. “It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. They were absolutely interrogating what we were doing and why. It was stuff to really trip you up.” 

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A different lens 

Anna Penfold, consultant at executive search firm Russell Reynolds, agrees with Reeve that HR is “probably one of the most transferable” of the functions. 

“There are lots of functions like R&D and supply chain where the depth of knowledge about a product base tends to be a higher requirement,” she says. 

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Open-minded approach 

This forms part of a wider search and recruitment revolution, particularly at executive level, explains Penfold. She highlights that there’s now much more recognition from boards of the importance of cultural fit and potential versus experience, and many more tools available to assess this fit. 

“I think organisations are much more thoughtful now around talent; it is a much more sophisticated process than ever before,” she says. 

“I’ve been buoyed in the last few years by the open-mindedness from industries that traditionally have always wanted to recruit like for like. I would even count retail among that… That’s an overt mandate we’re being given.” 

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Public sector high performance 

“I think we’re very quick to judge the public sector that there’s a lot of bureaucracy and admin but there’s a lot we could learn from them that they don’t get credit for,” says Penfold. “If you think about the MoD: you have the internal stakeholders in your departments, you’ve got the cabinet office, you’ve got the government, the person on the street, the Daily Mail… Your stakeholder or customer group is arguably the most complex.” 

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Unique challenges 

“There’s definitely different emphases and skills,” says Penfold. “For example if you don’t like comp and bens don’t work in financial services. For the next five to 10 years the regulators aren’t going to suddenly let up, so you’ll be doing a lot of that.” Rumsey adds that “in the private sector the pace of change can seem very different”, which can be a real shock to public sector professionals – one they should consider carefully whether they’ll enjoy. 

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Bridging the gap  

“People can leverage knowledge now like never before,” agrees Penfold. She points out HRDs should be doing this and transferring best practice between sectors even where not looking to ever work in their private, public or charity sector counterpart. 

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Penfold adds that no professional – HR or otherwise – should see this as leapfrogging between posts: “This isn’t about flitting. There is still a golden rule in my mind of spending at least two or three business cycles in one organisation to really understand how to affect change,” she says. 

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The path to success 

Penfold is encouraged that organisations, despite the Brexit- and new government-shaped uncertainty and challenges coming over the horizon, won’t roll back the clocks and revert to reactive, less sophisticated HRD selection. “We understand so much more about the long-term value of doing things properly now,” she asserts. 

To read the full article​, click here.